Thursday, 19 November 2015

About Turn!

Well, so much for turning the corner. This was one of those sessions where I just wasn't sure if I was even going at all and when I did, I just didn't get a good vibe.

The decision to go was taken late and mostly out of sheer bloody mindedness. Like many other workers who don't get to enjoy the daylight hours during this time of year, a spot of fishing really helps to keep me sane.

So, in between decorating and family duties I snatched a short session on the Anker. Grabbing a few maggots left over from the week before, some deadbaits and bread, I headed out. I actually fancied the Leam for a change, but the howling wind put me off. I knew I could get better shelter on the Anker and the access was simpler too.

My first choice peg was gone, so I tested out a new option a couple of swims downstream. I gave it half a dozen balls of groundbait and kicked off with the pike gear a little way upstream.

The deadbaits were a waste of time. For some reason I just didn't fancy it would deliver anything and that's how it ended up. The bread and maggots didn't do much better. I had lots of taps on the grubs, but rarely were they damaged in any way when retrieved. Most frustrating.

The one proper unmissable bite did yield the lone fish of the session, which was a respectable perch of 1lb 10oz.

The perch in the Anker are proving to be quite a nice stamp, even if they are a little scarce. Unlike the Avon or Leam, there doesn't appear to be a big head of them, but when you find one, it's nailed on to be a pound plus fish and often nearer to two. No small ones to be had it seems, which is a little odd. Maybe it's just the stretch I'm fishing?

No sign of any bream during the session though and I quit with my tail firmly between my legs. At least it didn't rain, but I was soundly beaten and a little battered by the wind too. A poor fishing session still beats decorating any day though!

Colder weather finally looks set to hit our shores this week. Long overdue I say. Who knows, I might even get a snow pike this season!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Turning the Corner?

Last week I mentioned unfinished bream business on the Anker. With a bit of extra water and overcast, mild conditions, things were bang in my favour to renew the battle with this intriguing waterway.

Arriving at midday, I decided to give them a good feed and carry out a bait and wait approach on a slowly rising river. In went 9 cricket ball sized offerings of groundbait, heavily dosed with molasses. Half a dozen bait droppers of red maggots were lowered over the top of it into the 11ft deep swim.

I then gave it a complete hour to settle while I completed my set up and played around with a pike rod well away from the baited area. The pike didn't show though, so at 1pm I kicked off on the main line. Lobworm on one rig and a bunch of maggots on the other.

The maggot rig didn't even make it to the water when the worm was grabbed. A strange fight though and I soon realised why. It was a cheeky little pike that preferred worm to smelt!

A tough couple of hours followed, but I spotted a lot of bubbling on a line I hadn't fed. I'd also seen a bream roll across it too. Giving it a go, I surprised myself and connected with a reasonable lump of 6lb 10oz first cast. 

No more on that line though, so I persisted on the main line with a single rod and brought the pike rod back into play. It then got frustrating. Pike float bobs, pulls slowly under and moves gracefully away against the flow. Angler (feeling smug) grabs the rod, strikes and...

Nothing! Not an ounce of resistance. Back in with the bait and within five minutes the exact set of events was repeated. Bemused, I started to wonder if something odd was going on down there, but pressed on regardless.

I was using a decent sized smelt though, which I duly dispatched downstream in favour of a smaller lamprey section. It barely hit the deck when it was chomped and this time I banked the culprit. A new best for the venue of 5lb 12oz, which isn't a lot to crow about I know. 

It's good to see a few pike around though and it gives me hope for when I move into full on predator mode - that's if it ever cools down!

Meanwhile a perch of about 12oz fell to lobworm and another bream (blind in one eye) of 5lb 9oz came off the baited area. The bream in the Anker are proving to be a decent stamp if you can find them. I've only had four this season, but all are better than any I've ever had from the Avon. They've ranged from 5lb 9oz to 7lb 9oz and average out at a healthy 6lb 5oz so far. 

Still a work in progress with the slabs and I'm sure there's a lot more potential to be unlocked yet. After a poor early Autumn I'm hoping I've turned the corner now. Just need a little more time on my hands though. But isn't that always the case?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Woes of Autumn

Autumn is a time of the fishing year I always look forward to. Pretty colours, fish looking to fill their boots before things turn a whole lot cooler and predator season just around the corner. What's not to like?

Sadly, things aren't quite going to plan for me. Looking back over the past month or so, I kicked off with a dour Stour session. The peg I fancied fishing was occupied by the owners doing a spot of tree cutting. From then on I never felt settled or confident and I fished poorly with very little to show for it. My partner for the day didn't exactly bag up, but still put me to shame.

Next up was a much needed and highly enjoyable Canaries holiday to the island of Fuerteventra. No fishing though, but I couldn't pass up a catamaran trip searching for whales and dolphins with food and a few beers thrown in.  Some great views and the whales obliged, as did one or two other sights!

Back in the UK and another crack at the estate lake roach beckoned. I tackled them on the float this time and left totally biteless. Carp once again taunted me and despite some audacious positioning of a floating crust, I couldn't tempt those either. Nearly had a gull though!

Fed up with stillwaters again, I returned to the Avon next. Inspired by various pictures of big perch, I went armed with just worms and prawns. I caught plenty of small perch on the worm initially before it quitened down. A solitary small greedy chub was the only success on the prawn.

Pike problems were inevitable when the odd roach began to show and I managed to bank a small jack.

A more pleasant day than the previous offerings, but the bigger perch eluded me.

Then it was off to the Wye. This is always one I look forward to, but it seldom seems to deliver the goods for me. We were on a new stretch for day one and I was pretty impressed with the access and the water itself.

With the usual side bets struck (biggest barbel, biggest chub, most species), I kicked off with a maggot feeder to nail a few species. With small chub and missed bites plentiful, I switched to a float attack. Lots more small chub, but eventually a dace, bleak and some minnows swelled the count to four.

It was then all out for barbel or a proper chub, as I'd failed to hit the one pound minimum to qualify for the side bet. I fed some bait and went for a walk to give it a rest. On return it didn't take long to get a take and it was from a barbel.

The fight was hard but without incident and a fish of 6lb 10oz was in the net. I gave the fish plenty of time to recover and called Charlie from the next peg for a quick photo. Not the best I'm afraid with all of the clutter on show, but it was a tight peg and I had no room to swing a cat.

And that was the end of the action for day one. Brian had matched my species tally and had included a bonus trout. We'll certainly be back to this stretch next year, as there's other swims we really fancied but didn't have time to try out.

Day two saw us on a familiar stretch and pretty much an all out barbel attack. The first set of swims threw up a blank in terms of big fish and we brokered a move to deeper water. Things looked up when Charlie hooked a barbel first cast, but it snagged him and he missed out.

It didn't kick on though and a degree of tedium set in. I'd been suffering all day with a sore eye and as a long weekend drew to a close, I began to become very dozy. My ever increasing state of slumber was abruptly ended though. Not by a 3 inch tap, or even a 3 foot twitch. This was a 3 yard dip!

Yep, the whole damn rod was pulled clean from the rest and into the Wye while my guard was lowered. I've seen it happen to a couple of others before (one of whom was in the next peg!), but it's never happened to me in over 30 years of fishing. Typically the fish took the wrong bait. My other rod had a bait runner engaged and would have been fine.

Mortified at the likely loss of a decent reel and John Wilson Barbel Quiver rod, I watched the rod pull out to mid river. Luckily it ground to a halt, as the fish found a snag. Brian's lure rod came to the rescue and after several near misses I eventually got a hook up and the rod was banked with a bit of handy netting from Brian.

Disaster averted, but no fish either. When I told the bailiff later in the day, the same thing had happened to another angler the previous day, but he luckily retrieved the rod and banked the fish.

There was no more action, so I pinched the barbel pot by default. Sadly the reel was a shade knackered and had all but siezed up. I've stripped it down fully and might one day attempt a rebuild. In the worst case scenario I will at least have a full set of spares, as I have another identical reel. Shame though, as they made a great pair of workhorses and I could switch spools at will.

Closer to home I tackled a moody Anker with Brian. I'd like to blame the sharp overnight drop in temperature for our poor effort, so I will. In all honesty it looked in good nick though and the rotten stench that hung over our previous visit was long gone. The fish were quiet though and I just about avoided a blank with my first pike (by design) from the venue. Only a jack of 5lb 10oz, but a start nonetheless.

That brings me to to this week and I was eager for another crack at the Anker. Carrying a little more water, the river looked bang on again and I decided to ladle in the groundbait across two areas of my swim into 10-11ft of water.

A slow start was ended when I reached for my float rod to offer a different presentation, only to see my quiver tip dancing away merrily. A quick grab of the rod was met with solid resistance and the fish took line. Then the dreaded hook pull. Bugger!

Meanwhile the pike rig was proving frustrating. Two clear cut bites were met with zero resistance. I've never encountered that before. I'm not sure if crayfish are present, or whether something else might have been causing it. It definitely wasn't debris caught in the flow, as both bites saw the float moving upstream.

I pressed on with the switch to a float rig and was quickly rewarded with a nice perch of 1lb 7oz.

It then got hugely frustrating with lots of intense bubbling across both lines. A big and very dark bream poked it's head above the surface just beyond my pike float, before flipping over and revealing a big paddle of a tail, as it headed back to the depths. There are some big old bream in this river and I thought I was nailed on for some action.

Try as I might, I couldn't fool anything though. Definitely unfinished business here. I did manage to sneak a jack out though, to give some small consolation

The predators will no doubt take over for me soon and the freezer is being steadily stocked up in anticipation. While it remains on the milder side I'll continue to hedge my bets though.