Sunday, 31 January 2010

Botch Job!

Through the week i had made up some new rigs to try at Ryton and i was looking forward to a short session on Sunday morning. But as the week passed temperature began to fall again. I was still hopeful that the lake might by some outside chance not be frozen yet...
my fears were realized when i arrived at Ryton pool Sunday morning and stood looking at the quarter of lake that still remained ice free. At this point i was torn. Should i bother to fish it or not? With the only bit of lake i could fish being occupied by the entire waterfowl population of Warwickshire and last weeks incident still fresh in my mind the decision was made.

If i wanted to fish my only choice was to head to a river. With only a short amount of time on my hands i made the rash decision not to go home and fetch some appropriate tackle but to head straight off with my carp gear, a bait box of month old maggots and a barbel rod that was still in my rod bag from a previous outing, hoping that i could just make the most with what i had got.

I wasn't exactly tackled up for light roaming so opted to fish a deep stretch at Wasperton and stay put for a few hours, hopefully to try and get a few bites.

The river didn't look in bad nick at all, running steadily with a nice bit of colour. I fished a small feeder filled with the only goundbait i had with me, some rather expensive stick mix i had hoped to use to attract carp. Then i even put out one of my carp rods with a 10mm boilie and a pva bag of goodies in a vain hope something big or stupid might chance by and gobble the bait up.

I felt like a right berk as i sat by a carp rod, with a massive 36" landing net whilst everyone else fishing was fishing light gear scratching for bites. I did get a few bites through the morning and even converted a few into welcome little roach which did help to alleviate my berkishness. But by twelve noon i was done with this session.

All in all it was a bit of a cock up on my part and maybe before i go on my next fishing trip i should be a little more realistic and change my tactics accordingly to the weather.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Feathered fish and tearful tots

A week of rising temperatures had ended with a day of heavy rain turning the still swollen river Avon into something that looked like a tributary of the Amazon. But the better weather had opened up an opportunity for me to get back on the freshly thawed Ryton pool and have a go at some winter carp fishing. I could have gone piking but i have steered clear of piking on Ryton as the winter has gone on because i don't think there is a huge amount of pike in the pool, and they come under heavy angling pressure over the winter here.

Ryton can be a brick hard carp venue at the best of times but i was hopeful that the combination of a bit of sun and lack of natural food might tempt them into having a nibble. I arrived early and headed straight to the peg that might offer me the best opportunity of a hungry carp moving through. Now to most anglers winter carping might seem like total insanity, but lately i have done a fair bit of reading on the subject and the general thought is that carp are active and do still feed even in the worst of conditions, so with this in mind i set up a couple of rods on indicators with suitably light gear.

My plan of attack was clear in my mind even before i got there. One bait would be positioned near the food source that i believed would attract the fish, with a highly visible pop up bait so any scrounging fish might find it if they came in searching for a free meal. The other i would cast into different spots regularly with a fluro pop up to try and locate fish.

The morning passed with nothing more than a few random bleeps here and there from my indicators. Around 1pm the roaming rod began to get some attention after id cast to a new spot; finally after spending five minutes hovering over the rod the swinger dropped down enough for me to have a strike at it, which resulted in nothing.

I was considering a move to a shallow swim around the lake when i saw a carp swirl within twenty feet of my right hand rod, which gave me enough confidence to stick it out in this spot a bit longer. A short while later i couldn't believe my eyes as a bow wave appeared and a carp swam right in front of me. That was it i knew they were here and i would stick it out here for the rest of the session.

Everything had quietened down and i sat pouring a brew when the right hand indicator bleeped once, then bleeped again with confidence and then the swinger began to rise steadily up. By the time i got to the rod, line was pulling from the reel - a dream run at this time of year. I was well chuffed as bent into the fish. Instantly i knew it wasn't a big fish. From behind me i heard a man say "come and look kids the mans caught a fish!" Looking round he and his whole family were lined up on the high bank behind me watching. As i reeled it in i noticed the lack of fight and thought to myself it must be an unseasonal little tench. Once it neared the bank it began coming up quickly, then it clicked in my head just before it surfaced.

