Monday, 30 July 2012

Crucian fishing-teaches me a 'Marsh' lesson

Being an all round angler has it's benefits and it's downsides. I could never be a single species angler, fair play to those that are but I love going to new places (as well as familiar ones), catching different species using different methods and the whole anticipation throughout the week for the next session.
My problem is I try to vary it too much and whilst I feel I enjoy more than my fair share of success sometimes I feel a bit out of my depth.
The key is to learn from that and improve for next time. This weekends attempt at catching a monster Crucian was just that, a massive learning curve. They are a fish that I have largely ignored so far but intend to put that right. I will tell you what I did wrong this time and how I feel I could put it right. Any advice is welcome.
I made the long journey to a mecca of Crucian Carp fishing, Marsh Farm in Surrey. A good place to start in that it is a proven big Crucian venue but I thought I could just turn up, cast in a float, catch a big 'un and be home for tea. I was wrong.
I came here last year and fished maggots on one rod and got mullered by Roach and tiddlers all day. On the other rod I fluked a Tench and a Crucian using a mini bolt rig with pellet as bait. I felt that his year all I had to do was float fish pellet and I would catch Crucian all day. I still put out the sleeper rod as a back up.
The sleeper rod caught me a couple of Tench and I also had one other run that failed to hook up.
The float rod was fished with an insert waggler, size 16 hook, 6mm soft hooker pellet cast to the right of the above picture next to the reeds. I regularly fed the pellets all day to keep the bites coming and keep coming they did. There was just one problem. Could I hit them, could I buggery! Nearly every strike was met by nothing. I did catch: Tench close to 7lb, great fights on 3lb line on a float rod but they did mess up the swim for a bit.
This old warrior deserved to be photographed 
I also had Roach as well plus a couple of fish bumped off but no Crucian. I am convinced I had bites from the golden beauties though.
Let me tell you what I think I did wrong: An insert waggler was too heavy, 3lb line should have a 2lb-ish hooklink, a number 8 shot near the hook is fatal and fishing two inches over depth is a schoolboy error.

What I think I got right: bait placement in the margins and the bait itself, I did get plenty of bites! I used too crude tackle to convert them.

So in summary next visit I will still use pellet as bait but with a size 16 hook, 2.2lb hooklink, 3lb mainline, a pole float (pinprick showing) and the bait at exact depth. (Method feeder on the sleeper.)

Any more suggestions gratefully received!

Thursday, 26 July 2012


The river looked in perfect condition this evening, just a touch of colour to it and virtually at normal summer level. Everything was alive, fish leaping about all over the place plus bugs, flies and mosquitos(three bites!) everywhere. I arrived fairly late but only a couple of minutes too late to miss out on the peg I really wanted to fish so I settled into a spot where I have had fish before but it is a third choice peg.
I am still rating luncheon meat as the prime bait for the Avon despite the recent problems with Eels. If they leave it alone for long enough then the Barbel are on to it and seem to get caught. Pellet on the other hand seems to be avoided completely.
I cast out and was getting the now familiar Eel taps straight away. Nothing hittable but at least it was action. If the taps stopped then the bait was gone so I knew exactly when it was time to rebait and cast. I fished a longer than usual hair which meant I avoided hooking the Eels. Third chuck out and I got a hittable bite and played out a fight with a 4lb 7oz Chub.

More taps and recasting followed until I got the unmistakeable screaming run of a Barbel. I managed to turn it and take control. The fight continued to that point where you feel you are winning, the fish was in front of me, out of sight but below the rod tip then suddenly everything went slack. I reeled in lead, hook, the lot, a hook pull! The hook was brand new and hook length were just tied on the bank so I checked the rig but all was good. I felt it was just one of those things. It happens to all of us.
The rest of the short session followed the same routine. Cast out , taps from Eels, landed a Chub (3lb odd) and then a screaming Barbel run. Unbelievable, the hook pulled out again. I have great faith in the tackle I use so I am putting it all down to an unlucky session but if I lose the next one I know I will have to rethink the lot. Confidence in the gear we use is a big factor in fishing and I hate losing it.
I continued for an hour or so later but the swim had gone quiet. Frustrating to lose fish but better to have hooked and lost than to have not hooked at all.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

At last some Ruddy sunshine!

At last we had some summer weather forecast and that influenced my decision as to what to fish for. An overgrown lily pad infested pool where I could target the beautiful Rudd. If this pool held Crucians as well it would be the perfect summer venue, sadly it doesn't but it does contain a few hard fighting wild Carp.
This water is not a stocked commercial and it is not over fished. I have been there a few times and at the most there are only ever three or four anglers on there, today was no different. It is never advertised and there are never matches on there. I heard about it through word of mouth and I hope it stays that way.
The pool is full of fish so a blank is never on the cards, the difficult thing is getting to the better specimens. I fished soft pellets on the drop, casting into the slight 'bay' in the lilies that you can see in the photo. The only problem I had was keeping the bait on the hook, by baiting little and often, if the pellet stayed on the hook I would get a bite, usually within three seconds.
I finished the day with a net full, mostly Rudd, a few Roach and I also had Carp (which I did not put in the keepnet). The best fights came from the Carp, I had to play them very carefully on 3lb line in the snaggy water, I landed three and only lost one. None of them were big but they were immaculate, no 'boilie bellies', split fins or mangled mouths.

Wild common Carp
I didn't count the final total but there must have been nearly a hundred fish caught, the pick of the Rudd deserved to be photographed.
 None over a pound but some getting close, a thoroughly enjoyable Summer's day catching stunning fish in beautiful surroundings and no jacket required.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Pb on the fly

Landing a target fish does not complete the task, it merely creates another target. Having caught a 9lb 12oz Carp on the fly a couple of weeks ago I set myself a double as the next step. Tonight I achieved just that. It wasn't easy mind. My stash of mixers has been running low and I had intended to stock up today but completely forgot. Prior planning and all that! I had a few left so I still went down to Stubb's pool armed with the fly gear.
I decided that the best place to start was the site of my only success but within ten minutes I knew the Carp were either not there or not feeding. The swim was lifeless. I gave it a bit of time to see if the free bait would attract any fish to the area but it did not work. I moved to an enticing spot between to lily beds. Again the freebies were catapulted out but despite that the swim also seemed dead.
Where are you fish?

With the light fading rapidly I thought I would try one more spot. The last of my mixers went out but this time there was fish in the swim and they started to slowly feed. I cast out my deer hair imitation amongst them but no bite was forthcoming. Bloody frustrating.
The light faded almost completely and I could not see the bait but just as I was thinking of accepting the blank the line straightened and it was 'fish on'.
The fight was fun but not spectacular and within no time I had a biggest ever 'Carp on the fly' pb.
10lb 3oz
There was no point in trying for another so off I went to the pub to celebrate.
A target done but now I want a twenty on the fly!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Only mad ducks and an Englishman

Despite the terrible inclement weather I ventured down to the Warks Avon for a couple of hours Barbel fishing this evening. I knew I would have the pick of the swims because nobody else would be mad enough to be fishing in the torrential rain we are having, yet again!
Over the last few years I have read many times that Eel numbers are down by 95%, I don't believe that figure.  My bait tonight was ledgered luncheon meat and they were absolutely mullering the bait as soon as it was cast in. First fish an Eel of about a pound. The rod tip was bouncing and twitching all night as the Eels attacked the meat often stripping the bait but not getting hooked.

The next proper bite thankfully was a three foot twitch and after a brilliant fight I landed an 8lb 13oz Barbel. A solid stocky fish that fought like a double but wasn't long enough to weigh that much.
I took two self take photos, I will not take any more than that because it would cause the fish to much stress  but due to the conditions the photos were crap. This was the best of them, not up to my usual standard but it will suffice.
I ended the session with one more smaller Barbel and went to the pub contented that I had had a result when most other anglers would not have bothered trying.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Brown Water Barbelling

The Warwickshire Avon has been up and down since the start of the season. At the start of the season it was a very strong reddish brown colour and something put me off, I just did not fancy it to produce fish. Today it was at it's highest point this year following yesterday's 'months worth of rain' (seem to have heard that a lot lately!) This time around however it was a more familiar chocolate brown and I fancied it for a Barbel.
The problem I find with a swollen river is fish location. Are they in the flow making the most of the bountiful larder being swept down to them? Are they sheltering out of the flow avoiding all the rubbish and debris that is washed downstream? Are they under the willows foraging in areas that have previously been under water? Probably all three, the river is wider than normal so there is more area to search, a daunting task.
The first swim I tried had been successful for me in the past in similar conditions but today it seem dead. I was fishing pellet wrapped in paste which I am confident in catching on and although I saw a Barbel roll it was under the far bank willows. An impossible area to fish due to the amount of debris coming downstream.
The next two swims produced the same result, nothing, both good swims in normal conditions but not right for today.

In the final swim I changed tack slightly. Pellet on one rod and luncheon meat on the other. I had grabbed a small tin on my way out this morning purely as an afterthought and this was the bait that went first. A couple of taps and then the rod bent right over. The fish felt good but not Barbel like so I suspected it was a Chub. It was actually an Eel.
1lb 6oz
A quick weigh and photo and back it went. I was pleased because it had stopped me from blanking.
With renewed enthusiasm another lump of meat was cast to the same spot.
Less than an hour later the rod hooped over again and the free spool screamed, an obvious Barbel bite. The fish felt strong in the fight but it's power faded rapidly telling me this was no monster. I netted a small Barbel and as I unhooked it I noticed a bite on my other rod. I put the Barbel in the net in the water to recuperate and reeled in a Bream.
Not a typical brace shot! Bream and 4lb 11oz Barbel
I thought I was crazy sitting in the rain but I could not believe my eyes when this lot turned up. A stupidly dangerous pastime in these conditions.
Confidence was high now and the next fish came quickly. It was a part blind cousin of the other Barbel weighing 4lb 12oz.
I had only picked up the meat as an afterthought so only had one small tin with me and I was running out fast. On virtually the last piece I nailed one more fish and it turned out to be the best of the day, 8lb 12oz.
An excellent finale. A couple of hours in the right place made up for several hours in the wrong place. Or was it the bait? As always with fishing, more questions than answers!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Fly Carp-the return

Last week I was happy to have hooked (and lost) a Carp on a fly. This week I wanted to go one stage better. The weather gods were kind again, warm temperatures and not a jot of wind. Less cloud would have been good but two out of three ain't bad.
This week I had Stubbs pool to myself. I chose a spot where the fish had been taking the mixers last time as there was a few to be seen cruising the upper layers. Out came the new fly rod, 10lb leader and I tied on a deer hair imitation dog biscuit.

There is something about the feel and casting of a fly rod that is special. I cannot find the words to describe it but I am really get into this way of fishing. Maybe it is just because it is novel and new to me but at the moment I am loving it.
The 'experts' tell us when floater fishing to steadily feed the fish and build up their confidence for ages before casting out. I sat down and started to fire out some mixers. Within seconds the Carp were on to them. My patience lasted less than a minute. I cast out into the middle of the freebies.
The beauty of fly fishing is the soft landing of the bait. No splash of a controller to make the fish wary. You don't have to cast beyond and slowly drag the lot into place spooking all the fish in the area as the float makes bow waves across the lake. No just land the bait gently in the middle as if it were any other mixer.
Within seconds I had a take. I struck, felt the fish, the rod curved right over, one kick of the tail and the rod sprang back straight. An annoying start. I recast and fed some more freebies. The fish were still hungry and not spooked. Before long I had another chance and missed it completely. A hazard of floater fishing but still pretty frustrating.
The fish were still really having it and the third chance that came along I hooked into the fish and it set off like a train. The rod is pretty powerful as far as fly rods go but I was powerless to stop this initial run, It sounded good the reel screaching until the fish found weed to it's liking and everything locked up. I gave it steady pressure for a bit but nothing happened. I lowered the rod to let the line go slack. If the fish moved I would know because the end of the floating fly line would move also. It looked like nothing was happening so I decided to give it some more steady pressure. I felt a kick and it started to come free. I managed to slowly get the fish back into open water and then I thoroughly enjoyed the fight as I had enough power in the rod to exert as much pressure as I liked. Within a few minutes I had my first ever 'fly caught' coarse fish in the net.

Normally I would just put a fish of this size straight back but as I felt it was a monumental occasion I wanted a weight to go with it, I am sad, I know.
9lb 12oz of lovely 'Golden Bonefish'.

There was little more action so eventually I went to the pub to help me decide what species to target next on the fly!