Saturday, December 31, 2016

Time for a break?

Another frustrating piking blank the other day has just about finished me off. When I fished with Nige Grassby a lot he had a knack of picking a rod up, giving the bait a twitch and getting a take. If that didn't work a pike would grab the deadbait as he wound it slowly back. Whenever I tried that I would twitch the rig into a snag. I certainly don't remember catching any pike doing it. Yet twice last time out I had baits nailed as they got close to the bank. Had the high pressure got them on the lookout for moving targets? The first time the pike didn't do much, and I think it might have dropped the bait. The second time it was definitely moving off with the lamprey head. I still managed to miss it. The bottom hook was free of the bait when I wound it in. Maybe it had been loose when I struck. I'll never know.

I'll also never know how big these fish were. Pikers often console themselves when they miss a take by saying it must have been a jack. Sometimes it will be. But what about those times the bait looks like a chainsaw victim? Long, deep slices across it. Missed takes aren't always from small pike. Big ones can be picky too.

With frost forming on the rods, net, unhooking mat and everything else close to the ground I packed up in the dark. The main reason I'd gone in the first place was to see if putting reflective tape on a float would make fishing into dark easier without resorting to isotopes or starlights. Not using bobbins as well as floats it's hard to detect takes which don't steam off and take line when the float is hard to see. The reason I got the last take was because I was winding the rig in  few yards at a time to keep it visible in the gathering gloom. The tape worked. I didn't really need to put my head torch on full beam to pick the float out. A camera's flash really picked it out for a photo. I'm not sure I'll be bothering again though. However I did notice that when the sun shone on the tape it stood out well against a dark background. So there might be more mileage in the idea.

On that downer I decided against a final piking trip today. Regardless of my lack of success I just don't feel motivated to fish for pike at the moment. Daft as it seems I still find myself wanting to catch eels! With that in mind, a mind currently preoccupied with photography plans, I think I'll give the fishing a break for a while. Possibly until the weather warms up, the days lengthen, and I can face spending a night or two each week under the stars. Although I'm sure I'll start getting withdrawal symptoms long before April.

This lack of enthusiasm might also be a combination of having I've fished myself out this year and rapidly encroaching old age. Certainly during the summer I seemed to be going a lot, and catching regularly. There aren't many pages left in my little Black n' Red notebook either. I'm certainly not feeling as young as I used to...

While the sizes of fish I've caught haven't been huge they have been acceptable to me, especially considering I haven't left the county to catch any of them. Lancashire isn't exactly a Mecca for specimen hunters.
  • Bream - 7-12
  • Carp -21-08
  • Eel - 4-01
  • Roach -1-10
  • Tench - 6-06
  • Pike -18-10
If I do manage a good long break, those eels had better watch out because I'll be after them every chance I get!

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Getting out of the habit of going fishing is all too easy at this time of year when the night arrives early. These last couple of months I have been as busy with rod building as I can remember. Many's the day when I haven't got everything done in time to snatch a pike session. An hour of daylight isn't much of a window.

Things had got so bad that I was beginning to think that I'd lost all interest in fishing and that the best part of three hundred quid I'd paid out the other week for a syndicate was money down the drain. Today changed all that pessimism. I got up early and had everything I could do done before eleven thirty. The frozen Christmas lunch (pizza) was 'waved and I was on my way. What better than knowing the lake would be deserted and the weather so much more pleasurable than last year when it rained cold rain. Today I didn't even need the bunny suit it was that warm. The wind was pretty strong but from the south meaning that it would be easy to keep out of. There was a threat of rain on dark, so I took the brolly and my waterproofs.

Sure enough, there was nobody else daft enough to be fishing on Christmas Day. After a bit of a wander I decided to fish an area I don't give much attention. The first swim I passed looked tempting enough, so I dropped in to it for an hour. One bait in the left margin, one to my right where there were still decaying remnants of lily pads on the surface, and the third out as far as I could chuck it.

A flock of fieldfares, very flighty birds, kept alternately wheeling around in the wind and perching high on the hawthorns. The sun broke through and all was right with the world.

An hour was enough in that swim. It didn't feel right. The next swim was another I've had no pike success in, but plenty of eel action during the warmer months. Again the baits were spread out with two close and one far. After ten minutes I wasn't happy with the far bait's position and recast it a bit further. Tucked behind a tall stand of reeds the wind chill was nil. Now the clouds had close over and there looked to be rain out to the west. Maybe the wind would keep the wet at bay. I looked up and the far float was laying flat,  the line hanging slack. Holding the rod the float didn't seem to be moving. I wound down anyway and felt a weight, briefly, before the bare hooks came back. Damn. On with the other half of the bluey and try again.

For some reason I felt sure I'd get another chance in this swim. I resisted the urge to move. At four the right hand close range rod lurched in the rest. Once more the float just bobbed on the waves. There was nothing there when I wound down, and the bait was unmarked. Liner? I'll never know.

The sun began to set and the light to fail. there was an avian commotion high behind me. I turned to see a sparrowhawk making off with its Christmas dinner. It looked like there'd be one less fieldfare roosting in the flock tonight.

With the light all but gone from the sky I had to call it a day. Despite ending the day pikeless it had been good to recharge the fishing batteries, though. Sunset will be noticeably later in a week and soon it'll be easier to get those late afternoon sessions in. By the time spring is here and the eels have woken up that syndicate money won't have been wasted after all.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Icy margins

Mostly thanks to non-arrival of materials I had time to wet a line on Sunday. I waited until the frost had cleared and my lunch had settled before venturing forth into a bright, sunny and reasonably warm (in the bunny suit) afternoon. The frost must have been a hard one over the two previous nights as there was a covering of ice in one corner. I had a walk around to see if there was ice elsewhere and a swim I don't usually fancy took my eye. I returned to it with the gear and plopped three deadbaits around it. It has to be said that the main attraction of the swim was being in the sun and sheltered from the light, slightly from the east, wind!

The low sun was causing a bit of a problem by not only being directly in my face, but reflecting off the water right where I had cast the bluey head. I couldn't see my float. I could see the line and if that had gone slack I'd have spotted it. A straight run would have sounded the alarm. I wriggled free of the top of my bunny suit and tied the arms around my waist to cool off. Then I sat back and soaked up the sunshine. It wasn't long before a very friendly robin came to see me hoping to be thrown something edible but I had nothing to offer it.

The sun moves quickly across the sky as we get close to the winter solstice and I was soon able to see the furthest float, not moving. An hour of inactivity and my feet were itching. Time for a move. The bunny suit was put back on properly and the gear transferred to a swim I have caught from before. Here the sun was to my left, making all floats easy to see.

Quite what inspired (?) me to make the Lumbbell Float on the left I really don't know. I don't think it offers much, if any, advantage over a piece of balsa wood! It was easy to make and it performed as hoped. Not in anger, unfortunately. It was highly visible, and when the line was made slack the lower polyball did pop to the surface to show the line was slack. Without that the float wouldn't have appeared any different if a fish moved towards the rod. I doubt I'll persevere with the concept.

Shortly after settling into the swim a fish had moved the reeds to my right in a manner suggestive of a small pike striking at prey. Half an hour later it happened again. This time the nearby float fell over too. Had the pike which had picked up my lamprey head spooked a jack? I don't know but I do know the float began to move off and the pike I connected with stayed deep.

After some head thrashing, when it was apparent there was a free flying treble, I bustled the pike over the net and lifted. It looked like it would require the scales so I pinned the net down with the bankstick the rod had been propped up on while I got everything sorted out. On the mat my first job was to get the flying hook out of the mesh, by which time the other hook had come free and all I had to do was pull the bait out to finish the unhooking. I noticed just a few leeches on the pike's plumping up belly. Into the sling, a quick lift on the scales and back to the water.

By now the heat was gone from the sun requiring me to zip up the bunny suit and don the woolly hat. It wasn't long before the water on the mat was turning solid and slippy. One more move before dark.

This time I was tucked up between some high reeds and watched as a small flock of long tailed tits foraged before going to roost. Water rails sharmed on the far bank and numbers of fieldfare flew around in a seemingly random manner as the western horizon turned magenta.

A mere handful of starlings flew in and straight down to the reeds without any preliminary circling. In the dying light a sparrowhawk glided across the lake as it often does at this hour. Perhaps to take advantage of birds beginning to roost.

This time there had been a lot more bird activity, on and off the water, than my previous two trips. Coots and moorhens were in evidence, and the mallard were back in numbers. With one pike caught I felt there was a chance right until the light had gone, but it was not to be.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The pattern continues

It's carried on being a case of all work and no play. With not as much work getting done as I'd like thanks to the continuing non-arrival of blanks and fittings. The law of sod dictates that the stuff I need most pressingly is the stuff which fails to arrive. You'd imagine that item A ordered before item B would arrive first. Not in the world of fishing tackle. Thankfully the weather has turned unsettled so slaving away at the work I can get on with hasn't been too frustrating. but when Tuesday turned mild, dry and sunny I headed out with the pike rods.

This time I ditched one of my set ups that I was playing around with and replaced it in the quiver with the tried and trusted float leger rig on a P-5. After clearing out the bait drawers in my freezer I discovered that I wasn't as well stocked with fresh baits as I'd thought. I still had enough to allow for a variety to be used, lamprey, herring and bluey as it turned out. I'll have to top up soon though.

Conditions seemed pretty reasonable despite the sunshine, but the first swim I tried failed to produce in the hour I fished it, moving baits around too. The second swim gave me access to a few decent spots and the baits were duly scattered around them. As there was scope for recasting to different areas I decided to stick it until dark in the swim.

With less than an hour to go a recently recast bait, the lamprey head, was picked up and a very twitchy take ensued. This was to the 11ft 3lb Torrix. Not the most powerful rod in the world. Even so it failed to take on a bend of any description when I connected with the bait nibbler. The reason was obvious when a pike of about one pound came to the surface. With just one point of the end treble right at the tip of its snout I managed to shake the fish off in the edge! I hoped that was the start of something of a feeding spell. I should have known better. When the micro-pike are out and about it usually means the big ones are lying low. There ended the session.

Rod fittings that I use on a regular basis are the ones that are scarce, which means that anything I don't use many of turn up without any problem. Among them recently have been an Alps reel seat. I understand that they look nice, but for someone such as me who likes to use practical fishing rods they are like stepping back 30 years.



Fuji's composite reel seats were hailed as a great leap forward when they were introduced, among other reasons for being lighter than metal seats, and also for being warmer to the touch in cold weather. Win win, as the saying goes.

I'll give the Alps seats one thing. It's fun spinning the locking nuts up and down the threads. Kind of like playing with an executive toy!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Plodding slowly along

Since the clocks went back getting value for money on a day ticket water means getting there before lunch if you're a cheapskate like me. Certainly before noon to get a decent session in. That's why, on the one day I've had any free afternoon time,  I went piking.

The plan was as cunning as usual. fish where I'd had the dropped runs last time out. With just three hours or so available I opted to break my golden rule of moving every hour, and stick it out in one spot.

Despite the failures of last time I stuck with the same rods and reels, and fishing off the baitrunner. It was one of those afternoons when the usually prolific bird life on the water was notable for it's absence. Just a couple of moorhens spotted hugging the reeds and three noisy water rails heard. No ducks, not a coot to be seen. The kingfisher was about but noisily agitated flying from high perch to high perch without resting anywhere for long. I wasn't confident of any pike action.

It was about four when the starlings appeared. Maybe because I was in their roost this time, or maybe not, they circled and swirled in slightly greater numbers than previously before sliding down into the reeds like the sand pouring in an hourglass.

 The light was fading fast and it was also growing decidedly chilly. The morning before I woke to teh first frost of winter and temperatures were set to stay low.

Baits had been repositioned an hour before knocking-off time. When that came I got up off my chair and immediately heard the sounder bleep a couple or three times. Something had picked up the bait on the rod I'm trying out. When I got to it there was no line being taken, but it felt slack. I wound down and there was certainly something there. A four pound test curve isn't my first choice for fishing at close to medium range, but it had to be done. The rod took on a slight bend in the tip section!

It wasnt a big fish, not even making nine pounds when I weighed the skinny thing, but after swimming over the net of its own accord, it swam back out again before I could lift the frame. It didn't get a second chance though. That was my lot and with my nose dripping from the cold I walked back to the car.

When I can''t get out fishing, despite itching to, I get GAS like a lot of other anglers. Shopping isn't a sensible therapy for cabin fever, but it's unavoidable in the internet age when 'researching' products is so simple. Even with all the information out there I still couldn't manage to find any reliable comparisons of the size of the three largest OC Baitrunners. Asking on The Pikers Pit I came to the conclusion that the 6000OC and 8000OC are pretty much the same reel apart from the 8000 having a deeper spool. Give or take a few millimetres on the spool diameter. Wanting (rather than needing, in all likelihood) a bigger baitrunner than the 6000OC which isn't the XT-A LC medium I took a chance on ordering just one 12000OC. I'd read some comments that made it sound massive and heavy.

The reel arrived at my friendly tackle dealer on Friday. With Saturday poultry day I wouldn't get a chance to use it, but I did get it spooled up with 20lb mono. Then I went to put it on the prototype rod. When I threw the rod together I put a locking collar on the reel seat. It seemed like it might be a nice feature to have on a rod that I intend to use for catfish next year. The lock nut certainly makes the reel secure. However, it also made it impossible to back the rear hood off far enough to get the foot of the 12000OC in! I had to screw the nut over the rear Duplon. A good job I'd fitted a very slim one.

Eventually the reel was in place, the line threaded trhough the rings and the rig tied on. Out in teh garden and hook the end treble in my rod testing loop in the side door of the garage. All seems to balance nicely and the clutch is just as good as I expected. One thing I do like is that the anti-reverse lever is bigger and more prominent than on the XTA. Although I use the drag more than I used to these days, and for catfish I'll not be backwinding (been there and rapped my knuckles) I do like to knock the anti-reverse off when netting fish. On the XTAs that's been a fiddle to do.

I'd been a little concerned that the 12000OC might have a stupidly large handle knob. Luckily it didn't. The grip is the same style as on the 6000 and the XTA - just considerably larger. Perfect.

The spool diameter is very similar to that of the medium XTA. donning my anorak and getting the callipers out I measured the back of those two spools at 67mm each, the 12000 is the same at the front while the XTA is narrower at 63mm. Where they differ is in the length, the 12000 being just 24.5mm with the XTA being 32.5mm. Given the much nicer line lay on the XTA combined with the spool length that should be the better casting reel. In practice I doubt it will affect me. Not when casting livebaits at any rate.

L to R - 6000OC, 12000OC, XTA LC medium

I haven't compared the weights of the reels because the 12000OC doesn't' feel unduly heavy. Not when it's going to be sitting on a rod rest most of the time. What it does feel is more robust than the XTA, in the same way the 6000OC feels more robust than my Aero Baitrunners. The OCs are proper predator reels while the XTA and Aeros are OK for carping - you know, for not catching much and being mollycoddled!

R to L - 6000OC, 12000OC, XTA LC medium
The above is not a review, more a comparison and first thoughts. As my 6000OCs have been a great acquisition I'm fairly confident that the 12000OC (and it's two pals I have on order) will prove equally reliable.

Having said all this I will admit to liking the XTAs. Just as I like the 11ft 3lb Torrixes they've been on all summer. They make a great combination. Having given up chasing carp I'm not sure what to do with them now. The rods are good for eeling (although I like using ten footers for short session) but I'd rather have smaller reels on them for that. One might become a marker reel and the other two sold on. I do know that it had been a toss up between OCs and XTAs earlier in the year and the XTAs won because I knew how big they were. Wish I'd gone for the 12000s now. D'oh!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Stood up again

Just a couple of afternoon sessions squeezed in since my last post. The first was after pike, where I immediately put the mockers on any chance of success by trying out the new rod and using my non-piking reels. The baitrunners on my 6000OCs can be set really slack, a little too slack at their lightest. The same feature on my medium baitrunners isn't as sensitive. I still thought I'd try them for fishing off the 'runner. Whether that account for me having a dropped take I can't say for sure because when I switched to using a drop-off on the same rod I got another dropped take. I never get dropped takes!

The sunset was nice and autumnal, pinkfoots flying west and a barn owl hunting over the scrubby horse field added to the seasonal feel.

The second session was another attempt to make a date with Nicola. I refuse to call a sturgeon anything else! This time I remembered to put her favourite food in the bag. Not that it did me any good. Although warm it was another afternoon redolent of autumn. A robin sang from the leafless pollarded willows behind me, occasionally to the accompaniment of a pair of chittering blue tits. Once more pinkfoots flew west, and the first flock of fieldfares flew past high and heading towards a wood.

I thought I'd try a different bait on the second rod. A bunch of dendrobenas on a maggot clip, to overcome the silly barbless hoook rule, seemed to be worth a try. Alas all it did was attract the attentions of small fish which pulled at the worms until they were all gone. I swapped to a wafter on that rod. As last time it produced a positive take from a daft carp. I hadn't even put out any free offerings! another small double it bent the stalking rod round well, but not for long. And that was my lot.

I'm not sure I can take much more of the hunt for Nicola. One target fish in a small pond stuffed with carp is going to prove frustrating I think. It''s like buying an expensive lottery ticket every time I fish! The carp don't run very big, and carp always leave me feeling let down when I land them. They just don't do anything for me. Still, it's a challenge of sorts.

Friday, October 07, 2016

October first

I've never recognised the 'traditional' pike season. Probably because it has never applied in these parts. Even less have I felt the need to restrict my use of natural baits to the colder months. That said, the water I've been doing most of my piking on these last few years has never seemed to respond well until November. And even then the pike have sometimes been a bit lean and manky looking. No longer being an out and out pike angler I've found some other species to occupy me until I've thought the pike would be back in good nick. But this week I couldn't think of anything to fish for. I still have my eel head on really, but I didn't fancy my chances of catching many. So, as worked had pissed me right off I thought I'd set some rods up to mess about with.

I want to try my 3lb Torrixes for piking. Not that I think they'll be any better than my P-5s, I just want play around with them. I also want to try some mono out on a fish bigger than an eel for using next year if I venture to any catfish waters where braid is prohibited. So far the line seems OK, but a prolonged period of use pike should test it to my satisfaction - or otherwise. I ended up with one P-5 rod still rigged with braid, one Torrix rigged to leger a pike bait, and the other Torrix still rigged for eeling. Well, it's still quite warm and an eel bait might get snaffled at dusk.

When I arrived at the pit it was that warm after a damp and chilly morning that I almost wished I'd brought three rods rigged for eels. After a wander around failing to find inspiration I got the tackle from the car and didn't walk too far. Before I had a bait in the water the drizzle returned. By the time I got to the car to collect my brolly the drizzle had stopped. I took the brolly back to my swim nonetheless.

There was hardly a breath of wind for a change and the bunny suit hardly necessary. In fact I was almost working up a sweat by the time I had three baits scattered around the swim. I'd only taken a pike pack out of the freezer and some eel baits. The eel rod was cast to a spot I'd had eel action from over the last few weeks, a headless joey mackerel was whacked out a reasonable distance on a leger and a large herring tail plopped in the margin on a float leger.

I sat down and got the stuff out to make up some spare traces, only to be thwarted by having only enough wire to make one. That first session is always a good one for finding out what needs replenishing in the tackle box. A mental note was made. And the empty spool put somewhere I couldn't fail to notice it as a further reminded.

The law of sod being what it is my hopes of testing out the mono and the Torrixes came to nought when after a mere thirty minutes the float dipped and set off to my right, the braid running over the Delkim causing it to make a slow warbling noise from the sounder box.

Two turns of the reel handle and the P-5 was buckled right over. The fight was short but spirited, including a gill flaring leap right at the net before the pike was slid into its mesh where I left it as I spread out the mat and zeroed the scales with the sling. The pike was in good condition. Not fat, but chunky looking. Well capable of putting on two or three pounds more before spring.

Although the hooks came free without a problem, a short thrash saw my knuckles grazed. It continues to amaze me how much blood flows from what are really quite superficial wounds when that happens. The pike swam off as if it couldn't give a toss about my bloodied hand!

The usual chaos hadn't been created by the landing of a fish and I was soon delving in the pike pack to chop the herring I'd seen in it in two. Except when I got the thing out it wasn't a small herring but a big sardine. My least favourite deadbait. At least it was big enough to chop in half and the head section was impaled and dropped in the margin.

I hadn't really expected to catch anything so the lack of any further runs didn't surprise or disappoint me. It had crossed my mind to pack up after returning the pike but I hung on in case any eels were feeding. They weren't.

Now I'm even more undecided than usual as to what to fish for. It was mild enough to feel reasonably confident having another try for an eel or two. Then again the pike are clearly feeding - a float angler had hooked one that grabbed one of his roach in another swim. I could have an early session after roach. Or I could drag myself to the river before the leaves make it painful to fish. It was so much easier when I only fished for pike!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Anyone seen my marbles?

After failing to take my brolly with me on Sunday evening's eel session, even though I knew it was going to rain a bit, I discovered my overtrousers aren't as waterproof as they used to be. The eels didn't like the rain much and apart from one stealing one of my baits I was untroubled by them. The chill in the wind and the miserableness of sitting in the rain decided me to give up on eel fishing for this year. That left me in a bit of a state of limbo. It still didn't feel right to go piking, not anywhere close to home and I can't be bothered travelling, so what to fish for?

That wasn't a decision I had to make for a few days because the evil of work prevented me even having the time to get in an evening session until Thursday. Remaining undecided it wasn't until Friday afternoon that I snapped and put the gear in the car to have my first try for the almost-tame sturgeon.  I'd had a look at the palce a few weeks ago, tackle in the car, and got as far as putting the banksticks in before I realised my reels were loaded with the forbidden braided mainline. I managed to avoid paying for a ticket in the few minutes before I left in embarrassment, so it wasn't all bad.

Last minute sessions fishing for something different are always likely to result in something being left behind. I could have sworn I put the tub of sturgeon bait in my Multi-Mat, just like I could have sworn I put a stick of Pepperami in it a week or so back. The Pepperami disappeared into thin air and it looked like the sturgeon bait had too when I came to stick it on my second rod.

I'd arrived around two pm to find three carp anglers blanking away as I walked round the tiny pond. Previously you could have driven round the perimeter of the pond, but after recent rain it looked a bit dicey. I picked a swim as far from anyone else as I could and with firm ground behind it. Everywhere looked as unlikely or likely as everywhere else so I wasn't too fussed about swim selection. This time the eel rods had mono on the reels. All I had to do was tie up a couple of hooklinks to comply with the maximum size 8 barbless hook rule and I'd be in business. The bailiff came round before I had the first rig tied and I handed over the cash.

As I'd taken my eel/catfish tackle box the best I could manage for the hooklinks was 80lb kevlar braid. This proved to be a struggle to get through the eyes of the hooks. But I managed it. The simple plan for this first session was a wafter on one rod and sturgeon bait on the other. While I was rerigging the rods I spotted some bubbling to my left and it seemed as good a place as any to swing out the wafter with its attendant bag of pellets. Then I tied up the other rig and that was when I discovered my bait was missing. Everything came out of the back of the Zafira but still no sign of it. Arse. If I hadn't paid for my ticket I'd have done another runner! Plan B. Fish for c*rp with both rods on the off chance the mug I was after would make a mistake. I had some 16mm pellets in the pellet tub so I chucked one of those out.

There was a definite autumnal feel to the day. The leaves on the distant trees were shades of umber and terre vert, pheasants were scurrying into the maize and a migrant hawker was on the wing. Despite the sun a cool wind was scudding the fluffy white clouds across the cerulean sky and making it cool enough for me to need my fleece.

I'd not been there long when two more vehicles arrived and the anglers walked round the pond. When they got back to their swims it was obvious they were on for at least one night. I'm not sure if I was amused or annoyed by their behaviour. Amused I guess. First the carp cradle was erected, then the chairs, followed by the bivvy, and finally the ritual hammering in of banksticks. It was while watching these antics that another patch of bubbles spread across the surface right where my wafter had landed. Minutes later the alarm sounded and I found myself with the ten footer bent into a carp. It didn't get the chance to take any line and despite pulling a bit was soon in the net where I left it while I got the scales and zeroed them.

Net onto mat, fish into sling, sling hoisted and scales read, fish slipped back. All nice and simple. I only weighed the thing because I'm crap at guessing carp weights and I thought it looked a double, which it was. Rebait, recast, consider packing up. Less than an hour's fishing didn't seem like good value for how much I'd paid and what I'd caught, so I thought I'd stick it until five. Around half three I started watching a chap on another pond playing a fish on the pole. At four thirty I saw him net it. What a lot of fuss to land what looked like a not very big carp.

It was about this time another carper arrived and set up his massive overnight erection two swims away from me. I departed shortly afterwards. Note to self: avoid Friday afternoons here.

Despite the obvious drawbacks of other anglers on a tiny pond I'll be back a few more times when I'm bored. I saw some interesting signs which might lead to something unexpected. But will probably lead to more pesky carps. No matter what happens, I'll be double, and triple, checking that I have everything I need wherever I fish and whatever I fish for next time out!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Equinoctical eels

Short sessions when not much happens aren't really worth writing about on their own. especially when there aren't even pretty sunsets to photograph. With the weather still staying dry of an evening, unlike earlier in the year when it seemed to be dry all day and start raining as soon as I felt like getting the tackle ready, I've squeezed in three short eel sessions this week, with mixed results.

The first session, on Tuesday, saw me have a move from the area which had been producing on teh grounds that the law of diminishing returns might start to apply. The swim I chose has lots going for it with overhanging trees and lily pads. It was a quiet evening with sunshine but hardly a ripple. To the right of the pads fry kept scattering as what I took to be perch attacked them. If one predatory species was feeding the eels might too. With darkness around eight fifteen I thought to myself that half an hour before that would bring me some action. No sooner had I thought it than it did. The deadbait by the pads was taken and an eel that didn't make two pounds, but was over a pound and a half, was soon returned.

Since adding buoyancy to my lead links the swivels haven'[t been getting clogged with silkweed. I don't think this has affected the eels when they take the bait, but it saves me cleaning the stuff off my rigs. Two more takes, both inexplicably missed, to the replacement bait cast back to the pads and it was time to head for home.

Thinking that it was worth continuing with the eel fishing I considered doing an overnighter on Bleatmere on Thursday but settled for fishing until eleven. I tried to get there in good time so I could play around with some rig ideas, but that didn't pan out. Darkness is falling earlier and earlier each night now and I timed it wrong. The baits were out by six fifteen, though. It was settling down to be a pleasant night. Or it would have had the wind not been blowing in my face cooling me down. The eels weren't bothered though.

It was still broad daylight when the first run came to a roach tail fished at the foot of the marginal shelf. Then all went quiet for an hour when the suspended worm, which I was fishing close in over a lacing of dead maggots, was taken. The resulting eel was one of the smallest I've caught this year. With the light gone and the geese making so much noise I had to turn my radio off as I couldn't hear it, the frustration began. endless nibblings of worms producing nothing. Whereas on the other water this kind of frustration has been replaced by a lack of action Bleatmere still seems to hold lots of bootlaces and straps.

After two hours of up and down to rebait and recast the worm rod (you can't chance leaving a bait unchecked after a couple of bleeps on the alarm or you'll sit there with no bait on the hook for hours) another, even smaller, eel was landed. Although most of the takes were to the worm, often immediately after a recast or a top up of the maggots, I did have a couple of short, abortive runs to the roach and squid baits.

Friday and Saturday evenings saw me doing the last couple of hours thing again in an attempt to catch something bigger. I managed to avoid small eels, but this was by avoiding eels all together. The first session was another windy one where I chose a swim with no shelter. I'd gone armed with a fiendish plan. Not only did I have more dead maggots, but I had some pellets with me to fish in a mesh bag on one of the baits. The plan fell down when I opened up the PVA mesh bag loader to find there was no PVA mesh in it. I scattered loose pellets over the marginal bait instead. Other than a couple of chomped worms, action was there none. Maybe I shouldn't have fished the opposite end of the lake to the one I'd been catching from? Undeterred I was back the following evening, which was warmer but still windy. This time I made sure I was sheltered. It made no difference. Not a twitch was had.

A lot of the swims I fish these days have been 'improved' by packing with stone chippings. Fine if you sit on a seatbox/platform thing or use a rod pod, but I like to have some room between my rods and angle them down the line. This has lead to me snapping the tips off a couple of my solid point banksticks as I tried to wiggle them through the stones. One evening I was reduced to using my worm bucket as a back rest. This lead me to looking around at a way to make a simple rest that could be stood on the stones, or any other hard, flat surface, to prop the rod butt up. In most swims I can manage to get a front rest into the lake bed beyond the swim so only need to support the rod butt. I know it's fashionable to manage without a back rest in some circles, and I have been known to do it myself, but it's not always appropriate in my experience.

I looked at various tackle shop options, tried cobbling something together with bits of old bankstick and cable ties, then had a Eureka moment. I'd bought a table-top lighting stand for doing product photographs. All it needed was a rod rest head and it might do the job.

Good old gaffer tape to the rescue and I tried it out on Saturday. It did the job! I wouldn't recommend the stand for fishing locked up, with a gripping back rest, or with a tight baitrunner - it's not heavy and I could imagine it and/or the rod entering the lake! But for open bale or slack baitrunner use it'll be fine. At full extension it will also serve as a single front support. All I need to do now is modify the top to take a standard rod rest head thread and give it a proper trial. Less than nine quid, I bet they'd be nearer £20 if branded for carp fishing!

This bright idea might fail. The fittings might rust and the whole thing seize up or some other unexpected catastrophe occur. In which case I'll have to start taking three buckets with me...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Last knockings

Despite the temperatures remaining high there's an obvious change in the seasons going on. It feels like high summer, hot days and sultry evenings going into dark. But that dark is arriving earlier and earlier every day. On Saturday sunset was around twenty to eight, tonight it was not quite twenty five past seven. All this means is that for my last couple of hour eel sessions I'm having to set out sooner and sooner. The eels don't seem to care and are still feeding.

Saturday's session was one of frustration caused by pinched baits. How they get the baits off the hooks when I have a piece of cycle inner tube holding them on is beyond me. But they manage it some how. even so, getting a few takes made me keen to get back, but events conspired against me until Wednesday. Sunday I was pratting about editing photographs, Monday was scuppered by work and Tuesday the rain put me off.

I'm not sure why I fished a different swim when I did return. It was close to where I'd had the baits stolen, but allowed me to cover more water. Seeing s the fishy bait had got more attention than the worms on Saturday it was one worm, suspended, and two legered deads. The Archers had not long finished, with plenty of daylight left, when I got a positive run to the right hand deadbait rod. The strike connected and an eel was netted, unhooked, weighed and released. Not a big fish but not a bootlace either.

At ten to eight I had a run that stopped, and after a pause I wound in a bare hook. Again. With the moon on the rise and almost full I wondered if the bootlaces were active. A very twitchy set of goings on to the worm rod, which also revealed a bare hook when the activity stopped and I was sure it was tiny eels on the prowl.

It was when I began to pack up that the fun began. Dropped runs to the deadbaits and one to the worm all in the space of a few minutes. Hearing some line come off the reel as I picked the last rod up to lay on the ground as I put the sticks away I thought it was just me moving the rod. The line kept going when I let go of the rod. The strike met with thin air!

landing just the one eel I felt the same swim might be worth another try this evening. There was still plenty of water that hadn't seen a bait, so I tried to cover that. Once more action started early. It was only ten past seven when the bait cast out the furthest got molested. A series of tiny twitches and short pulls that came to nought. Apart from an eel getting a free meal. Twenty minutes later there was a repeat performance.

Half an hour later the same rod was giving me the pinched bait treatment. Fifteen minutes after that I hooked an eel to a bait in the same spot. It looked and felt about the same size as the one from the previous session, but I'll never know for sure. It fell off at the net. At least it gave me confidence that it wasn't tiny eels annoying me. After rebaiting the hook I cast the bait slightly closer in. Rightly or wrongly I didn't want it back in the same spot I'd hooked and lost an eel from.

It proved to be a good move as the bait was quickly taken and a positive run ensued. And I connected with the culprit. This one unhooked itself in the net and proved to be a bit bigger than the one from the evening before. Then it was time to leave.

Tomorrow is looking doubtful for a session as I'm off to the PAC Convention in Kettering early on Saturday morning, which rules out Saturday evening too. Looking at the forecast the hot spell is starting to cool down. With a bit of luck there might still be eels on the feed for another week or two though, although it's getting towards the end of eel season for me. But maybe it's the time for a biggun?

Friday, September 09, 2016

Surpise, surprise... Surprise.

You'd imagine I'd have learned by now that one new item of tackle is the kiss of death for a session, so a multitude of new items and new rigs will be apocalyptic. Although it is getting late in the year Wednesday night was forecast to be hot so a trip to Yosemite Lodge to play with my catfish hooks and some other gear was in order. After catching a supply of livebaits I stuck two out, one on a pop up leger rig the other on my slightly modified dumbell rig. The third rod started out with three 16mm halibut pellets on a running leger.

All I've done to the dumbell is fit different sized polyballs. The idea being to prevent the bait pulling the one closest to the lead under as it swims away. It works, to a degree, although I doubt it matters. All rigs were fishing the Varivas Chinu hooks in various sizes. New hooks must be the most certain jinx of all. Or maybe not.

New rods usually mean a string of fruitless trips. If only one rod out of three is new than that's the one that won't get a take in ages. As it turned out the rod I was hoping to put a bend in did get a take. But it was dropped. The legered livebait had been savaged during the night. What I'd imagined were bleeps caused by the bait getting agitated must have been a dropped take.

As it got dark I gave up on the pellets and set up a suspended worm rig. This was using a more catfish oriented hooklink to present a bigger bait than one or two lobs for eels. Unfortunately my lobworms had pegged out. One or two had some life in them but the majority were limp. Thankfully not turned stinky, so I shoved a good bunch on the maggot clip and cast the rig out.

Twice during the night, which was so warm I didn't need a fleece until morning when the wind and rain arrived in the morning,  the worms got attacked by something. The short lifts of the bobbin suggested that something small might be nibbling at the worms. Roach or perch, perhaps. But both times the twitches turned into slow steady runs. Which I missed. Both times the worms were gone. I was reduced to using dendrobenas. As many as I could cram on the maggot clip and more on the hook itself.

This got almost immediate attention. The twitches followed by slow runs and missed strikes continued into daylight. I was beginning to wonder if tiny kittens were the culprits when, at five to eight, I got a surprise when my strike met sold resistance. Whatever it was didn't fancy coming my way and a tug of war ensued. This didn't feel like a kitten. After a few yards it didn't feel like a cat either. That side to side head shaking suggested eel. This was confirmed when a big head broke surface. Amazingly the fish went in the net first time.

All became clear. Although it was a big (for me) eel most of the worms being on a hair rigged clip had probably prevented it engulfing the lot as I'm sure a catfish would have. The small barb on the Chinu made getting the hook out easy. Much easier than holding the darned thing for a trophy shot. Hence the photo below!

With that mystery answered I reverted to the pellets. Once more I got a surprise when they steamed off at a rate of knots. And another when the culprit turned out to be a carp of about seven pounds! Sod that. Time to try squid. My experience of using squid as bait for eels got me thinking of ways to mount bigger pieces for catfish. Another of my ideas was put into practice. The hair goes through the bait towards the head end, a Fox 'Pellet Peg' acting as the stop. The hook isn't nicked into the bait at all. To streamline things for the cast the hooklink is half-hitched around the tapering part of the squid. In the photo below one half-hitch is used, but this was just my starting point. There's more experimenting to be done with hook positions if I start using the bait more in the future.

Both the previous fish had come close in where I'd baited with trout pellets so I cast the squid well out away from the feed. I had a funny feeling that I should have fished the windward bank instead of getting the wind behind me. Then again, when the wind picked up and drove the rain it would have been a touch unpleasant with it in my face. Thankfully the forecasters were on the ball and by tennish the sun was shining and drying things out nicely. Even the wind was warmer.

When the alarm sounded once more and the spool on the squid rod was spinning at an alarming rate I knew it had to be a cat. Wrong. A silly little carp had decided to try a squiddy snack. That was the final straw. Although I cast another bait out it was time to draw a line under the session before I caught any more carp. As it turned out my timing was good. I had barely got in the car when the rain returned.

Three fish landed. None of my target species and all three to the one rod that didn't have new line on the reel and the one which was my least preferred of the three to use for catfishing. The Chinu hooks look like they might suit me, at least in sizes larger than a 2, but the rod and mainline I wanted to evaluate didn't get a testing. The suspended worm rig worked again  for the eel... It looks like it'll be a good long while before I try it for cats again, and that eel has knocked another target for the year off my to-catch list. So I'm back to being stuck for inspiration. Or am I?

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Size matters

What is it with hook sizes? The bane of my life these days is finding hooks of a pattern and size to do what I want. If tackle shops stocked a wider range of hooks it would be easy to pop in, look at what there was and select the exact hook I want. But they don't. That means ordering on-line. In turn that puts me at the whim of the hook manufacturers' sizing strategies.

I recently came a cross a commercial which has something in it I'd quite like to catch which has a maximum size 8, barbless, rule. So I ordered some size 8 barbless hooks, sight unseen, and when they arrived they turned out to be smaller than the size tens I use - more like a twelve. This was unusual because I get the feeling that hooks intended for use on commercial fisheries are larger for their stated size these days than hooks used to be in order to get round these daft rules.

It's been no better in my quest for catfish hooks. This search has been continuing among the sea fishing sections of various websites. I've bought hooks marketed for catfishing and been less than impressed. Some have been more like shark hooks in the wire gauge. In my limited experience of catching catfish they are a bit like barbel in that when a hook goes in it stays in, and if a hook goes in to the bend it's unlikely to open out. The same with pike and anything else really, there's no great need for extra thick wire. Thick enough, but not so thick as to make penetration difficult. Another pet hate of mine is rank barbs.

As the top photo shows I have got hold of a few patterns of hook to compare. The Eagle Wave (A below) and Penetrator  (E) are proven catfish hooks, although I'm not keen on the look of them! The others are sea fishing hooks. The Mustad 'Big Gun' (C) was bought years ago to tie pike flies on, but was too heavy. It looks almost perfect in shape and wire strength. The Tronix 'Big Dog' (B) is very similar but a little finer in the wire and with a neater barb. The Varivas 'Chinu' (D) has the perfect wire gauge and a neat barb, and is available in a wide range of sizes from 3/0 to 8 - whatever that will be like when I get some delivered! When it comes to ordering the sizing again becomes a lottery. The hooks below are sized: A - 1,  B - 1/0, C - 2, D- 1/0,  E - 1/0. It's nice that the sea hooks are a lot cheaper than those marketed for catfishing. Surprising, because when you do some internet digging it becomes apparent where the catfish hooks come from, and that their original purpose was sea fishing.

Of course price shouldn't be a major consideration when it comes to hooks. The hook and the line are the most important items of tackle which demand ultimate reliability. But those traces of Scots and Yorkshire blood in my veins mean I can't see any good reason to pay a fiver for a packet of hooks when two or three quid will get me some that do exactly the same job. If the Tronix hooks are up to the job they're only a pound for ten!

I'm also looking out for hooks to use for eels. I slipped up recently when I sold off the last of my stocks of Owner single hooks, only to discover that a couple of patterns were useful for eels. The C5-X makes a good worm hook for eels in an eight, and the size 1 C-4 might be handy for boilies or worms for catfish.

While involved in my hook odyssey I've come across some interesting monos and braids for hooklinks and mainline for various species. I hadn't realised that Amnesia is available in 6lb, for example. It's surprising what can cross over from one discipline to another if you forget the label that says 'sea' or 'game' (I've been looking at saltwater fly hooks) or whatever the marketing people think tackle should be used for. I realise that some anglers only buy stuff that is labelled for their kind of fishing, but that's their loss. I remember when I worked in a tackle shop one customer refused to buy a 3lb test rod because it was called a 'specimen' rod and not a 'pike' rod. I must have a word with some of my rods for catching the wrong species!

It's getting in to autumn now so my chances of more eels and catfish are likely to reduce as the month goes on. More catfish? Well, I have sneaked one out on the only session I've managed since I got the urge. That's how I know the Big Gun is a decent hook but with slightly too big a barb, and that my revised polyball leger rig works as well as its predecessor. If work hadn't been getting in the way I'd have had more cracks at cats instead of snatching short eel sessions recently. I might have to make time before it gets too cold. I'd forgotten how much fun catfishing is, and how cute catfish look. I want to try that suspended worm rig out for the cats now I know it catches eels and pike, and I have a new blank to play with. Sod it. If it's warm next week work can wait!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Let there be light

I'm a great believer in getting my money's worth out of stuff, but there comes a time when putting up with a failing headtorch gets too much for me. That time came last week when trying to unhook an eel in the dark and the constant flickering of the light did nothing to make the job easier. It isn't a case of old batteries either.  Looking back through this blog's archives it seems like it's eight years since I got the headtorch that was letting me down so a replacement was in order. The old one will do as a spare.

I would have taken a chance on a fancy new design, one of the Fox ones, but the tackle shop only had the cheaper model, with fewer features, that takes two batteries rather than three. So it was another Petzl ordered on-line for me. I remember my first LED headtorch being a revelation compared to the ones I'd had with a bulb. The light was more even and a better colour, the batteries lasted longer and the whole thing was tiny compared to the bulky light unit and battery pack.

Things moved on with number two which had a flip up red screen to keep insects away. The latest one has three power settings in white light and one in red plus a flashing red light, all arrived at by pressing a button. And it's still very little larger than the headtorch it's replacing. Naturally enough this new toy was a good excuse to have another short eel session on Sunday.

I'd got there before six on Friday and nothing happened. Nothing at all. I'd packed up without a sniff. A change of swim was called for this time, and a later start was made. It's the last hour of light that seems to be producing at the moment. The usual baits went out and I sat back to watch the sun set noticeably further south than last week. With the hawthorns red with berries and a late evening brown hawker zipping about it's starting to feel like Autumn.

Right on cue, at twenty to nine, the legered worm was taken. At first I thought I'd hooked  small skimmer until the tell-tale wriggling started. Just as I got the small eel close to the net, as it was spinning splashily on the surface the water boiled and the rod was pulled briefly to my left. A jack had shot out from the reeds and grabbed the eel. The eel didn't seem too concerned by this!

There was just time to put another worm out. This time I cast it further out, dropping the deadbait where I'd had the take. All that happened was that it got dark and I was able to try my new headtorch out as I packed up. It worked great. On the middle brightness setting I could see what I was doing, on red I could get to the rods without tripping over, and on the lowest it was fine for walking back to the car.

For these short sessions the Korum Multi Mat is proving good. I gave up on putting the banksticks in the bankstick pocket after very few trips. They were banging against my side, and it's quicker to throw them in the mat itself. Having a two piece landing net pole works well as that all rolls up in the net and also goes in the main mat part. Three rods get banded using the built in bands and away I go. Ruckbag on my back with worm bucket clipped on to a caribiner, deadbait/squid coolbag folded up in my low chair and I'm good to go. I might try the mat for piking this winter - when a brolly isn't required.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Time flies

Amazingly it's ten years since I started this blog! I just jumped in to see what would happen. A bit like starting DLST when I took Geoff Parkinson's suggestion and put an advert for rods in Pikelines and took a stand at the PAC conference in Loughborough - 25 years ago next month. It's a year for anniversaries because I wrote and published Pike Fishing with Lures 20 years ago, and went live fifteen years ago. I wrote the book for something to do and the website started when I found some free software on a computer and played around with it. I reckon if I've ever had a plan it's been to not have a plan!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What day is it?

For some unaccountable reason I've been a day ahead all week. Monday felt like Tuesday and I'm still not convinced it isn't Saturday tomorrow! August continues to be warm, but not always sunny. Quite good for eel fishing to my mind. Except that the idea of eel-wrestling in the rain doesn't appeal to me. That's why I've picked dry evenings to carry on chasing Anguilla anguilla. A combination of rainy forecasts and work related restrictions on my time have prevented overnight sessions. So it's been just a couple of short evening sessions. Not requiring waterproofs or bunny suits makes grabbing a couple or three hours more of a pleasure than a chore too.

Last week I got sidetracked on a website that sells tape. I'd gone looking for masking tape and found bright orange (and Realtree) Gaffer tape. When all you have to do is click a mouse it's all too easy to buy more than you really need. My worm bucket is now so well camouflaged I might have to use some of the orange tape on it's lid to stop me leaving it behind. Which is what I've done to my landing net pole and some banksticks. There was a reason for buying the tape. Having almost forgotten my net a time or two recently I'm hoping it'll make these things stand out when I shine my headtorch around a swim as I pack up in the dark.

My approach to the eels has continued in the same manner as before. A couple of worms, on suspended one legered, and either a deadbait or piece of squid legered on the third rod. Two rods are back on braid with one fishing mono. Traces are wire for the fishy baits and Quicksilver or Amnesia for the worms. The Amnesia is a bit of an experiment. reading the old Pike and Predators magazines I saw someone recommend it, and catfish anglers use it to avoid tangles. In 25lb or heavier it should resist an eel's teeth.

The first session was one of those frustrating ones with dropped runs and pinched baits to both sorts of bait. One steady run to a roach head produced a small eel from close in. I've been packing up shortly after dark for a couple of reasons. If I stop any longer I'll be tempted to stay later still, and also because runs seem to become less frequent the further into dark it gets. It's as if there's a feeding window from half an hour or so before proper dark until an hour after. That's my excuse. Mostly I just want to get back home for a brew!

I arrived earlier for my second session for no good reason other than it was better sitting looking at water than a computer screen. I didn't expect anything to occur until the light faded, and I wasn't wrong. It was very nearly dark enough to put the headtorch on, with my hopes fading, when the legered lob was picked up by something that had no intention of stopping.

These fast runs are often missed in my experience. Not this one. Even on mono and a fair distance I connected immediately with the eel which promptly began to writhe on the surface. That was what it did all the way in to the net. I think that its writhing made it easier to net as it wasn't stretched out. This one looked worth a weigh.

Worms can often get swallowed by eels but this one was hooked neatly in the bottom lip. The Amnesia didn't get tested by the eel's teeth, but I did manage to mangle it with the forceps. After slipping the eel back I chopped the hooklink back and retied the hook, put on another worm behind the inner tube bait retainer and cast back out.

I'd hardly set the indicator and hadn't got sat down again when the sounder box was blaring again. This time it was the fishy bait that was steaming off in no uncertain manner. This time my strike failed to connect, but winding and winding I made contact with something that was staying deep and trying to pretend not to be an eel. At times I got the feeling I was connected to a pike. I wasn't. Again a writhing eel was easily netted. This one looked bigger than the first one. Certainly around the head and shoulders. The scales proved that it was bigger. By an ounce! This one was also neatly hooked. They say eels are enigmatic. They certainly are. One day they are impossible to hook, the next they swallow your baits out of sight, the next they are easy to hook tidily. Enigmatic or annoying? You decide. They're certainly a challenge.

Friday, August 19, 2016


I've been messing about with my eel rigs these last few days. As ever when it comes to rigs my aim is to simplify them. For the last few years I've been using quick change swivels at the end of the mainline, with a rig sleeve on the trace covering the open eye of the swivel. Although the swivels are strong enough they are a bit long, and rig sleeves never seem as tangle proof as they should be. Is a swivel really necessary? I'm not sure that any other than ball bearing swivels actually snivel very much in use. As I wanted to retain the quick change facility (eels manage to trash traces!) I tried out a Q Link (other brands are available...). I swapped my previous rig sleeve for a stiffish tail rubber and covered the rest of the link with a buffer bead.

The lead link is made from 20lb Mason Hard Type Mono, which I've found is far more tangle free than standard mono. A large eye swivel has taken the place of a leger ring as braid grooves plastic and I've used these swivels on my barbel rigs for years. The tail rubber over this swivel is optional. Even without it the rig has proved tangle resistant. A small polyball or cork ball could also be used to cover the knot if weed is present.

The other end of the link has a paper clip for the lead as a weak link. One word of caution with paper clips. They can snag in micro-mesh landing nets. I'd never had this problem with my wide mesh barbel net, but my eel net has caused me problems. I'm concerned that sleeving the paper clip might prevent it opening out on a snag, so for the time being I'm putting up with the occasional net tangle.

Hard mono is more difficult to knot than ordinary nylon or copolymer, simply because it is so stiff. When using it as a hooklink or on a John Sidley rig (which I'm still unsure about the need for) I take the trouble to carefully tie a Uni Knot for strength, but for lead links I use a knot that I have recently stumbled upon on the web. The Davy Knot is untidy, and possibly not very strong, but it is simple and quick to tie. Ideal for weak links.

Back when my friends and I started using big jerkbaits the braided lines in use today weren't available, so we used mono of 25lb or more. Because of the repeated force of casting heavy lures the trace knot needed to be retied a few times each day to prevent unexpected crack-offs. I carried a pair of clippers for trimming the knots in this line as they made a better job of it than scissors. Scissors struggle a bit on hard mono too, and I worry that it could blunt them. You can buy line clippers, but they can cost a tenner. Nail clippers from the chemist's at under two quid do just as good a job. The ones I have also incorporate a file - so I can give myself a manicure between runs!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tailwalk of the unexpected

 A change of venue was in order yesterday. One guaranteed to provide action of some sort to worms. I arrived late, not having planned to set out at all until I could think of nothing better to do with my evening. The full moon rising made me wonder if eels fed best at this phase or if they'd prefer the darker nights. I didn't ponder on it for long though as having a bait or three in the water is a more reliable of finding out than watching the sky.

One reason for turning out had been the impending end of the dry season. Rain is on its way for the weekend. It was still t-shirt warm by the time I got two worms out, one legered out from the bank, the other suspended  by the right margin. The third rod fished a roach head close in on the bottom to my left. All was set. Sure enough I had a couple of single bleeps in no time at all. I'd only been sat down for ten miutes when the roach head was away. A quick strike and I was pulling back at an eel. That was promising. Not a big fish by anyone's standards, but a start.

 The tail section of the roach went out to the same spot just over the marginal weed and I settled back again. Something pinched half the worm that was fishing off bottom. I rehooked that bit and added another lob.

At nine o'clock that bunch of worms was away. I did the hand over the spool thing to strike and immediately whatever it was shot off taking line from the still disengaged spool. By the time I got the reel into gear I had a pretty good idea that what I'd hooked was lean, mean and green. When it tail waked I knew I was right!

The worm rigs I've been fishing with Quicksilver hooklinks so I was doubtful that the pike would be landed. However, the hook proved to be lodged in the corner of the fish's mouth and the braid was in the clear.

A skinny fish showing signs of either disease or previous poor handling it had the head and length to make double figures in a few months. Another success for my suspended worm rig, even if not the intended quarry.

I didn't realise it immediately but the pike had been landed using one of my ten foot Torrix stalkers. The more fish I catch on these rods the more I'm coming to like them. So much so that I think they might become my eel rods of choice for the rest of this season. With a 3500B baitrunner on they feel just right.

The light was going now, and as I rebaited the size ten hook a barn owl made a silent and ghostly fly by a few feet behind me. With the air still hot and the moon casting shadows it was an evocative sight in a mystical Paul Nash way.

Twitches and pinched baits carried on. Nothing positive, though, and I called it a night early.