Saturday, 28 January 2012

Brian's Day

Another day out on the Avon at Alveston and this time I was accompanied by Brian on his maiden outing of 2012. We both hedged our bets with some silver fish gear and the inevitable predator gear.

I'll cut my story short by saying that I didn't have a great day. I was plagued by small Dace and couldn't find any way through them. The tip never stopped rattling, but the bonus Chub I was hoping for never showed up. Early on in the session my sleeper deadbait rod briefly woke up and I connected with a small Pike, but the fight was short lived and the fish was off.

Brian was on the next peg down and he was also having the odd Dace. The difference was that he made better use of his sleeper rod. He saw the tip pull round and something was onto his legered Sprat. I popped over to help net the fish and it went in very tamely. We guessed it might be knocking double figures and so it proved - just about! It weighed in at 10lb 1oz. It was an immaculate looking fish and certainly one that I hadn't seen before.

He had a further Pike later on, courtesy of his legered maggot rig! This one was a much smaller and sporting some battle scars. It was 4lb 10oz.

He nearly made it three, when a fish picked up his deadbait just as he was lifting it up through the water. The fish quickly spat the bait out though. 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Time for a Change

With an afternoon to spare, I took the chance of checking out the River Blythe for a change. My only previous trip to the river a couple of seasons ago ended in a disaster with just a single signal crayfish. I was hoping for much better this time around. 

I settled into the obvious swim and kicked off by legering 3 maggots on a size 15. It didn't take too long to open my account with a Chub of around 8oz. Another one about of about a pound followed not too long after.

I then had to endure a longish biteless spell, during which time I decided to set up a second rod so I could fish with bread at the same time. That change had an instant impact when I took another pound class Chub on my second drop in with the bread.

Things then went quiet - very quiet indeed. I felt that I wasn't really fishing either rod properly and I decided to go back to one rod with the bread. During the lean spell a Robin popped by to amuse me. I thought the cheeky little bugger was going to dive into my maggot box! It got what it came for though.

The bread was proving frustrating and I had a few occasions where the tip banged round, but nothing was there. It was possibly line bites, but I always take encouragement from any fishy movements on the rod tip. I stuck it out into overtime - convinced that another  Chub was going to come. It duly arrived on my very last cast, but at 2lb 15oz it wasn't the clonker I'd been holding out for.

A pleasant little experiment and now I know what to expect, I'm sure I can improve on things next time.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


I had some work on in Bristol and with the weather forecast looking good, I decided to make the best use of my day - which meant getting the hell out of work as quickly as possible. I closed things off just after midday and was back on the road back to destination Warwickshire Avon. By 2-15pm I was on the bank and ready for some Piking up to dusk.

I'd only got the one rod (my trusty 8ft telescopic) and it was already set up for thrashing a Sprat bait around a few swims to see if any Pike were willing to chase a bait. Nothing happened across the 3 banker swims (conveniently also the shortest walks!) so I broke down the set up and rigged up for a float leger approach on peg 3 with a bigger bait - a chunk of Sardine.

I moved the bait several times to different parts of the swim and was about a coffee break away from giving peg 4 a try. The float then started to bob and I had to wait a short while for it to turn into a definite take. I struck into it and it was very solid from the off. I knew this was another of those doubles that I have been losing all too often recently. .

After a few powerful runs and a couple of close misses with the net, the fish was finally mine. The barbless hooks were nicely positioned and popped out easily. On the scales it went 15lb 11oz. The mat in the picture is 38 inches long.

Having now checked some other photos of a 15lb 13oz fish I caught in December from 2 pegs upstream, it's definitely the same fish - now 2oz lighter. As I also photographed both sides of the fish this time, I compared it to one that Brian caught at 13lb 15oz last February and I can at least say it wasn't the same fish as that one! 

I had no other bites, but I was happy to bank a decent fish at last. Perhaps it's now time to turn my attention to other species again. I note there have been a number of 4lb+ Chub showing up in other bloggers catches already this year. Maybe a bit of Chubbing is on the cards?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Could Do Better!

More Piking again for me this week. I'm convinced that a mid/upper double is around the corner and so I keep putting in the groundwork on my favoured Pike haunt on the Avon.

This week I took a more static approach and rigged up a couple of deadbaits under floats. For this approach I left the smaller Sprats out of it and opted for Roach and Lamprey. After an hour of nothing I couldn't help but have a speculative wobble of the Lamprey as I lifted the rig out of the swim. Bugger me, a Pike grabbed it straight away! It was only a small Jack and it ejected the bait pretty quickly.

I moved off to the next swim and managed to repeat the above feat almost to perfect execution - a long biteless period, followed by a small Jack snatching the bait as I enticingly lifted it up. I ditched one of the float rigs and decided that maybe a more roving approach with the Sprats was in order again. It didn't work though and I settled in with a single Roach deadbait, which eventually resulted in a small Jack.

I don't know whether to call this fish lucky or unlucky. It was battered up and had an awful wound down one side. I don't recall anything untoward during the fight - like a bigger Esox getting stuck into it. Whatever this fish had been through it was still capable of feeding though, but it really needs to get a bit more street wise! It swam off with reasonable intent.

I had one further hook up later in the day on a wobbled Sprat. It was the best fish of the day, but once again the hooks didn't take a proper hold and the fish was gone. It wasn't a huge fish - certainly short of a double, but would have been enough to leave me with a more satisfying feeling to end the day.

Yet again, I've lost more fish than I've banked, which is starting to annoy me. I'm going to take a closer look at my rigs, as there must be a way to improve my chances. I don't expect to bank every fish, but I'm currently around the 40% mark in 2012 for Pike, which feels too low. Time for some homework and maybe a change of hook pattern.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Determination and Consolation

Things were a little fresher this week. It was -3C when I left home, but on arrival at Alveston it had dipped down to -5C. It was a beautiful morning though and as is generally the case here, I had half a mile of the Avon to myself.

I had toyed with the idea of going elsewhere this week for a spot of Chubbing on a different river, but the chilly conditions were the deciding factor and I needed to be somewhere that I had confidence in. I decided to continue with the Pike theme and to maximise my options I brought a second rod for a static approach, rather than just the wobbled deadbait rig that I normally opt for.

I moved around between pegs 2 and 9 using both tactics. I was getting nowhere fast though and was beginning to run out of ideas. Aided by polarised glasses I eventually saw something lazily following my wobbled bait as I retrieved it close in on peg 4. The Pike grabbed the bait on the next run through, but it tore off at a hell of pace taking line off the reel and I couldn't get it under control. It dived into an overhanging tree and managed to shed the hook, leaving me playing the tree! Although I didn't get a good look at the size of the fish, it felt decent enough by my meagre standards.

I was disappointed, but there wasn't a lot I could have done differently. I thought that was my chance gone for the day, but I pressed on regardless. I moved off again on the usual cycle of pegs and was almost at the point of giving up when I once again saw a fish moving slowly after a wobbled bait back on peg 4. This one didn't fall for the bait second time through, or third, fourth, fifth, etc!

I then remebered back to last week, where a change of approach to a static bait brought an almost instant result - even if I did manage to lose the fish! So, I switched to the float rig with a light bomb just above the trace and dropped it close in. Sure enough, the fish was on to it within a couple of minutes and the float started to move away.

I struck into it and began to play out the fight, which was going totally the plan. I slipped the net in the water and the Pike seemed to be heading towards it nicely, but it then took off in a different direction and the hook pulled clear. I had good sight of this one during the fight and at the risk of repeating last week's story, it looked like a potential low double. A cry of "Aaaaaahhh Bollocks" rung out across Alveston village, as I lifted out the empty wet net.

By now it was personal and I was so determined to avoid a blank that I pushed on again. Full time would be signalled by the start of the afternoon's football matches and I was listening to the build up through my pocket radio. Time was running short and as with earlier encounters, I once again saw a fish moving close in - on peg 3 this time. Again it wouldn't touch a wobbled Sprat. I actually let it follow it close in and watched it inspect the bait, which it duly snubbed.

I then moved back to the static rig and changed over to a Lamprey section. After about 5 minutes the float was on the move and I struck into the fish. I'm happy to say this one ended up in my net, just as I was hearing the football teams running on to the pitch through my earphones. It was the smallest of the fish I'd made contact with during the session, but at 6lb exactly it gave me some consolation.

I'm really enjoying my Pike fishing at the moment and it's giving me a new lease of (fishing) life right now. Going back just over 2 years, I knew next to nothing about Pike fishing and I wouldn't even have got out of bed to fish for them (or anything else for that matter) if the forecast was -5C. I'm definitely evolving into a year round angler, rather then the fair weather one I once was. I'd like to put a bigger Pike on the bank sometime soon though, but for now I'm just happy to have avoided a blank on all 3 sessions so far in 2012.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Jack, Sprat, Deja Vu

Another day of Piking was in order and this time I felt confident enough to kick it off at the often fickle Ryton Pool. An hour or so of wandering round the whole pool and moving baits through various swims and the confidence had ebbed away! Time for plan B and a trip to the more reliable Avon at Alveston.

The Avon wasn't any easier though and a full circuit up and downstream over the usual banker swims saw me staring a blank in the face. When I'd almost given up all hope I saw something move just in front of me - a Pike showing an interest in my wobbled Sprat. It wouldn't take it though.

Confident that I might be in the right area after all, I then decided to sit it out and changed to a more static float set up - partly for a change of presentation and partly for a much needed hot beverage break. No sooner was I pouring my coffee into the cup and the float was edging away across the river. I put the flask down and struck into the fish with an air of anticipation.

It wasn't a bad fish either, certainly looking long enough to be nudging double figures I would think. Unfortunately I never got to find out though, as the fish managed to slip the hooks during the fight. I was a bit gutted though, as I'd had it pretty much over the net at one point and managed to screw it up. The main failure being that I hadn't fully extended the net pole and had to bring the fish closer in than normal. With a fully exended pole, I'd have almost certainly landed it. My own stupid fault though.

The one good thing to come out of losing the fish was that it made me more determined to put something on the bank. I went back to the wobbling approach and went off on another circuit of the usual pegs. I connected with a small Jack in the next peg down and got exactly the same result - although this time I didn't have a sniff of landing it when it ejected the hooks. Ever more determined I pressed on.

Eventually I landed a fish down on trusty peg 9, scene of last week's only fish. It was a Jack which I thought was suspiciously similar to last week's fish and was caught in the same part of the peg. A quick check of the last week's photo when I got home confirmed it was the same fish.

Peg 7 was the next target and that also produced another Jack for me. A slightly smaller fish taken close in just off the platform. I love the thrill of the take when you see a Pike appear from nowhere, almost under your feet and grab the bait with sheer ferocity and power.

Nothing else materialised on the run back up through the other pegs.

A pleasant day and a few more fish showing than last week - even if a couple were slippery customers! I'm still very much a novice at this Pike game, but I'm gaining in confidence now and quite enjoying it during these cooler months.

Monday, 2 January 2012

It's a Start!

Well 2011 ended in a bit of a whimper in terms of my fishing - as borne out by the lack of posts I've made recently. 2012 now brings fresh hope and a clean slate with which to start from.

I'm not big on setting targets, as I know I'll generally always spend as much time as possible in the places I enjoy fishing the most. If big fish do turn up, then it's just a bonus. Reports of 2lb Roach showing in the Avon as close as Warwick, has got me thinking a bit for the year ahead though.

I plan to drop a couple of the club books I currently hold, which frees me up to tackle perhaps a couple of other options. I always like to change club waters periodically just to keep things fresh - even if it means going back over old ground, as in the case of perhaps pursuing some Roach potential on the upper Avon.

The club books I will retain are Leamington and Alveston and my first visit of 2012 saw me visiting both of them for a quick spot of Piking. Alveston is a peaceful water and whenever there's anything between a southerly or westerly wind blowing, it's so sheltered from the elements for much of its length.

I wandered down from peg 3 to peg 9, trying each viable swim in turn with a wobbled deadbait. Peg 9 was the only one to throw up a fish though, but it was pretty small at 4lb 7oz.

I tried other pegs but had no luck. I then decided to move on and call into Wasperton on the way home. There were quite a few anglers around for once - presumably Santa had been kind this year and people were eager to test out their new gear!

I wandered upstream, well away from the stiff and chilly breeze that was blowing across the fields from Hampton Lucy. The shelter offered by Scar Bank was much appreciated and made for a pleasant hour or so, while I tried several pegs. Many looked like bankers to me, but none of them produced a sniff of a fish. Still, it got me searching out areas that I haven't walked to in a long while and I can see me returning at some point later in the year.

After blanking during all January visits in the previous 2 years, I was just relieved to have put a fish on the bank first time out this year!