Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Careful What You Wish For

Last time out I was hoping for something to change with our weather. A switch to something altogether colder or a dose of rain were my wishes. It was the latter that won out in the end, but it wasn't so much a dose of rain, but a complete deluge.

Yesterday things were actually OK with the river, but the stormy conditions saw me crying off and giving our bathroom a bit of a refresh. I checked the EA river levels site towards the end of the day and knew it was a forlorn hope.

Today I had a few hours to spare between a train station drop off and pick up and I just had to head off somewhere. I ended up on a lake and narrowly avoided a blank thanks to a single roach. I had deadbaits out for the pike but they failed to show in the cold and heavily coloured water.

It was far from ideal, but I was just happy to get out and wet a line. I packed in early and took in a few sights on my way back. I don't tend to see the Avon in flood all that much so I took the chance to see how my regular haunt was coping.

A case of the sign stating the bleeding obvious on this occasion!

The view from high above:

The tree directly above the life buoy (centre) represents where the near side bank normally is. All landing stages are well under water so it will be interesting to see how they cope. It's the first good test they've had since I refurbished them earlier in the year, so I'm crossing my fingers that they've held out.

The view at Wasperton:

And at Fulbrook:

I don't fancy my chances of getting on the river again this year now. We have a couple of quiet days as we head into the bank holidays, but more rain is on the horizon. I have some other plans on the cards also, so the fishing might have to wait.

I had a quick look in at College Pool on my travels and that has also taken a bit of water on again. It's not flooded though and it might well be my next port of call if I do get out again this year. I won't be bursting a gut to get out if the conditions stay like they are though.

Most importantly though, I hope everyone has a great Christmas. Here's hoping that a few fish related gifts find their way to us all...

Monday, 16 December 2013


I don't like moaning when the weather is unseasonably mild, but the recent conditions seem to be all very nothingy. The weather has been mild, the river is low and clear and it's neither here nor there. I find myself wishing for a deluge of rain to give the river some colour, or for it to go much, much colder.

The fishing this week was a bit muddled too. I took maggots, worms and bread to try to tempt out something other than pike, but I threw in a few deadbaits just in case and extracted two jacks before I'd even set up the quiver tip! They were moved 50 yards upstream to hopefully improve the silver fish odds.

Two more jacks followed pretty quickly and were also relocated, but that was it for the pike. The silver fish didn't play ball though. Just a few dace and a solitary roach and gudgeon to show for my endeavours. Worms went unnoticed by the perch. Chub didn't fancy the bread.

I was joined by Brian for the first time this season and he suffered similar results. He had mostly dace and a couple of pike, including the best of the day at bang on 9lb.

As I write this, I can see the river has received a bit of extra water already. The forecast also seems to suggest a fair amount of rain around Friday, so it will hopefully freshen things up by the time I next hit the river. Fingers crossed...

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Predator City

I didn't manage to wet a line last week. I was hoping to sneak in a short session but there were too many other jobs to attend to at home and the fishing had to be shelved.

This week I was back on the river and quite surprised to see how quickly the temperatures had picked up - a mild 7C when I left home just before 7am. Earlier in the week the forecast on my phone was suggesting it might be as low as -2C for Friday night. I love the cold crisp winter days and I was really looking forward to it, but it was a totally different prospect come the day - not that I'm moaning though!

Tactics were the same as my previous effort. Groundbait was introduced into 3 swims and I started off in the one furthest upstream. I was geared up for pike fishing, but I also had a spare road and a loaf of bread so that I could switch to other species if I fancied a change.

The starting peg was a little restricted for space both on the bank and in the water, so it's a single rod job. I had the usual mix of deadbaits to hand - smelt, lamprey, roach and sardine. First cast brought a jack and another followed within half an hour. Things were looking promising.

Two fish is usually enough to signal a move for me, so I hopped across to my second peg which I drew a blank from on my previous visit. I didn't suffer the same fate this time though and my first encounter was something I'll probably never do again as long as I live.

Another jack had taken the bait and was routinely on its way into the net when all hell broke loose. As I went to net it, a larger pike with eyes bigger than belly lunged towards it and just swam into the back of the net. It all happened in a split second and I was left gobsmacked.

I put the bonus fish on the scales and it went 14lb 6oz.

The thrashing around in the net caused by the fish had left my trace in a right mess and I had to retackle. I put the other rod out while I was retackling but I wasn't expecting much to happen. I was totally wrong though and it took barely a minute for the float to dip away again. This time it was a big and all too familiar fish - the same twenty I had from a different peg a couple of weeks ago.

This time it weighed in over half a pound heavier at 21lb 15oz, so it's clearly doing well for itself. Despite being a pb, it's not a capture that fills me with joy though, as I'd rather not get a repeat in such a reasonably short space of time. I'll move my pike fishing on to other areas from now on.

Five pike in a session was a record for me and it was still only 10-30am. I started to wonder how many I could get, given that I still had my banker swim still to go. I thought 10 could be in with a chance. Things slowed down, but I managed a further jack before moving off to my final swim.

I only had one sardine with me - a big old bait that had been marinated with an enhancer before freezing. This was meant for a big fish in my own mind, but as I've often found with pike, the size of the bait is no guarantee. And it was the case again. I don't think the sardine even touched bottom before it was intercepted by one of the smallest fish of the day.

Two other fish took me up to 9 and I still had an hour to go. Bait was running out though and I was down to my last proper deadbait - a lamprey section and just a few old scraps that I was using on a single hook rig. Nothing was happening and with 15 minutes to go I tried one other peg for a last gasp attempt. It failed so I returned to pack up but gave it one last fling. I cast out to a part of the swim I hadn't tried yet with the lamprey and within seconds the float was away. One last jack graced my net to take me up to the magic 10, although I'm being slightly cheeky by counting the flukey bonus fish in that.

I can't be certain if the groundbait approach is anything to do with the improved results, but I'm liking the idea right now. There's a huge amount of silver fish in the area at this time of year so if I can help to pull some of them into small areas close to the margins where the pike will sit, then it's worth a go. Maybe the weather was the key though, or was it the bait enhancer, or just total luck? We'll never know, but for now I'm confident in my approach and that goes a long way.

One thing that did bring a few extra takes was twitching the bait from time to time. All fish were caught on floatfished deadbait, but quite often the static bait didn't appear to work. Just twitching the bait back a bit from time to time, helped to induce some of the takes with pretty quick results. It's something I'm learning more and more. Don't just sit on a static bait if nothing is happening - make something happen.

With a mild week forecast I think I'll put the pike gear away and go back to other species next time. I still have to catch a bream from the river this season and the big perch might get some attention again. Could be a bad week for worms!