Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I must be lucky

A slight change of tactics was forced on me from yesterday's roach session as the tackle shop had none of my usual micro trout pellets in stock. I don't like the 2mm size for roach as I reckon they are too filling for the little fishies! They don't come out of a blockend feeder as easily either. Not that I was going to be using blockends as I've found the cage feeder filled with hemp and pellet mush, plus some crumb, has been more successful. This might change when the fish start feeding harder. Besides, I was running low on maggots. The smallest pellets available were the Sonu 1mm feed pellets. So I bought some along with a tin of hemp. In small quantities tinned hemp works out about the same as uncooked seeds,  saves the hassle of cooking and can be left indefinitely in the car for emergency baiting.

There was a stiff wind blowing yet again from the west, but only one car in the car park on the warm and sunny afternoon. A chiffchaff was singing away in one of the trees and I did away with my fleece for the walk to the swim. The same swim as last time on the basis that there had been at least one fish in the area on Friday.

I had the wind blowing slightly off my left shoulder but was still a bit chilled by it as I set up. Then I sat down and started casting feeders out with unbaited hooks. There was plenty of time and that way I could get some feed out quickly and recast less frequently when I started fishing. After bumping the only fish of the last session off I changed two of the hooklinks to shorter ones. One was a lot shorter. The third had a larger hook attached to fish a worm.

Settled in and baited up I cast out two rigs baited with single red maggots and one with a dendrobena and sat back with a brew. It was only a few minutes before the middle alarm bleeped at four o'clock. I felt confident it was a bite. That was the cue for the other angler to appear dragging his trolley behind him.

Apparently my early bite was more than he'd had since lunch time, and another bloke had been on all morning fishing two rods without a touch. Then the drivel started. The reason he'd blanked was that all the fish had been netted out. I told him I had caught fish before. He said I must have been lucky. I said it hadn't been easy, and that there had been cormorants on the lake. He reckoned they couldn't remove enough fish to spoil the fishing. I bit my lip and wished he'd bugger off. Eventually he did, saying he wouldn't be coming back. The lake is maybe a couple of acres, no deeper than 18 feet and the water goes clear. Undisturbed half a dozen cormorants could make serious inroads into the fish stocks. The bloke was clearly an old school, pie eating, idiot.

An hour later I had a bite to the worm rod. Just a jiggle, but definitely a bite. As usual I was expecting the action to come towards dusk, so it was a surprise when I got a positive indication on the left hand maggot rod just before half past six with the sky still bright and blue. This felt like a roach and a decent one at that. Sure enough it was. Unlike all the fish I had caught during the winter this one looked battered when I netted it. Inspecting it while removing the hook it was in a sorry state, showing what I take to be signs of cormorant damage on both flanks.

Half an hour after slipping that fish into the keepnet the worm road roared into life. Alarm screaming, baitrunner spinning and the rod arcing round. I knew what the culprit was before I picked the rod up. A trout as intelligent as my earlier visitor. I wondered if it was the same idiot fish I had caught twice in a day earlier in the year, but it was a fair bit bigger. It went back.

While unhooking the trout I had managed to cut the hook off the hooklink,and not wanting to catch another I left the rod propped up against the brolly I had erected to keep the wind off me. I'd had to move the brolly round a bit as the wind was swinging to the south. This suited me as it was blowing more directly off my back.

Five minutes later I had a bite to the left hand rod and landed a mint conditioned roach of maybe ten or twelve ounces. No sooner had I netted this fish than I had a run to the remaining rod. Not a trouty screamer, but a more gentle affair. This was caused by a hybrid picking up the maggot. If it had been a roach it would probably have been a PB, but I didn't bother weighing it.

Both rods were rebaited and recast and a short hooklink with a size 18 attached to the former worm rig. If the fish were feeding I might as well milk it! Ten minutes later I had another gentle run which resulted in another pound plus roach. Like the other one and the hybrid it showed signs of a cormorant attack.

The feeding frenzy didn't continue into dark. Half an hour after the roach another hybrid was hooked. One which kited over my middle line. One advantage of The Rig is that the line can be cut without messing the rig up, making retackling a simple case of retying one knot. So that was what I did. The other rod was wound in and recast, the cut line retied, and I was back in business with minimal fuss.

The sky had clouded over and dusk came early. The barn owl hunted the far bank as the street lights came on. A rain shower blew in and when it passed I packed up. I couldn't believe how lucky I had been to catch all those fish from an empty lake.

The walk back to the car got me sweating  in the sheltered warm air. The air temperature had been 17 on arrival and was still 13 when I set off for home. The lake had warmed up to over nine degrees too.

The cormorant damage is a worry. The larger fish that I am after must be too big for the vile birds, but they will be thinning out the smaller fish. With the daylight hours increasing they will have more time on the lake to feed before the majority (of the few fishing the place) turn up around nine or ten o'clock. At least during the winter months the cormorants have less time to feed. With a nearby nature reserve hosting a roost of over 60 of the fish eating fiends local fisheries are going to come under more and more avian predation once the birds have cleared out the waters on the reserve.

Undeterred I shall continue chasing these roach for a while longer. Although they seem to be topping out around the pound and a half mark there might just be one or two larger ones swimming around. That's if I'm lucky.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Spring finally seemed to be springing yesterday. The frog spawn in my pond had largely survived the frosts and a multitude of tiny tadpoles were doing their best basking impression in the relative warmth on the gravel shallows. Although I had bought half a pint of maggots and a tub of dendrobenas at the tackle shop I wasn't planning on using them until the weekend. The day was so nice when the sun came out after lunch that I changed my mind and set off for what turned out to be a deserted Goat Lake.

With well over four hours of daylight left I took my time setting up at the shallower end with a couple of cage feeders and a blockend. Two rods went out to the markers on my lines - casting out then winding quickly back so the orange braid was at the tip ring before allowing the rig to settle and tighten up. The third rod went out to the right and fished a worm. This one was left for longer periods between recasts than the other two which were wound in every fifteen minutes or so. My thermometer said the water was over seven degrees, almost eight, and the air temperature was in double figures. The westerly was causing a bit of wind chill though.

As I'd walked onto the bank I had spotted my first swallow of the year swooping down towards me. Although this apparently lonely bird wasn't going to make a summer it certainly lifted my spirits. Sitting by the rods numbers of them could be seen feeding high in the air and skimming the water. It was starting to feel a lot like spring. The whole place seemed different to how it had during the winter even though there was little in the way of new greenery. Something in the quality of light with the sun higher in the sky, perhaps.

Apart from a couple of single bleeps which would have been caused by drifting weed nothing disturbed me. Not only was the water warmer it was considerably clearer than on my last visit. Past experience suggested that this would mean last knockings could be the time for action.

When the sun began to set, the distant street lights began to glow, and a couple of bats emerged to fly around my swim the wind died down turning the evening warm and inviting me to dust down the bivvy. It was that kind of time when I would have enjoyed watching day turn to night proper while lying on my bedchair with the kettle on the stove expecting an LED on one of the alarms to light up at any minute. That'll have to happen elsewhere though.

While there was still light in the sky the middle LED did indeed light up. The bobbin did nothing though. There wasn't enough wind to have caused the indication so I put it down to a liner. The maggot was untouched when I recast. Half an hour or so later the same alarm signalled a bite. The bobbin lifted, then jiggled down lower and lower. I picked up the rod and felt something roachy. Not heavy, but roachy. I brought it in a few yards than reached down for the net to position it in readiness.  That was when the fish fell off...

I gave it another ten minutes before starting to pack up. By which time there were sparse rain drops glistening in the light from my head torch as I tramped back, defeated once more, to the car. The rain wasn't much and had cleared by the time I got home. Next time, if the day is bright, I'll be leaving it later before starting. It's that last hour that seems to be the one.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Old school vs new school

A friend of mine had to pick up some rods I'd done some work on for him and we decided that a session trying to track down the mythical canal perch might be in order. This would give me a chance to get an idea about the Texas rig and drop-shot techniques he has scored with elsewhere. There's nothing to beat watching someone using a technique when it comes to understanding how it's done. Knowing Steve's ability for catching big fish I was also expecting to get my arse spanked as he caught huge perch after huge perch with a flukey double figure pike or two for good measure!

Steve set up his drop-shot rig with a tiny little bit of soft plastic on the hook while I clipped on my trusty silver Mepps and away we went. In my first swim it wasn't long before my first retrieve along the reeds was met with that familiar jagging take of a perch. Not a big fish but an encouraging start for both of us.

It was a bit of a dismal day. Overcast with a steady heavy drizzle and a cold wind blowing, thankfully on our backs. The canal had cleared from my last trip and had pretty much the exact level of clarity I like for lure fishing there. My hopes of more fish were pretty high.

We worked along the stretch fishing gaps in reeds and to far bank cover. Steve switched to a Texas rigged worm while I sneakily swapped to a small Mann's crankbait. In the second swim with the crankbait a cast to the far bank didn't reach the central channel before I felt head shaking and a heavier weight than the first fish had. Then the fight changed and I realised I wasn't connected to a monster perch but a small pike. The plug had been engulfed by the fish, which might have made a pound and a half, but was easily removed. I don't think the fish was hooked, but had the lure wedged in its mouth!

The rain eased and eventually stopped completely as we covered more water before retracing our steps. All to no avail.

I'm not going to draw any conclusions from this session regarding the merits of the different lures. We both thought that the spinner and crankbait are good for searching for fish, while the soft baits might be better suited for careful presentations when you know for sure perch are present in a swim. I can definitely see how the tiny bait on the drop-shot rig would tempt perch, and the value of the Texas rigged worm for fishing amongst debris strewn swims. So much so I am almost tempted to invest in the necessary kit. Almost!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Nothing of interest

Call me soft, I don't care, I'm waiting for the cold easterlies to abate before venturing out again. With a bit of luck that'll be soon and I can have another try with lures for the perch on the canal. Someone seems to be getting amongst them at the moment. I reckon the rod needs a few more rings on it though...