Tuesday 29 July 2014

New rod - average session

Over the weekend I acquired a new rod, a 14ft Drennan Acolyte Plus. I mainly plan on using the rod for stick float sessions were there is a chance of a bigger fish, also it will come in handy for fishing the slider on the lower reaches of the river.

Today I managed to get out and test the rod, I planned to fish the same tactics as my last session, just replacing the Series 7 rod for the new Acolyte. I took 5 pints of maggots and a tub of worms, hoping to feed off the dace and attract the bigger perch.

Impressive so far - 14ft Drennan Acolyte Plus
The morning started the same as the recent sessions, the small dace were coming fairly regularly and by 6am I had around 10 fish in the keepnet. I steadily increased the rate of feed hoping the perch would follow but it took around 3 hours to get the first perch in the net. The perch were a lot smaller than on my more recent sessions, nothing more than 8oz. Eventually I hooked a better fish, nothing massive but a perch of 1lb 2oz was soon in the net. I switched over to the avon rod, lip hooked a small dace and ran it down the margin, after a few seconds there was a large swirl and the dace was taken. A better perch was on, it was a definite 2lb + fish, but the hook pulled shortly after I managed to get it to the surface. That was the only perch I managed to tempt on the livebait.

I ended the day with just under 9lb of fish, around 70 dace and 11 perch. The dace were mainly small but there was the odd 5 or 6oz fish in amongst them, the perch averaged about 6oz with only one going over a pound.

Initial impressions of the rod are good, it's a lot lighter than the shorter rod I've been using. I bumped quite a few small dace but that could be down to using a larger hook than I was last time out. I was hoping to hook a chub or a large perch to give the rod a more thorough testing, hopefully next time....

Friday 25 July 2014

Man vs mink (new eel p.b)

After catching my target perch on the previous couple of outings I decided to renew my eel campaign. During my 3 eel sessions this season I haven't managed to bank one yet, although I have caught some nice fish, the 'snigs' have remained elusive.

I decided on a change of venue for my latest session, the lower stretches of my local river. The reason for the change of venue was simply that it is 5 minutes from my front door to the riverbank and I have caught plenty of eels (bootlaces) there in the past.

I was on the riverbank by 2030hrs and had 4 rods in the river soon after, the rods were setup as follows -

Rod 1 - Dyson rig set to fish 2ft from the bottom (right margin)
Rod 2 - J.S rig with ledger stem fished mid-river
Rod 3 - J.S rig with ledger stem and block end feeder filled with chopped worm, fished mid-river
Rod 4 - J.S rig over a bed of dead maggots (left margin)

I took roach and sand eel dead baits and also had plenty of worms to use.

Baits in the water, sit back and relax
I didn't have to wait too long for my first run, just after dark the backbiter on the 2nd rod lit up and line was peeling from the spool. Eagerly I was at the rod within a second, I took up the slack and struck into thin air ! The next run came to the 3rd rod, again line was peeling from the spool, I waited slightly longer before striking but again I struck into thin air !

Just before midnight I had a run on the left hand margin rod, I hurried to the rod took up the slack and struck. I felt the kick of a fish then things went solid, I was snagged. As I was reeling in a large branch it started fighting back! I brought it to the surface and I could see the white underside of an eel on the end of the line but the line was also wrapped around a branch. After a bit of a tussle I netted the eel and managed to untangle the line from the branch. On checking the net it was obvious that this was a definite p.b. I quickly unclipped the trace, weighted the eel, took a quick photo with the phone and placed the eel into a sack which was staked in the margin.

The margin rod was baited and recast, just as I was settling down on my chair the 2nd rod went again. I rushed over to the rod and in the excitement I managed to slip into the river, I quickly dropped the rod and grabbed the vegetation (nettles) to pull myself onto the bank, needless to say when I eventually got control of the rod the eel was well gone.

Spot the mink 
After a few choice words I sorted myself out and once again I had 4 baits in the water. I was sitting back enjoying the peaceful surrounding when the bushes starting to rustle, this went on for a while. It sounded like two or more animals were fighting/mating. Initally I thought they were rats, then then noise they started making made me think they were cats, something ran from the bushes and entered the water, otters? Eventually I realised they were mink.

Spot the mink (2)
The mink were extremely active and didn't seem concerned by my presence, I think the scent of my dead baits and the eel in the sack sent them into a bit of a frenzy. A mink tried to attack the sack, shining a torch on them even throwing stones didn't seem to deter them. In the end I had to keep my head torch on the brightest setting and use a storm pole to keep them away from my gear and the sack.

