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!