Thursday 20 February 2014

Successful second visit....

With the schools half term this week I wasn't expecting to get out at all but when the opportunity came up for a full day I gladly took it. The plan was to head to a still water, fish until lunch and then reassess from there and possibly move to a river for an hour or two on the way home. I prepared all my gear the night before (3 bait rods and 1 medium lure rod) organised the bait freezer, part packed the Jeep and tried to get a reasonably early night. My youngest however decided that I didn't need that much sleep and had me up at 1am and again at 3am. The alarm went off at a quarter to 5 and I was very tempted to turn it off and have a couple more hours, however the urge to get on the bank was strong and before I knew it I was in the kitchen making a brew.

The water I was fishing is a 75 mile drive and in my old Jeep takes around an hour and twenty, I arrived at the water at just after six thirty and it appeared that I had the water to myself. I chose an area that I know has produced in the past (not to me) and although this was only my second visit to the water I was quietly confident.

Rods in by 7 o'clock, sit back and relax
The rods were quickly baited and cast out and by around 7ish I had 3 baits in the water. I did have some trouble with my bank sticks and the rocky ground and a couple of  pointed extending sticks were not up to the job (need to invest in some spiral point sticks). I left the baits alone for a couple of hours whilst I had breakfast and listened to talk sport, nothing happened the backbiters remained silent and still.

The wind picked up slightly and I decided to change my right hand rod to a rig which could be quickly changed from a running ledger to a float. I put a small dart type float on and set this to around 3 foot and cast a roach dead bait out around 40 yards and let the wind slowly drift the float back to the bank. This was repeated a number of times until the wind became a bit much, I quickly changed back to a running lead and cast the bait to around 60 yards. The other rods were also baited and recast. Within 5 minutes of recasting the roach dead bait the backbiter sounded and I was into a fish. After a short scrap I had the fish in the net and thought that it could be a scraper double.

8lb 15oz
The fish didn't make it to double figures, but I wasn't disappointed as it was my first from this water and my biggest so far this season. I rebaited with another roach and cast into the same area. At roughly 1230hrs I had a take on a smelt but this was quickly dropped.

The wind dropped slightly so I reeled in one of the outer rods and had a few casts with a lure, I had a small jack take the lure but it managed to free itself before I could net it. I was about to recast the lure rod when the middle rod went, I quickly picked up the rod, closed the bail arm, took up the slack and lent into the fish. The fish gave a good account of itself and it seemed to be bigger than the pike I had earlier.

10lb 6oz
The fish was my first double of the season and also the first to christen my new DLST P2 rod. The next 2 hours were quiet so I brought in a rod and had a few casts with a lure again.

In successive casts I hooked but quickly lost 2 jacks using a 'Manta' lure, I switched to a Dave Greenwood 'Maxi Mouse XL' and a few casts later I was into a fish.

Lure caught jack
A couple of casts later I was into another jack, again on the 'Maxi Mouse XL' lure. The action on the lure rod was quickly over, so again I cast out a third bait rod.

Beautifully marked clear water pike
I decided to stay until after dark and try to catch a fifth fish, however it was not to be and I couldn't tempt another.

I have struggled with pike this season and before this session I had only caught 5 all season. At the beginning of February I set myself a target of catching 10 pike with at least 1 double before the season ends. After today's fish this takes my total to 9 pike (including one double). Although none of the pike I caught were monsters it was a really enjoyable day and I am hoping on a return visit before the season ends.

A nice view to end the day

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Preparation for eels in the warmer months.

With the closing of the rivers rapidly approaching my attention is slowly moving towards targeting eels. I have drawn up a short list of potential waters and now have around 10 potential venues. I am aiming to target 3 or 4 or these over the spring/summer with the aim of beating my current pb eel of around 2lb.

The first of these waters is a place I know very well and it regularly produces eels, although these are generally quite small, I know of a few larger specimens that have came out in the last year or so.

The second venue is a syndicate water which I have joined for the year, this water has produced very large eels in the past, mainly to carp anglers.

The third venue is a very difficult water to fish, very clear water, low stock density, and it is also very snaggy but I have heard rumours of it producing very large eels in the past.

Over the warmer months I am planning to night fish these waters as often as time will allow. I have spent some time over the past few months gathering info and carrying out recces, getting suitable tackle ready, rig making and doing a lot of reading on eel fishing.

The inspiration
The longstanding British record eel of 11lb 2oz caught by Stephen Terry in 1978, what a fish !
I am fairly confident of catching a few eels in the coming months, hopefully my eel fishing will be more successful than my pike season so far.

I have still only caught 5 pike this season but I am fairly confident that I will be able to get into double figures and hopefully get at least 1 double figure fish as well.

New venue

Yesterday I managed a few hours on a new water with the aim of tempting a pike or a chub. I arrived at around 11ish and planned to fish until around 1600hrs, the river was carrying a bit more water than I was expecting and was slightly coloured.

Lovely stretch of river.
I headed off upstream and walked the full stretch with the aim of fishing likely areas on the way back. For the pike I was using my standard running ledger rig swapping between lamprey and smelt on the trebles and on the chub rod I was alternating between a maggot feeder and a small cage feeder with liquidised bread and cheese paste.

I spent around 15/20 minutes in each area before moving to the next, after my first move I started getting bites on the maggot feeder, initially I thought they were minnows but as I was using a size 10 hook and 6 maggots I just ignored them. After a couple of minutes I had a more positive bite, which I thought I had missed but it turned out to be a bull head. I haven't seen a bull head for around 15 years so it was a bit of a surprise, especially as it was caught on such a large hook.

Bullhead - eyes bigger than its belly.
On my next move upstream I had a positive take, again on the maggot feeder. I was hoping that it was a chub but it turned out to be a trout of around a pound or so. The trout gave a strong fight for its size and it was safely returned.

A surprise trout, unsure if its a brown or sea variant.
The rest of the session past quickly without any other bites or takes, the river seemed to lose its colour throughout the session and checking the river levels today it seems like I went a day early. I will be returning to this stretch before the season ends as the chub go to around the 5/6lb mark and the pike can push 20lb.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

A short mobile session

With the rivers swollen over the weekend I put off a planned session on Sunday, stayed in, watched the football and looked over some fishing books instead.

I have been keeping an eye on the Environment Agency's website checking the levels, the river seemed to be dropping by early Monday evening and I decided that if it continued I would get out for a few hours on the Tuesday. I arrived at the river just after 10 am and conditions seemed fine, if a little too bright. I was surprised to see the river in such good condition as it was well up less than 36 hours before.

River in fine condition despite the recent weather
I was continuing with a more mobile approach with 1 medium lure rod and 1 bait rod, the plan was to spend around 45 minutes in a swim then move on. After a quiet first half an hour I had a take on the lure rod, the fish put up a very good fight and I was surprised when I eventually saw it as I was expecting at least a double. The fish went 8lb 12oz and was in superb condition.

Fighting fit - 8lb 12oz
I had some interest on the bait rod just before 2pm but it didn't develop into anything so I decided to call it a day.This is only my second time fishing this stretch of river and I have caught on both occasions so far.

Today's fish took my tally for the season to 5, with today's also been the largest. I am aiming to finish the season with over 10 pike and at least 1 double.