Friday 31 October 2014

Predators Part Eight. Fish With Fangs.

 After all it is Halloween but we embarked on our session to deepest Dorking for my first trip out for some Zander, we being myself and Brian who has had varying success already at Bury Hill and after so many years of reading about it in the press (angling) I thought it was high time I got involved, an early start was required as we wanted to get the early morning feeders before daylight kicked in.

 Within an hour I had my target on the bank albeit a miniature, but regardless of size it was a Zander and Brain didn't have to wait long either as the kindergarten were on the prowl, but now we had caught it was time for something a little larger. 10 hours later...........and a dozen or so touches had kept us remotely concentrated, oh and Brian had another Zander around 2.8, it is a stunning fishery and it is easy to see why it is much loved by many anglers and as we had purchased night tickets we had the benefit of staying until 9pm and as time wore on a hefty Badger came to within about 5ft of me - that incidentally is the second alive one I have seen, the rest have been roadkill.

First blood.

 Cue 8pm and the penny literally dropped as my inside rod started to have line peeled off of it, a confident run at last was met with a solid strike, as soon as I could feel the Zed on my mind immediately went to fish god's prayer mode, after so many hours of idle angling I had finally connected with a better fish and I wasted no time in getting, my net lay in wait as a decent but probably average Zed cruised in, I was elated it has to be said and a new PB to boot on what turned out to be the last action of the evening. So here it is my new personal best of 4lb 7oz, something to build upon but it's not a trip I will be making every week that's for sure!!.

My new PB of 4.7.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Autumn Barbel.

 This morning I was torn between a dawn session for Pike or Barbel, but with a quick look at the weather forecast and cloudless skies predicted the latter was the only choice and the Pike can have a week off, so I packed light and headed off at dawn to hopefully catch a Barbel, trotting for Barbel I find is so effective and allows myself to cover so much water.

 Yet another busy week just gone and another approaching I just wanted to get out for a couple of hours but I do have Thursday to look forward to as I will be attempting to catch a Zander with only one previously caught which was on the Thames many years ago. But back to the Barbel and I was amongst the action fairly quickly as I connected with a small but powerful Barbel which was around the 4 1/2lb mark maybe a little over, great fun on such light tackle and it wasn't long before my 5BB float sailed away again but this time I was met with a considerable amount of force, more than that of a small one hammering around, after an initial scare when the fish went solid as it went under the far bank I managed to play out the rest of fight in relative comfort, I slipped my net under decent a specimen of what looked to be around 9lbs.

Between 4.8 and 5.0.

Biggest of the morning at 8.15.

 My first call turned out to be just one ounce out as she settled on 8lb 15oz but she could go bigger for sure come the cold depths of winter when they lay dormant between feeds.

 The action didn't stop there either as I headed down stream further with one more Barbel to add to my morning's tally to take it to 3 which is good going with the latest addition around 3.8 which wasn't weighed as I sought a larger specimen which caught my eye during the scrap, but for as much as I tried to keep the little one from thundering around the swim unfortunately it put the remaining fish on high alert and no more interest was shown and although it wasn't the end of the session it was curtailed as I clambered out of the river to head further down when I lost my footing on the slippery tree roots and slipped thus losing my balance and the rod in my right hand slammed the deck which smashed the top section of my rod into two more sections, the session finished there and then, but it was a good short mornings fishing and I went home fairly happy and its only a rod, I can just buy a new one, Bury Hill are you ready to show me a surprise??. 

Saturday 18 October 2014

Predators Part Seven. Night Shift.

 Night fishing isn't something I do very often and the reason for this is the amount of the next day I end up wasting catching up with sleep, but after a hard but good week a trip fter training was planned and Ricky joined me for a night's fishing after Pike primarily but Rich had Zander and Perch also in mind but I myself was in tunnel-vision mode and only Pike were on the menu, after arriving at the river we quickly discovered that after the rains over the last couple of weeks it was carrying a fair amount of colour but as we were using dead bait Roach and Sprat we felt that a catch was on the card's even still.

 Even with the colour I felt confident and there was a feeling nagging in the back of my mind that  something was going to happen but we'd have to fast-forward 2hrs before the first indication of the night came about and it was myself who's pike bob started to slither away and vanish from sight as a fish made off, no invitation needed as I lent into a sizeable but slow fish, Pike it was and the fight was pretty mute and I don't know if that was down to the colour in the water or what but it's not what I expect from a top predator, a couple minutes passed and just as it came to the net in submission a last gasp tail walk threatened to spoil the fun but when it did cruise in - the tail walk felt much more spectacular, a certain double in the bag.

11lb 9oz first double of the night.

 These are the Pike I was after and then once one of those were on board then it was hoping for something bigger, but with this sort of fishing you never know what's coming next, could be a twenty or a little jack, lottery is the only word I can think to describe it. 3:20am nearly two hours after the first fish was caught my Pike rod was back into action with Richard looking on as a spectator, a firm take was met by a larger Pike which fought much harder than the first although it didn't have to do much, four or five minutes past before I saw the Pike and in the dull light it was hard to gauge how big it was but when Rich did the honours of landing it we saw it was a better fish around the mid-double range.

 On the scales at 15lb 1oz I was chuffed and two doubles in two hours for me is good going but hoping it will only get better as I gain more knowledge and the fish feed more as it gets colder, until my next foray out, tight lines and bag a biggy.

A pristine Thames Pike at 15lb 1oz.
Immaculate condition but has plenty of room to grow.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Predators Part Six. Hooked.

 Plenty of quality and Pike looking lures have arrived on my doorstep over the last couple of days and I needed an excuse to go out with a view of test driving some, but I wasn't alone as I was joined by Rich and Brian for a days guided fishing in search of Pike, so being the host for the day I wanted to make sure that we found some predators, but that is always easier said than done, dawn saw us start on the Thames with a selection hard bodied lures, jigs and spinners. It wasn't long before either of us started getting indications that fish were feeding but were constantly bumped off, this was the scene set for the morning's fishing.

 By 10am the sun was out and was basking in lovely warm sunshine akin to a summer's morning not mid-october, things were tough so we decided to change tact and head onto some lakes which for me turned out to be a stroke of good fortune as my gold spinner was smashed by a sturdy jack of 4lb 8oz, plenty of jack's so far this season.....but I wanted to see Brian catch so we carried on fishing on the lakes but all that came along was a couple of Perch for me which were in fantastic nick.

 Time was pushing on quickly and I wasn't planning on staying out all day due to our early start, so I was happy when I turned around to see Brian cradling a jack of a couple of pound, not a monster but it was the target and we saw so many Pike looking swims that will certainly get fished come the winter, the session for me did have a low point when my large diver was smashed by a decent mid-double figure Esox as it hit the lure it rolled a foot or so under the surface and spat the treble that I thought had held well, but seconds later it was all over and a big shame.

 The rest of the day passed by without much drama and no more Pike were caught, but a nice Perch caught at dusk was a decent way to finish the day but the highlight of the day was surely a pair of rutting Red Deer who's battle ground was in a shallow part of one of the lakes we fished.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Predators Part Five. The Nearly Man.

 Anytime spare over this winter is going to be used primarily to target Pike, Perch and Zander. I know over the last few weeks I've been rambling on about these toothy and sometimes vicious fish but bar last year I had not attempted to catch any of the above, I have some great waters to tackle that won't be easy I suspect but I hope some red-letter-days will come around and I purchased a lot of lures with my 27th birthday yesterday the other half has bought quite a few lures too.

 A big mix of Rapala's, Storm lures, Yo-Zuri divers, Spro's diver's and surface lures, a couple of pack's of Mepp's spinner's and spoon's, this lovely not so little collection has cost a bit but I hope that it will chuck up many quality predators on rivers, lakes and ressy's. I did however pop out on the late of afternoon and dusk of my birthday to see if I could contact a Pike on a selection of lures, I did get that hit I desired and on 15lb line on a 6ft spinner rod it was fantastic fun, five minutes I had this Esox on for, which was roughly 9lb just about ready for the net when it inexplicably coughed my 8'' lure, a few expletives were aired before I carried on to try and find another but only a couple of subtle taps were felt before it was too dark to fish on, but this lure below was particularly of interest.

Already showing signs of battering.

Some of the new lure's / jig's / diver's.

And this little box was inherited from my other-half's granddad who coincidentally was a very keen fishermen and I have acquired quite a bit of tackle, cane rod, centrepin's, boxes, reels and this gem of a Pike set-up which after a bit of research I think is from the early 1950's at the latest but an exact year can't be determined but all I know is that it is old!, I have the dilemma of whether I should use it or not.

Saturday 4 October 2014

Roll Me Another.

 ( Started this last night ).

 This week has been busy to say the least but it's nice to have done quite a bit of fishing, a mix of Pike off the Royalty, some more lovely Stillwater Sergeant's but one species that I haven't fished for much this season is the Barbel, 3 o'clock came and I had finished my days workload and basking in 22c sunshine I could not resist a couple of hours before football this evening, with that in mind I packed a rod and very light roving gear this morning so I could head straight down to the river afterwards.

 The plan was to start at the top of the beat and head down stream whilst only staying in each swim for a minimal amount of time to maximize the water covered which does do well for me and today certainly was no different and it proved to be a very good 2 hours fishing. First swim I crept into I spotted a nice Barbel sat on a shallow gravel bar and was actively rooting through the weed for whatever it could find so I gave it something else to think about as my bait trundled up to it, a split second decision proved to be the Barbel's downfall as it sucked my bait in with gusto, I didn't even wait for the tension on the line as I struck into it, then all he'll broke loose....6lb line never felt so flimsy as it swam strongly for roughly five minutes before I finally got the better of it, not a bad'en for sure and immaculate condition too.

