Thursday, 25 September 2014

My last session for a while....

With a short term, long hours contract starting in the coming days, today was the last chance I would have to get on the bank for a while.

I had my mind set on pike and decided to head for a stretch that is very lightly fished due to the long walk involved. I arrived just before first light and found a few areas to explore, I set up a light stickfloat to try and snatch some bait and fished a deadbait into the slack water. I was expecting plenty of small dace but they were harder to catch than I thought they would be. The kingfisher on the opposite bank was easily out fishing me taking 3 small fish in succession.

I started to pick up the odd fish but they were quite small, after a few (slightly) better fish were taken I decided to stick one on as the deadbait hadn't been touched. After 20 minutes with the live bait on the float slowly went under and held just under the surface, a few seconds later it slowly slid away towards the middle of the river. I leant into the fish and it seemed like a decent size, the fish but up a decent scrap and I had a bit of trouble netting it (could do with a longer net handle), but eventually the fish was sat in the bottom of the net.


The pike went 14lb 6oz and is my second largest to date. I spent another half an hour in the swim and had a few casts with the lure rod, the first cast with a 'Manta' and I briefly had another fish on, it felt decent but was off after a few seconds. The lure was also taken on the next cast but I pulled out as I struck. I had a couple of moves downstream spending 45 minutes in each without any more action. On the way home I called into a different stretch further downstream for an hour, I dropped a lamprey section into the margin and spent the hour casting a few lures. The bait went untouched and I didn't get any interest on the lures either.

I was hoping for another fish but I wasn't too disappointed, hopefully I'll be able to fit the odd session in-between shifts but I'd be surprised if I was out again this side of Xmas.

Friday, 19 September 2014

An unexpected personal best

I had arranged to go barbel fishing with a mate (Ben) on Saturday, however things came up making it a non-starter so we decided on a short stick float session today instead. The day didn't get off to the best of starts, the fridge that our maggots were in had been turned off and most of the maggots were dead, the ones that were alive smelt, were sweaty and crawling all over the fridge!

After a bit of a mess on we arrived at the car park well before light and even after a 20 minute walk to  our chosen stretch it was still dark. I was aiming to fish the stick for the dace and perch, then live bait for the bigger perch later in the session.


Tackle I used

Stick float - 14ft Drennan Acolyte Plus, Abu 506, 4.4lb Float fish, 5BB stick float, size 18 hook

Live bait - Drennan 1.25lb Series 7 Avon, 5010 reel, 6lb sensor, medium loafer float, 15lb trace, size 12 hook

My rods were already made up so I spent some time baiting the swim, 10 maggots every 20/30 seconds for about 5 minutes. I was getting bites straight away but it took a few adjustments to the rig before I started to hook the small dace. The swim was building steadily and I was getting a fish most casts. The dace on this stretch seemed larger than other parts that I'd fished this season. Although there seemed to be less, the average size was bigger and most averaged around 3oz with the odd better ones going to 6/7oz.

The perch started to show but these were smaller than I was hoping for, averaging 4oz with the best going 12oz. I had around 30 fish in the net (mostly dace and perch with 2 grayling and a small chub) when the swim died. I could see some movement in the water, a large shadow or two moving in the current, I stopped casting and fed a pinch of maggots every 10 seconds for 10 minutes. I was hoping the shadows were chub or large perch. On my next cast the float buried and I hooked another small dace, this was quickly snatched by a pike.

I grabbed a dace from the net, lightly lip hooked it and dropped it into the swim. The bait was taken instantly but I pulled it straight out of the pikes mouth. It was taken a second time and the pike was on for about 10 seconds before the line went slack.

I decided to keep the feed going in whilst fishing a live bait, nothing happened for 20 minutes and the bait went untouched. Eventually the dace was grabbed, I struck and I was confident that the hook had found a good hold. The pike fought hard on the light perch set up, I missed a chance to net it early on but I saw that it was hooked in the scissors and I was confident I would get it in. I applied pressure only when the fish was heading towards the snags and I give it line when it was in open water. Eventually I got the pike on the surface and could see it was easily a double, after a couple of failed attempts I managed to get the fish upstream of the net and allowed the current to push the fish into the waiting net.

Easily beats my 3 year old p.b
A new p.b and a smile ! 
The pike went 15lb 14oz and beat my old p.b by more than 2lb. The light gear performed well and although I wouldn't specifically target pike with it, it's good to know that it's capable enough to land a decent sized pike if hooked.

After the pike I only managed 2 more perch before we had to go. Ben ended up with a similar net of fish as I did but he had more perch than dace, his perch went to around the 1lb mark.

A first grayling and a lightly hooked pike
He also managed to catch his first grayling, which went 1lb 1oz and equalled my p.b. We took a detour on the way home for a pint to celebrate our new p.b's.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A few pike sessions

Last Tuesday I had a short lure session on a stretch that usually produces a fish or two, however after a quiet 90 minutes without a touch I accepted the blank and called it a day.

On Thursday I fished a new stretch with a bait rod, which was also fairly uneventful, the only highlight being catching a new grayling p.b whilst bait snatching in the margins.

1lb 1oz - a new p.b
Today I had a deadbait session on a stretch I had only fished once before, two rods, one with a running lead cast towards the far bank and the other fishing the near bank with a float. After a couple of quiet hours the first take came on the far bank rod, the lamprey was taken and line was peeling from the spool. I wound down, struck and the fish was on, after a short fight a pike of about 7lb was on the surface. As I was drawing the fish towards the net, it managed to get under some marginal snags and shed the hooks.

Fourty minutes later the smelt on the float rod was taken, the pike put up a short scrap and when it surfaced it looked a similar size to the first one (possibly the same fish). Again whilst bringing the fish towards the net it managed to shed the hooks !

Despite regularly recasting with different baits I had no other takes, this stretch is probably more suited to a roving approach but the banks are still massively overgrown so I'll stick to the more static sessions for now.

New book

Earlier this year I pre-ordered Stephen Harpers latest book, Extreme Pike. I'd actually forgotten that I had ordered it so it was a nice surprise when it arrived last week. The book is in a similar style and format to 'Dream Pike' and after reading a couple of chapters it has definitely whetted my appetite for the coming months.

Monday, 8 September 2014

First pike session of the season

I had planned an eel session on Thursday night which didn't happen, then on Friday evening I decided not go as the weather looked a bit grim. Saturday night the kids were staying at their grandparents so we went to Sunderland dogs and somehow I managed to pick fluke 6 out of the 10 winners !

I decided to skip a Sunday morning sleep in and have my first pike session of the season. I picked a section of river that can only be accessed by a longish (30 minute) walk, hoping to have the stretch to myself. I was pleased when I arrived at the stretch as it was empty, and looked as if it hadn't been fished in a while. I setup 2 rods, a float ledger in the margin and a running lead mid river.


Initially it was overcast and even though the river was in desperate need of some water I was confident that I would catch. After an hour the sun had broken through the clouds and with the polaroids on I could see the majority of the river bed, my confidence was starting to fade until I had a tentative take on the mid-river rod. The arm dropped but the line remained still, I held the line and I could feel the odd tap, I waited for a more positive knock and struck into thin air ! Half of the sardine had been taken, most probably by a chub.

Only interest of the session - probably a chub
I stuck it out until lunch but I didn't get any more interest. This stretch definitely needs more water in but I'll be returning in the coming weeks/months hopefully when the river is carrying some more water and I'll get a better result. With the possibility of a new job, which will see my fishing time massively reduced, I'm hoping to fit a few more pike sessions in before my start date towards the end of the month.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

More barbel

Yesterday I had another go for the barbel, I arrived just after first light and the river was still very low and clear. I decided on fishing the same tactics as my last session, a single bait with very few freebies. I had my first cast at around 06:20 and thirty minutes later I had my first bite. The rod wrapped round and the fish felt fairly heavy, it didn't put up a typical barbel fight, instead it stayed in the deeper water getting itself into every snag and weed bed it could find. Eventually everything went solid and I had to wade downstream of the fish, I put a bit of pressure on and it swam straight out of the weed. The fight lasted a good 5 minutes and I was very relived when I finally got into the net. The barbel was smaller than I was expecting but I still pleased as I knew it was a new p.b.

An early barbel - a new p.b of 6lb 7oz
After the barbel had recovered I checked the hook length, put on a new boilie and was about to recast when I noticed what I initially thought was weed on the mainline. After a closer look I realised that I had been lucky to land the fish, as the mainline had been damaged, it was split and very frayed.

Shortly after 07:00 the sun broke through the clouds, the forecast was for bright sun until 14:00 and I thought that I would struggle to get any interest during this period. I was right, I didn't have any indications on the barbel rod during this time, I had a couple of casts with my lighter rod, a link ledger and worm placed tight to the bushes and a 6oz perch was tempted. There was plenty of wildlife activity to keep me entertained though, plenty of kingfishers, a pair of large herons arguing over a prime spot, a trio of red kites and a 3lb (ish) chub managed to beach itself while chasing fry and minnows in the margin.

For once the weatherman was right and the cloud cover arrived at 14:00, a few minutes later I had my 2nd take. It was another barbel and after a more typical fight it was netted at the first attempt.

Second of the day - 5lb 10oz
Thirty minutes after the last fish the rod wrapped rod again, however no line was taken from the baitrunner so thought it was most probably a chub and didn't bother to strike. Things went quiet again but I was quite happy sat on the bank catching up with the transfer news on talkSPORT. At 19:00 the rod went round again and another barbel was hooked, the fish stayed in the shallower sections and went on 3 or 4 powerful runs downstream before it was netted. The barbel was quite a short fish but it was very broad and deep, it took the scales round to 6lb 4oz.

A short stocky fish, my second over 6lb
I decided to stay until after dark, in the hope that the larger fish would be on the feed. I had a final cast at 20:15 while slowly packing away my gear. I was getting knocks fairly regularly but it took about 20 minutes for the rod to go round properly. I was into another barbel, it didn't feel as big as the earlier fish but it still put up an interesting fight in the dark. The barbel was the smallest of the session and weighted 4lb 4oz. As with the last session all fish were caught on the boilie, the meat and pellets went untouched again.
4 barbel including the new p.b - a good day
This barbel fishing is becoming addictive and I'm hoping to try another new stretch of the river in the coming weeks. I'm also going to try and fit another eel session in this week (hopefully).