Tuesday 29 October 2013

The Lure of Pike.

 With all the attention focused on the weather and the battering we were due to receive, I was only really thinking about one thing fishing wise and that was what new features the felled trees would create on my local rivers, a mixture of back eddy's, riffles and fast straights, channelling out fresh new gravel beds where silt used to lay and also creating hold ups where fry can escape the flood waters and all spots where the bigger fish can rest up and intercept food off the creases.

 As for us anglers these new features are always good places to cast a line as they will always attract a range of different species of fish and make them hotspots for anglers like myself to target, but this doesn't always apply to just rivers, lakes are also affected by the weather and for my target on this occasion, trees and bushes in the water or overhanging shrubbery where Pike and and Perch hide are perfect areas to cast to as these species of fish tend to use them as stations where they will lay up and wait to ambush unsuspecting silver fish or in this case one of my lures.

 The weather when I left the warm house was sunny and barely a cloud in the sky, by the time I got to my chosen destination the weather had turned ugly, the rain lashing down and soaking me through to the bone in a matter of two minutes and the unwanted flash of lightning across the sky directly above me, the session didn't start as I had expected but it did however bring plenty of cloud cover, Pike and Perch always seem to feed better when the sun is not out, on went a little diver that works the water to a depth of around 2.5 feet and worked the far bank.

 Five minutes later I had a Perch follow and the cast after a Perch of 7oz or so was caught, about 10 casts after the Perch I got a solid take and my tiny 6ft spinning rod bent double, it was either a monster Perch or a Pike and after a minute or so the latter came up off the bottom and tussled with me for a while, 3 minutes later a nice Esox Lucius laid in the net to revive whilst I sorted out the camera and the weighing.

 A beautifully marked 6lb Pike that fought very well, a perfect Autumn fish albeit not very big but I don't believe they grow big here and they are very young fish, but it holds a good head of Perch and I know they grow over the 3lb barrier, they are my target here but any fish here is good fun as this Pike proved, below is the Pike along with the lure that did the job, and also another two Perch came out on the lure with a few more follows but no more takers and nothing more than 12ozs, I'll be back for some more stripeys come closer to the winter when the water temperature drops.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Canal Zed's in Warkwickshire.

 Thursday just gone I joined Jeff Hatt on the Coventry canal with the intention of snaring a Zander, in my 21 years of angling I have only ever managed to catch one of 2.6 and only ever been in connection with one other which was a low double on the Thames and spat my bait 10 feet from the net, a very agonising experience but these things happen in fishing.

 This season my predator exploits restarted with a trip to the canal in Jeff's town, armed with a batch of Roach from the tackle shop and also a bag of sprats, the plan was for us both to work likely looking spots using float tactics with scaled down gear due to the tentative nature of Zander, usually I'd fish with small trebles but the single hook approach seemed to be the right approach as the results of the days fishing suggested. We both walked about 4-5 miles in search of the right spots and the first mile or so of canal was very clear and ideal Pike territory but they weren't on the agenda so we carried on until we entered coloured waters, where Jeff knew Zander reside.

 Through our time on the bank we put 2 rods out each and spread them out to try and find the fish then once the fish were located we would move all the rods in to a small area, whilst we waited for the action to begin we sat and nagged for a few hours.....then it happened, but it was Jeff's float on his inside rod that started to come to life, a small jig and then Jeff struck but the fight was almost non-existent and then a small Zander came to the surface, I had seen one and that made me feel a lot more confident that I would get one of my own, a couple of minutes later Jeff's inside rod went again and the fight that ensued was that of a bigger fish and within a couple of minutes a more substantial Zander was nestled in the net.

Mr Hatt's 2lb 10oz Zed.
 They were feeding evidentially but they weren't feeding with the gusto that Jeff ensures me that they do usually, I felt that the water temp' was too warm and the air temp was at around 16c which for late October was very unusual, so based on that I believed the conditions weren't perfect and there was plenty of sunshine, and bright conditions again aren't usually conducive to Zander feeding, overcast days are the best for these very whiley creatures and I'm learning about them all the time, how to fish for them, when to fish for them and what tackle to use. In a spot around 20 yards up I did finally get a touch and the float started to move along one of the boats which we were fishing against, so I left it around 10 seconds whilst it got a better hold of the piece of chopped Roach, I struck and nothing, my chance came and went fairly quickly.

