Chub on a rising river (Entry 118)

There is something about chub. I’ve come to realise this, now, after years of fishing for them. Something that I always rediscover when I have not caught one for a few weeks. Now I think about it there’s not many fish that give me as much pleasure as the Chevin. Maybe its because they can be caught on different methods and baits. Each to suit the conditions on the day. Or the mood of the angler. Maybe it’s because they are obliging feeders one day and a nightmare the next. Yes, they’re certainly a challenge. Especially when they are old and wise. Like big roach, big chub look their age. Their bronze scales almost embossed. Etched with lines like the rings of a tree. Yes, I love chub and all that comes with trying to catch them. Even if that does mean crawling around trying to stay off the skyline. Or slipping down steep river banks after a winter flood. Thats it, time to go chub fishing! Little grayling to begin withAfter arriving at the river and setting up with a lovely little stick float it was clear I hadn’t given any thought to the conditions. The float on this occasion certainly catching the angler. The river was running through at a lively pace and the wind was gusting. I couldn’t mend the line with such a minuscule weight at the other end without pulling the float across the current. Definitely time to change to a much heavier float. A cup of tea to see me through the re-tackle. Before I knew it I was back fishing. The change had an immediate affect as a procession of small grayling came to the net. In the increased flow even these relatively small fish put up a great scrap. As I turned to put my camera back down after taking a quick picture I noticed the river was now starting to trickle behind me. Oh dear, I thought, chub fishing on a rising river. Hardly what you would call ideal. Still, the water clarity seemed to be ok and for now I put those thoughts to the back of my mind and headed to a less pacey swim.

Since my last visit to the stretch a lot had changed. Not only had the trees’ burnt orange leaves now all but gone but a recent high flood had completely reshaped some parts of the river. What once was gravel was now buried in sand. Where once a tree stood; now just a hole remained. Banks had been scoured out as forceful water rushed and any plants growing on the fertile soil were now absent. Although at first its a little disorientating this is what I love about rivers. They are ever changing. Destructive and creative in turn. To prove the point I was looking at an area of river that was usually not worth fishing. At least with float tackle. But with the bank now cleared of saplings, brambles, balsam and the addition of a new snag for chub to hide behind, I had found myself the next swim to fish.Proper chub!I began by feeding some maggots on the crease of the main flow. The slacker water was to my own bank and it was here I expected the chub to be congregated. After ten minutes, and another cup of tea, I had a trot through. Nothing. I deepened the rig somewhat and held the float back quite hard. The rig edged through the swim. As the float neared the snag the float gently sunk beneath the ripples and I was into a good fish. The stout plodding of a good chub. I thought the small grayling earlier fought well in the stronger flow, well this chub had been taking lessons. Or giving them. Masterfully using the flow to it’s advantage, for a minute or so it was deadlock. With a small hook and light hooklength there was no room to bully. Eventually with careful and steady pressure the chub came within netting distance. No last minute dive into unseen near bank snags. The fish was safely netted. A cracking fish in immaculate condition. One very happy angler took a photo and returned the fish a good few yards upstream.

I had noticed that the water had risen a good few inches since my arrival and felt that with the river rising rapidly, I needed to make the next half an hour count. These chub wouldn’t carry on feeding as the river rose, I was sure of that. I fed a few more maggots and ran the float through the swim. Nothing that time. Another little palmful of maggots fed and another run through. This time the float sank in that unmistakable way; a small stutter and a tip melting into the ripples. Another fish hooked, a good fight enjoyed and a little quicker than last time, a solid chub was landed. Another chub on a rising riverUnfortunately this chub turned out to be the last from this swim. In fact it was the last fish of the session too. The river rose over a foot in the next few hours and I could not tempt another bite despite trying a few favourite swims. My earlier prediction sadly being proven correct. Even so, I had a tremendous time. The fish I had caught in the first swim was reward enough. I’ll never tire of catching wild fish on this beautiful, little river. I can’t wait to get back on her banks.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below. Click here to go to the NorthwestFisherman Facebook page

