Wednesday, 6 July 2016

A quick catch up

A hectic couple of months has seen my blog entries dry up, I've started a few posts but have never found the time to finish and publish them. Thankfully things are beginning to settle at home and a job change a month or so ago means more spare time for fishing.


I've continued my eel and tench campaigns, however I'm still some distance from achieving my targets but I feel like I'm heading in the right direction


A quick sum up of the last couple of months
Eel sessions -


Only 3 attempts since my last update, on a different water on each occasion, 2 eels landed and 2 lost.

The fish landed went 1lb 12oz and 2lb 4oz.


Whilst fishing a carp water I lost an eel of about 3lb at the net and on my most recent session I lost an eel which felt huge, completely in a different league to any eel I've hooked before, unfortunately it slipped the hook after about 10 seconds and I didn't get to see it.


Tench sessions -


Just the 2 tench sessions, the first on a mature gravel pit that I have been waiting to fish for a year. The session was a bit of a disappointment, water still a bit cold no sign of any tench but a nice 2lb + perch as consolation prevented the blank.

2.02lb, worm, lift method

The next session was closer to home, I managed a tench first cast but it was only a few ounces. My caster and chopped worm approach was all wrong for thus water as I struggled to get past the perch, a switch to pellet later in the session saw me land a few more tench but the were all small, the largest was just shy of 3lb.


Barbel distractions
-

I was planning on waiting until September before fishing the rivers but a chance to fish opening day saw me on the bank on the evening of the 15th awaiting a midnight start. A disappointing session really, a few knocks nothing more. A second session saw a visit to my banker peg, but again another blank. A short barbel session on my local river (barbel blanks are the norm) saw a solitary chub landed. Another visit to the same stretch as opening day, Ben and I both landed our first barbel of the season, both fish were bests for us both from this river.

8lb 14oz for Ben, mine 8lb 4oz

That's things up to date, I'll be focusing on my eel and tench targets during July and August, in fact I'm out tomorrow evening for a few hours tench fishing on a hard water, a probable blank but the water is capable of throwing up some decent fish.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A short eel session

As usual a hectic weekend left me with little time to fish, I was planning a tench session on a tricky water but after a quick recce of a local urban lake on Saturday afternoon I decided on an eel session. During the recce water temps were into double figures which was surprising given the low temperatures and northerly winds we've had recently.  I hadn't fished this water for about 20 years, I spent many a day during the school holidays fishing here with my mates, catching crucians, gudgeon and small skimmers on the whip. I think my first crucian and skimmers came from this water, nothing over 4oz, but at the time we thought they were awesome.

During that time no eels were caught, nor did we hear of any being caught. I've heard of a few coming to carp anglers recently so I thought I would give a go, not that hopeful of catching but a few hours on the bank and a chance to shake the eel kit out.

I arrived later than I hoped, about 20 minutes before sunset, but eventually got two rods out, both on running leads, one with lobworms, the other with half a roach. No action for the first hour, then I started getting pestered by the ducks. On a couple of occasions a duck dived down and picked the worms up (how they manage to find the bait in 4ft of water during the dark I'll never know), but it was becoming an issue so I was considering changing bait when the alarm on the worm rod sounded, again. This time I turned the head torch on, checked for ducks and couldn't see any, line was peeling from the spool and was being taken into the water, a definite take.

My first take of this seasons eel campaign, a little surprised and very happy until the strike meet with zero resistance. Whilst the rod was out of the water I changed bait to a prawn, hoping for less hassle from the ducks, it worked. The alarms remained silent for the next hour and despite the bitterly cold wind I managed to doze off in my chair. It had gone half past midnight when I woke, I doubt I was asleep for too long but this isn't the type of venue to fall asleep and leave your gear unattended, I decided to stick it out until 01:00 then pack up.

The prawn rod ripped off at 00:40, a very positive take, I struck immediately and felt the weight of a fish, I assumed it was a carp but after a second or so I knew it was an eel. It put up a decent fight even on the heavy tackle I use whilst targeting these creatures, I failed on my first attempt at netting the fish as the net had snagged in the shallow margin, but eventually netted it.

