Swings and roundabouts and barbel (Entry 151)

The first of two sessions this week took place early in the morning. Very early in fact, arriving before dawn, but only just. Time to rain a good amount of bait into an area of the river I thought looked best for a bite. Such a commotion would surely unnerve any fish present, at least for a while, so over the next hour to give the swim time to settle, I ate a tea cake, had two cups of tea and generally took in the ambience of the place. Peaceful, cool and hazy. The landscape tinged in blue. Without a breathe of wind. Nothing dared to move. The river itself only doing so begrudgingly.

Unfortunately, the rod tip followed suit, sitting motionless for around two hours, before eventually giving in. The bite was a spectacular one, rod tip hooping over and jagging ferociously, and it appeared my target species had been hooked. The hard fighting barbel. Upon picking up the rod however, I was met with little resistance, a little head nodding but nothing more. A small chub then, the greedy little thing certainly had its eye on a good meal, in the form of the big halibut pellet I had on as bait. I casually reeled the fish in and netted it, but upon peeling away the layers of mesh, I was shocked to see it was in fact a baby barbel, perfectly formed and fresh from the mould. Quite how it managed to take that pellet I’ll never know.

First fish of the new season

After it’s picture, the fish swam strongly away, the rivers future for a second literally in my hands, and its a good sign to see smaller fish present. For the rest of the session though, it appeared as if the river was devoid of fish, save that one baby barbel. Dinner time soon came and with the sun now very high, it was time to leave, the drive home giving me time enough to plan a return trip for the next evening.

The next day passed quickly and I soon found myself bank on the riverbank. A session of opposites about to begin. For starters it was evening instead of morning. No longer was the air still, an angry wind gusted from all directions, and the sun that forced me to retreat the day before was hidden from view behind dark grey clouds. Ones who’s bark, I hoped, would turn out to be much worse than their bite. The only thing remotely similar to the first session was the level of the river and its lack of flow. Despite this I decided to fish positively, so in went a few feeders full of pellets, casters and of course, some hemp. Much smaller baits would be used this time, my hookbait changed from pellet to caster, at least until darkness fell.

My new best friend

I ate a tasty pie, had three cups of tea, and set up my camera equipment in readiness. Just in case, and certainly not a show of confidence, but if I was to catch a fish I wanted to keep it out of the water for as little time as possible. An hour soon passed, in fact it was nearer two hours, and I’d still not made a cast. My hay fever played up big style, my eyes itched and I couldn’t stop sneezing. Probably not the wisest move to be sat in the countryside but what was I to do? I also became sidetracked feeding a trumpeter swan some casters. I’d never seen one before and they are huge! On occasions the swan looked lovely, yet on others seemed to have a sinister look in its eye, as if it now knew where my secret bait stash was and would seize it the very moment my back was turned. Unsurprisingly, I now had a companion for the rest of the evening, but I didn’t mind.

My rig was cast into place a little after nine o’clock and remained there until well after eleven. From nowhere the rod tip sprang to life. I sharply picked the rod up and leant into a powerful fish. In the darkness it was a fantastic fight, accompanied by hisses from an unimpressed swan, a long and sleek barbel gave me a real run around. In the end the fish was beaten, and rested for a few minutes before I even contemplating unhooking, which I could do in the margins. It was then up to the mat for a super quick picture, a maximum of thirty seconds later the fish was back in the margins and allowed to fully recover. It took a further five minutes before I was happy enough the drop the rim and let her swim off. Which she did strongly, illuminated in the clear water by my head torch, an impressive sight indeed.

A good sized summer barbel

And that was it for the rest of the evening but I left the river a very happy angler, walking back across the field amongst a huge hatch of mayflies, and the sound of ravenous trout taking advantage of this bounty. A perfect end to a fantastic evenings fishing.

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

Advertisements

Soaked and spoilt (Entry 150)

Halfway to the venue I made a u-turn. The reason; I knew deep down it would be out of sorts. Not an hour since making up my mind, I made it up again, and headed to pay another visit to the crucian water. It had been very warm for the week preceding my trip and reports had indicated that the margins of rivers and stillwaters were taking on the same characteristics as bathwater. Lovely and warm. For us humans at least. I had a hunch the fish would be finding it as uncomfortable as this mugginess was for me. But if there was one fish that would give me a chance of a bite during these conditions, I figured it had to be the crucian, the most tolerant of all our fish. Why didn’t I work that out at home? Now there’s a thought.

Bait, at least

I had been heading out to fish for bream and tench so bait choice had already been made. Hemp and sweetcorn. I would have preferred a few more hookbait choices but sitting waiting for a crucian with two baits to choose from trumped watching lethargic bream and tench basking on the surface, whilst my sweetcorn lay nailed to the bottom in ten feet of water. I arrived twenty minutes later. Greeted by threatening clouds gathering on the horizon. In true fishing spirit, I now realised that my umbrella was still in the shed, so wearing just a t-shirt, hoody and (thankfully) some trousers, I began to tentatively set up, whilst the heavy grey clouds rolled over. Rain began to fall, erupting ferociously amongst flashes of brilliant white, the wind rattled through the trees and the thunder boomed.

Thirty Minutes later, and now soaked to the bone, I made my first cast. The sun had returned and for the first time in weeks, I was very grateful for how warm it was, drying me out in next to no time, vapour rising as the water left both my clothes and the surrounding vegetation. The fishing began slowly. A few delicate indications my only reward for the first hour. Across the lake not many fish were moving. Those that did were small, very small, and I certainly didn’t want a shoal of them taking up residence in the area I was fishing.

A very welcome crucian

Persistence paid off as eventually my float lifted, from nowhere just like the storm that had blown in at the start, all hell broke lose.The fish charged around defiantly but was soon played out, admired and respected. Then back to watching a lifeless float. But, a fish had been caught, a beautiful two pound crucian carp. I had to put myself right. This session was proving a lot trickier than previous ones. Time to judge things in the now ratter than comparing them to past events. Especially when you have been well and truly spoilt as I have. I wouldn’t have come anywhere near to catching a specimen fish on my original choice of venue.

A beautiful brace of big two pound crucians

Not a great amount happened during the next few hours, but with my new found philosophy, I was enjoying every minute. I watched a kingfisher taking advantage of the plentiful small fish on offer. A much better angler than I, every dive was rewarded with a catch, not that I was jealous. Well, maybe a little. The light began to drop and with it the temperature. I gave myself another half hour before heading home and in that time caught a further two crucian carp. Both good two pound fish taken in successive casts before I connected with a fish that would not stop. A ‘steam train’ that eventually took my hooklength and left me shaking my head. I have had a few fish that have roared off now and have never seen one of the them. Carp or big tench probably, and if pushed, I would say tench. Angers intuition. Or wishful thinking.

Three crucians on a tough day

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

Ghost carp, newts and echoes (Entry 149)

My dad first took me fishing when I was about 4 years old, on the local canal, where I watched him catch roach after roach on caster. Good sized fish were caught, with some fish well over a pound, there was even a rogue carp caught in the evening. A white and grey ghost carp and it looked colossal. I caught little perch a few feet from the bank. It was amazing how my swim fed itself all day and the fish kept coming. My dad of course responsible for this. I also fished out great crested newts, that were abundant at the time, with the landing net when I needed a ‘break’ from the fishing. It really was eye opening. Dragonflies, damselflies, shrews, roach and perch, newts and frogs, croaking as the sun sank. All this a mile from our home, in the middle of a busy city. Another world to me.

Still willing the float under

I must have been a real pain to take fishing. Relentless questions, fidgeting and climbing trees, my old man must have had the patience of a saint. But still he kept taking me and answering my questions, offering advice and encouragement, letting me make my own mistakes before showing me how to avoid them. He was a fantastic teacher and I have a lot to thank him for. Now its my turn to ‘put up’ with things, like he used to do, ‘that peg could have been a bit more comfortable’, or ‘I’m not going if its raining anymore – I’m past all that,’ and my personal favourite, ‘I’ve told you I’m not using any of those stinking pellets!”

The first of the day

Recently, I had a trip out with my favourite grump. We fished very differently to that first trip to the canal. My dad opting for waggler fished caster and hemp whilst I tried the lift method and sweetcorn. It was a lovely sun filled day and we fished into clear water. Dark shapes, and some brightly coloured ones, swam past with regularity. I was the first to get a bite, a dark, wood hued mirror carp with beautiful plated scales. We both admired the fish before it was released, watching it swim away strongly, a congratulatory nod in my direction from the old man.

Scales and colours

My dads swim didn’t wake up at any point in the day. Still he fished on, with as much enthusiasm as he once did, perhaps only lacking the drive to practice more regularly. I hooked another fish around dinner time, a common carp this time, followed next cast by another, both of similar size. The icing on the cake came a while later in the form of a beautiful ghost carp, white and grey shades the majority of its colour with flecks of orange, and the hardest fighter of the day. A echo back to that first session on the canal many years ago. Strange how events unfold.

A colourful surprise

I really enjoyed the day out with my dad. He shown as much interest in what I was doing now as I used to show him when I was younger. Seeing something he has practised for so long through fresh eyes perhaps. Or maybe he was appreciating an angler doing nothing more than enjoying his fishing. An angler that probably wouldn’t be an angler if not for his tremendous help and investment. Yes, I certainly have a lot to thank my old man for. So thanks, dad.

More fantastic colours

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

All change (Entry 148)

In stark contrast to last week, the rig was punched 40 yards from the bank, a large feeder filled with groundbait, small pellets and casters quickly shrinking in size. It crashed into the water, the sound echoing on impact, bouncing off the trees that circled the water. It’s sometimes hard to believe that such a crude and intrusive method can catch fish. Good sized ones too. What it is to be delicate should always be judged in comparison to the quarry, this wouldn’t be good enough to catch 6oz roach but for big bream, it could be considered ‘perfect’.

It's easy to sit and wait in conditions like thisWhat wouldn’t be considered ‘perfect’, at least by the angling textbooks, was the conditions. A largely cloudless sky and a sun that blazed down. The wind was almost non-existent giving little respite from the warmth. Resident dragonflies, supercharged by the warmth, whizzed around hunting other flying insects. I wished they would thin out the mosquito population somewhat. I’d already been bitten a few times. Time to apply the deet.

The first bream of the dayI had just finished smothering my right arm in the repellant when the rod tip jagged forward sharply. A line bite, I was pretty sure. Encouraging. Then began the debate began, whether to start ‘deeting’ my left arm or not, surely a more potent remedy for provoking a bite than reaching for the flask. Indeed, had I begun to deet up my limb I would have been interrupted, as the tip slowly pulled round and held. I casually leant forward to pick up the rod and connected with a lumbering weight. No need for super quick reflexes here. My first bream of the day and a fantastic start.

Smaller baits in hot weatherSimilar to when rivers are low and clear, in bright and hot conditions, I favour fishing smaller baits for bream. The three rubber caster I was using as bait proving just too real looking for this bream. A very quick picture was taken, making sure the mat was well wetted before removing the fish from the water, an important point but even more important in hot weather. Then it was time to get the rig cast back out. Bream never swim alone and I fancied another bite or two despite the baking heat.

Another bream in the netI had to wait a little while for my next indication but I was grateful just to be getting bites. This bream seemed to have responded to a few quick casts in succession, concentrating the feed, giving the fish something to home in on, amongst the sparse, larger feed area. I like to bait an area beyond where I’m fishing to give any fish a place to back away to or to gain confidence from. Thats my take on it and it seems to work ok on this venue. There is always that niggle in an anglers mind of course. Could I be catching more doing something different? Lately however I’ve tried to re-train my brain; I could be catching more doing something different, but I’m happy doing what I am doing, so that is the right method for the day.

A bream in the sunFours hours soon passed and I had to leave just before the evening fell. I had managed to land six bream during that time, every one between seven and eight pound. Given the conditions and the time I fished I was happy to call the trip a successful one. Enjoyable too, fishing on the tip, rather than sitting behind alarms. I think an evening trip needs to be planned, fishing into the darkness, to see if I can trip up one of the double figure giants that live in these waters. There’s always the big tench too. I just can’t decide! Though I’ll probably need the alarms for those. Oh and I completely forgot about my left arm. The mosquitos had a field day.

The last fish of the dayThanks 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