Monday, 27 July 2015

Three Session Catch-up

Friday I managed to get two sessions in, one in the morning on my own and one in the evening spent in the company of Jeff and Martin. Both times it rained and both times I was after Barbel but I only managed one of about seven pounds, however I did land a lot of Chub.

Pellets were the bait of choice and whilst Barbel love them they are not discerning when it comes to Chub, a hazard of the game I suppose. I don't have a major problem with catching Chub, in fact I quite enjoy it but when heavy Barbel gear is employed the fun is definitely lessened.

Rain and cameras are not good bedfellows hence the quality of the photos might not be quite up to scratch but the cygnets below did make pretty subjects.

The rain held off tonight as I once again popped down to the Avon for a bonus session. There was a kind of change of tactics too as I felt like fishing for bites and a bit of fun rather than going all out for just one species. So with that in mind I popped into the tackle shop for a pint of maggots and some hemp. They were deployed on one rod but I still fished pellets on a 'sleeper' rod.

Several small Roach, Bream, and a couple of bonus Silver Bream came my way before as the light faded the sleeper rod suddenly burst into life. An interesting fight ensued that didn't have the all out pace of a Barbel or the short dogged bursts of a Chub but I was still surprised when my unseen adversary turned out to be a river Tench. Not a massive one and really I should have guessed it might be a Tinca as the swim does have previous form but a stunningly coloured example weighing 3lb 4oz.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Chub, Barbel and a Surprise

One of those evening sessions where the fish were just having it! I reckon I could have chucked the bait up the bank and still got a bite they were that turned on! Barbel followed Chub followed Barbel etc.
I had the river to myself surprisingly on such a lovely summers evening, the wind had dropped, the sun came out, the Kingfisher flitted about, it was perfect.
Martin was also fishing but he was about twenty miles further upstream, we kept in touch via text. His reports were uncannily similar, the fish were highly active there too. The conditions must have been right: moon phase, air pressure, temperature? I'm not sure which, maybe all the above but I won't dwell on it, sometimes it happens, just wish it was more often. I have to tailor my fishing times around family and work commitments so even if I could work out what it was specifically there would be nothing I could do about getting bankside. Fishing sessions need to be scheduled in the diary in advance.
I lost count of the number of Chub I landed but in amongst the three pounders there was an unusual hump-backed one of 4lb 12oz and a cracking lump of a Chub that despite being quite flabby pulled the scales down to a pleasing 5lb 8oz. It looks like a fish I caught a couple of seasons back, late summer weighing nearly six pound.

I also landed several Barbel, nothing huge but all in great condition and excellent battlers especially in the crystal clear water where I could see every twist, turn and thrust as they tried to make good their escapes.

All were well rested upon returning them to the water watching them swim away to make sure they were ok but when the last one was about a rod length out I notice it swim nonchalantly past the nose of a large Pike. The predator must have been attracted by the endless commotion but obviously decided this one was too large for a meal. However when the next fish I hooked was a three pound Chub it sprang into action grabbing the unfortunate fish broadside. It had admiral determination and hung on for dear life as it battled me for its supper. I thought it would let go when it saw the net but it didn't and I ended up landing both! Finally in the net it released the Chub. I left the Pike in the net while the Chub was unhooked but it thrashed about and managed to escape before I could take a unique photo. A really long but scrawny specimen that would have weighed well into double figures, something else to target come the Winter. The Chub had been through enough so I released it straight away, missing a few scales but it should hopefully survive its ordeal.
I had one last cast, hooked a better Barbel but sadly the hook pulled denying me the icing on the cake but I still went home(actually to the pub) with a smile on my face.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Chub Saves Blank

Restricted this weekend to a short morning session so ventured to a new section of river I have a ticket for this season. Baited up a likely looking spot hoping for a Barbel but it was not to be. The blank was saved however when a 4lb 2oz Chub took the pellet bait. It put up a really good battle powerfully diving for cover under the willow to the left and then twice into the cabbages at my feet but the stout tackle held firm and in the end it succumbed to the pressure. Best so far this season but it is still early, they are nowhere near prime condition yet. Would like to meet it again in Winter.
Also had a 6oz Roach.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Nice to make your acquaintance again, Tommy.

Another beautiful Summer evening and what better way to spend it than on the bank of the stunning Warwickshire Avon. 
I started the session with two targets in mind, a pellet rod for Barbel and a swimfeeder full of chopped worm for Tench. The area I had chosen has previous form for Tincas, a slow flowing deep swim where they have graced my net before. It is also reputed to be a good spot for Barbel, not prolific but capable of a monster. Sadly I landed neither but it was still a fish-filled busy evening as Perch after Perch mingled in with the odd skimmer were hooked and landed, nothing big but that's not to say I wasn't enjoying myself.
It is 30 years ago almost to the day that I first cast a line on a cold day by the Yorkshire Derwent. 

The only fish I or anyone caught that day was a diminutive Tommy Ruffe and amazingly I have not caught one since. 
As the light began to fail I hooked what I thought was another small Perch but as I swung it in the realisation hit me, this was no Perch but a fish that had eluded me for three decades. My second ever Tommy Ruffe. 

To be honest I was so pleased to make its acquaintance that the camera came out when it had stayed in the bag for all the other fish that evening. I carefully put it back thinking that if it did ever grace the bank again the lucky captor could never be as pleased as I was to land it!!
I recast out to the same spot and could not believe my eyes when the next bite resulted in another one! I had tripled my catch total in the space of minutes, talk about buses! 

The light had now all but gone so I went to the pub to celebrate what felt like finally once again meeting up with an old old friend.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Fly Fishing-the Right Way?

Despite my love of fly fishing I have not touched my fly rod for over six months, holidays and coarse fishing taking up most of my free time of late. This wrong was put right yesterday when Nick and I met up for our annual fishing day. Living 143 miles apart we generally try to fish somewhere equidistant between us but this time we ventured a lot closer to my home as we met at Bushyleaze fishery on the outskirts of Lechlade in the heart of the Cotswolds. I thought I might get a bit of a lie-in but whilst lay in bed I got a text from Nick to say he would be an hour early. Cue panic and rushing around the house gathering gear and flask as quickly and quietly as I could so as not to wake the kids.
I screeched into the car park two minutes after Nick had arrived. On the advice of the nice bloke selling the tickets we made our way to a sheltered bay in the corner of this stunning gravel pit. The fish were there in numbers as 'ticket man' had informed us and we could see plenty of 'bows rushing around in the crystal clear water. 
We cast several damsels and lures at our adversaries but they did not seem interested. 

A pair of brave cygnets came right up to our bank edge having no fear whatsoever of the the pair of funny looking humans waving wands around.

Their parents showed absolutely no concern that their children were right next to us when normally they are much more protective of their young.
An hour or so had passed with no takes so I decided it was time for something different. The Trout were breaking the surface all over the place and having chucked a dry dragonfly pattern at them with only one aborted take I realised they were actually feeding on a hatch of much smaller flies, dark in colouration. I attached a small scruffy looking home-made gnat and within seconds had a take from a battling Trout of about three pounds. It is so much more exciting fishing dry flies than just pulling lures though the water. A proper way to fly fish.

With that Trout despatched and in the bag it didn't take long before I fooled another. In the meantime Nick had also changed to a similar fly and we ended up with a double hook up. The fun had really started and Nick went on to land another two before Lunch.

Whenever we are on one of our fishing days we like to do things properly so we retreated to a local public house and stuffed our faces with 'three cheese' ploughmans(or is the plural ploughmen?) and a couple of pints of Ale.

There were several other anglers fishing the lake and we knew that when we eventually returned our swim would be taken. We were not wrong as there were four anglers crowded into our bay plus two others in a boat. They were all blindly stripping lures and had only had two fish between them. It pays to not have a blinkered approach to any type angling, experiment and you can reap surprising rewards. 
We searched the rest of the lake but only spotted a few other fish and our half-hearted efforts went unrewarded. The lunch had taken its toll and our motivation had seriously waned.

I satisfied myself trying to take photos of flying fish which is not easy but I managed a couple of decent shots.

The BBQ was lit when I arrived home so the Trout were gutted, wrapped in foil with butter, garlic and parsley and chucked onto the hot coals. Fresh Trout, delicious.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Barbel and Bailiffs

Lilly pads, reeds, Canadian pondweed and a fallen Willow tree. A hazardous swim that necessitated stout tackle if I was going to land any sizeable fish. There was only room for one rod but knowing this part of the river well I knew that the second rod would be superfluous and I didn't need to create any more hazards. If a Barbel was going to take my pellet offering this evening then it would be a case of hit and hold(and pray!).
The Chub were first to move onto the bait and the rod tip danced away until one hooked itself. It stood no chance against the strong tackle and was in the net double quick. No point in weighing it, a quick photo, it felt surprisingly warm, and back it went.

It was soon followed by one of its mates again weighing about 3lb-odd. Meanwhile Andy in the swim above me was showing me how it was done landing a succession of Barbel up to 8lb 8oz. The light was fading rapidly and I was beginning to think it was not going to be my night.

The kingfisher joined us on the far bank, grabbed some supper and sped off downstream no doubt to feed its fledglings. A welcome distraction.
I looked back at the rod just in time to see the unmistakeable never-ending tug of a hooked Barbel. I was on it in a flash. The clutch was set as tight as I dare but still it started to scream as the angry Barbel made its way across to the far bank willow. I applied more pressure and managed to turn it. Its next move was upstream exactly where I wanted it to go as there was more open water there. I coaxed it towards me into the slack water but the Barbel realised my plan and set off on a tremendous run towards the lilies flat-lining the rod. Thankfully Barbel don't like snags like Chub do and upon reaching the lilies it poked its head into them and then changed its mind, speeding back off towards the far bank. I began to think the clutch was set a little too tight and again the rod flattened out and the backwinding reel handle wrapped my knuckles. Ignoring the pain from my left hand I turned the fish again back into open water and after what seemed like an age a big mouth appeared. This was my opportunity and I speedily reeled the fish into the waiting net.
"That's a double" Andy informed me peering into the net at the now resting Barbel. "It bloody better be after that battle" I replied. And thankfully it was, 11lb 9oz of stunning Warwickshire Avon Barbel.

There was no point in fishing on, Andy's dogs had eaten the remainder of his luncheon meat while his back was turned and I had a hankering for a cold beer.
we began to pack up and then a very rare event took place. A bailiff appeared and asked to see our licences! I have been back fishing eleven years now and this is only the second time this has happened! Keep up the good work.