Until next time

NorthwestFisherman

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Memories whilst waiting (Entry 117)

Whilst watching the float, somewhat casually, I began to think about the first time I caught a good sized perch from a canal. It wasn’t the canal that I was on today. No, this canal was probably 40 or so miles away, nestled on the west side of the Pennines. I was around around 14 or so and had made it my goal to catch a carp from the canal. It being November, at the time I didn’t really think I had the best opportunity, but this extra ‘handicap’ would make the catch even more special. The walk up to the area I was to fish was a long one. Seven sections of canal away in fact. Uphill, of course. As you would expect, no one really bothered to walk to this stretch and I was sure that the extra effort would be worth it. If only to have peace and solitude as I began fishing for my target. I was brought back to the present day by the sound of a barge chugging its way toward me. Time to ship the pole in and pour a cup of tea for consuming whilst it passed. Oh wait a minute, make that while all five of them passed. Looking good for a perchThe tea went down far to quickly but the canal had settled somewhat after the regatta had sailed through. Time to re feed the swim with some more chopped up worm and groundbait slop and a pouch full of casters. I followed back in with the rig and resumed my  day dream. As luck would have it there wasn’t a single angler on the stretch. I chose a spot near the mouth of the lock. At the time the canal was not navigable so fishing into the lock itself gave a good depth of water and some very carpy features to inspire. In went a mixture of caster, hemp, and a few chopped worms. I had some small cubes of meat with me too for use on the hook. I was bathed in glorious autumn sunshine and there was hardly a breathe of wind. Apart from the odd rambler the only other visitor I remember seeing was deer that crossed the towpath, jump the fence and ran off onto the moors behind. On the fish front however, I sat there for the majority of the day. Biteless. Bread and butter canal roachI struck seemingly on autopilot. A lively fish did its best to make it’s escape but was soon in my hand. A plump roach that had taken half a lobworm hookbait. In the blink of an eye the rig was back out, caster catapulted swim-ward, and then it was back to my reflection. The sun had begun to descend towards the top of the distant hills. It would’t be long before its weak rays would be lost. Left to sit for the final hour in shadow. It was time for a change. The meat and the worms had not tempted any carp so far so three casters were duly mounted onto the size 14 hook. I cast into the lock mouth, as close as I dared to the trailing brambles. Utter disbelief. The float settled, stuttered and aggressively sank from view. Disbelief replaced with sheer excitement, I struck. Not into a heavy weight. Certainly not a carp. But what was it? Doggedly thumping in the deep water, head shaking and tail kicking. When I caught sight of the fish I was over the moon. It was a huge perch. Well over two pound. In a blur the fish was netted. My eyes fixed on its unique beauty. I remember feeling almost afraid to unhook it. I’d seen pictures of big perch but in the flesh they somehow looked even bigger. It wasn’t just its size but how proud it looked. Dorsal and pectoral fins spread; the weakening rays of the autumn sun illuminated them. What a bonus it was. And to cap the day off on my next cast, again on triple caster, I hooked into a canal carp. A deep, golden common of just over ten pounds. The walk back down the seven lengths of canal felt much shorter after those two fish. My target achieved. But its the perch that I remember more vividly. A very welcome surprise Today I didn’t catch a perch. But I did have a bonus fish. It came in the form of a two pound tench. I have never caught a tench from this canal in all my years of fishing it. A part of me can’t help wishing it was just a bit rounder, more stripey, sporting a sharper dorsal fin with a few flecks of red in it’s ventral fins. But who could be disappointed with a fish like that from a canal? In November. Not me. In truth the session was very slow besides those two bites. I did have plenty of fun recounting days gone by though. When surprise fish have written lasting memories.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below. Click here to go to the NorthwestFisherman Facebook page

Until next time

NorthwestFisherman

Dash and catch (Entry 116)

This was certainly going to be a short session. I’d just dropped onto a venue I would pass on my way home having been otherwise engaged for most of the day. I had developed a sneaky plan though. The night before I rigged up a light lure rod and collected together a landing net, selection of lures and all the usual bits and bobs need to unhook a toothy pike safely. The whole lot was stashed in the boot of my car ready for use. Should I finish what I was doing quicker than usual then I might have an hour, or a little longer, to chuck a lure around for some pike. How is that for incentive to get something finished! So here I was with around an hour of daylight left. One of the most productive times to fish. No sooner had I turned the engine off, I was attaching a favourite lure to the trace and having my first cast in the clear, weedy water.

Everyone has a favourite

With the water being relatively shallow, my first retrieve was fairly quick and seeing as it didn’t go through any weed beds, the next cast the sad was allowed to sink before lifting and retrieving. Lifting and retrieving. After going through these motions five or six times, just as the lure came up from the bottom from, it was met with an aggressive thump. Prompting a sharp strike the first fish was hooked. And on the second cast. Brilliant! A short and erratic fight played out but not before the pike had weeded itself up once or twice. Nothing too worrying though, the weed itself being quite soft, the pike could be gently eased free on each occasion.

Just a jack but a very happy anglerA jack pike was my prize. A deeply coloured fish and in pristine condition. The single hook was super easy to remove with some heavy forceps, and after a quick picture, I had the pike resting in the margins. I like to make sure they are fighting fit before submerging the front of the net. Although the look ferocious they are one of our most delicate fish and need treating with respect. It did’t take long before the fish was kicking strongly against the mesh. The net was lowered and a fully recovered pike was powering away over the weed beds and out into deeper water. I still had some water to cover before moving on to the next area. A few casts later I had a similar take to the first. This time just as the lure fell to the bottom. Another frantic fight began. The fight took a little longer than the first. On lightish tackle even small pike give a tremendous account of themselves. Match the tackle to the species (and size) your are expecting and you feel every head shake. Every twist and turn. It’s great fun. And for those times something unexpected comes along, well, that truly is exhilarating.

Another little stunner

Another little stunner of fish. I had been at the water not more than fifteen minutes and had already bagged two fish. You really can’t complain about that. On a day when I would otherwise have had to resign to not even gracing the bank, a little thinking outside the norm was providing me with some excellent fishing. Very content with my rewards from this swim it was time to move on. The area I fished next was much shallower than the first, maybe only two feet at most. Plenty of dead reed stems, patches of light weed and other snags for a pike to lie in wait though. The first cast resulted in nothing. The depth of the water and clarity gave me an opportunity to see just how well I was working the lure. Looked pretty fishy to me. Especially as it fell through the water. The very next cast seemed to support my thoughts, as I received another savage take just as I edged the lure toward a small patch of weed. But this was so much heavier than the first two fish. My light lure rod bent to the cork. Well, almost. As the fish circled in front of me I realised that I had not hooked a pike but a fairly substantial mirror carp. It was a broad fish, and hanging from its mouth was my lure! The fish caught sight of me, and surged powerfully out into the lake. There was really nothing I could do to stop the fish. Line melted from my reel. Clutch screaming. A perfect auditory accompaniment for my rapidly increasing heart rate. Running through weed bed after weed bed it was inevitable that the hook would eventually pull.

