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!