Wednesday, May 31, 2017

No Sleep Till Breakfast

I was going to put in an overnighter on Monday night, but it started raining when I was going to get me gear sorted out. Tuesday night would do. It rained after I'd got most of the gear in my car. Then the sky brightened and off I went. The temperature had dropped from my previous session but even a north westerly wasn't too chilling. I still fancied having the wind off my back but nowhere like that at Peacock Pool looked inviting. Eventfully I got set up with the brolly at an angle to the rods where I could just about see my rods from the bedchair.

As the sun set the wind died right away and the sky cleared. The crescent moon was so bright that it cast a shadow. The incessant bleeps and blips of the previous session were notably absent. The first take I had, just before ten, to a deadbait, was a proper run. I still failed to connect. This didn't signal the start of more madness. It was fifteen minutes before the next run came. Which was also missed. After another quiet thirty odd minutes I connected with an eel to the off bottom worm. It fell off. The eel that picked up the left hand deadbait at eleven stayed hooked all the way into the net. Not one worth sliming up the weigh sling, but a start.

A combination of the slower pace of activity and the conditions made me think that there was a chance of a better than average fish. When the bootlaces are playing the bigger eels seem to get beaten to the baits.

It was still frustrating. I'd miss a run. Recast. Then sit waiting for action. When I gave up hope I'd curl up under the bedchair cover. The eels seemed to know when I was getting snug and starting to nod off. I'd leap out to the rods and miss another run. Rinse and repeat!

So it went until ten past two when a deadbait on a longer chuck was tearing off. Half way in it began to bulldog. It felt pretty reasonable as I held it on a tight line while I fiddled around trying to switch my headtorch from red to white without it flashing red. Safely netted at the second attempt and the sling and camera were going to be required. I didn't feel like a wrestling contest so I put the fish back after a couple of 'sling shots'.

With a fresh bait out I got an hour's rest before the takes picked up frequency again. By then the sky was showing some light and a sedge warbler woke up. Soon the dawn chorus began in earnest, accompanied by the occasional distant cock crow. The takes became less frequent. Not expecting any action once the sun was in the sky I began to tidy my stuff away. Then I had two runs in quick succession. Which I missed. Of course.  Quarter past five would be home time.

I was well knackered as I pushed my barrow load of gear back to the car. That's the trouble with all night eel fishing. It's often impossible to get any sleep unless you don't bother checking to see if they've pinched your baits when you get a dropped run!

What had been encouraging was that the takes were peeling line from the baitrunners, even with the rod tips at an angle to the baits. Like most fish, I suppose, even eels have days when they aren't bothered by resistance. Or is that a myth?

The sun was rising casting it's beams through the mist swirling off the water promising a warm day to come. It'll be meteorological summer tomorrow. So it'll probably snow.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The maddening eel

After my eel session I determined to get myself some worms before having another go. There were still a few deadbaits and some squid in the freezer but lobs would give me another option on the off-bottom rig. When the worms arrived, on the hottest day of the year so far and with the warmest night promised it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Even arriving after eight in the evening it was still red hot. There was hardly a breath of wind to ruffle the surface and even in the shade of the lowering sun it was t-shirt warm. I spent a good ten minutes drilling holes for my rear banksticks before casting out a head and a tail and then rigging up the worm rod. The rig was all set up and just needed a bomb to finish it off when I couldn't find a bomb. I was sure there were some in the rucksack, but no. For some reason the eel box had three back leads in it. I pulled the clip off one, tied a uni-knot in the end of the lead link and tightened it down on the backlead's stalk. I was in business!

Why you can't buy simple hooks like you used to remains a mystery to me. Drennan used to do a long shank hook which I liked for fishing worms, but long shanked hooks with simple O'Shaughnessy or round bends have all been replaced by 'carp' hooks. The closest to what I'd like that I've found so far are Varivas 'Semi Circle' hooks which I bought late last summer after my eeling was over. The eyes are a bit small, but wire or Kevlar braid will go through even on the size four. As I didn't seem to have any eel traces made up I've put these hooks on my dedbait traces too. The wire of the size fours is a bit finer than I'd like, but the 1/0s are spot on. I hope!

By eight thirty Fred and I were sat watching the rods and listening to the radio as the evening failed to cool down any. We weren't expecting any action until well after nine in any event. Sure enough it was almost ten, still t-shirt warm, when the head section fished to my left tore off. And so the madness began. I didn't keep a note of how many twitchy takes and dropped or missed runs I got. There were lots. As soon as the marginal off-bottom worms were discovered that bobbin was never still until the worms had gone. I ended up fishing just a single lob on that rig with the same result. Almost constant activity but nothing to connect with.

Takes to the deadbaits were more sporadic. The tail section cast well out disappeared from a single bleep. I replaced that with a lobworm and it was pounced on immediately. Every now and then the right hand alarm would signal a positive run. Some were missed, one was connected with until whatever was on the hook came off it a rod length out. Anyone who strikes at the slightest hint of a take this would have ended up in a strait-jacket! Being of a less intense nature I can eventually tune myself to respond only to positive runs.

The run that came to the head section rod at five to midnight was the sort that wasn't going to stop. At last I hooked one. Plainly not pulling back very hard, at least it was an eel. I left it in the landing net while I packed the other rods and everything else away. When I came to lift the net ashore the eel had done the decent thing and unhooked itself.

Back at the car the thermometer was reading 18 degrees. I removed the sweatshirt I'd put on an hour earlier and drove home with the window wound right down on a still and sultry night.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Easing into eeling

After another evening chucking topwaters around, for one small fish and a missed take, I got the urge to rig the eel rods up on Wednesday. While the days have been warm the temperature was soon dropping if there was a clear sky at dusk. I was glad I'd taken a fleece.

Even though I'd intended to arrive around eight impatience got the better of me and I spent two and a half hours before, right on time as the light began to edge towards needing a torch to pack up, the right hand alarm sounded making that tell-tale short burst of sound that accompanies a pinched eel bait.

Typically there were fish topping and bubbling all over the swim I'd selected. I'm sure I'd have caught a few fish if I'd taken non-fishy baits with me. That saw me torn between having another go for eels or taking some pellets and corn and seeing what might be daft enough to pick those up. I hate making decisions. As the eel rods are rigged up and the tench/bream rods aren't it might be an easy choice though.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017


My lure fishing comeback tour continued yesterday. In the morning I'd visited the local DIY shop, which also sells household goods, with the intention of purchasing a tupperware type box to take over from the unstable bucket my lures have been rattling around in. I had one lined up but then noticed some storage boxes. Not air/watertight but that isn't a problem. The lidless bucket was hardly that. Best of all the box was large enough to get my unhooking tools in as well as the lures, and half the price of the tupperware type box!

Eager to try out the box I filled it with my junk, put it in the Korum mat/sling thing. And headed out into the warm spring evening. The sun was bright, the sky almost cloudless but there was a chilly north-easterly blowing.  Not ideal, but I do prefer a ripple on the water when I'm surface fishing. Particularly if I can cast downwind and work the lures back over the wavelets. I think the ripple makes a lures artificiality less obvious and it creates more noise from a bait.

My plan was to work my way in the opposite direction to last time. No real reason except I fancied seeing if this time I could nail the fish I'd raised late on. No joy in the first swim so on to the next one. Here the water was in shade, but more rippled with the wind in my face. I cast over the places the takes came from on my previous visit with no success. Then I flicked the Blackpot out to my right. Nothing. Another cast a bit closer to the margin and two thirds of the way back there was a satisfying take. Not the splashy take of a small jack. Not the modest 'boom' of a high single. But a proper ka-boom! The resistance was more than the prototype rod had had to put up with before too.

Even so the fight was similar to all the others, except on a bigger scale. Wallowing and head shaking rather than runs. As I could see that the lure was outside the pike's mouth, just the tail hook connected, I feared the worst. A single point snout hook-up all to often leads to a shake of the head that sends the lure flying free. That was why I reached for the net rather than risk letting the fish tire before hand grabbing it. There had been no need to worry. The hook had taken hold well inside the top jaw, but was easily removed.

The scales I had with me were a little optimistic for pike fishing, reading up to 120lb. Being out of practice with my pike weight guesstimates I was amazed to see where the needle settled. A fair few degrees further round the dial than I'd expected.

A two pounder would have done to save a blank, but this fish meant I could have packed up there and then. I carried on though. Either I've scared all the jacks with the Jackpot, or they weren't up for it, because I didn't raise another fish for over an hour. In fact it was getting close to home time when a rooter in a swim I hadn't worked a lure through last time out went airborne with the bait between its teeth. the same old story, the first or second cast getting any interest there is. Then it was back to fishing what seemed like fishless water.

Despite a long lay off from surface fishing my little ruses are coming back to me. Making the lure walk around pads with hard taps followed by gentle ones so it doesn't come along a straight line. Dropping the lure short on a downwind cast and letting it drift up to the pads or reeds. Constantly shifting my position to alter the direction of the retrieve slightly to manoeuvre the lure. breaking up the metronomic taps with pauses. Sometimes these things work. Mostly they keep me thinking. Next time out, if I have the patience, I might start out with a surface crawler.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Boom, boom, boom, boom!

I've never considered myself to be obsessive, but when doing something takes my fancy I to tend to get focussed on it for a period. That's why I was back with the lures, specifically the topwaters, yesterday. Even when pike miss a surface lure it gets the adrenalin flowing!

It was straight in with the 'Blackpot' and after my previous experience I wasn't going to spend much time in each spot. Takes had come to the first few casts. If there was a pike in the swim it would probably have a go early rather than late. Had I been turning bigger fish I would have used a surface lure to wake the pike up and strike or not followed that with something more subtle fished subsurface.

Sure enough the pattern was repeated. Nothing in the first swim, move. The second spot let me cover some of the same water plus some more. First cast to a new area and boom! At first I thought the pike had missed as the take was early in the retrieve on a long line and I didn't feel anything. As I tried to regain contact with the bait something pulled back. Not very hard, but it pulled back. Another jack.

A few more casts to spots I hadn't covered and move again. Nothing in three more swims then a corner swim. It might not have been the first cast through some pads but it was second or third. The easterly was making long accurate casts tricky. As the lure came in to open water it was hit. One headshake and the pike was gone. A few more chucks and move again. Nothing. Two more likely looking spots produced nothing so into another one.

First chuck and a jack tried to eat the lure just as I was going to lift it out of the water. This one was determined, if inaccurate! Three more failed strikes followed over the next few minutes before I let the lure rest on a short line at the end of a retrieve. With the lure static the pike's radar served it better! No monster for sure,and as skinny as a snake.

On my way to the next swim I disturbed a roosting tawny owl. The birdy highlight of the evening, with a family of a dozen small mallards in second place. Sedge warblers and whitethroats noisily noticeable, temperatures rising and hawthorn starting to bloom means spring is here at last.

Yet again the first cast stirred a pike into action. This one got hold briefly before dropping off. Possibly the biggest raised of the evening. Two more pikey looking spots produced nothing so I tried another which had a number of interesting looking places to work a lure past. Sure enough one saw a two pounder launch itself at the lure on its firts pass. And its second. Then again a few minutes later after I'd given it a rest. A long cast to another spot and straight away a pike of fur or five pounds cartwheeled behind the bait.

The light was starting to fade as I dropped into the final spot for the evening. First cast, you guessed it. As the lure came into open water it got hit. A couple of headshakes and it was gone. Not to return. They rarely do once they've felt steel. That was it. Another short, fun session. My usual reaction to this kind of fishing is to start taking more lures and gear, and more often than not getting worse results. I do need a better container for the lures though. I'd ditched the bucket for a lidless storage box which I thought would stand up better in my mat/sling when its strap was slung over my shoulder. It didn't. A couple of times I had lures all over the mat.Whatever container I end up using I will not be putting any more lures in it. None.