Friday, 19 May 2017

A Jobber's point collecting job.

When I decided to take part in this most recent fishing challenge, I said to myself it was always going to be a case of just doing what I wanted to do and collecting any points that came along as a result of my captures, unlike in previous challenges where I have gone off searching for specific points. My good intentions though lasted all of five minutes, after I decided to go on a point collecting mission and head down to one of my favorite sections of canal to try and catch a few decent examples of a few different species. 

The idea to go a fish the canal using some old school Sensas ground bait while fishing worms over the top had popped out of my brain goo a while ago.  As it's something I rarely do on canals nowadays I wondered what the reaction on this highly populated area might be. So after settling on a favorite fish holding area I plumbed my float up two inches over depth and baited a small area about a foot square with four hard golf ball sized balls of Lake black ground bait, laced with a few broken worms, and threw in one loose ball to break up on the way down. Then while that stewed away sending of waves of scent down the canal with the tow, I got comfortable.

I reckon worms must make up a huge proportion of small zanders diet as I regularly catch them on worm sections and because of that I wasn't surprised to see the first fish that pulled my float under was a sprightly little zander.

The next bite came not even minutes after the float had settled down to only the orange tip. A quick dip indicated the lob tail being sucked in and the float then slid away as something moved out of the swim. My light rod hooped over severely towards the water as I tried to man handle the fish away from my spot to the side of the swim so as not to spook any other still on my bait. It turned out to be a nice big perch. Wanting to weigh the fish I kept it in the net after unhooking it and nonchalantly just threw the bait out into the water. As I was faffing around with my scales I notice the rod nodding down towards the water. After picking it up I was once again playing a powerful fish and moments later a brace of big perch lay side by side in the net ready to be weighed.

I wished I had bought a keep net along as the sport had gone from zero to frantic instantly and I could just saved the weighing of the fish till the end. But having not bought a  keep net I just persevered and the next fish that needed weighing came along immediately after a quartet of pound perch. With no hint of an impending bite my float zipped under, I struck and straight away I knew I was playing a different sort of fish. With a dogged thumping fight I knew it was a roach and as per normal for this area it was a big one of well over a pound in weight

Before messing around trying to photograph the roach I took a moment to top up again and hopefully prime the swim. So two hard golf ball sized balls of ground bait went in followed by a single loose ball help spread the scent. It worked too, as first put in a small bream took the bait, followed by two of it mates up to nearly three pounds.

In little over an hour I had amassed a very nice catch, that any match angler fishing a canal match would have happily swapped this catch for his right nut I know. After the last bream it turned into a perch finale until the sky clouded over. I think my feeding of broken lob worms over the ground bait kept a few lingering around and every so often one would nip in to have a feed. I quickly figured what the perch really liked was taking the worms falling through the water, rather than picking them up of the bottom. Once I'd clocked this I was constantly lifting the bait up and dropping it down. By doing this I kept busy right up until home time catching another twenty or so fish topped off with a very nice near two.

Apart from amassing a weight of fish that would have won a match on pretty much any canal, I easily totted up a few points for the challenge whilst having thoroughly enjoyable evening. I reckon I might do a few more of these point collecting forays through the year, especially in the late summer when these perch should be in prime condition and maybe that bench mark two pound roach might be a little more attainable.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Challenge accepted.

So the sun once again rises on the dawn of a new fishing challenge and this year I am in it. It's been a few years since I was involved in one of these blogger fuelled cannon ball runs to establish bragging rights over a few brethren. When I was asked by George Burton off of Float, Flight and Flannel if I fancied taking part I pondered the history of the challenge for a while before confirming my entry. You see I was one of the original four who pioneered this madcap challenge in its infancy along with Keith Jobling (now full time fitness fanatic and lothario), Jeff Hatt (now an international art forger know as Le Hatt) and Brummie Pete (still lives in Birmingham). Back then the challenge was simpler, rather local and fuelled by beer, oh and every year Keith won because he was the only one of us prepared to commit his entire life to beating everyone into submission. Now though this newer more complex challenge is populated by many more anglers from all over the country and makes the old challenge look a bit like village cricket match, rather than a premiership season which it has become. The top challengers are now younger and even thirstier for success and I suppose from what I have seen watching from the wings these last few years, the challenger to beat, or the Chelsea of this group if you will, is James Dension off of James' Angling Adventures. And I quite fancy joining the pack of old dogs baying at his heels to depose him from the winner's podium.

I was quite excited for the whistle to blow and the challenge to begin as the clock rolled over midnight on the 31st of April. Mind you I had already predicted that on a session the day before I would bag something which would have made a lovely first fish on my score. After choosing a brutal swim on a local reservoir I battled it out for a full three hours throwing maggot feeders cross wind onto a spot I stuck with all morning. Finally after freezing half to death on the back of the wind, my bobbin lifted positivity as my alarm sounded some definite fishy attention. Fishing a heavy rod on windswept water did nothing more than make a dull battle even fuzzier. As I stabbed the net towards the fish I was certain it was a good rudd, turns out it was a great roach of 1.10 which would have been so useful twenty four hours later.

It actually took me twenty six and a half hours to get back to the reservoir and in that time the wind had swung round from an easterly to a north easterly. On arriving I was struggling to find a peg on the bank I wanted as the bank holiday crowds were very much in it for the day. In the end I found a corner peg in the shallows of the water. It was vacant apart from the angler in the next peg who had decided to cast a sleeper carp rod across the swim to some reeds. Stubbornly and with a little griping to his mate he got the hint that I was just going to cast across him if he didn't remove it from what was now my water. Really I had no problem with the situation apart from he was fishing a rod specifically after carp but only had with him one of those small match pan nets, which would have been about as much use as a tea strainer should he have hooked a actual carp.

The fishing on this evening session was more than a bit slow, really I had expected the fish to come on the feed as the day settled down and the sun sank towards the horizon, but it took ages for the residents to get onto the bed of red maggots I had spombed out, or to find the method feeder loaded with pungent groundbait I was casting at any nice looking spots or rolling fish. It was the arrival of the rudd and small perch which signaled the change. A few smaller six ounce rudd and a hand full of perch got the alarms beeping as they moved over the patch of feed, plucking at my maggot hook baits as they did.

Once the action started it soon became almost rhythmical. Fill the feeder, cast onto the clip, sink the line, set the bobbin, wait five minutes then beep beep beep. All was well and good until a tench turned up and kited from one side of the swim to the other on a tight line. After struggling to slowly draw it back and scooping it safely into the net I was unhooking it when the second rod came to life, bending round to the right as a self-hooked fish struggled to rid itself of the rig. I didn't quite get to it in time before the fish was off and I was striking into thin air, but I had one in the net already so I wasn't too disappointed with my fish proper tench of the year, albeit a right rum looking bugger.

With the sun setting the temperature sank further putting an end to an all too brief feeding spell. In the end it wasn't actually too bad of a session to start the challenge with. I'd had to work hard in still awkward conditions but my perseverance had come good with a few nice rudd up to 10oz, load of well marked perch and one really rough tench which all add up to a few points on the board. 

I feel this new challenge will serve to motivate me to doing a few things I haven't done for a while and certainly get me going after some species I have neglected the last few years, and you never know with a bit of luck to go with this motivation maybe, just maybe I can keep up with the favourites before until the sun sets on this challenge. 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Canal carp - a crisis of confidence.

Everyone who fishes canals will have some kind of tale or tome of canal carp to tell. I suspect it's the linear nature of canals that helps information travel down them to be dribbled like honey into people's ears by passing travellers. Personally with all the time I've spent on canals I reckon I must have heard thousands of stories about monsters hiding on the far bank cover over the years. The truth of the matter is that all canals contain carp, be them born or bred, dumpers, stockies or escapes, they are there and beyond all the bluff and bluster you hear about how to catch them there is one single box to tick in order to attain success as far as I am concerned; location. Quite frankly you could fish in a carpy looking location for the rest of your life and not catch a single fish if it is simply not their chosen home.

With regards to location, I can think of six spots on three different sections of canal that I have either seen or caught carp from. I have spent a fair bit of time on these spots in years past and as much as I reckon the fish have probably grown, I'd like to find a few unknown fish to me, so I have started looking at few more likely spots with supposed form to target. The first is a very well known supposed carp haunt of the Grand union were fish of preposterous sizes are reported to swim and I gave it a look on an evening session recently when the weather was fine enough for carp.

I like to keep things simple when carp fishing and on the canal, rigs hidden in PVA bags are always the way to go. Firstly you can cast them into any tiny space you want with little fear of tangles, secondly they sink slowly without the lead burying in the deep silt that can line the bottom and thirdly they are great for fishing for one bite by presenting a concentrated pile of smelly bait. All that said it seemed on this occasion my simple tactics might not have been reliable, as I did not generate anything near a bite in five hours. I had a few liners but definitely no contact with the rigs, which was concerning. Without dwelling on a blank I moved on to the next session along with my new compact kit.

I feel I should mention the new set up I am using this season for carp. You know I've always felt taking twelve foot carp rods and big reels down the cut to a bit of overkill. Then a while ago I bought a 9ft Nash dwarf rod for stalking carp and after seeing how great this little rod was I invested in a second one and matched them up with a pair of Korum KXI reels. I then bought a specific rod bag for the Dwarf rods which is not much over three feet long and also carries my 36" carp net with handle that splits into two. All the rest of the stuff I might need packs into my Korum day sack which leaves me with a kit so compact that no spot is too far away.

My next canal session was a disaster and that was pretty much all my fault. I agreed to meet Mick on a very reliable section of canal where he was going to fish for zander and I for carp. Anyway to cut a long story short I decided to hang out with Mick and have a chat rather than head straight down to the banker spot. As nice as it was catching up with Mick, it allowed some else to get on my spot. Frankly I was shocked as I have never seen another carp angler there ever and here was one right where I wanted to be. When I arrived and after chatting to the other angler I set up shop a little way up the canal  in a spot of lesser quality which produced zip all once again.

Confidence in any sort of angling is key in my opinion and at this point I had none. Worst of all though I had opted to use a new bait for this canal carp caper and as good as it smelt to me I wasn't sure it was doing the business. I expected those starving canal bream to be on it like a tramp on chips and so far I was saving a fortune on bite alarm batteries. With this crisis of confidence in both bait and me I had no choice but to have a session on somewhere a little easier. So with a spare afternoon off work I went over to fish Jubilee pools, or specifically horseshoe pool.

These pools suffer a bit of an image problem if you ask me and some of that is down to their name I reckon. Though referred to as pools they are in fact pits where sand and gravel were extracted from along with Ryton pool and Meadow lands. Should they be referred to a jubilee pits then certainly in carp fishing circle they would command a bit more respect than a lowly old pool. That aside Horseshoe for one looks like a gravel pit if you look beyond the wooden stages that line the lip of the pool like teeth. And the fish do behave more like gravel pit fish as they swim around the clear weedy water. The only way this pool differs from most gravel pits is in stock density. Being the coffer fillers they are, the controlling club keeps them well overstocked with fish as to please the day ticket paying masses. Weirdly though the fish seem to exhibit different habits. The small carp are nearly always lingering in the upper layers of the water, where as a totally different size class patrol the margins like nervous submarines, and it was those nervous submarines that I wanted to test my confidence out on.

After walking round the lake a bit and finding most of it empty of anglers, I fed four swims on one bank where I had seen a few groups of bigger fish nosing around. These bigger fish love nothing more than coming into the margins in the evening and mopping up all the discarded bait, and that's exactly what I wanted my freebies to look like. After putting out a handful of corn in each swim along with a few broken boilies and whole boilies I waited and watched to see which of the four swims offered the batter chance. Random fish kept coming into all of them but one swim had a couple of groups of fish the others didn't repeatedly stopping by, so thats where I decided to set my trap. Once all the bait was gone I quickly nipped in and set up my rods and alarms on the path leading into the swim. There was a large clear area all around the platform so carefully placed one rig on the further edge of the clear spot and the second right under the platform. After making sure my line was pinned down tight to the bottom by a few blobs of tungsten putty and a small back weight I re-baited with more broken boilies and corn and retreated well away from the peg. 

The fish were soon back and I waited a good hour before the water finally erupted and the alarm screamed as a fish found my sneaky two halves of boilie bait and sucked it in. It took a while for the fish to fully get its head round its circumstance and when it did the rod really started to bend.

After an epic tussle which destroyed the swim and my other rod, I finally dragged the net out of the brambles and slipped it under a stunning little common which filled my confidence jar close to the brim.

After I released that low double a few swims away I returned to carnage. In the panic of the fight everything had gone everywhere. My second rod was lying on the floor with the line still over the buzzer. There were mats, selfie sticks and half the contents of my bags strewn all over the floor. As I walked towards the second rod on the floor the alarm beeped once and thinking it was about to go off I froze. From just at the edge of the swim I could see a real strange group of fish had drifted into swim and were picking up odd bit here and there. There was a golden tench, a tiny common carp and a huge mirror. I would have said they had all arrived separately until the golden tench moved off and its buddies followed it. Quickly I got both rods out a again this time with a PVA bag on each. Both were in same positions as before when I saw the golden tench reappear followed by its two carpy friends. None of them dipped onto the baits but they all paused a moment as they passed over them. I watched those three fish drift in and out again and again, each time the mirror seemed bigger.

Soon my time was running out and worst of all their confidence was building with the more time they spent in the swim. With little over thirty minutes till I had to be off the water I watched as the two carp homed in on my close in bait. I watched willing them to dip down towards it... then Bleeeeeeeeeep the moment was shattered by the bite alarm I watched confused as the two carp shot off to the left and my line on my right had rod surged out into the lake. Whilst watching the fish I wanted to catch near one line someone had snuck in and taken the other. It turned out to be a very boisterous common not to dissimilar to the other apart from this one was rushed in a bit which meant it was very lively on the mat hence the crap selfie with it.

This trip to Jubilee pits was well served to boost my confidence in both what I was doing and in the bait I have decided to use. Now all I need is the weather to warm up a bit and I should be able to start homing in on a few canal targets myself.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

End of the same old same old.

Its been a while since I have had chance to post anything and that's not down to not fishing, but is rather due to just not having time. I never thought I'd be this time poor, but I am right now. Fishing though, I always can shoe horn in some of that! To be honest I've not been that motivated of late, I really feel like I've been doing the same old things for the same old species every time I am out at the moment and am ready for a change of tack.

 I've done plenty of light lure fishing and caught plenty of plump spiny perch...

I even had a go to try and locate and catch by design a canal chub. Turns out the species my rigs best designed for were roach bream hybrids, of which I caught three nice examples of on my cheesy bread baits...

Somewhere in the middle of my canal bashing I did sneak an afternoon session to try out my new compact carp outfit. Sadly the carp in the pool I visited were more interested in sunning themselves than eating, and the only action came from the mini tench in the pool which seemed able to repeatedly pick up my baits without getting hooked. In the end I did hook one tench which was followed by a small bream. Neither put up any kind of fight on the heavy gear, so both were freed without even lifting them from the water.

Although frankly a bit sick of canal perch fishing I did conclude to end this self imposed monotony with an apt finale where I would go and fish one of my all time favorite perch haunts on the Grand union, and pile in the bait hoping for a big haul of kippers. The haul was big but the average size of the fish was low. Normally here you can expect three of every ten fish caught to be over a pound. On this occasion though I had to catch nearly twenty fish of around 8oz before anything big turned up.

When a bigger fish did finally show up it was quite obvious that they were gorging heavily on the chopped worm I was liberally plying into the murky water.  The first fish over a pound was spewing bits of worm out of its stomach and out of its gills.

The zander to were out and about in the sunshine looking for an easy meal. I had brought along the now ubiquitous dead rod and cast half a roach out into the centre channel. The float hadn't moved an inch for an hour whilst fished to my left. Once I moved it to my right though it soon shot off as the first of a trio of zander took the bait of the same spot one after another.

Having quite a large amount of worm at my disposal for this perch finale I kept feeding heavily and along with what seemed like hundreds of small fish the bigger ones homed in onto the baited area. I lost a good one as it rolled in front of me and it's escaping heralded a lull in the sport until another decent fish hovered up my hook bait along with a load of freebies. It wasn't over the standard 2lb mark which become common in this area but it wasn't far off. I turned out to be the last perch of the session and looked very nice in the setting sunlight.

This area is a very strange bit of water as both the perch and zander feed viciously through the daylight hours, peaking quite often around the brightest bit of the day, Whereas the witching hour once that light goes, is useless fishing. What that is to do with I don't know and frankly I ain't going to find out until possibly next autumn as I am very ready to draw a line under the perch fishing till then. Now though the carp gear is coming out and I am starting to once again try and locate and catch some proper monster canal carp.

Friday, 24 February 2017

A spot of commercial success.

What do you do when you have only a small window of time to fish on a damp dull Saturday afternoon? Had it been June I feel I would have gone stalking carp or maybe had a few hours throwing surface lures, but it wasn't June it was February and neither of the afore mentioned options were open to me. I did consider chub fishing on the upper Avon, but that seemed more an option for a freezing day rather than a day like this which was a balmy 10c. There was though something I had been meaning to check out again... You see I was told a short while back by a match fishing friend that one of the commercial fisheries I sometimes fish for big perch had not thrown a single one up all through the winter league and that it looked like they might have done that thing big perch do after too much pressure and disappear.

I kind of have it my head that these commercial giants might not have disappeared but instead got wise to the methods by which my match fishing compadres were catching them on. From that I surmised that more than likely big baits would be the way to go as not many match anglers use anything bigger than a lob tail or dendrobena to try and catch perch. Whereas I think I might be getting to understand these fish and believe them to be lazy slobs which have grown fat chuffing down leftover dead fish after matches, that are more likely to slowly slurp up a whole massive lobworm than to be bothered to chase a fish around to eat it.

Only thing is with these commercial fish is getting to them, as the list of fish you might have to catch your way through is never ending. The cold normally helps shorten the list by a few species, but when I arrived at a barren commercial pool the sun was out warming the water and carp were boshing out all over. I chose to fish a peg that I had fished before that's got good form in a bottle neck between the two halves of the pool. I like fishing this area as I feel that any perch patrolling have to pass through the area.

Sitting up well back from the edge I set up my fourteen foot float rod with a light float rig and plumbed up carefully to find that the entire area was flat as a pancake. With the lack of features in mind I baited up in a line about four feet long in line with my rod using broken lobs, crushed/whole caster bound together with mole hill soil and liquid worm. With the wind pushing a good tow around the smallish pool I felt the scent of my bait would soon be dispersed at least over a good bit of water. Fishing my float on a very short line from the tip of the rod helped me keep the section of worm I began fishing with tight to the centre of the baited area even with the tow pulling it around.

It was always going to be fifty-fifty on the success front as these shallow pools can fish terribly in the winter months and changeable weather can be the worst thing for them. Luckily it seemed that I had made the right choice for once and quickly something started showing interest in my bait. So began the promenade of various silver fish this lake holds. You would have thought the delicate biting roach would have been last on the list of takers for my large worm section fished on a size eight hook tied direct to four pound line, but no that was not the case. The roach were the first to show up and they were quickly followed by all manner of mixed silvers...

I always feel confident when I am getting bites as I just think it becomes a numbers game before my target turns up. On this occasion though time weighed heavy on my mind and with two hours gone out of the three I was thinking the silver fish might never push off. At this point I went all in, literally! Rather than keep putting bits of bait in I decided to feed hard, leave the swim alone for a while and hope the mass of bait combined with the failing light might spur a perch or two onto the spot. After dumping everything I had bait wise apart from a few hook baits onto the very centre of where I'd been baiting, I left it alone and went off with the dropshot rod I bought along to check out a couple of features.

After spending a short while trying to make a Savage gear 3D bleak look as much like a dying fish as possible in a few choice spots, I returned to my spot baited my hook with the two halves of a split lob worm and swung it onto the spot that I'd been watching all afternoon. What do you know! I watched the float as the worm fluttered down to the bottom, where the float popped up as it did. The float was only still for seconds as the baits arrival had not been missed. Unlike the lighting fast roach bites the float bobbed deliberately before beginning to move away then slowly sinking to the right. My strike found heavy resistance instead of the panic that all the silvers gone into. The fish was powerful but not crazy carp powerful and straight away I knew it was what I was after. Before it was even ready I was fussing with the net trying to get it out of some reeds it was resting on. A brief tussle, a quick slacking of clutch and a big stripy flank rose out of the muddy water into my net.

It was not the biggest perch I've caught from a commercial pool but at well over two pounds it made my day a commercial success and proved that there might be a bit of mileage to my theory that this big commercial perch are still in this venue and that maybe they just need much bigger baits to catch them.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Committed to something big.

My soul yearns to feel that extended adrenalin rush when you hunt for something more special than the norm, for that moment when you hook some unseen monster than pulls so insanely hard that you think you'll never control it, for when you see the fish of lifetime roll onto the surface and the feeling of panic before it's in the net that is so sickening. It's because of this need that I've pigeon holed myself into chasing a true specimen these last few weeks and as the time for river fishing is ever dwindling, it's there that I've sought one.

Three sessions ago I searched for a pike on the Avon. Initially it was a zander but the river was considerably clearer than expected, hence zander became pike. I concocted a plan to fish a winding section of the Avon which is known to hold some very nice pike in the slacker water through winter. I arrived and fished and blanked. By mid morning I'd searched the entire stretch and felt that I was wasting my time covering the ground again with the same method. So I took the dead rods back to car to swap them for a medium weight lure outfit I had stashed in the boot. My hope was to make something happen and at least avoid the absolute blank. Sadly the best I managed in a second pass of the entire stretch was a single follow by a near double figure pike. I watched that fish follow the lure right into the shallows to the point where it saw my ugly mug and shot off.

Two sessions ago I returned to the Avon after some very heavy rainfall to find it looking perfectly coloured for a daytime zander session. This time everything felt so right that I stuck it out zarbelling in a known zander hunting area for most of my session. The only movement on my rod tip was from the last few bits of debris coming down the river and hitting my line. In the end with only an hour or so left to fish I scampered off to a slack downstream. The bait had only been in the water two minutes when the tip nodded positivity. I waited and waited for a second indication before striking at a soft pull which resulted in nothing. The next hour was probably one of the most frustrating times I've had zander fishing. I knew for sure in the big slack in front of me was quite likely a large amount of zander and that if I could get into them it would be just a numbers game before I found a big one. Over the next hour I had run after run, tug after tug and every strike resulted in nothing. In the end, time ran out on me and I had to leave but I feel that should I have gone to that spot earlier I might have been able to crack the finicky bites by ringing the changes in my rigs, as those zander I felt were still just about feeding.

My last session though was by far the most punishing. With two blanks under my belt I felt I needed to head for a bit of a banker location. My old mucker Andy had mooted that he was heading over to Saxon Mill to do some trotting and pike fishing. It was as I pondered all the silvers and predators stacked up above the mill weir that it occurred to me that there should by rights be a few big river perch hanging around all those prey fish as well. So I concluded to join Andy and target the perch instead of silvers and of course it would have been rude not to fish a pike rod as well.

As per normal I was late arriving and Andy was already set up and running a float repeatedly down the river through the area where the larger proportion of the silvers shoal up. The shallower water below him held no interest for me, so I headed up stream a little to the one area here that screamed perch.

Seriously, how could this swim not hold a massive stripy somewhere, it was perfect with the flow decreasing closer to the far bank. The only problem was that the bank above me seemed a little to eroded for me to sit comfortably without fear of it collapsing. So I concluded to have to fish it straight on rather than from upstream a little.

I wanted to keep it simple and cheap. There was no way I was going to be filling the swim in with chopped worm as the huge amounts of silvers would mop that stuff up quickly. So I decided to fish a maggot feeder filled with red maggot's that had a bit of chopped worm mixed in to flavour them up and use half a lob worm a hook bait. 

You know I have never been so confident that something special was going to turn up, when on my first four casts I hooked a quartet of roach bigger than I've caught of the mill in years. Even downstream Andy could make out the much bigger size of the fish I was catching and made his opinion quite clear. It was my blind confidence of the impending big fish that made me not bother photographing anything and just push on and fish. But the harder I pushed the more I changed the situation! More casting meant more maggots going in and that just pulled more fish upstream and even a few inches of lob worm wasn't deterring the smaller silvers from eating it. In the end I had to back off and cut out the feeding which just stopped the bites entirely. It quickly turned into a no win situation as all I was catching was silvers and I figured those prey fish would be that confident to feed if there was any big perch in the swim.

In the end my only hope for really getting my chain pulled was left in the hands, or fins, of the resident pike. Now it's worth saying that I have never fished this bit of river and not had some kind of pike action. Till this occasion that is! What do you know, we never had a single run from two rods fishing different rigs in probably the most pike infested bit of the Warwickshire Avon. I fear that the dropping temperature through the morning may have been a factor in the lack of pike action and even catching a load of quality roach and dace early on I felt once again unsatisfied after committing to catch a specimen. Andy though finished off the morning very well after working hard trotting in the freezing weather all morning and filling his net up with a mess of roach and dace.

In truth I had forgotten what it can be like chasing after big fish. The famines can go on for some time and it seems like sheer madness to week in and week out take that gamble and forgo catching lots of fish for the chance of a monster. I know I will continue to bang my head against this brick wall though  until I feel I've satisfied my need and caught something a bit more special, as after all it's still freezing cold and things have to get better as the temperature rises..

Friday, 27 January 2017

Gear death hell.

That title reads like the name of a bad death metal song and my most recent outing went down about as well as a bad death metal song. Worst of all though it was totally my fault as for days prior I had been planning on going to one venue and at the last minute changed venue due the recent drop in temperature.

I was initially planning on going canal chub fishing to a spot on the Coventry that seems to hold a few nice ones. Then the day before I went over the Coventry early in the morning and saw ducks walking on the bugger, so decided flowing water was going to be a better option. Now, I have been thinking of doing a bit on the LAA Lido stretch as I have heard on the grape vine that the dace fishing is pretty good down there and lots of silvers means lots of predators, which we all know I can't get enough of. But then in a moment of proper stupidity I thought 'oh what about that bit of the Leam above the town. I've been meaning to check that out'. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it was the wrong decision, but still I went along with the idea which turned out to be a decision I would regret.

Early in the morning after a short drive I found myself crunching across frozen ground towards the river. The sun had just broken over the horizon and golden light spilled all of the Warwickshire country side. The Leam looked resplendent in golden light with the banks shrouded in a hard frost. Literally it looked like a cold beer on a hot day, it looked that good.

How could I go wrong...

It was pike I was actually searching for, as I have heard the narrow upper sections of the Leam hold some quite good pike. So keeping mobile I opted to fish a large sea dead bait on a float rig in any pikey looking slacks or margin I could find. And to keep myself amused I took along a light lure rod and a load of lures to fish with in between landing double figure pike. To all intents and purposes this was going to be the case; in the very first swim I landed a couple of nice perch on a dropshot rig, my float bobbed a couple of times before moving off downstream. I struck and the half mackerel bait was ripped clean out of whatever took it. Hey ho, what can you do, you don't hook'em all and I had still had those perch...

It was in the next swim it all began going so terribly wrong. With my float-fished dead bait positioned nicely in a eight foot deep margin I happily fished away casting my lure rod all over the swim until I found a snag and promptly snapped off. So I set up again and noting where the snag was, avoided casting there. Two casts later I was snagged and promptly snapped off again. This time after tying on a new leader, new jig head and a new lure, I moved swims.

Once again I got the dead bait out in a suitable spot and started casting around. First bloody cast this time and 'doink', straight in a snag and the result as you can guess was new leader, new jig and new lure gone. So for the third time in less than fifteen minutes I was setting up again. Oh, and I moved swims!

By now I should guess you can see where this nightmare is going, and if not, I won't waste time with every detail. Needless to say over the four hours I fished I lost no less than eleven jigs plus lures, along with leaders and a two dead bait rigs. I was the single biggest lost of gear I have ever had. Worst of all is I couldn't honestly say that I knew how the river was fishing, as I had spent most of the morning crouched in front of my rucksack setting up instead of fishing.

The good thing I could honestly take away from this session is that I know now this bit of the Leam is more snag that water and that I should under no circumstances cast any more lures in beggar! And that's putting it politely...