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

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Anglers Paradise; a beginning (Entry 207)

Six days of fishing. Not exactly wall to wall angling, but pretty close. The long drive, marred by a colossal tailback on the M5, seemed now so distant as I sat and watched the finely dotted float tip. I had only an hour of daylight left before it would be too dark to see, but I knew the before then, I would have captured my first colourful fish. Indeed, it took around ten minutes for the orange tip to vanish, replaced by a tench of similar tone, a golden tench of around two pound. It fought spiritedly, it looked splendid, and welcomed me to Anglers Paradise in style.

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After an evening of eating and drinking, and a later than intended nightcap (or three), I thought it best to make a leisurely start to the next day. A stroll to the local shop first to pick up some breakfast items, then at a sedate pace, I prepared for a day on the Float Lake. The Devonshire weather was certainly shining. A clear blue sky, deep and saturated, stretching as far as I could see, lifted my soul. The sun warmed my back as I made up two rigs ready for the day ahead. My cup of tea didn’t touch the sides. Neither did my bacon and egg muffin. I was going to enjoy this.

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With such warm conditions the resident koi were easy to spot. Plenty cruised in the upper layers. Their pearly colours dulled only by a few inches of water between back and surface. Tail fins occasionally created vortexes. Floating morsels were suck down with a sharp slurp. A fine float rig was set a foot deep and baited with slow sinking bread. Within minutes the koi began to fall. In the first two hours I caught twenty. From a pound to around five, they obliged, taking the bread without any hesitancy, and fighting like fish twice their size once hooked.

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By mid afternoon the fishing became a little tricky, but a steady rain of 4mm pellets catapulted regularly brought a succession of golden tench to the net, as they took the bait in the upper layers of a five feet deep swim. That’s if they beat the hordes of tiny rudd to the bait. I had over forty of these beautiful, hard fighting fish, each one unique, some with red fins, some with white. Some with black spots whilst others had none. They all shared a black button eye and the same dogged attitude of their green cousins. Along with a smattering of blue and golden orfe, some sizeable golden rudd to just under a pound and a few rogue F1 type hybrids, I caught on virtually every put in over the next three hours, amassing more than a hundred fish and savouring every second.

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By late afternoon I’d had my fill, my arm ached, and my second flask had long since run out. Time to wander back to the villa for some food and a hoppy beverage. As I packed away, at my feet, the koi began to forage in the margins of the lake. For a moment I was almost tempted to have an extra hour fishing for them. But I resisted. I had plenty of angling ahead of me. Tomorrow, I had a day on the Specimen Orfe & Tench Lake booked, and preparing for that now would ultimately serve me better than a few more koi on the bank. Or so I hoped. In less than 12 hours I would find out.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Doorstep to doorstep (Entry 206)

I headed to the local canal this week, a place I have had a few attempts at fishing in the past few weeks, simply because it takes minutes to get there. When time is short, I’d rather spend an extra hour fishing than driving an extra hour simply getting somewhere to fish. With a rise in the water temperature I expected that the fish would be willing to feed, but this being a canal, you shouldn’t get too carried away. Fine lines and small hooks are still a must whilst the water still has clarity and forget about piling in bait. Especially when you are after roach.

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Believe it or not, after feeding a palmful of hemp at the start of the session, I fed just three casters every fifteen minutes or after catching a fish, to keep interest without feeding them full. The canal I am fishing has a typical natural venue cycle; the first hour is positive, then the fish become cagey. Then is the time to re-feed and rest the swim, sometimes for half an hour or longer, and this will see the fish return. Today was no different. Using a long crystal waggler, with a foot of line on the bottom, I was able to slow the bait down adequately against the canals natural tow. The bait still moved, but very slowly, something that roach cannot resist at times. In fact, my second cast produced a bite, a small roach to start with at 6oz. My next cast however produced one of a much better stamp.

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This roach was well over a pound, though not quite two, and fought like a tiger. For their size, and on balanced tackle, I can never get over just how hard roach fight. Fooled on a single caster with a size 20 hook buried inside. I was overjoyed. A true gem of the canal in the middle of a bustling city centre. I guess the busy banks do go some way in keeping the cormorants at bay, especially so when said banks are flanked with apartments, dog walkers, or someone having a sneaky cigarette on their balcony. They all help. After that fish I continued to catch 6-8oz fish, over 15 in fact, before losing a roach even bigger than the first. My heart dropped to my shoes. A lull in activity followed, forcing an earlier than intended re-feed of hemp, and the consumption of my sandwich. Time to rest the swim and lick my wounds.

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The gamble paid off, thankfully. Half an hour later, on my second cast, I hooked the second pound plus roach of the day, smaller than the first but still as magnificent. A brace to be proud of. A few small perch then turned up, which I never think is a good sign to be honest, before out of the blue I hooked into another good fish which took the caster on the drop. The rod locked up, the fish jagged hard and ran, before shaking its head where the hook, again, pulled. A silvery flash was my only glimpse of the fish as it swirled down into freedom. I dearly hoped it was a hybrid or a chub. In fact, I know it was. I can’t even begin to consider the alternative. And that is all I am going to say on the matter.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

 

A hint of spring (Entry 205)

For once I set out in beautiful conditions, conditions that, dare I say it, felt like the middle of spring. The air had a serene stillness, one that allowed the quiet birdsong to resonate, sounds that would otherwise have been swept away on the wind. A largely dull day was forecast but the air temperature was good, nearly into double figures, as it had been for a few days prior. I was looking forward to this. The rivers were out of the question though, topped up to the brim by heavy rain, so once more I headed to a small stillwater with no bigger ideas than simply whiling away a few hours in the hope that at some point, my float would disappear.

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As this was an impromptu outing, bait was a few small pellets left over from last summers tench fishing, plus a few worms still hanging on to life behind the shed. And being a mixed fishery, one with all sorts of species (even ‘Heinz 57’ type species), I was confident that at some point in the day I would have a few bites. I set up to fish two lines comfortably; the pole being my chosen tool for the day. With two areas plumbed up and fed I did what I usually do and left them to settle. Of course, I had a cup of tea and a wander around the lake whilst I did so. Upon my return I threaded half a worm onto the hook and tried the nearside swim. A roach took the bait almost instantly, then a rudd, before a fighting fit common carp gatecrashed the party.

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After a few more roach and rudd, I re-fed both lines, and had another brew. The open water line I planned to leave well alone for another hour. Let any fish there really grow confident on those free pellets. In the meantime I fished two worms on the hook in the nearside swim, hoping to tempt a bonus perch or another carp, but the next sixty minutes passed uneventfully. I could wait no longer. I really needed to see if there was anything further out. And there certainly was. On the first put in, the float vanished, mere seconds after settling. At the end of a thumping battle a crucian/goldfish hybrid of over a pound lay defeated in the net. Not one for the purists but good fun nonetheless.

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And so it went on, feed, bite, feed, bite. As simple as you can get, with plenty of fish coming my way over the next ninety minutes. Goldfish, crucians, hybrids, small carp, a rogue tench and a few more roach. I have no doubt I would have carried on catching, albeit for the pellets running out, I would have fished it until darkness stopped me. But it was not to be. The prettiest fish today was a two toned goldfish, not a Ska-loving fish of course, but one that resembled an upside down sunset scene. If you really squint. On my way back to the car I spied a patch of flowering snow drops under the canopy of a small tree as well as a several patches of daffodil already well above the surface and looking proud. Spring really isn’t far away. Right now, thats a lovely thought.

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Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

Classics are classics (Entry 204)

Over the past season I have, like a lot of people, really saw the benefits of light lure fishing. Now, I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I have found out that if you find where the fish are and put something they want in front of them its surprising just how instant the action can be. Being relatively new to this however, I don’t have may lure patterns to choose from, soft lures mainly, and there are days when I am unsure they are what the fish really want.

That’s where these lures make their entrance. Made by Theseus, the Pred-X range is brilliant for people staring their journey into lure fishing, just like me. Good quality, and more importantly, plenty of variety. Spinners, spoons, worm baits with tiny propellors, curly tail soft lures, there is all sorts! I Primarily fish for perch when lure fishing, so I was keen to get down to the river and try out these spinners, and in the slower, deeper areas some soft lures. The only problem was that on arrival, the normally sedate river was angry and rising.

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A change of venue meant that it was once again the canal I targeted. I was sure a tough day was ahead of me. First up was the spinners. Straight from the packet the first thing I inspected was the hooks. Plenty sharp enough for me. Something all to readily skimped on, sadly, but not the case here. Then the not so simple choice of what to choose. In the end, and expecting to cycle through many during the next few hours, I chose what I thought would suit the depth which in my case was a just a few feet. I was amazed at the vibration that I could feel emanating up the braid and through the rod blank. Any predators in the area would certainly know the spinner was there, perch, pike, and even big chub.

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Having such a collection, I became aware of casting into areas I would normally deem ‘to dangerous’ with only a handful of lures. But as I remember a great chub angler saying once, if you don’t lose a few hooks on a days chub fishing you are not casting into the right places. I think the same could be said about lure fishing. More than impressed with the spinners, though less than impressed with the fact the fish were not playing ball, I thought it best to seek out some deeper areas for the next hour or so. It had been a cold night after all and perhaps the small fish were laying up in such places. An opportunity not to be missed by hungry predators.

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The LRF soft lure selection worked a treat here. Plenty of small perch made an appearance. The imagined the hypnotic action of the curly tail was just too much to resist for these tiddlers. On a tough day I was very happy to have had a little action. The smallest, yellow coloured lure worked best, and even though the fish were struggling to top a few ounces, I was always ready for a big fish to engulf the lure on the next cast. One of the most exciting aspects of light lure fishing. From 3oz to 3lb in a heartbeat.

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By now I had only an hour left, the best hour admittedly, that being the end of day into dusk. For it, I changed to the small spoons, the only lure I had not yet given a try. My thinking was that if the fish were going to give chase, and it seemed they were not really up for it, they might just change their mind if that mouthful looked more like five mouthfuls. For such simple lures, I was impressed with the versatility of the spoons. I could retrieve them quickly and high in the water, or deeper down and more slowly, even stop retrieving altogether and let if flutter temptingly in the flow, near outlets and run offs. They also had a red bait flag at the hook end, which added colour, and vibration. A great touch.

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If you are looking to expand your collection, but don’t want to spend the earth, these lures will offer plenty of variety. Classic are classics for a reason, after all. I really should have put some of these in my lure bag months ago. And now I have, I cant wait to get out on the river when conditions are more favourable. Confidence and flexibility really are the keys to catching.

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning some of these lures, then simply head over to my Facebook page, and enter the draw. There will be three bundles up for grabs and all the details on how to enter are there. Good luck!

Here is link to the Fishing Republic website where the lures are available.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Trio (Entry 203)

I suppose it was always going to happen. My first opportunity to go fishing in some time aligning with the weather taking a turn for the worse. Gale force winds chilled the air temperature and made sure it would do well to get above freezing at any point today. Like a madman, I hurtled down the motorway, half my thoughts fixated on that magical first cast to come, whilst the others were strictly keeping the car from being blown onto the hard shoulder.

It wasn’t the canal to which I headed, nor a river, instead I chose the sanctuary of a small, wooded pool. Or at least the sanctuary I hoped it would provide. With me was a meagre helping of ‘weeks old’ worms and a huge flask of tea. The many layers I wore made body movement cumbersome but they were soon appreciated when I took up my position, sat still staring at that beautiful orange tip bobbing amongst the waves and the strong, cold wind. For a few minutes the float did its best to hypnotise me, but just as I started to sink into a trance, the float disappeared without warning and with terrific pace. My strike set the hook and in the deep, clear water, a silver flank flashed.

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A quality roach came to that first cast. Over a pound in weight and scale perfect. A sucker for a small section of worm. The cold seemed to affect me a little less after this instant action. The cup of tea I celebrated with helped to warm even more. So too did the procession of little perch that stole my bait and for a time I was concerned that they were not going to leave me alone. That was until I hooked something bigger. In the deep, clear water, a golden flank flashed.

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I certainly wasn’t expecting that. My first crucian of the year, which like the roach, was superbly conditioned and fighting fit. I really was amazed to catch one in such cold conditions and it just proves that if there is something hungry nearby, you always have a chance, even when the mercury is well below what you would usually associate with a particular species. The little perch made an appearance once more, a dozen or more falling over the next hour, leaving me with little else to do than feed and hope something bigger again moved in. I ate a sandwich and drank more tea in the meantime. Half an hour soon passed and on my second cast in, the float sank away with much more purpose. Once more the hook was set into something that in the deep, clear water, flashed an orange flank.

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Certainly a fish to brighten a dreary day. Colours more at home at a 90’s rave. Talk about Day-Glo. It would be my last fish however, for soon after a bank of sleet blew in and even though my optimism still burned, that was quite enough for me. I was more than happy with my trio of fish cemented between the countless little perch. And content just to be out on the bank again, stealing a precious few hours, getting lost in my thoughts, and the soothing ripples.

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

Weekend in two stages (Entry 202)

My first trip out, heading once more to the canal and with perch as my target, came as great relief. Working the previous weekend meant I had gone far too long without wetting a line. To say I was eager to arrive and get fishing would be a massive understatement. The journey seemed to take longer this week, like how places always seem further away when you don’t know the way, only for its true distance become clear on the trip home. When we have no way of visualising the destination it can seem like you have travelled twice the distance. There’s a metaphor for my perch fishing in there somewhere.

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Upon arrival my heart sank. The usually coloured canal, even now during the depths of winer, was much clearer than I ever expected it to be. I hung my head over the bridge. It was very clear. Obviously no boats had been through recently. And no boats meant limited tow. Another nail in the coffin lid. You always need a little tow on this canal. Still, I decided to give it a go, a bad days fishing is better than a good day at work, and all that. I primed two chopped worm lines and had a cup of tea whilst they rested. To my surprise my first put in down the track yielded a four ounce roach. Then another and then a skimmer. I was well and truly shocked.

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Just to satisfy my curiosity, I had a quick look on the far bak line and feeling quite confident now, went over with half a lobworm. An instant response as the float buried before it could fully settle, and a jagging fight that could only be from one culprit. A perch. Not a bad size either, easily over a pound. You could’t make this up. To cut a long story short over the next three hours, I caught another decent perch or two from the far bank line and over sixty roach, skimmers and hybrids from the track. A brilliant days fishing for early December, and although the really big perch didn’t turn up, I didn’t mind one bit. Plenty of bites had kept me warm, the day had flew by, and all from a venue I didn’t fancy one bit.

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My second trip out, miles away from the canal though in similar geographical location, saw me travelling light with a stick float rod and a tub of maggots in the hope of finding some hungry grayling. The weather had turned extremely cold over night, and I was sure that with the canal more than likely having a lid on, the choice of river and species would see me rewarded with plenty more bites. It looked perfect, the water clear, a little down on normal winter level, but still with pace in the glides. The deep pools had a lovely inviting green/blue hue and a sedate amble. I knew they would hold wiry gems. I rushed to set up, eager to send the float down one of them, and let the action to commence.

Except it didn’t. Not one bite came my way. But how could that be? The river looked perfect. If I was asked to pick one venue to catch a fish from in winter, a gun pointed at my head, it would be here and grayling. I fished known swims and respected areas. I fished new ones. I even fished places that have, up until now, never produced a single bite for me. I tried everything but all to soon the watery sun began its descent, drawing a close to this desperate chapter. Dismayed, confused, and more than a little amused, I had to except that this was going to be a blank. All from a venue I really fancied.

The day fishing becomes predictable will certainly be the day I give up.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman