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

Angler’s Paradise, Part 2 (Entry 87)

I’d caught a fair few fish over the first part of the week. Lot’s of the beautiful, colourful residents of Zyg’s fantastic fishery. A mixture of shallow waggler and light lift method fishing. My favourite ways to floatfish. If anything, I had over indulged somewhat, but this was all to change. It was time to fish the specimen orfe and tench lake in an attempt to catch a bigger specimen or two.

First, a visit to the on-site shop for some advice and inside knowledge. It seemed that there had been a lot of smaller fish being caught on the tried and tested maggot feeder or waggler approach, and although I’m sure it could have sorted out a fish or two, I felt it would have been a war of attrition. Weather-wise it was still very windy, a cold wind too, but thankfully the sun was shining providing a well needed boost in temperature. I opted to fish two light ledger rods both with method feeders. Scalded pellets to mould around them, and with me for hookbait, I brought a selection of small boilies, 8mm pellets, some meat and should I get desperate, a tin of sweetcorn. Hopefully these bigger, and in some cases, harder baits would withstand the attentions of the smaller fish. However, as the same small fish fed on the pellets, I hoped they would attract the attention of their bigger brothers and sisters. That was the theory. I started at sunrise in temperatures close to freezing. I made for the deeper end of the pool, where my left hand rod would be cast into the heart of one of bays of the island, and my right hand rod positioned in the deeper water half a rod length of a large weed bed. After a few casts, I began to get regular indications on the left hand rod whilst the other lay quite lifeless. It’s a funny game fishing, After roughly two hours of line bites from the left hand rod it was to be the right hand one that first sprung into life. I lifted into a fish that plodded somewhat on the other end. Very bream like, though it couldn’t be on of those. I assumed this must be a reasonable orfe. The fish kept deep. Slowly it came towards me, and I hoped that soon a vivid orange back would fade into view. A few moment later and there it was. The fairly broad back of a beautiful golden orfe. I took my chance and swept it into the net.

First fish and a PB!

What a stunning fish it was! I was more than made up, and although I would have much rather have caught it on float tackle, I was certainly not complaining. Maybe I’d get a chance to try that later as the water warmed in the sun. I took a few pictures before releasing the fish. Time for a celebratory cup of tea and a Jaffa Cake. Celebrating something orange with something orange. Seemed quite fitting. The other rod was still getting a lot of interest from smaller fish. After my mini celebration, both rods were re-baited and re-cast. I then settled back and waited contently. Not too long later, maybe twenty minutes or so, the rod that had been a hive of activity finally roared into life. A much more powerful and familiar fighting fish this time. This had to be a tench. The aggressive nature of the fight suggested a male tench too. Several powerful figure of eight manoeuvres were performed under the rod tip but soon a fighting fit, and brilliantly coloured, male tinca was laying on the unhooking mat.

How about this for amazing colours?

With the sun now nearing it highest so the fishing became difficult. For a time I searched the pool with one rod, casting regularly in an attempt to steal a bite. During this time I began to prime a margin swim with a few pellets to try later in the afternoon as the sun began to drop. For now though, it was a case of watching the wildlife and relaxing. In front of me were some quite large beetles, oil beetles I was informed at a later date by a friend (thanks Stewart). I watched them flock towards the biggest which I assumed was a female. Let’s just say I was right. They were an amazing addition to the session, something I’d never seen before. A multitude of different birds came to visit my swim, eating leftover or dropped bait. It was staggering how close they came with time.Yes, I was really enjoying this. And so the next few hours passed without any circumstance on the fishing front. Time to try the margin swim. After just minutes of being in position the rod was nodding aggressively and another tench hooked. A little smaller than the first but an amazing two toned variety. All these fish were in immaculate condition.

I have no idea how tench get like this but I'll happily catch themWith the fish returned, I walked around the pool, attempting to spot some bigger orfe in the upper layers. I saw one or two, but could not get them feeding. The cool conditions and the fluctuating overnight temperatures making them a little ‘difficult’. Regardless, I had enjoyed the session wholeheartedly. I fished until sunset but no more fish came my way. I probably could have fished a little harder, moved and tried to find the fish, but there was no need. It was a holiday after all. The fish I caught were more than ample reward and they will certainly stick in my memory for a good while yet.

This has gone on for a little longer than I thought it would so I shall save the short session after the koi carp for another time. Thanks for reading the update. ‘Like’ if you have enjoyed, and share with friends if you think they will enjoy it. Check out my Facebook page where you can keep up to date with everything that is going on.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Angler’s Paradise, Part 1 (Entry 86)

The five and a half hour drive flew by. Mostly because my mind was constantly pondering over what to expect in the coming week. It was my first visit to Angler’s Paradise. Indeed, it was to be the first fishing holiday I had been on, and I was absolutely loving the idea of staying at one of the most famous fisheries in the UK. It’s waters full of colourful species, some of which I had never caught before. Koi carp, golden tench and orfe as well as golden rudd and the hard fighting catfish. The only downside to the trip was the weather. The forecast for the first few days was quite cool with a lot of heavy rain and a strong westerly wind. But enough of that, these roads were getting narrower and steeper; my old car sounds like its on it’s last legs at the best of times.

Thankfully I arrived safely twenty minutes or so later and was greeted by Zyg in the African bar. A glass (or two) of his rocket fuel and the long journey was already fading. I couldn’t wait to get fishing but first I was shown to the chalet to unpack. By unpack, I mean drop the small clothes bag in the bedroom and unpack the mountain of angling gear. Obviously the most important thing from my point of view. The chalet, it is worth mentioning, was really lovely and had everything I needed for the entirety of my stay. For now though it was time to fish! With only two hours before darkness I didn’t have a great amount of time. I opted to take a light float set up down to the tench lake to see if I could start off with a few golden tench and orfe. The wind howled as I walked down the waterlogged hill. The light rain fell without any sign of letting up. I had donned the waterproofs and left the umbrella back at the chalet. Thankfully, the fish were obliging. Only small fish came my way, nothing bigger than eight or ten ounces, but in around an hour of fishing, I caught thirty or so blue orfe and six beautiful golden tench. Light waggler fished sweetcorn accounting for all the fish. With the light fading fast, I made my way back for a warm meal and a good nights sleep.

Small but beautiful fish

With the weather still wet and windy, the first full days fishing would take place on the floatfish lake, a lake that really could produce anything. For now though, I was more concerned with finding the most sheltered part of the lake and setting up the brolly securely. The wind was that strong I really could foresee it taking flight if a gust got hold of it. With everything in my peg eventually bolted down, I tackled up the rod, still set up with the waggler I used yesterday. For the first hour I fished a banded pellet shallow, feeding the same bait and the fishing was hectic to say the least. Nothing big at all, six ounces being the average stamp with the odd fish a little fatter. All the fish were golden rudd and very welcomed fish given the conditions. I stopped counting after fifty fish and with just over an hour gone it was time to change tactics. A small lift method set up was my choice. I fed an area close in, halfway down the nearside shelf, with some small pellets, sweetcorn and hemp. It was high time for a cup of tea and a biscuit too. This gave a little time for the bait to settle.

Straight from a garden pond...

The first put in resulted in a beautiful, chunky goldfish. It really was strange seeing these colourful fish rise from the deep water. But one I could certainly get used to. The next put in produced a brown fantail type fish, then a small golden tench. I fed fairly often and before long the fish became a much better stamp. Some of the golden tench were pushing a pound, as were the goldfish. I hooked a two, pound plus ghost commons which gave a tremendous scrap on light float tackle. The lift approach was helping get the hookbait past the bait snatching rudd and once settled I was getting bites relatively quickly. Once I got used to the way the fish were feeding and taking, the fishing was really frantic at times. Dinner time came around all too quickly and I made my way back to the chalet for a bacon and egg sandwich. I wonder if my umbrella would be there when I got back?

Another attractive, small golden tench

With my belly full and flask refilled, it was back down to the swim. Still the rain fell and if anything it was becoming heavier. My umbrella had survived and the fishing carried on with much the same regularity. Goldfish and golden tench were the mainstay of the catch and were keen on the double sweetcorn I was offering. Soft pellet and meat brought a slightly bigger fish but a much longer waiting time and as this was a holiday, I didn’t care about the size. Sweetcorn all the way then and a net full of fish. Over a hundred fish easily. The icing on the cake came in the form of a lovely little Koi carp caught just as the light was starting to dip. It fought hard like the ghost carp earlier and on light tackle was brilliant fun.

My first koi carp

With the weather forecast reporting a break in the weather the next day I booked on to the specimen orfe and tench lake for the day after. That way I had a day to prepare and some time to visit the picturesque north Devon coast. I really wanted to catch a reasonable size orfe, anything over two pound would do me really, given the conditions. But for now, I headed up the hill for some tea. Part two will feature that session and some margin fishing for some bigger koi. One last picture of a colourful floatfish lake resident below.

