Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Over and done with

The sun set on my final (blank) session of the year yesterday. I would have ventured out again this morning if it hadn't been fora customer calling round. After he'd gone the weather went downhill as forecast putting paid to any ideas of an afternoon outing. Of course the rain didn't prove as bad as the forecast and I've probably blown my last chance for a pike until next year.

I don't think I've fished any more than ten miles from home in 2014, which is reflected in my magre results in terms of big fish. Thankfully I no longer worry too much about catching the biggest fish I can, putting more store on fishing when and where I'll enjoy being by the water catching decent sized fish for the water in question. While I've enjoyed the fishing I've done the waters haven't lived up to expectations. A monster eel water produced the skinniest eels I've ever seen and suffered from a plague of dog walkers and idiot anglers. That one's been crossed off the list for next summer. The tench fishing never really got going. It was not just me though, so that water will be tried again and possibly earlier if the weather is mild enough in March.

Instead of measuring the fish you catch against national standards, which is daft if you live 'up north', it's better to compare them to what's available locally.  On that basis roach over a pound and a quarter, a two pound plus eel and a few mid-double figure pike to over 17lb haven't been too bad a reward. Of the two tench I caught one was over five and a half pounds which really shouldn't be sniffed at. It was by far the biggest I've caught locally. Given that some of the fish have been venue PBs and that I haven't fished as often as I used to do I think I've faired okay for an average angler fishing average waters. You can only catch what's in front of you, after all.

And so another annual notebook is retired and added to the pile.

Once more I failed to get round to fishing the rivers for some unaccountable reason. Being lazy it's probably the irritation of putting the river gear together again that's held me back. I'm sure that if I do put in a river session the bug will bite again. The same goes for my threatened return to perch fishing. Part of my inertia is certainly a reluctance to go over the same ground. I've noticed that I rarely spend more than three years fishing any particular venue even if I haven't had the best out of the fishing. As I get older I seem to get fed up of waters even sooner.

Although I never make firm plans there's still plenty of things I could have a go at. Maybe I'll get round to chasing that silly sturgeon I kept forgetting about this year for a challenge in 2015. Or (but probably not) I might have a try for some carp... It's not so much that I want to catch carp, more that I've seen some that are an unknown quantity. The problem is that I don't want to catch them, but rather I'd like to catch them. If I really wanted to catch carp I'd put the right kind of effort into their pursuit. Sod that for a game of soldiers! As long as I can keep on putting a bend in a rod in pleasant surroundings that'll do for me.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Beats watching the Queen's Speech

That's that out of the way for another year! In my usual festive spirit I got up, had breakfast, varnished three rods and set them spinning then got the flask, food, bait and gear together to go have an afternoon's piking knowing I'd have the pick of the swims!

It's always a bit of a lottery picking swims when you haven't a clue where the pike are. A mate of mine caught a couple yesterday, so I chose a swim about as far away from where he fished as possible. Even though it's only a few days past the winter solstice the sun is setting noticeably later, so I'd have five and a half hours to move about a bit - without the risk of some other angler being in any swim I fancied.

The wind was light to brisk and not particularly cold despite the clear bright sky putting just enough of a ripple on the water to fuel my confidence. That said the water was clear enough to give me slight misgivings with the sunshine that I was expecting to carry on until dusk. The usual suspects were used as baits on the standard semi-fixed lead float leger rigs. A lamprey head got dropped in the margin to my left, a headless joey mackerel and a herring tail being cast out a little further to be twitched back at intervals.

Maybe it was the sunshine that set the great tits off chinking away in advance of spring. At one time there I could hear at least four of them staking out their territories. The one in the hawthorn close by being particularly insistent and loud, seeming to grow hoarse at one point. I suspect that was actually a change of call, but it did make me think it had given itself a sore throat!

 Although we've had a few frosts and some chilly weather there are still a few scraps of lily pad to be found floating in the margins. In the shallower water there's still fresh looking weed attaching itself to the hooks. While I'm all in favour of mild winters enough of a cold snap to kill off the weed wouldn't be too much of a hardship for me to bear.

After an hour I was contemplating a move when the sounder warbled in my pocket and the margin float drifted in closer to the trailing willow branches. Winding down and heaving I felt the line plucking off whatever was below the surface under the bush.

Once more a pike hooked at very close range did nothing more than make slow, wide head-shakes. I'd much prefer it if they would bolt off taking line under pressure to drive the hooks well home. Too many a head-shake has seen the trebles fly free. That wasn't the case this time, although once in the net my forceps were only required to remove the hooks from the mesh.

This was a nice clean fish, no signs of mouth damage or missing scales and filling out nicely for the time of year. Quite an orangey-yellow fish too.My guestimate was close after the needle of the Avons had settled at a few ounces over fourteen pounds. Not big enough to bother with a self take. Not even on Christmas Day. The lamprey head was still oozing blood so it got cast out again while I gave the swim another half hour. Then I moved.

After another hour I moved again. There's a swim I've had in mind to end the day on all season but have always got distracted by other choices. Today it seemed like the ideal spot to end the session. The wind had been blowing into that swim all day and at three it had dropped a bit. The sun came out as I packed the gear for the move then there was a Monkey's Wedding as soon as I set off. There wasn't supposed to be rain.

No sooner had I got the baits out in the new swim and the brolly up than the rain stopped. Typical. As it turned out a few more light showers drifted over before dark so the brolly cam in handy. My shemagh also came in handy as a makeshift hat. No sooner had I opened the rucksack up today than I realised my wooly hat was missing.

While the sun was out and I was reasonably sheltered my ears were warm enough. However, I knew that when the sun set it would be a different story. That's the trouble with having jug-ears.

A DIY turban might not be the most stylish of headgear, but it sure kept the old lugs toasty. Good job I don't give a toss what I look like so long as I'm warm!

Although I felt sure this last spot would be good for a run by the time the headtorch would required it wasn't. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I could easily have sat it out in the penultimate swim, which is pretty much a banker for a run or two at last knockings - and something decent had flattened the water within casting range - but I like to try different options when I can rather than tread the same ground. One pike for Christmas was more than I'd hoped for anyway.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A break in the weather

Irrespective of the weather bombing us or not it's been a rum old week. When it's been reasonable to venture forth I've been busy. When I haven't been busy the weather's been awful. Not having much to do this morning I got it done and took the opportunity to get the pike rods out while the sun was shining and the wind was less than gale force.

Having managed to avoid being held up for too long by the roadworks blighting the local roads I was opening the gate in good time. As I walked round the car I saw a squashed dog turd by the driver's door. Sure enough there was more of it on my left boot. The only consolation was that I drive to localish waters wearing my fishing boots, so I was able to wipe the worst off it before parking the car and remove the rest at my leisure before I started fishing.

With that unpleasant task completed I set up the two float leger rods, shoved a couple of banksticks in the ground and lobbbed a lamprey tail in the margin. Then I rummaged around to find a smelt for the other rod. Before I had it hooked up the margin float was bobbling about. The smelt was hooked up, cast out of the way and the lamprey rod picked up. The pike did the wallowing trick. A long, skinny looking fish with a big head was in the net within seconds. Leaving it there I got the sling and scales ready before removing the hook that was in the pike while it was still in the water.

At first I thought it was the tatty twelve pounder yet again, but both sides of its mouth were in good condition. It weighed a pound or so heavier too, although it should have been nearer sixteen pounds. Nonetheless it swam off well enough.

After untangling the trace from the net I rehooked the lamprey tail and popped it back out. The next job was to swap the float paternoster rig to a third float leger. A sprat got stuck on those hooks and cast out to the left.

I have a feeling that winter must have set in where the thrushes come from. The hawthorns were thronged with fieldfares and redwings. Somewhere in the region of two or three hundred would take to the air when something spooked them. A couple of times it was a buzzard that put the wind up them. I reckon the presence of all those potential food items were frustrating the buzzard. It was hanging around the area for quite a while and twice it actually landed in a hawthorn.

Despite the relatively placid weather when I'd arrived the wind was blowing obvious precipitation along in the distance. It was only a matter of time before it blew some along a bit closer. First there was a light rain shower. Second there was a heavy hail shower. I was glad I'd packed the big brolly.

There's not much that Delkims can't cope with. They even cope with hail. However, being vibration sensors hail hitting the casing sets the alarm off. I think I had the sensitivity turned up a little too high as I was getting an audio-visual display to match a rock concert under the brolly!

By three the sky had cleared so I made a move. It didn't take long for the smelt float to dip, the Delk to sound, and then nothing. Fifteen minutes later I wound the rod in to check the bait only to find it gone. A pinched bait? The smelt was a bit soft, and the lead was stuck in weed when I picked the rod up. I found a joey mackerel and put that out. With the day looking as if it would stay dry until dark I put the brolly up to dry out, and to keep the wind off me.

At four I moved the baits around and got the headtorch out in readiness for dark which was about half an hour away. The floats didn't dip again. Just as I was thinking of calling it a day a large black cloud arrived and the heavens opened. The dry brolly got wet again. That was that. When I'll get out again I don't know. My back's playing up and the leg that I buggered up a few weeks ago is improving in a two steps forward one step back fashion. It would probably be wise to stay away from the water for a while, but I know that if I get an urge like I did today I'll forget about the aches and pains!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Less roll, more rock

Not much time for fishing the week after my last post due to waiting in for non-arriving parcels and work. I managed a couple of hours up to dark on the Monday for nothing in what felt like good conditions. I put it down to poor swim choice after my Plan A was thwarted by an angler in the peg I fancied. A week and a day later I was at the water a little earlier with the choice of swims wide open. Again conditions felt good. It was still warm, there wasn't too much wind. The only negative factor being the clear water. I much prefer a touch of colour for fishing deadbaits. Undeterred I thought there'd be a chance as the light faded into a remarkably red sunset. It wasn't to be. Strike two. Another blank and it would be time for a change of venue and/or target species.

More work ensued during the week. I've been getting some strange build requests recently. Peculiar handles and stuff. One rod I thought would turn out looking absolutely vile actually looks pretty good - not to mention seasonally festive!. I'd imagined that whipping every ring on a matt blank with metallic red thread would result in a garish monstrosity. It's not exactly subtle, but it's a lot better than I expected!

When Friday came around I got as much work done as I could well before lunch. The forecast was for no rain, and it was positively balmy. I travelled light - no brolly, no waterproof over-trousers, and set up in a swim I'd caught from already this winter. Two float legered deads and one paternostered to cover three features. After half an hour I repositioned them.  After an hour I was on the move.

The same baits went out again. Two in the margins, one further out. The more distant bait, a banker lamprey head, I twitched back at intervals. An hour passed without incident. A small flock of starlings circled in the indecisive way they have before peeling in to their chosen roost. There was still an hour of light left when the flock collapsed into a conifer like sand falling through an hour glass. Should I make a last move?

There was no swim sending out positive vibes to encourage me to up sticks, so I repositioned all teh baits. The margin paternoster got cast a bit further out, the lamprey head was recast, and the bogey-bait (sardine) dropped right in the edge.

As the shortest day draws ever closer darkness can fall early on an overcast day. by four thirty I could barely see the floats. Something had spooked the starlings. They'd left the conifer and scudded low over the water at speed. Where they went, I know not. Owls were starting to hoot in the distance when I saw the margin float wobble. I kept a watch on it and it wobbled again. Then it disappeared heading away from the margin. I picked the rod up, turned the reel handle and connected with a wallowing weight. There were no runs, just a worrying slow, side-to-side head shaking that made me think the hooks would come free at any moment. I needn't have worried as both trebles were doing their job, one at each side of the fish's mouth.

In the light of my head torch the fish had a familiar look. A damaged jaw and the top of the tail missing. Pale and skinny looking it was the same fish I'd kicked the winter off with. I weighed her to check on progress and the scales pulled round half a pound further than last time. A good sign, but this time last year she'd been three pounds heavier. A few leeches and plenty of fish lice round the gills suggested a sickly fish. Hopefully one that's on the mend. As it was now pitch black I wound the other two rods in and walked back to the car to find the temperature in double figures. I was glad I'd removed my fleece from under the bunny suit before driving off as I was still too warm as I stood waiting for the fish to fry at the chippy. That dreaded third strike has been avoided. I can leave the pike rods set up.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On a roll

It wasn't much of a choice to make between supermarket and fishing when the afternoon promised to be mild, dry, not too sunny and not too breezy. The early lunch might have proved to be a good move the way things panned out. For one of those unaccountable reasons I had a last minute change of plan and bypassed the swim I'd had in mind when I left home, and still had in mind when I got the gear out of the car. I ended up dropping a lamprey tail in the right hand margin with the light breeze in my face, followed by a longer chuck with a herring tail. Try as I might the two frozen smelts wouldn't separate easily, they'd need a bit of thawing unless I was to risk snapping the tail off one. I was gently trying to ease them apart when the sounder in my pocket let out a single bleep. A bleep which was followed by a prolonged trilling. The margin float was on the move!

Once more fishing off the baitrunner resulted in the rod hooping over after less than a full turn of the reel handle. You might expect a lively fish hooked at close range to make a bolt for open water, or more likely the remains of the nearby weedbed. This one just bulldogged, hugging the bottom and going round in circles. As it came up in the water the boils it created were encouragingly large. After making sure the net was sunk beyond the floating weed in the edge, and the dead tufty amongst it, I managed to draw the pike into the folds. It would obviously need the scales and sling so I left the fish in the net - secured by a bankstick - while I got the unhooking gear sorted.

With that the fish unhooked and weighed, and with only one bait in the water I sacked the fish to have another practice with the self-take set up. I had the tripod and mat all lined up and was still messing about with the camera when the sounder began a slow burbling. I looked up to see the only float I had in the water wobbling away to the left. Even at slightly longer range the hookset was instant. At first I wasn't able to gauge the weight of the fish but when it got closer I was sure it was another decent fish. I was glad that I'd tidied the first rod away and not left the hooks and rig in the landing net now. Once netted it was a simple matter to hoist the fish on to the unhooking mat, pop the hook out, weigh the fish and take two quick snaps. If it hadn't coughed up a four ounce roach on the way to the net it would have been close to a twin for the first fish.

With all that done and the fish released I dried the blood off my hands and got the plasters out before I got the sacked fish ashore and repeated the photo shoot with two quick snaps of each side for future reference.

By now the swim looked like the proverbial bomb had hit it and I had no baits in the water! The first job was to get another half lamprey in the margin. The smelts had softened up so one of those was stuck on a paternoster and lobbed to the right margin. Finally I replaced the trace on the middle rod, baited up with a small herring (or was it a big sprat?) which I bound to the trace with red elastic thread, and put back out where the herring tail had been taken from. Then I sat down for a rest and a brew.

Despite the almost instant success I had the urge to move after an hour more. Only a couple of swims away, but that can be enough at times. Not this time though. Another hour and I was on the move again. Quite a bit further this time to cover completely fresh water. By the time I had packed the gear, walked to the new swim and got the baits out I doubted I'd have time for another move and settled in to fish until dark.

This swim looks the part, with more features to go at than most, but it's one that had yet to produce a pike for me. The sky was not only getting darker, it was getting more cloudy where the wind was coming from. The temptation to pack up was there, especially after having caught a couple of nice doubles. On the basis that if i got wet I had all the next day to dry the gear out I hung on. The light had pretty much gone when I thought I saw the far float wobble. A trick of the fading light? It wobbled again then it moved. It definitely moved. I was on the rod just as the alarm sounded and the float disappeared. There wasn't much of a fight until the fish was in the net. That was the cue for the rain to fall. Resting the mesh of the net on the middle Delkim I went for my jacket and headtorch before starting the unhooking and weighing ritual. Not quite a double it still rounded off the afternoon nicely. Even the rain gave up by the time I had everything packed away ready for the walk back to the car.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Up and running again

Having seen my first fieldfares since spring last Friday, with the air temperature in single figures the low sun and clear sky made it feel like pike time was here at last. With that in mind and work not going to plan I had an early lunch, packed the pike gear in the car and set off to make the most of the afternoon before the rain arrived.

The reeds are in their winter colours, the trees almost completely bare with a strong southerly stripping a few more leaves from their branches. Despite the ripple on the water it had that cold blue look which it takes on through the winter months on days such as this. A blue that makes orange pike floats glow like beacons in the sunlight. All that was missing was a frost to make the ground hard and the grass crisp. That'll come.

I thought that fishing the edges of remaining weed would be a good place to start so two float legered deads and a paternostered sprat were cast to strategic places that matched that profile. It was quarter past one as I settled in with my back to the wind to watch the floats. After an hour I repositioned the lamprey head. Half an hour later I was wondering if a move might be worthwhile. After moving my gear two swims along I put the rods in the second swim along for some reason and moved the rest of the gear to join it.

There wasn't much in the way of weed in this swim but I could cover more water. Two baits were dropped in the margins - left and right - the lamprey got chucked out into no-man's land. I can't say I was feeling any more confident. As so often happens as soon as you stop expecting or hoping for a run one materialises. So it goes. The least likely float was on the move.

The good thing about fishing braid off the baitrunner is that there is no slack and no stretch when you come to set the hooks. There's hardly anything to the 'winding down' part of the hookset. Half a turn of the reel handle and you feel the pike enough to pull the rod back and drive the hooks home. A carefully set clutch can be advantageous in case the pike makes a sudden lung on feeling steel.

This fish made no such lunge. It came in like the proverbial wet sack, only waking up at the net where it did the big-headed gill flare and shake that makes you think you've hooked something much bigger than you have. Obviously a double the headshake looked about eighteen pounds, the length about fourteen, in the net the girth looked nearer ten. Not really big enough for a self-take but I thought I should try out the camera I bought earlier in the year having caught nothing worth setting the tripod up for all spring and summer. I left the pike in the net, after staking the net out with a bankstick just in case the fish got frisky.

Everything went smoothly. I set the mat and forceps out, with the sling and zeroed scales close by, then rigged up the tripod, camera and bulb release. Two quick practice shots to make sure things were lined up and it was time to get the fish out of the water.

Laid on the mat the hooks were easily removed, the rod put out of harms way and the pike weighed. Just over twelve pounds and tatty for the time of year. More like a post spawn fish. Lift for two shots of each side then back into the sling to go back to the water. Easy peasy.

The lamprey head was still dripping blood so back out it went. I put a fresh joey on the other float leger rig and cast it further out to my right adjacent to some dying weed. The sky was getting darker grey from the west and the air temperature dropping.

Was another move in order, or should I put the brolly up to keep the breeze off? The first spots of light rain made up my mind. The brolly went up and I hunkered down on the low chair with another cup of flask tea. There was less than an hour of light left as the rain got a little heavier and the wind dropped. A small flock of starlings circled looking for a roost site. Jackdaws headed east. A kingfisher dashed along the margin clipping my middle line as the light faded to that stage where colours disappear. The rain eased again and I took the chance to pack up before the head torch was required.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Beaten again

Somehow or other I managed to get to the water just before light this morning. Before I had two baits out the rain that wasn't forecast began to fall. A light drizzle was all and it soon passed over. Small fish were dimpling and flipping in front of me. There had to be a pike or two lurking under the overhanging willows on my right or in the remains of the lily pads to my left. The baits were positioned accordingly before I sat under the brolly to drink tea and watch a flock of long tailed tits twittering their way through the sparse willow and birch leaves.

As the sky began to clear and the light levels increase the small fish stopped showing. The weed is starting to die back despite the continuing warmer than normal weather. This makes presentation easier, and twitching baits. Not that it did me much good. After a little more than an hour, with the drizzle no more, I got the urge to move to a swim where I could fish a weed edge and a marginal drop-off.

Although my confidence rose in the new swim and the sun tried to break out of hiding the pike still played hard to get. A small bird also played hard to get in evading the pursuit of a sparrowhawk, and a buzzard flapped over the lake blithely ignoring the two crows swooping close to it in anger. If buzzards can plod that one did.

It was one of those mornings when I kept pouring tea for something to do. A Delkim let out a single bleep and through the still air I heard a few clicks of a baitrunner as I scanned the floats to see which one might have moved. The middle one rose back to the surface as my eyes reached it. That was it. I gave it a few minutes before slowly reeling the joey in to check for teeth marks. Not seeing any signs of pike on the bait I chopped its head off and cast it back out.

Time was getting on. I'd planned to jack it in at eleven, but put that on an hour and repositioned all the baits instead. Not that it did me any good. Half an hour later I was on my way back to the car.

I'm pretty sure that given the warmth of the water and its clarity a couple of livies would have saved a blank. Pity they're not allowed as the place is stuffed with easy to catch roach. As if to taunt me a grebe popped up in front of me as I packed the last rod away - a small roach in its beak.

The way I see it my options are to stick a lure rod in the quiver, try a different pike venue, or fish for something completely different. There's this water I've heard does a few big perch at this time of year...

Monday, October 20, 2014

That's better

That North Western SS4 now has a new handle. Although that was all I was asked to do it was easy enough to clean the blank up as the rings had to be refitted. Glass blanks always seem to clean up nicely - even if it does take a while to get the old polyurethane varnish off.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Falling at the second hurdle

Sunday started with a foggy dawn with the promise of sunshine later. Perfect for piking. However I spent it sat in my car on the M6 heading for the Tackle and Guns trade show. If you ever plan to have two days fishing in glorious autumnal weather find out when the PAC convention and T&G show are being held. Never fails.

The tackle show was disappointing. There was one highlight that attracted a lot of attention. A huge tank full of pike and a few perch which was to be used for lure demonstrations. The fish were nothing more than props, but interesting to watch.

There wasn't much revolutionary on show that I saw. Fuji's new Torzite rings look very nice, and shiny, but are hideously expensive. A 40mm butt ring will set you back around fifty quid! Everyone seems to be jumping on the lure fishing bandwagon. The small lure bandwagon that is. It's clearly a market open to exploitation as it caters to people who want to catch plenty of fish regardless of size.

The best two items I saw were clamshell 'bits boxes' from Korum with compartments long enough to hold rig sleeves, and on the same stand Avid's bait and bits boxes - maggot tubs with a lift out tray and no holes in the lids.You could forget the bait and use them to hold clamshell type boxes to keep your gear together.

Watching those pike must have got me fired up because on Monday afternoon I ventured forth into a chilly wind. I'd barley got the baits in the water when the rain arrived. Not heavy but enough to make me put the brolly up and sit it out in one spot. Not my preferred method these days.Still, I had plenty of water in front of me to allow me to move the baits around.

What really put me off was the cormorant which popped up right under my rods. I'm not sure why but when there are cormorants about my confidence for catching pike plummets. There was prey fish still in the area because I watched a great crested grebe swallow a rather large roach later on. Despite the rain it was a nice enough afternoon, which actually warmed up considerably by dusk. The bunny suit had been superfluous for the walk back to the car.

The only times I got excited were when the gusty wind blew reeds onto the line making a Delkim sound. The floats never bobbled or dipped. If it hadn't been raining I'd definitely have moved at least once. After the minor success last time out this was a not altogether unexpected disappointment. I get the feeling morning sessions might be the best option until this month is out and the days are a bit shorter. Using that as an excuse I might have an afternoon roach session next!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

A touch of glass

"Can you put a cork handle on this?" At first glance I suspected the 'this' to be North western SS4 - 10ft of 2lb test curve fibreglass. With the shrink tube handle removed I was proved right.

The rings had clearly been put on by an amateur! Although it's not a full strip and rebuild I'll have to tidy the butt section up, and I think the joint needs fettling too. Daft as it sounds little jobs like this keep me interested.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Up and running

Once more I managed to drag myself out of bed before sunrise. Only just, it was light enough to manage without the head torch by the time I was getting the deadbaits out of the cool bag. This time I had remembered the alarms, albeit at the last minute. Gradually my pike gear is getting sorted out.

A mackerel head got launched into oblivion while the other two rods float legered a lamprey tail to my left and float paternostered a smelt to my right. Both of those were fished next to close range features. By seven fifteen I was settled back in my low chair supping tea watching the clouds in the eastern sky change shape and colour like a lava lamp.

After an hour of ducks and geese noisily flighting in and out none of the floats had moved. Despite his grin even Fred was growing despondent. There'd been next to no fishy activity on the surface. One fish, probably a bream, had rolled well out. A few fry had leapt clear of the water, but not in any organised way as if being harrassed by a predator. The sun was getting high and bright enough to warm the day. A change of swim was on the cards - except I couldn't be bothered.

Something scurried in the undergrowth, most likely a rat that found me blocking its run. A flock of long tailed tits twittered their way along the hawthorns accompanied by a couple of blue tits. That sound and sight is one that always makes me think of winter.

With thoughts of an early finish in my mind I noticed the left hand rod tip was twitching. Surprisingly the float was lying flat. As I picked te rod up the float drifted ever so slowly down wind. I wasn't sure if it was a take, or if it had been and the fish had dropped the bait. Baitrunner off. Take up the slack and there's a fish on.

Well, it was probably a fish although it felt as fishlike as a carrier bag. As soon as whatever it was came into view in the clear water I was sure it was a pike. One that did nothing except tailwalk briefly before I netted it. Which I only did because there was a treble flying in an awkward place - the top hook being lodged in the corner of the fish's mouth. Once in the net the scrawny thing went mental!Still, a fish is a fish is a fish. Not having fought hard, or been out of the water for more than a few seconds, the snake swam off without a hitch.

It was approaching nine thirty by the time I got another lamprey section cast out. Despite having kept the other two baits on the move, twitching and repositioning them at frequent intervals they remained unmolested. I hung on until shortly after ten, by which time it was starting to feel more like summer again. Back at the car I was glad to get the fleece off. Lacking any better options it looks like pike are on my menu for the foreseeable future. provided I can get motivated to get up in time - until the days get shorter I'm not so sure about afternoon pike sessions. You never can tell, though.

Friday, September 19, 2014

False starts

These last couple of weeks I've set my alarm for daft o'clock on a number of occasions only to wake up sweltering and gone back to sleep. The piking urge has been upon me but the window of opportunity between dawn and it getting too hot for a sweatshirt, never mind a fleece, has been very narrow. Three hours or less in fact. Today it was different for some reason and I was up and about before five thirty, taking my time making a flask and sorting out the rucksack.

It was cool enough for me to consider putting my overtrousers on to keep the chill out, but I decided to brave the elements.

Despite the mist trying to form over the fields and lightly rolling over the water it felt more like a spring morning than an autumnal one. Knowing that the deeper water would be free enough of weed to easily present baits that was where I headed.

Putting the gear down I reached into the bankstick pocket of the quiver and found only one had an alarm attached. A good job the rods were rigged up with floats! A mackerel tail went straight out as far as I could chuck it, a lamprey head to the right and a paternostered smelt to the left margin.

Some people don't start piking until the first frosts reasoning that the water is too warm and the pike fight too hard for their own good. A better reason is that they are less receptive to deadbaits until then in my experience. It varies from water to water of course. Last year's efforts told me this water was one of them. Put it this way, I'd have felt more confident if the smelt had been something more lively. Alas that's not an option on this water.

I sat back and opened the flask, then got a camera out to photograph the dawn and the sunrise. It was while doing this I noticed that the mackerel float had fallen flat. I tightened down in case, but there was nothing there and on reeling in the bait there were no apparent teeth marks. Back out it went.

The day warmed rapidly. A hawker was soon on the wing. Two robins, one a juvenile, squabbled in the bush to my left, a chiffchaff sang repetitiously in a tree above, and a kingfisher perched briefly on a hawthorn bough overhanging the water. I drank more tea.

After an hour I repositioned the mackerel and lamprey baits, giving them further short moves over the following hour. Around nine I recast all the baits to different spots. Small fish were topping and bream looked to be feeding if the bubbles were anything to go by. The fleece was abandoned and my sleeves rolled up. It was turning into another hot September day.

By ten the motionless floats convinced me it was time to give up. I had expected I was making too early a start for the pike and that I should have stuck to my plan to fish for bream through this month and the next. I should really have carried on eeling, but I completely lost interest in it and the thought of bream isn't doing much for me either. If I still had it in me to spend full days sleeping on a bedchair I could pretend to fish for carp. At least that way catching nothing would be expected!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Hammer handles

It was boredom that sent me out with a lure rod, a handful of lures and a landing net I knew I wouldn't use for an hour last night. The lake looked to be in fine early autumnal fettle. Pads starting to look frayed at the edges and some already dead and drifting. Haws bright red among yellowing leaves. A congregation of mallards in a reed-lined weedy corner. There felt to be a chance of a pike as the sun turned a rosy orange.

Needless to say the lure I clipped on was a Squirrley Burt in perch. It works, so I use it despite it having one eye! The shallows are still too choked with weed and carp anglers' lines to work a surface bait any distance, although there's no doubt there are pike in there. That sent me towards he deeper weed free areas. With plenty of lilies lining the margins it was obvious to chuck the Burt around their edges. In the third swim I tried, only giving it five or ten minutes per spot, the lure got hit by what felt like a rooter. There was a brief jagging and kiting of the lure with no weight behind it. A few more fruitless casts and I was on the move again.

I always have more confidence casting lures into sunlit water, so my hopes rose as I moved out of the shade. It was in a spot with a bit more surface weed, but with enough free water to get longer casts in, that the Burt got hit again. It was another hammer handle that managed to stay attached. So attached that I had to cut one of the trebles before I could return it.

Jacks of this size are all well and good for saving blanks, but they're a pain to unhook. With a finger under one gill plate you run the risk of getting a treble in it there being so little room to work in. With the back hook chopped up and no spares or split ring pliers with me I had to change lure. The only other Burt I had with me was a floater which needed working faster than I liked. I tried a Slippery Sam for a few fasts before clipping on a Funky Chicken spinnerbait until the sun set and the evening chill sent me back to the car. I know there are a lot of pikers who won't get the deadbaits out until there's a frost, but I might give it a go for the first few hours one morning this week. With my luck I'll hook a five pound eel.

Monday, August 25, 2014

No Mojo, Joe

I had a fruitless eel session at the back end of last month and didn't enjoy it. The lake doesn't inspire me. If it's not the moronic would-be carp anglers or the moaning matchmen it's dogwalkers and their hounds. Even after dark the place has no magic to it. I decided that the eels can be as big as you like but I'm not going to put much more time in there. With the heat still being upon us I was stuck for ideas and didn't want to start bream fishing until September.

The change in the weather last week changed my mind, and as soon as there was a dry day when I was free I got the bream gear semi-sorted out. That was yesterday. It was still t-shirt warm when I rolled up and started setting up around three in the afternoon. Brown hawkers were out in force along with a few damselflies. Swallows and one or two house martins were drinking from the lake. All around the blooms of high summer were fading, a meadowsweet had a lone flower bunch the rest having turned to seed, the leaves beginning to wither. Devil's-bit scabious and fleabane were the brightest spots of colour in the vegetation behind the swim I chose.

A couple of grains of fake corn were dropped on the edge of the pads to my right. A back-lead slid down the line and a few handfuls of pellets scattered over the bait. Then I set up the other two rods, one to fish a pellet and the other two more bits of yellow plastic, before marking their lines and that of the spod rod which I clipped up.

Bags of pellets were made up, the rigs put in them and the lot cast out. The traps set (as the carpers say) I commenced spodding out pellets. After only a few casts the retrieve seemed all too easy. I was recovering line but the spod wasn't coming towards me. When I swung in the loop of heavy mono I worked out why and watched the spod drift away on the light westerly. Perfect planning prevents piss poor performance. I had another spod in the bait bag!

I made half a dozen casts with spod number two before wondering if I was fishing close enough in to manage with a catty. It turned out that I was. A couple or more pints of pellets ended up over and around the two baits. That ought to get the bream interested.

Four and a half hours later the bobbins hadn't moved once. There was still over an hour of daylight left but I'd lost all interest. How I ever managed to do three-day sessions in one swim without a bite to show for it - and enjoy myself doing it - I can no longer understand. These days I need action on a regular basis, or to keep on the move, unless I'm to start wishing I was somewhere else. that somewhere else yesterday was at home, eating my tea. So that's where I went.

Although the weather was pleasant enough the lake seemed dead. Only a very few, very small fish were topping. There wasn't much waterfowl activity either. The water looked cloudy, as if the recent rains had coloured it up. That'll do as an excuse! It was starting to look pikey though with the hawthorns in berry and the leaves on all the trees darkening or turning to hints of autumn shades. Then again, there's a whiff of barbel in the air. I ought to be able to catch some of them in a short session. Surely?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Heat

I can't take much more of this glorious sun. It's sapping what little energy I have. By the time it's starting to lose its strength and I ought to be getting my act together for some eel fishing all I want to do is flop out and go to sleep.

Friday was hot and muggy, so I made the effort. I tried a change of venue, but two years away from it had seen a few changes. Maybe this weather was partly to blame for the increased weed growth, too. Either way my confidence wasn't boosted by a surprising lack of activity to the worm rod. The magic squid also failed to elicit a response. The only time an alarm sounded was when a dog limboed under one of the rods.

No fleece had been required and by the time I got back to the car the thermometer was still reading 18 degrees. Since then I've been staying home melting!

The fancy rod handle specs people dream up sometimes surprise me. The latest being a full Duplon that actually looks pretty good. I'm not a fan of the soft touch reel seat finish from a practical perspective (I have one on an Axiom and know that it is prone to scratching, and sweaty palms react with the rubbery coating) but they do look good when new. The finish is darker than the uncoated seat so blends in nicely with the black Duplon. This particular customer also specified locking collars for the DNPS seats. Probably overdoing things for pike rods, but as they are uncoated it gives an idea of the colour difference between a standard DNPS and the soft touch version. The photo below is of the dry run, taken to confirm with the customer that I've got the spec right.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Apparently there was some football match or other on telly last night. That must have explained why the roads were post-apocalyptically empty and the lake nearly so when I arrived shortly after nine. Last time out I'd looked at a swim which would allow me to cover a large area of open water. Given that most of the eels I was catching were coming away from the margins that seemed like a plan to follow. The swim was, unsurprisingly, vacant.

This time I had some fresh worms with me and thought I'd try a bunch on the edge of the pads with a bit of squid cast well out. Almost immediately I had takes to the worm rod, the worms being pinched. By ten o'clock I'd had a couple of runs to the squid, bumping a fish off on one of them. The action wasn't hectic, but steady enough to keep me interested.