7lb 10oz of muscle
 First cast in the first swim and a fish?? Not the only time that's happened and it feels good to do it again, with the Barbel revived and released strongly it was time to move, next swim was very different and offered a pacey run under some far side bushes, first cast through and the rod slammed around with a Barbel stripping line off the pin, this was a great start to the short session, although it was smaller at roughly 3lbs she certainly gave a fantastic account but I was slightly more cunning and stronger. A third swim after that second Barbel beckoned but it didn't provide any joy unfortunately so it was back down stream to seek out another swim where I may locate some more sport.

 After searching through a couple more pieces of water with nothing to cast to I had one ace up my sleeve and I was to rely on this spot being my last swim as I know it sometimes holds Barbel at this time of year up until around November then they push up into the slightly deeper water but it does offer some good cover this time of year and when I arrived a couple of moderately sized Barbel where seen flashing on the gravels, that only meant one thing to me and that was an opportunity to catch and with the second roll through nearly completed the rod gently bent round as a fish made contact with my tasty offering, which by the way was so tasty I contrived to eat more than half the tin before I finished fishing thankfully I left enough (just) to see me through, the fish that had my meat away turned out to be an average Chub of about 4lb but was not my intended target so it was back out with the rolled meat and the very next cast even through the Chub went radio rental a Barbel hammered the next piece of bait that came down and although it was another small one at roughly 3lb they do give a good account of themselves, but after putting the little guy back I convinced myself they were feeding so I couldn't resist a couple more rolls and I was glad I did as I connected with what turned out to be the biggest Barbel of the season so far and a cracking specimen it was too.

 Powerful is exactly what this Barbel was, a fantastic battle on a 10ft match rod and 6lb seemed to bring the best out the fish, long sturdy runs down-stream was tearing line off the ratchet and what a great sound it is too, you always know when you have hooked a bigger Barbel because the fight isn't one of a headless chicken burning fuel but a fight that is strong and calculated, my only saving grace is that the Barbus didn't want to head up stream and played out in front of me and through the Polaroid's it looked a good 8lber but as it came up through the water and cruised into the net it was certainly larger than that, a near double might I wonder?.

9lb 10oz, a beautiful fish to have caught.

 Four Barbel in two hours is bloody good going, these trips don't happen often so when I packed up after the biggy I took some time to reflect on the session and plan to head back sometime in the near future and maybe drive back up to have another crack when time permits.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Predators Part Four. River Avon.

 For over a month I was keenly watching the days flash by as today approached which would mark the start of the Pike season on the remaining rivers throughout England, my opening day was spent on the Royalty like last year, I was heading down to Christchurch with the knowledge of what happened in the eve of that session when I caught my personal best of 19.5 and hoped that I would go one better with the capture of a twenty pounder.

A summer's morning in October.
 I arrived at first knocking's hoping to get a couple of Pike under my belt before the hoards of like minded Pike anglers arrived and it proved a good shout as within 10 minutes I had my first rap on my Rapala X-rap Minnow, a dour fight ended quickly as an 8.2 Pike was reviving in the net, the very next cast I had a small jack of no more than 2lb, good fun but not the size I wanted. After the second I felt a move would be good and it proved to be as a 5.11 jack was also taken on the hard body, yet the dead bait was totally neglected, it was obvious that moving baits were the key to success, but the bright sunlight and the masses of silvers everywhere contributed to a tough days fishing, pinning down the good Pike was not easy and through-out the day I didn't see any Esox larger than 12-13lb.

8.2 biggest of the day, plenty of damage to the tail.
A water's meet 5lber.
Lure nearly half the size of this little terror.
 Later on in the day I did manage another Pike of 7lb and a smaller one around the 5lb mark which both coincidentally fought much better than the 8lb fish in the morning, plus I did also foul hook another Pike of about 7lb or so under the chin, I think initially it was properly hooked but came out. Dusk was fast approaching and I got myself into a likely looking spot and waited it out for that magic moment to arrive, waited and waited some more but as 8pm came I had no choice but to square everything away and head back to London, 6 Pike to 8.2 isn't a bad return for a hard days angling but I would have loved at least a double and would have been ecstatic with a twenty but neither materialized, I do believe so many factors contributed to not catching more fish but a few cold snaps will get them feeding. Back to the Perch and the search for a 3 is on.

What A Start!

   Since the river season ended I've taken a 3 week hiatus from fishing, work as usual the excuse! Storm Kathleen however was predicted ...