Monday, January 28, 2008

The gas man cometh

I had planned to fish tomorrow, but I now have to wait in for the gas man calling. Having got some work done by lunchtime today, and with the weather set to turn wet and cold I threw some gear in the car and headed for... Wait for it... A local commercial fishery!

The place is known to hold some big perch, and I had been meaning to fish it for a year or more, so this was as much a recce for future reference as another chance to try out the Chimera Avon Specialists. There were a couple of blokes pleasure fishing near the car park and three 'youths' carping further round the lake. So I headed for a bay that put them all out of my line of sight! Young carpers never cease to amaze me. Though I should know what to expect by now. The day was dry, the wind light and far from cold, and the lake doesn't allow night fishing. So why did they have a bivvy up?

Anyway. I set up two feeder rigs. One a mini-bolt rig to fish two red maggots, and the other a running rig with a longer hooklength to fish worm. In this case two dendrobenas tipped with a single red maggot. The worm rig was dropped close in just off some stick-ups, and the maggot rig cast out into the bay. Fifteen minutes after recasting the worm rod I was glad to have engaged the baitrunner as something was making off at speed. Definitely not a perch take!

Sure enough it was a carpy thing. On the light rod it was quite fun, as it would probably have weighed six or seven pounds.

I had a few line bites to both rods and later hooked a smaller carpy thing on the maggots. Only a brief session, but this time I got to have a good chuck with the new rods and they'll cast a 40g feeder as far as I can see me wanting to cast a 40g feeder. The carp also proved that they'll handle decent fish - there was a hint of power in the butt, while the tip and middle is lovely and soft for playing smaller species. Worth the visit for that alone, not to mention the chat with the bailiff about the perch. Apparently I'd picked the swim the lake record had come from!

About an hour before dark the carping youths stunned me again. They packed their rods away then dismantled the bivvy. What's that all about?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Like riding a bike

Three blanks in a row and it's time to do something different. So, having a couple of new rods I was itching to try out (Chimera Avon Specialists if you must know) I dragged out a couple of pike rods that I hadn't used for three years, threw two packs of deadbaits in a carrier bag and headed for a water I hadn't fished for ten or twelve years.

Quite why I headed there I'm not sure. It must have been the thought of trying out the rods and the feeder rigs I intend using for roach at some point soon. I wanted to see how they coped with various size feeders. There was also the chance of a jack if I threw a deadbait out. I'd either fish two deads and a feeder or vice versa, depending how I felt. Whatever was most likely to prevent another fishless session!

I knew where I wanted to fish but there was howling gale blowing straight into the swim. I looked around the sheltered bank but didn't fancy it at all and, with the rain easing off as dawn broke, I set up in my initial choice of swim.

Around ten o'clock my first fish of the year was landed. A small roach to the maggot feeder. I almost put it out as bait, but it had broken my duck. So I released it. There were bound to be more along in a minute.

Shortly after, as I wound in the feeder for a recast something grabbed hold and I briefly did battle with a jack - until it bit me off. I think a tiny perch must have hooked itself without registering a bite because I wound one in later in the day. At least there was one pike in my swim. And half an hour later I think I landed it on a pollan that had dropped short of where I intended to cast it owing to the strength of the wind. When I recast a fresh bait, however, the wind had dropped enough to get the extra distance.

This session was a last minute job and my planning was rather hit and miss. My real interest was the roach fishing trial and I had just popped three spare pike traces in my 'stillwater' tackle box, six deadbaits in the carrier bag and the two pike rods that hadn't been retackled for three years in my quiver! I'd managed to find one drop-back indicator but had to cobble a 'dangler' bobbin to the back rest to make a second. I had also planned to pack up in mid-afternoon as I wasn't taking the session too seriously.

Just before two, while setting the bobbin on the feeder rod. I saw the line peeling off the reel on the pollan rod. With my sounder box under the brolly I had set up to keep the chill north-westerly off me the wind was carrying the sound away from me as the line ran through the Delkim. I grabbed the landing net, closed the bale arm and after a couple of turns of the reel handle everything locked up. This was no four pounder. It actually pulled back and had me backwinding! After a brief tussle it was wallowing ready for the net and in it went. Hmmm! Lying in the net it looked real pig. On the scales it tipped past 16lb. The photo doesn't do it's belly justice.

You might think it would have been foolish to pack up after that. But it would actually have been a wise move, for apart from a tiny perch and a small roach on the feeder that was my lot.

Not to worry. I'd tried the new rods out, well one of them. The head wind didn't really let me see how far the rod would cast a feeder, but it handled a 40g blackcap well enough. The roach rig worked to a degree. A tweak is required. And I hadn't blanked. In fact I'd beaten my previous biggest pike from the water by over five pounds. Seeing as the rain had held off too it had been a good day all round.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A musical interlude

Posted here to save myself searching YouTube every time I want to watch it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cabin fever

Although I fished on New Year's Day I couldn't be bothered blogging a repeat of New Year's Eve.

Two weeks of rod building later and I was going round the twist. So, despite rain, I headed for the river. Amazingly by the time I got there the rain had stopped, the sun was shining, the wind light and the river looked spot on. Carrying two feet or more of coloured water and a warmer temperature than it had been for the majority of my last few visits.

I settled in to a nice slack and relaxed. I spent the next hour watching a kingfisher on the far bank. Diving from both a perch and the hover. Then I noticed something odd. The slack was more of a boiling cauldron and the grass was disappearing under water. I moved to a larger slack with a cracking crease that had to have a barbel or two in residence, and pushed a stick on the water line. Within minutes the stick was starting to disappear. I gave it an hour and moved again.

The next swim also had a decent sized slack area, but the crease was more turbulent. I stuck it out for about three hours, watching the water rise and force me back up the bank while large branch shaped silhouettes drifted down stream at an alarming rate in the dark, before another move.

This final swim I fished usually involves a three foot drop to a ledge when a fish has to be landed. That wouldn't have been required last night! By seven o'clock I'd had enough. Conditions were good in some respects - air and water temperature, and clarity - but the physical aspects of being able to keep a bait in the places you wanted was a chore. Leaves and other debris being the main problem.

As I left for home the rain was falling again. Only lightly, but it was still falling. The big problem with river fishing in winter is timing. And I'd got it slightly out - a day earlier and the river wouldn't have been rising so fast and would have been more fishable. If the river is on your doorstep it's much easier to get the timing right, but when travelling is required it's not so easy to nip down for a couple of hours, pack up if it's not spot on and return a day or two later when it is.