Sunday, 21 May 2017

Marching The Towpath.


 Having recently achieved my goal of a 6lb plus Orfe I turned my attentions to the daunting task of cracking my relatively local canal system in search of big Bream and Carp, for canal standards these species can grow to 10lb and 35lb respectively, now to some anglers a 10lb Bream isn't exactly big but in a canal neglected and poached to within an inch of it's life they are big and boy are they hard to find, should the location be found then getting them to feed is even more of a task, one that i've only achieved on roughly 25% of my visits in four years and if that doesn't put my task into perspective then the fact that I have seen only one angler in all the time speaks volumes.

 The Carp are even more difficult to locate as they seem to be extremely nomadic which makes my quest just that little bit trickier, but I love a challenge and this is one I've been looking forward to and I have only started now as only until the beginning of last week the canal system was like chocolate and zero visibility but with the drop of rain we have finally received it has cleared the water up and I can once again walk the many miles of towpath and stalk my quarry.

 Remaining mobile is absolutely imperative as if a bait and wait approach is adopted one would certainly blank, I'd hazard a guess that no fish would be caught unless said angler was donning a set of golden spherical objects in his strides. Waiting for fish to come to me on a water I can stalk is not an option, this is my type of angling and today my ability was to be tested, as it always is here.

 I left home around 6am this morning and arrived a little before 7am and was on the hunt straight away. As is often the case I walked for a couple of miles slowly scouring the water for any shapes, movement or feeding (bubbles). Probably a little after 830 I found a solitary Carp cruising the upper layer and it appeared to be looking for food on the surface, on certain areas of the canal near parks many people in the spring and summer feed the ducks, so bread is very much part of the staple diet to more than just the feathery kind, no doubt this Mirror that appeared to borderline 20lb was looking for any leftovers from yesterdays dinner.

 For nearly fifteen minutes I followed the carp until it reached an inlet where it decided to rest up and sat on a bed of silk weed, I gently lowered my slow sinking flake a couple of foot from it's snout and didn't hesitate to inhale it, I didn't wait for my little quill to register the bite, I struck and somehow I missed it !! I cursed my luck and swore quite a few times before I realised I hadn't actually spooked it and she was still close to where I screwed up my chance, on went another piece of flake and put it straight back where it was taken first time around but she was not to be fooled again, no matter how much I tried there was no budging.

 Having accepted my failing at a golden chance i ambled off with my tail between my legs.......would I get another chance??

 On the Carp front that unfortunately that was my lot but as the morning wore on and the sun got higher I continued to seek any signs of life when after half an hours walking I finally found three Bream feeding and cruising around, having found Bream I set the depth to around 5ft and watched the flake flutter through the column and then once it reached the desired depth I would lift it two or three foot up and left it flutter back down and repeated this method for about ten minutes when one Bream broke off from the shoal and headed straight for the flake, no mistake this time!

 My canal fishing was off to a positive start and on the scales she went 8lb 7oz which ranks that my 4th largest canal slab, I was chuffed with that as catching a fish is a huge achievement in itself. With that I continued to see if i could catch any of the others but there was no further interest.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Mission Accomplished: Golden Orfe.


 Leading on from my session a couple of weeks ago, my target of a "six pound" Golden Orfe still beckoned and I was on to my ninth visit to this picturesque venue sat in the middle of the idyllic Surrey Hills, my desire to crack this specific challenge was burning stronger every time I thought about it.

 So having thought about the Orfe fishing quite a bit I decided that I have not managed to stalk any of the big specimens in the lake, so my tactic had to be changed, with that I decided to go about the bait and wait approach. Following on from my mini rant a few days ago I only opted with a single rod but I knew that if my bait was presented properly and that the fish were feeding then I stood a chance.

 My rig was very simple but highly effective in other circumstances that I used it in, a short 10lb hooklength of very low diameter of maybe 3 inches in length tied with a small size 14 wide gape hook, the feeder was a 40g Guru (Korda) hybrid method feeder which I started to use and find it very good at what it's supposed to do, the bait? just a Drennan bouyant maggot dipped in a secret solution to give it a pungent smell which I hope the fish find if the lure of the red maggot doesn't attract the fish.


