Friday, February 29, 2008

I know how to pick my days

Sunday was another case of turn up, cast the barbel baits in, sit around for a few hours, wind the baits in and go home. Although there had been some rain the river was low and had a greenish tinge to it, but warm enough for some action to be expected. None happened though, not even a chub knock or two.

The early part of the week was committed to work, but when Thursday came around I was unexpectedly able to nip out and buy some 'maggits' for a perch session on Friday. I still had some lobworms wriggling in a tub so that seemed like a good plan.

Unfortunately the weather forecast I heard as I rolled out of my pit at half five turned out to be correct. The wind wasn't too bad as I got to the water, and I got set up in the dry. Then the rain arrived, followed swiftly by the wind gathering strength. The rain actually abated around midday - but the wind gathered even more strength. Although the air temperature was into double figures the wind chill made it feel much colder.

Bites were hard to come by through the early part of the morning. It was areal struggle. A carp was lost around ten thirty, and finally a perch was landed to a bunch of red maggots at quarter past eleven. This proved to be the smallest perch I've had from the lake at a pound and a quarter.

After lunchtime bites started to come more frequently, but not from perch. The first surprise was a couple of decent roach, the second was a brace of golden orfe. I wasn't aware that there were any in the place. The first weighed 1lb 12oz, and the second looked its twin but was an ounce over 2lb. Never having caught a golden orfe before that was two PBs!

Just before five I landed an imitation crucian, I assume it was an F1 thing but I'm no expert on these matters. By then I was starting to wish I wasn't there and began the task of dismantling the Aqua brolly. I must say that this has been a Godsend on the windy days I've fished this winter. Once pegged down with the stormpoles in place it stands up well and the stormsides keep the wind off me and the bobbins. Without this brolly I'm sure I'd not have lasted as long as I did today before packing up.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The plan falls into place

On Wednesday I called in to see if the cold snap that had frozen my local canal had done the same to the perch pond. To my surprise it hadn't. Thursday afternoon saw me back there armed with a load of maggots. Although free of ice the water temp was a cool 3.6C on setting up around noon. There was a strongish wind blowing and only one other fool fishing! This guy was on the pole and struggling for a bite.

I set out by spraying maggots over the area in front of me and fishing two maggot feeders over them. The guy on the pole packed up in mid afternoon, fishless. It was then that I started to get bites, or at least indications on the bobbins. A small roach was the first fish to make a mistake around 3.45pm. When the light started to fail action picked up and I pulled out of a fish that I think was a perch at twenty past five. Immediately after recasting the other rod was away and a daft carp of four pounds or so landed. I was now getting loads of indications on the bobbins that I put down to carp moving around the feeders. Half an hour later my frail (for me) hooklink parted when the bobbin jammed in the butt ring as another silly cypry picked up the three red maggots.

Usually when perch fishing your chances are over once it is too dark to see a float, but at ten past six, headlamp on my head ready to pack up, I hit a bite and connected with something that felt like a bream. Then its big gob appeared on the surface as it started thrashing its head from side to side. Less than two feet from the net cord the hook pulled. "Oh deary me." Or something along those lines... Time to go.

During the afternoon I had been contemplating what to do on Friday as I had the day free. Until that perch made its presence known I was contemplating a pike session. Seeing that open mouth in the light of my head torch changed that, and The Plan was hatched.

The Plan was to return at first light and fish feeders only. No loose feed as I felt that was drawing and holding the carp. Part two of The Plan was to fish maggot on both rods until the day brightened up then ring the changes of methods and baits on one rod until dusk.

Friday started out wet and breezy. So my first job was to get the Aqua brolly up. This turned out to be a wise move. Not because the rain kept up all day, it actually stopped after a couple of hours, but because the wind got quite strong. The brolly helped keep the bobbins still.

The first fish of the day came along just before eight and was a perch that fell for three red maggots. A small roach shortly after, then nothing. I had been getting indications but they dried up. One rod was switched to fish two plastic casters, and within minutes of it being recast a bream took them! Three quarters of an hour later I got another indication on the caster rod. I was fishing bolt-rig style with the bobbin at the top on a tight line and it started jiggling. I fully expected another bream, but it turned out to be a perch! I had caught perch on plastic caster before, but it was still unexpected. An hour later I got another perch on the maggot rod, and twenty minutes after that another on the casters! Ten minutes or so later the maggots produced another perch.

It seemed that the perch were moving in and out of the swim as there would be periods of inactivity between flurries of bobbin activity. During the next lull I swapped the casters to a lob tail which was attacked almost as soon as it settled. But the bites wouldn't develop into anything I was able to hit. I suppose I should have switched to the float, but I'm too lazy for that! Instead I put a whole lob on and extended my banksticks as high as they would go to get as long a drop as possible for the bobbins. This improved matters and I connected with a perch on the lobworm. It fell off half way in. The next one I connected with stayed hooked though.

By now it was three o'clock and the day had brightened considerably, but the wind was as strong as ever. I've often come across robins when fishing, and most have been bold and cheeky. The one that lives near the pegs I've been fishing recently is a timid little creature. Although it likes maggots it is reluctant to come too close for them and usually hops off under cover to eat them when it picks them up.

The late afternoon continued with bites coming frequently to maggot and worm, but all fish being hooked on the maggot including a daft carp of seven pounds, and a couple of small skimmers. Although I fished until after six there was no last knockings flurry of perch activity. Well, there was on the worm rod but again nothing I managed to connect with.

The plan had worked and I ended the day tired but happy with ten perch between 1lb 11oz and 2lb 12oz. That'll do me for now on the perch front. I'll maybe return when I have a spare afternoon over the next few weeks before it warms up enough to bring the fishing masses out of hibernation! With a bit of luck the rivers will be warming and I might manage to catch another barbel before the season ends. Here's hoping.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A commercial success

Sunday afternoon saw me staring at a big gap where a favourite barbel snag had been all autumn. It had looked pretty permanent, but the power of a flooded River Trent is not to be underestimated. I headed for an area upstream of where I had fished on the Friday. Anticipating a cooler river after two nights frost I was armed with a quiver tip rod and some maggots, just in case. Sure enough the water temperature had dropped to 5.9C. The river looked well, but I didn't manage much. One minnow and a chublet not much larger to double maggot. I switched to a barbel rig with a lump of paste after dark, but it remained unmolested and I headed for home around nine with a ground frost forming.

Tuesday afternoon saw me back on the commercial lake after the perch. A chat with the bailiff convinced me to try the area where a good match weight of perch had been caught a couple of weeks back. A worm went under some overhanging bushes over a carpet of maggots, and a maggot feeder bolt rig was dropped straight in front of me a couple of rod-lengths out. It was only fifteen minutes or so before a carp picked up the maggots. A bream followed later, then around four the something started to show an interest in the lob. When a strikeable bite materialised this proved to be from another mirror of four or five pounds.

Two days later I was on my way back and called in at a local tackle shop to pick up some red maggots. Here I was greeted with the news that the midweek match had been won with a good catch of perch - from the peg two along from the one I had fished on Tuesday. No guesses where I made a beeline for when I saw the swim was free!

Again I sprayed some maggots close in and this time dropped the feeder rig on them. More maggots went straight out and a lobworm was fished over them. It didn't take long before something started messing with the worm. This had the look of perch activity. Then the maggot rod wrenched round in the rest, and I pulled out of a carp. Fifteen minutes later the maggot rod was away again, but this time the 3lb 12oz hooklink parted. I retackled and continued spraying maggots over both lines. As I did the worm rod kept giving short indications that couldn't be struck at. Convinced perch were responsible I converted the feeder rig from a bolt rig to a running one with a longer hooklength and cast it straight out to the line the worm was fishing.

In no time at all a good bite developed and I finally managed to connect with a perch! As there is a barbless only rule on the water I was using half an Enterprise plastic bloodworm to keep my four red maggots on the size 14 Kamasan Animal.

It was nice to get a decent perch at last. Despite the bailiff telling me the perch were full of spawn this one looked pretty empty, with room to fill out a fair bit over the next month or so.

An hour later I got a repeat bite and landed a slightly smaller perch. After four perchless sessions it all seemed rather easy. All that had been needed was to get on the fish, and use the bait they would pick up with confidence! After the second fish I switched the lobworm over to a couple of red maggots on a 16. This might have been a bad move. Although I landed a skimmer on this rig I hooked another perch that fell off. If I didn't have things to do tomorrow I'd be going back again...

Friday, February 08, 2008

Happy flappy

I said that I'd be not catching barbel next time out. And I was right!

The afternoon was one of those February days that lets you know spring isn't far away. There's heat in the sun when it shines during the middle of the day, new growth is starting to poke it's way through the dieback of the winter, buds appearing on the willows. All was right with the world. Even the river looked encouraging with a tinge of colour, obviously on the way down and a confidence inspiring 7.4C.

After walking a stretch for a nosey I had worked up a bit of a sweat, so stripped off fleece and sweatshirt for the walk down the bank with the tackle. I set up in a swim I had fished only briefly before, intending to move after no more than a couple of hours. However, it looked so inviting I stopped into dark because it felt 'right'. After I'd been there an hour or so the downstream rod, fishing a big hair-rigged lump of my 'secret' paste, jagged down sharply and I failed to connect. No doubt a chub. The bait was freshened up and recast. This time slightly further out so I could draw it back to lie under the trailing branches.

Just into dark the tip pulled over and stayed there. There was definitely something on this time and I pumped what seemed like a lifeless lump upstream. Then it carried on past me. Until it broke surface I wasn't sure if it was a lazy barbel (I have had one or two behave like this) or a flappy thing that wasn't flapping. It turned out to be the latter, and an impressive looking fish for a flappy thing. So much so that I dug the tripod out for a self take. I got two half decent shots then it remembered what it was and wouldn't stop flapping. So I put it back. Not quite as big as I had first hoped, but the best fish of the year so far.

After the disturbance I decided to move. With the sun gone and the sky clear the air temp was plummeting. I gave it an hour and a half in the new swim, having had a few chub bites to the paste and returned to the car to find the air temperature was down to 4C. That would account for the damp on my hat, bunny suit and the rest of my gear. I contemplated an hour or two in a different area, but it was a bit chilly. Of course, half an hour down the road cloud cover rolled in and the temperature shot back up to 9...

Won't get fooled again

Another afternoon session on the commercial. A more reasonable day with an air temperature of 14C and a moderate breeze enabled me to put plan B into operation. Keep spraying maggots in next to the stickups and fish a worm over them. It took a few hours but around four, as the light was starting to think of fading, I got a couple of twitchy indications to the worm rod. To my surprise the maggot feeder, cast across the bay, had remained unmolested. Eventually the bobbin jiggled up on the worm rod, dropped back then jiggled upwards once more. I struck and something jagged out into open water, headed for the stickups and, as I applied sidestrain, fell off. Had it been a perch? It could have been. The bite certainly wasn't like I'd had from the carp before.

On recasting the twitches started again. This time I pointed the rod directly down the line to see if that would induce a more positive take, and rigged up the maggot rod to fish a lobworm under a float. The float hadn't been out long when the bobbin on the leger rod jiggled and rose again. I connected with something that felt pretty much like the fish I'd lost and for a moment or two I thought it was perch. But when it refused to give up doubt set in. The lack of spines on the dorsal that eventually broke surface confirmed those doubts. Another carp had fooled me.

After this, as the light had gone too much for my poor eyes, I hastily re-rigged the maggot feeder and cast it tight to the stickups on the other side of the bay. Within minutes it was away and another carp, slightly larger, hit the net after a brief tussle.

I can see how these fisheries can be appealing. You'd have to work hard to blank, and the small carp fight quite well on light gear. But surely it must get boring after a few sessions? I know I'm heartily sick of catching small carp. The lack of action actually was more enjoyable as the chances of a bite from a perch seemed greater without the constant attentions of carp, and the anticipation level was higher.

Anyway, I can face not catching barbel again now. So that's what I'm going to do next!

Friday, February 01, 2008

It's better than work....

They say a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work. I'm not so sure when it blows a hooligan, with a sleet shower or five thrown in for good measure! As I wasn't able to get on with any work I set off for the commercial again. To cut a long story short I landed no perch and nine small carp. If I hadn't set up my Aqua brolly I doubt I'd have lasted until four thirty with the day the way it was.

The first eight carp took double red maggot, or double red maggot and a bit of red rig foam cut to a maggoty shape. The ninth took a prawn - which I had put on to avoid the carp.

Although it was a wild and woolly day, and I failed to contact any of my target species, I did enjoy it in a masochistic way. But had I hung on until dark I think that enjoyment would have waned.

I'm glad that's over

I've been slaving over a hot computer for the last month or so working on adding on-line ordering to my website, and have finally managed to get it sorted. Fingers crossed that it will all work okay.

Visit the shop department at

I'm off to brave the gales and impending snow for a few hours!