Friday 26 June 2020

Fenland Escapades Part I

 This part of my fishing is probably what I have missed the most, those drives into the Suffolk and Norfolk fens in search of the most beautiful of all our summer targets, it can only be the Rudd. Large bars of gold, that glisten in the summer sun and watching those crimson fins cut through the surface of the water as they charge down the crust, what else could you possibly want to catch when these are available, if you can find them.

 Elusive at times it can takes hours to find them, but with a boat to hand and pretty good knowledge of the waterways where I have dabbled in I do feel confident in finding some fish. So having picked Brian for this trip we left London at 0230 and headed north-east..ish some 96 miles to a location I'll refer to a base camp. Unfortunately it was where I'd learn that a large puncture would deem the boat out of service and HMS Rudd would have to watch from the sidelines as we both conceded to the fact we would spend the next two days on foot.

 Not a great start. Knowing that we would be walking a lot we kept the gear to a minimum and did our best to find fish to begin with and once a couple of small fish were tempted I set about looking for something that would pull back a bit. Finding that something a bit bigger however was not proving to be an easy task. The lack of access to open water really limited us as to where we could target fish and even if we saw something decent the problem of landing potential fish was then assessed and often thought better of it, even with a 3m reach plus the net!

Get me on the scoresheet.

 By 10am I'd only seen one decent fish that I reckon was over 2lb and the sort of fish we were both eagerly searching for. A decent helping of crust went out to try and get the fish to feed confidently but all I could see smashing the bait was tiny Rudd up to 6oz or so, then out of nowhere after ten minutes or so a decent bow wave headed for a piece crust, about the size of a £2 coin and it vanished, just what I wanted to see. I knew at this point I could be in business.

 Using a loaded fat top float I launched it to the other side of the drain and drew the bait into position, roughly centre of the track where the Rudd last appeared and hoped that the big Rudd would feed again. Not even a minute went by and a cheeky little Rudd started nobbling the edges of the crust when all of a sudden the crust just vanished, a large swirl was then followed by the float vanishing too, the take from heaven. On the light gear ( 12ft Greys float rod, Shimano 3000 exage FS reel loaded with 5lb straight through to a size 8 wide gape hook ) the fight was brilliant until it darted into a weed bed under my feet and was trying its very best to get into the reeds to shed the hook.

 With my heart pounding and polaroids steaming up I did my best to stay in control as I was getting beaten up by a determined Rudd. By this point Brian was neck deep in nettles with an outstretched arm and full length net, ready to gently coax the fish in as it finally came free of the weed bed! I can honestly say it's been sometime that I last experienced a battle that close, it could have easily gone the other way.

 This was the sight I was met with when I put the rod down and composed myself.

That 22'' landing net has seen some fish!
  Composed and ready to go we weighed her and got a few snaps before having the pleasure of watching her waddle back out into the unknown world, to which she may not possibly see a hook again.

A big drain Rudd at 2lb 5oz. BOLM!
 That is what I like to see. Those Fenland Rudd are just a different gravy all together, if I lived out there, I couldn't see myself targeting another species. Nevertheless, it was great to see it on the bank, but, the task I felt now was to help Brian find a new PB to cherish on the journey home, with a day and a half to go the odds looked good at the point of releasing my prize. Big Rudd often stick together and if packs of small hungry Rudd are around its quite often a good idea to move and by judging the size of the ripples coming off the bait it would suggest the remaining big fish moved off.

 Back to the drawing board again.

 For around six hours I ended up walking a 3mile section backwards and forwards, armed with my bucket of bread and catapult loading up areas that looked good for a big fish and would watch the water to see what responded and it took most of the afternoon to find another good Rudd and this time Brian was on it, the presentation spot on, the timing just perfect and the Rudd could not resist, 1lb 14ozs of pure fenland drain gold was his and a new PB too.

 Conditions however then began to dictate the direction our trip was heading and with storms skirting us for some three hours we finally came in the direct firing line of a fierce front where the pressure plummeted instantly and rumbling sheet of torrential rain headed straight for us, lightning and thunder filling the air we beat a hasty retreat to the car some half a mile away and we timed it almost to perfection as my back just started to get the first drops on it and Brian closed the boot and dived in the car as the heavens absolutely opened. At this point we had already decided to cut the trip short, A: The lack of boat was a severe disadvantage ( even given the fact we both caught good fish ) and B: The weather forecast was to predict heavy rain throughout the day in spells and in truth, that would take the shine off what was a very tough, but rewarding day on the drains.

 We will be back soon, with a non-leaking boat.

Oi! my prize, one last time :) 

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Baptism of Slime.

 For some time now I have known about the ever increasing capacity of waters in their catfish stocks, catfish being a species I have had no interest in, at all!. BUT! I am one to try my hand at just about anything and if I fail first time around I'll often get straight back on the horse and try again.

 Thankfully, the lake I visited is quite well known ( Charlie's Lake, in Ashford ) for its obscenely healthy population of slugs ( a term often used for catfish ). With lockdown still in place I made a booking a week or so in advance to put myself in with the chance of catching one.

 Fast forward 1905 on the Saturday evening....I had already banked two. That wasn't too hard was it now.

 Within ten minutes I got a one-toner on my LH rod and proceeded to land a 20lb 9oz specimen which was backed up by a 19lb 8oz catfish. With both catfish in great nick I admired them both before gently cradling them into the lake to roam free once again.

A twenty to ease me in with. 20lb 9oz.

 Sport then did ease up as it took me an hour and a half to register a third fish, this being my first thirty pounder ( 30lb 12oz ) and boy those larger specimens are a different gravy, longer more drawn out battles and more forceful lunges/runs to bankside vegetation and treelines, which in turn did give another dynamic to the battles which I can happily say I endured more of.

