Friday 28 March 2014


When I get the chance (usually after the kids have gone to bed) I enjoy reading fishing books and over the last few years I have acquired a fairly modest collection. Currently I am reading 'The Eel Angler' by Barry McConnell, which I think is excellent. I have a chapter or so left but it is definitely one of the most enjoyable fishing related books I have read.

Last year I picked up a copy of The Perchfishers 'The Biggest Fish of All' and although I have not read it yet (just a quick flick through) it looks excellent. I had also been on the look out for a copy of The Perchfishers first published book, 'The Book of Perch' and managed to find one for a reasonable price. Well the book arrived today and considering the price I paid I am very pleased with the condition.

New addition to the collection
I will probably finish the eel book over the weekend and then start on the Perchfishers efforts, hopefully I can get some ideas to help me achieve my perch target, then I can fully concentrate on the eel fishing until the autumn.

Thursday 27 March 2014

Afternoon session on a farm pond

Today I managed to fit in a short session, again targeting perch on a local farm pond. I decided to fish one rod on a running lead with worm as bait and a rollover/back biter combination as indication. I also had a short whip and light feeder rod set up as my largest perch from the last visit came on the whip.

After around half an hour or so I started getting a couple of knocks on the feeder and these turned out to be small skimmers. After I had a couple of skimmers in the net the weather changed and it started raining heavily, then came a thunder storm.

Picturesque despite the weather
Casting the feeder from under the umbrella started to become a problem so I concentrated on the
whip line, I was feeding a mix of chopped worm and caster hoping to attract some decent perch,
however the roach were the first to respond. I started getting bites fairly consistently, then after 20 minutes the bites dried up, a change to a small worm section brought the first perch of the day. I had another 3 perch in quick succession, but these were all small and would of made ideal live baits if I had brought that rod as well.

Surprisingly the worm rod went untouched all day, despite regularly baiting with fresh worms and casting to similar areas from were I caught perch last session the back biter stayed silent and rollover remained still.
Skimmer, roach and hybrid
I ended the session with around 20 fish, mainly roach and skimmers, 4 perch were caught but they were all no more than an ounce or two, I also added a small bream/roach hybrid. Although the larger perch were elusive today, I am enjoying fishing this pond and am hoping to get the time to fish it again next week.

Nice stamp of roach on the caster

I have set myself a target of catching a 2lb perch and a 2lb eel before the autumn and I am confident that this pond holds both, I suppose time will tell.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Farm pond perch

I decided to wait another week or so before trying for tench, so in the mean time I thought I would have a try for perch. I have never specifically targeted perch so after a little research I decided on a small farm pond that I thought would hold perch. I decided on a 2 rod approach, the first rod was set up with a basic low resistance running lead with a lob worm as bait, I also added chopped worm via a small pva bag. The second rod was to be fished with a small float paternoster live bait (after I caught some bait).

Initially I cast the ledgered worm to my right, under some overhanging bushes. This gave me an opportunity to use my rollover indicators for the first time.

Backbiter and roll over combination 
I started fishing a 5m whip with a very light pole rig to catch some bait for my second rod. It took
around 10 minutes for a bite on the whip line, which turned out to be a 4oz perch, a little to big for bait but a pleasing start.

Bites on the whip were irregular and after an hour I had another 3 perch of a similar size in the net. I had a take on the worm rod, I struck and briefly felt the kick of a fish but hook didn't hold. Eventually I started getting fish more regularly on the whip, with a few being small enough for bait.

A lip hooked 2oz perch was placed around 5meters out and I continued to trickle maggots over the top. I had another take on the worm rod which I hooked and it turned out to be a 6oz perch. The live bait hadn't been touched so I switched back to the whip and maggot. The float buried on the first put in and a decent perch was hooked, the perch put up a decent scrap which was magnified on the light tackle (No 3 elastic and 1lb line).

Largest of the day, exactly 1lb 
I changed to a worm on the whip and this was quickly taken by a skimmer, 4 more skimmers were
quickly added before I switched back to the live bait. Throughout the session all live baits went untouched and I had most interest on the maggot and worm, with the largest perch caught on a maggot. I finished the session with 10 perch and 7 skimmers, not a bad first visit and I will definitely be returning and having another perch session. I was also pleased with how the back biters and rollovers worked together, although I will be testing this combination further in future sessions I can see no reasons why I won't be using this combo long term.

Saturday 15 March 2014

End of season review (Pike)

A quick breakdown of my pike season -

Number of sessions - 24
Number of venues - 8 (4 Rivers, 4 Still waters)
Number of new venues - 6 (3 Rivers, 3 Still waters)

Number of pike caught - 14
Number of doubles - 1
Largest pike caught - 10lb 6oz

Caught on bait - 3
Caught on lure - 11

Largest of the season
My season started very slowly as I was struggling to find the time to get out, then the weather changed and most waters were in flood and un-fishable. As of the second week in February I had only caught 4 pike, I then started fishing waters made available to me by joining new clubs/syndicates and I managed 10 in the final 6 weeks.

I am fairly satisfied with my pike season, although I would of liked to have caught more and certainly bigger pike, I have managed more than I did last season. I have also fished more new waters and more diverse stretches of river than I have done in the past.

Ready for next season
Over the coming months I am planning a number of trips for tench and as the weather gets warmer I will be targeting eels with the aim of catching a 2lb plus fish, I am also hoping for a 2lb plus perch. I will try and fit the occasional pike session in, possibly at a some of the larger northern lakes or maybe some spring surface 'frogging' on the local waters. If I get the chance I would like a few days in the Lake District or the Scottish Borders, but with a hectic family life  I will be lucky to get the opportunity.

Friday 14 March 2014

A frustrating end to the season

This week in-between school runs I somehow managed to get out for at least a couple of hours each day.


I arrived at the stretch I planned to fish but there were already 2 cars in the car park and as it is a small stretch I decided to move on. I got the map out and headed for a stretch further upstream, this part of the river turned out to be fairly shallow and I wasn't very confident, but as I had limited time I decided to give it ago anyway.

I had a rod out for the chub and a dead bait out for the pike, I roved a 300m stretch moving every 20 minutes or so, but nothing happened and I failed to catch.

A shallow stretch, more suited to the warmer months

I travelled further upstream to an area which has produced large pike this winter but on seeing the river I knew it was going to be difficult. The river was very low and extremely clear and with the bright sunshine conditions were against me, other than watching a kingfisher catch minnows nothing noteworthy happened and the session turned into another blank.


After a 40 minute drive I arrived at a different river just before first light, the fog was thick and freezing and I wasn't really dressed appropriately. Again I had a rod for the chub and a rod for pike and despite the initial excitement of a early bite on the chub rod (which was missed) nothing else
materialised and the session turned into yet another blank. The weather horrendous and the freezing fog didn't lift from the valley all morning even after the 40 minute drive home I was still cold.

Freezing fog lasted all morning

I decided to change tactics and to stay as mobile as possible. With just a heavy lure outfit I arrived at the stretch of river just after 1000hrs and spent 30 minutes in the nearest pegs throwing various lures. I managed to cast into a tree and lost a lure, whilst I was tying on a new trace I saw a very large perch (4lb +) chasing fry in the margins. I quickly cast a small shad into the area but the perch soon spooked and swam back into the mid river depths. (area noted for future, lighter lure sessions)

I then decided to walk the river bank for a couple of miles and fish the obvious spots on the way back. After 40 minutes of walking I started fishing again a few casts later I had a large replicant stuck in a snag, eventually I managed to free the lure by straightening the single.

Strong tackle helped retrieve this snagged lure
I changed the lure for a large shad and aimed a cast at the far bank, as the lure approached the far
bank I started slowing the line with my thumb, I then realised that the lure wasn't slowing and the line had parted ! The break was caused by a failed knot from the mono backing to the braid, I think that the knot was weakened by repeatedly going through the rod guides. Somehow I stopped myself from launching the rod into the river.

4 blanks in a row !


After the previous 4 days of blanking I decided to stay local and lure fish stretches of river that I know well. I was down the river for 0615hrs fish were topping, the weather was warm but slightly overcast and I was quietly confident of a fish. Again I was using my heavy lure rod a DLST Sledgehammer II, casting various large lures castaics, replicants, hell hounds etc... But after an hour my initial optimism had all but disappeared, I walked further upstream and spent another 30 minutes without so much as a knock. I then went for some breakfast, I was going to call it a day but didn't want to end the season on a blank.

I spent an hour fishing the stretch that goes through the town centre, again this was un-eventful and no pike were landed. I decided to pay a visit to my banker water, each time I have fished it I have at least hooked into a pike. The pike in this water are generally small, but after 4 blanks in a week I couldn't care less.

After 15 minutes at my banker water I hooked into a pike, the pike put up a spirited scrap for about 20 seconds then gave in. Finally a pike was landed ! not a monster but I had ended the run of blanks. I decided against any further cast and headed home.

Final day pike
That's my river season finished and to be honest I'm pleased it's over.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Simple close range rig

Whilst on a recent session I had a chat to a fellow pike angler about rigs, he has only ever fished for pike with lures and was very interested in the rig I was using. I pointed him in the direction of the Pike Anglers Club and told him I would post a photo of the rig.

The rig is a very simple running ledger rig and is made from the following components -

Mainline (15lb mono)
John Roberts Run Ring
Lead (2oz minimum)
John Roberts Buffer Bead XL

Keep it simple
For close range piking I tend to use mono over braid (usually 15lb Daiwa Sensor) a run ring is threaded onto the line and then a buffer bead, finally a standard 2 treble trace is then attached via a Palomar knot. As a minimum I use a 2 ounce lead (more if needed) to aid the resistance free properties of the rig. The rig is also fished with an open bail arm.

This rig is virtually tangle free and I have a lot of confidence in it. I have a preference for simple rigs and this rig is probably as simple as it gets.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Short but sweet

It was decided that I would be spending the last weekend of the river season with family and by Sunday I was getting a bit restless, so I made my excuses and grabbed a lure rod and headed out to a local water. On the third cast the lure was hit and shortly after a small jack was in the net.

Jerk bait tempted pike
I stayed for another 30 minutes without any further success and then headed home. I was back home within the hour and the urge to wet a line had been satisfied, well at least for today anyway.

Plans for the last few days of the season

With the end of season drawing closer I am planning to put a lot of effort into the rivers this week. If the rivers stay in a similar condition as they are now I am confident of a few fish. Hopefully I will be able to fit in a short session each day and I have a few stretches of river in mind that I would like to fish.

Hopefully I can finish the season with a bang.

Saturday 8 March 2014

Top 5 lures

The majority of the pike I catch are caught on a lure of some kind and over the last few years I have managed to acquire a fair collection. Yesterday whilst I was having a quick sort out of my lures I found too many lures in boxes, lures that have never been cast and lures that I have no confidence in or interest using. It got me thinking what are my favorite lures and what are my most successful lures ?

I decided to put up a short post so I could have a look back in a few years and compare with the lures I am using at the time.

Lures currently in favour
1. Fox Replicant - any size, but I have had most success on the 'Red Perch' variant.

2. Mann's Shad - 4 and 6 inch versions.

3. Salmo Slider - I have only recently starting using the sliders but they have quickly became a firm favourite.

4. Maxi Mouse - A handmade lure by Dave Greenwood. I have had success with both the Maxi Mouse and the XL version (pictured), I recently lost my standard size Maxi Mouse to a snag so I will probably order 1 or 2 more for next season.

5. Kuusamo Professor Spoon - I have a few spoons but have only caught on this type mainly on this 45g cooper version.

I could of easily included Burt's, Savage Gear 4 Plays and Rapala SSR's etc.... but the lures pictured are what I mainly use.

I wonder what lures will be in vogue lures in the coming years.....

Thursday 6 March 2014

Hit and Miss

Today I managed a full day on a still water, after getting up before 0430 hrs I was at the water for roughly 0630 hrs. Things were going smoothly until I went to put my waders on and I noticed a small tear on the back of the waders, I decided to carry on, wear them and hope for the best. After 5 minutes or so the tear was virtually from boot to boot and left me with no more than wellies ( time for some new waders ).

Luckily the water had dropped around 2 ft since my last visit and I would be able to manage in the torn waders. As I was setting up my first rod I dropped a backbiter in the water and then water got into the ripped waders as I was fishing the backbiter out, not the best start to the day !

Just after first light
I had 3 baits in the water before 0700 hrs and I had positioned the rods to leave me with enough room to have a throw with some lures. After 15 minutes or so I had a take on a Manta which turned out to be a jack.

1st of the day
The jack had a large scar on its back, which I'm hoping was from a much larger pike and not a cormorant or an otter. Whilst I was busy making breakfast I had a take on a dead roach, I saw the arm dropping but could see that I had left the bail arm closed ! As soon as the fish felt the resistance of the bail arm the bait was dropped. Around 50 minutes later a pike followed my lure (Savage Gear Freestyler) and tried to hit it 3 times but missed on each occasion, I recast and pulled the jerk bait through the same area again, the pike went for the lure again and missed. I quickly changed the lure and cranked it through the same area, the pike nailed it 1st time.

The leech covered pike that took a lure at the 5th attempt
An hour or so later I had a take on the left rod which was baited with a large section of lamprey, I lent into the fish and it felt heavy, the fish powered off but I managed to turn it and gain control, then the line went slack. After reeling in I checked the rig and trace and everything seemed fine, annoyed I baited with another large section of lamprey and recast into the same area. The lost fish felt fairly heavy and would of definitely been the biggest of my season.

After lunch the weather turned, what was a mild warm breeze had changed to icy cold wind with some heavy gusts thrown in as well. The change in weather seemed to turn the fish off completely and nothing happened for a couple of hours.

I was still annoyed from losing the last fish and was considering leaving and stopping by a stretch of river on the way home for an hour, however I had a quick chat with a local who informed me that the pike often have a feeding spell at around 4 ish. I decided to stay put, fish on and see what happened. At exactly 4 pm I had a take on another jerk bait (Hell Puppy) which managed to free itself within a few seconds. A couple of casts later I was quickly playing another small pike, this time fooled by a Salmo Slider, the pike was quickly unhooked and returned. The feeding spell didn't last long and was over sooner than I hoped, I decided to call it a day, although I did take my time leaving the bait rods in for as long as I could, no other pike were taken.

Slider caught pike
This is my third visit to this water and will be my last until June when I will be targeting a different species. In my 3 visits I have caught 7 pike with only 1 being a double, the water does hold a good head of doubles and I will be trying to improve this ratio next season.

Until June......

Saturday 1 March 2014

Indicators and short river sessions

In the past week I have had 2 new sets of indicators arrive, a set of Pete Fosters drop off's and a set of Zandavan Rollovers. The Pete Foster arms were a bit of an impulse purchase as I have recently started using some older Mark Houghton line gates, which seem to be spot on for what I need. Initial impressions of Pete's arms are really good, over engineered and look built to last, perfect for a heavy handed piker. I plan to use the arms directly with the backbiters. The rollovers will also be used with the backbiters whilst targeting eels in the summer, again these seem to be built to last and I'm looking forward to using them.

A selection of indicators (top to bottom)
Billy's Backbiter ball and PTFE arms, Mark Houghton's line gates, Pete Fosters drop off's and Zandavan Rollovers 

This week I managed 2 short session, both on different rivers. The first session was on Wednesday and was my second visit to this stretch. Tactics for the afternoon were 1 bait rod and 1 rod for the chub, conditions seemed perfect the river was falling, the colour was dropping and it was slightly overcast. After around 30 minutes I had a wrap around on the chub rod and stuck into thin air. Nothing else followed despite moving swims every 20 minutes or so.

New drop offs in action ( well sort of !)
On Thursday I had a couple of hours spare and after checking the river levels I decided on a quick session on a stretch closer to home. This is the first time this season I have been able to get onto this stretch as it has regularly been in flood. I arrived at around 11 and I would need to be heading home by around 2 pm. Again tackle was kept to a minimum with 1 bait rod and one medium lure rod. I spent around 15 minutes or so in each likely area before moving on to the next. On the third move I had a hard hit on the lure rod, a 6 inch orange Replicant was taken mid river. Unfortunately after 15 seconds or so the fish came off, after a quick check of the lure it seems that the fish hit the head of the lure as there was a lot of damage to the rubber. A few more casts in the same area followed, but there was no further takes.

River in fine fettle 
After a few more uneventful moves I had to call it a day and head home, I would like to be able to get another session in on this stretch before this season ends and hopefully the river will be in a similar condition.

During the last two unsuccessful sessions I managed to have a good play with the Pete Foster drop offs and they perform very well, due to the method of adjustment it is very easy to match the tension of the 'clip' to the flow of the river. Once setup correctly I didn't have any false indications caused by the flow of water and in some swims I was using 4.5 oz to hold bottom effectively. I am very pleased with these drop offs so far, hopefully they will get some 'action' of an actual take before the river season finishes. Currently I think I will use the new drop off's on running water as I like how easy they are to adjust to suit different conditions, but I will stick to the line gates for still waters as I have found they are very sensitive.

Plans for the coming week are for at least one full day session. This will probably be split over two waters as one of the still waters I fish follows the traditional close season and I would also like to get as many hours as possible on the river bank ( too many waters, not enough time to fish!) It is likely that I will grab a short lure session on a local water as well.