Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just a quicky

Glue was drying, sun was shining, so I grabbed a couple of rods, some bait and some bits to go carp/rudd fishing. The plan was to chuck some pellets out and put a couple of 10mm boilies on top of them while float fishing for rudd. As it turned out the lake was packed with carp anglers. I should have known that sunshine brings them out of hibernation. So after circling the entire lake I set up the float rod in the swim nearest the car...

I couldn't be bothered putting a carp bait out, and as soon as I saw the first rudd glinting gold and red in the sunlight all thoughts of carp went out of my head.

There was nothing complicated involved in catching the rudd. Spray a few maggots out and cast a pellet waggler into the area with a single maggot on the size 20 hook set a couple of feet deep. It was pretty much a bite a chuck, and  a fish every other cast. The biggest problem was the perch that moved in. There was no way to avoid them. It was purely pot luck which species took the bait, and how big or small they were. I'd guess none of the fish were over six ounces, but the rudd were little beauties.

I wasn't keeping a count, or paying attention to time, but after an hour or so I got in a tangle. Not having a tackle box with me I would have been a bit stuck to fix the float back on the line using float stops. So I packed up.  I think I've said it before, but sessions like this bring back the feeling that got me in to fishing in the first place. And those rudd have got me kinda hankerin' to catch some bigger ones. If only I could track some down in a pleasant water, which they haven't been stocked into at a large size.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Trouble comes in threes

Just a quick report of gloom.

Got to the river around eight thirty to find just one car parked up. Great. Didn't fancy a long walk and was going to fish near the car in a less than popular swim. Got to the swim and there's a salmon angler stood in the river. Strike one.

Had a look round and found a path through the balsam. That peg would do well enough. The river was about a foot on and peaty. Not bad conditions. Two rods chucked out and pour a brew. Two rod tips slowly pull over, the upstream one starting a slow bounce. Weed. That horrible dark green wire-wool weed. I could hold baits in position for ten minutes if I was lucky. Strike two.

Brew finished. Recast made. Wind in for another weed clearing exercise. Clearing weed from upstream rig. Pull some weed off the line and drive a size four Owner C-4 past the barb, up to the bend, in the side of my left little finger. Strike three.

It's still light so I can see what I'm doing. Quick decision is A&E to be last resort. First option push point out and cut off at home. Second option (which I know works as it did - painfully - for a 4/0 treble) is to rip the hook out the way it went in. Forceps clamped on shank, twist. No way that point's pushing through. Brace myself and yank. Hook free, a few drops of blood then nothing. Find a plaster and tape the wound. Recast. Pour another brew.

After two and a half hours of weed clearing (I gave up putting pellet bags on the hooks as I was recasting so frequently) the light has gone and there's a mist rolling over the water. Two possible chub raps in the dark. The weed was abating a little as the level dropped but that mist knocked my confidence and the clear sky wouldn't help the mist situation. So ended the first river session of the season. I think I'll go camping for mythical bream next time out.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The fat ladies have sung

Maybe they haven't sung, but they certainly spawned. My tench fishing is all but over for this year. I thought there was a chance that the tench would have spawned since my last session, but I hadn't been prepared to watch them at it on Wednesday evening. Short and sweet as this year's tench 'campaign' has been, the weather forecast and commitments mean I can't get out again until next Wednesday. By then I expect the majority of tench will be down on their top weights. That said there might be a chance for a good haul if I can find the little tinkers when they move off the spawning area.

Pod by moonlight

A few tench did roll and tail slap in the vicinity of the bait I first put out on Tuesday afternoon so I wasn't without hope during my two-nighter. None can have got their heads down on the feed though. So I have little (read 'nothing') to report on the fish front. This session's entertainment was provided by a young black-headed gull which took to wandering around and dozing in my peg. The resident mallard drakes didn't take too kindly to it and often pecked at it when it tried to nick the maggots or bread I threw for them. It seemed a bit slow witted to me. Not at all like the pushy adult BHGs I'm used to seeing at the coast, although it did learn to rush in, grab some food, and rush away again before the mallards could get a beak to it.

The friendly BHG

Roland and his mates were in evidence again, accounting for the few bleeps on the alarms during the hours of darkness as they ran around and bumped into my rod pod. I slept soundly nonetheless. My highlight was watching flocks of starlings heading to their roost as the sun turned the western sky red and then heading out to feed as it rose again in the cool of dawn. I like starlings, even though they are a common bird. They have lots of character and their plumage is a match for any exotic bird.

