Crucian comeback (Entry 213)

I couldn’t convince myself to look at the time; I did need to be away from the water by lunchtime though. I was sure the crucians would show up, I just needed to make sure I was still here when they did. The trip so far had been slow. The famous early morning routine of the crucian had failed to be observed. Maybe they were having a lie in? No such luck for an angler wanting to catch them. Don’t look at the time, don’t look at the time! Mid mantra the float stuttered. Apologetically, the fine bristle oh so slowly sank beneath the surface, millimetre by millimetre. It looks like you need your eyes testing, my crucian friend, that sweetcorn came with a side order of hook.

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As it turns out it would be me who needed the eye test. This fish was no crucian but a lovely conditioned tench. It fought far to powerfully for my liking. My light hooklength didn’t like it either and although I hoped the next put in would see me attached to a golden, wall of muscle, another two tench tested my mettle in successive put ins. Quite the ones to gatecrash the party. Bubbles erupted on the strike. Time after time they approached the net only to find hidden reserves of power and bully back down deep. With the swim suitably destroyed, I gave in to need, and looked at the time. It was much earlier than it felt. How often can you say that when fishing? In my experience time usually travels to quickly.

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Spirit recharged, I purposefully went about re-feeding the swim, drinking tea whilst the bait settled, and taking stock of the wonderful surroundings I found myself a part of. Dragonflies hurtled past me, their wings crackling as if statically charged, whilst on the lookout for a snack. The much more delicate Damselfly was also present, a few different species of them too, all needing to rest their oversized wings more often than the dragonfly. Or at least it seemed that way to me.

A loud swirl alerted me back to why I was here. The remnants of the display now fading into ever larger but fading circles. The epicentre of which was my swim. Those crucians had arrived, rolling and bubbling, franticly clearing up the banquet I’d laid just fifteen minutes earlier. I fumbled some bait onto the hook, I missed several bites to start with, but I finally managed to make contact with one. The first of a procession of crucians over the next hour.

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By the time I felt the need to reach into my pocket again, to take another look at the time, I had strung together 15 big crucians. All bar one were over two pound. Quite a brilliant hour of fishing. One hour. I couldn’t quite believe it. For the second time today I felt like I’d cheated time. Along with the three tench, and several peoples handfuls of small roach and rudd I caught at first light, I was just about done. What a great welcome back to the bank. All finishing just in time for my lunchtime getaway.

Thank you for reading and until next week,

NorthwestFisherman

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Simply about being there (Entry 63)

And trying to catch a few fish too. It’s been a few weeks since I have been out on the bank. I’ve been busy but also have had a few issues going on. They still are but I’m trying to not let them get in the way of going fishing. So a session of simply ‘going and doing’ and seeing what turned up was in order.

IMG_3009I made my way to a small club water I used to enjoy fishing a lot when I was younger. It’s full of small crucians and goldfish, with some surprisingly nice roach mixed in too. There’s the odd tench and chub and I’m told by some people some big old eels but I’m not interested in these. I’ve just realised I’ve still never actually caught an eel. Despite IMG_3008fishing rivers frequently and ponds that are flanked by such waterways. Anyway, not having to fish very far out and with it being a lovely still day I set up as I used to do with a pole float on a running line. Just heavy enough to get the rig to where I needed to fish. There was no wind to deal with at all, so sinking the line was not needed. I shot the float to a dimple on the surface and fished just an inch over depth. These are finicky fish at the best of times but come autumn they are even harder to tempt. They may be small but they don’t give themselves up any easier. I fished a very light bottom just a pound breaking strain with a diameter of 0.07mm. A small size 20 hook completed the rig and a caster was duly selected, the hook pushed inside to stop the hook snagging on any bottom weed. I only had casters with me. No, I tell a lie I had a few small 3mm pellets too, but I never used to use these years ago. Today they would stay in my bag then. A few casters were fed. By a few I mean three. Yep, just three. My rig followed them in, sinking slowly through the crystal clear water. The lighter coloured casters sinking quicker than the darker ones. With the float now settled I began the wait for any signs of crucians or goldfish in the swim.

