Tuesday 24 November 2015

No Zander in the Cov'.

 I'm joining the party fairly late here but better late than never I suppose, after Saturday's fantastic trotting session I was buzzing and I woke up on Sunday at 6am still buzzing, the freezing cold certainly didn't put me off as I was to meet Ricki and Brian at Euston for a jolly up in Coventry on the Cov' canal in search of our usual quarry, Zander.

Such a stunning fish, made up for sure!!.
 Now I have been here twice so far and traveled back home with my tail firmly between my legs wondering what went wrong, I was determined to improve on my poor track record for Zed's by using a two-pronged attack.

 Once arriving in the town centre we decided to chuck some lures about for a few small jack's but I only managed to watch on, my lures got a couple of little knocks but nothing clear cut, so after casting an hour away or so we hopped into a taxi and joined the angling collective for Jeff Hatt's birthday Zander bash, don't really know what a collective of fishermen is called so I'll go with "Madmen", the condition's weren't ideal but we were there and I wanted to make the most of it, it was great to catch up with some of the guys I haven't seen since last year's meet and fish, but also great to meet up with the likes of Lee, Ben and Keith who I haven't met before but felt I knew them through reading their blogs as they probably felt by meeting myself and the other angler's who they'd yet to meet.

 For a majority of the time I spent nattering away to fellow bloggers/anglers about recent ventures and taking plenty of plaudits for this enormous Roach that fell to my trotted maggot/caster combination but I did come down to also banish my canal duck for Zander and I was determined I'd do it on this trip, my sleeper rod was chucked about to try and coax a fish to feed whilst I fished a small 5g jig with various bodies and colour's, the fishing was hard but as dusk was approaching I had a subtle bang which I struck into and a fairly dainty fight played out in the track of the canal, I knew it was a Zander so I really wanted to land it, it wasn't long either before it got mugged and I punched the air which delighted me no end as it was my first Zander on an artificial too.

A very welcome Zed getting "Papped".
 The rest of the evening was spent trying to bag myself another but a couple of half hearted runs from the Zed's proved to be it and we all retired to the pub for a drink or two.....

Saturday 21 November 2015

Chalkstream Specimen Roach.

A teaser for what's to come.
 For Roach this season has been good already and I have high hopes for the rest of Autumn and Winter as plenty of trotting will be done during the colder months, looking at the forecast over the last few days this morning didn't look appetizing at all so I caught up on some much needed sleep and a few errands which needed sorting out, as mid-day came and went I decided to grab the trotting gear and some waders with the view of spending around four hours on the bank.

 I arrived at the river with maybe three hours in total, so I got straight to running maggots and casters through whilst I got my gear sorted, the wind wasn't really affecting me as it turned out I was slightly protected which was lucky and the river was a bit coloured up so I fancied some fish trotting and with my recent form for big Roach I wasn't discounting the fact that I "may" end up catching at least one. The sport to start off with was very slow and it took nearly twenty trots to get a bite and maybe another ten to hook up, first off was a stunning silvery Dace of 6oz or so which was sporting a very podgy frame, this is good news as they are clearly munching in earnest for the cold months ahead.

A lovely brace of Autumn Chub.
One of my typical trots.
 Talking about the cold, I had only been fishing for maybe 20 minutes by that point and my hands were at the point of falling off!, it was a challenge to keep them warm to a point I could operate the pin, but a few more fish started to fall to my single caster trap and a quick succession of Dace and Chub got the hands warming up, although I avoided putting them in the water as I didn't fancy ice-block mits, the Chub were starting to come in at a good size and managed two of 4lb plus which was accompanied by a dozen or so Dace to 11oz roughly although I didn't weigh them. The bites started to tail off as dark was falling but I knew that if I was to come into contact with a leviathan Roach now was the time, a couple of Dace came to the net around 8oz and then out it happened, it had to, the river looked perfect, up half a foot or so with a lovely tinge to it and cold night before usually gets them feeding.

A right fat....stonking Dace at 11oz.
A stunning 2oz 1dr Gonk for good measure.
And some big minnows too....
 The bite was just like any other but the fight was hard, today I changed from a 3lb bottom to a 5lb bottom as I had a couple of line breaks with Chub snagging me up, this made no difference to the Roach as it was clear she wasn't in a mood to come in, the fight was dogged with the tell-tale "jagged scrap" whilst it stripped line from the pin, when she broke the surface I shat myself mentally and almost physically, it was big and I could see my puny size 18 hook in the top lip with the maggot dangling on the line by the knot, seriously I've never got a net ready so fast before, Mr Bolt would have been impressed by that speed!, but I knew this fish was very big, three-pounds??, I did for a while think so as she dived back down towards the bottom, I just had to keep the tension, a few more nervous moments passed by, then the head slipped into the net quickly followed by the rest.

Absolutely stunning, my largest for quite a few years. 