 I fed an area between two marks with a mix of hemp, Sonubaits supercrush green groundbait and red maggots which in hope would get passing fish to feed and eventually my plan worked, within an hour or so of starting up my rod bleeped and then tore off, fish on and it fought quite well which led me to believe that I'd hooked a Tench and when that last minute dash for reeds came about it was obvious, not a bad one either and more importantly I was clearly in an area where the fish were feeding.

Nice little start, 5.06
 The rod stayed a silent for a little and I employed a twenty minute recast to keep the bait going out and if fish were feeding around my area then it would keep them close with a chance of tricking them, maybe an hour after landing the Tench my rod melted as a fish made off with the fake maggot, as soon as I lifted into the fish I saw a big Orfe roll on the surface at distance and knew straight away it was a new PB so I played with caution all the way to the net but was it the "six" I craved?

The verdict....5lb 10oz
 So not quite the six pounder I was after but boy I was chuffed to bits! An amazing creature but the fights are so lazy, I near enough reeled it in the 40 yards to which I was fishing.

 But proceedings were to become very interesting as a couple of hours later my rod tore again, the take was very confident and could imagine it was a Tench as there was no large orange fish roll on the surface, but it fought hard just like the first and when it slipped into the net I could clearly see it was larger than the first, a seasons best of 6lb 2oz.


 Feeling quite content at catching a pair of good Tench and personal best Orfe I kept the feeder going out and regularly topping up the area I'd be preparing all day, I had to wait a while before my next enquiry but this one was to be the special one, the very fish I'd spent nearly nine trips for, a couple of double bleeps on the buzzer sounded and before I had the chance to strike the rod screamed off and a huge frame rolled out on the surface in the distance. Straight away I made sure that the fish was played very gently and as it approached the net I knew then I'd cracked it, but by how much?

I had smashed it, all 6lb 12oz of it !
 Target Achieved!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Toughing It Out For Tench.


 Tench, a species much associated with Spring, the problem is it doesn't feel like Spring as the temperature is reminiscent of winter. The cold NE wind that has remained for a good couple of weeks has affected the water temps which have had a knock on affect on the feeding of the Tench, however cool the weather has been the fingers were too itchy to ignore and planned a trip down south for an overnighter.

In position.

Mmmmmmm

Even better cooked.

 24 hour trips and me don't go together, for one I'm far too fidgety to stay in one area and the other I'd feel too much like a Carp boy, but I gave it a bash anyway, I bought myself a JRC stealth x-lite shelter/bivvy for the trip and had great fun in buying the food for a stove which I bought months ago, it was going to happen. In preparation for the trip I boiled up 10 pints of hemp and packed stacks of bait with the hope that the Tench would be very obliging.


 Brian joined me for this trip, both of us were very optimistic and for days previous I was excited like a little child before Christmas. When we arrived after a lovely journey down through the beautiful South Downs the lake sat there glistening in the mottled sunlight as we pulled up, with only one other angler on the lake we had the choice of the entire place and having been here once before last season I had a very slight idea on what to do and wasted no time getting the rods set up and a bed of bait out.


 With the traps set it was time to get the camp organised and brand new bivvy stripped out of the box the fun began.....with no manual it was a right pain the bum and after an hour nearly it still wasn't erected properly but it did the business. The occasional bleep would sound as fish moved around the baited area but runs were not materialising. A couple of hours passed before I got a solid take, a one-toner is what I'd been waiting for and I wound down on a heavy fish, clearly I was in contact with a big Tench but I know the weed can be a pain and I was to feel the pain first hand as the fish went solid and after a few seconds the line went slack.

The maggot thief escaped, again.
 Lost Tench for me was to become the theme as over the next couple of hours up to dusk I lost another two Tench to the weed and it was starting to wear on me, regardless of areas that I was putting my feeders the patches were clear but the Tench were running straight for weed beds and I hadn't the time to get their heads up before they ploughed into the silk weed, then dusk came and the Eels moved in.......

A clear night under the stars was a joy. 