With the lack of fish activity I amused myself by trying to take some 'arty' photos . Unfortunately the only willing subject I had was my rod-pod!

Symmetry of sorts...

The weather was changeable on Thursday. Two squally showers passed over during the afternoon, stirring the water to a light chop. This got the carp going both times. As the rain and wind came in they began crashing out near a weedbed in front of me. Once the rain eased and the wind dropped again they stopped. Why aquatic creatures like fish are moved to respond to dramatic changes in the weather like this remains a mystery, but it's a fact all right. I remember tench coming on the feed in similar circumstances a few years ago. Indeed, a couple of tench showed after the squalls, one right over my baited area. This convinced me to hang on until after tea-time. By then the weather had settled and it was a warm and sunny evening with lighter wind when I eventually admitted to myself I was on a hiding to nothing and packed up.

Despite the blank it was good to find my enthusiasm for fishing has returned. Sticking it out later than intended being a sure sign of that. Just being there was enjoyable, and the anticipation slow to wane. My idle moments were mostly spent thinking of what to do next. I reckon I might have got my fishing mojo back again.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A hasty change of plan

Having all week free to do as I pleased after sorting some orders out on Monday there was no rush to get my act together for a two nighter. Wednesday to Friday would do very nicely after pottering around on Tuesday. Then I got a phone call from someone wanting to collect his rods on Thursday. PANIC!

Off to the shops for some grub, call in for some maggots on the way home, then isten to the finish of the Test Match and leave for tinca territory. By lunchtime I was getting itchy feet. By two the cricket seemed to be heading for a lacklustre draw. By three-thirty I was on the road. Packing the car has become a well oilied routine now and everything slotted into place nicely.

Loaded for tench

The sun was shining when I arrived but although the air temperature was high the south-westerly was taking the heat out of it. With the wind having swung right round since my last session something made me consider fishing the opposite end of the lake. A swim I had often thought about fishing was free, and it would give some shelter from the wind to my encampment. One night and a morning here would be pleasant, and might teach me something. I was a bit stuck in a rut fishing the same old swims. Keeping mobile had been successful for me before and it was time to drag myself out of the tenchy doldrums.

Set up and waiting

A quick plumb around revealed a clear lake bed over the drop-off, and a nice depth too. I had hoped to bait up by catapult as it's a bit quicker than using a spod, but the wind was blowing the bait off course and restricting my range. So the spod it was - even though an under-arm swing was all I needed. The rigs were the same ones used on finishing my last session. With them all cast out it was time to get settled down.

Spot the fakes

Even before it went dark a young rat was scurrying around. It wasn't accompanied by any adults that I noticed. The winter does seem to have thinned the Rolands out. But I'm sure they'll be breeding quickly and it will be situation normal soon enough. When I looked out after dark I saw the rodent a few times. It kept itself away from me, which was good fortune on its behalf as I had my traps with me!

At dusk there had been a prolific hatch of insects which first a multitude of swifts and martins took advantage off, the feasting continuing by the faint moonlight as bats took over. The wind eased and I spent an undisturbed night, waking around three thirty to the start of the dawn chorus as the sun tried to light the sky. The usual Nutrigrain bar was eaten to give me an energy boost, washed down with the day's first brew. That ritual out of the way I was willing to get up, spod out some more feed and refill the feeders. Then it was back into the doss bag!

It had turned seven and I was sat on the edge of my bedchair contemplating a recast when the right hand bobbin hit the deck, just starting to rise as I picked the rod up, wound down and leant into the fish. It felt heavy from the off but despite the weight it was soon on the surface, rolling to reveal a deep flank before starting to fight. It looked a good 'un. In the net at the second attempt and it really did look a good 'un, two buoyant red plastic maggots dangling from the middle of her lip. On the scales and I was well chuffed. The first tench of the year had been a while coming, and now I wasn't bothered if I didn't catch another! The photos were my first serious attempt at using my DSLR for self-takes, and didn't quite go to plan. But I got enough decent shots to suffice.

First of the year

The rest of the day was uneventful. The wind swung a little more to the west, a few showers  came and went with great speed. I had a few recasts, moving one bait around the swim on the off chance. It was quiet on the fish front.

Showers and (less than a minute later)...

After tea had been eaten and I'd spodded out some more seeds and dead maggots tench began to show. A couple rolled, one slapped its tail on the surface. None were over my bait though. Then at quarter to eight the middle bobbin dropped back fitfully. This fish didn't feel as heavy, but had more speed. I thought for a while it might prove to be a male, but it wasn't. Just a feisty female which shed some spawn in the weighsling, looking a bit thin around the back end, suggesting she had spawned. Then it was back to inactivity for the rest of the evening and all of the night.