IMG_3029-EditAfter a few minutes the heavens opened. Up went the brolly and out came the coffee. This was one heavy shower. So heavy that the rain drops made my float sink. I reeled in and waited for it too pass. I took in the surroundings whilst I did the same with the coffee. Some twenty minutes later, coffee finished, I sent the rig back out into the swim. Almost immediately concentric circles rattled from the tip. And again, before it started to glide across the surface. I struck into my first fish of the day. Actually, I didn’t. I missed the bite! Three more casters fed and in the process was repeated. Another twenty minutes went by before the float moved again, this time it moved beneath the surface. That’s what I like, unmissable bites!

IMG_3016It was a lovely 8oz roach, rich with dark blues and creamy yellows. Roach in clear water are stunning fish indeed. Carrying the black spot I remember so vividly. It’s larval stage of some form of parasite ingested when the fish feed on water snails (where the parasite had been waiting in the liver of the snails – nice). The fish always appear healthy and I remember reading that there is no lasting damage done. In fact they are often absorbed by the fishes immune system. I carried on fishing, feeding a few casters every fifteen minutes or so, and began to catch a few pristine brown goldfish of around 5-6oz. I also lost a few that found the sanctuary of the weed before I had chance to do anything about it. They don’t half fight for little fish. Especially when you are on light tackle.

IMG_3020Four hours later I had caught around ten brown goldfish, one small crucian and one roach. It had been totally absorbing trying to coax these little fish. I wondered where the time had gone. Yes, I had certainly enjoyed this session. A little journey back to my childhood where I had been similarly captivated in trying to catch these chunky, golden fish.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines,

NorthwestFisherman

The evil hayfever (Entry 51)

Only one session to report on this week and just a short one. To be honest I have felt pretty unwell with allergies this week, which started on the session I will tell you about now

The session took place in the middle of the day. A bright, warm and windy day. Not ideal conditions but I had to make do. It was the only time I could spare and it was better than not fishing at all. Arriving at a club water with minimal tackle and bait, my plan was to enjoy a couple of hours float fishing and see what turned up. Boy, that sun was warm. I chose a swim offering me some cover close in and plumbed up a swim. Feeding in some small pellets I knew almost instantly that there was fish present. Small patches of bubbles appeared on the surface of the coloured water. They looked very much like crucian bubbles. I poured a drink and let them feed uninterrupted for a while. A bout of heavy sneezing followed and some scratchy eye itching. The dreaded hayfever. It really does spoil the ambience, I thought as I tried to subdue the relentless sneezing.

IMG_2287Sneezing over, at least for now, I hooked a small pellet onto the hook and lowered the rig in quietly. The float settled and it wasn’t long before it was lifting back out again.  I connected with a fish which jagged about determined. Golden flanks flashed below the surface. It looked and felt like a small crucian. Except it wasn’t a crucian at all but a small brown goldfish. Perfectly formed. In all honestly, it was a stunning looking little fish. I returned it and repeated the process. The float settled and lifted almost straight away. This time I was into a small crucian of maybe 4oz. I fed a few pellets and attended once more to another bout of sneezing. Once over, a good few minutes later, I re-baited and got the rig back in the water. I had a good run of small crucians and brown goldfish over the next half an hour, interspersed between my streaming eyes and tingly nose. I wasn’t enjoying the pollen one bit but was thoroughly enjoying catching these lovely fish. Most of the fish were under 6oz but were ‘fresh out of the mould’.

IMG_2293A nice surprise toward the end of the session came in the form of some quality roach that required the net. Lovely fish, close to the pound barrier, but not quite there yet. They fought harder than any of the other fish on the day and were a lovely change from the crucians and goldfish. Also they seemed to like pellet, and bizarrely, the midday sun didn’t seem to put them off either. I had four of them in total before the swim eventually died along with my enthusiasm, now well defeated by the evil grass pollen.