Just a mess around with my DSLR and picked up something
that looks like a "Milky Way" in the bottom half of the photo.

The panoramic views of the South Downs are amazing.

 My little setup was cosy and laying under the stars was something I've not done in years, I even had a faff around with my camera on manual settings and play around with the ISO settings, I didn't manage any brilliant photos but it was good fun and picked up what I can only think was the Milky Way. the Eel count got to 3 before I packed it in for the night and caught a couple of hours sleep before dawn in prep' for a mad rush, well I hoped for a mad rush. I was honest with myself experiencing how tough the first 12 hours was I wasn't holding my breath, the fishing was tough and the remaining hours of our trip drifted by with only one more dropped fish, the conditions were not conducive to catching Tench but at least we were in the right places with the right bait, a return is pencilled in for next week where the wind will be blowing from the SW and the sun will be a lot warmer. The experience of the whole camping/fishing lark was great fun along with the cooking, thoroughly enjoyed it even if I failed in catching a Tench.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Orfe-ly Crafty Creatures.


 My quest which is now into it's third year in searching for a specimen Orfe with a target weight of 6lb, only a few reside in this particular venue but are extremely weary fish, I just hope on one trip that I can catch one unaware and tempt it to feed and manage to slip my net under it.

Red Kite on the hunt for something.

 I have been to this venue a few times now and typically I'll adopt a stalking approach but with the wind blowing a hooley I decided after just a couple to go on the bottom and fish a flat-bed method with a short 4inch hooklength, the hookbait was a single Drennan bouyant maggot soaked in a sticky strawberry solution which in the murky water hoped could lure the marauding Orfe to my bait and in the feeder I used Sonubaits 50/50 green crush with the little pellets, which is excellent, just watch the oils leech out of it after a couple of minutes sitting on the bottom.

 I usually use one rod here as the owner is on bit of a money maker and charges nearly doubled to use the second rod which I personally feel is nothing short of disgusting and just money grabbing, that erks me alot and the owner of this particular fishery isn't alone in drawing this gripe from me as Bury Hill Fisheries is very much the same, if you've ever fished for the predators in the winter you'll know what I mean, three rods....yes then start to charge a bit more but there is nothing to suggest that smacking another £8 on top to use a 2nd rod is acceptable, alas I do not use a second, I think £10 is a lot for one rod but if I want to achieve one of my goals then I have to grin and bare it until I have achieved what I started out to do.

Another mid-3 
 Bites however were very slow on coming and I had to wait nearly two hours to get my first inquiry but it was a smaller specimen than intended but this told me that my target species was on my bait and feeding, the confidence level crept up and put a small amount of bait out just to keep it topped but not enough to put pressure on the fish still in the swim, at 3.8 it was about average and now I've had nearly two dozen Orfe out but most are this size. The occasional patch of bubbles would surface around my baited area but struggled to achieve more than single or double bleeps as fish passed through the area but not stopping to eat, the hours rolled by and the rigs fiddled with as much as possible to find a winning combination, this however never materialised.

They were showing.

 About six in the evening I spoke with Brian who was down with me and I suggested a match on another lake with a points based system put in place, as the action was so absent on the other lake we forgot about the specimen chasing for a couple of hours.

 Before we headed over to start our match I'd noticed something really beautiful in the woods which the lakes are set in.



Absolutely stunning.

 Crucian's were 2 points, Tench/Carp/Bream were 1 point and Golden Orfe were 3 points (Orfe in this lake tend not to surpass 5lb), Brian on the float and myself baiting and waiting a set of lily pads was the way we started. The float tactic seemed to work well as Brian raced into a lead of 6 Tench before I caught my first fish which was a Tench, then Brian managed another to take his lead to 7-1 then a minor miracle occurred as a shoal of Crucian's arrived in my swim, not before I had changed to the float myself and plummeted the depth to an inch off the bottom. The fish then kept coming and Brian's lead was being eaten into steadily and it was about twenty minutes before the hooter that I'd overtaken him and by 8pm I was the victor, no thanks to number of fish but the Crucin's were double points and that won it for me! A good bit of fun, as angling should be!