Sunday, 28 March 2010

DayBream Believer

Saturday 27th March. College Pool - Sean & Brian. 9am to 4-30pm.

Occasionally during an angling year, you get sessions where things go perfectly to plan. Fish that were seemingly uncatchable on previous visits become hell bent on eating anything you put in front of them. More importantly, it's even the right species of fish that's playing ball - the one you set out to catch. These sessions are all too few and far between but every now and again your turn comes around.

For once I'd done a bit of thinking the night before - it's amazing how seriously you can start to take a challenge when there's a curry at stake. Food is a great motivator! I figured that the only species in College Pool that could set a stiff target for the rest of the year were the Bream, Barbel and Perch. I haven't really had any luck in the past with the larger of the resident Barbel or Perch, so the Bream were to be the target.

The pool was empty when we got there, which was a nice surprise. Maybe everyone had headed to Jubilee for their opening day - fine by us if they had. I arrived at the peg and the first job was to mix up the groundbait. I mixed up about a bag of some exotic sounding groundbait and added in some hemp and caster. In went about 8 "cricket balls" into an area about the size of a dinner table a couple of rod lengths out into 17ft of water.

This is the point in the day where I did make a screw up though. I had only brought one float rod with me - the trusty 15/17 ft rod. I knew that the area I'd baited was a little too deep to fish the float in a semi conventional manner. If I'm fishing close in here I often fish it stick float style using the 17ft option and back shot it to sink the line. That's OK in up to about 15 ft of water, but it gets awkward beyond that.

I opted to fish the slider instead using the 15ft option. It was also a chance to test out a home made waggler I'd made during the week. I set up the slider rig perfectly and went to cast out but the stop knot jammed in the rod rings. Looking closer at the rod now, I realised that it just wasn't cut out for the slider, as some of the rings were just a bit too small and prone to jamming.

Lesson learned though and it was back to square one and out came the 2ft extension. The only problem is that it has a ring in the middle of the section, so it really was back to square one. Although I felt stupid for wasting so much time, I wasn't overly bothered because I was expecting it to take a while for fish to settle over the groundbait - that's if they were going to settle!

As there was no wind to contend with, I set up a float rig stick float style and left out the backshot so that I could fish at full depth reasonably comfortably. After 15 minutes of inactivity, I took the chance to set up the feeder rod, but as I'd introduced a load of bait already, I opted to set it up with a small lead. I also rigged up the bite alarm so that I could continue to stare out the float that refused to budge.

Meanwhile on the next peg Brian hadn't had anything yet. He'd gone for two feeder rigs - one for pellet and one for maggot. He'd fed in some floating bread and a Carp or two were beginning to take an interest towards the end of the pool. He went for a walk to check it out, with a view to winkling one of them out later on.

As so often seems to be the case, the message seems to get back to the fish - Brian has left his peg and that's the all clear for the fish to move in. One of his rods crashed to the ground and I looked over to his peg. I wasn't sure if it had simply just slipped off a rest of whether there was a fish on, but I rushed over to check it out. Sure enough, a fish was on and I started to play it before handing over to Brian.

He got it under control fairly quickly and landed the first Carp of the season - a Mirror of 4lb 15oz. A new species and a bonus point on the board, although I'm sure there should be a rule for sharing points in the event of a joint effort!

A few minutes later it was my turn to get in on the action. The alarm went off and I connected with a fish that gave a distinctive lazy thud. It was a Bream and a decent one to start with of 5lb 8oz. 2 points back in my court for that one, to even the honours on the day.

Things went quiet for a while after that and I was left cursing a missed bite about an hour later. There was no need to worry though as a succession of fish then obliged at regular intervals for the rest of the day. I ended up with 8 Bream - all of them taken on the feeder rig. The roll of honour reads 3lb 9oz, 4lb 2oz, 4lb 8oz, 4lb 9oz, 4lb 13oz, 5lb 1oz, 5lb 8oz, 6lb 5oz. The latter is a personal best for me.

6lb 5oz Bream

Although a very pleasing session, it doesn't quite match one I had there last year when I banked 12 bream for approximately 60lb. Oddly though these are the only 2 sessions I have managed to catch a Bream on the pool - very much all or nothing for me!

Brian didn't manage to add to his tally, although I think he spent about half the time sleeping. At one point I even fired a rolled up piece of bread with my catapult and hit him perfectly on his back. He didn't even stir!

He did have a go at the Carp feeding on the surface when the sun came out for a while. I think he's been watching too many of theose Matt Hayes programmes though, as he seemed to be engaging in a bit of jungle warfare to get into position.

As is often the case, sod's law comes into play. If there are 2 similar looking pieces of bread to be had, the Carp will uncannily slurp down the one without the hook. If there are 3 pieces of bread, it will slurp down the 2 without the hook. And so on... That was pretty much the case here, as I heard a few moans and groans that the Carp were extracting the urine. There'll be plenty of chances to make amends though.

Monday, 15 March 2010

A Hard Dace Work

River Avon, Wasperton (Saturday 13th March) - Sean & Brian. 11-30am to 6pm.

In true Scrooge style I'm making no attempt to flower this session up. I hadn't been feeling at my best all week and I finally gave in to a stinking cold over the weekend. With what's left of my my mind now firmly planning the gambling assault on Cheltenham, this will be brief - not least because there isn't anything to make it remotely exciting!

We started off down on the weir section. I'm not sure why I frog marched Brian all the way down there even now. I think I just fancied it because it's an area I always fancy might throw up a big fish - and big fish were clearly Brian's intentions for the day with his baiting approach. Ball it in man!

Anyway, nothing doing after a couple of hours so we decided to make tracks back towards the car park swims for the last few hours. Again it was tough going, but I winkled out a small Roach and Dace and started to get some positive bites on my worm rig on the lead. Nothing was connected with though and then it all petered out again. Brian was blanking but I did witness a definite series of sharp pulls on his Pike gear that sadly didn't develop into a full take.

As the light faded my swim kicked into life and the last half hour was a bite a chuck, albeit not the most positive bites I've ever encountered. I ended up with 5 Roach and 6 Dace, the latter extending the challenge score to a mighty 8 points (for what it's worth at this stage of affairs!). We bumped into Keith (Warwickshire Avon Blog) on leaving the water, so it was finally nice to catch up with a fellow blogger on the bank. I'm sure I'll catch up with everyone else soon enough.

With the rivers out of the way for 3 months, the attention turns to the stillwaters. For me that means a Ryton Tench campaign (and anything else it may care to throw up). The Tench fishing can be hit and miss, but if you catch it right, then the rewards are there. I had several 5lb+ fish last year, but couldn't crack the 6lber. This year....

I also need to get down to Snitterfield a bit earlier in the year too. That one could be key for the Crucian honours!

Thoughts are already turning to the next river season though and we're already talking about possible new venues to compliment the Leamington book. I'm aware of the obvious club books such as Birmingham, Warwick, Stratford (have held them all in the past), but is there anything else out there?

There's obviously a fair bit of the Avon from Rugby down to Stratford, but very little is documented on tinternet it seems. I know of Plough AC (near Ryton), Barford and there seems to be a Stoneleigh based club with waters also covering part of the Sowe. However, I don't know if any of these clubs are actually accessible.

If anyone has any info on club stretches north of Stratford, I'd be interested to hear about them. I realise some clubs probably require strange handshakes and a rolled up trouser leg to get a look in, but it's still nice to know where I'm not welcome!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

An Anker of a Day

Rivers Sence & Anker (Mythe Farm) - Sean & Brian. 9-30am to 5-15pm

At long last we finally got to try out the delights that Mythe Farm offers. Although there was a sharp overnight frost, it was a stunning morning with not a cloud in sight. The first job was to sign the guest book and to try to glean a bit of info from our host. However, he wasn't a fisherman and so all he could do was to point us in the direction of the river. To be honest, that was good enough for us.

There's always something special about tackling a new river for the first time. On this occasion it was even better as we had 2 rivers to explore, peaceful surroundings and no-one in sight! Does it get any better we thought?

We meandered our way through to a large meadow and eyed up a few pegs along the way. Some of them clearly required a bit of jungle warfare so we carried on until we spotted something a little easier to access to kick the day off. We settled on a kind of S bend in the river, myself taking the upstream bend and Brian taking the dowstream one.

To cut to the chase, it produced nothing. Early optimism had now dwindled into the reality that this might be a tougher nut to crack than we had thought. I set about hatching the next plan. A good walk downstream was in order, to locate the point where the rivers meet - King Dick's Hole.

What a glorious looking hole it was too. There were a few likely spots and one area looked to have nice bit of extra depth to it. I was sold on it so I wandered back to get my gear and Brian.

Spot the Brian!

I continued with a feeder/lead approach, but as things were again slow, I took the chance to get set up a shallow float rig with a centre pin. I reeled in the feeder rig to discover something attached to the end of the rig. Was it a twig, or was it a leaf I thought? Then it appeared to flap around and it was definitely a fish. More importantly for the challenge, something different - something very different. It was a Bullhead and the first one I've ever caught.


Sorry about the crap photo, but they aren't the easiest thing to photograph. Another point for the challenge though.

Brian had now sized up his swim and deemed it fit for the predator treatment. It didn't take too long for him to get amongst the action either. He shouted across that he was getting a slow take on the deadbait and sure enough he connected with the fish. I moved into action grabbing the scales and camera and set about scrambling over to his peg. Sadly, I had to abort the mission as the Pike won the battle after a brief scrap.

Brian was gutted and from what he saw of the fish, he felt it was a definite double. It left a bitter taste in the mouth and many expletives were uttered over the next few minutes. I think Brian even contemplated chucking himself in the river.

I had no luck whatsoever in my swim and while Brian had missed a few bites, we failed to bank anything. I had taken a brief wander upstream to test out a fishy looking swim, but it also failed to produce. I arrived back in my peg to discover a group of kids had invaded the far bank and were intent of fishing.

There was no question of them asking if they could fish directly opposite us - they simply decided they were going to fish and to hell with whoever was already there! It was time to call it a day in these swims. To be honest the kids probably did me a favour as they helped to force me to try other swims.

I made my way back upstream and found a couple of decent looking runs. I settled on a peg near to an overhanging tree and with a nicely sheltered run down the near bank. It wasn't looking good after a biteless half hour, but I kept feeding it and hoped for the best.

Eventually a bite came but it was very finicky and I missed it. I quickly cast out to the same spot and within a minute another similar bite occurred. This time I did connect and I was into something that was giving a spirited fight in the fast water. It was a Chub and one that needed a check on the scales. It went 2lb 8oz, so although far from a specimen, it nudged up the current challenge mark for that species by half a pound.

The action didn't exactly take off though, but that one fish at least helped to make me a lot more positive. I continued to feed the liquidized bread and eventually got some further reward when I hooked into another fish that felt fairly decent. It briefly looked like a Chub, but then I started to doubt it. Was it a big Grayling I thought? Dream on! It's going to be a Chub isn't it?

It then hit the surface and a big grin appeared on my face. It was a Trout - the first one I'd ever caught in this country. I had caught them before as a kid many years ago in Ireland during a spot of poaching. I didn't realise we were poaching by the way - my dad just got his rivers mixed up - well he's sticking to that story anyway!

Anyway, back to the present and a fine looking Trout of 1lb 11oz was in the net. Another species and a further bonus point for the weight too.

The day ended shortly after 5 and by then it was starting to get a bit cold and we were glad to get back to the relative warmth of the car.
We'll definitely be back for another go - almost certainly next season now though. In hindsight we probably weren't mobile enough on the day, but it's all part of the learning curve.