IMG_2297I did plan to get on the river mid week but, as I touched on in the introduction, the hayfever caused swollen sinuses. Which meant a few days of medication and no drive to prepare. I’m feeling a lot better now and I cant wait to head out again in the next few days.

Thanks for reading this update. I have recently set up a facebook page for the blog. If you head over there and 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

Park benches and dustbin lids (Entry 44)

The urge to try to land some of the tench and bream that managed to escape me last session was too great. Instead of heading to my intended target water I returned for another attempt at catching these wonderful and good sized fish. Conditions had changed a little over the past few days, the southerly wind had swung around to a westerly, and had picked up considerably. Under the grey clouds the air was cool and damp. Heavy rain was predicted. The water temperature thankfully, had not dropped too much,  so I was confident of a few bites and maybe a few fish. Whether they would turn out to be good ones was anyone’s guess. I would have fun trying none the less.

Due to unforeseen circumstances I didn’t arrive at the water until ten o’clock. I had been hoping for a dawn start but this simply couldn’t happen. I also had to be away from the water for five o’clock at the latest. The window of opportunity was not the greatest. Fishing for tench and bream in the middle of the day. I went about tackling up on a peg near to where I fished last time. Umbrella first as the rain had already started to fall. I used the same rig as last time. I had to go a little further to find the deeper water in the swim. This extension of the marginal shelf prompted me to plumb up a line on it; to my right a tangle of tree branches and, no doubt, roots. I would feed this line by hand little and often, and drop on it every hour or so to see if any tench were present. I thought it would be a little too close to the bank for the bream.

IMG_1881I opened each swim with a little sweetcorn. Both the species seem to love it on here, and although I did have some pellets with me, I didn’t want to use them unless I was really struggling. I started on the long line at 11.5m moving the rig every few minutes searching the swim. I like to keep the bait dropping through the water column. It might seem strange to do this when fishing for tench and bream, but as I have said before, I think they spend a lot more of their time off the bottom than people realise. After fifteen minutes I had a slow, deliberate take. My strike met something heavy. A lumbering weight that could only mean one thing. A bream and a nice one too, certainly over 4lb. Having lost so many fish last time I played this fish so carefully. Thankfully I was able to net it and I was more than happy to do so.

IMG_1903A 5lb male fish full of spawning tubercles. I took a quick photo and returned him. It was a lovely looking fish, old and dark. A proper bream. I poured out some coffee to celebrate and fed the swim. I have no problem leaving the swim to settle after a fish like this. It may be over cautious on my part, but I can’t see it doing any harm, even if it doesn’t do any good. I fed the margin line too but it was too early to try it yet. Instead I enjoyed my beverage and watched the geese defending their territory. No doubt they had mates nesting nearby and we’ll soon be seeing little balls of grey fluff swimming alongside them. Coffee over and back to the fishing. I shipped out to 11.5m.

I worked the rig, moving it to either side, further out, closer in. Thirty minutes later and another fish on. A tench this time but a smaller one, maybe 3lb. It fought hard, as they all do. A quick picture and returned. In the clear water it is lovely to watch the fish swim strongly back to their watery home. Again I fed the swim but this time, whilst waiting for it to settle, I tried IMG_1912the margin line. I had seen the branches knock a few times. There are some good sized carp in here. Today I hoped they were not the fish causing the branches to move. I tried double corn on the first put in. The little extra weight dragged to float to a mere pimple on the surface. After just a few minutes a slow lift of the float told me a fish had taken the bait and a quick upward strike confirmed this. The fish bolted for the sanctuary under the tree. Applying steady pressure I managed, inch by inch, to edge the fish from going any further underneath. After much stubbornness the fish ran for open water. From here I could play the fish with a little less panic. It put up another great fight, and typical of male tench, it thrashed about and ran in circles, before eventually diving of its own accord into the waiting landing net. It really is great fun catching tench!