 As the night closed in on us we were in for an interesting night as the bigger fish seemed to come on the feed. Between 2247 and 0145 I had four fish with three over thirty pounds with the biggest just missing out on the forty pound mark ( 39lb 9oz ). That was interesting holding it up for a photo! Not quite a chub or roach.

The benchmark has been set.

 After a ( 33lb 5oz ) cat I took the opportunity to have a kip and woke up around 0615, twenty minutes later the LH rod yet again tore off and locked into battle with the second smallest of the trip ( 17lb 10oz ), but then I did suffer a proper lull in action as my next bite didn't come until just after midday ( 17lb 12oz ). By this point I was already very happy, I do have to confess mind you that having come so close to "forty", I now wanted to achieve that.

 Every take I had from then on I was willing for it to be a lunker and although I had had some very good fish already I wanted more. Not unusual for me it has to be said.

Finish it off with a thirty, why not. 30lb 10oz

 Then as we approached the final sector of the trip a few more fish came my way and as the gong went a ( 30lb 10oz ) slug slipped over the cord to give me a final total of an astonishing 337lb 1oz bag of cats. Not bad for about 16hrs fishing if you factor in the shuteye.

 20lb 9oz   1901
 19lb 8oz   1905
 30lb 12oz  2036
 28lb 1oz   2247
 32lb 2oz   0005
 39lb 9oz   0045
 33lb 5oz   0145
 17lb 10oz 0635
 17lb 12oz 1206
 21lb 13oz 1305
 22lb 6oz   1358
 16lb 2oz   1615
 20lb 4oz   1640
 30lb 10oz 1818

Wednesday 3 June 2020

The Curtain Raiser.

 I finally got the desire to go out for a days fishing a week or so ago, Tench were about all I could think of, what with Carp, Bream etc spawning I didn't want to bother them. I know a small deep lake where the Tench tend to spawn later than most places and thought this would be a good shout at a bit of action.

 Joined by Brian for our first trip out since March 13th we set out to catch whatever we could, personally I'd set a target of beating my long standing PB of 8lb 3oz, on this particular venue its a possibility and quite soon we were watching big Tench ghosting around the margins, some were certainly over eight, most likely in the nine pound bracket.

 That was the fuel to get my tench head on and really give it a go. One set-up fished using the lift method and the other a flatbed feeder 42g with a short 5lb hooklink to a lump of breadflake. In my experience here, bread is far superior to any other baits in terms of catch rates, which I do find fairly strange as the natural life in the lake is plentiful, but I won't question the approach, it works!.

 It didn't take long either for the quiver tip to spring into action as an arm wrenching take nearly removed the rod from the rest, sat on top of it I was in no danger to losing it, however I could envisage it happening to someone! The quivertip rod I use is a Maver Reactorlite with a lite tip, which it comes with (3 in total) and yes, it is quite expensive, retailing at somewhere around the £170-200 mark but the action is second to none and tamed a fair few decent fish on it and always felt in control.

 Fishing tight to lily pads I use 6lb mainline and always a free-running approach should the worst happen, along with a size 14 barbless wide gape hook I feel all precautions are taken. The pull of a good Tench is always nice but even better when you haven't been fishing properly for basically two months.

 Mornings and evenings are two distinct periods of feeding, everything in between is usually spent fiddling with rigs or having a catch up. For me I went for a little drive to see the Wood White butterfly that is getting rarer and rarer every year that goes by.

 My first Tench of day tipped the scales at 5lb 8oz, what is a rather modest fish the bigger ones could be seen drifting on and off the area where I had baited. Puffs of sediment climbing the water column would often be my cue to get close to the rod and quite often within a minute or so the tip would slam around, or float dip if I chose to go on the float rod. Chopping and changing I find really does keep it fresh and also keeps your mind from wondering. The float rod I use is a Greys Toreon 15ft 3-piece, used with a centrepin loaded with 5lb line straight through, on the lift method, which is a deadly tactic for catching sometimes quite weary Tench.

Any bait will do, bread and casters for me are great baits for Tench.
My second tench of the day at 6lb 7oz.
 From the morning session I managed five bites, four on the feeder, one on the float. 

 Weights; 5lb 8oz (0745), 6lb 7oz (0820), 5lb 7oz (0902), 7lb 2oz (0936) and 5lb 3oz (1037) great sport.

 Having taken a 3-hour break from the fishing as I knew it would be poor I went on the hunt for this butterfly and after an hour or so of searching I came across a few, floating amongst the track.

  Upon my return I had asked Brian what he had managed and the answer both justified my break from the fishing and also backed up the detail that I have learned of the venue, six hours of no action, thankfully for me my return was perfectly timed and within 20 minutes of getting a rod back out the float sailed under with a fighting fit Tench of 6lb 0oz. 

 About half an hour later though a much better fish stormed off and what turned out to be the best of the trip at a pleasing 7lb 12oz, my joint best Tench from the venue and the big fish still elude me, not that I was complaining of course.

7lb 12oz

6lb 12oz 

  The evening played out in a similar fashion as a steady stream of bites came, with a total of 12 Tench coming to the net, it was a good day.

A good Tinca ready to go.

On it's way in a hurry.
 Evening session consisted of seven Tench: 6lb 0oz (1640), 7lb 12oz (1708), 6lb 7oz (1756), 5lb 10oz (1856), 6lb 12oz (1911), 5lb 4oz (1931) and 6lb 4oz (1946). The evening rush always tends to bare more fruit than the morning session and gives you the day to prepare.

Breaming of a Slime Fest.

   As the weather begins to warm so does the water and slowly but surely the Bream will come to a point where they will go off and spawn, en...