What a "clonker" as Wilson would say.
 I said to myself "It's bloody big but is it that big?", what it lacked was depth I believe to do 3lb, the length and width were perfect to reach or surpass that "Holy Grail" landmark, she went on the scales to dispel any doubts about the weight. 2lb 10oz of pure and utter jubilation, immense, amazing.....I could go on but alas I shall leave it there, the rest of the session was spent trying to coax more Roach into the net but it seems that I found the only feeding redfin or the only one to be foolish enough to be caught, I believe it was the latter but I digress. I'll just look at the photo's with the largest of grin's. It's been a great day. Off to settle an old score in Warwickshire tomorrow, it's Zander, Pike and Perch time.

Saturday 14 November 2015

An Autumn Gem.

 It's clear by now that I have taken to this canal fishing and it has certainly enchanted me, it's definitely not the scenery either but the fish that do call it home, as I have said in previous posts there are very little stocks and catching them isn't easy as there is plenty of water to hide, so this morning I set off for a short trip as the BBC weather app showed that a day of poor weather was on it's way, so I arrived at around 8am and set about searching the water with the polaroid's at a quicker than usual pace, I knew I had roughly an hour available before the rain was to arrive and break up the water hence making stalking almost impossible, so I set up before starting instead of setting up when I've spotted fish as I have missed a couple of opportunities because of this.

 The tactic I use now is simply a size 8 barbless hook and a no1 shot an inch from the hook baited with a piece of flake, no freebees, no nothing. I found that using a float put the Bream and Carp on edge as it represented something "alien" which I'm certain put the fish off from feeding on my would be tasty offering, it took around 45 minutes to locate fish and when I did a shoal of lovely Bream where hovering over a gravel patch in roughly 6ft of water, I squeezed out the excess water from the bread flake and sent it on it's way down, it didn't even touch the bottom when one Bream around 7-8lb sucked in the bait and I missed it, totally amazed at how I never connected but it happens.

 But it's not the first time I've cocked up on a guilt-edged chance so I continued as planned and as I had found fish I continued to hang around the shoal of Bream, after 5-10 fruitless minutes of angling the bread in the paths of awaiting mouths I didn't manage to get another fish to commit then I spotted a large frame on the bottom move, all the time I was in that patch I never thought it was a fish but the large shape turned out to be a really lovely Carp, oh it was just what I wanted to find, so now the heart rate was cranked up a few notches I had to keep my cool, I flicked the bread about ten-foot past the Carp into the main track and slowly drew it back as it sank towards the bottom, as it got around a foot from the bottom the Carp turned straight for it and as that happened an even larger Carp came out of know where and sucked in the bait, being able to see the bread disappear was brilliant and my heart rate really went through the roof, exhilarating stuff I can tell you, the fight was rip-roaring, lunge after lunge and the runs were so bloody powerful I feared my 8lb line wouldn't stand up to the task.

 Nearly 10 minutes had passed before I got a netting opportunity and when I did she still didn't want to know and charged straight back out before I could scoop her in, it was not in a forgiving mood, but to that point nor was I, I wanted her more than she wanted to escape and after playing her with a degree of caution towards the end I bagged myself an extremely stunning Autumn Common Carp which spun the dial comfortably past 20lb and settled on 23lb 9oz, get in there my son!!!!.

After quite a few blanks it was most certainly worth it!, what do you think?.

The heart rate took a little while to drop but I finally got there just as the heavens opened and I watched my catch swim strongly out of the net back into anonymity, what a fish from a canal.

Sunday 8 November 2015

The Pursuit of Hidden Treasure....

.....in plain sight. Our plethora of canal waterway's in and around London gives the opportunity of endless miles of fishing, although just because there is miles and miles of water doesn't mean that there is endless supply of fish, I know all too well that there are hidden gems in what would be regarded by most as a dump, tip, s**thole and so on, you get the picture. Some sections aren't very nice and there are some unscrupulous folk that loiter around to make you feel uneasy at times, when fishing that is the last thing you want to feel. Since April I have made numerous trips to the canals to unlock some monster fish of various species and I have done so, the challenge remains to catch what is probably the pinnacle of canal fishing, with a ten pound Bream and a 30lb Carp my ultimate targets, these are unlikely targets on most fisheries let or lone a canal as wild as you could imagine, not stocked, not looked after (fish wise) and seldom fished.

 I have seen both of my targets already and come next season I will resume my canal fishing, I can't wait to tell the truth but this season isn't over yet and I resumed my hunt this morning, with the weather looking rather bleak I still fancied a gander with the stalking gear, the wind was a slightly strong to start with but I know with the mild weather and recent rains the Bream and Carp should be feeding well, arriving just after dawn I set about finding fish and then get a bait in their faces and hope they would oblige, it took well over an hour to find a shoal of fish but once I had I stuck to them like s*** sticks to a blanket, I finally got my chance when one peeled off the shoal and made a bee-line for me, the bread went straight in front of it and the bait disappeared, no waiting for any indication as I struck immediately and hooked up with another ancient elusive canal Bream, a brief scrap on 6lb line and she was mine, such a dark fish as the water is gin-clear and they have practically no cover.