A decent eel to start the season with, I struggled with and eventually gave up with the self takes, so only managed a mat shot.


2lb 8oz - 31 x 6.5"
Very pleased with this capture, my first from this water, first on a prawn and the earliest I have caught an eel whilst deliberately targeting them.

I think I'll struggle to get out this week and I'm decorating two bedrooms at the weekend so probably won't get time then either. I have a weeks holiday in at the beginning of May, two sessions planned so far, a tench session on a farm pond and an overnighter for the eels on a carp water which supposedly holds plenty of eels.

Friday, 15 April 2016

The tench campaign (part 1) - A cold start

The tench campaign started on Sunday morning, a short session on a water that is still relatively new to me having only visited it twice previously. Arriving just before first light I felt the chill in the air and noticed the clear sky whilst unlocking the gate. The night anglers car windscreens had frosted over and a quick check on line confirmed over night temperatures had dropped to 0°C. Immediately I thought it would be a struggle, however whilst having a quick walk around the lake a few fish started topping, mainly bits but also a few decent carp started crashing.

I decided on a peg in a bay on the northern bank of the lake as this seemed to have the most activity. The water is fairly coloured so is relatively weed free so decided to use my lighter tench rods, one with a small method feeder and the second rod with a small in line maggot feeder. Both rods were already setup so it wasn't too much after 06:00 when I had them both in the water. I also setup a third rod to fish the lift method in the margin, this water has a two rod rule so I had to bring in a feeder rod to fish the margin.

This seasons tench setup for weed free waters - 12ft 1.25lb Series 7 avons, Shimano 5010 baitrunners, 6lb Hyper-sensor. A small method feeder (l) and an in line maggot feeder (r)
I was using a korum 'grub' feeder for the first time, I was slightly hesitant when buying these feeders as there are a few scathing on line reviews. Many users complain about the feeders opening up when hitting the water, but I'm pleased to say I suffered no such problems. On the method feeder I was using a micro pellet method mix I had some success with last year. The mix consists of dampened 2mm coarse pellets, a handful of robin red ground bait and a few ground robin red boilies. Hook bait with this mix is a 10mm robin red boilie.

I caught a number of tench last year on robin red and now have a lot of confidence in it as a tench bait, also on the waters where I tried the mix the bream didn't seem as keen to take it. I still caught a few bream on this mix but at the time I was using another mix of pellets and molasses and caught far more bream on this mix.

Top - robin red based mix and molasses based mix.
Bottom - small method feeder

During the session I didn't get any interest on the method rod, as expected I had some interest in maggot rig but probably nothing more than small silvers. I fed maggot and worm in the margin throughout the session, hoping to see some sign of tench but again there wasn't much happening. A blank to start the tench campaign it was a short session when I didn't really expect to catch. A good chance to shake out of the tench gear though, still a few bits to short out, spooling new line and a few bits to get from the tackle shop etc.....

A positive note -  during a quick chat to an old chap he revealed that he caught an eel there the day before, a decent size (2lb10oz) I suspected that eels would be in the water as access is reasonably easy but this was the first time I have heard of one being caught.

My next tench session will be on a water closer to home, full of weed, very low stock but a definite challenge.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Targets - Glancing back, looking forward

During the last few seasons I have set myself a number of targets, nothing spectacular or too unrealistic, really just a way of focusing my angling on the goals that I hope to achieve. Nothing too serious, just an enjoyable way of improving the numbers.

I have a dedicated page on the blog which I update as I achieve these targets.

Glancing back

2015/16 Targets - Personal best eel, perch, pike and a first zander.

Two targets achieved last year, pike and a zander, both good fish and both equally pleasing captures. The pike was caught locally at the start of my pike season and the zander came on a trip to the river Trent, on my second attempt for the species.

Targets achieved - a p.b pike and a first zander
As mentioned on previous posts, for one reason or another my eel campaign never really got started. My largest perch of the year went just over two pounds, falling short of beating my best by a few ounces.


Looking forward

2016/17 Targets - An eel over 4lb, personal best pike and over 50lb of tench.

This spring/summer I will be targetting the eels as much as possible, I have a number of waters to try, some I have had previous success on, others not. I will be waiting for the water temps to approach double figures before starting my eel fishing, until then I will have a few tench sessions. Fifty pounds of tench isn't a lot really but the waters I fish are generally low stock waters, where the fish average 3 or 4 pound and catching a fish or two a session means your doing well. I'm hoping to fit a few morning/evening sessions in over the coming weeks.

As usual from autumn onwards I will be targetting the pike on my local river, in pursuit of that elusive twenty pounder.

Final pike session

I recently ended my pike season with a blank, my first blank on this canal. I was fishing with Ben and it was his first session on a canal ever. The initial excitement of a number of pike striking at silvers close to the surface didn't last long as it was obvious after a couple of hours that the pike weren't interested in our dead offerings. We fished hard leapfrogging our baits at regular intervals, fishing areas where I have previously caught and trying new areas for a first time. No interest whatsoever, we packed up early and went for a quick pint before heading home.

A quick breakdown of my 2015/16 pike season - 

Number of pike caught - 15
Number of doubles - 5  (17lb 9oz, 12lb 2oz, 12lb, 11lb 6oz, 10lb 6oz)
Largest pike caught - 17lb 9oz

A very difficult season really as I struggled for time to go fishing and river conditions were far from ideal. A few highlights of the season were catching a new best, a first gravel pit pike and finding a stretch of river that seems to produce a fish a session.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Homemade weed rake

During the warmer months a few of my tench waters are often choked with weed, leaving very few fishable areas. Occasionally a rake is available to clear swim but more often than not these communal rakes disappear, sometimes snagged on the bottom but usually they end up in the boot of someones car.

I had needed my own for a while but after struggling to find something suitable online I decided to make my own.



The box section, threaded bar, nuts and washers cost less than a tenner, a mate welded the box section for the price of a couple of pints and I 'liberated' the cordage from work. The main cost was time, it took a lot longer than to finish than I first hoped it would, not having the time to complete it in one go, I had to squeeze in 10 minutes here and there. I finished it earlier this month and tested it last week.

Not the most complicated of designs; simple, effective and hopefully built to last.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Just a jack

Well the 'final push' didn't really materialise, the session planned for Thursday morning didn't happen as the river rose 6ft overnight and I was too pushed for time on Monday, that just left Sunday.


The plan for Sundays session was to head to a few stretches that I hadn't fished for a while and cover as much water as possible. The morning didn't start too well as I managed to sleep through my alarm and as the kids were staying at there grandparents I didn't wake until after eight. Usually I would be over the moon with a sleep in but not when I'm supposed to be fishing.


It was well after nine when I eventually pulled up at the first stretch, a couple of cars were parked up and usually this is enough to make me turn round and head elsewhere but I decided to make my way down to the river and hope the areas I wanted to try were free.


I bumped into Marc (who I know through a local forum), he was chub fishing, not a sniff, no fishing rising, dead, was his response when I asked if he had caught anything. Not really what I wanted to hear but the despite the recent flood the river looked in decent enough condition so I was still fairly confident. After a lengthy chat with Marc and a decent walk to the pegs I had in mind it had gone half ten before I had a bait in the water.


The river was still pushing through at pace and although it was still carrying some colour it had around 18" to 2ft of visibility which isn't too bad for this river, water temps were up from my last visit, just over 5°C. Decent conditions and I was quietly confident that I would find a few fish.


Four hours on the first stretch and six pegs covered, not a touch. I decided to head downstream, again to a stretch that I hadn't fished in months. Due to road closures and hoards of Sunday cyclists it took about an hour to move stretches and be fishing again.


This stretch is a lot narrower than the first with many more near bank features, often the pike are found in these areas. First peg, first cast a whole float fished lamprey was taken. Just a jack, but enough to avoid a dreaded final session blank.

Blank saver !

Encouraged by the capture I fished on until dark, but despite covering a fair amount of water I didn't have any further success. Not the most successful final session of the season I've had, but I didn't blank!


An enjoyable day with plenty of wildlife on show, a mink on the far bank stalking a moorhen, woodpeckers doing their thing and a treecreeper coming within a few feet were the highlights,a lovely day to be out, spring is definitely here.


A quick photo snap of the mink

Once the rivers are closed I usually continue to fish for pike until the end of the month, normally I fit in a couple of sessions before my pike season ends, but I'm busy for the next few weeks so I'm only planning the one session, probably on a canal over the Easter weekend.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The final push

As the final week of the season approaches most river anglers are planning their final sessions of the season. I'm no different, a busy weekend meant no fishing, but I'm planning two, possibly three sessions before the season closes. Thursday morning (after a night shift), a full day Sunday and possibly a short session on the final day. My local rivers have been in a state of flood for most of the winter, with very few settled periods so fingers crossed for the week ahead.


My most recent session was last Thursday morning after a 12hour night shift, as usual conditions hadn't been great, so I packed a rod a piece for the chub and pike. Thankfully the river dropped overnight and although it was pushing through fast it wasn't too coloured so I targeted the pike.


The pace of the river limited my choice of pegs but I managed to find a few deep slacks to drop a bait into. No interest from the first two pegs, but the third looked promising, about 10ft of depth and snags either side. Twenty minutes past without interest in the float fished smelt, this peg had to hold fish, so a change to lamprey and a quick recast for five minutes before moving. Less than five minutes later the float slid under.



The pike went 11lb 6oz and was obviously carrying some spawn as river pike of this length are usually below 10lb. My first double in a while, blank avoided, very pleased.


Twenty minutes in a final peg but nothing to report, not a bad 2 hour session, hopefully next Thursday's session will produce a similar result.

Friday, 26 February 2016

It's been a while....

Working 60 hours plus weeks and a busier than usual family life has left very little time for fishing recently. The odd occasion That I have had the chance to go fishing the rivers were well up and I didn't really fancy heading to a still water. This is also the first time in a month or so I've looked at a blog, so I've got some catching up to do (plenty of reading material for the night shifts), and a few emails to respond to.


This month I have somehow managed to fit in a few short sessions on my local river which thankfully was at a reasonable winter level for a change.


Fri 12th


An early afternoon til just after dark pike session, a couple of stretches visited and although the river was a reasonable level it was still pushing through fairly fast. The second stretch I visited was deeper than the first which allowed me to float fish the marginal slacks.


Within an hour on the second stretch a mackerel was taken, just a jack, but more than welcome.

My first in a while

Despite trying a few different baits, methods and pegs there was no further interest in the deads I presented.


Sun 14th

Somehow I managed to escape for a couple of hours on Valentine's Day, again pike were the target. A different stretch of river and a different approach, one rod with minimal kit so I could stay as mobile as possible.


3 hours, 10 pegs, zero interest! A definite blank.


Thurs 25th


The same stretch as my last session and a similar roving approach but this session I was targeting chub. Overnight temps had dropped to -3°C and water temp's were just over 1°C. A very shy bite in the first peg brought some confidence, however nothing in the next half a dozen pegs and the session ended in a blank. Winter blanks are fairly common on this river so I wasn't too disappointed.


With the end of season rapidly approaching I am aiming to fish my local river as much as possible, hopefully the relatively settled weather will continue and the rivers stay within their banks until they close. I am planning a pike session on Sunday morning, high pressure is forecast so I will be trotting live baits (if I can catch some!), this method has been successful during similar periods in the past and fingers crossed it will be on Sunday.

Monday, 4 January 2016

2015 review

Flicking through my notes and looking at previous entries on my blog has revealed a much better year than I initially thought when I started thinking about writing this post. I won't ramble on at the start too much as these yearly reviews can be long winded, so here it is my look back on the previous 12 months.

Monthly breakdown of my year -

January

With the rivers in the fields I headed to a canal for a first visit and managed nice a nice double. Predicting the river conditions was difficult, but on the odd occasion I timed it right, I managed a few pike, the biggest being a hard fighting 11lb'er caught from a new stretch.

Doubles from a canal and my local river.
February

Plenty of pike caught from the rivers but I couldn't get past the jacks, a couple of decent chub were also landed. I also attended a Denis Moules talk at my local PAC which was I thought was excellent.

March

A personal best chub on my last session of the season, from a stretch that I would spend some time barbel fishing during the summer months. A second visit to the canal, another 12lb'er.

A best chub of 4lb 11oz and a second 12 from the canal.
April

A few late season pike to just shy of double figures and a couple of unsuccessful early season tench sessions.


May

With the water temps around 10°C the month started with my first eel session of the year, not a full night session and unfortunately all baits went untouched. A few local carp and tench sessions didn't produce either species, a few bream and a p.b ide was all I had to show from these local sessions.

A short term contract in North East Lincolnshire meant my fishing time increased and my results gradually improved with some nice bream and carp landed.


June

By far my most productive month of the year as I managed to break a p.b on 9 occasions. A first session on an old clay pit saw me break my bream p.b three times, increasing it to 8lb 7oz.


Some nice farm pond carp to mid doubles were taken, backed up by plenty of decent bream and good tench.


Plenty of carp from a lightly fished farm pond, this being the largest I managed.
On return visits to the clay pit I beat my bream best increasing it to 9lb exactly. Another visit to the pit and I improved my grass carp, hybrid (roach x bream) and tench bests, my mate Ben also beat his bream best.

Two new bests, a tench of 6lb 12oz and a 9lb 1oz bream for Ben. A memorable session.
A one off visit to a day ticket carp water and I managed (amongst others)a lovely common of 17lb 9oz.


A lovely looking common, unfortunately the self take doesn't compare to this mat shot.
July

A return home saw my first sessions on running waster of the season. A good bag of quality chub and perch from my local river, then a few enjoyable barbel sessions on another local water.

The first of the season
August

I was still enjoying the barbel fishing on my local rivers, beating my best on successive sessions.


A new best of 8lb 2oz, which was beaten less than a week later....
.... by this 11lb 3oz fish caught in flood conditions on my local river.

A birthday trip to the River Trent saw plenty of barbel landed and I also managed to catch a first zander.

A first of the species and a seasons tareget achieved.
September

I turned my attention from barbel to the pike, struggling at first, then landing a few fish later in the month. Increasing my pike best and a nice perch over 2 pounds was the best session of the month.

17lb 9oz, a new best.
October

Working increased hours I struggled for time throughout this month, managing just the one pike, a hard fighting river double.

Hard fighting river double.
November

The start of the wet weather which seems to have stayed with us since. My local rivers were largely unfishable (for pike anyway) so I headed to a gravel pit for a first session. A jack and a broken bait boat were the reward for that session.

December

Again the rivers were in what seemed like a constant state of flood, approaching record levels on a number of occasions throughout the month. I was also struggling for time and didn't really fish much.The only fish landed this month came on the last session of the year, 3 pike from the canal including 2 x 12 pounders.

Two last day doubles

2015 highlights -

Barbel to 11lb 3oz*
Bleak to 2oz (approx)*
Bream to 9lb*
Carp to 17lb 9oz*
Chub to 4lb 11oz*
Cruician to 10oz
Dace to 4oz (approx)
Eel to 1lb 10oz
Grass carp to 8lb 8oz*
Grayling to 12oz (approx)
Hybrid (roach x bream) to 5lb 4oz*
Ide to 1lb 13oz*
Perch to 2lb 1oz
Pike to 17lb 9oz*
Roach to 4oz (approx)
Tench to 6lb 12oz*
Zander to 8lb 14oz*

N° of  times I increased a personal best - 16

N° of new bests (overall) - 11

*Personal best

Thoughts on 2015 - 

I have some great memories from 2015. Those that stand out the most; my first session on a clay pit and managing to beat my bream best three times, my first zander and beating my barbel best from my local river.

My favourite catch being the p.b barbel, a day when I expected to blank as barbel on this river are a tough nut to crack. I can still remember mentally accepting the blank and telling myself just to sit back and enjoy the time on the bank when the baitrunner started spinning. When the fish was finally netted I was literally punching the air! A memory I hope stays with me for years to come.