IMG_19254lb 5oz was the weight of the fish. Great fun to catch and a good size for a male fish. With the margin line now well and truly disturbed, I went straight back onto my longer line. I had only just over an hour of the session left before I would have to leave. I was happy with what I had caught so anything else caught would be a bonus. No lost fish this time and to catch during the middle of the day. Yes, not bad at all. So deep in thought about the session, I almost didn’t notice that the float had buried! Thinking I had missed the bite my half hearted strike met, surprisingly, with another solid fish. Another bream by the feel of it. This one felt a little bigger so once again, I played it extra carefully, and within a minute it was sliding over the rim of the waiting landing net.

IMG_1943It was indeed bigger than the first bream and weighed a respectable 5lb 11oz. Again, another dark and old fish, with a liking for corn. I think a few more sessions on here are due over the course of the season, either at dawn or at dusk. I may try some open water swims too where the bream may be holding in larger shoals and possibly where the biggest of them are. I’ll probably have a go for them in the next week or so, fishmeal groundbait, pellets and of course corn will all feature. I’m looking forward to it.

Don’t forget to share this using the buttons below. I update every Saturday so be sure to come back and have a look what I have been up to and how I have fared.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

A needle in a haystack, nearly (Entry 4)

Yesterday I returned to the venue holding big crucians for an early morning session. I had a plan in mind that was different from last time I fished it, and being only my second time on the venue and the fact that when I arrived the fish appeared to be breeding, I didn’t expect that it to be easy.

With a slight westerly wind blowing, I headed for a swim on the westward bank, which also happens to have slightly shallower water in the margins than the rest of the pit. Its still a good five feet deep and with some marginal cover to my right, in the form of an overhanging tree, I decided to fish just five sections of my pole. Yes, today I was going to use the pole in an effort to present the bait as delicately and accurately as possible. My bait choice had also changed for this trip and I had brought with me half a pint of freshly turned casters and some fishmeal groundbait.

Above is the 0.2g homemade pencil float I used. Rig wise I had a bulk of no.9 shot at a third of the depth and two no.10 shot spaced equally between the bulk and the hook. The hook itself was an 18 Kamasan B911 F1 and this was baited with two casters. Note in the picture how I use one dark caster and a lighter one. The darker one is used to counteract the weight of the hook as it will be more buoyant than lighter casters. A good tip there especially when fishing for big roach. The whole rig was fished two to three inches over depth with just 5mm of the tip visible. Bites would either be subtle lifts or positive sail-aways.

From the first put in after the initial baiting I had a string of bites all resulting in hand sized, but to my eyes, authentic looking crucians. Even at this size I was very happy to see them and it proved that there are plenty of them in here. And where there are smaller ones there must be bigger ones. Remember the goldfish and fantail I caught on my previous session? My appetite had been well and truly whet.

Unfortunately after landing upwards of thirty small crucians, none of which went any bigger than 12oz, I had a run of small common carp to 2lb. The weight behind the first strike made me think that they were bigger crucians, but the fast, powerful fight confirmed otherwise. I also lost a small ghost carp of a similar size that was beautifully marked and would have been a lovely looking fish for a picture. But thats how things go sometimes.

The bites became few and far between as the session came to a close but, just before I packed up however, I hooked into a fish that felt very crucian like in the way it fought. As it came up in the clear water, turned on its side to slow its ascent, it looked every bit a crucian close to 2lb. I nervously played the fish to the net and thankfully, without too much circumstance, it was mine.

As you can see it was a deep bodied fish with a blunt tail, no barbules, a convex dorsal fin but a scale count of 35. A crucian should be 32-34. So I shall be very honest and say on this occasion it probably had a little of another fish in it, a common carp more than likely. Incidentaly the fish weighed 1lb 14 oz.

I would have loved to stay longer incase that fish was one of a bigger shoal but I had to leave. Still I was very happy with the way the session panned out. I think the fish certainly got their heads down on the caster and groundbait combination and although not such a selective bait, when the bigger fish arrived they did muscle in on the action. If it is going to be a case of playing the numbers on this venue then this seems to be a good tactic. I shall certainly try this a few more times in the coming weeks.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman