Monday, 22 July 2013

A new arrival, my cameras and old age

My fishing has ground to a halt with the arrival of my third child a beautiful little girl that we have named Grace Josephine. Weighing 6lb 8oz she is a new 'personal best' beating her big brother by a meagre 1oz. Been far too busy to venture out on the bank but give me a week or two and I am sure I will get back to it.

I have been asked a few times what camera/set up I use for my blogging photographs which is a fantastic compliment. I admit to not being the greatest photographer but I try hard and am usually pleased with the results. My set up is not fancy or spectacular but it works for me.
When I was searching for a camera a few years ago I had a few must haves. It had to have a remote control for self takes, I wanted it to be better than a compact camera in terms of quality but I did not want to be lugging around a large DSLR with several lenses and finally it needed to have a large screen for instant reviews of the photo. When you have fish out of the water, speed is of the essence. I spoke to the bloke with the big fuzzy hair in the local independent camera shop and came away with a FUJI Finepix S2000HD and I have been really happy with it.
Remote control and bank stick adaptor 
I am not sure if they are still manufactured but if they are I would thoroughly recommend getting hold of one. Mine has taken nearly 3,700 photos and is still going strong. It works brilliantly outdoors but take it inside and I really struggle with it, just cannot seem to get the right settings for indoor shots. I use it mostly on auto but it does have some excellent other settings for action and landscape shots.
Last year I treated myself to a second camera. I fancied trying to get some underwater shots inspired by Matt Hayes excellent photography book,  Fisheye-A guide to angling photography. He recommended the Panasonic Lumix FT3. I am still getting to grips with this compact camera but it has produced some great shots, there are not many venues with clear enough water to get good sub surface photos but I will keep working on this. It is lightweight and simple to use and fits in the 'Finepix' bag.

There is one other camera that I use occasionally, a Nikon D60 that belongs to Mrs C and does not come fishing with me very often.

The quality of photos are superb, pin sharp and full of colour but it is too bulky and most of the time I cannot be bothered to carry it and all it's lenses. As I say it does take great photos, even at distance:-

A pair of nesting Buzzards through the long lens
Is it a sign of getting old if you suddenly become interested in angling the traditional way. It started a few months back when I treated myself to a centre pin reel purposefully for trotting and now I have purchased some hand-made traditional floats to go with it.
Hand-made by Ian Lewis-click here
Some Avons for summer Barbel, a couple of cork bobs for Autumn Grayling and the darts for Winter Perch/Roach, I cannot wait to get them wet. What next-split cane rod?? possibly.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

A fish filled friday morning

One of my favourite species is the dainty diminutive Dace. Not a spectacular fish in terms of size but stunning looking, and lightning quick. They are a species that will readily feed at all times of the year and their bites can be frustratingly missable but it doesn't matter when you do because the next opportunity is only moments away.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find the time for a full day session so an early start was again necessary in order to put in a few hours on the bank and I found myself tramping across the dew soaked fields at 4.30am on my way to a favourite Dace hotspot, Barton weir. I travelled light (for me!), rod, net, rucksack seat, holdall and a bucket filled with four pints of red and white maggots. My intention was to feeder fish, I enjoy trotting for them but the fast pace of the swim means a lot of time spent reeling in and recasting and time is precious at the moment.
I initially piled in hemp and maggots to stir the fish into a feeding frenzy while I set up the rod. The rig is simplicity itself, a paternostered 40g black cap feeder, strong size 16 hook and three pound hooklink (which I upped to 5lb when I lost a substantial fish half way through).

I caught quickly right from the off and landed loads of Dace to 6oz, a few Roach, some lovely looking Perch to about a pound, a bootlace Eel, three Bleak and a couple of Chub. I would have really liked a bigger Dace but fun was had none the less.

I was down to my last few maggots and about to pack away when I struck in to something of a different class. By that time I was using the more substantial hook length but still had to play it carefully to avoid a hook pull. My unseen adversary powered up and down the swim staying out of sight and the beauty of maggot fishing is that you have no idea what is on the other end until it is right at the net. It turned out to be a bruising chunky Chub which weighed in at 5lb 4oz. Only an average fish in some rivers but in the Warwickshire Avon a five is a good fish.

This year has been brilliant for me on the Chub front as this is my third 'five' already. I set off home a tired but contented angler and still had plenty of time in the day to help set everything for my daughters school fete.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Static bait proving me wrong

My goal for a short evening session was to prove that a static bait catches less fish but they are generally bigger specimens. Couple of problems with that. I hadn't banked on being plagued by Eels nibbling away at the luncheon meat hookbait giving me taps and knocks on the rod tips and occasionally hookable bites. I landed one and had the hook pull from another. The one I landed was a great battler and fought loads above it's weight of 1lb 8oz. It was pretty well behaved on the bank too.
The other issue I had was that I hooked and landed two Barbel but they were both small ones so my theory was proved incorrect, on this occasion.The biggest weighed in at 4lb 8oz.

I came to the conclusion that because the swim I fished was fairly fast water and the bigger fish must be down in the slower stretches. Only dilemma now is trotted or static bait, will have to try both.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Reacquaintance with my cyclops Barbel mate.

A busy weekend of visiting relatives and kid's birthday parties meant my only opportunity to wet a line was a couple of hours pre-breakfast on Saturday morning. The forecast was hot and clear so the early morning represented the best opportunity of catching a Barbel or two anyway. I fished my usual tactics of trotting luncheon meat below a 2 swan loafer, 12lb line, the bait hair rigged to a size 8 hook.
It took a couple of hours of feeding hemp and bits of meat to get the fish interested and eventually I landed a three-ish pound Chub. The very next cast saw me strike into a Barbel, not a monster but when I pulled apart the folds of the net I saw a familiar fish. It was the same one-eyed Barbel that I had caught twice last year! Last year it weighed about four pounds and this time around it looked no bigger so I put her straight back.
That battle had disturbed the swim and it took a while for me to hook another Barbel but I eventually did and following an excellent scrap I weighed in the final and biggest fish of the session at 7lb 7oz.

An immaculate really golden fish that shimmered in the sunshine.
On the way back I stopped for a chat with the two blokes in the next swim. They were sat behind static ledger rods and had been since the previous day. Whilst the average stamp of fish seems to be larger fishing that way I much prefer the moving bait methods. Faster water seems to give more bites and more action. The bigger fish definitely preferring a more sedate pace of life, those two other anglers must like the same!