Friday, 26 December 2014

Boxing day Best Behaviour

Boxing day by the river has long been a tradition of mine and this year the only difference was I had company, my Springer Spaniel Tazzy on her first ever fishing session. Her training has been going really really well, I will not lie and say she is the finished article but I have enough control over her to have the confidence to take her to the water side without her being a complete liability. At only four and a bit months old I am impressed with both her intelligence and surprised by my own ability to teach her new commands almost on a daily basis. 
Chub are a favourite of target of mine at this time of the year and I ventured to a familiar stretch armed with a rod, a small amount of terminal tackle and a bag of cheese paste. Tazzy had an explore of the close surroundings before settling to down watch the goings on. 

Her ears pricked at every unusual sound and she was fascinated by the variety of wildlife that passed us by. 

The first bite I connected to dragged me into an unknown snag and the five pound hook link parted easily severing our connection. The next bite resulted in a four pound Chub that was bullied to the net giving it no chance of snagging me up in the same place. I landed one more small Chub before a hook pull saw me lose a final unseen adversary and that put pay to any chance of any more sport. 

Cobwebs blown away with a couple of pleasant hours spent by the water and my fishing partner had behaved almost impeccably, got to be pleased with that! She will definite get another invite next time.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Commercial Perching

Over indulgence at the work Christmas party scuppered any chance I had of an early start on the bank. In fact it was gone 1pm before I turned into the fishery. This was my first visit to a small commercial that was rumoured to hold some good size Perch and Martin had spent the morning proving their existence. My first task upon arrival was to take a few brace shots for him.

The bigger of the pair weighed a respectable 2lb 8oz.

I set up in the next peg, well actually I was still hanging so persuaded Martin to set up for me! A simple but extremely sensitive lift float rig with a Prawn on the hook always seems to work well and within half an hour I had my own Perch attached, a bit smaller than Martins weighing 1lb 15oz. I was made up to catch the target species so quickly and the hangover became more bearable.

The action wasn't exactly fast and furious but the big guy added another smaller Perch to his collection and a couple of Carp and I landed a Carp of my own. There was an audible 'tut' when I asked my fishing partner to take a photo of it! Don't think he was too impressed.

That was the last of the action for the day unless you count the stunning sunset we were treated to whilst we packed away. A venue that we will definitely revisit as the monster Perch potential is excellent.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Chub, Wildlife and Tazzy

Two fishing sessions in the same week, virtually unheard of for me but I had a few days holiday left to use up. It would have been three trips if I had not put my back out yet again. I really suffer with my dodgy 'cilla' and at the moment lying on the floor is the most comfortable place to be. The dogs think it's great fun jumping all over their incapacitated master and my 18 month old daughter joins them in the frivolities too. 
The river is now in its full Winter mode, trees naked of leaves, the reeds and rushes have all but disappeared and the most popular swims have been churned into slippery quagmires. Some wildlife do remain active and give me and my camera great enjoyment including a particularly brave and friendly mallard.......

festive Robins....

and a stunning Buzzard that waited patiently for me to take some shots before it got fed up and showed off the spectacular wing span these apex predators possess.

The fishing was pretty good also and whilst I did not land the six that I am searching for I did get some good sport from some smaller specimens that fell for cheese paste fished on a paternoster rig.

On a different note I was deeply saddened by the news that Jeff had lost his beautiful dog Oscar. I know that it won't fill the gaping hole for you mate but I thought a few pictures of Oscars daughter Tazzy (my new best friend) may raise a half smile. Her training is coming along brilliantly and she is loving the fields behind the house and her walks by the river. You need to see her again soon, I think you'll be pleased.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A worrying end to a good day

The mist swirling and dancing across the surface of the river, grass crunching underfoot, the temperature barely getting above zero and a crystal clear river all baked in glorious sunshine. One of my favourite times of the year to be venturing forth in the great outdoors. 

Not the easiest conditions to catch fish but there are a couple of species that still feed in ernest, Chub and Pike. I decided to fish for old rubber lips with my favourite home made stinky cheese paste and Martin set his stall out for the toothy critters offering a salty snack of frozen Sardine.

Not surprisingly the majority of action came my way but the bites were very finicky. The rod tip rattled, shook and bounced but several strikes met thin air before the culprits became apparent when I landed my first fish of the day in the form of a four ounce Dace.
After a couple of frustrating hours I finally slipped the net under the target species but it was no monster just a small two pounder. The very next cast resulted in a solid bite and following a spirited battle the scales registered a 4lb 9oz specimen. That was much more like the standard I was hoping for. The stretch we were fishing is known to produce the odd 'six', something I would dearly love to land.

Minutes later I heard the dulcet tones of the big guy in the next swim calling for assistance with a near double figure Pike he wanted landing. A short but stocky example of the perfect freshwater predator.

I managed to land one more decent Chub to give me a pleasing brace shot to finish with. We were confident of more sport but any chance of that was put paid to by a family of highly active Otters. A bit worrying as this is the furthest down river sighting I have heard of indicating they are moving to lower parts of the Avon dangerously close to some of my most prolific Barbel hunting grounds. We stood and watched in almost disbelief the streams of bubbles travelling up and down the near margin as they hunted their prey. Not good news in the slightest!!

spot the Pheasant!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Drop Shot Danny and the Bloggers

The salubrious Coventry canal. A venue packed with Zander but sadly I could not muster even a baby 'Zed'. Still it was an interesting venue to while away a few hours of daylight with a plethora of fellow bloggers some of whom did manage to get their strings pulled.
It was great to meet up with some old acquaintances and some familiar faces that I have never met before but feel I know well anyway.
Also watching Danny putting his drop shot technique to devastating effect landing more fish than the rest of use combined has given us all food for thought. A moving bait is definitely the way forward on this and similar venues for me in the future.

Drop shot Danny

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Rain Stops Play

In the interest of blogging balance blanks are always posted, as well as red letter days. Sadly this weekend was the former.
Martin and I took a short road trip down to the Wye valley on the outskirts of Ross on Wye. Our target was Pike and hopefully huge ones. The trip had been booked three weeks previously so obviously weather wise we were completely at the mercy of the gods, they were not kind. The previous day was a wash out across the whole of Wales. Torrential down pours emptied into the river system and when we arrived at our chosen stretch the river looked perfect but it was on the rise. And boy did it rise quickly!
To add to a rapidly rising river(in my opinion the worse possible conditions for Pike) within ten minutes  of our arrival the heavens opened and it did not not up. It was so heavy it caused the river surface to bubble up.
Despite the conditions I did manage to hook a Jack Pike within ten minutes of casting out but sadly it threw the hook just as I was about to net it. That was the some total of the action and after four hours we beat a soggy retreat to the car for an early lunch.
A change of venue was decided upon and we toddled off closer to home and our favourite river Avon. We both knew that the odds were against us again as the Avon was a foot and a bit above normal levels and a lovely chocolate brown, lovely for Barbel not so good for Pike. We gave it our best shot but yet again we were sent home with our tails between our legs, a couple of right blankers!
Did manage to get a nice shot of a pheasant though......

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Max Enjoyment

Last week my eldest daughter joined me, this week it was Max's turn. All week he was as keen as mustard, "how many more sleeps 'til we go fishing Daddy?". He had no idea how happy his constant questioning made me.
Now Max is only four years old and with that in mind I knew consistent action would be required to keep him interested so whilst I put a rod out for Pike I set him up with a maggot feeder in a swim that would hopefully produce lots of bites. There is nothing certain in fishing but thankfully the fish played ball(and the weather was lovely)!

Max certainly looked the part! 

Patience my boy patience!

Casting was my domain but he insisted on reeling in even though he was not strong enough to hold the rod but by leaving it on the rest he could manage to bring in everything he hooked. I thought it wise to keep the anti-reverse engaged to avoid tangles and it worked, not one birds nest all day!

We managed to fish for about four hours and ended the day with a pretty decent haul consisting of Roach, Chub, big Dace and a decent Perch. As you can tell from the picture he was pretty pleased with himself.

The Pike rod remained dormant for the duration so I suppose I blanked but it was the most enjoyable blank I have had in a long time!

Too much fresh air?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Early season Piking

Three weeks since I last wet a line so I was itching to get to the river. Although the weather is still decidedly autumnal I wanted to begin my Pike campaign early especially with a sojourn to the Wye coming up in a fortnight. The weather was not ideal with bright skies and beautiful sunshine but the recent flush of rain gave me some much needed confidence. It didn't take long until the first Pike snaffled my Roach deadbait, a small Jack of about five pound. It still had it's warm water vibrancy as it thrashed and tail walked around the swim leading me a merry song and dance. An enjoyable fight.

Tactics were pretty simple, a small Roach deadbait, a single size Six hook impaled ust above the dorsal fin attached to a part-cocked loafer float. Resistance must be avoided as much as possible when predator fishing otherwise the fish will drop the bait and this rig is very light. Seems to work well for me. 

It wasn't long before the float twitched and went for a wander followed by that lovely feeling of resistance when I struck into the second Pike of the day. The initial stages of this fight were considerably different to the previous. The fish was much more deliberate and I knew I was attached to something substantial. My first sight of the fish revealed more than just it's size, I could see the hook in the corner of it's mouth and the hold it had there looked extremely flimsy. The enjoyment of the fight immediately disappeared replaced by nervous tension and as it thrashed and made powerful runs around the swim all I could do was pray. Thankfully those prayers were answered and I ended up slipping the net under a stunning double figure Pike.

Not a long fish but immaculate and as fat as butter weighing in at 11lb 2oz.

Another Jack snaffled the bait soon after, a hat trick of Pike from the same swim in only a few hours.

My eldest daughter, Maisie joined me mid-afternoon and whilst I still fished on for Pike I realised that her patience would not last as long as mine so a maggot swimfeeder was chucked out and we had fun  messing about with Perch and Roach. Her favourite fish is now Roach because 'they are beautiful' and she would like a couple as pets! 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Tourists-not for the Purists

'I'm sure Izaak Walton would approve of pig-sticking a pellet fed farmed Salmon on a Dog Nobbler, sounds like fun' came the text message. 'Not one for the purist' I replied, but surely fun and enjoyment are what fishing should be all about. So there we had it, it was booked. Nick and I on our annual fly fishing trip were off to Palm Springs, a little puddle in the Leicestershire countryside stocked with farm bred Salmon. Neither of us have ever landed a Salmon before wild or manufactured and these fish are definitely the latter but a catch, any catch would be a personal best.
The website states that it is not the same as traditional Salmon Fishing(understatement) but it is the best chance of catching an Atlantic Salmon on rod and line(true) and that they fight as well if not better than their wild relatives(doubtful!).
I was the first to arrive, met the owner Ben who was very helpful and stood aghast brew in hand watching big fish leaping about all over the place. It looked like it was going to be 'shooting fish in a barrel'. First impressions can be deceptive.

With hindsight I should have taken more photos of the leaping Salmon but I was so desperate to feel the tug from one I concentrated on the fishing. Strong tackle was the advice proffered on the website and I set up my 8weight fly rod with a fifteen pound leader. Ben told us the most productive method was a dark fly, as big as you've got fished slow and deep. I took this on board and started with a black bodied, maribou tailed gold fritz headed lure.
Nothing is ever as easy as it seems though and during the next six hours we tried every lure in the box. We retrieved slow, fast, deep, shallow and all the while the Salmon splashed and leaped. It felt like we were being teased and taunted. Nick lost his temper and on several occasions he shouted profanities at our tormentors.
Having been through the box once I re-tied on the black maribou fritz and skimmed it all along the bottom at a pace so slow it was almost static. Was that a touch? I thought it might have been or maybe the fly just caught some weed but then the weed started to pull back-it was a fish! Sadly it didn't stay attached for very long but at least our spirits were lifted by this lost unseen adversary. I recast quickly, waited for the fly to sink to the bottom and then started the retrieve, figure of eight, extremely slowly. It became obvious that this was what the fish wanted and another took the lure. This time however it was properly hooked, one leap, a few surging runs and before long it was beaten. Not a monster at 5lb 2oz but a stunning fin perfect pb silver Salmon, it really was in excellent condition.

Now we knew exactly what the fish required I gave the exact same fly to Nick and although it took a while eventually it worked for him too and he hooked up to his own hard fighting fish. Our patience had been awarded and he landed his own Salmon just a bit smaller than mine but again another perfect specimen.

We fished on for about a half hour but that was it for the day, quite pleasing that there was a certain symmetry to it.

So our first ever Salmon apiece. I am sure that we will not be rushing back there sometime soon but we came to the conclusion that you have to try everything once-purists might not agree!!