The gasps could be heard all over the lake as my audience saw it pop up.....

Not a tench, not a carp, but a small diving duck flapped around with my boilie hanging from it's beak. I went bright red with embarrassment, kids started sobbing "whats the man doing to the little ducky mommy" and dad dragged them all away whilst cursing me under his breath.

Lucky for both me and Mr ducky i was using strong enough tackle that it had no chance of snapping off. After a few failed attempts i got hold of it and was able to unhook it then check it was ok before releasing it unharmed. The little bugger went off as if nothing had happened, unlike me who felt rather bad about the whole incident.

I stuck around for a few more hours but got no more interest from either rods and eventually went home. Though this won't be the end of my winter carp campaign as i think i learnt a few things on this session that i can change next time that might turn those odd bleeps into a real runs.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

A week of torture

At the moment Sundays are my only guaranteed fishing days. So watching even more snow fall at the start of the week knowing full and well that the end of the week would herald the inevitable big thaw was torture for me.

As the week passed snow turned to slush on the ground, falling snow flakes turned to rain and melting with them was any chance of me fishing on Sunday.

With a couple spare hours on Saturday afternoon i headed out in the car to check if there was by any chance anywhere might be fishable. Passing first over the river Sowe only five minutes from home i was greeted by the sight of orange/brown water well into the fields, i drove on towards Ryton to again confirm it was still well frozen, then ended up in Leamington at the confluence of the Leam and Avon to see this normally sedate stretch raging with floodwater. As i stood looking down at the water my mind ticked through possible tactics or places that might be feasible to fish. But as i did the sound of trickling water caught my ear! the last of the slush was melting and ran off the road over blocked drains eventualy finding its way straight into the river. On seeing this knew in my mind that even if i made the effort to go that my chances of catching were low. With this realization my decision was made. I would not fish......

Now i know that in a weeks time the rivers will probably once again be back within there banks and all the horrible salty road water will have flowed away, maybe even the two inch thick ice on the lakes may have melted and i will soon be back out fishing. But this still doesn't stop me acting like a mardy teenager who hasn't got what they want. though this behavior does serve to remind me that my love for fishing is still so strong that it makes a thirty two year old man act like a child and i hope that i still feel as passionate as this in thirty years time.

After seeing me so forlorn my long suffering and wonderful girlfriend Jacky woke me on Sunday morning with a egg & bacon sarnie, glass of orange juice and a cup of tea on a tray in her hands. Even as i write this the smell of a late afternoon Sunday dinner permeates the house and i can't help but think. This ain't so bad.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Fave five fishing reads

I work a lot of Saturdays, but this week with the holidays over and a light work load i found myself with Saturday off. Now normally i would find myself hitting the town and partaking off that popular British pastime, consumerism, but after spending like a Russian football club owner over Xmas i was trying to save some pennies. Not only that but myself and Jacky had finally figured out what that mysterious circled date on our calender was.. so i had to wait in for the gas man to inspect my pipes or something.

With all this spare time on our hands we both agreed to undertake a chore we had both been avoiding for ages and sort out our swelling collection of books into categories. For me this meant collecting up all of my fish, fishing and yes more fishing books from all over the house into one big pile. Now for a normal person this might take an hour or so but for me this took all day, firstly due to the large number of books and secondly due to me opening and flicking through everyone as i picked it up.

As I worked away a thought crept into my head! which of all these precious books were my favorites? An all time top five if you would - and yes this did waste even more time! It took a while to decide but finally i found my fave five fishing reads:

Casting at the Sun by Chris Yates
This is the most recently read one of my fave five, having only got it at Christmas, but the moment i began reading it i knew i would be a firm favorite. Following Chris as he searches for carp from the village pond all the way to redmire, it is an unmissable read for anyone who loves carp fishing.

In Visible Waters by John Bailey

More than just fishing, this book gives a fantastic insight to fish behavior and habits of variety of species throughout the year.
When i first read it i could hardly put it down and i still go back read sections of it regularly even though i have read them time and time again.

