Wednesday 29 June 2016

A Method to the Butter Bars.

 Crucian Carp are arguably one of the prettiest species within UK waters, unfortunately the Crucian's are fairly rare in their non-bastardised form, hybridisation has effected the true population and finding waters where thoroughbred's reside is very small. I know of a few lakes within an hour of me in south London, most of which have decent stocks within but the most prolific and best known fishery is Godalming's Marsh Farm fishery, on the day ticket weight's of Cru's can reach the dizzy heights of 3lb plus although nowadays these are rare. However the club lake holds some leviathan's with the British record falling on a couple of occasions, which stands now at an eye watering 4lb 10ozs, if only I caught one that size, well I would be a little more than content in myself.

 Seeing as I don't have a ticket for the club lake for a couple of weeks yet I decided on Harris lake where good stocks of Crucian's are present with a fairly heavy stocking of Tench, whilst the Cru sport is quite the Tinca's can provide some very good fishing, unfortunately for myself and usual angling partner Brian the fishing didn't set the place alight, bites were hard to come by on both the float and the method feeder. The tactic of using the "Method Feeder" divides a lot of opinion in regards to it being a smack in the face to traditional approaches to what is an enigmatic little species, but the flip side of the argument is the sheer efficiency of the set-up, usually a bite results in a hook up and catch rates are vastly improved, I myself have only until recently adopted the stance of sticking to my traditional approach to all my fishing, but recently have turned to the "dark side" and embraced the method feeder approach, I must say that once the teething problems of getting the gear right has been resolved the takes and indeed catches have improved slightly when the tactic has been deployed.

 For large swathes of last Saturday myself and Brian were pulling our hair out as to what was we doing wrong!, the answer was simply nothing, the fish weren't feeding avidly and secondly at times we believe the swims were actually devoid of fish, bubbling and rolling would stop and the swim would go dead.

Bit of a warrior.
 One thing I have learnt about Harris lake in particular is that the fishing is best between opening time to around 930-10am and then the final hour or so before dusk, throughout the remaining time the fishing was hit and miss with two Crucian's to 1,10 coming to the net and four Tench to 4lb or so, not electric at all, when it's not happening as planned there is always doubt about presentation and bait selection. Well.... as the magic hour arrived I struggled to keep both rods in the water, the bobbing's were up and down like a fiddler's elbow. Thankfully that spell of hectic sport culminated in another three Tench and another Crucian which weighed in at 2lb 2oz, certainly not one of the record shakers but one of the prettiest I've slipped a net under. It won't be long until I visit the lake which holds the monsters, my apprenticeship on Crucian fishing was served many years ago and it's time to really get amongst some creatures of the wild.

Immaculate and worth the wait.
The best part!

Sunday 26 June 2016

Summer Dace and Big Trout.

 After work sessions are sometimes very fruitful, reasons for this are unknown but just seems to be the case, I never leave the house now when I'm working without a rod and basic gear for a bit of stalking and seeing as most species eat bread I usually keep a loaf in the cab just in case. I finished south which was good so I had one thing on my mind and to be honest I had no plans to fish for Dace until November time - once they've put on some weight, but it turns out that I couldn't wait until then.

 These Dace that I had found were big. the shoal is of a reasonable size and the quality of the shoal is impressive and would rival any river, any where in Britain and I stand by that assertion. The gear that I used was very straight-forward, an 11ft float rod, 3lb line on an Okuma "Sheffield" pin and a 5AA Avon trotter, this setup is light and very well balanced and didn't take long for the net to be used, a nice Dace of 8oz 2dr to start with...nice. Over the course of the next hour the fishing was consistent with six Dace coming to net, all of which were over 9ozs with the best going 11oz 6dr. Then the fishing went a little quite after a 4lb Barbel tore through my swim, then followed by a Chub, a move had to be made, it paid instant dividends with this cracking 12oz 6dr silver dart.

11oz 6dr.
The best of the day in the bag.
What a pristine example of a big Dace. Immaculate, 12oz 6dr.
 Once I had caught that Dace I left the shoal alone to grow on and I'll be back later in the year for them, I continued my legwork though in search of other shoals that I know exist but are very transient, so pinning them down is a challenge but one that I always relish. I did find Dace but only a couple, the Trout were being a pain but when they come at this size you really don't care! Job's a good'un.

My third biggest ever Brownie at 6lb 4oz.

Sunday 19 June 2016

River Carp: In Search of Something a Little Special.

 Carp use to be a species I targeted a lot when I was a nipper, but as I grew up I branched out into other species and never really gone back since, apart from the odd occasion on canals and Reservoir's. Since my arrival back in the UK from Asia I had a few things I wanted to do but setting my sights on a thirty pound plus river Carp was not one of them.

 Previously, river Carp were just briefly targeted if I saw them whilst on rivers for Barbel or Chub, but some of the Carp that reside in one river I know are of an impressive size, a few 20's and a couple of 30's. So not a lot to aim at but I like that, competition is still there but fairly low. Friday just gone I had gone down for my first trip of the season, I was hoping to locate some of these bigger fish and of course the outcome hopefully landing one for the camera, a 7am arrival was in order and I felt that fishing mobile with very little gear would give me the best chance of locating and catching one.

 My choice of bait was as always the trusty "breadflake", I very rarely leave home without a loaf and hoped that it would be a good choice. Nearly two hours of walking down-river I had only seen a couple of smaller fish, these weren't what I wanted to catch so I continued on and glad I did....upon creeping into a small opening amongst the 8ft tall nettles and other foliage I spotted 3 Carp grubbing around on the bottom, I slowly crept into position and flicked out a few pieces of flake upstream and watched them flutter down onto the bottom, it took all of about thirty seconds for the first of three Carp (the largest) to start hoovering up the bread, no hesitation and just what I love to see, the heart rate started to crank up a few notches as I prepared myself, bearing in mind I was tucked away in this tiny swim the humidity was almost unbearable, reminiscent to sitting in a sauna fully clothed.....not a nice feeling.

 But the uncomfortable approach to those feeding Carp was put to the back of mind whilst I concentrated of working a bait just above the fish, within a few seconds of it touching bottom the largest one came straight over and sucked up the flake instantly, with that I struck and all hell broke loose, the swim went from a peaceful aquarium to a raging foam, it was a big fish and one that I probably put at around 25-27lbs, I say probably because didn't get to get to weigh it, four or five minutes into the fight the hook pulled and with one massive stroke of it's enormous paddle it was gone. Gutting!

 I felt very sick after that, proper gut wrencher. As soon as that happened I said to myself I will come back and make it good. So that's what I did today, condition's this morning were nice, the wind was a little stiff at times but I could cope, just. I headed straight for the area where I lost the lump, in the hope I'd find some more Carp, it didn't take long! just down-stream from where I finished last time I stumbled over a solitary Carp, this one was big too, not the same Common but definitely similar size. The same tactic of freelined flake was deployed and it didn't even reach the bottom! with stepped up gear I made no mistake, the initial run was very impressive as it stripped 30-40 yards on line, the reel nearly burned out and the bow wave downstream was immense, just an absolute pleasure to have locked horns with it, this time though I wasn't to be left with a sour taste in my mouth, a few minutes later the net was bulging with this peach of a river Carp.

 25lb 6oz was the verdict......Boom.

 Well the rest of the early afternoon drifted by very nicely, I carried on but no more Carp were spotted, but a nice Rainbow Trout of 2lb 8oz made an appearance which is not something I expected, incidentally it was released back to fight another day, catch and release all the way, even if it would have tasted very nice on the BBQ. I will be back though to continue my quest for a Thirty pound river Carp, I'll sit and look at that snap very happily until that time comes. Tight Lines guys.

First Rainbow for a while.

Thursday 16 June 2016

Secret Lake Carping.

 The mystery of certain places that I have fished adds just that something a little special to the adventure, waking up and arriving at the lake before sunrise to watch the mist rising off the surface of the lake as the Carp were breaking in search of breakfast. Just the sight you want to see when you feel like you should still be in bed, it get's the excitement levels sky-rocketing.

 The only way to fish for the Carp, effectively, is to stalk them on the surface, or to fish a small peacock quill float and a slow-sinking bread flake, sometime's Pedigree chum-mixers also work but bread is usually the killer bait. The trip in particular was from last week, around Tuesday or Wednesday and the weather was ideal for stalking, very light winds, no rain and a decent sunrise. Proceeding's got under way fairly quickly as a shoal of Carp began to feed around 20 yards out, a dozen or so mouth's (some very big), began to hoover up anything in sight, this also included my bait as I positioned it in front of a fairly large set of lips, the bread didn't last long.

A healthy scrap resulted in this warrior at 20lb 6oz.
 The fight was fairly powerful and beats a morning workout in the gym for sure, larger ones were spotted amongst the scores of smaller fish but through much restraint I ended up catching one of the smaller fish at 15lb 10oz which wasn't too bad, it gives me urge to go back and see if I can find one of the much larger fish.

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Canal Bream: The Unimaginable Achieved.

 Canal Bream....last season I spent a fair amount of time searching a few sections with Bream in mind, Carp were also on the agenda and I felt that with plenty of time invested I would get to see and unlock some of it's potential, by the time the season ended I had managed Carp to 25.03 and Bream to 7.11, even a large hybrid of 5.01 was landed later on in the season, these specimen sized fish were not what I thought I'd catch, targets were surpassed and expectations surpassed by a country mile.

 Probably the best time to fish the canal is around May, I would say unfortunately I wasn't in England but that would be a lie, seeing as I missed the best time to stalk Bream and Carp I chose to seek them by visiting the canal after work and whilst off of work I will also visit for short sessions in search of something very special, today was that day.

