For a complete and honest picture (Entry 211)

There isn’t going to be a single fish in this weeks blog. There’s not going to be any pictures either. I’ve had a terribly lean spell over the last week or so, and whilst it might not make for riveting reading, I thinks its only fair to acknowledge. I had planned three trips out, two at the weekend, and one mid-week after work on the local canal. But that was for the future. Today was Saturday, and although I really wanted to make the journey to catch crucians, having not done the alternative last year, I decided to go to a different venue and sit it out for a big bream.

I had two days in which to find them, on the first day I found an appealing gravel area to fish, where I introduced a fair amount of bait over the area, and positioned two rods on the near side of this. One I fished with three fake casters and the other I alternated between corn and a 10mm Boilie. Both were presented on helicopter rigs and fished at around 60 yards. It was as far from intimate as you can imagine. In between regular casts I got through a good book, ‘Ghost Story’ by Peter Straub, which didn’t help the hours after dark one bit and I can only conclude it scared the bream off, too. No fish in two days, no line bites, and precious little moving anywhere on the lake.

Wednesday rolled around and after a particularly quiet day at work, I couldn’t wait to walk down the canal, loaf of bread in hand looking for roach and rare chub. I looked for signs of fish topping. There was none. I looked for Crabtree-esque swim. There were precious few now a certain organisation had been through with their loppers. So I went with past experience. Sitting at the end of a run-off about 30 yards downstream from a lock. I’ve taken chub and decent roach from here in the past, and was soon presenting a flake well over depth, and expecting to make contact with a monster. Once again though, the fish did not play ball, though at least I had one bite this time. A bite that I missed. All this in four and a half, picture perfect, hours.

So that was my story for the week. Pretty dull in terms of fish captures. Pretty dull in terms of action. I wanted to include this though as a means to promote the idea that we all go through bad streaks. I’m not saying this in an inflammatory way, that I am somehow better than anyone else, and therefore an authority. Quite the opposite in fact. Merely we all have to concede that no matter what we do, if the fish don’t read the final lines of the script, we will never get to the final curtain.

And that’s a really good job, isn’t it?

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

 

Anglers Paradise; a lesson (Entry 208)

I was ready fifteen minutes before the alarm was due to go off. Everything present and correct. Mattress to swim in less than fifteen minutes. Bliss. The sun had not yet rose but the water, of the specimen orfe and tench lake, was already alive. Small fish, presumably orfe, topped regularly, whilst from the bottom, small bubbles were sent up by unseen culprits. You needn’t be Einstein to work out just what was responsible for them. I found an area of the lake with a pronounced plateau to which I could fish a heavy waggler down the side of. I was quite happy that with regular feeding, little and often, I would be able to have the best of both worlds. Tench on the bottom to start with, then later, big orfe caught on the drop. I began to feed pellets with the catapult whilst I drank the first tea of the day and devoured a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer.

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My first cast, some thirty minutes or so later, produced the first fish of the day. A classic sail away bite, slow and pronounced, and my strike met with weight. A pale tench came to the net, all creams, pinks and pale blues. It was certainly a surprising catch even in this place of crazy coloured fish. Once returned I began to take a golden tench after golden tench, all around the pound mark, but as much fun as this was there was no sign of anything bigger moving into the swim just yet. The sun had long since risen and at a guess, because I’d let my phone at the villa, I felt it was around 9:00am. With the rising warmth now was the time to shallow up the rig ever so slightly, split the shot into much smaller ones, and start looking for fish higher in the water.

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The bait fell much slower now, and came to rest at dead depth, instead of the many inches over. I’d like to say that within minutes the plan worked, but in all honesty, it was more like an hour. Patience rewarded me with a fine orfe, a golden one, at well over three pounds. It fought like a wet sock until under the rod tip where it woke up and darted erratically. Once in the net the fish took on the persona of a grass carp and went absolutely ballistic. Thankfully it calmed down just long enough for me to get a picture or tow, before I released it, well rested and in fine fettle.

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Throughout the day, interspersed between literal handfuls of gold, I caught seven big orfe. The best a lovely blue orfe of over four pound. All the fish were in great condition it has to be said. As the sun began to slowly sink behind the hills I made contact with a much bigger fish. At first I though it was a tench, but the non-urgent nature of the battle, told me I was connected to an orfe. A very big orfe. Tense seconds dragged. As the fish neared the net I could see it dwarfed the biggest fish of the day. Adrenalin surged. Hands trembled. Then the rod sprang straight.

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Lets step back a little. You see, on the cast I made, the cast that would see the bait taken by the biggest orfe I’d ever hooked, I had an inkling there was something not quite right with the hooklength. A wind knot. A nick in the nylon. Something like that. The cast though was perfect and came to settle in a beautiful part of the swim. I’ll change the hooklength when I reel this back in, I thought to myself. Three minutes later I came to regret that lazy decision. Lesson learnt. If in doubt. Reel in. Change the hooklength. Change the whole rig if you have to. Just don’t do what I did. Don’t be an idiot.

I didn’t let this mishap spoil the day though. Finishing off with the smallest, but most colourful fish of the day. A deep, deep colour flanked this tench. Proof if proof is needed, that a fish doesn’t have to be the biggest, to be the best. Or is this something an angler tells themself to ease any woes brought on by fishing like a golfer?

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

Nearly bream revisited / Houdini the Tench (Entry 183)

I found myself heading back to the same venue as last week. Thoughts of bream once again my catalyst. This week, however, I would catch a bream. I had to. There could be no excuses. Unlike last time when conditions were far from ideal, this week the weather was perfect, a warm wind, overcast skies and I had made a dawn start. I had casters with me too and these bream love casters. Even the peg I wanted was available. Yes, I thought to myself, if I don’t catch a bream this time I seriously need to hang my head in shame.

Ideal bream fishing conditions

In went twenty feeders full of casters, pellets, and groundbait at about forty yards where the slow, sloping shelf just about meets the deepest water in the lake. Here any marginal weed is minimal and the bottom is largely firm. Usually to the breams liking. I gave the swim twenty minutes whilst I drank a tea and set up the rest of my tackle, all the while keeping my eyes on the area where occasionally, in between gusts of wind, I spied an odd patch of bubbles. This was looking promising. I made my first cast and sat back. Almost immediately; a line bite. Then another. Next the tip slowly pulled around and held. I lifted the rod into nothing. Madness! I didn’t even feel the fish. Still, next cast I would get one, just wait and see.

A tench posing as a bream

Except I didn’t. An hour passed with absolutely no more activity in the swim. Where had the liners gone? The bubbles? Very, very strange. I topped up the swim with a few more feeders full of casters. A change of hookbait from caster to sweetcorn was also decided upon. Then a near perfect cast saw the rig in prime position. Time to cross the fingers of my right hand which would leave my left for when I really needed it later on. This seemed to work, as a few minutes later the rod was nearly pulled in, certainly not by a bream, this had to be a tench. Indeed it was, doing a little gardening in the thick marginal weed, a few minutes later the fish, accompanied by about the same amount of weed, was safely in the net. A green present wrapped in green paper.

The first and biggest bream of the day

But still not a bream. I changed back to a caster hook bait where almost instantly I had another bite. On the other end of the line a slow, plodding weight. That beautiful slow, plodding weight of a bream. At last! Now to lead the fish in without too much pressure on the hook hold. As bream do, it behaved impeccably, swimming in a straight line from swim to net. It was a decent fish too. A 7lb’er in fact, and was the first of four fish, though the next three fish were all slightly smaller around the 6lb mark. The last fish I hooked was the same species as the first, though this one had much different ideas on how the fight would end, and this tench felt lager than the first. It kited to my left at a ridiculous speed, directly into a bed of lilies, and there it went solid. Completely locked up. There was nothing for it other than paying out some line, placing the rod down, and waiting. Now was the time to cross the fingers of my left hand. Minutes passed. The moment of truth came slowly round, rod in hand I reeled down, still there was weight, and a kick from the unseen fish. But miraculously it pulled through the lilies with the gentlest of force. What joy, another weedy green present safely netted, ready to be unwrapped.

This time however that green parcel was an empty one.

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

Nearly bream (Entry 182)

I cast out for what must have been the thirtieth time. Despite the strong wind that blew across me from right to left, the rig flew true and landed in pretty much the same place it had been doing on previous casts. Give or take. It’s quite satisfying you know, when you really feel like you are doing things well, like deep down you know you will be rewarded with a bite. Eventually. I was still waiting for that first bite of the day, you see, after slab sided bream on a Cheshire Lake. Conditions were not ideal for bream fishing by any stretch of the imagination but I have caught them from here in similar conditions in the past so my confidence wasn’t too low.

Not a bad place to while away hours

Of course, sitting in such beautiful surroundings helps matters a fair bit, especially when its more than a little slow, and because bream bites are usually pretty slow and steady, you can afford yourself more than a fleeting glance at something other than the quiver tip. The shimmering trees, with sunlight cascading off their healthy green leaves, or perhaps down into the margins, where clear water makes it easy to spot all manner of creatures. Swan mussels, water boatmen, whirligig beetles and of course, plenty of tiny fish. There was even a small jack pike, either hiding under the stage or on the blind side of an obstruction, whilst the fry fish shoaled, out of sight, on the other. A game of cat and mouse, of survival, perfectly and simplistically playing out in front of me.

Cat and mouse or pike and rudd

But of the bream there was no sign. Three hours had flown by without so much as a line bite. I had started fishing with corn, a good visual bait that can pick up a quick fish or two, but this time it seemed gaudy was not to their liking. Double fake caster was my reserve bait choice, tough enough to withstand the attentions of the many tiny rudd and perch, but tempting enough for an old bronze bream. They usually love casters on here too, and I had fed a fair few of them by now, but still the swim was devoid of fish. Maybe it was time to try a pellet?

A banker of a bream bait

After six hours and with my bait now nearly gone, I had my first action of the day, a savage line bite that immediately dispelled any thoughts I had of blanking. The bream were here. They had found the bait and were currently chomping down mouthful after mouthful of crunchy casters. It would only be a matter of time before one of those mouthfuls picked up my hookbait. I re-cast and sat back. Poised. Alert. More than I had been all day. Five minutes went by. Five that turned into ten. Then twenty minutes. Time to re-cast. But still nothing materialised. The tip simply refused to ‘do its thing’. On the opposite bank, a golden scaled common leapt clear of the surface, smashing up the lilies upon re-entry. It grabbed my attention quite easily, and for a few moments I was transfixed, by the concentric circles now growing larger and beginning to fade, much like my dreams of bream.

But not before I began to imagine a bream bite starting to play out, quiver tip pulling round slowly into a pleasing arch, and that when my gaze once again fell upon it, I would have all I wanted. It did no such thing. Maybe I shouldn’t have looked back at all.

Thanks for reading and 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

A rod on the ground is worth two in the rests (Entry 138)

It was turning into a warm one. A stark contrast to the previous day that had seen me shivering in multiple layers. I was on my way to a new water, for a quick session only, and there was plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine. The city bars were full of sun seekers enjoying some spirit altering tonics, families in the parks fed ducks, and nearer to the venue, cyclists, ramblers, and even a few hand gliders made an appearance. I was in no doubt that a certain species of fish would be doing the same as us humans. Taking advantage of the suns warm rays and where better for them to do this than in the margins. A place where it would not only be warmest but also where there would be opportunity to find natural food too. Those carp are not daft. Or are they?

Free offerings

There would also be something extra special for these carp to eat. A few boilies and pellets would soon be finding their way into interesting looking and intimate areas. If I was quiet and patient, the shallowness of the water close in, would mean the bulky carp would give their presence away. A tail pattern or a broad back breaking surface. No need to fish blindly. For the first hour or so the lake was pretty quiet. I had never fished here before but I was confident that the carp would eventually behave like carp of other waters. A little faith was needed. And patience; it was still the middle of the afternoon. Time for a cup of tea then. Sure enough as soon as my attention was taken up as I poured from the flask, I heard the unmistakable ‘bosh’ of a flying carp once more entering its domain. The ripples emanated from the other side of a tree to my left. Promising. I drank the tea slowly. Time enough to observe that there was now a carp or two at close quarters a little to my right. Quietly into the bait bucket I reached. A few pellets were sprinkled over an area not six inches from the marginal grasses. The fish came in, creating vortexes as they hoovered up the free food. Whilst watching them, and with shaking hands, I had been baiting the hair with a small boilie. A PVA bag was attached, and once I felt the area was quiet enough, I carefully placed the rig in the water. It was about a foot deep. A few more pellets were offered and I placed the rod on the ground.

Hard to believe big fish will come in so closeI kept well back. Indication would be a rod quickly heading to the middle of the lake so I secured the rod butt under my own. Five minutes passed. It’s in these moments that time seems to distort. What feels like a few blinks of the eyes often turns out to be much longer than that. An afternoon can quickly vanish. It never seems to happen the other way round though. In the interim I had seen no further signs of feeding but I was confident that the fish were still near. After all there was free food around. From nowhere the clutch began screaming and line was stripped from my reel. A carp was hooked and the fight had begun. An unstoppable force. In contrast to this initial run however the rest of the fight saw the fish plod around, trying to keep in the deeper water, past the marginal shelf. It didn’t take too much longer for what looked like a fair sized mirror carp to roll over the outstretched net.

A spring caught, margin mirror carpA near twenty pounder, caught on a handful of bait, in a foot of water, six inches from the bank, on a beautiful spring day. There is something really satisfying about spotting fish, gaining their confidence, and ultimately hooking one close in. Of course, you can do this at range but somehow the proximity changes everything. The intimacy. The almost instant action. The fact that from start to finish, barring only the fight, the fish are within touching distance. Well, almost.

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

Blank sandwich (Entry 137)

A quick session was in order. To keep the spirit topped up more than anything else. I know I am going to be suffering a fair few blanks over the next few weeks. They’ll be worth it though. In a way they already are. Keeping my appreciation in check somewhat. With the evenings now growing longer there lay a perfect opportunity for a little stalking after a visit to my sister. Not far from her house is a small reservoir. It’s seldom fished anymore. Access is quite a walk but I know from past experience that its worth the effort. There are fish in there. Good ones too. Lovely scaley carp, small tench and big roach. I’ve managed to catch the latter to 1lb 15oz. Agonisingly close but a million miles away. A warm and bright day played itself out and gave way to evening. The shadows began to lengthen. Time to fish. I made my excuses, something along the lines of ‘I need to go fishing now,’ and left my sister feeding the family. Around 90 minutes or so of fishing lay ahead of me. Freelined sweetcorn was to be my weapon. Exciting and simple.

On arrival I did a quick lap, duly spotting a few small carp in the deep margins, and carefully introduced a few grains of corn. This lap was repeated another two times before I had an opportunity to cast. Time well spent. As soon as the bait hit the water a dark shape made a bee line for my hookbait. After it had sank a few feet the sweetcorn vanished. I struck and set the hook. A small, perfect looking mirror gave his best but I quickly won the fight. A beautiful, little clear water gem. No need to mess the fish around too much, just a quick picture as it lay amongst the soft vegetation in the margins. A pleasure as always to watch the fish swim away strongly. But that one fish was the beginning and the end. As if it had sent a secret message to the other inhabitants. Beware of bright yellow freebies. I fed one or two more fish but the moment to cast in never came. A pleasant evening none the less. I must visit my sister more often.

A gem of a mirror carp.The filling of the blank sandwich came in the form of another session after a big tench. Last weeks blank and a cool night forced me to change tactics a little. One rod was fished with a maggot feeder whilst the other one I stuck with a small boilie and pellet approach. I must say it was another enjoyable day. Watching more big carp cruise in the upper layers. A multitude of birds visited the peg, happy to receive the free offerings of maggots. Some of the birds came closer than others. Maybe a little reminiscent of what was happening underwater. Maybe smaller fish were visiting with abandon, gorging on maggots, whilst the bigger fish stayed back suspicious. Unwilling to make a decision. Or maybe I was in the wrong area altogether. Or were my tactics wrong. I guess I will find out once I have a little success. Thats positivity for you.

Now to finish off the sandwich. Another short session in the evening. On a different water this time but again I employed the same tactics. I hoped to spot fish, feed them, and if I was able to, cast. The only difference this time was the switch to bread. As soon as the rivers close I often gorget about bread. This season though I am trying to fish with it more, or at the very least, have the option of doing so. I still freelined, wetting the bread slighting once hooked for a little extra casting weight, watching the line for bites. It was harder on a water with less clarity but I was eventually rewarded with a bite. Just as the sun sank below the trees. Another one chance or bust evening. My bread was taken by another lovely conditioned carp, this time of the grass variety, and it made my evening. I left perfectly set up for this weeks visit in search of those big tincas.

A grassie on the mat

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