No need to rush (Entry 126)

Saturday had passed me by in a blur and it was already nearing lunchtime on Sunday. As long as I made it to the river for mid afternoon I would be happy. I could have rushed or put off the things I needed to do. But thats not my style. Not long later half a pint of maggots and a little hemp was readied, a flask made and I was river bound. I’ve visited the river quite a lot recently but I make no apologies for this. I’ve been re-discovering the art of trotting and catching some cracking fish. Most importantly of all though I have been enjoying every second. Surely this should be the biggest motivation for angling in the first place? Comforting start in the shape of a lovely graylingAnd when you have a real chance of catching fish, like this beautiful small grayling, its tough to head elsewhere. Today the river looked in perfect trim. I was a little trepidatious about the idea of snow melt from the previous week having a detrimental effect, but I needn’t have been; the grayling seemed to be hungry. In the first swim I fished I took six grayling in six casts before the shoal dispersed. This was not a problem, just time to move on. In the blink of an eye I had settled into my next swim and began feeding maggots on the crease of a seaside slack. But something just didn’t feel quite right. It took the time until I was about to make my first cast to realise what felt so strange. I had, somehow, left my landing net in the first swim. Quite how this happened I have no idea so it was a trudge back to the first swim to collect it. A few more maggots fed to keep any fish interested whilst I was gone, of course. Welcome back chub I was welcomed back with a 3lb chub on my first trot. Lucky I didn’t risk one without my landing net then. Strangely, this was the only fish I could tempt here. For a full 30 minutes I ran the float down the delightful crease. Apart from a few tentative bites, probably from smaller grayling (or super cautious chub), it was ominously fish-less. I felt it was best to make a move to a third swim and maybe revisit this one on my way back to the car. Hungry grayling The third swim certainly delivered the goods though. In just half an hour I must have caught well over twenty grayling. Most were of the four to six ounce stamp though the odd better fish made an appearance. All of the fish fell to double red maggot hookbait fished over depth and held back. I love fishing this way. Line held tight between rod tip and float. The steady flow manoeuvring the rig through the swim. The fact you can almost feel the bite before the float dips. I love this way of fishing so much. It certainly helps to keep an angler warm during the winter months. I didn’t bother fishing any other swims today. I had achieved what I had set out to do; enjoy a few hours unwinding on a delightful river. I had caught a few fish too. With a lung full of fresh air, now decidedly more chilly with the absence of the sun, I began to pack away full of optimism and ideas for the next visit to the bank.

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,

NorthwestFisherman

Transformation (Entry 125)

The river looked much different today. Gone were the naked brown banks. The stark, angular trees contrasted less violently against the flat grey sky. A dusting of snow overnight had transformed my favourite small river. Every inch looked even more delightful than usual. The all too familiar trudge across the field was now a new experience. A heavy mist hung, obscuring any visual clues as to where I was. Only when I neared an landmark did it lazily ghost into view. It was quite magical. Eerie but comfortingly so. A picture postcard and one full of fish. Or so I hoped. You see even in these quite cold and daunting conditions, I still felt confident that if I found some fish the river would not let me down.What a place to be fishing!I know I say this a lot but it really was an absolute privilege to be out fishing on such a stunning and atmospheric day. Naturally, it took me longer than usual to find my way to a swim and set up. Purely due to appreciating what my eyes were witnessing. Straight out of a movie from the 30’s with everything in soft focus. The river itself, which usually reflected the earthy colours surrounding it, now stood out. A defined green/blue against the crisp white hiding its banks. I was having such a fantastic time and I had yet to make a cast. Soon enough though, that moment came. It was time to see if I could catch the ‘cherry on top’. The first few runs through proved fruitless but eventually I did get my first bite. A fish I promptly lost. As I did with the second. And the third, and the fourth. In fact I lost eight fish in succession! I couldn’t believe what was happening. This wasn’t how the picture postcard was meant to pan out. A ninth bite, way down at the end of the swim now (not surprising really), and this time the fish stayed on. A small brown trout and my first fish of the day.

Very happy to get off the mark

After the trout it was as if luck had flicked a switch. I took a dozen grayling without a single one being lost. All fighting terrifically on their way to the net. They were not huge fish, maybe 4-6oz each, but terrific sport on a Winters day. Even at this size they are already turning into beautiful fish. Sleek, silver grey flashes. A red and purple dorsal breaking the surface. Yes, beautiful fish indeed. For now though the fishing would have to wait. My hands were freezing and it was time for a much needed cup of tea and a slice of cake. Another excuse to simply enjoy my surroundings and rest the swim. A kingfisher flashed by on cue. I wonder if he had had any luck? The answer to that question probably lay in the birds name, I thought. Yes, he’d definitely caught a few.

A typical grayling todayAnd after finishing my tea I carried on in much the same vain. A few smaller grayling made an appearance before the fish began to get a little bigger. Maybe 8-10oz at a push; all immaculate fish. I couldn’t believe that I was still catching fish from the swim, considering the terrible angling at the start, and the amount I had taken since. There must have been a fairly sizeable shoal of them down there. Not doubt the cold snap had forced them shoal much tighter. There would be areas of the river with very few fish present. I had luckily dropped on a few and was glad I had made the best of it. Well, just about.

The best fish of the dayAfter fishing for around 90 minutes, the bites dried up. I pondered what to do over another cup of tea. It was definitely time for a move. To another swim and hopefully to some more fish. However as is often the case in fishing, plans never exactly play out as you hope they will. Three swims later and with not a single fish added to my tally, I was left scratching my head. Proof, I’m sure, that the fish really were shoaled quite tightly. With the light beginning to fade and the snow starting to fall once more, I decided to call it a day before I got well and truly soaked. But what a perfect few hours had just melted a way. Like the snow that fell on my jumper, and disappeared, as I made my way back across the field to the warmth of the car.

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

The Winter River: 1. As Long As There Is Grayling (Video 2)

I’ve uploaded my second video. A very short clip taking a look at fishing on rivers in the winter. I hope you enjoy the video. It was fun to make and a privilege to be in such wonderful countryside. Even if it was a little bleak and very cold. There’s still beauty here though. You just have to look a little harder. The video is hosted on Youtube. Click on the icon to be taken to it. I cannot embed the video on WordPress at the moment. If you like the video and want to, consider giving it a share. Thank you if you do.

The Winter River

youtube

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

 

Last cast syndrome: A point in favour (Entry 124)

My breath was clearly visible as I exhaled, the force of which sent plumes of vapour twisting skyward. The ground had stood little chance against Jack Frost; frozen solid in time. Waist high brambles coated with glistening white ice droplets; tree branches too. The distant sun threatened to intervene but its rays were too weak as yet. As I made my way to the river my footsteps crunched through the brittle grass. What other delights would I see today? Maybe mist rising from the rivers surface. A robin will no doubt pay a visit for a feed of maggots. And what of the creatures below the surface. I felt my best chance lay with a grayling, and later as the temperature rose, maybe a chub. For now though, I set my sights on simply getting a bite and soaking up the atmosphere.

Frozen rod rings

The first swim I visited, one I had fished before, proved to be tricky. I fed sparingly, just a pinch of maggots every cast. No more than three or four. The float had been set well over depth and I edged the rig through the swim, holding back hard, teasing the fish into taking. But what fish? As yet I had received no signs. The rod rings were doing their best to make my job even harder. The air temperature still below freezing; my line forever getting trapped in an icy grasp. An application of glycerine helped to resolve this problem and a few minutes later I caught my first fish. A tiny little grayling but a very welcome one. After that fish, where once the fishing seemed hard, it now became quite easy. A number of small, hand-sized grayling fell to my double maggot hook bait. Much welcomed action on such a bitterly cold day.

With the swim exhausted I plodded on, fishing another two swims without success. All the while I looked for spots I had previously not fished. Keen to explore. On a large sweeping bend I found one such place. It cried out to be fished. After negotiating the barbed wire fence, and with a new found confidence for the day, I fed the swim with two generous helpings of maggots whilst I enjoyed a warm coffee. Inevitably I was visited by the local robin who seemed most thankful for beak full after beak full of my bait. It does amaze me how tame they become when there’s a meal on the cards. The first trots through the swim yielded nothing but on my fifth or sixth, way down at the end of the run, I hooked into the solid weight of a chub. In the strong flow there was periods where I couldn’t move the fish. An expert of his own environment. Me at the mercy of every tail flick. But get the better of him I did, eventually netting a quality three pounder. No picture of the fish though, as he managed to emulate Houdini, escaping from the confines of my landing net I had hoped would keep him safe in the margins. Speaking of which look what he had coughed up. I’m guessing my double maggot was dessert.

