Sunday 28 December 2014

2014 review

2014 has been a productive year for me, mainly due to the amount of time I have been able to spend on the bank. I have also put a fair amount of effort into finding new waters, using new methods and targeting species other than pike. During the last 12 months I have broken a p.b on 14 occasions and achieved the modest targets I set myself at the end of last season.

Monthly breakdown of my year -

January - I was struggling on the rivers and didn't really catch anything of note but I attended my first PAC event (motorway pond) which I enjoyed even though I blanked.

February - I was still finding it hard on the rivers but had some success on the still waters with some nice pike that (just) made it into double figures.

10lb 6oz
March - I was catching pike during March but they were all jacks, I fished the rivers for the last 5 days of the season and struggled, but I managed to get a jack on the last day. I started my perch campaign and I was concentrating on a farm pond, the sessions were enjoyable but I couldn't get anything over the 1lb mark.

The largest I could get from the farm pond

April - Lindsey was busy with her dissertation and finishing her final year at uni so my fishing time 
was limited, I managed 2 sessions, one for the perch and the other a pike session in the Lake District. The perch session was on the farm pond but I didnt get anything over 8oz, the pike session was more enjoyable with a few pike to double figures.

11lb 6oz

May - I had my first eel session of the year, which was uneventful and another difficult session on the farm pond. I was on a course for a week and I managed to fit a few short evening sessions. I caught a first rainbow and p.b carp and p.b crucian.

16lb 10oz

June - The start of the river season and my first chance to fish opening day for years. I managed a nice but unspectacular net of small chub, perch and roach on the stickfloat but ultimately I will remember the day for what was lost (a definite 20!) and not what was caught. Another stickfloat session later in the month ended up with similar results but I also managed to bank a nice pike of 12lb 10oz. Another eel overnighter, no eels yet but a couple of jacks.

The first fish of the river season and a nice river pike

July -  I managed 6 new p.b's during July, eel, grayling (twice), perch and tench (twice). The tench came during an eel session and went 4lb 15oz and 6lb, I later found out that the venue record is 6lb 4oz which made the capture more pleasing. 

A brace of p.b tench 4lb 15oz and 6lb

I caught my first grayling (no more than a few ounces, but still a p.b!) during a stickfloat session. During a perch session I managed a new p.b of 2lb 4oz with plenty of other 1lb plus fish and also another grayling p.b, 11 oz this time. The eel came after a change of venue and was the only fish of the session, 2lb 7oz.

2 new bests

August - I caught another eel p.b (2lb 15oz) and targeted my first running water barbel in years. I managed a couple of whiskers increasing my p.b to 5lb 1oz.

A personal best - 2lb 15oz

September - Whilst bait snatching with the whip I caught another p.b grayling, this time it was over a pound (3 grayling, 3 p.b's). I had another barbel session and caught 4, taking my p.b to 6lb 7oz. 

An enjoyable session

I finally beat my pike p.b with a 15lb 14oz fish which took some landing on my perch live baiting gear.  The captures of the barbel and pike were both recorded on my GoPro, which have been good to watch back. 

Finally beat my p.b - 15lb 14oz

I also caught a few other pike, including a couple of doubles to 14lb 6oz.

October - Getting pike to take a bait wasn't a problem, but keeping them on was. I lost as many as I landed, with the largest going 10lb 6oz.

A lean river doubles

November - Frustratingly the loss of fish continued, I managed to land 6 in November but they were all jacks. I did have a double take and landed both, which was a first for me.

2 in the net, a first for me

December - The river conditions weren't ideal and the only pike I hooked was lost...... I did have a short chub session and caught a couple of small but welcome chub.

2014 highlights -

Barbel to 6lb 7oz*
Bream to 4lb 5oz
Brown trout to 1lb (approx)
Carp to 16lb 10oz*
Chub to 4lb 3oz
Crucian to 1lb 4oz*
Dace to 6oz (approx)
Eel to 2lb 15oz*
Grayling to 1lb 1oz*
Perch to 2lb 4oz*
Pike to 15lb 14oz*
Roach to 10oz (approx)
Tench to 6lb 0oz*
Rainbow trout - 2lb 4oz*

* personal best

Thoughts on 2014 - 

I'm very pleased with how my year went, I increased more p.b's than expected and have already achieved the targets I set myself for the 2014/15 season. The most pleasing catch of the year was  beating my pike p.b which had stood for over 3 years.

The most disappointing/frustrating part is the number of fish I lost, especially pike. This is something I'm working on and hopefully can sort out before the end of the season.

Although I beat my eel best on two occasions they were the only 2 eels I caught, looking back I wish that I'd had a few more sessions after them, especially on a still water I had access too. I'm planning on renewing the ticket for the water and hopefully I'll get one from there next year.

This year I've kept a diary of every session and recce I've been on. I've made comprehensive notes on captures, baits used, methods used, weather conditions etc.... I'm hoping to keep it going next year as it has become a good aide for comparing river levels to previous sessions, knowing what baits have been successful etc.....

Plans for 2015 -

Until the end of the river season I will still be concentrating on the pike, however I'm only going to target them when I think conditions are favourable. When the rivers are up I'll either target the chub or head to a still water for the pike.

For the 2015/16 season I'm going to set myself a few targets -
  • P.b eel
  • P.b pike
  • P.b perch
  • A first zander
I doubt I will be able to spend as much time on the bank next year, but I'm going to aim for quality sessions and not quantity, perhaps I'll head a little further afield when time allows.

I am keeping all the clubs/tickets I currently have and I'm also joining another club which will give me access to some prime chub and pike waters. I'll aim to fish more eel sessions than last year, but I'd also like to fit in some evening barbel sessions. I'll mainly be sticking to the rivers for the pike hoping to up my p.b again. For the perch I'll stick to the same tactics as this year, stickfloat or small live baits. This worked well this year and I hooked a few bigger perch than I landed.

I have a few waters in mind for zander these are about a 250 mile round trip so I'm hoping I can bag a few and make the trips worthwhile.

Happy new year and tight lines for 2015.


Last session of the year

Having spent the best part of the last week wrapping presents and then building toys I hadn't had any spare time to get on the bank. This morning I managed to sneak out for a few hours, with the aim of landing a pike or two. The river seemed ideal, nice colour, good level but the water was very cold (2.5C).

Over the four hours I was out I tried a few different areas and various different baits but didn't get any interest. Despite the blank I thoroughly enjoyed the morning as there was plenty of wildlife to keep me interested, a buzzard, grebes, woodpeckers and unfortunately a few cormorants.

I took the back roads home, so I could do a bit of a recce on the way. The roads were still icy and I passed a car that was being recovered from a farmers field, 'dickhead' I thought as I went past. No more than a mile later and I'd went off the road as well!  I hit a patch of ice just before a bend, no brakes, no steering, luckily the verge and hedge slowed me down. After a bit of messing around I managed to reverse straight out. Luckily the jeep wasn't damaged, if I'd been in the car I would of needed to be recovered and probably would of had a large repair bill.

I was hoping for a better session to end the year with, but never mind there's always next time (most
probably Friday). This is the first year since I started this blog that I feel I've fished enough to do an end of year review, I'll try and post it before the years finished.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Not even a touch

With both rivers up I decided to head to a still water for a session, although the strong wind limited me in which waters I could choose from. I ended up at the water I fished last month, I had 3 jacks on my last (short) session so I was confident of getting a fish or two.

I setup in the same area as my last session, 2 rods on a running lead and the third on a float set to about 2ft. The morning past quickly without any interest in the baits so I moved to the opposite side of the lake and setup in a bay with the wind in my face. I was hoping that the pike had followed the wind. If they had they weren't interested in any of the baits I tried today as bluey, lamprey, roach sardine, smelt and sprat all were ignored. I tried the baits on the bottom, popped up, float fished just above the weed but couldn't get a take on anything.

Despite blanking (1st time on this water) it was good to be out, the only downside of the day was that the water appears to have been targeted by poachers. I found some 20lb+ mono with ring pulls tied to it and some other litter (which is out of place on this water). Sadly there was a dead cygnet in the water, I had a feeling that the bird had taken a (poachers) set line so at the end of the session I decided to bring it in. The cygnet had taken a bait but I don't think it was the poachers as it was only about 6/8lb line, I removed all the line from the bird and left it on the bank for the foxes (at least it won't be a complete waste).

I'll probably fit one more session in before the end of the year and I might give the piking a break and have another go for the chub or maybe try for a decent winter perch.

Sunday 14 December 2014

A quick chub session

This morning I was supposed to be afloat on the lower river lure fishing for the pike, but I woke up with stomach cramps and the sh*ts so I gave it a miss and went back to bed. After a few hours more sleep I felt ok and decided on a couple of hours chub fishing.

I left the house at about 10:00 and was on the bank 20 minutes later. I keep the tackle simple (1.25lb avon rod, 6lb sensor, small cage feeder and size 6 hook) and carried minimal kit as I wanted to try a few different spots. I had my homemade cheese paste for the hook and liquidised bread for the feeder. I baited 6 swims with a couple of small balls of the liquidised bread with the aim of spending 15 to 20 minutes in each one.

Minimal gear, less hassle when moving swims
Within 5 minutes of my first cast I had a positive bite, big drop back then a wraparound but I struck into nothing, a few more less positive taps in the first swim and I moved to the second swim after 20 minutes. The second swim was a bit quieter but I had a knock that I probably should of struck at. The wind speed was steadily increasing and it was making it hard to keep the tip still.

During my third move I slipped down a steep bank and ended up winding myself ! After a couple of minutes I was fine, I gave my gear a quick check over and luckily nothing was broken. Within a couple of minutes of casting the tip went round and I was into a small chub. The chub was netted quickly and was about a pound in weight.

I returned the chub a couple of pegs further upstream, hoping that I would be able to tempt another form the swim. Again within a couple of minutes the tip went round and another chub was hooked. Initially it felt fairly decent but it gave up quickly, this one was a little bigger and out of interest I weighed it.

An immaculate small chub, 1lb 4oz

I gave this swim another 15 minutes but I didn't have any further bites. The wind had picked up further so I missed out the 4th swim I'd baited as the 5/6th swims were more sheltered. Neither of these produced a bite but I probably wouldn't of been able to see them as I couldn't keep the rod tip still in the wind.

I called it a day as the wind was too strong to continue, an enjoyable short session though. I was home for 13:00 just in time for the football and Sunday dinner.

Friday 12 December 2014

A quick update, some DIY tackle and an early Xmas present

I've had two sessions since my last update, both during the period of unsettled weather we've had, both on the river and unfortunately both sessions ended up as blanks. The first session I was after pike on the the middle reaches of the river, I had one take but the pike got off after about 10 seconds. The second session was much further upstream, I decided to try a rod for the chub as well as the pike. The river was slightly higher than we had anticipated, which meant the pegs we wanted to try were unfishable.

We decided to fish an area slightly downstream but it seemed very shallow and I wasn't confident in that area so after a couple of blank hours we moved to a stretch with some more depth. There was another angler on the bank targeting pike but he hadn't had a touch all day. Despite having some success earlier in the season on this stretch, I wasn't surprised when I went home with another blank.

DIY tackle

Over the last couple months I've had a go at making a bit of tackle. I've made some leads, a few pike floats and a drifter.

I had been planning to make my own leads for years but never really got round to it. I managed to get 10kg of lead for free so I though I'd give it ago. I ordered a mould, watched a couple of videos on YouTube, set up the stove and give it a go.

The mould makes 2.5 and 4oz grip leads, which are ideal for the rivers I fish. I'll order a mould for distance work/still water leads in the close season.

The pike floats are made from hardwood dowel and finished with a clear lacquer. I put some effort into making these as the usual shop bought balsa efforts don't last 5 minutes in my hands. Hopefully these will last a long time, I have also started making a lighter version that can hold starlights and hopefully I'll get these finished before I get out for my first zander session.

The drifters are made up from various bits of tackle (John Roberts rigid tube, poly ball, leger bead, tail rubber) and the vanes are made from coloured bleach bottles. They are cheap, easy to make and should last a while. I'm making a shorter semi loaded version for the shallower still waters I fish.

Early Christmas present

I have been needing/wanting a better/longer landing net handle for a while and made a couple of hints (well a link to the website) to my girlfriend. The net handle arrived today and after convincing Lindsey that I needed it NOW, she caved in and gave me it early.

The net handle is the Trefor West Lone Angler - Mega Landing Net Handle. I'd heard good reports about the handle and my initial impressions agree, it's a beast! It's a bit heavier and thicker than other net handles I've used in the past but it feels solid and looks like it will last years.

I'm out for a couple of sessions in the coming week so I'm hoping I can keep a pike hooked long enough to bring it into netting range!

Thursday 27 November 2014

A small jack in difficult conditions

I had planned on heading to a canal for a first visit but I was working late last night so just decided to stay local today. I had been keeping an eye on the river levels and they were up a bit but I was hopeful that they would be ok for the morning.

I decided on a static approach and I had baits in the water before first light. It was just after 09:00 when I had my first take, a jack quickly grabbed a lamprey, which had just been recast. The jack took the bait before I could set the backbiter, I struck but had a feeling that it would come off, which it did.

I recast into the same area and within 5 minutes the backbiter sounded, the jack was quickly landed this time, it was probably the smallest I've had this year, but still it saved the blank.

Smallest of the year, but it saved the blank
I had a couple more cagey takes (lamprey and smelt) but I couldn't get anything else to take a bait with confidence. The river initially rose about 2 inches, then dropped a good 5 inches before I left at 14:00hrs, I have a feeling that the river will fish well over the next couple of days, unfortunately I was probably a day or so early this time.

I'm hoping to get another pike session in in Tuesday, probably a still water but possibly the river if conditions are right.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Forum pike session

Today I met up with a few lads from a local forum, we fished a stretch of the local river hoping for a few pike. Conditions weren't ideal with the river being up and slightly coloured. After a couple of hours we started getting some strange takes, rod tips bouncing and baits stripped to the bone. Initally I thought these were crayfish but after a few more takes I started thinking they were eels. The river wasn't getting any better so before lunch a couple of us decided to move to a local pond.

The pond holds a reasonable head of pike, but like the water I fished on Tuesday they tend to be on the small side. Fishing on the pond was difficult and as time went by I thought that a blank was on the cards. Eventually a float fished skimmer was taken, nothing massive, a typical size for this water and the blank was avoided.

The blank saver 
We fished on until dark, hoping for another take but there was no further interest in the baits. The lads who stayed on the river had no pike to report, there was a dropped run and one of the many strange takes resulted in a foul hooked eel. Although the fishing wasn't great it was good to meet up with the lads, hopefully the next time we meet there will be some better fish to report.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Double take

Yesterday I planned on fishing the river, I decided to fish a free stretch so I could use more than the one rod. It was still dark when I arrived at the water, however it was obvious that the river was still carrying some extra water as it was pushing through at some pace. I made the decision to fish until it was light so I could see how coloured the river was. After setting up I passed the time trying to take a photo of a robin that was begging for maggots.

As the sun rose I could see that the river was still heavily coloured and my confidence started to fade. I stuck if out for another hour but I could tell that 3 blanks would soon be 4 blanks if I didn't move elsewhere.

I did have a bit of interest on a smelt, the rod tip was nodding but I struck into nothing, the head of the smelt had been chewed, possibly by a chub. There was no further interest in the baits so I decided to go to a water where I (unsuccessfully) targeted eels this summer. I had a couple of jacks during my sessions there and although it isn't a known pike water I was hopeful of ending my run of blanks.

The water is still quite weedy so I had a cast around with a lead, found a couple of weed free areas and cast a deadbait (lamprey and mackerel) to each. I set the third rod up to float fish a bait (skimmer) over the weed. I also fished the maggot/whip in the margin hoping to snatch a few live baits for the float rig.

Within 30 minutes a backbiter sounded as the mackerel tail was taken, no line was taken so I took up the slack, felt a fish and struck. A pike was on, it gave a very good account of itself until it became stuck in the marginal weed and I scooped the pike/weed combo from the margin, the net felt fairly heavy and I was hoping the fish would make double figures. After removing about 20 pound of weed from the net it was obvious that the fish was no double.

First of the day 6lb 6oz
I took a couple of self takes with the camera as I'm still getting used to the settings. The top treble was still in the tail of the mackerel so I quickly recast to the same area. I carried on fishing for bits it the margins but I couldn't tempt anything with the maggots. A good 40 minutes after the first fish, the float started to move, bobbed a couple of times and then it flew under. The pike fought well and was probably a little bigger than the first, but the line went slack just before I could it into netting range.

I recast the skimmer into the same area and started twitching the bait back towards the bank, hoping the pike would take the bait again. The backbiter (mackerel) sounded again, this time line was peeling from the spool, I wound down struck and another jack was on. As I was drawing the jack over the net, I noticed the float going under again. I quickly netted the first pike, moved to the second rod on which the baitrunner was rapidly giving line. I disengaged the baitrunner, it was another jack, smaller than the fish I'd just lost and it came to the very quickly. Both pike were lightly hooked and were quickly unhooked. I had caught pike in quick succession before but never at the same time.

Two in the net at the same time a first for me

After the double take things went quiet, I gave it an hour and then moved to the opposite side of the water for the last hour. As I was setting up I spooked a pair of large carp (20lb+) which were sat in the margin. The rest of the session went by without further interest in the baits and I was home by 14:30 to do the school run. My next session should be on Sunday, a few lads from a local forum are meeting up for a pike session on the local river, hopefully the river will be in better condition and we can get a couple of fish on the bank.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Another piking blank

I managed to get out for a short morning session, hoping to land a pike after losing a few lately. I arrived well before light and a bait in the water (sardine) by 06:10. I decided to fish the one area until it was light, then move downstream. The first hour and a half passed quickly with no interest in the bait.

I moved half a mile downstream and found an area with some depth, I spent about 20 to 40 minutes in a swim before moving upstream. I fished about 6 areas in total and tried a few different baits (lamprey, mackerel, sardine and smelt) but none of the baits were taken. I have fished this area a few times recently and it usually produces, this is the first time I've fished it and not had so much as a take. The river seemed in fine condition but I can't remember seeing a fish top all morning, I might leave this stretch for a few weeks and maybe try further upstream the chance I have to get out.

3 blanks in a row......

Sunday 9 November 2014

Another lost pike

This morning I had a short short session with Jim from Fishing days blog. We arranged to meet at 05:30 and shortly after we both had a bait in the water. We stayed in the same area for the first couple of hours but there was no interest in either of our baits. We decided to move downstream, Jim roved and fished a number of different areas while I concentrated on a smaller area.

Things were fairly quiet so I decided to have a play with the camera, I then realised that I had left the memory card in my laptop so couldn't take any photos. Just before 10:00 I had a take on a ledgered lamprey, line spilled from the spool as the fish moved upstream, I wound down, struck and the pike was hooked. After a few seconds the fish came to the surface and after a few more the line went slack and the fish was gone. This is the 4th pike I've lost in the last 3 sessions and it's becoming more than a little frustrating, I'm putting this latest lost fish down to not setting the hooks properly.

There was no further interest in my bait, Jim came back just before 11:00 and had caught a pike of about 7lbs and had lost a decent chub at the net. I'm hoping to fit a midweek session in hopefully I'll land a fish next time and remember to put the memory card in the camera.......

Tuesday 4 November 2014

A couple of difficult pike sessions

Yesterday I was planning on fishing a stillwater however it was too windy for the water I had in mind and the other water I wanted to fish is probably still choked with weed. I decided to fish a couple of stretches of my local river. I arrived at the first stretch before first light, the overnight temperature had plummeted, the river was slightly up and it was pushing through quite hard but I was still quietly confident.

After about an hour I had a cagey take on a lamprey but the bait was dropped before I could close the bail arm. After a couple of moves and bait changes I had another take, this time on half a mackerel. The pike was on for about 10 seconds before the hooks pulled, this is becoming a regular occurrence and it's something I'm looking at. I dropped the bait in the same area hoping that the pike would take it a second time. I waited an hour or so, nothing happened so I decided to move stretches.

It took about 45 mins to move stretches and get the rods back out. This stretch as produced a few upper doubles over the past few weeks so I was hopeful of a fish. An hour later a large smelt that had been cast towards the far bank was taken, a very positive take. I struck immediately and was into a jack, nothing massive (around 6lb) but it was a blank saver. The jack was quite difficult to unhook, but after cutting the trace I managed to get both trebles out.

Blank saver
I am still getting to grips with my camera so I took a couple of self takes, they aren't as good as I'd like but they are improving. After the jack there was no further interest in the baits and I headed home about 4ish.


I wasn't planning on fishing today, the kids were back at nursery/school, the girlfriend was at work and I didn't really have anything to do (other than the endless list of jobs around the house). A quick check of the phone saw a text from Mick letting me know where he would be fishing. I looked outside, the fog was starting to lift so I picked a few deadbaits out of the freezer, jumped in the jeep and was on the bank half an hour later.

Mick had caught a few small chub and a couple of perch on the feeder before I arrived. I dropped a large smelt into the deep margin. A couple of hours later the rod tip started nodding but the drop arm on the backbiter remained static, I didn't strike I was hoping that it would develop into a normal run but it didn't. The tip stopped moving, I gave it 10 minutes before checking the bait and the smelt had a few teeth marks on it. The bait was cast into the same area but nothing else happened. Mick was still catching the smaller chub on the feeder he also had a better roach of about 8oz and a nice perch that went 1lb 1oz.

Micks perch

I think the cold snap has put the pike off feeding, the weather looks to get more settled towards the back end of the week/start of next week, hopefully I'll be able to fit a session in to coincide with the more settled weather.

Sunday 26 October 2014

New stretch, short session

Last Thursday (16th) I had another try on the same stretch as my previous post, however it wasn't very successful and my baits didn't receive any interest.

I was on a course last week so hadn't had the chance to get on the bank for the last 10 days. I only had enough time for a short session today so I was on the bank for 05:30, it was dark for the first hour and as it was my first visit to this stretch I decided to stay in the one spot until it was light. The river was pushing through fairly strongly so I decided to just fish the margins. The first hour passed and as I was sorting my gear out to move upstream my backbiter sounded as a half mackerel was taken. The fish surfaced straight away and was probably in the 8 to 10lbs range but after another few seconds the hooks pulled. I put off moving and quickly recast to the same area, I gave it another 20 minutes but nothing happened so I moved further upstream.

The rejected bait
On this section the bank was a lot clearer so I was able to 'leap frog' the rods and cover a bit of water. 20 minutes later a large sardine was taken and after a short tussle (tail walking/leaping out of the net) I had a jack of 6lb 8oz on the bank. The jack had a bit of damage to its mouth, probably from poor handling, other than than it was pristine.

Ten minutes after casting a mackerel tail the backbiter sounded, line was peeling from the reel, I took up the slack and lent into a better fish. The pike fought very aggressively and I could see it was a 'lower double'. I had a couple of opportunities to net the pike but I struggled with the steep banks and the shortish landing net handle (need a longer one). I pulled the pike into netting range however the pike was thrashing its head from side to side and managed to throw the hooks. Again I quickly cast back to the same area, hoping to tempt the pike again. Unfortunately there was no further interest in my baits and I had to leave shortly afterwards, begrudgingly I was home by 11:00. I'm hoping to get a mid-week session in, but as it's school half term I might be pushing my luck.

New camera

I managed to bag an eBay bargain, a canon bridge camera for £13. It's an older model but it should be  more than adequate for fishing. I had a bit of a play with it today but struggled to get the self takes to focus, hopefully I can figure it out for the next session.

Friday 10 October 2014

Midweek pike sessions

On Tuesday I fished a stretch of river that I had wanted to fish for a few years but for one reason or another hadn't got round to it. The stretch has produced a few twenty's and numerous high doubles over the years but access to the bank is quite difficult so it is largely unfished.

I was fishing with Mick and after meeting up and a short drive to the stretch we were parked up by around 0630hrs. The walk to the stretch was interesting, as it was still dark and I hadn't been there for a number of years, the 10 to 15 minute walk I had expected turned into a bit of a hike. Under and over some barbed wire fencing, up a few hills, through some woods and across a giant hogweed forest we arrived at the bank some 40 minutes later.

The river had swollen overnight and it was pushing through quite hard, there was lots of leaves, branches and fallen trees coming downstream. The fishing was hard going with the river conditions making presentation difficult at times. Despite regularly changing baits and tactics we both blanked.

On the way back to the cars we found a more direct route, but after 5 minutes I realised the tyre on my barrow was punctured and I had to push the barrow (off road) with the flat for the best part of a mile. As we were approaching the cars Mick noticed that we had 'parking tickets' on both out windscreens, luckily these were only 'parking warning notices' for parking on a grass verge (F*#*ing jobsworths!!!!)

Not the best of sessions but now we know the easier route I'm sure we'll be back and hopefully the river will be in better condition. 

On Thursday we fished a stretch further upstream, Mick couldn't get there until mid morning but I managed to drag myself out of bed and was on the bank before 7. I had my first take of the day 20 minutes later, initially the pike didn't really put up much of a fight and I thought I'd netted it at the first attempt but when I lifted the net the pike wasn't there. The fight started again but despite the fish trying to get into the marginal snags it didn't really last too long and I made sure it was definitely in the bottom of the net on the second attempt.

First of the day, caught on a 'fresh' supermarket sardine 
The pike went 10lb 6oz and was caught on a fresh supermarket bought sardine. Usually I buy my sea deads from a bait supplier or they are caught on summer mackerel trips, but I'm impressed with the quality and the price of the supermarket fish (£3.70 for 9 large sardines), I will definitely be stocking up the bait freezer with these for future sessions.

Sat back (on my bargain chair) waiting for the next take

Mick arrived just before nine and shortly after I had another run on a sardine bait, the pike was taking line, but unfortunately I had forgotten to tighten the drag (after the earlier fish) and I basically struck into thin air, the pike was gone and the bait had came off the trebles.

I decided to use an old large mackerel that had been in my bait freezer since catching it 3 summers ago, the bait was cast into a similar area as before. A short time later the mackerel was picked up and a pike was taking line, I struck but nothing was there. I got the bait back and could see that a pike had the bait but it was either a jack or I had struck to early. The same (mangled) bait was cast into the same spot and I was hoping that the pike would have another go. Half an hour had past when the backbiter sounded again, line was peeling from the reel, I waited a second or two longer than the last take and struck in a fish. The pike didn't put up that much of a fight and Mick quickly netted at the first attempt.
The second of the day (7lb 14oz) caught on a 3 year old mackerel

Mick had the next take, again this was on a fresh sardine. Line was peeling from the spool, but when he struck he didn't connect with anything. The bait was marked and it was definitely a pike, so he had either struck too early or it was a only a jack, either way we both agreed that it is better to miss a few take rather than deeply hook a pike.

Neither of us managed another take and as we were packing away I had a phone call, I was hoping it was to give me a start date for my new contract but it was in fact a call to say that the contract had been cancelled ! I had put a lot of effort in to get the contract offer so needless to say I was pretty pi$$ed off when I received the news, I suppose it will give me the chance to get on the bank a few more times whilst I wait for the next contract to come along......

Thursday 2 October 2014

Lower river - jack

I was waiting on a phone call (and still am) so needed to stay local, I decided to fish a stretch on the lower reaches of the river so I could get a phone signal. The plan was to feeder fish for the bream and put a rod or two out for the pike.

Early morning on the lower river
The peg I picked was quite tight and after a while I got a bit sick of struggling for space and watching the tip so I decided to switch to fishing a 5m whip to hand. I fished this method many times along this same stretch when I was younger and often did quiet well. The fishing was very easy and every put in I was catching nice perch, roach and skimmers to around the 10/12oz mark. After about 2 hours on the whip I decided to concentrate on the pike, shortly after I take a take on a herring which didn't really develop. Just before midday I landed a small jack which had taken a perch live bait.

Only a jack but I'm happy to catch pike of any size
I needed to be away by 1400hrs so I left a rod out until the last minute, I was about to pack up the last rod when the live bait was taken. Line was quickly being taken via the baitrunner, usually I would hold the spool and strike simultaneously and then disengage the baitrunner, but for some reason Idisengaged the baitrunner and the pike dropped the bait instantly!

This mornings session was unexpected as I thought that I would be working and although the pike was only small it's the first I've caught this far downstream for a couple of years. The whip fishing was enjoyable but possibly a bit too easy as it could only hold my attention for a couple of hours.


My crimping pliers snapped today, this is the second time that I've had pair from the same company snap, both in exactly the same place. I've emailed the manufacturer to see what they have to say......

I managed to get a bargain in the shape of a Korum accessory chair, I swapped it for an old reel that I wouldn't probably ever use. I've been after one of these chairs for a while, it's bigger than I thought it would be and I'll probably use it for more static sessions as it's a bit heavier than the chair I've been using.

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 the 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.