A River Never Sleeps by Roderick Haig-Brown
When i fist picked this battered volume up in a charity shop five years ago i had no idea what it was about it at all, but when i got round to reading it i was awestruck as i followed the author through the wilderness of north America to the clear southern English rivers as he fishes for salmon.

Fifty Years a Fisherman by John Wilson
I don't read that many biography's, but this one is brilliant, as you follow him from a young boy fishing in his local park, then through his time aboard a cruise ship fishing around the world to now as the TV presenter we all know so well. There isn't a dull moment all the way through it and some of the fish are truly amazing.

The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton
THE CLASSIC....Not an easy read by any ones standard but still ultimately rewarding. I often read single chapters about certain species of this book at a time before i go fishing for that species and it never ceases to amaze me how relevant it is even now. Even though now we have hundreds of pounds of fishing tackle to fish with and new techniques get devised every week, it doesn't change the fact that fish still behave much the same now as they did when Izaak was after them.

Frozen and fish-less

It had been a week since my last fishing trip and in that time the weather had gone from just plain freezing to proper freezing with a good covering of snow mixed in for good measure. I had hoped to return to Wasperton this Sunday to see if i could better last weeks result, but even though the main roads were clear i didn't fancy my cars chances on the mile long farm that leads down to the river. So opted to play it safe, stick close to home and check out a bit of the upper Avon i have fished for chub a few times over the last couple of years.

During the week i had been chatting to Jeff Hatt about some nice roach i had seen in a previous fishing session, and whilst chatting to him i asked him if he was up for a wintry chub session on the Avon.

So Sunday morning we both arrived at dawn suitably wrapped up for a very cold fishing trip.

Now catching winter chub on a bit of river you actually know anything about can be hard at times, but as i had very little knowledge of this stretch and i think it was the first time Jeff had ever laid eyes on it we were probably going to struggle.

We worked our way down leap frogging past each other trying different baits in any spots we thought might hold fish. even when i found some small fish topping on nice looking run and scaled my tackle right down, the only interest came as tiny tremble of my tip. Most likely from a comedian of a fish who thought it would be funny to lick my double maggot bait just to wind me up. Even my stinking cheese paste which is almost guaranteed to get the most wary chub salivating did nothing...

By the time we found ourselves at the bottom of the stretch at early midday we were both of the opinion that it was not going to happen today. But still even after agreeing on this we carried on for a while as we watched our motionless rod tips in the last very fishy looking swim. But it wasn't that long before we threw in the towel and trudged off back to the car fish-less.

Sometimes, i think even though as anglers we are prepared to go out and fish in the very worst conditions, and persevere when we know that most sane people are tucked up in bed, it doe's not mean that our quarry will honor our efforts by biting.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Frozen options on busy sundays

Over the holidays i had not had much time to get out fishing with family commitments and work so by the time new year had come i was desperate to get out and have a session. I had hoped to do some winter carp fishing but with every lake, canal and pond for a hundred miles being frozen solid that seemed a little out of the picture, so my only option was to head to the river.. after a last minute phone call i arranged to meet up with Rob my angling companion of many years and check out a lower stretch of the river Leam which is reputed to hold some good roach.

I arrived at first light to find that the river had gone down but was still well coloured so i set up in a swim down stream of the weir, after a thirty minutes i hadn't had a bite and opted to move down with the hope of finding deeper water, the next swim was a lot deeper, after a few casts i began to get a few knocks here and there until rather inconsiderate canoeist turned up on the bank and boarded his canoe within feet on me, after all the commotion he made i had little choice but to move again downstream, finally i found nice swim all be it littered with rubbish left by the local kids and began to get into some fish, the bites were very shy but after i had been casting my micro feeder filled with liquidised bread the fish seemed to concentrate a little and the bites came quicker and harder, by the time rob turned up id already caught a few little roach so he set up upstream and got in on the action to.

considering the weather of late i should have been grateful for the bites i was getting, but! the general size of the roach was small, very small. even with one eye on the challenge it would take me all day to get anywhere near the roach record and after a hour i was getting sick of tiny roach smashing every bait that went in. so a quick discussion with my companion and we decided to move on to the Avon.

We arrived at the stretch we wanted to fish to find more anglers than i have ever seen in one place on the Avon before. This could mean only one thing, a match, so with out even turning off the car's engine we headed off again, this time to Wasperton..

My heart sank further when i saw a full car park at Wasperton but luckily it turned out that the lack of fishable water had just concentrated a lot of anglers to the river's and with the large amount of river to fish here there was still plenty of space left to fish so We headed downstream to deeper water chatting to few chaps on the way, one of which told us he had caught a couple of good roach, things were looking up.
With less than two hours till dusk we set up again in wide straight run where there seemed to be a lot of fish topping, again the bread feeder went out and was greeted by a savage bite.. which i promptly missed. the bites were almost impossible to hit until i got a sharp rap followed by my tip hooping round, my strike was met by slow but heavy resistance, the culprit turned out to be a very welcome bream of 3-4lbs.

As the evening drew in the bream began rolling all over the river and it surprised me that there was so many around us, i got a few more good pulls that didn't result in any fish, even my second rod i had put out with a heaver lead and cheese paste bait started to get some attention under a raft down stream but no more fish were landed. though i wasn't disappointed with one good fish and a handful of tiddlers on a freezing day.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Internet and fishing

It wasn't until a few years ago that i realised the true value of the Internet as a tool to my already bursting angling arsenal, up until then id only thought of the Internet as something people used to find funny videos and free porn. but whilst researching new venues to fish i began to find small snippets that led me to a whole new world of information about who was doing what,where and when. soon i discovered a few blogs of other anglers who fished in my area and i began to follow there highs and lows throughout the year. now convinced by the Internet and blogging i feel that i myself want to share my own experiences and hope that some of the things i post about may be of some use to other anglers.

As a angler i do not dedicate myself to any one aspect or species, instead i prefer to fish with the seasons, targeting particular fish at what i believe to be appropriate times, that's not say i don't occasionally take a punt here or there and fish away from traditional times, but there is always some kind of theory behind this madness and they have paid of in the past.

At the start of each new year i always try and set myself some goals to aim for over the coming year and this year is no different.

1, Canal Carp

The potential of canal carp fishing on the ignored canal network was truly opened up to me last year with the capture of several sizable fish from a couple of spots on one local canal, having seen much larger fish amongst them, i intend to return to this stretch and a few other potential swims on other canals that i have earmarked for investigation with the hope that my refined methods and better understanding of there behavior will enable me to get into some serious uncaught monsters.

2, Barbel

The fish i have had the worst luck with of all the fish that swim in freshwater, for years now i have tried to catch a decent fish, but! every time i come with a whisker of one something conspires to naff it up for me, be that a raging heard of cows or a panic stricken fishing companion trying to fend off a swarm of hornets, but for now i will just hope that this year i will get the opportunity to get somewhere near my first double.

3, Tench

Last year i began fishing on a lake near to my home that is very well stocked with this the species i have the most love for, i caught fish up to 7lbs and know that they must get bigger, once again i believe i have figured out how to sort the bigger fish from the small (though there is no such thing as a unwanted tench i my eyes) I have heard rumors of possible 10lb fish from this lake, which i hope will turn out to be true.

4, The specimen weight challenge

After a night of boisterous drinking and passionate discussions about angling with Keith, Jeff and Pete where the two participants of last years rod race style challenge declared at the beginning of the night that they would not undertake a new challenge this year we found ourselves eleventeen pints later standing outside a closed pub on a freezing night discussing this years challenge ten minutes later a rough idea was on the table. following a few emails it is now set and underway.

catch the weight of the current UK record of one species in one session. one point for each species completed, starting the 1st of Jan and finishing on the 31st Dec (it sounds simple doesn't it, well i will comment on that in December)

But for now i will look forward to making my first post about my first fishing session of the new year....