Vivid colours on another perfect goldfish

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

 

Here comes the sun (Entry 38)

Well the fishing is really hard at the moment, and I’m sure like a lot of other people around the country, I’m struggling to catch a fish. There are opportunities everyday, on every venue where fish will feed but at the moment I’m missing them. When I’m there I’m not finding the fish. Or Im not there at the right time. These are not excuses by the way, just me trying to make sense of a bit of a lean spell. I know it might not be very exciting to read about someone not catching fish but these are things we will all go through as anglers. Those times when things just don’t seem to be going right, when you are left scratching your head. We have to learn to accept them, and while sometimes the conditions really can be against you, there is always something that can be taken away from a blank session or two.

Most of the waters I want to fish at the moment have been frozen over for a few days before this weeks session so after two or three mild days preceding my visit, and with air temperatures reaching the heady heights of eight degrees, I decided to head to a fairly shallow and well stocked lake on my clubs card. My thinking was that the shallower water would be warming up faster than water with any significant depth and, coupled with the longer daylight hours we have now, there might just be a fish seeking some food when the sun is high. Maybe a carp, or even better, a tench. With the water being small, my approach would be a simple waggler set up, slightly stepped up to allow me to hopefully steer any fish away from the numerous snags present.

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I opted for a swim with two likely looking areas that screamed fish. Brambles, islands, ledges, and I was on the bank that caught the sun all day so I was optimistic that as the day warmed up, I would be in with a chance of some fish being in my area of the lake. The swim to my right had a significantIMG_1607 snag in it so my 5lb mainline was upped to one of 7lb which allowed me to fish a slightly heavier than anticipated hooklength of around 5lb or 0.15mm diameter. Float would be a homemade straight peacock to counter the strong undertow and choppy surface and also, support my heavy bait of sweetcorn without being pulled under. There was nothing complicated about the rig, just the bulk of the shot under the float and a strung out bulk of number nine stotz to set the float so it was just a dimple on the surface. Three of the stotz were set on the bottom to hold the rig as still as possible and using two or three smaller shot is better than just one large shot.

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After feeding twelve, 4mm pellets in each swim I rotated my rig around the two, fishing each for around 15 minutes. After an hour of doing so the float slid under slowly and I struck into a heavy fish that initially just hung there. Sensing an opportunity to steer the fish away from the snag (yes, it was hooked in the right hand swim near the tree), I attempted to reel a little line in before hopefully coaxing the fish to the left. This slight lessening of pressure saw the fish surge hard for the snag, and I saw a huge, white paintbrush tail thrust downwards and out of sight. The water boiled angrily. I was in the process of losing a fairly decent golden tench. Disaster! A few seconds later the fish had transferred the hook to a tree branch and it was gone. At least I hadn’t left the fish tethered to any end tackle, and out came the tea, so I could stew.

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Whilst I sat there and pondered why I bother, I focussed lazily on the waggler I was using now resting in the margins. It dawned on me that it was 15 years old, my dad having made it for me to fish a local canal for tench when I was in my last year of high school. I remembered the first time I used it and the tench I caught on it, only a three pounder (pictured below) but it’s still vivid in my mind. So too, the day I landed my first double figure carp, again using the same float on a weedy lake in Cheshire. This is why I bother, I thought.

Old Picture

It had been around 90 minutes now since I had initially fed so I topped up each swim with a few more pellets. By now although the sun was warming both me and the water, the wind had picked up significantly and was making it very hard to present a bait well. I added more depth the the rig and pushed a few more shot on the deck. This helped combat the undertow somewhat and the buoyant material of the float kept a tiny bit of the float visible in between the ripples. Or should that be waves? Around thirty minutes later the float slowly sank once more. I hoped I wouldn’t make a mistake like I did with the first. My quick strike met resistance, lightning quick resistance that was once again making its way for the same tree as before. I tried in vain to stop the fish but once more, in a matter of seconds, my hook was transferred to tree branch. It was obvious now that with the extra line on the bottom the fish had more time than usual to feel something was wrong and start their bolt to safety before I saw any registration on the float. It took two lost fish for me to realise this though. Not the finest bit of angling I’ve ever done.

After losing the second fish I decided I was putting hooked fish in too much danger, not being able to stop them reaching the snag. I began to fish on a different line a good rod length away from the snag. I didn’t have anymore bites though. The wind was now almost gale force; it probably wasn’t, but it sure felt that way. The sun began to sink behind the trees and the air once again had a definite chill to it. Even though I had not managed to land a fish, I was pretty happy to have worked out where the fish were on the lake. Next time I’ll land them too.

I’ll hopefully have caught some fish for my next update so please remember to follow my blog, click the follow button on this page or on twitter (@northwestfish) and you’ll be notified when the site is updated, which is every saturday. Thanks for reading,

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman