Friday, 26 February 2010

Slab Happy Charlie

College Pool, Wasperton - Sean, Brian & Charlie. 9am - 4pm.

With Brian having a free day, I took the chance to use up some time owed to me from work for a Friday session. It was pretty obvious early in the week that the river would be out of sorts, so we opted for College Pool and were joined by Charlie.

The worst of the overnight weather had gone through by the time we arrived and was showing signs of clearing up. It was still pretty fresh though. Thankfully sense prevailed and we chose 3 pegs at the far end of the pool with the wind firmly behind us.

The pool was looking a bit healthier than it did towards the end of last year. The water level seemed to be dropping quite a bit over time and some of the impecably well kept pegs had been left perched quite a few feet above the water line. Today was different though and the level looked to be about a foot up from where it had been.

Those who know the pool will realise that an extra foot of water probably means having 15 foot of depth at the end of your rod, rather than 14 foot! I recall the first time I fished the pool many years ago. Setting up with bog standard waggler tactics I set about plumbing the depth and quickly gave up the ghost when my 13 foot rod was clearly a long way short of the mark! At that time I hadn't discovered a pole or the slider method, so fishing on the bottom was leger only in those days.

These days I have my secret weapon - a 15 foot rod with a 2 foot extension. It's a perfect tool for for this pool, albeit it's a bit of an unwieldy beast when the wind is gusting around like it was today. I had 15-16 foot of depth at the end of my rod and i fished it pretty much pole style with one of my medium sized home made avon floats, with all the weight at the bottom end. Slightly crude maybe, but in tricky conditions finesse sometimes has to go out of the window. Actually, finesse isn't a word you'd generally associate with my fishing, so these conditions were perfect!

This character isn't Brian

The session started slowly with all of us struggling for bites. Charlie and I had balled it early doors on a close in line with the hope of getting some bream action. Brian opted to fish a bit further out and balled in on a different line. After about half an hour I opened my account with a small roach and the action (if that's the right word) picked up from there. Bites started to pick up and I kept the feed trickling in and the fish seem to respond to it. I had a few more roach and perch over the next hour or so.

Meanwhile Brian was also having some success and proudly shouted over to claim a highly prized perch. For someone who doesn't care much for perch (doesn't like handling them), I've never heard such enthusiam for one of the little critters (of which there are thousands in this pool!). Anyway it was game on and a point on the challenge scorecard.

A call of nature was in order and on the way back I had a chat with Charlie, who was on a blank at this point. Charlie is actually a technically decent angler - brought up fishing in the Black Country on the Severn and Teme. He can tie tiny spade end hooks by hand in the blink of an eye, which is one of my ultimate measures of ability. I take the easy route using a hook tyer!

Anyway, while chewing the fat his rod tip gave a sharp tap. I immediately dismissed it as a line bite, being the optimist I am. Then a 2nd tug was followed by a more solid pull around and he was into something proper. It became obvious it wasn't one of the resident carp or barbel - you tend to know when you hook those! It was one of the bream they introduced last year and it wasn't long before it was in the net. A decent fish, it weighed in at 5lb 2oz.

The next couple of hours saw us all banking a few more fish of no great size, before things slowed down considerably after lunch for no apparent reason.

"If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain"

There was a moment of excitement when Brian came wandering over, clutching a rudd he'd taken on bread. "Gotta be half a pound" he claims. So, we put it on the scales and they read 7oz. No bonus point! Still, another new species for Brian.
Charlie had just wandered away from his peg momentarily, having seen no action for a long while. While talking to me he spots his rod tip doing a merry dance. "There's a fish on mine", he says, "but it's only a small one by the look of it". Casually, he wanders back in antipation of a tiny perch on the end and looking at the rather tap, tap nature of the bite, I subscribed to the theory.
He lifts the rod gently and it just arches over as he connects with another solid fish. It's another bream - not quite as big as the previous one, but more than welcome at around the 4lb mark.

All in all, a pleasant day's fishing and there was no hint of a blank in sight. Maybe things are looking up! I must admit that I'm itching to get on the river before the season closes, so it's fingers crossed that things settle down over the next few days.
I have decided to apply a bit of leniency with the challenge rules and Brian's 7oz rudd will be given bonus status, on the basis that it did warrant a check on the scales. As a result he now levels things up at 4 all.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

A Welcome Chub

River Avon, Wasperton -Sean & Brian - 9am to 3pm

After a relatively dry but chilly week, we decided to head for the river which we expected to be in decent nick. It looked like a good plan when we arrived at the far car park with no-one else in sight. The river looked perfect and we headed off over the stile and into the fields upstream of the swan's neck bend.

We settled on 2 pegs we had fished at the back end of last year. On that occasion I blanked and Brian banked a couple of pike of 7lb and 9lb. I think Brian sniffed a chance to get a Pike on the scorecard, while I was happy to plunder chub, bream, or anything really.

I thought I was doing well to get my pike rod in action before setting up a float or feeder, but I was still a long way behind. Brian has become very adept at getting his predator gear into play and this session saw him blooding a new bite indicator. Gone was the trusty rag and in it's place was something that I'm sure came off a keyring, or maybe a dog lead. Anyway, the theory looked good.

Sadly, the fishing wasn't good and despite various attempts between us with deadbait, maggots, caster & bread on float and feeder, they weren't having any of it. The wind was also getting up a bit and aside form making presentation awkward, it was bloody cold. A move was in order - down to the swan's neck bend to get the wind behind us.

Looking upstream

Looking downstream

I hadn't bothered to set up a float in my previous peg due to the downstream wind, so I kicked off with the feeder, with the pike rod in the margins. Confidence was much higher in this swim - if nothing else, because it felt 10 degrees hotter!

20 minutes of inactivity had me reaching for the float rod. I was keen to test out my new centre pin and this swim looked perfect for the job. Using one of my homemade avon floats I trotted through at about 6ft deep with double maggot on a size 18. With inch perfect control I teased the float around the swim like a master. Well, I let the flow take it all round the swim and tapped the reel every now and again to slow the float - it looked like I knew what I was doing!

Suddenly the float dipped on that first cast and I was attached to something proper.

A spiritied fight ensued, which saw the fish diving into the snag beneath my feet. Needless to say it was a chub and I had a bit of a dilemma when things went a bit solid. I could just see the fish (snagged), but with a 2lb bottom I couldn't bully it. The solution - in with the net, taking fish, snag and anything else in the way! It worked though and a pristine looking chub of exactly 2lb was banked.

Not a monster by any means, but very welcome and a bonus point for the challenge. Optimism was now high and we pressed on with renewed hope for day. Bizarrely that was the only fish from those pegs. Despite throwing everything at it, we didn't have another sniff. Brian even unleashed his secret weapon - crabsticks, but they too didn't work. Crabsticks do have one advantage over smelt though - if the fish don't want them, Brian hoovers them up!

Challenge score:

Sean 4
Brian 1

Scorecard (other species will be added if caught):

Saturday, 6 February 2010

That's what a fish looks like!

College Pool, Wasperton - Sean & Brian. 8-30am - 3pm

The plan was to give the river a go if it was in a decent state, but with the pool as a back up. A quick glance over the bridge at Barford confirmed my thoughts. It was pushing through, with that unappetising drinking chocolate look about it. Probably OK for the die hard Barbel fanatics, but not for us, so off to the pool it was.

Peg choice was a pretty simple affair on a chilly, foggy morning, with a nagging cold breeze. Throw grass in air, watch where it goes, determine wind position and thus locate the most sheltered pegs. So, we went to the left bank a couple of pegs down from the car park - pegs neither of us had fished before.

Anticipating the usual bottomless peg, I set up the trusty 17 foot rod, so that I didn't need to fish a slider or the pole. I don't like fishing the pole here because I've been smashed up with a big fish too many times before. I opted for a positive groundbait approach - well I had some groundbait open and figured it might as well be used! A few balls went in, laced with casters, into about 12 foot of water, in the hope of getting the Bream going.

All was quiet - the silence only broken by a group of 9 swans gatecrashing our solitude. A bit odd really, as I'd never seen a swan anywhere near the pool before. They didn't hang around long and soon headed off.

Swan Pool

Then a moment of excitement, as Brian watches his float dip under. In total disbelief he can't remember what to do and the bite is missed. Not to worry though, as he soon had a small roach safely tamed and his account was opened after his 3rd successive blank. A further roach followed it soon after and I was still blanking.

Eventually my moment came though and a small roach kickstarted my campaign. One of the other anglers popped round for a chat and we ended up reminiscing about days gone by on the pool - the good old days when the place was full of chub. I pointed out that since rejoining Leamington abut 4 years ago, I hadn't caught a chub from the pool. He returned to his peg and bugger me the next fish was chub of about 4oz. Speak of it and thee shall catch it!

Brian rounded his roach tally up to 3 and I extened my species count with a tiny perch. It all went very quiet after that, with only the sound of Brian's occasional snoring (and boy can he snore), interrupting the peace! A day rarely passes that Brian doesn't fall asleep on his peg and we weren't to be disapointed today. Both of us finished up cold.

The challenge

Inspired by other blogs, Brian suggested we start a challenge. So, it's going to be a simple points challenge, with 1 point gained for each different species caught throughout the year. Each species also has a 1pt bonus available for the heaviest of that species, meaning the bonuses could to and fro throughout the year. I refuse to try and weigh the biggest gudgeon or ruffe though! So, bonus points are only available for fish over 8oz. Only days where both of us fish together will count to the challenge.

Current Scores:

Sean 3 (roach, perch, chub)
Brian 1 (roach)

No bonus fish yet!