Greedy chub

I fished the swim a good while longer and caught half a dozen quality grayling. Most of the fish around the pound mark. Upon looking at the time, I was shocked to see that my time was nearly up. This short session would soon have to come to an end. I allowed myself three more ‘last casts’ all of which went by without reward. It was time to go. No, not just yet. As we fishermen know a last cast, even three of them, is never truly the end. Onto the hook went two more maggots and I flicked the rig into the swim. My final ‘last cast.’ The float made it halfway down the run before sinking from sight. Amazing! The fish on the other end fought strongly, chub like, but with much less weight. A small chub then. It was only when the fish was a rod length from my net that I realised it was in fact a big grayling. Upon seeing a slightly shocked Mancunian peering through the ripples at it, the grayling shot back powerfully into the main flow. After a blur of failed attempts at netting the fish, and a brief tangle with some near bank bramble stems, resting in the landing net was my third two pound grayling.

I was over the moon with this fine graylingI hoped that the fish wouldn’t disappear the same way as the chub, as I rushed to set up my camera for a picture. It was a solid, deep bodied fish and I was over the moon that our paths had crossed. I remember talking to myself in disbelief on the bank. I can’t believe I’ve managed another one, I whittered. I held the fish for a good few minutes in well oxygenated water before releasing back into its home. It was terrifically cold but worth doing to ensure the fish swam strongly away. And that really had to be the end. The walk back across the field allowed time to reflect. On just how important it is to keep up the tradition of the last cast. To think ‘what if’ just one last time before home. I for one will do my best to uphold it. After all if I hadn’t, I would have just missed out on a fantastic experience indeed.

Making sure she is well rested before returningThanks 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

Micro pike (Entry 123)

Christmas eve; a day of last minute present buying, endless queues in the supermarket and tensions between people running high. With presents to wrap, food to prepare and people to visit it can be a stressful time. Thats exactly why I try to get as far away from the hustle and bustle as possible. A spot of fishing pre-Christmas day does wonders with the anxiety levels and with some new small rubber jigs to try out, I headed for a club water with a good head of small pike. My initial plan was to try the canal for perch but I was sure that there would be plenty of dog walkers with a similar idea to mine. Getting away from the ‘elephant in the room’ that is Christmas preparation.

Balnced tackle equals maximum enjoymentAs with most angling balancing tackle for the size and species you are hoping to catch will give you maximum enjoyment. I wasn’t expecting anything over a few pounds today so the light lure rod I use for perch fishing would be more than adequate. A selection of small rubber shads and light jig heads would allow a steady retrieve without constantly catching the weed and detritus in what is a fairly shallow venue. In fact the only difference between the set up for perch fishing was the addition of a light wire trace. I arrived just after noon and decided to eat some food and enjoy a drink before starting fishing. I was drenched in hazy sunshine but a strong wind cut across the water. I was well wrapped up though so the cold didn’t get to me. This is what its all about. Tranquility and a little solitude. Apart from the finches and robins. And swans. Oh, the sheep too and, just as I was finishing my brew, an old lady walking her dog. We exchanged pleasantries. Turns out she was getting out of the house for an hour; ‘if she saw another present to be wrapped it would be too soon.’ With that she walked off and I had a few casts in a tight, overgrown swim.

Size doesn't matterA tiny pike was fooled into taking the lure on the third or fourth cast. The fish bolted out from the marginal weed and in the clear water it was a real treat to see. Ok, I’ve caught bigger chub than this little fellow, but on the light outfit he fought extremely well. What a wonderfully coloured example he was too. Onto the next swim and a few casts later I had my second fish of the day. A slightly bigger fish than the first and one which lead me a right merry dance, diving into weed, and trying its best to make it to the safety of a fallen tree.

A small pike but great fun to catchWith a few fish now caught a pattern began to emerge. Both in the where the fish seemed to be laying up and how they wanted the lure presented. Even though it was quite cold a fast retrieve produced much more positive takes, whilst a slower one, just follows. In the clear water it was wonderful to see all of this. It was also really useful to see how certain patterns of lure reacted to movements of the rod. All things I will remember for the future. On the day it was a bright white lure that performed better than any. Given the crystal clear water I was sure a more subdued pattern was the correct choice but the fish thought otherwise.

Returning another Jack pikeI ended the short session with ten small pike. All of the fish between 1-4lb, miniature versions of this apex predator, and provided me with a welcome few hours escape. No monsters were ever on the cards but that didn’t matter. It was active fishing and full of exploration. A million miles away from turkeys and baubles even though I had caught a few crackers.

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