Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Single to Double

Christmas Eve fishing is something I look forward to over the festive period. Last year I couldn't get near the river due to flooding, but conditions were bang on this year down the Avon.

I planned a rare two river attack for a change. The early part of the day was set aside for some piking, to make best use of the low light conditions. It was a beautiful morning, with fish topping everywhere and I felt totally confident of banishing my two previous blank pike sessions from memory.

I only took one rod - a bit of a fun rod too, being just a light six foot lure rod. With time in my mind I went straight for the banker swim.

Around half an hour in I was starting to get twitchy and as I often do at these times, I began taking photos. Perched behind the rod I eyed up a downstream shot and fired away. Then I looked back to the water and my float was bobbing away merrily! You can see the ripples in the photo.

Popping the camera down I waited for their float to slide away and hit the bite. Fish on and a fairly solid one at that, but all too quickly, fish off. It was probably a double, but I always say that when I lose them!

I was a little gutted and wondered if my chance had been blown, but I needn't have worried. The float was soon dancing away again and a long, lean fish of around six pound was given the comfy mat treatment.

Relieved to have broken the duck, I switched to a different part of the peg in search of something bigger. I broke out a lamprey section and hooked it very lightly. I had wrecked my trace on the previous fish and only had smaller trebles available. I wanted to avoid burying the hooks too much.

I saw a typical twitch on the float, which heightened my attention. Then a little bob about 10 seconds later. Any moment now I thought....

But nothing happened. That wasn't part of the plan, so after a couple of minutes I lost patience and reeled in. No bait! The fish must have whipped the lightly held bait off the hook.

Although disappointed, I knew there was a fish in the swim who'd just had a free starter, so I was determined to make the main course count.

Less than five minutes later from the same spot (under my feet really) I was battling another pike. It felt small at first, but the fight got stronger. It was good fun on a lighter outfit and the hooks just about did their job, falling out in the net.

It was just a double - 10lb 1oz. Now I can't help thinking that if, as is highly likely, this was the same fish that gobbled up the lamprey section that was pinched five minutes beforehand, then it wouldn't have been a double had I hooked it first time!

I'm a stickler for keeping photos of my pike and I always try to photograph them in the same direction to help with identification in future. Pike are so unique with their markings.

A quick check through my photos saw that this one had met me before, back at the end of August. Although it was a poor photo last time taken late in the evening, it's clearly the same fish. The good news is that it was bang on 9lb last time, so it's doing very nicely.

August capture at 9lb

I called it a day and headed of for a crack at the Leam. I shouldn't have bothered! I fished it all wrong - like a total amateur if I'm honest. Just a couple of roach and a dace to show for it. Oh well, 50% of the day went right! I just wish I had stayed on the Avon now, but that's fishing I guess. I'll make plenty more bad decisions I'm sure.

Have a good Christmas and I'll hopefully be checking in again with another session before the year ends.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

One For The Future

Once again there was extra water flowing through our rivers this week. I was monitoring the Avon and Leam closely for a few days, willing them down to a decent level.

I plumped for the Leam, but decided on new territory this week. I had eyed up a swim on a pre-season recce that I fell for hook, line and sinker. It was a beautiful wide pool (for the upper Leam) below a bend. Nestled in a wooded area it was completely secluded and quiet. It screamed out to be fished.


So why has it taken me until December to fish it? In truth I've tended to take the easier options of less walking, preferring to try out swims nearer to parking areas. Given that I had zero knowledge of the upper river, I didn't really want to take on longer walks without first trying the obvious convenient swims.

The other deciding factor was the mass of chest high vegetation to wade through, just to get near the river. It was too much trouble in all honesty.

Autumn and Winter bring about big changes to the accessibility of natural venues. Areas that were badly overgrown, suddenly open up and my target swim was one of those. With a just a minimal amount of gardening I was settled in position.

I plodded away for about 90 minutes and it was tough going. A roach of 12oz broke my duck, but that was it for that swim. I feel sure it has plenty of potential though (in better conditions) and with a bit more maintenance (which I'll complete next visit) it will be a better proposition.

I tried three other swims and managed only slim pickings - a couple more roach and a dace. I missed too many bites though - possibly roach getting the better of me.

I'm starting to take more of an interest in the redfins through my fishing on the Leam. Having never topped the pound mark with a river roach, I'm eager to put that right now.

It's not quite time for Christmas well wishing yet. I'm hoping to squeeze in a Christmas Eve session.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Little Un

A quick recap of last week to begin with and it won't take long. Blank! 

I fished the Avon for pike and only had one bite from two rods across a 4-5 hour stint. The bite resulted in some resistance but I could see most of the lamprey bait hanging clear of the pike's jaws through the all too clear water. I knew it wasn't well hooked and all too quickly the hook was dispatched, My traveling partner suffered a blank also. 

It was a weird session weather wise though with the temperature being 9C on arrival at about 7-30am, but on leaving not long after mid-day it had actually dipped to 5.5C. Rain began to drift in, the wind increased and made it all a bit unpleasant. One to forget.

This week was a "Do I, Don't I?" scenario, with the decision to go only being taken at 6am on Sunday. A quick check of the river levels saw me favouring the Leam, which was falling more quickly than the Avon. 

I once more headed for deep water, but with a two rod feeder attack I placed one bait in the bottomless hole and another in a shallower run tight to the far bank. In the chilly conditions I dug in for the session and wrapped up well, perhaps looking a little too much like a terrorist.

One of the joys of an early start is the occasional stunning sunrise and today was no exception.

The fishing was tough, but four roach found their way on to the bank. The best was 11oz - weighed purely to set a benchmark, as it's the best I've had from the Leam yet.

A half pound perch spoiled the all roach party and all fish had come from the shallower water.

Bites completely tailed off but I did manage one more fish - from the depths - that put a smile on my face.

Only my second ever bullhead, tamed on a size 14 hook with 4 maggots. Greedy little devil! That now takes my Leam species tally to 10  for the season (or 11 if a roach/bream hyrbrid is thrown in).

I packed in at 12pm and went for a wander around to the opposite bank. Mostly unfishable in the summer due to high vegetation and lack of bank clearers, it was now much more exposed. Suddenly a whole host of extra opportunities has opened up and there's a few new swims I'm itching to try now.

I also took a detour on the way home to check out a stretch of canal that has been on my mind. I'm not really a canal fan, probably due to a combination of boyhood memories of struggling to catch, coupled with the fact that I generally prefer as much peace as possible (especially from non-anglers) when I go fishing.

I do need something to occupy me in the closed session though and with a key part of my plans being scuppered by the closure of Warwick Racecourse reservoir, I want to try something different and I think this bit of cut is more suited to me than most.

I also have a stillwater I haven't fished for about 20 years in mind too. Mind you there's no happy memories there either - two visits, two blanks. Still plenty of river season left though, so the plans can wait for now.

Another mixed week of weather ahead - rain, wind, warmth midweek and then cooler towards the weekend with temperatures returning to about normal for the time of year.