 I hadn't intended to be on the canal long as this visit was on the back of that 36 hour trip at Walthamstow, Brian decided to come with me for a wander and it didn't take long to spot some fish, initially we only saw a couple of Bream but as the chop on the surface abated more dark shapes became visible and some were very big by canal standards, in fact, any standards. For over a year now I have wondered whether the canal systems in London can produce such a fish, I found out soon enough, I lined up a big fish and using free-lined bread I flicked it roughly 6ft in front of it and within seconds it charged straight at it and nailed it, the bread disappeared and the mouth closed, job done! a short fight, typical of Bream unfortunately but it didn't matter much, getting them to feed and location is the two hardest aspects of it, the fight isn't the reason for targeting them.

8.04 of pure canal gold.
 The willing slab was in fairly good condition barring a bit of spawn damage on the other but what had me really excited was the weight, the scales registered 8lb 4oz, a new canal PB. But that wasn't the end of it, the fish were clearly feeding quite well or simply hadn't realised they were being targeted, even on a canal I can be stealthy, no cover but it's just a case of keeping movement to a minimum and conduct the fishing with minimum of fuss and tackle as light and unobtrusive as possible, this enabled me to target and catch the largest canal Bream I've ever seen and over the years you seldom here of Bream of these sizes. The cast, presentation and take were all a carbon copy of the first fish, only difference was the size - it was clearly larger but didn't know just how big, within 30 seconds it lay in the bottom of my net. I had to get it straight on the scales and got a shock that I actually expected ( If that makes sense ), the digital's held on 10lb 1oz. A canal double, something I never thought I'd ever catch but I had achieved it, one of my all-time captures and it certainly ranks high, the rest of the short session myself and Brian continued trying to catch but they had wised up fast, but did I care?

A canal double, speechless and the grin said it all!

Sunday 5 June 2016

Reservoir Bream: PB Fish in Testing Times.

 It had been nearly a month ago that this plan was hatched, during a short message to Brian whilst I was in Thailand a trip to Walthamstow Reservoir was pencilled in. We initially thought a day session would be a good idea but a bit of research revealed that our intended day of fishing coincided with the first night fishing date on the calender, "Great" we both agreed instantly and fast forward a few weeks and travelled a few thousand miles in between I arrived yesterday morning to collect a somewhat under-gunned Pike angler for 36 hours of Bream fishing.

 After arriving at the venue to draw swims for the night fishing we headed off to find a suitable looking swim that we felt Bream would be patrolling, past experience has taught me that the shoals move in huge numbers whilst foraging and whilst eating vast quantities of food our arsenal had to be up to scratch (25kg of pellets 4mm, 1kg of corn, 5kg of spod-mix and plenty of other feed should it be needed, the rigs that I started with was one helicopter rig with 2 real grains and 1 fake grain of corn fished with a 25g cage feeder and the other rod with 2x10mm Ellipse pellets tipped with fake maize.

S-core, caster, maggot and 4mm pellet spod mix.
One of my feeder rigs.
 A stiff wind blew northerly the entire time and our swim seemed to be in a good position strategically, after a decent bed was pumped out it was time to wait and see what happened, this is where I start to struggle, sat behind rods and waiting for the fish to come to me is very difficult to achieve, I know I have ants in my pants but that's just me and that'll never change, the very idea of sitting behind rods for that amount of time did cross my mind when organising it, but if I'm to achieve my goal of a 15lb+ Bream then I'm going to need to do something along those lines.

 Nearly 7 hours passed without any sort of indication, that was long enough for me, I had a little mooch up the reservoir and learnt that a fellow angler had just had two Bream in quick succession, that meant one thing, the fish were shoaled up and feeding elsewhere. Having made a tough decision with all of our kit we knew a move had to be made, a proper toil but necessary. I felt happier with our new position but there was plenty of baiting up to do to get the Bream to hang around, or so I thought, proceedings after 3 hours looked bleak, funnily enough there was a reason for the dire amount of activity, I unfortunately found out that the Bream had spawned around 7-10 days ago and haven't got on the feed yet, it explained alot.

16.15, chunky Common, but not a Bream.
 So you could imagine my surprise when my right hand rod screamed off as a Carp tore off up the reservoir, a good sturdy fight followed in the margins before nestling in the net and soon after as dusk approached, the take I wanted......a slow and deliberate run was the classic tell tale Bream run and it was, just over a minute later a new personal best Bream lye on the bank!

11.07, a new PB and very pleased with that fish.
Off back home, what a slab.
 Just the fish I was looking for, the numbers of fish was disappointing but I got my initial target, all I was hoping for then was a busy night, but before that could commence a wander off to Pizza Hut was in order to fill the gap and also make sure we had brekkie too, only Pizza can do both!.

 Busy night? It didn't really happen, bang on 2am the rod tore off again and a heavier fish plodded around for five minutes before gently cruising into the net, a pretty Mirror of 18.07, but that was as busy as it got, I nodded off sporadically and keeping an eye on the rods but were untouched for the remainder of our time, it was clear that it was not going to happen, at 10am we decided to call it a day. On the way home we decided to drop off to a local canal and it was brilliant, but that will follow soon..... 

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 ...