Monday, November 25, 2013

I'll eat my hat!

Friday's pitiful performance from the England cricket team got me out of bed early to avoid listening to the commentary and I arrived at my chosen swim in the half light with no lack of confidence, but a definite lack of landing net and chair. I understood leaving the landing net being in the garage where I had propped it up to dry, but why the chair was still in the back of the car was beyond my comprehension. I could only blame a trauma brought about by the cricket. By the time I had driven back home and returned to the car park it was daylight. I picked a different swim. Where I blanked in sunshine and  style.

On Saturday I stocked up on deadbaits and food ready for an early start and a full day session on Sunday. I think the cricket had depressed me so that seeing the heavy frost when I poked my head through the curtains caused me to wrap myself up in the duvet. Not to worry I could get out on Tuesday as there was a delivery due on Monday.

Monday I got up at a civilised hour and did some work after logging on to find the parcel wouldn't be arriving until Tuesday. I did some work, watched the frost melt as the sun rose higher and thought I might as well chance an afternoon session. even though I never catch pike after two o'clock in the winter.

I made sure that I wouldn't be sat in the shade and got blinded by the low sun and it's reflection off the water. I was warm though! By three the heat was going out of the sun. I opted for a move. Moving around when piking always used to be anathema to me, but I've got itchier feet as I've got older. Sometimes it pays off with a pike, sometimes it doesn't, but it always stops me getting bored and packing up early. By the time I had the baits out in the new swim there was just over an hour of daylight left.

Having always fished open bale arms for pike whenever possible this winter I'm fishing off the baitrunner. As I mostly fish with semi-fixed leads these days it seems that the slight resistance from a baitrunner isn't likely to make a pike drop the bait. The Baitrunner 6000OC can be set really slack. A little too slack when there's a bit of a blow on the braid. Time will tell. It's a lot easier to cock the bottom end floats off the 'runner than when using a clip or drop-off.

It was going to be near enough dark by quarter to five, so I got everything stashed by half four. I'd refreeze the lamprey that was on the margin rod and sling the joey in. The latest packet of joeys I bought have been pretty soft. So soft I have to tie them to the trace.

With the light fading fast I switched the remote sounder off. It was dark enough to watch for one of the LEDs on the Delkims to alert me by lighting up. Much to my amazement that was exactly what happened. Pike don't feed at dusk! The margin float was wobbling about and slowly moving away from the bank.

One thing that I have noticed when fishing off the spool is that it's much easier to set the hooks as there is absolutely no slack to take up. Especially so with braid. The rod's already pointed at the fish when I turn the handle to engage the reel and by the time I've done that I have contact and can pull the rod back to finish the job off.

That done the fish plodded around under the rod tip before making a decent run to the right and splashing around on the surface. It was soon in the net where it lay quietly while I unpacked the mat, sling, scales and camera.

I couldn't be bothered setting up the tripod in the dark. A couple of shots on the mat would have to do. The angle of the photo above  makes the fish look quite skinny, which it wasn't. The fish was returned by the light of my head torch, it now being too dark to see the remaining float. I packed up wondering if I ought to rethink my attitude to afternoon piking. You have to be in it to win it, I suppose. Or it could be a case of doing something often enough and occasionally it'll work.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I should have known better

It seems like I have the pike bug again. At least for the time being. With varnish merrily curing and the afternoon warm and dry I gathered the already prepared tackle, threw the right bag of mackerel in the cool bag and headed off for an afternoon session. More in hope tan expectation, but you never know if the pike will break their habits and feed after lunch.

No sooner had I got two floats nicely cocked than the dry afternoon turned damp. What had been an ignorable mizzle turned to a drizzle sufficient to require either the waterproof jacket or the umbrella. I hate wearing loose fitting jackets, so the brolly went up.

Autumn is most definitely turning to winter now. There are few leaves clinking to the branches. Oaks are still clad in crisp, brown leaves as they will be for some time to come, but it is only the sides of the hawthorns and willows which have any leaves on them, or bushes which are in the lee of substantial cover.

 I had spotted a lone fieldfare on Friday, flying high and purposefully to the north. Yesterday I once more heard them before I saw them. This time in greater numbers. Firstly a flock of twenty or so, then a group of six followed by a nervously wheeling flock at twilight. It only seems like last week when I was watching these winter visitors at Goat Lake.

The baits were moved around the swim at intervals for an hour and a half before a move for the last hour of daylight. I fancied my chances of a margin moocher as the light faded. It was not to be.

Starlings zoomed eastward followed by slower moving deliberate jackdaws. A robin sang at twilight, and as dusk fell blackbirds got rowdy before silence came with the darkness and my float tops turned from orange to black.

Back home I stashed the bait and gear before checking on the rod that was turning as the varnish cured. Disaster. If you ever meet a rod builder who says he never has trouble with epoxy you have met a liar! There are times when no mater how careful you are with the preparation the stuff will fail to cure, form bubbles or pull away in 'fish-eyes'. It just does.  This problem, however, was of my own making. I hadn't secured one section securely enough to the drier and it had slipped. The result was that the varnish had run to one side and 'blobbed'.

Thankfully the bulk of the varnishing I had done in the morning had been thin sealing coats, which don't require turning. So there was only the one section requiring stripping and redoing. If I'd not been so eager to go fishing for the sake of it, knowing full well I'd most likely blank, I'd have kept a check on the section and been saved the extra work. C'est la vie.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Shock, horror - pike content!

These last few weeks have seen my spare time dwindle, leaving me with just an hour or two of daylight at the end of the day I don't like for piking. And piking is what I've been wanting to do. Even so when a spare morning has rolled around I've either lost the motivation or the weather's been against me. Earlier in the week I made an effort to get my gear sorted so I can go pike fishing without any fuss. Grab the quiver, throw a handful of frozen baits in the rucksack and hit the road. Today I managed to get out of bed while it was still dark and do just that.

The morning was still and cool with  a film of dew on the car, but not ice, and the dew was soaking the grass and reeds as I walked to my swim in the light from my head torch. Passing through a thicket of hawthorn the smell of autumn was in the air.

It having been over a month since my last session things had changed. The lily beds that were starting to decay back then were almost indiscernible. There were just enough clues as to where they were located, and it was on the edge of a couple of them that I dropped my float legered deadbaits. By the time I had both rods sorted out the headtorch was no longer required. I sat down and poured myself a brew.

There was a mizzle in the air. Just enough to make the rucksack damp so I put the brolly up. To be honest I didn't hold out much hope. I was musing on how, unlike feeder fishing which keeps you recasting at regular intervals to relieve the boredom, all you can do when bait fishing for pike is put cast to the right spots and wait. Then I noticed the right hand rod top twitch. The float bobbed slightly, then set off slowly away from the bank.

Unusually for me I was fishing off the baitrunner - which caused me to mess up. Instead of leaving things alone and allowing the pike to carry on taking line from the turning spool while I put the landing net somewhere convenient, I opened the bale arm. In doing this I must have somehow caused the line to tighten or something. The float stopped moving. When I inspected the bait it looked like a half decent pike had picked it up. Never mind. I recast and sat down again doubting the fish would return.

I sat back to watch the world go by and to decide when it would be time for a move. A flock of jackdaws moved noisily overhead, followed by a silent wave of starlings heading rapidly northwards. I thought I heard a fieldfare. Then I saw the right hand float bob again. Again it set off slowly and steadily and I took my cue from it, not rushing. I carefully placed the net to the left of the rod which I picked up and then wound into the pike. The resistance was solid and reasonably heavy. There was no fight to speak of, just one splashy swirl away from the net which didn't require me to concede any line. Seeing there was a flying treble I made sure the fish slid straight over the net in one go.

A quick look at the fish saw me guess around the fifteen pound mark, so I staked the net out (large weave meshes are great for this a bankstick fits through the holes without damaging the mesh) while I sorted out the forceps, weighing kit and camera.

With everything ready the net was lifted ashore and the hook popped quickly from the scissors, Into the sling. Weight confirmed. In front of the camera. Four quick snaps then back in the water where I watched her gradually melt from sight.

When I got the baits out of the freezer I'd inadvertently picked up a wrong packet. I thought it was a full pack of joeys, but it had been the remains of a mixed 'pike pack' I'd bought to get the one bluey section it had contained. There was just one joey left. I made sure it was tied securely to the trace before casting it out!

It got my thumb!
I reckoned that two runs, most likely from the same fish, would be my lot for that swim. The mizzle had ceased. It was warming up and the sun threatening to break through the overcast. Half an hour and another brew from the flask later I moved to a nearby swim. The baits once more going close to the last remains of lily beds.

Much to my surprise it wasn't long before the left hand float dipped, rose, fell flat and twitched. Then remained motionless. The bait looked to have been chomped by something small.

Now the sun was almost shining and it was getting warm. However, time was running out along with the tea. The baits were repositioned for the last half hour before my self imposed twelve o'clock deadline.

It had been worth sorting the gear out in readiness. That's the practical side of preparing. Catching a pike is the motivational side of it. Now I might feel like dragging my weary bones out for a few hours every so often. If only I could find an afternoon water...

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Camera for sale (SOLD)

Since my last post work, and the short days have kept me from fishing. Just when I thought I'd got on top of everything and would have a day free before some more blanks arrived the phone started ringing with more orders, and the blanks arrived early. I'm not complaining though. If I was a morning person I'd get my pike gear sorted out for some short, pre-work, local sessions. But I'm not a morning person. So I won't!

One thing I am is a camera tart, and I've got the bug for a different 'fishing' camera - partly because one I've fancied since it came out has come down considerably in price. As a result  I'm selling my Panasonic G2. It's a neat, lightweight, interchangeable lens camera with a flip round screen. In addition to the camera and lens there's a spare battery and a wireless remote. There's also the strap, manual, USB lead and battery charger - but no memory card. All this for £200 £150 - which includes postage. SOLD

Full spec and review here.

All the photos in the following link were taken with this camera and lens. 

As was this self take.