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.