 An hour or two had passed after Jeff's quick fire double and we had moved further up to another spot up the canal, we set out our stall in the same manner and it wasn't long before the Zander maestro had an enquiry, with the float dancing about and then heading in towards a wall on the far side which was probably where it came from, very shortly another Zander around 10oz was banked, albeit a baby, I wouldn't have minded catching it, dusk was starting to approach fairly quickly and I didn't have much time left in order to wet my net, about twenty minutes before we left for the train station Jeff's second rod started to come alive and he struck and a large displacement of water was kicked up, as a much bigger Zander charged off, with Jeff's rod bent double a big Zed headed for the bottom and after 20 seconds the tension vanished from the rod tip as the Zander let go of the bait, the one that got away and time was nearly up, it was a shame to have travelled so far and blank but again that's fishing, but I will surely be back come the early winter before the canal freezes over but gets much colder.

Jeff, I hope your not fishing there!, are you?

Tuesday 22 October 2013

A bit of a mix.

 The last couple of weeks finding time to go fishing has been very difficult and when I've managed to get out it has been for fairly short sessions, these sessions have been for a range of fish, Chub, Barbel and Brown Trout, the Brown Trout trip was actually made in the back end of September and I was accompanied by James Snr, or the old man as I call him, we both fished a rod each and both did reasonably well, but the day was dad's with the capture of a superb brownie of 4lbs 4ozs, a real chunky fish but I did have my opportunity to catch a large Trout but when I hooked it the line glanced it's teeth and she was gone, great shame but a good result for James and he left a happy man but I did manage a couple myself.

 A perfect formed male, which fought extremely well and only his second Trout of the season, the guide was shown how to do it. Well done though old bean.
  A very dark coloured Brownie around the pound mark, a good little fight but very short lived the take shook the life out of me, taken by surprise I was.
  Another good little Trout with some very distinctive marking and at 2lb 6oz it is about average, a good stamp of Trout, also a great looking Trout below in fine Autumn condition, which was overcame with the impressive Seeley cane rod.

 The last Trout above was another stunning fish of a shade over 3lbs, the Trout fishing really was great fun and losing a big one is always a bitter pill to swallow but that's fishing, but it was good to see dad out fishing as he doesn't get out on the banks very often, so I wasn't to begrudge him the limelight, well in.

 Also I had a brief trip out for Barbel too, only briefly though and did manage to Barbel one was caught on the ever faithful rolling meat and also had one on ledgered Cheese, which is usually a Chub bait but one Barbel certainly was hungry enough to take it. The first one was just over 5lbs and the second one exactly 6lb both not large but of an average size and the fun is all good.

Sunday 13 October 2013

Pocket Rocket.

 An early morning start for a Barbel was my plan for a couple of hours to beat the rain, my tactic was relatively simple with a link ledger employed to get the bait on the bottom, with the river up around a foot and colored I fished the spots I know and with lots of debris along with leaves coming down it made holding bottom difficult, but with all that assumption based approach to my fishing, within two minutes my rod slammed around downstream, but funnily enough I didn't see the take, I was feeding a friendly Robin behind me and the butt of the rod smacked my ankle which alerted me and the fish didn't need hooking as the take was sufficient enough to set the size 8 barbless and after a good fight as usual a Barbel appeared out of the murky water and headed straight into the net, that was quick......a nice little Barbel too, perfectly formed and immaculate, one for the future and on the centrepin and cane rod it was most enjoyable.

Another 4lber, good fun.

Mrs Redbreast, feeding that nearly cost me a Barbel.

This was the picture for an hour after that, not a touch.

 I fished for another couple of hours with Stu in a few swims down river but there was no more activity but a nice morning out and was joined by a pair of Kingfisher's no doubt trying to find somewhere to hunt but their job must be so much more difficult in deeper water and the clarity of the water being non-existent, some more Pike fishing is now on the agenda, 2 Barbel in 2 trips isn't a bad return.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Birthday Boy......

 .....Gets his present, on Monday I turned 26 and had the day off work sorted out a while ago, choosing what to target was fairly difficult as there was the Pike and carry on the good vein of form, go after some large chalk stream Rutilus Rutilus or spend a few hours roving for a Barbel and after much deliberation, that was my choice.

 For October the weather was very warm and it still felt like summer and with the sun out, hardly any clouds in the sky, fish with a pair of polariods on were very easy to see and saw fish in swims that I haven't seen them in all season, though I haven't fished for Barbel much due to my targeting of the Pike recently and a mix of different species in the earlier part of the season, but both the Barbel and Chub were in positions that were almost impossible to cast to or even trot down to and maintain good presentation.

 One Chub did slip up, a chunky 3.5 taken on the ever impressive cane rod trotting a small piece of meat, second cast and the 6BB Drennan Avon float hit the bottom of the river, good little scrapper, after that we headed off upstream, trotting through all the swims we could access, after short period of time the whistling that always proceeds Stu started to sound in the distance, it wasn't long before he got to us, looking through the water onto the bottom I started making out shapes on the bottom, Barbel! and a few of them, two of which were big fish were around 9-10lbs, that would be a nice present I thought to myself and that Chris my bro' and Stuart were standing there watching me meant that I had to catch the biggest just to show off.

 So after 20 minutes of persevering I changed from the trotting and switched over to my favourite tactic which sorts out the feeders and the shy, a couple of minutes slipped by and whack!, the rod hooped over and I struck, nothing!, what probably happened was the Barbel picked up the bait or nudged it, to test it's credability and evidentally failed it's test, a short while later it happened again and I saw the Barbel come up in the water to meet it and the same thing happened, I saw with my own eyes what happened and it was the latter, the Barbel came up and tested the bait and dropped it and to rub it in, it was the biggest of all the shoal.

 Well above is that fish at 10lb 9oz, a double which I was so chuffed about, the fight on my split cane rod was phenominal and the look on Stuart's face whilst I was playing it was the look of horror and I have to be honest, this was the sternest test it has had yet and was unsure of what it's capability was, but the picture of me with my a good birthday fish is the proof that the rod held firm and has probably never seen such a fight and it also had a bit of a sentimental value about it too, as the original owner of the rod, George, my girlfriends late granddad, passed away 6th October 2011, so two years after his passing and I deployed the Seeley into the best possible battle I think I could have had, truly perfect, the third time lucky trick, the bait vanished but I left it 2-3 seconds then struck, again the rest is history.
 Later on during the session there was cause for celebration for Chris aswell, after catching my Barbel I was teaching him how to roll and what to do, we roved around a mile or so of river and after a while it all started to come together and on a 3rd roll through he had a tug on the rod and after a few minutes he had his first ever Barbel rolling, a good day all around.

Proper battler at 4lbs.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Hampshire Avon Pike (Royalty Fishery).

 With October the 1st marking the beginning of the usual Pike season I had a trip planned back to the Royalty to try for the large population of Pike, as they hadn't been actively fished for since mid March I guessed there would be no better time to have some fun with the dead baits and a batch of Rapala lures.

 This time I made the trip from London to Christchurch at 6.30 after having missed my first train due to my own stupidity, but I did not want to dwell on it too much even though I sat at the train station for a further 57 minutes waiting for the next service, I on a couple of occasions thought about turning back and jacking in the session but after a period of time I talked my self out of it and stuck it out, how glad I was by the end of the session that I did chose to wait, 2 hours later I was rolling into Christchurch and came across the river Avon on the way into the station, it looked in perfect condition as it did last year.

 I started to bubble inside with a mixture of confidence and excitement, last year I managed a huge Barbel of 14lb 6oz, could I catch a specimen Pike now that I was here for them?, only time would tell, I stepped up the pace, got my ticket and went straight to the Falls swim, set up a dead bait rod and cast it straight into the deep water in front of me whilst I prepared everything else, for 20 minutes I let the bait swirl around in front of me and nothing doing, so it was time to move up.

 A few anglers were already on the river and the Pike were coming out to around 10lb, that news was encouraging but I had to find some of my own, most of the swims near the car park and 50m up and down were packed with anglers at times, as I like my space I decided the top section of the river would be more suited to me, on my way up towards the railway bridge opposite Mugs Hole I noticed a shoal of silvers break the water as a predator tore through them, out went the Sprat and within 10 seconds the float bobbed and off it went, a gentle lean into the rod and I was hooked up with my first Royalty Pike albeit a jack of about 3-4lbs but a fish is a fish, great bit of fun.

 I moved up the bank to take a couple of pictures and then headed off towards Waters Meet to the deep stretch below the Trammels, as soon as I arrived ,there another Pike showed itself again around 3lbs, it seemed like most of the Pike coming out we're all around that size to 6lb, I wasted no time to get another bend in the rod, the Sprat went out and it fell straight on it's snout and took no time for it to open its and swim off with it, another Pike on the bank with 3minutes, the jacks were on the feed big time, but now it was time to try find something a bit bigger, on went a Sardine and I fished the back part of Waters Meet and waited around an hour but no other bites came about.

 On my cane rod that I packed I had a single dendrobaena primed for a good strippey, but I only managed to catch my first ever Sea Trout of about half a pound, and it was a pleasant surprise, I've never seen one before so that in itself was a great catch and a pretty strong fight for small fish, punching above its weight came to mind, after carefully returning it I changed tactic and went over to the lure rod and searched for breaks in the weed on the clear spots and worked my silver + gold Rapala, for the hour or so I fished with it 2 small jacks both about 3lbs hopped on and frolicked in front of me, again good sport but now I wanted its parents or grand parents.

Looking down to the famous Pipes swim, scene of last years massive Barbel.

 My next haunt was the piece of river leading down from the little weir which looked like a Pike heaven, fallen and sunken trees lining the far bank deep recesses with plenty of cover and plenty of silvers darting around as food, it looked ideal to find a monster of my dreams. After an hour though nothing showed at all apart from a couple of very good Carp, the biggest of the two was around the mid twenties and the other low twenties, a shame I wasn't here for them, if I'd hooked one of them, god knows how I would have got it out, then I saw it...............a Pike and not just a Pike, an absolute monster and the largest I've ever clapped eyes on, I estimate it to be around 22-24lbs just by going on what I've seen in photo's, I grabbed my dead bait rod from the swim upstream and winched out my bait and plopping it on the surface and it triggered a response immediately, the Pike came up off the bottom and turned 180 degree and inspected my offering and opened up it's huge mouth and went to inhale it and then in a split second it changed its mind, as it was told not to touch it as it was dangerous, then it started to back away slowly and dropped down the water column where I lost sight of it.

 Through that entire scenario my adrenaline pumped big time, damn had I missed my opportunity for a monster that this fishery is so famous for? An hour passed by and dusk was approaching very quickly I had to make a decision whether I was to stay in this swim or head down river to Greenbanks in the deep water or sit in the Piles for the last 2 hours, but just before I was to make that decision, the monster Pike revealed itself once again in exactly the same spot, this time I cast further out into the deeper water to draw out of its lair and into it feeding territory, but then disaster hit or should I say I hit the Pike, the line caught a couple of leaves on the overhanging tree the Pike was under and altered the direction of the Sprat and it landed straight on top of the fish, with one almighty flick of the tail the Pike was gone, leaving the swim a murky brown as it kicked up loads of silt and leaves, it wasn't happening here now.

 The light started to fail as dusk settled, I had one last throw of the dice and headed down river, I tried a couple of deep slacks giving the Sardine time to sort any feeding fish out, 7oclock came and I was starting to think about packing up by like 730, as 8pm was the time to be off the fishery, so if it was to happen I needed it to happen soon, then as if by magic or by telepathic demand, the Pike float dipped and stopped then came upstream a little bit then stopped, it bobbed again then slowly headed down under the water, as if it was a scene from Jaws!, I waited about 15 seconds then I slowly leant into the 2.5lb test curve rod and the rod just went solid and bent double, immediately I could tell I had hooked a lump, never experienced a fight quite like it, the first 4-5 minutes it just ambled around at it's own leisure, then when it got fed up with towing me around it went radio rental, the fight exploded into an all out battle, Carp and Barbel have nothing on this fish, it gained 20-30yrds in a matter of seconds, then stripped line off of me at an even quicker pace, a quick bit of thinking prevented me from losing her as she headed for a the far bank where it charged through the undergrowth, on the 15lb line I just had to tighten up and coheres her to come back into the main flow, then she bolted back down river stripping even more line off of me, I'd walked about 20yrds downstream just to get close to it again, 10 minutes now had passed and I was still no closer to getting her into the net, god knows how big she is I thought to myself, and will I ever get to see my prize??, when I hooked her it was still light and just as I got her to within 10m of the net, she made off for the main flow again, it was not done, absolutely amazing, my arms felt like jelly and my legs were shot through the nerves and adrenaline.

 15 or so minutes had passed and although this was the fight of a lifetime I wanted to end, after this battle I wanted to see what was responsible, then the float appeared out of the depths as she was tiring and ready to come in, I switched on the head torch and that's when I saw it, the biggest Pike I've ever been in contact with, a 42'' landing net and it didn't go in first or second time, it was a very long and thickset Pike, as she cruised into the net and the tail was in I fist pumped in triumph and let out a John Wilson-esk laugh, what a fish, I let her rest in the net after that almighty battle to recover whilst I prepared the camera and scales, time to see my reward on the bank and I was not disappointed at all, she was enormous, no idea what she could go, I let the scales do the job, in the sling she went 21lb 9oz, minus the slings weight, she settled on the scales at 19lb 5oz a new PB, although I knew that already, what a stunning specimen, time for it's photo, which I had to be quick about as being on my own I had to use the timer and the rain started to fall and drizzle turned into steady rain, but no matter what weather came it wouldn't dampen my joy.

A true crocodile of 19lbs 5oz, what a fish, god only knows what a big twenty feels like!.

 She was immaculate, enormous teeth that I managed to cut my hand on when she flipped once and a massive head, she was very thick across the back but I think she was relatively young and got plenty of space to grow, that could be one of the big twenties that the Royalty has become so famous for, a night to remember, not a twenty but who cares, for now it is my personal best and the Royalty has done it again for me, I need to visit more often, who knows what I may catch next............

8 Years in the Making.

   So we find ourselves finally able to get back on the rivers and thank god for it too. I don't mind stillwaters and canals now and aga...