It was a warm evening with a light breeze. The full moon was rising orange in the east. Silence descended on the lake as small bats flitted around the overhanging willows. I began to relax into my surroundings in anticipation with my radio turned low as I listened to The Week In Politics. That lasted a few minutes before The Copper Chopper came overhead circling around the lake and drowning out the radio. I expected the searchlight to sweep over the water at any minute, or a gang of criminals to charge past me pursued by howling police dogs, which naturally enough would seize on me.

When a red LED glowed brightly and the sounder in my pocket began to wail I forgot all about the commotion and managed to pull into an eel. It was hard to determine how big an eel had picked up the squid, but it was hooked and I wasn't letting it get away. I made sure the net was well sunk and the eel well over it before I lifted. All went well and one of the fatter bodied eels was safely swimming around in the net.

Sling and scales were readied before I swung the net ashore. This was barely done when the sounder sounded again. With all the excitement I had somehow blocked the noise of the helicopter out. The worms were showing no sign of stopping. Another eel was hooked. It was obvious from the outset that it was a bootlace, so once I had it in close I let it swim around in the margins on a couple of feet of line while I dealt with it's big sister (or brother). Five ounces over two pounds. Good enough for me but not worthy of the hassle of setting up for a self-take. Certainly not with a bootlace waiting to be unhooked.

Ten minutes later I was putting a fresh hooklink on the worm rod to fish a bigger bait when the recast squid was off again. With tackle all over the place I managed to fluff the strike, feeling the lightest of bumps that might have been an eel. The squid was recast, a roach tail put on the other hook and cast well out. By now the chopper had moved on and peace and quiet had returned.

Twenty minutes later the roach tail was taken but dropped. I did the winding the bait back to the lead thing. It was taken again five minutes later. My striking technique was back to normal, the bait gone from the hook to be replaced with another bit of squid. I had one squid chunk well out and one on the pads' edge. The close in bait was picked up and the strike messed up again at half eleven. Thirty minutes later I was packing up.

I'm wondering why the early sessions produced so many runs one after another, barely giving me a chance to sit down at times, and now things are more like I expect from eeling. Enough takes to keep me interested, but not so many as to tire me out! I was thinking of trying a different venue for a few sessions, just for a change, but I really ought to stick at it on one water. Or should I?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Feeling deflated

Still buzzing with the eel fishing I'd got my mind set on a late Sunday evening session after the crowds had departed. The gear was checked over and all I had to do was throw it in the car around nine thirty. That was when I spotted the flat tyre. Bang went that plan. Well, not literally 'bang'!

I put things forward 24 hours and hit the lake on Monday around quarter to ten. Arriving that late gave me a better choice of swims and I chose one I'd not fished before. It was warm and still, with the threat of rain which arrived in the form of a drizzle that sounded worse than it was on the brolly.

Despite the conditions it felt like an age before the first take to a sandeel head cast well out came at ten thirty. It was an age before the next missed run at quarter to twelve to the same bait. With a tail section cast out producing a dropped run ten minutes later I moved the margin squid bait away from the bank for it to be taken after ten minutes. I missed that run. Then it went dead again. The whole lake felt devoid of fish. I had been going to stop late but the lack of runs compared to previous sessions had seen me drinking tea to pass the time and the flask was getting empty. I wrapped up at quarter to one.

After that blank session I almost lost interest and didn't bother turning out on Tuesday or Wednesday. By Thursday I was determined not to be beaten and returned to the area which has given me the most eels so far. It was nine o'clock on a mild evening, the full moon already up in the sky, a kingfisher piping its call as it flew across the lake. I'm sure I saw a fish in its beak.

This session started even more slowly than the previous one. No hint of a run before dark, unlike other sessions in the area. The tedium was broken when I heard a woman calling for her pet across the lake. Her cries grew louder as she got closer. I could hear meowing opposite me. Footsteps approached and then, "Bloody hell!! A buxom blonde loomed out of the dark, "My cat's stuck up a tree and I can't find him." I pointed across the water, "He's over there." The small hairy doormat of a dog that was following her sniffed my rucksack and got shooed away before it cocked its leg. The pair melted into the darkness and all was quiet and still again.

By eleven I was getting so despondent that I was plotting a change of venue. Fifteen minutes later the squid left the margin at a rate of knots. No prizes for guessing the outcome. A fresh chunk was hooked up and cast back out. After ten minutes it was picked up and dropped. I wound the line back on the spool and it was soon running out again. I held the line and could feel the eel tugging. Usually when I have done this a strike has connected. Usually.

My hopes were rising. Unfortunately so was a light mist from the water. This never fills me with confidence. As the mist thickened towards midnight so I contemplated packing up. I like to leave the baits out as long as possible when leaving. to this end I tidy the rucksack, putting the sounder box in it's pocket, first. Then I take the rods from the pod and lie them on the deck with the line tight to the slack 'runner. The pod is dismantled, its bars folded up in my chair along with my cool bag. One rod is wound in and put in the quiver, then the second rod and finally the net is rolled up and slid into the front pocket.

The first rod had been unbaited and the joint separated when I heard a continuous buzzing. The squid had been taken again. The broken down rod was dumped and the other one picked up. Line was still being taken. I folded my left hand round the spool and struck.Something was wrong. There was a fish on!

In my head I was telling myself to take it steady, that there was no rush. I kept the pressure on rather than bully the eel while I got the net sunk. I had all night, so let the fish keep on trying to swim backwards on a tight line, gradually pumping it towards me. It's head appeared and it looked decent, but not huge. Possibly another two pounder. With the eel close to the net I had to try and judge where its tail was. Mist was swirling in the light from the Petzl making it difficult to see what was going on. being high above the water puts an awkward angle on the net frame, reducing its effective length and netting fish more difficult than it ought to be. I'm getting my excuses in early..

I had a sense of foreboding the instant I hooked the eel. That's why I was consciously taking my time. Probably why it all went so horribly, horribly Pete Tong. Probably why there were no histrionics when the inevitable happened. Because it had been inevitable.

Flying treble hooks I can understand getting caught in landing net meshes. Singles? I think the mesh mush have been floating because when I came to remove the hook from it it was in the outside, a few inches from the net cord. The eel's head can't have been over the net when it got stuck and wriggled free. Out of habit I recast the bait for a few more minutes while I put the other rod away knowing it was a waste of time. That eel wouldn't be coming back. I felt as flat as my tyre had been on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Another rod in stock (SOLD)

I've finished off the latest build of the 'where did that come from' blanks I have in stock. This one is a green 11ft 1.25lb  Chimera Avon whipped with dark green thread. My all time favourite rod for perch and roach legering.

Not much more to be said than that really. Price on my Rods in Stock page.

As usual you can click the photos for a bigger size.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Disaster strikes

When this eel bug bites I get a little obsessed with it. I'm sure it's the continual frustration of missed runs which gets my stubborn side going. That's why I was back by the water and setting up for another eel session late on Tuesday evening in yet another swim. I'm not sure if swim choice makes much difference on small waters, but trying new spots helps keep me thinking.

Not much thinking was required when it came to choosing baits. Having forgotten my worms it was squid or fish! It took a while for the first run to materialise, to a middle section from a small hybrid. This was, unsurprisingly missed. When the bait was taken again I tried the clamping on the spool before striking trick - and it worked. This wasn't a small eel. When I got it on the surface it looked like a thicker one than the skinny ones of previous sessions too. It was doing a lot of writhing but coming in steadily. I sank the net in anticipation. Then it was gone. The silence of the still night was shattered by one loud word. BASTARD!!

I swung the eel-less rig to hand to see the wire had snapped. Not at the crimp but half way along. The other end of teh wire was wrapped around the eye of the Arlesey bomb's swivel. I can only assume that all the writhing had somehow managed to kink the trace. I've been using nylon covered wire because I thought it might be more kink-resistant than uncoated steel. Oh, well. While I was sorting the rig out the squid was away, and ten minutes later, with both rods back in action the replacement fish bait was taken. Another missed run to the squid and there was a lull.

Around twenty to twelve I missed a couple more runs. After more than an hour of inactivity, as I was considering calling it a night, I started to get twitches to the squid bait. Eventually the twitches turned into a full blooded run and I connected with an eel for the second time in the session. This one also felt decent, but not quite as decent as the one that bust me. It was chunky, but not quite chunky enough. It did manage to make two pounds though. Not a specimen, but the eeling benchmark I set myself on each water. Get a two then try to improve.

With the eel returned, without a photograph as I was now in another mess, the fish having swum around the other line, it was time to sort that mess out. As it was I decided the best plan was to go home and deal with the huge knot of braid in daylight.

Wednesday had me thinking about stepping up my wire. I was about to head for a tackle shop when I thought a delve into the depths of my 'why did I buy that' boxes might be worth a try. Sure enough there was a spool of heavier, stiffer, coated wire among the myriad of swivels, links and assorted rig bits. A trace was crimped up and tested and all seemed fine. A few more were knocked up and stored in grip seal bags in the tackle box.

That done it was time to brave the massive tangle. A closer look at the spool saw that this was the same reel I'd removed some braid from following my last tangle, and by the time the knots were off the spool there was mono backing visible. The knots proved impossible, and the braid looked fairly frayed in that area too. Out with the scissors. Line trimmed back and there seemed to be enough left on the reel to fish with without getting down to the backing.

After tea I was out again. This session I picked a swim I'd seen the night before, mostly because it was quite wide. Having got very low on coarse deads I thought I'd give a sandeel head a go on one rod (I'd forgotten the worms again...) with Bo Squiddley on the other as a banker bait. Sure enough it was less than five minutes after casting Bo out than he was heading for the other side of the lake. Sure enough I managed to miss the run...

What a difference a day makes. Tuesday had been warm with a clear starry sky and no wind. The night light enough and the water still enough to see and hear fish rolling. Wednesday was just as warm but with the willows creaking and swaying wildly under an overcast sky. Too dark and the water too rippled for any surface activity to be visible. It felt promising for eels though.

It was almost an hour before the second run. This time to the sandeel head. Missed, of course, but encouraging that the bait was acceptable to the eels. Not quite another hour had passed before the squid was taken, and the run missed. It was feeling  like a slow night by the standards I'd got used to. Ten minutes more and a run to a sandeel tail, cast well out from the bank, was connected with. This wasn't a super-slim fish, nor was it a fatty. I returned it unweighed - it looked to be between one and two pounds, nearer one.

A couple more missed runs to the squid before twitchy takes started to come to sandeel. These were more like the twitchy takes you get to worms. The bobbin jiggling up and down as line is taken then goes slack in fits and starts. I tried striking one lift without success. Leaving it to develop failed just as miserably. A full night of this frustrating fishing would see me drained and completely unable to function the next day! By midnight I'd had enough. I'd learned something valuable though. Coarse deads aren't essential, and leaving worms in the fridge catches no eels.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Squids in

After reading about someone using sandeel heads for eels on The Pikers Pit, something I'd tried unsuccessfully a few years ago, I thought I'd pick up another packet to save my coarse baits.That's why last Thursday I was rummaging around in my local tackle shop's freezer. The sandeels looked as small and useless as the last time I'd bought some but there were some packets of frozen squid in with them. I knew squid worked for catfish so it had to be worth a try for eels.

Later that day I was settling myself into a swim which had always been occupied on my previous visits to the lake, which looked the part for eels for some reason. The usual pads ringed the margin, with a gap to cast through, but it was a corner swim lined with reeds at one end and a willow overhanging the water.

First out was a perch tail just past the pads to the right, followed by a bunch of dendrobenas further out to the left. It was only eight o'clock so when I had a take to the worms twenty five minutes later it wasn't unexpected. Anything could have been responsible. Twenty minutes later there was another run to the worm rod, and another an hour later. Five minutes after that I hooked what I took to be the culprit and landed a small eel of less than a pound. I use these dendrobenas out of convenience despite feeling that they attract small eels.

Swifts were squealing overhead, the shoal of fry I'd spotted in the shallows as I set up was getting harried by small perch, the day was closing down. Anyway, that small eel was my cue to try the squid. I cut a chunk off the end of one and threaded it onto the hook. When I cast it out the madness began. It took fifteen minutes for the first run to come to that rod. The drop-off dropped, the line ran out, I struck at thin air. I won't list them all but in the next hour the line ran out five more times! The second run resulted in an eel in the net. Not a big one but a first to the squid.

I'd abandoned the drop-offs and switched to fishing straight off the very slack baitrunner with no bobbin. Two runs later I hooked another eel, one which felt and looked bigger than the previous one, but which shed the hook. And so the evening went on. Runs galore. Three times I had both rods out of the water as I either rebaited one or had an eel in the net when the other took off. At one stage I fished squid on both rods but as the squid began to run out I switched to bunches of worms on one rod, which produced two more small eels. By quarter to twelve all the squid was gone and I was knackered!

Friday morning saw me raiding the shop's freezer for squid again, planning to use it on Monday night for a longer session in the dark. Once more I found a swim I'd been eyeing up to be free. Hopes were high, and rose higher when the, by now, inevitable squid bait on the left hand rod, fished out from the pads, was picked up and the baitrunner spun. Four more missed runs to that rod before nine o'clock gave me confidence that I would be on for a repeat performance.

I tightened up the baitrunner to give the eels something to pull, and maybe even hook themselves, against. The next take to that rod was a jerky affair. The line eventually began to run out smoothly and I connected oh so briefly with a fish. Five minutes later it happened again but this time I trapped the spinning spool as I picked the rod up and struck. At last. I felt the weight and writhing of an eel. It was soon on the surface and looked fatter than the skinny ones I'd had on earlier sessions. Alas it wasn't as long. It still managed to be the heaviest, if not quite a two pounder. It was a step in the right direction, even so.

Then, not only did the wide world begin to go to sleep, it seemed like the eels did too. The few runs I got after returning the eel came widely spaced until ten thirty when they dried up altogether. By eleven thirty my confidence had evaporated. The lake was looking fishless too. Maybe if I'd sat it out the eels would have switched on. I'll never know. I do know that I fished my first session on the lake in the next swim and that had been disappointing, my three best sessions so far having come from teh other end of the lake. I know where I'll be setting up next time out.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Night shift

No doubt those fancy Rollover indicators are superb for eel fishing with their infinitely adjustable 'weightlessness' and lack of a line clip. But in reality they look like a mighty faff to set up and extremely disaster prone for a slapdash chuck-it-in-the-quiver kinda guy like me. I likes simple! That's why I persevere with my home made drop-offs with their Gardner line clips which the internet world tells me are pants.

In all the years I have used them they've proved no worse than any other line clip - including the supposedly brilliant Solar clips which a lot of pikers rave about. So brilliant are they I can never set them to anything other than too bloody tight or too flaming slack! They also weigh a ton - which probably helps if you are in the majority who think drop off bobbins have to be heavy to show slack line takes.

I think the trouble I'm having on this lake is that my leads aren't heavy enough because I'm struggling to get the line tight enough to the bobbins, resulting in some slack in the cord which in turn gives the eels some leeway before they feel the (slackly set) clip. Last night I had one or two small twitches which didn't develop. A couple which did develop after I pulled the line free. On one occasion the rod tip pulled down slowly a couple of times before I freed the line. Then again I had a few runs which pulled the line free no trouble and I heard the bobbin smack the pod. I might step up the lead size for my next session. Or I might give the light bobbin on a long drop and slack baitrunner method a try again.

Still, despite the usual eeling tribulations I landed three, the largest again not making two pounds and all three being long and slender. When you catch thin pike it's common to say they 'look like eels', but you can't describe skinny eels that way because they already look like, well, eels!

Despite some light drizzle on and off it was a pleasantly warm evening to be out. When I got back to the car just before midnight the temperature was still 16. No wonder I had a sweat on. Why there are people who don't like night fishing I really can't fathom. It's a great time to be by the water. The world of train, plane and automobile noise is silenced, the sounds of nature can be heard loud and clear. Carp crashing out, leaves rustling as a breeze springs up and owls in the woods. Plant scents become stronger too when the breeze dies down again and the air clears. Once night vision kicks in you really tune in to what's going on.

Then, with a bit of luck, all that is forgotten when there's a high pitched squeal in your breast pocket and the swim takes on a bright red glow as a Delkim becomes active alerting you to the mystery of how fifty pound braid can be whirring off the reel's spool so quickly, and apparently under its own steam, that you can hardly get the bale arm over! It's time to get some more bait sorted out and put in some overnighters I think.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Enough is enough

The blog might have been quiet for a couple of weeks but that's not because I haven't been fishing, it's because the fishing's been rubbish. A couple of tench sessions produced a bream and a couple of roach which lead to depression. This tench water really isn't living up to my hopes for it. A few more fish, no matter what size, might have kept me interested, but the lack of big fish (even to carpers) makes me think the rewards aren't worth the effort required. If the 'nuisance bream' were bigger it would be something to keep me interested. I guess the waters I've travelled further to fish have spoiled me. I needed a change to keep me fishing.

An attempt at catching eel baits resulted in one small perch and no more bites in half an hour causing me to pack up. When I'm bait catching I want it over and done with in short order, so the float has to be dipping every few minutes or I give up.

A second attempt saw bites coming almost immediately and a perch in the bucket when an old codger turned up to watch. Luckily the three fish I hooked while he was stood next to me coughing and spitting were too big for bait. I had to endure his admonitions about using barbed hooks though. I felt like telling him that the barbed hooks would be the least of the fish's worries once they were in my freezer. Then the inevitable happened and a bootlace found the loose fed maggots. This scared the old git away, and once I had a new hooklink attached I was back to putting fish in the bucket. I didn't manage as many as I'd have liked, the just-too-big-for-my-liking fish kept showing up, but I got enough for a starter session. My Big Plan to carry on tenching until the end of June was scrapped and Sunday evening was pencilled in to target eels. The lake ought to be quiet then.

Disaster struck on Saturday when I was 'resting my eyes' listening to the cricket from Headingly. I'd taken my specs off and rested them on one of my knees. I must have nodded off for a few seconds (cough) because I came round and adjusted my posture. Repositioning my feet I heard a crunching sound as if I'd stepped on a snail. Reaching for my specs I found nothing. With trepidation, but knowing what I was going to see through blurry eyes, I lifted my left foot and looked down. One mangled pair of glasses. Although there was no doubt that straightening them would end in only one outcome I did it anyway. Sure enough I ended up with two half-glasses.

I went and found my last pair and tried them on. I could see through them! The only thing was that I'd robbed one of the plastic nose pieces to repair my now-broken pair. This meant I had to try to swap it back - with only one pair of glasses to let me see what I was doing with the tiny, tiny screw that holds it in place. Somehow I managed it. The only saving grace to all this is that on Friday I had booked in for an eye test this coming Tuesday and was going to change my frames in any case. But would I be able to see well enough with my old pair? Once I had readjusted to the frames, the prescription wasn't much different (in fact the optician had said I hadn't needed to change if I didn't want to), I managed okay. I could go eeling.

Once the cricket had finished on Sunday I could wait no longer. Although I had planned to get to the lake around eight I was there by seven to find the car park rammed out and all the pegs I fancied taken. Damn. I picked a second-best swim and took my time setting up. One leger had a long link on it, the other had the bomb straight off the run ring. A small perch was chopped in two and out the baits went. The head was cast just beyond the marginal pads and the tail dropped in closer. With it still being bright I wasn't expecting much for an hour or more.

When the right hand bobbin fell off the tail rod and the braid raced across the water after half an hour I was stunned. It goes without saying that my strike met with no resistance whatsoever! Fifteen minutes later I did it all again. For some reason after another twenty minutes I moved the tail section to the same line as the head and I had barely sat down when it was on the move. This strike connected. The eel was a strange looking thing. Easily long enough to have weighed two and a half pounds or more, with a head to match, but ever so skinny. Not like some I had last summer which were thick at the head and front half of the body but lacking girth lower down, just skinny from right behind the head.

It was an hour before the next missed run to the head section which came back with the 'meat' missing. I'd lip-hooked the head but threaded the tail so when I rebaited I fed the hook through the lips and positioned the hook towards the cut end of the bait. Then I cast it further out than before. Half an hour later it was away. At first the eel felt like a good un. As it came shallower it got less powerful. I thought it might have made two pounds but it didn't quite. It was a better built fish than the first one though. Being an exploratory session I didn't fish into dark.Two more missed runs and one pinched bait saw me packing up at quarter to eleven, all thoughts of tench banished and another bait snatching session being planned.