Sunday, 30 May 2010

Nice Day for Ducks

Jubilee Pools, Horseshoe Pool. Saturday 29th May. Sean & Brian. 9am to 4pm.

After another poor showing on a pool, I'll be glad when the rivers open. Not that I'm going to turn into some bagging machine on the rivers, but I'm just more at home on them. 18 days and counting...

We decided on a leisurely start to the day on the basis of the weather forecast, which suggested wet weather would strike in the early hours and the situation would improve early afternoon. I figured that a lazy start would allow the worst of the weather to go through, but it backfired. The rain was just kicking off as we arrived at the venue and stuck with us for several hours on and off (mostly on though!). This pair were happy though:

The pools were fairly empty when we arrived and we opted for the smaller Horseshoe Pool. We found a couple of comfortable swims with plenty of shelter and we were optimistic enough. This is not a water I'm overly familiar with and so it was just a case of scratching around on one rod, while also employing a sleeper rod to see if anything big would play ball. A third rod would target any surface feeding Carp that came into range.

I put a decent bed of bait down into 8 foot of water and then spent what felt like an eternity setting up my rods. It took a couple of hours before I started to get indications on the waggler rig and I proceeded to miss bite after bite. They were very finicky bites and I felt that whatever was responsible would be pretty small anyway.

Eventually I connected with one of the culprits and sure enough it was a small Perch. Another one followed next cast before something a bit more substantial grabbed the bait. The fish tore off and my lightly set clutch did it's job perfectly to avoid an unwanted break off.

I'm starting to trust the clutches on reels a bit more these days. To be fair it's quite a decent reel and I shouldn't expect any less really. Although I still tend to play fish on the backwind, it's nice to have that extra security from a trustworthy clutch.

After a fair old scrap the fish finally gave up and surrendered into the net. It was a welcome Tench (female) which is actually my first of the year and it went 3lb 11oz. Excuse the photo, but she was a spirited little bugger and would not stay still for long.

Things didn't take off though and despite alternating between maggots, corn and pellet/paste across both rigs, I struggled to find anything more than small Perch and Roach. There was one exception though which came in the form of a Bream of 3lb 5oz on the sleeper rod:

A slightly better photo, as this fish was a bit more placid. However, unbeknown to me, someone appears to have slipped a pair of comedy breasts beneath my jumper!

Brian had a bad day at the office with nothing of note. A couple more points in the challenge pot for me though.

Monday, 24 May 2010

An Odd Day Out

Saturday 22nd May. College Pool, Wasperton. Sean & Brian. 8am - 4-15pm.

A bit of an odd day this turned out to be. We had planned to go to Snitterfield again and I had beefed up the bait quota accordingly, as I felt a bit undergunned the previous week. I'd also tweaked the rod bag and changed a couple of rods over. We then made a last minute change of plan and went to College Pool instead!

Not to worry, I wasn't overly inconvenienced, but it meant my usual 17ft rod wasn't amongst my chosen weapons. I therefore had to opt for a feeder/lead rig, a slider rig and a floater rig on standby. I got to my peg and started to set up, but I realised I'd left all of my food and drink, plus bits of bait in Brian's van. A great start, but the walk would do me good.

I got myself set up before going back to the van and Brian had kindly mixed up a load of groundbait for us. I balled the lot into my swim a couple of rod lengths out, with Bream in mind again. I then went for a walk just as a rather odd couple (a bloke and his missus) arrived at the pegs directly opposite. Aside from the peg nearest the car park, the whole pool was free, but they settled directly opposite us.

As I walked back to my peg, I felt the volume was a bit louder than you'd normally expect. It wasn't the bloke though - it was the missus. Over the next couple of hours she proceeded to give him all manner of abuse, in between moments of pure ecstasy as she caught some of the small Perch. One moment all was jolly as a Perch was swung in to hand, the next minute it was "you ****ing this" and "you ****ing that" and "if you ever come home in that state again...".

Brian and I were looking around for the hidden camera, as we figured this had to be a wind up for some TV show. The comedy act only lasted a couple of hours and we were back to a somewhat more normal setting as they headed off. The poor bloke took a right pounding though!

Tranquil waters

By this time I had caught a few Perch before getting amongst the Bream. I caught 3 in quick succession on the lead for a total of 11lb 13oz. Then nothing! Not a sniff for the rest of the day on the lead. Why did they turn off? No idea? I figured I was in for another hectic day, but it wasn't to be.

I spotted a Carp or two surfacing so I tried to nick one off the top to get myelf on the scorecard for Carp. I did manage to hook one after a long wait, but it did me almost instantly. In my defence I wasn't really in the the best peg for Carp - but I knew a man who was!

I then decided I'd have a wander to another peg to try and access the Carp better. Bizarrely I'd managed to tackle up my rod missing out the top 3 (yes three!) rings. So I retackled again and after my first cast I realised I'd managed to loop the line over around the rod between two of the rings. Time to retackle again! I put it down to the hot weather. When I finally got the rod in action, I think I'd spooked the Carp. Or maybe I'd just sent them into hysterics with my ineptitude. One did lower its guard briefly and slurped the bait, but I didn't connect with it. I gave up and went back to watching a static tip.

Brian sensed the chance chance to have a go at the Carp and borrowed my rod. It's a new stalking rod I bought a few months ago. Although I haven't used it much, I'm yet to open my account with it. Brian had been having his usual unlucky day and had lost a couple of decent fish already, but had taken a few of the small Perch. He dropped some floating bread out and it looked like his luck was set to continue as piece after piece was slurped down, but his bait remained untouched and ultimately it was the last piece in the water.

Patience (or is it stubbornness) paid off and he did get amonsgt the action though and despite a plucky Mirror Carp trying to ascend up an adjacent tree, he managed to land the fish. It was 6lb 3oz and improved on his best for the year.

I went for a brief walk to see if there were any Carp in the margins. No Carp, but loads and loads of small Perch sunning themselves:

We were set to finish at 4-15 and I had already started to pack up a bit early as I had a bit more gear to tidy up. Brian had gone over time (memo to self to get some rules for this!) and I wondered when he was going to pack up. The next thing I knew he was into another fish - again on my rod! This one was also tamed after a spirited fight and it went 7lb 3oz. I won't proclaim it to be a venue record, but it is the biggest Carp I've seen taken from the pool. It's encouraging to see them putting weight on.

So, about 95% of the day's total weight was taken on my rods, yet I still end up catching the least weight! No challenge points for either of us, but Brian has now increased his standing for Mirror Carp.

11lb 13oz of Bream

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Reservoir Slobs

Saturday 15th May. Snitterfield Reservoir. Sean, Brian & Mark. 8-15am to 4-45pm

MOT day for Brian's van signalled a drop off for the van in Leamington and a chance to venture a bit further afield than we have recently. I fancied a go at the Rese and Mark (who is fairly new to fishing) tagged along on a guest ticket.

We settled on 3 pegs on the left hand bank just past the drop off point. There were fish topping from the off and it looked typically inviting. All 3 of us had some weedy features to aim at if we wanted to, but I was determined to stick to the advice I'd passed on to Mark early doors. It's the same advice that Owen the bailiff gives everyone (and has given me before) - don't fish too far out.

The tendency is to want to chuck the float or feeder out into open water, but there is a fair depth close in and even though some pegs are featureless under your feet, the fish are often very close in. The old saying "you cast over more fish than you cast to" is often relevant here.

I had to help Mark with his set up first of all so I was a bit delayed in starting myself. While I was sorting things out though, Mark had opened his account with a small Roach and Perch. Partially ignoring my advice I decided to fish a little further out than I had intended to begin with, but not too far. The plan was to ball it in on that line, but to drip a bit of bait in on a closer line and to shorten up as the day wore on.

I started catching the odd Perch before something a little better took the bait. It was a very distinctive fight somewhat akin to hooking a headless chicken running round a farmyard. I knew it was one of the resident Crucians and soon a bonus point was on the board. It was about 1lb. Mark wasn't to be outdone though and he had one of his own later on in the day.

I started to catch the odd small Bream before setting up a couple of other rods. I tried a feeder rod back over the original area I'd balled in on, while creeping closer in on the waggler rig. The action picked up a bit for a while and I had a couple of more Crucians (on the closer line!), the best going 1lb 7oz. I also took the odd Bream on the feeder rod up to about 1.5lb.

I had another tool at my disposal - the floater rig to try and tempt one of the bigger Carp. Despite trying it a few times (and having to be bloody careful with the inquisitive bird life) nothing took the bait. One fish did mouth the bait, but it soon spit it out.

Brian didn't have the best of days, but he caught a few fish, the best being a Roach of about 12oz. Mark also caught a duckling, which I had to net and reunite with it's less than impressed mother. It didn't seem overly traumatised by the experience though and was happily feeding away throughout the rest of the day. I finished with 10lb 14oz.


Mixed Bag

Needless to say, Mark won't win wildlife photographer of the year on this showing! He makes Brian look like David Bailey. Maybe he needs a better subject to work with though!

In terms of the challenge, we continue to splutter along. It was honours even on the day, but I was happy with the Crucian as they aren't available in many of the waters we fish and that could be a handy target to set.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Pike Hunter

This weekend was a designated no fishing weekend for various reasons. However, I did find a slot on Sunday afternoon to go searching for a mythical Pike I've been told about (and have duly reported on my blog).

The water is question is a brook typically less than a foot deep. I know it's pretty much devoid of all fish and Jeff (Idler's Quest) confirmed it. However, he failed to spot the Pike on a recent scouting mission and that left me a little bit doubtful as to the vailidity of the previous sightings.

So, I went round my mum's to borrow their trusty hound and to save her the bother of walking the aforementioned mutt, known as Murphy. She told me look for the Pike by the footbridge and so off I went.

"The Murph"

We took the long walk around to the spot in question so that I could tire Murphy out a bit. As I approached the footbridge I started to look at the water at bit more closely and it was as barren as ever. I honestly wasn't expecting to see anything. I then reached the footbridge and looked under it first of all - figuring that it would give a fish a bit of cover. It wasn't there.
I then looked downstream and this is what I was greeted with:

As you can see it's a narrow brook and looks unremarkable. Then I looked harder and sure enough I spotted a fish - a very big fish for this water. It's smack bang in the centre of this photo:

I photographed it from various angles to see if I could get a decent shot of it. This is the best I could muster in the end:

I threw in a couple of sticks and measured them against the fish as they floated past. It's about 2ft 8ins long by my reckoning, which according to a Pike chart would make it about a 5lb fish. It also has some strange white looking marks on the back of its head.
I know that it's really just a Jack, but it's a fish of incredible proportions for the brook in question. I seriously hope it's a vegetarian though, because there's next to nothing for it to feed on! How it got there is a real mystery. I've never seen a fish of more than about an ounce in this water in about 30 odd years. I would never have believed that a fish like that could turn up out of the blue.

Friday, 7 May 2010

A Morning Out

Saturday 1st May - Disused Hawkesbury Golf Course. 9am - 1pm.

This post has been a bit delayed due to various things, not least my house being turned into a rubbish tip following the fitting of new windows. I did find time the previous Saturday morning for a brief session though. With Brian also otherwise engaged with redevelopment works on his house, I decided a local session would do.

I decided to tackle the nearest pool to start with, in the hope of snaring one of the large Perch that apparently inhabit it. I had a good walk around the pool and found it to be very snaggy looking. When I put the polarised glasses on, I could see just how weedy the bottom was for almost the entire length of the pool. I settled on a fairly clear area and having seen evidence of other people's misplaced casts or pull outs (various float assortments in the trees above), I figured the peg must be worth a go.

After about 20 minutes I had my first bite on maggot and I caught my first Perch from the pool. It was only a few ounces and although I tried to get a photo of it, the fish had other ideas and leapt clear while I lowered my guard. You can just about make it out (flapping by the lily pad):

With a Perch now sighted I upped the stakes by going for a bigger specimen with a worm on the hook. After about 90 minutes I gave up though because they weren't having it - well not from this swim anyway. I switched to maggot and had another small Perch, but as the day was opening up nicely I made the move to the other pool to get out of the shade.

The plan here was to hopefully prove the existence of Carp in this pool and I had about 2.5 hours to do it. Although a shallowish pool it has a reasonable colour to it and I decided to introduce a good carpet of groundbait laced with hemp, caster and corn. I was hoping that if there were any Carp, that they would eventually home in on it and bully the ravenous Rudd out of the way.

Initially I kicked off with a maggot approach on size 14 just to see if anything was there. It didn't take long for the Rudd to nail the bait every cast. I switched to caster and still caught Rudd. Breadflake brought Rudd too. Bigger breadflake just resulted in frustration as the fish nibbled bits off it before breaking it down into Rudd size mouthfuls.

On with the corn and you've guessed it - more Rudd. To be fair, they are a decent stamp of fish on the corn (3 to the pound) and normally I wouldn't complain. There was the occasional Roach and Hybrid thrown in, but it was mostly Rudd. However, I was trying to get through them on this occasion.

Luncheon meat was the next bait and that proved similar to bread flake. Smaller punched out pieces were gobbled up by the Rudd, while larger pieces were just pecked at. The fish were largely in mint condition though and the largest fish were certainly knocking around the 8-10oz range.

I packed up after a couple of hours of frantic action, but I didn't get a sniff of a Carp. As I was packing the rod away I did see a bow wave in the water and it was definitely from something more substantial than what I'd been catching. I'll be back...

Last week I reported a relatively large fish in a local brook that just doesn't seem to have any fish in it these days. Jeff (Idler's Quest) backed up my theory that it was basically fishless by only managing to dig out a bullhead on a recent recce.

Again though, I have to report that the fish is still there. It was seen this Wednesday afternoon in the same location (under the footbridge that is just a few yards upstream of the A444 road bridge). It was positively ID'd as Pike this time, as my uncle was a witness on this occasion. I still can't work out why a Pike of that size got into such a place.

Was it dumped in there due to it outstaying it's welcome elsewhere? Or, did it simply keep swimming upstream looking for food when the water level was a little higher? I note that the Angling Times this week discusses the intelligence levels of fish and it seems that if a Pike was to audition for "Only Fools and Horses", it would be better off trying out for the role of Trigger!

Aside from fishing, I had to pop to hospital today for a bit of minor surgery on my head. After an act of pure butchery, I was sent home looking like a cross between a terrorist and Basil Fawlty from that famous Fawlty Towers Germans epsiode. Madeleine came to pick me up and pretty much pissed herself on the spot!

"Not funny? - I'll do the funny walk"