The smallest pike of the day

I was little disappointed not to have landed the fish but it really would have been an exceptional catch. After a cup of tea to calm my nerves, I moved swims once more. By now the light was fading fast and I hoped for one more fish to finish. In much the same way as the other two fish, I had another take soon after my fifth cast. This turned out the be the smallest fish of the day. A tiny little jack of around 1lb. He was landed safely, admired briefly and returned carefully. A cracking end to a very brief but rewarding session. I think I’ll be leaving the lure rod in my car boot a lot more often in future.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

Those elusive perch (Entry 115)

The autumn sun beamed down as I arrived at the venue. A venue that, in the past when I have dabbled in a little carp fishing, I remember noticing the unmistakable signs of a sinister presence living amongst the carp. Tiny fry fish scattering erratically. Ounce sized roach swimming for their lives amongst ominous boils. Yes, there are perch living here. Good sized ones too. At the time I promised myself a return for a few sessions after them once the summer had passed and the water began to cool. Well, is was that time. And although the weather conditions were still unseasonably mild and the day a bright one, it was a good a time as any to make a few exploratory casts.

Lots of perch haunts here

Offering a little cover, the island seemed a good place to begin. I had the margins to target too and a very pronounced drop off just past them. With the three depths marked on my rod, so I could switch between them quickly, I began feeding a few red maggots and a couple of lob worm sections per swim. I also had with me a few prawns; either for use on the hook or to be broken in to smaller pieces and fed. For now though, with the sun still bright, I began by fishing the deepest swim. To get a feel for what was going on I stated with half a lobworm on a size ten hook. A fake red maggot was used to make sure the worm didn’t make its escape off the hook. Before every cast I fed eight or ten maggot and cast the rig in over this. The lobworm falling enticingly amongst the free offerings.

Like bacon sandwiches to a perch

If no bites were forthcoming over the next hour I would happy to admit there were no perch in the area. Or at least no perch in the mood to feed. After a few casts the float began to signal small fish in the area with a series of tiny movements. At least I had attracted something into the swim. This commotion would not go unnoticed by a big, old sergeant. I now just needed to persevere. After 90 minutes I had received no proper takes so I thought it was time to try by the island. I had been feeding this swim occasionally whilst concentrating on the other. It was much shallower here. Call it anglers intuition but it just did’t feel right. The sun was much to bright and I didn’t feel confident of a bite. Half an hour without a dip of the float seemed to back up my feelings. Back to the deep water swim. And an immediate response as the tip sank from view. A perch but only a small fish. No more than four ounces. Time to try searching the surrounding area, hoping to find where a large perch may be laying in wait off the main shoal of feeding silvers and small perch. The float is a fantastic tool for searching swims. Another hour passed me by with no reward. I was starting to debate moving areas altogether when the sun went behind a huge grey cloud. The light levels dropped. The swim was transformed in a matter of seconds. I felt I owed it to myself to see the day out here. Why not? I was having great fun and thats what fishing should all be about. I fed the deep water swim with a few catapults of maggots and two or three broken prawns and worm pieces. I myself had some bread and soup and I allowed the bait to settle.

A myriad of uses!Naturally my mind began to daydream of perch marauding in the depths. Picking up the scent of my bait. Searching to find the source. Watching a large, plump worm fall tantalisingly through the water. It’s movement sending out vibrations that are picked up by the perches lateral line. So simple. At least in theory. Back to the real world, I cast once more into the deep water swim and watched the float settle pleasingly. The wind had increased now and it had become quite cool. I needed to add a little depth to the rig to stop it from being blown through the swim too quickly. Three or four unrewarded casts went by before the float vanished without warning under the ripples. I swept the rod up from the rest. Solid weight met me at the other end. Now to hope it was not a carp, of which there here had been plenty moving all day. No, not enough weight for a carp. A few head shakes and jagging motions thundered up the rod blank. Then back to dead weight. I was hopeful. Fleetingly so it has to be said. A side to side motion. Line cutting through the water from right to left and memories of a fish caught a few weeks ago came flooding back. This felt suspiciously like an eel. I gritted my teeth and hoped that the fish would suddenly go back to feeling more ‘perch’. It didn’t. The steady pressure of my rod soon took its toll on what turned out to be quite a long and solidly built eel. After a few failed attempts at landing it (I’m very glad other fish can’t swim backwards) it was curling itself into a ball in the mesh of my net. Ready for me to unhook. Oh joy.