Favorite capture of the year.
My biggest disappointment of the year was my eel fishing. Although I caught a number of eels these weren't of the size I hoping for and I only had the one session when I solely targeted them. Working nights meant I could only really fish days so I targeted the bream, carp and tench instead. On my return home I kept threatening to get my eel campaign started but kept on getting distracted by the barbel.

Again I've kept a record of each session and recce, blanks 'n' all. These entries are already proving valuable, providing previous river levels, water temps, successful baits etc...

Overall definitely a year to remember.

Plans for 2016 - 

My plans for the rest of the season are to target the pike and perch on my local rivers, if current conditions continue I'll focus on the still waters. A best perch before the end of the season would be nice. In the close season I need to find some other local still waters that hold pike, so I'm aiming to carry out a few recces and hope to come up with a few other options for next autumn/winter.

Currently my only other plans are for eels, as soon as water temps start approaching 10°C I will be targeting them. Luckily I have plenty of options when targeting eels, 6 waters locally, probably more, but 6 that I am planning to fish. Some of these waters have a history (not much) of throwing up the odd large eel, others have plenty smaller eels and others are a complete unknown.

There's a possibility I will be working in N.E Lincs again, potentially around the same time as I would expect to be starting my eel campaign. If that's the case I have a few waters to target in that area and plenty of others to explore. Looking on Google Earth, there are well over 50 still waters within a 30 minute drive from my possible workplace, I'll work days and fish nights!

Other than the eels I would like a few tench sessions and possibly a trip away for either the barbel or zander.

Opening day this year is also the day that England take on Wales in the Euros. I'm looking forward to it already and as soon as I know where I'll be working, a day's holiday will be going in for the 16th! Fishing opening day and beating the Welsh in a tournament (which isn't an easy task with the team that they currently have) would be an awesome day!

Happy new year and tight lines to my fellow bloggers, keep the updates coming as I need the reading material to pass the time on the long shifts I work!

Darren.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Deads 2 - Lives 1

Two outings since my last update, the first of which was on one of my local rivers, targeting the barbel. A definite blank, despite trying 8 or 9 pegs, with two rods when space allowed, zero interest.


My last session of the year was on the same venue as the first of the year, a canal. At over an hours drive it's not really a local venue, but the mild wet weather has left my local rivers in a constant state of flood and the lack of any real frosts have left the still waters choked with weed so my local options are very limited.

With a full day free I was aiming to fit a lot in; pike fish two different canals and recce a still water (an old quarry) on the return journey home, however things didn't go to plan and in the end I was happy with just having enough time to fish the one canal.

I was using my standard deadbait gear, DLST P1's with Shimano 6010's, one rod a simple float fished deadbait, the second rod, a float paternostered live roach or skimmer.

The heavily coloured canal didn't really fill me with confidence
Just over an hour for the first interest, the live bait was taken and a nice pike of 9lb 3oz was soon landed. My first pike for nearly two months and the blank avoided so I was pleased.


The rods were leapfrogged along the stretch, positioning the baits as close to the barges or the far bank features as I could. An hour or so later a mackerel was taken, a slightly better fight this time and a better fish.

Whilst unhooking the pike I managed to cut myself on a treble that someone had left in the pike's scissors. They had managed to cut the eye of the treble off, but left the hook points ?, cheers! It didn't take long to sort, cutting the points and barbs off and it near enough fell out. The fish seemed familiar and once returned I compared it to photos of other pike I've had from this stretch. I had caught this fish on my last session here in March.

Yesterday 12lb exactly(l), 19/03/15 12lb 1oz (r)
Unfortunately not the greatest of photos of yesterday's fish
The session continued in a similar fashion, leapfrogging the rods every 15/20 mins. Rain was forecast for early evening so I put most of my gear in the car and just kept the essentials on the towpath. The rain was torrential and I was considering packing up early when the deadbait had some interest, a large smelt was taken this time. A couple of minutes later another 12lb'er was in the net.

The largest of the session - 12lb 2oz

An enjoyable and productive last session of the year.