Friday, 20 July 2018

Childhood dreams.

There is a pool etched into my childhood memories with such vivid beauty that I think it must have influenced how I see every bit of still water in adult life. How it became thus was down to that innate human desire to have what we can't get. You see this pool, or pond as it could be classed, was simply and very strictly off limits to the local kids where I grew up. So serious about this place being a no-go zone for possible young poachers such as myself were the club of pipe smoking, wicker basket sitting stalwarts, that they actually ring fenced it with boards seven feet high. All this left us bike riding monkeys with was the occasional stolen view through the knot holes in the wood, if you could balance long enough on the seat of your propped up BMX that was.

I remember pretty well the day I got that vivid view of my dream pool. Myself and a couple of equally fish mad friends Sean and Mark had ridden our mag wheeled steeds over to another pond now forgotten by time. On the way back one of our convoy breathlessly blurted out that he had heard from his brother, who'd heard from his mate's younger brother's uncle, that his next door neighbours kid had found a fallen down board round the back of the dream pool in the blackberry bushes. Well, hell, if the information was that accurate we had to go and see, so our little convoy veered off course jumping curbs, pulling wheelies and crossing gardens to get to the dream pool and our now assured new view.

When we arrived the wooden boundary as far as we could see was fully intact. So as inconspicuously as we could we skirted the fence all down the edge to the forest of brambles. Sure enough there was a gap in the thorny thicket! Our three bikes and fishing boxes were piled up near the entrance and we ventured further into the blackberry's. We couldn't believe our eyes when we finally found it... a large section of one of the seven foot high wooden panels had come loose and lay on the floor. This still left the top of the fence above our head height but well within our view if we got on each other's shoulders. First of all I leant against the wall and my friend Sean climbed up onto my shoulders via my cradled hand. 'Wow', was all he said again and again; that was enough to drive me and Mark insane down on the ground below. When he finally got down off my shoulders it was agreed that I would be next to get a look off his shoulders and duly I took my place peering into pure heaven. 

I had only ever seen such places in fishing books in the library. The dark mirrored water was circled by massive lily pads dotted with yellow flowers and the whole place seemed fringed with high deep green rushes. The occasional wooden platform broke the reed line and from them emanated gaps in the pads where anglers could cast. All over the pool fish dimpled the surface and huge dark shapes could be seen drifting around out in the middle. I was too busy enjoying the amazing sight to hear the kerfuffle going on below. It turned out Marks patience waiting for his go had evaporated and he was pulling the fallen panel of wood out of the brambles to climb up. Sean was seemingly against this and with me atop his shoulders was attempting to stop him. In the end the two began tugging on opposite sides of the board, I was left hanging from the top whilst they kicked off below, then out of nowhere came "Oi...what you little buggers up to!" Hanging from the fence I looked round to see a man standing by the pool looking straight at me. My friends were half way down the gap in the bramble track before I even dropped to the floor. All three of us legged it to the bikes and threw our boxes over our backs and began pedaling as fast as we could down the track that lead away from the pool.

It was years before I ever ventured near it again and thinking about it now with adult rationality what could they had done to us for just looking over that fence? Worst case would of been a hiding off of our dads and we all had our fair share of those for much worse things. The pool though like me got older and as time passed and I looked away from fishing towards girls, the old fishing club dwindled away, the boards rotted and the pool got forgotten until a while ago that is...

Some people deride it but in my mind social media is very useful to anglers for all sorts of reasons. It was whilst flicking through Facebook that I saw an image on a friend's page that sent me right back to my childhood. It was the pool, it had to be! I didn't even bother to wipe my arse or get off the toilet before I sent a personal message to him and instantly he confirmed it was exactly where I thought and that it was a free for all down there. Turned out most of the land it sat had been developed in the property boom times but the pool had remained untouched after great crested newts were discovered in it. That was all I needed to hear and as soon as a chance came along, I was there.

Twenty eight years later the area surrounding the pool looked very different. The boards were gone and the boundaries were now edged by various trees and the like. It seemed the thicket of brambles had run rampant and a thorny crown now protected the pool. It didn't take me long to locate a human sized run where anglers had been accessing the water's edge. So with my rod and landing net pole held above my head I ventured in. A short walk punctuated by several thorn removing breaks later I stood looking over the water and what a sight it was. It was the same place as in my memories but it had gone bushy whilst forgotten. The banks were very heavily over grown, so much so that I thought it would take a group of like minded chaps weeks to cut them back, but happily two spots seemed to be quite well trodden. The first was right by at the end of the path in and the other was down a small track along the bank and this was where I went. Under the cover hanging hawthorns beside the path the occasional pair of scaffolding poles stuck out of the water where the old wooden platforms once stood, though the wood was long gone. I followed the track till I came to a small clearing edged in ivy. In front of the clearing there was a helpful hole in the now rampant lily pads someone had cleared and it was here in the clear water amongst the weeds that I would finally fulfil my childhood dreams.

In my dreams I had always thought of the waters of this pool as deep and mysterious and I suppose to the average twelve year old most water is deep and mysterious. To a middle aged man with polarized glasses things are a little less mysterious. The bottom had climbed up from its original depths I assume with nearly thirty years of silt deposits. There were fish though I could see from the off and judging by the fizzing coming up along the edge of the weed there were a few tench in here to be angled for. I kept it very simple, fishing a light float rig over a bit of ground bait with a grain of corn on the hook. With my swim prepared and float cast out I sat back to enjoy the morning.

In a world of big fish and big catches I think we anglers have grown pretty cynical. Fishing here like this, that baggage just fell away out of my mind. A bottle of happy shopper lemonade and a few sweetcorn sarnies and I would have been twelve all over again. From the moment that first bite came, to the moment where I dragged myself away, this was one of the most fulfilling angling experiences of my life. 

The little pool of my dreams was stuffed with all kinds of fish. The tiny rudd attacked everything as it sank to the bottom, tench were obviously grubbing in and out of the forests of weed that filled every inch of the pool and three or four black backed old carp slid gently under the surface of the pool out in the middle. Those tiny rudd for all their effort could never drive me mad on a day like this and happily I swung one after another in again and again until finally I hooked something which made me work a bit harder, it bashed around the hole in the weed and turned out to be a perfect little wild born common carp who was already starting to go black in this clear water.

A few hundred more rudd later I found a bigger specimen, which for all intents and purposes could be used as the bench mark of what a perfect rudd should look like.

In my wildest dreams this experience couldn't have got any better, but it did! Towards the time when I had to away the rudd it seemed went into some kind of heat related torpor and shoaled up high in the water and stopped there ravenous ways. I feel sure a handful of maggots would have persuaded them otherwise, but this lull in their activity gave me opportunity to actually angle for one of those tench I so badly wanted. With the float now still, I waited patiently for any indication of a bite. Finally after the longest bit of inactivity all morning my float dipped away. At first the writhing golden flanks seemed to be that of yet another rudd, but I was quite wrong and it was in fact the most amazing finale of a fish. It was perfect little home grown crucian carp.

The one thing that stopped me crying with pure joy was this thought... If this forgotten old pool has got some pristine young baby crucian carp swimming around in it and it hasn't been stocked in probably thirty or more years, then it is possible that the pool of my childhood dreams might have some big old mummy and daddy crucians swimming round hidden by all those weeds and how stunning would one of those be...

Friday, 13 July 2018

Catch up part 4 - A 16th weekend

A few years ago I had the insanely genius idea to avoid the rivers on the opening day of the season. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made as I ended up practically having Napton to myself and having a red letter day to boot. Ever since that day I have continued this avoidance of the hordes of anglers desperate for river glory and destined for trickling disappointment; instead I have bagged up on loads of cracking fish by slowly sauntering down to a lake whilst everyone else is succumbing to bleary eyed boredom of the river.

Unusually this 16th turned out to be a rather cloudy and chilly occasion round these parts. Normally it is bright sunshine wall to wall to get those barbel and chub scurrying for cover. I actually had to get my old hoody from the car boot to keep warm on the breezy Napton banks as I angled after another vintage crucian. The one great thing about this overcast and cutting breeze was that if I got into a decent and fish-able position the fish should feed for as long as I could keep them in the swim.

After pitching up in a swim with the wind on my back I deployed the weed rake to confirm the swim was clear enough to fish and went about setting up stall to keep under the wind and fish tight to a nearby reed bed. The rake always clouds up the swim nicely and in the clear waters of Napton this is like ringing the dinner bell. The roach were first on the scene and after a few annoying plucks I finally got a decent bite which resulted in me hooking the first of several nice roach between ten ounces and a pound.

I knew if the roach were that quick to arrive that the tench would soon arrive and when they did things really went off. The first fish got off but after quickly re-baited and getting back on the spot I was straight away into another tench which couldn't resist my sweetcorn hook bait sitting temptingly amongst the scattering of pellets and dusting of pungent ground bait. This fish gave me a right run around and quickly informed me of all the weed beds in proximity of the swim. Being careful and gently pulling it out of all of these weed beds soon saw me netting a stunning first tench of the day.

The tench kept coming all afternoon with the crazy smaller males charging here, there and everywhere and the much bigger and powerful females really pushing my gear to the limits as I tried to weave them in and out of the maze of weed beds along my bank. Most of them ended up in my net but a few managed to dive so deep in the weeds that all my tugging only served to pull the hook and leave the embedded tench to find their own way out.

As per normal it turned out to be another of those sessions where I probably didn't get within half a lake of the precious old crucian and thus it was filed away with the hundreds of other sessions just like it. I did end the session on a high by landing a large stunning female tench that was a decent step up in size from most of the fish I had caught so far this year. Her capture adds credence to my theory that the tench in Napton, though reduced in numbers, are becoming bigger.

Sooner or later I had to get down the river and after a reccy lure session along the Barford AA stretch of the Avon with a lure rod, I concluded that although low and clear there did seem to be fish holding in the faster oxygenated water. So the night after the day before I returned armed with a barbel rod and a bucket full of fishy bait to hopefully garner myself a bite or two. With the conditions being sunny and the river very clear I guessed things were going to be hard and that any decent fish would more than likely being hanging out in any cover they could find. This in mind I pitched up in a swim with plenty of beds of streaming weed thinking this was my best chance of teasing out a few fish in such dire conditions.

After watching for a while through polarized eyes I started to see the occasional dark shape drift from one weed bed to another. With as little disturbance as possible I dropped my rig along with a golf ball sized PVA bag of freebies in between two weed beds where I thought I stood a chance of extracting a hooked fish. I was kind of thinking I would have to wait for a bite and I went about busying myself making a few more PVA bags of pellets. I'd barely got half way through the second one when the rod which was trapped between my legs pulled hard over and the butt was pivoted up in my nether regions. In the panic the bucket of pellets went flying, my tube of PVA stocking fell precariously close to the river and a small yet pungent pot of bait glug was spilled on my lap as I tried to get the rod butt out of my groin.

From the savagery of the initial bite I was under the impression I had by sheer luck hooked a early season barbel, but it turned out to be a chub who did an amazing impression of a barbel. It turned out to be quite a nice chub in reality...

My luck however was seemingly spent on that first chub as for a lot of interest from the first fishes shoal mates I suspect, I received no more savage bites on this first river outing. Though for the records purposes I will mark this single fish session as a total success as there's been plenty of early session sessions when I have had the dreaded blank. Thinking back now the capture of that single chub, after spotting several drifting around deep in the cover on a sunny day when not a lot was doing, seem aptly pure to me.


Friday, 6 July 2018

Catch up part 3 - Searching for a speck of gold.

Summer fishing for me is all about tench and crucians. Occasionally carp take my fancy and the river calls me away, but for most it's all about warm early mornings, hot summer nights, bubbles around floats and the sticky smell of sweet corn on my hands. With my tench and crucian mojo now in full swing it was a happy coincidence that a trip south to the Marsh Farm fishery with my good friend Martin Oxley had come around. It's been a few years since I originally went and it was Martin's first time but both of us had high hopes for this little trip. 

With baking weather predicted for the day the pair of us set off south about as early as I like to be out of bed, to make the gates of Marsh Farm for opening time. Our organized start and clear journey saw us first in the queue with half an hour to wait before the hallowed gates were opened to let us onto the well manicured banks. It was actually very quiet angler wise and after paying our day ticket fees we had the choice of most of the Harris Lake to choose from. Picking a peg on this lake is not an easy prospect with so much choice on this occasion. In the end we headed for a pair of end swims where the wind had blown most the flotsam off the lake and several tench were obviously rooting around, judging from the fizzing along the scum line.

From the off I stuck by my plan which I had pre-formulated prior to coming down; bait a tight area close to a feature, fish an over-sensitive rig on that spot and hit even the slightest movement of the float. For a proper tinca head like me, Marsh Farm is a winner even if I didn't catch my target crucian as the tench are actually the pest fish in this lake. Literally you can observe them approach your bait by watching the small patches of fizz rising intermittently ever closer to your hook bait. This was exactly what happened pretty much immediately after I cast out for the first time. Three or four different fish where quickly homing in on the bait before my Drennan antenna float rose gently up out of the water and I struck. This tench cleared the swim in two violent charges back and forth over the baited area and scattered its compadres far and wide.

It seemed as the morning ran on that the all the fish seemed reluctant to stop in the shallower water we were fishing at the end of the lake. My swim had been devoid of fish since that first tench had smashed the place up and the obvious lack of fish had me itching to move to new pastures. Martin though had had several crucians roll on his spot and was keen to press on with his swim. After a quick recce up the bank I located a swim with a large lily bed tight on the right had side of the swim. The sun was now high in the sky and baking down and this cover seemed the best option to keep the fish going.

A couple of exhausting yomps later me and all my kit were settled in the new swim and fifty inches of umbrella was erected to offer me some shade from the savage rays. The plummet revealed a decent depth just the other side of the pads and a tempting mixture of ground bait, pellets and casters were potted out to the edge of this feature. It was a perfect spot as there was little more than eighteen inches from the rod tip to the edge of the pads and this enabled me to fish as if I were using a pole while using a rod and this was something that would soon come into play.

It wasn't an easy afternoon given the steamy temperatures but there were bubbles rising intermittently from my swim and I was certain a crucian might well slip up. The bottom of this swim must have been different, that or the tench feed differently here as I wasn't getting any tench fizz at all but every forty minutes or so I would receive a very tentative bite, that every time seemed to be a crucian , but always resulted in a screaming reel and a chunky tench battling it out with me all over the swim.

I might not have been getting anywhere near the target for the day but as far as I am concerned catching tench on a float close in is about as much fun as you can have on this fair isle on a day like this in my opinion. The condition of these fish as well is a credit to Godlaming Angling society as everyone is perfect and fighting fit, which considering the popularity of Marsh farm is a real feat. The size of the fish I was catching was pretty mind boggling too, with an average of four pounds plus and some easily over six pounds. Even without any crucians involved just travelling down to Marsh Farm is certainly worth it when fish like this are on offer all over the complex.

I never did catch that crucian from Marsh farm, but a few days later I was back on the crucian hunt in my home county of Warwickshire. This time I was fishing the lunar scape crater that is Snitterfield reservoir. Traditionally Snitters, as many people call it, holds a stock of old stalwart crucians that have lingered in its depths for years. A little while ago the controlling LAA began a stocking program. At first a few native fish were extracted and a small number of young born of them were released along with their parents back into the pool, but more recently an injection of new blood was added and batch of spritely newbies were added and I was keen to go back and see what was going on with the crucian population. 

Having heard of large bags of crucians being caught I was hoping it wouldn't prove hard to tap into the golden vein. Snitters never changes much apart from the fish populations which seems to go up every year. I used to use maggots when fishing here but nowadays maggots can't even get halfway down to the bottom there's that many fish. Unusually this venue has a habit of producing small tench. These tiny bars of soap were introduced along with the most recent crucians, but unlike other venues where small tench just disappear until they are over a pound, these tiny green menaces have been caught constantly since stocking. The little buggers do great impressions of crucian carp by giving tiny lift bites and circling fights. Between the tench and the silvers I couldn't keep a bait in the water long enough for a crucian to find it.

I persisted though and pushed on fishing through the tiny tench and silvers until finally not long before I had to leave the float did a little lift and I struck into a lovely little crucian that was quite literally ten times smaller than the last one I caught, but certainly was the speck of gold I'd been after.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Catch up part 2 - Tench curse over.

I don't know what it is about me but I always push my luck with the timing when going after some species throughout the year and end up having some kind of mare. You see I had been gagging to catch me some tench but in truth I have wanted to catch them on the float rather than sitting behind rods and buzzers, for which I don't have too much love right now. Three sessions attempting to catch a tench in the margins at Napton on float and caster and the highlight of catching a few hundred average perch was the one male fish who seemed to think his capture was the crescendo of some kind of mating ritual and proceeded to ejaculate all over my right leg, the dirty bugger. Anyway, back on the subject of tench; after watching them rolling at forty yards as the milt dried into my trouser leg I concluded that to break my tench curse before I had to make a libation I would have to give in a pull out the bite alarms, dust off the Avon rods and fling a few feeders to put this tench mare to bed for the year. 

Instead of Napton however I opted to head back to Ryton for a short session, as this water-filled sand pit is always the first venue where the tench get going round these parts. It's been almost a year since I had been back to Ryton and in that time the payment system for the car park had changed, as had the charge making this an expensive club water when combined with the annoying stocking fee charged by the club. Money aside, this is a reliable water for tench and that's what I needed: a session of confidence boosting captures.

Catch fish I did... catch tench I did not! Somewhere in the three hundred and sixty five odd days since I had last fished Ryton my mind had seemingly blanked the fact that this once tench heaven had been ruined by the appearance of generation of bream, so greedy and annoying that even the dedicated carp anglers who seemed to frequent this water have abandoned it to mother nature. Literally those bream might soon be behind the ruin of one of Warwickshire's great tench waters. The dam b$*#%£s eat anything you cast in, and worst of all there is obviously tench still around but the bream just get to your baits first.

After four hours of three pound bream shitting up my gear and scoffing down just about every morsel of bait, I finally got a blinding run which resulted in me being connected to a fish that did not fight like a Tesco bag full of silt. Thank god it turned out to be a lovely beautiful green tench.

Quite literally after I watched that fish swim I reeled in my second rod, packed away my gear and went home to mow the lawn. Yes, I actually voluntarily stopped fishing whilst I still had time to fish and went home to do the garden, and honestly I can't see me going back to Ryton for any serious fishing in the future. 

Little did I know that my next outing after tench would end on a much higher note than my last. This time and with my duck broken I headed back to Napton to try and get back in tune with the tench fish there. On arriving I was met with a joyful sight: British waterways, the CRT or whatever people control the canals, had been pumping dirty muddy water into the clear waters of Napton for a couple of days it would seem and seeing the happy little fishes topping all over the dirty water I thought a good day could be on the cards.

After a quick subtle racking of the swim using my mini stealth rake, which makes little more disturbance than a spod, I was happy that the swim I was about to start fishing was clear of weed and debris. With the water now even cloudier than before I deposited a few loose balls of ground bait laced with casters and corn onto the spot. 

One and a half hours later I was convinced that I had in some way ruined the swim. Maybe the rake, stealthy as it is, was too much or simply the fish weren't comfortable in the new dirty water. Whatever it was they weren't biting. A quick reccy down the bank revealed nobody was fairing any better and rather than make a rash move to another area I opted to sit it out and play out my gamble on raking the swim. My patience paid off when a small patch of bubbles emanated at the back of the raked area. The tench were here and on course for my bait. A few knocks and nudges later and the float rose from the water slowly in a very deliberate manner and a tench was on. In a hectic spell I landed five pristine tench, both males and female between two and five pounds all only two rod lengths out.

Little did I know there was still better to come. I have often said that although outwardly I may essentially look like I am tench fishing at Napton, the fact remains that I always fish here with crucians in mind. By that I mean I fish very sensitive rigs strong enough to stop tench and refined enough to trip up shy and very rare ancient crucians that ghost around this venue driving us a bit mad. Thank god I do always fish this way as not long after watching another tench swim off and recasting my rig I spotted a suspicious flip of fish a bit further out than my float. The last time I saw this sort of thing here I had an absolute red letter day.

The next bite was nothing to shout home about. A small rise in the float preceded a slow slide away and I fully expected to be playing a tench. The fight was different though and I soon suspected a big rudd was the culprit. When I saw a huge dinner plate size golden side roll under the rod tip I in no uncertain terms pooped myself. It was a huge crucian! Luckily there was no fuss and it went into my net quickly before I realised it was hooked by the smallest possible amount of flesh and could have easily come off. But it didn't and as I folded back the net my eyes lit up at the sight that lay before me. The size of these old fish is shocking when you see them out of the water and if it weren't for them being so thin in the back these fish would easily be contenders for the UK record.

The weight though doesn't matter to me, all I cared about is that fact that after all my efforts over the last few years chasing after these wonderfully rare little group of highly prized fish, I am lucky enough to have captured another one and I think my face says it all...

You'd think that having put number five on the bank might have satiated my urges to catch these wondrous fish. Well it hasn't! And in fact the sight of that fabulous fish just serves as fuel to the fires of my desire to catch more. Hence I will be resident for most of the summer at Napton I should think now.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Catch up part 1 - Lure sessions of yaw.

Well I am back after a brief blogging hiatus and holy cow, have I got some catching up to do here. In short I have not been hiding under some out of place rock in the corner of a field in upstate New York, nor have I been tied to a chair blindfolded in an abandoned factory in Nuneaton. Instead my life has exploded as much did my garden when the UK finally dragged its shivering land mass through spring, and that is in part why I find myself not just writing a catch-up blog but in fact a series of catch up blogs to cover this blacked out period.

Really, I feel as if my feet have barely touched the floor since the start of May. Away from fishing it seems half the organizations in the world wanted oversized promotional printed balloons, and half of them wanted them in half the time it takes to print them. Add to that my enormous garden which exploded like a claymore full of brambles which I have taken by the thorns and am currently still fighting, section by section, to make safe for the now super inquisitive BB; a brief and rare sunny holiday has been enjoyed in Wales with the family and if all that wasn't enough I have gone fishing crazy with the arrival of the warmth, fishing so many sessions since I last wrote that the only way to recall what I have done is by the pictures I've left on blank pages of this blog! So here we go back in time in the style of H G Wells time machine...back past green tench...past trips to far away fisheries...past the Morlocks and Eloi....back back in time to...Radford bottom Lock!

Yes, apparently the furthest back I can remember from these pictures was a fishing trip onto the Canal with my good friend and fellow blogger Mick from Piscatorial Quagswagging where we went in search of his old nemesis the Zander, and from what I recall it was a pretty good session for me. The chilly grip of winter still clung to spring as the two of us met up deep in the Warwickshire countryside. Mick was already fishing when I arrived with two gaudy floats positioned very professionally along the hull of a moored boat. Not long after saying hello one of the previously mentioned floats did a little dally before tootling off down the canal. Ever the experienced zed basher, Mick waited and waited before striking hard into nothing. The bite though was enough for me to cast my dead line along the hull of the boat, before being a right cheeky begger and poaching out his water by casting a light drop shot rig in between the lines of the dead bait rods. It only took a few casts to catch a tiny schoolie zed from right the trench next to the boat.

After moving through a few other swims we arrived at an area where I can remember thinking, 'I don't like the look of this'. As always my hunch was wrong and my float was soon heading off very quickly down the canal. Convinced a zander was the culprit, I was shocked when after a brief tussle a long spawned out perch rolled into my net. For all the dead baits I've cast into to canals I think I have only ever caught three perch on them. A month or so earlier this perch would have been quite a beast but at this point it was a very long way off regaining any condition.

Through the morning we tried all the known spots, one that looked perfect for zander and a ton we tried just to cover water. With three dead bait rods and one lure rod we covered just about every inch of water we could, with not much success at all really. It wasn't until we backtracked to the moored boat that we finally got some reward by way of a proper bus job; not one, but three fish all came along in the same few minutes of madness. My dead rod was the first to spring into life followed by Mick's. For some reason I chucked mine back out straight away with my fish in the net and whilst Mick waited for his active but unmoving float to go, I landed a second zed instantly to make myself a nice brace of schoolies.

Mick left not long after this, with cooking duties to attend to, but with a little more time to hand I stuck around to have a play around the lock with the dropshot rod. I love drop shotting and with some new Realistic shad spilt tails to try out it seemed the perfect time to try the out. There seemed to be small zander hanging out all round the features of the lock. Literally I did not seem to be able to go wrong! I took them off the stony incline into the lock mouth, from tight to the wall, from of the snag pile collected at the end of the overflow run and in the eddy it formed. Either these lures were the bomb or I was very lucky on this occasion. I think I added six more small zedlets to my tally before I left and it left me pondering the question...

Maybe I should take up competition lure fishing?
Whilst on the subject of lure fishing I have to regale one of my most exciting recent lure fishing experiences I've had, which happened not long after my canal zander adventure. A little while ago I bought at a very reasonable price some of these savage gear 3D suicide ducks.

Literally the 26g versions of these lures I bought retail at the insane price of £15 per lure. I have to be honest and truthful and say that I am far too stingy to ever throw a fifteen quid lure in a lake, but at half price I was hooked into buying a pair and after watching the online promo videos I was dying to fling these out. I had originally gone up to Napton to tench fish but after spending hours watching a motionless float and rolling tench in the middle of the lake, I packed away the float gear and pulled out a lure rod and ducks to see if I could tempt a pike to strike in the shallows at the south end of the lake.

After covering all the shallow water with the duck lure and being convinced I was fishing well, I was about to give up under the assumption that the pike were unwilling to come up and take something off the top. The water I was casting in was getting deeper and I never thought for a moment that a pike would be hanging round mid-water in such deep water. That was until on one retrieve when I was sure I spotted the water swell up like a fish had just struck but missed. Half thinking I'd spooked carp lying under the surface, I cast again hoping it was, in fact, a pike. A lo and behold it was! I cast well beyond where I thought it happened and just as the lure came into the target zone a wake appeared six feet behind the lure. I slowed my retrieve just slightly and boom, the fish accelerated into and right through the duck sending water everywhere and disappearing in a boil. It wasn't the biggest pike I have ever caught but damn it was the most exciting and one that has lit a fire to do some more surface lure fishing as soon as I get a chance  

Oh, and I went back and bought another pair of those lures next time I passed that shop to make sure I have these super exiting ducklings in my lure armoury for many years to come.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Canal bream fishing.

I feel as if there has been a subtle change in in my fishing recently. I suppose it's one of those organic changes that occurs throughout your fishing as time goes by. I can distinctly remember just wanting to catch any fish at all as a youngster, then as I grew older the natural progression was that I wanted to catch lots of fish and as a result of that I focussed more on that match fishing style. Then with the capture of the occasional larger fish I transcended to chasing specimens and that leads me to where I find myself now. You see right now I don't feel that urge to at any cost catch the biggest fish I can, but instead find myself more motivated by method of capture i.e. catching pike on surface lures, tench on lift floats, carp on alarms or as the case was in this recent session canal bream on the feeder.

What sparked this latest method quest off was a comment I made in conversation where I said that even though I had owned and been using a Shakespeare mach two wand feeder rod for many years, I had, instead of using at as feeder rod, been using it as a margin perch rod on the canal using its stiffest tip. The idea soon grew in the angling cortex of my brain to actually take my mini feeder rod and some micro feeders to a quite well bream renowned area of the Coventry canal and play out my bream fishing micro feeder fantasy, which I promptly did.

It just happened that I also had a new multi feeder arm for my chair I thought would be great to try out as well and with both arm and rod in tow I nipped off down the cut and parked myself opposite the infamous hawksbury marina. I figured to go gently at it and after clipping up the feeder set right in the mouth I the marina I made five casts with a loaded feeder to get my eye in and kick start the session before I found myself setting the rod down with a gentle curve and waited for the bream to appear.

I didn't have to wait long for the skimmers to show and within fifteen minutes the tip pulled round and I landed my first close to a pound. Three more identical ones followed before the shoal moved off.

Although I was already targeting an area  around a meter and half wide it soon became obvious that the fish seemed happier to feed in the slightly deeper water at the bottom of the shelf (spot A). They seemed to occasionally come up onto the shelf (spot B) if I waited long enough but the bites took ages to materialize, as where on spot A there was instant interest. This became so evident, that if I missed the sweet spot by even a foot and a half I would recast straight away.

By keeping on this specific spot and cast regularly the skimmers a perch kept coming intermittently and I hoped it was only  matter of time before I hooked into a better bream. I think the slew of boats which had been conspicuously absent all morning pushed more fish off the main track of the canal and into the sanctuary of the marina, judging by the string of liners I got soon after they passed. Soon enough my scaled down helicopter feeder rig snagged something better and the tip wretched round. The little wand must have looked very impressive bending right over as I played the wet sack in and the rod nodded occasionally. before I slipped the net under a nice looking bream between three and four pounds or so.

I was really pleased with how this session went. It was only a short session as the boats once they got going soon forced me off the canal, but in the time I did get to fish I had ten or more small 10oz -1.6lb skimmers, a hand full of perch and roach and one single proper bream. Most importantly though the scaled down canal feeder method worked a treat with the tiny feeders, helicopter rigs and super light rod. I definitely want to get back to the same spot again to chuck a few feeders around as this area is well renowned for tench as well as bream up to very respectable canal sized fish, especially as I had so much fun on this occasion.

Friday, 27 April 2018

It's not only gold that glitters.

I've spent a large part of my life dreaming. I spent the majority of my school days dreaming of what I would do when I was not at school much to the chagrin of my teachers. I've spent a million hours lost in my head dreaming of fishing whilst working at some repetitive task at work and I often fall asleep thinking about what I would like to catch next in the hope I will dream of it. Most of the winter I've dreamt of lovely golden crucian carp or perfectly green red-eyed tench on summer nights, but just recently big silver roach have swum through my mind. I think it's because I made a mental note to have a go for them at Napton whilst it was still chilly enough to single them out, but warm enough to actually fish on the openness of this reservoir.

It turned out that the day I earmarked to fish up at Napton for these lovely roach was one of those times when I should have stopped at home for at least eighty percent of the session. Four hours I spent huddled under my umbrella about as far as a man of my stature can and the whole time the rain flip flopped from drizzle to piddle, teasing me that it might stop and the day might become the session I hoped for. The whole time I hunkered deep under that umbrella I waged war on the pint of maggots, which coaxed on by their new found climbing ability, were hell bent on escaping into the damp grass. Somewhere though, towards the end of the day a lighter shade of grey covered the horizon and soon turned to a pale blue, followed by a burning red as the sun finally broke through to dry me off.

All afternoon the total action added up to three slow slides of the float that I suspected were small perch but was suspicious were crayfish, even so though I had religiously fed maggot every so often over the light sprinkling of ground-bait I'd laid down at the start of the session. The last hour made all the waiting in the damp worthwhile. It was like a switch had been flicked and the entire lake population had sprung into life to feed with gay abandon. The perch were first in the queue and at between six ounces and a pound plus they very welcome.

Somewhere in a slew of sliding perch bites my float did a different dance. I'd been using what I call the micro lift rig which I have done so well with at this venue in the past. As I've said before the key to this rig a combination of the Drennan antenna float and the single number nine shot positioned close to the bottom which cocks the float down so as only the red tip shows. The advantage of using this rig is you see bites two ways, both up and down. The float first rose a little before stuttering under the waters film and my strike was met by a dogged fight very different from the perch I had been catching. My target had turned up by way of a very young looking roach well over a pound.

If all the fishing I did was like the last hour of this session I would soon grow ungrateful of such wonderful sport quickly. Bite after bite came constantly. I even gave up casting and sinking the line as the float was never still long enough to be pulled out of position by the floating line. It was only a numbers game before another roach came along, the only worry was would it come along before the light went and my float disappeared permanently. It got to the stage when you can't even see the black shape of the float against the reflection of the sky on the water and your eyes play tricks on you because even blinking makes you lose sight of your float in the dark. How I registered that final bite I'll probably never know, but I did and again the nodding fight of a roach excited me enough to take more care playing it. Unable to definitively identify the fish I waited till I could make it out laying calmly on the surface before gently scooping it up in the net. The blinding white light of my head lamp illuminated a second perfect bar of silver was the final fish that I had been hanging on right till the death for.

The window on targeting these lovely fish has passed quickly with the long overdue temperature rise and now the time for spring and summer species is on the horizon. Likely though I few accidental captures will come over the summer along with their ginger cousins the rudd, which will be more than welcome gifts in the future.