My new PB eelThe eel turned to to be a new personal best for me. It was a very broad fish. The pictures don’t do the fish justice. Although I tried to take some to illustrate, the eel had other plans. Such a strong and slippery customer. I fished on for the next hour, until darkness well and truly set in, but received no further bites. I will return though. Those perch are in there, after all.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

Supermarket sweep / comfort in familiarity (Entry 114)

An opportunity to go fishing had snuck up on me. Opportunities that I dream of materialising. The impromptu escape to another world. And although I was happily getting the tackle ready, I knew deep down I wasn’t heading where I really wanted to. The fish I would be angling for certainly not the ones I dearly wanted to be transfixed by. Why? I simply didn’t have the bait I needed. Still you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth (what a truly odd saying that is). Time for me to head to the Theatre of Last Minute Anglers; otherwise known as Asda.

Sweetcorn the saviour

To purchase sweetcorn, the saviour of many a last minute fishing session, I’m sure. I did debate going after small river chub with a loaf or two of bread. Or maybe after perch using prawns. In the end the idea of waggler fishing sweetcorn on a small club water won over, especially with the thought of a grass carp or two taking the bait. Not long later I had arrived. At a very empty venue it has to be said. Arriving just before dinner, I expected to have a limited choice of pegs but as it played out I was the only angler there all day. Bliss. I set up a waggler rig that would allow the sweetcorn to flutter slowly through the water column; a tactic I have found to be a good one when after the grass carp. I had a few pellets with me also, and I do mean a few. These were fed sparingly alongside the sweetcorn. Just something with a little more flavour leak off and fish pulling power. I didn’t wait too long for a bite, in fact on the second cast I had a confident bite, resulting in a tiny crucian no more than three ounces. It’s buttery colour not too dissimilar to the colour of the bait it had been fooled by.

about 96% a full goldfish

A few casts later I was into a better fish. It fought well on the light waggler rod I was using and turned out to be a brown goldfish. Missing the top half of its tail. I wondered what had caused it. The fin had healed over well but increasingly more often I am seeing fish with similar injuries, both on still waters and on rivers. Our fish certainly have a lot of predators to keep them on their toes. With the fish returned I took a few minutes to have a cup of coffee and to watch a little field mouse eating the grain of sweetcorn I had left for him at the side of my peg. Delicate claws holding the feast of a meal. His tiny black eyes watching out for any danger. I kept feeding two or three grains of corn quite regularly, hoping to attract any one of the numerous better sized fish cruising in the upper layers. Maybe I should have bought that bread after all.

Another plump fish

Life wasn’t too bad though. I was catching a good amount of lovely, plump hybrids/goldfish/carp type things. Its a venue that seldom lets me down. Even in the depths of winter. Even though I tend only to fish it when other venues are out of action or I have a unexpected session, as I had today, it’s comforting to know that there is always a little slice of countryside that I can escape to. Wile away a few hours and even catch a few beautiful fish doing so. Still no sign of any grass carp today though. Where were they? The swim went through a quite spell.  Time to watch some of the fauna; tiny wrens and colourful finches. A sparrow hawk however over a field survey the land below. I still kept a little feed trickling in and cast regularly. From nowhere the float tip once more sank from view and a much livelier fish was hooked. It wasn’t the sought after grass carp though, keeping low and moving quickly, it had to be a carp.

A little common carp

Indeed it was. The first of a run of small carp. None of them bigger than two pound. Commons, a mirror and a handful of ghosties. But of the grass carp there was no sign. I persisted until dusk catching a few more small crucians and even an autumn tench of around a pound. When I could see the float tip no longer I had to accept that the species I most wanted to set my eyes upon would remain hidden. A symbol of what makes angling so great. Not being able to predict. Not knowing. Even with the odds stacked in your favour, and with past experience, it’s the fish themselves that have the final say.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman