Friday 31 July 2020

H'Wrassing the Population.

 After many years of procrastination I finally got my arse in gear and hit the coast! The list of potential species to aim at was endless but I only had one target this time around, the stunning and aggressive Balon Wrasse. What was great too is that I was scrambling the cliffs with fellow madman, Nathan Edgell. For a few years now I've mentioned coming down for a blast at the Wrasse but simply didn't make the time, that was yesterday.

 Fair weather, a pouch of jigs and lures, a tank full of diesel and gear packed I set off at 3am. Nearly three hours on the road and 166 miles westwards I was in Wrasse territory, by 0620 I was following Nathan' lead down 500ft of coastal cliff face in order to get to prime fishing spots. Crazy I know but essential (often nothing worth having is easy). 

 By 8am I had caught my target species and a fine fish indeed, complete with amazing colours and even more impressive dentures! 

 Then as the morning wore on I got a savage take which lunged for the rocks below and with a tight clutch my rod tip arched alarmingly quick and in a flash it was gone, I could do absolutely nothing with it and it felt big.

Not long afterwards I got a couple of half-hearted taps and nips on the sand eel replica jig which then went quiet, so a move across some rocks was made and proved to be a good shout as Nath' and myself got a few fish on the shore with this my best of the day out of five! 

 With time slowly drifting away we decided to finish up as I had a 3hr return drive ahead and didn't want to leave too late, however, I will certainly be back as it was a pukka trip and in great company! If you read this, cheers! 

 The views were fantastic and in truth, I've fished in worse places :) 

A Neolithic Ammonite.

An awesome panoramic of our days playground.

Not a bad view behind my sofa!

Friday 24 July 2020

Canal Bream...Glimpses of Glory.

 Since 2015 big canal Bream have featured sporadically in a typical calender year, the mileage often put in makes these; and indeed Carp, Pike etc something of a treat to myself, but also if I have gained a few pounds then marching 10-20 miles in a day can often aide the removal of said weight.

 Stalking is the only way I target the canals given the nomadic lifestyles the fish live, so efforts must be matched to give myself a chance. My best two "Cut Slabs" have weighed 10lb 1oz and 10lb 3oz, both really big fish, however with the average canal bream weighing no more than a pound or two, these fish and others that I've caught between 7-9lb are colossal and represent a very tiny proportion of the systems populations. Catching one of these is of course a proper treat and an experience that you can't get blasie about, every capture is remembered fondly.

 The other afternoon I finished work at a fairly decent time so I grabbed the stalking gear and met Brian on the towpath, in search of something special and it didn't take long either. We stumbled upon a shoal of Bream cruising on the top, so I got readied and launched out a bait in the mix, the bait dropped a couple of inches under the surface and a big Bream sucked in the flake, I struck and missed it!. Damn!

 With no time to dwell on the miss, I got the bait back out and hoped for a similar response and what do you know! I did, another big Bream sauntered up to the slowly sinking bait and sucked it in, this time I got a hook hold and the fight began, albeit not very hard. A fairly laid back approach to setting up see me playing the fish between my legs whilst I got the arms in the spreader block, once I got the net in the water I then eased the fish into the net and it was a pretty good one!.

 BOSH!!!! another big'o bream'o for the records. 8lb 14oz puts this fish at number 6 in my canal Bream specimen list! Quite impressive.

 Once that fish had been photographed and slipped back we aimed at getting more, unluckily for us the boat traffic seemed to come out of nowhere and coupled with the spooked shoal meant that no more were caught from that shoal. So we began the march....

.....that went on for hours, mile after mile of baron towpath started to leave us both feeling a little dejected in some ways. No Bream, No Carp or anything else for that matter were on show, it left me thinking what has happened to the stocks of the above fish. Never struggled to see the fish, just not caught many of them.

 As we headed back towards the starting point of the afternoon we spotted two carp, that unfortunately slipped through without getting tracked (wrong light to see through the water) and that was our lot, not a soul spotted after that. The time had come to put an end to the trip.

 My second cast of the day was all I needed. Could have gone home after that in hindsight.

Monday 13 July 2020

Chasing Chevins Part I

 A fair few years back I used to open the season up with Chub in mind. Many hours spent hauling mediocre fish in the 2-4lb range, one after another on various tactics, but the prospect of a big fish back then was practically non-existent and even playing the numbers game, a 5lb+ specimen was something you achieved maybe once every other season amongst season long hauls.

 Some bags could exceed 50lbs, especially back in the late 1990's and early 2000's. Unfortunately as the local areas began to play host to a large influx of people from the East of Europe, those fishing had very different intentions which meant stocks were declining rapidly and areas where I could have a great days sport were now empty, literally an hour of building swims would result in nothing more than the odd little fish, those 2,3&4lb fish were no more. As table fodder the Chub and in fact, any fish big enough to eat (typically anything over 3oz) were being taken and no matter how much the beats were policed the sheer numbers and tenacity of the thieves at work, the damage simply couldn't be stopped.

 So naturally my attentions turned elsewhere. Fast forward twenty odd years and I find myself still dropping in on these same areas, a lot wiser, a lot more cunning with my approaches and with the majority of "the dregs" now gone (possibly owing to the fact they ate just about everything and it got too hard for them and they left) I can get on with trying to get amongst some big fish that have now managed to grow on unmolested.

 Opening day I was on the Fens somewhere so my first trip on my childhood stomping grounds was a few days later. Barbel and chub fully spawned out sometime ago and with the warm spring the fish should have had time to pig out and recover some weight.

 My first trip was only going to be short as I was on my way to work, so a spare hour or so was all I had to find a fish.

 A bright sunny morning, crystal clear water and my polaroids on I got to work. My first two peeping gaps amongst the nettles were not fruitful, third gap was unfishable owing to a load of snags that had probably moved in during the 6 months of rain we had over the winter! I crept into the fourth swim and straight away I could see a large dark shape over the gravels, roughly halfway across and I knew exactly what it was.

 I spent a couple of minutes watching the fish which appeared to be unaccompanied before deciding to go with the tactic I had employed in the other gaps in the nettles. Well upstream I cast the meat and proceeded to roll it downstream, right in the path of the chub and within seconds it was right next to it in the swift flow and the chub gently sidled up to it and watched the luncheon meat vanish, the anticipation of the strike was incredible and with one stern strike a powerful chub headed straight downstream, stripping twenty yards of line with no hesitation, the fish knew it was hooked.

 Thumbing the pin the chub was halted before making a mad dash back upstream, hugging the far side treeline, typical by chub standards and the remaining fight was either played out against the far-side or near-side treeline before easing into the awaiting net...this was a bloody good fish for the river, in fact up there in the top 1% for certain.

 But the moment of truth would reveal it was the biggest fish I've ever had off this particular river by an ounce and not a fish either myself or partner in crime recognise which is even better news, three different sixes present, its getting interesting now!.

My best off this river, weighing in at 6lb 4oz!

MEGA! start to the river campaign.

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 ...