Around four I repeated my morning rituals before settling down to resume my slumbers with freshly filled feeders sitting on the gravel. Although a few tench had shown early on when it was dull, it was completely out of the blue that the middle alarm stuttered into life before sounding in earnest as the sun beat down. This was another fast moving fish that had reached weed. Again I suspected a male, and again I was proved wrong. Like the first fish this one didn't look to have spawned, but wasn't as 'chesty' as some tench get before they drop their eggs. Another victim for the in-line feeder/plastic caster combo.

Another one fooled by plastic

I had a couple of hours to go before the time I had set myself to leave. My confidence was high. Misplaced confidence. I would have liked to stop another night as I reckon more fish would have shown up, but I wasn't too disappointed to be leaving. It would probably have been dusk before anything had come along again.

My concern now is that the tench might all spawn before I can get back again. I guess I'll just have to give it another shot to find out.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Beaten again

I pretty much had the Rat Pit to myself when I arrived late on Wednesday evening. After plumbing the swim I fished last time out and the one to its left I decided to try the latter as it seemed to be less weedy and had a bit more depth close in - despite the level having dropped a little more.

Everything was in place by ten thirty, loose feed catapulted out to the clearish band in front of me, with the hook baits spread along it. I settled down for what proved to be another night lacking in visible or audible rat activity, save for a young one scuttling across the front of the peg.

Bobbin glow

Thursday morning dawned still and warm, a mist forming over the water as I prepared my first brew of the day to get me moving and put more bait out, freshen the feeders and start scanning the lake.

Brew number one

With the level down almost two feet there was an emergent weedbed straight out and slightly to my left. It wasn't long before I spotted fish moving in it. The binoculars revealed fins breaking the surface. Paddle shaped fins that looked like they belonged to tench to my eyes. I wasn't sure, but I got the feeling the tench were spawning. As the day brightened carp appeared in the weed. At first I thought they had moved in to eat the tench spawn. Looking back I'm not so sure. They weren't thrashing about, but at times during the day, and the following days, they appeared to be following each other closely and rolling around a bit. Maybe they were spawning. Carp were reported to be spawning in another part of the lake, so it seems likely. Other than that all  was quiet and still.

I've never seen all my reel handles and bale arms lined up before so I had to record it for posterity!

The hot weather had returned and again there was a multitude of damsel fly nymphs emerging. A female chaffinch that took to visiting my peg, as did a reed bunting, found them to be a suitable meal for her offspring when they had left their shucks and were green and soft-winged. The larvae are tenacious critters. They climb high, and cross dry land and all manner of obstacles to find a suitable place to metamorphose from drab scary looking mini-monsters into the bright glittering damsels we see on the wing.

Damselfly exuvia on the bivvy door

The first evening came quietly and by dark I hadn't had a sniff. I rang the changes of baits, fake casters, real and fake maggots, pop-up boilie and fake corn. All to no avail. And not a tench seen rolling. The second night passed much as the first had - just one rat sighted before I nodded off.

Friday was almost a repeat of Thursday. The two differences being the wind picking up and putting an encouraging ripple on the water, and  something fishy picking up two buoyant Enterprise maggots and making off with them causing the middle Delkim to do its job at six thirty in the morning. Alas those plastic maggots had somehow managed to mask the hook point and the run stopped with no tench to be seen.

Long hot days with no runs coming along can be hard to fill. So I alternately played around with the camera, ate, drank tea and slept. The short nights and the heat sap your energy even when doing nothing strenuous.

I was going to head for home after tea, but I couldn't be bothered packing the gear away. I felt like another night outdoors for some reason too. This time I saw no rats and slept like a log. By dawn the wind had eased considerably and I was able to catapult out the last of the seeds accurately. The maggots were well on the turn, and the milk had turned a bit further. Carp were back in the weed and I thought I saw a tench roll just beyond my baited area. Yet again it was t-shirt time by eight thirty. Nothing seemed to be likely to happen, so I packed away the gear at nine thirty and left.

Will I have one last try? It might be too late. The weed is shooting up, there was the beginning of an algal bloom forming, the elder is in flower and the trees are as dark-leaved as if it were early July. Perhaps it's time to start bream blanking. Or maybe wait for the rivers to open and go catch some river pigs?