After a good 45 minutes they finally got the message and left me alone. Needless to say I didn't get any more takes whilst all this was going on. I had a final take at around 0410hrs, which again was missed. I took a few photos of my new p.b eel and released it back into the warm water.

The first of the year.
A new p.b 2lb 7oz

Pleased with the first eel of the year and also a new p.b, I was shattered so I headed home to get a few hours sleep.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Another perch session

This morning was spent targeting perch on the river. I started fishing the stick float using the same tackle as my last session but I didn't bother with a hook length this time and just used 4.4lb Drennan Float Fish straight through. I also had a 1.25lb avon rod set up for live baiting, tackle on this rod was 6lb Sensor, a large loafer float and a 12" 15lb trace to a size 8 hook.

The session started pretty much the same as the last, I was catching small dace every other trot down the swim, as I gradually increased the feed the dace obliged and I was soon catching a dace every cast. After around 20 dace in the net I switched over to double red maggot and instantly hooked a good fish. The fish fought very hard for a couple of minutes but the hooked pulled, I didn't see the fish but I am pretty certain it was a large perch. I continued feeding fairly heavily (around a pint of maggots per hour) and the dace continued to feed freely, eventually I landed my first perch of the day which was well over a pound.

I continued to catch the odd dace, but as the morning progressed the perch starting showing more and the dace became more scarce. I tried the live bait rod and instantly caught a 1lb + perch, this was followed by 2 or 3 more but slightly smaller examples. A change back to the stick and a better fish was hooked, the fish fought well but not as aggressively as the perch, it made a number of attempts to get behind some marginal tree roots but I manged to net it at the first attempt.

My largest running water chub
A chub of 4lb 3oz was placed in the keepnet, I quickly recast to try and get another. The float went straight under and another decent perch was landed. The next fish hooked was another chub but after a short but spirited fight it swam around a boulder in the margin and the hooked pulled. At this point I had ran out of bait so had a few last casts with a dace live bait and a 10oz perch was landed.

1lb 10oz and 1lb 15oz, the largest two perch of the session

I ended the session with 1 chub (4lb 3oz) 13 perch for 11lb 2oz (largest 1lb 15oz) and approximately 50 dace.

The morning was very enjoyable but was over far too quickly, the 4 pints of bait I had lasted around 4 hours and I can't help thinking that I would of had a real red letter day if I had taken more. The chub I caught is my best running water chub which is very pleasing as is the fact that I am now catching 1lb plus perch more regularly. To finish the morning in style we stopped off, had a couple of pints of Amstel in a nice beer garden, I can't think of many better ways to spend a summers morning.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Successful stick session - 2 new p.b's

This morning was spent fishing the stick float on a stretch upstream from where I have spent my last few stick sessions. Tackle for the day was kept simple and I used a  Drennan Series 7 13ft competition float rod coupled with an Abu 506 reel, a small  5 no 4 cane stick float, 4.4lb float fish mainline to a 3.3lb (0.10mm) hook length to a size 16 Kamasan B520 hook. I took 4 pints of maggots (white with a handful of reds) and a pint of caster left from my last session.

A view from the peg at 0530hrs
I was aiming to gradually build the swim by feeding maggots every 30 seconds or so and when the better fish turned up introduce the caster. I was getting bites from the first cast but it took a few adjustments to the rig before I began to hook them, the bites were mainly from small dace ranging from 1/2oz to around 4oz. The first decent fish came on the first trot down with double red maggot it was a grayling of 11oz, this was only the second grayling I have caught and it was a lot bigger than the first so a definite p.b.

Over the next hour I gradually increased the feed, the dace were now coming every trot down. I hooked into something a lot larger. At first I thought I had hooked into a snag but the line started moving upstream steadily, the fish was hugging the bottom, it felt heavy but didn't seem to be fighting too hard. I increased the pressure to try and get the fish to the surface, but it was having none of it and I realised that I was going to struggle to land the fish on the tackle I was using. I managed to get the fish off the bottom and I got a brief glimpse of its bronze flank and large tail, then it realised it was hooked and it rapidly headed for the far bank. The hook length snapped fairly easy and the fish was gone, I wasn't too disappointed as I knew I wouldn't have been able to land it anyway. 

I continued to feed the swim while I had a bit of a rest and sorted out the rig. The next run down I hooked something else decent, a perch of around a pound. I continued upping the feed and was still getting the dace nearly every trot downstream. I tried double red maggot again and hooked into something that fought very hard, the fish made several runs upstream, however each run was shorter than the last and after a minute or two I could see that it was a very large perch, easily 3lb plus. I had the perch on the surface and was guiding it towards the net when the perch flipped and snapped the hook length ! I was gutted as this perch would of easily doubled my best. I kept the feed going in whilst I sorted the rig, I decided that I would fish the 4.4lb mainline straight through to the hook.

First run down on the new rig and I was into a decent fish again, I was sure it was a perch and I knew it would be a definite p.b if I landed it. The perch fought hard and made several attempts to get into the tree roots but I managed to net it at the first attempt.
A new p.b 2lb 4oz
After weighing the perch I would put 'the perch that got away' at over 3lb and probably pushing 3lb 8oz.

I kept up the rhythm of feeding, casting, feeding then striking, if I missed the bite I would feed again before reeling in, if I hooked into a dace I would feed before unhooking it. Every 15 minutes or so the float would make it to the end of the run without going under, so then I would put double red maggot on hook for the next run through. More often than not this would result in a perch, this continued until around 1000hrs when bites started to become less frequent, even from the dace. The river had dropped an inch or two and it was losing its colour fast, I stuck at it but once the sun broke the tree line it became even more difficult. Bites became very infrequent and I was running low on bait so I switched to the caster, the dace left the caster alone and I managed to tempt a few more perch.
Some of the perch
I had my last cast just before midday and took a very small chub on a rubber caster. I ended up with 1 grayling (11oz - new p.b) 2 very small chub, 12 perch (1 over 2lb and 4 over 1lb, smallest 6oz) and over 100 dace (I lost count after 50) with the biggest dace going to around 8 oz.
2 new bests

At the beginning of the year I set myself the target of catching a 2lb eel and a 2lb perch, I will try to concentrate on the eels now until the autumn but I can see myself having a few more stick sessions after these perch.

Monday 14 July 2014

A social session

Yesterday I spent the day on a river with the members of a local forum - Teesside Angling. We arranged to meet up at around 7am but I struggled to sleep so I decided to get up early and get an hours lure fishing in on a water close to the river.

The water is choked with weed so I was using weedless frog lures on the surface. I was expecting plenty of action but the pike seemed fairly inactive and although plenty of fish were topping I didn't see any pike strikes. After 20 minutes I had a take but it was off after a few seconds, another 10 minutes later and I had another take which again quickly freed itself, both times the lure was taken very close to the marginal reeds. The takes were half hearted unlike the usual takes I have been getting with these lures, the pike have been launching themselves at the lure, I was hoping that this start wasn't the sign of things to come.

My first gudgeon in 15 years
I met up with the lads and picked an area with a bit of depth and plenty of overhanging bushes which screamed chub. I heavily baited an area with boilies and a mix of pellet and used my heavier rod with a running lead and a hair rigged bait over the top.

I used a basic blockend feeder on my lighter rod with a caster/maggot mix aiming to pick up whatever came along. It took around half an hour for bites on the feeder to materialise and the first fish caught was a gudgeon, then a small dace and another gudgeon soon followed.

A lucky escap

A positive take on the feeder and a better fish was on, I thought it was a chub but as I got it closer to the net I saw it was a small pike. The fish was going to be netted the pike bit through the hooklength. After that I went for a bit of a wander and had a chat with the other lads and it seemed that no one had caught anything of note.

After an hour or so I rebaited my heavy line with 6 baitdroppers worth of hemp and pellet and carried on fishing the feeder. I had a couple of small dace and was considering setting up the stickfloat rod but then the tip went round and I struck into a better fish. The fish was giving a good account of itself and I was having to put a lot of pressure on to keep it out of the snags, I had the net ready and I could see the fish was a chub of about 3 - 4 pounds. I was drawing the chub towards the net when it made an attempt to get to the tree roots on the near bank, it succeeded and managed to break the hooklink on the roots! I quickly retied a hooklength, cast into a similar area within 30 seconds the rod was off again and I struck into what seemed to be a similar fish to the last. The fish took me into a mid-river snag and the line went solid, I allowed the line to slacken hoping the fish would swim out but it wasn't to be and the fish was off. Two decent fish lost within 5 minutes!

After losing the second fish I went for another walk to see if anyone had caught anything decent, which they hadn't. At around 6ish I baited the heavy line again ( during which I lost my baitdropper in a bush), I then gave the swim a rest for an hour. After another chat with the lads I had my final cast and I sat it out until 1030pm without a touch on the heavy rod. After checking this morning the two lads that stayed on until midnight didn't get anything either. Between the 7 of us fishing we failed to land either a barbel or chub although the water was a little low, the river had a bit of colour in and it was overcast for long periods so I'm surprised we didn't catch. I ended up with 5 dace to 6oz, 4 gudgeon and 2 perch, fishing wise the day was a bit of a disaster but it was good to put names to faces and I'll be definitely be attending the next 'forum fish in'.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Difficult stick session but a first grayling

I spent most of today fishing a new stretch of my usual river, the first hour or so was spent walking the banks, finding a few areas to fish and trying to spot a few fish. I found a few areas that I will be trying out over the next few weeks but didn't manage to spot any fish.

A beautiful place to spend a morning

I decided to fish the stick on a section that seemed to have a bit of depth and a bit of colour, things started well I had a grayling on my second cast then a perch on the next. The grayling was around 3oz and was the first time I had seen a grayling on the bank, unfortunately I couldn't get a photo as it flipped back into the river before I got my phone out. I quickly added a few dace and small chub to the net but then bites dried up.

The river was clearing and dropping quickly and after the first hour it had dropped a good 6 inches, I struggled in the changed conditions especially when the sun came out. The small chub and dace were very obliging almost to the point of becoming a nuisance as they were only an ounce or two. A small jack pike caused havoc in my swim for a while and helped itself to a few small dace.

The river seemed very low and each time the wind dropped or the sun broke from the clouds the bites would stop. This continued until early afternoon, I then spent an hour on the feeder and straight lead hoping to tempt a chub but I didn't get on touch on either rod. The last hour was spent heavily feeding the stick float line, the dace returned, I then had 3 more perch to around 10 oz on consecutive casts and a few more small chub before I had to call it a day and rush home for the school run !

Best of the bunch, the biggest went 10oz or so
After the grayling I was hoping for a few more, but I will be spending some time further upstream targeting these this winter. Although today's session wasn't the most productive, it was nice being out surrounded by the wildlife, the kingfishers were very active, a female goosander was teaching her offspring to catch fish and I caught a brief glimpse of an otter messing in the margins.

Friday 4 July 2014

Still no eels but a brace of p.b tench

Last night I fished my syndicate water for eels, things didn't start too well with a few issues at home meaning I didn't set off until half past 8. Things started to pick up as I got to the car park and I found that I had the water to myself again. By half past 9 I had 3 rods in the water, 1 dyson rig with a small perch deadbait and the other rods were JS rigs with homemade ledger stems baited with worms and a roach head.

After 45minutes I had a take on the worm rig, which was a perch of around 4oz. On this rod I was using a blockend feeder instead of the usual lead, this was filled with blended worms to try and attract the eels.

Small perch
Over the next few hours everything stayed quiet and I nodded off listening to the radio, at around 0130hrs I was woken by back biter sounding and line was peeling off reel on the worm rod. I was in a bit of a daze but I got to the rod quickly, closed the bale arm, wound down and struck, I felt the kick of a fish then everything went solid. The fish had taken me into the weed bed, I kept the pressure on as I was convinced it was an eel and I didn't want it taking me further into the weed, eventually the fish was clear and came to the net fairly easy. It was a surprise tench and a definite p.b. The tench went into a sack so I could get a decent photo at first light.

4lb 15oz - the first p.b tench of the night

Three hours later it was light enough for a photo and as I just about to take the sack out of the water, the worm rod was off again. I managed to stop the fish from getting to the weed bed and although it tried to put up a fight it was no match for the heavy tackle I was using. I netted it fairly quickly, another tench and it looked a fair bit bigger than the first.

Second p.b tench of the session, 6lb

After a couple of photos the tench were returned and I recast the worm rod whilst slowly packing up, within a minute of the bait being in the water I had another take, line was peeling from the spool and I was hoping for an eel, unfortunately it was another perch of similar size to the first. I packed up and was home for just after 6.

I had 4 runs in total and landed all of them, I was slightly concerned/frustrated that I didn't get any attention from the eels but a brace of p.b tench more than made up for it!

Stick float session

On Tuesday I had another morning fishing the stick, the river was very low and clear and with the bright sun I struggled to get anything of size. Bites were steady but mainly from minnow size chub and dace, I had around 50 fish but nothing bigger than 5/6oz, I will probably wait until the river gets some more water in before fishing again.

The largest of a very difficult session