A little wet and wild but who cares!.
 After a couple of photograph's and a quick weigh, this beaut went 7.04 and my third 7lb plus slab off of this canal in particular, although this is a big Bream for a canal I seem to be avoiding the larger fish, either they don't feed or are just very bloody smart. As soon as I hooked that fish I saw the remaining shoal disappear in an instant, I knew it was time to move. Further on up I searched through water and continued on doing this for around 4 miles but it was just empty, this is what is going to make this challenge of mine so difficult as the fish do move a lot!. Pinning them down is not going to be easy, with info on these canals extremely limited due to the lack of footfall angler wise, but this is a good thing too as the fact that not many fish it makes my target easier if that makes sense, less people fishing for them makes the stocks less pressured.

 I continued on for a little longer before backtracking to see if I missed anything on my way up and half way down I bumped into a monster Mirror Carp of anything between 28-32lb, a big stocky Carp which had a lovely scale pattern too as in the clear water I could see all of it. I tried everything to catch her but it was on a mission somewhere and not in a mood to feed, hopefully I'll find her again in a grubbing up mood. Until then I will lament on what could happen on the next trip. Tight Lines.

The only Pike around here these days.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Chalkstream Specimen Dace.

 Today was supposed to be so different with a trip to Hants Avon planned but the weather predicted was looking very poor and I did not want to be fishing through what I had to endure on Thursday, so I made the decision to bail on what could have been great session and spent the morning faffing around at home to see if the rain would abate, midday sailed by and still no luck, it wasn't until 1:30 that the rain finally relaxed, the wind was still very strong but I seized the opportunity to get on the bank albeit for 2-3 hours max.

 Dace were the target and I had a couple pints of maggots to get through. The river was up by a foot or so and coloured but I fancied building a glide and see if the silver darts were home and looking to munch. I set up with a 6AAA balsa float and a size 18 hook with two white maggot and one caster at the business end, fishing the bait around 6" off the bottom I found the Dace after a slow start and bites were thick and fast but couldn't hit most of them, my hunch was the Dace were hitting the shot on the way down and throughout the trots, the wind made life very challenging and I was missing some bites I really should have connected with but during the 2hour session I finished up with a bag of 17 Dace to 12oz 2dr, with 11 over 10oz.

Three of the best, largest at 12oz 2dr.
 A proper shoal of Dace and they all seemed massive with the smallest around 5oz, a Chub of 3lb also made an appearance but nothing else fell to my crafty trotting setup, considering the conditions I'll settle for that definitely with the limited time available too.

Thursday 5 November 2015

Raining On My Parade.

 For over a fortnight I have been patiently waiting for this morning to arrive, 0430 and it was time to get up, it was raining...collected Brian en-route, it was raining...got to our destination and guess what it was still raining. My target today was the Roach and in previous trips I have seen them to upper-two pounds loitering around the slightly deeper area's, a decent head of Grayling do live in this stretch and can range up around 2lb plus, two of which I have managed last season.

A fantastic way to spend a morning.
 Fishing this beat is a joy and I decided to start in a pool towards the top of the beat, I began trotting the pool and caught a few Grayling to around a pound, the fight's are so predictable but still I couldn't prevent them from escaping capture, as the morning wore on it was much of the same and by 10am the rain came back again and gave us both a thorough soaking before making way to fairly stable weather, we knew this wouldn't last so I made the most of it, taking over twenty Grayling in under 2 hours was pretty good going and a few Trout also making way to 2lb or so, the Roach though were still proving very elusive and locating them would prove to be the stumbling block.

Beautiful action, beautiful floats.
 I arrived at a swim where I saw them back in February and plotted up with the view to trot the area to a foam, through the coloured water I could make out the frames of some very large Roach, by large I mean two-pound plus and a few more appeared amongst the weed as I got my eye in, having found them it was a case of now presenting the bait to them whilst combating the 20mph winds and driving rain which was threatening to spoil our day out. After an hour or so I had only bumped one but then out of nothing the float stopped and slipped under, no invitation to strike was needed and immediately I could see a substantial silver body arc up off the bottom, I exclaimed to Brian I had a lump on and he headed straight over to me before I'd even got her in, with the hook clearly threaded through the top lip on the edge I really wanted to get the fish in the net before the hook fell out.

A typical Grayling in great condition,
 It was one of those catch 22's where I love the fight that specimen Roach put up but equally wished they wouldn't as it doesn't do a lot of good for the nerves, thankfully she did cruise into the net and I knelt on the sodden ground holding a cracking warrior of a Roach weighing 1lb 14oz, not a two-pounder but equally as exquisite, I do love Roach that aren't pristine and fin perfect as I love the individuality and character that battle scars and missing scales creates, pukka!.

ah, that's more like it, 1.14 of Test Roach.

 I continued to fish amongst a shoal of very big fish but I was to be frustrated by a combination of the Roach's stubbornness to feed and the weather doing it's best to annoy, the weather got so poor that I decided to sit out some time in the hut just to try and dry out marginally, a slight break in the rain saw me head back out quickly before dusk and managed another half-a-dozen Grayling to 1.04 and another Trout. A thoroughly enjoyable day and another lovely Roach to add to my collection. 

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 ...