Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A tale of two new lakes.

I have been a member of LAA for a few years now and most of the waters on our club book have had at one time or another felt the tender touch of my feet, bar one. I have heard much from my fishing companions of this lake, which is often ignored by anglers who get distracted by its bigger sibling the island pool at Jubilee lakes outside my home city of Coventry. 

So for the first time ever on Sunday morning I stepped through the wooded hollow that hides horseshoe pool from the thronging masses that frequent its neighbour and for a moment as I stood looking out over its still mist shrouded water I may have fallen in love, for a short while.

Any ideas of fishing were quickly thrown aside with my fishing gear and the camera was pulled from my bag as I had to share my first sight of this pool.

Eventually I did put down the camera and get on with some fishing but soon found that the area I had opted to fish was rather deep which didn't really suit the way I intended to fish today. This was no matter as I had forgone my normally back breaking pile of tackle in favour of a light stalking outfit so I could have a little explore around the pool to get to know her if you will.

From the moment the sun illuminated the sky the resident carp population were up in the surface layers and the bream and tench which also reside in this lake seemed rather uninclined to venture over my free particles towards my lift float rig.

As the morning wore on I moved around the lake casting close to any likely looking features giving each spot enough time to reveal any fish, alas to no avail.

Eventually I found myself on the spit of land which cuts into the centre of the lake. The sun was now high in the sky and had revealed to my polaroid clad eyes that the bottom of the lake seemed to be covered in a layer of silk weed. The clear feeding patches where fish had been feeding were evident and opted for one a rod length out.

After a further hour my float had little more than a pluck and the temptation to strip the weight from my simple rig became too great. I had packed a small bag of floaters just in case, but soon found what I had actually packed was a bag of sinking pellets with a layer of dog biscuits on top.

I didn't take long for the carp to investigate the plops the few freebies made and the ducks soon followed. One shoal of fish seemed more determined than the others and stuck around but seemed to have a good understanding of how to sort out the freebies from the hook bait.

Whilst trying to build their confidence into a frenzy I caught sight of a dark shape hanging round off the shoal a few metres. So I wondered whether this was my chance and cast a free lined pinch of bread close to it.
Sometimes it just looks right! The fish moves in a different way towards the bait and you know it's going to take it. Text book style it drifted in, sank down then as slow as you like, a pair of lips broke the surface and then all hell broke loose.

I just happened to be trying out a newly acquired Avon rod and this fish was fish was absolutely hammering it. Another chap called Mark who was floater fishing behind me and heard the screaming clutch appeared and offered to do the honours with the net. After a hardcore fight it finally appeared on the surface and it looked massive. On the bank it seemed even bigger and I still think it looks huge when I look at this photo.

20.12lb would do me fine and the decision was made. I wasn't going to get a better fish so I headed home.

The following day I decided to head down to another new lake at weston lawns fishery outside my old home town of Bedworth to hook up with Pete and Keith who had spent a night on the specimen lake chasing catfish.

I spent my entire youth scrabbling round the ponds and canals of Bedworth but oddly I haven't cast a line in this area for years. So driving back with Jeff in tow it felt like a real home coming for me. You know you're getting older when you can remember when the lake you are heading to was just fields. In fact as I navigated the drive I began to remember some of the times I spent in the very fields from whence this fishery sprung.
Weston Lawns is one of the new wave of commercial fisheries which cater for the ever growing appetite of the UK anglers and big carp fishing. Heavily stocked and heavily pressured the fish are certainly not as stupid as you would expect them to be. I joined Keith and Pete on one bank while Jeff headed straight for a reed lined area near the road that was alive with carp when we arrived.

The carp at first held little interest and my sole target was cats. I know to try and bag one in day light is virtually impossible but I have got to start somewhere. The cats never showed and chatting to one of the fishery lads he told me they don't come out regularly and mostly at night but we were in the right area.

Through the day I did get some interest from the local bream who were covered in spawning tubercles and very hungry.

Pete who was just down the bank bagged a massive perch which had just spawned at 2.12lb that only a few days ago would have been well over three. 

Mid afternoon both mine and Pete's rods that were cast to the island seemingly woke up and both of us got run after run but failed to land a single fish. A frustrating hour of constant runs where both of us thought we hooked a fish which came off and the mystery was explained when an angler to Petes left hooked a good fish. On the bank it turned out this was the fish which had been winding us up into a frenzy. The poor fish was trailing a rig and lead which had been snagging our lines as it moved up and down the island margins. The guy who landed it had not actually hooked the fish but caught the trailing rig and I am sure he will claim that one to his mates.

It was interesting to fish again in my home town but I don't think I am going to put to much time into this venue as a couple of others have popped up which look very inviting and have a good track record of daytime cat captures.   

Monday, 18 April 2011

Time to give them a rest.

Again the last minute opportunity arose for me to grab a few hours fishing on Thursday evening back at the canal. Like Andy my intention towards the local population of 2lb perch has waned. For me my attention now turns toward the ever present zander population.

Determined to try avoid the perch I opted for a dead bait bait approach with the idea that if a perch was big enough to consume a four inch roach it would be worth catching. Saying that I did bait my second rod with a mass of lobs on a rig so crude no self respecting perch would surely bother with it, and cast just off the ledge sans any loose bait; the idea being that a patrolling eel may chance upon it and it may fall under the radar of the percidae hoard.

To cut a long story short the lobs did not go completely unnoticed, but the crudity of the rig certainly put most of them off, bar two particularly stupid examples under a pound which took six lob worm half's on a size two hook attached to 18lb braid. But beyond that anguilla anguilla is still to make it's presence known.

On the other hand when the Zander did turn up to the party I landed two in quick succession. The better of the two being the rather paunchy female of 3.8lb. In the water she looked no bigger than the average canal Zander but in the net she really looked if she'd let herself go! As I suspected most of her girth was due to her being rather spawn filled but, whilst unhooking her I caught sight of a pretty decent size perch tail sticking out of her stomach which combined with her few thousand eggs gave her a rather unflattering profile.

I have fished enough times on this stretch now to have started formulating an idea of the fish feeding routines.
Bucking all the theories on when Zander feed, the fish here feed predominately during the day and in short bursts, which I actually suspect is them moving on mass up and down the stretch. Once dark it's time to go home, as every time I have fished in dark I have failed to catch and only had one run; whereas every time I have fished in the light I had multiple runs and never failed to catch a Zander once. 

After the capture of this heavily pregnant fish I feel it is time to give them a rest for a few weeks whilst they take care of some impending spawning. When I return after a brief break they should be a lot more streamlined and aggressive due to temp increases.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Bungled intentions.

Curse you red wine, curse you!

Those were my exact words as I stood in the kitchen at seven o'clock on Sunday morning with my head feeling like it was stuffed full of cotton wool. Although I had only over slept by and hour and a half this had screwed up my Sunday morning jaunt to my top secret canal carp fishing spot. I suppose I could have raced there but by the time I'd driven to the canal and tabbed miles of tow path I would have all of an hours peace and quiet before the boats started, so a change of plan was needed.

There was something I have meaning to do for a while and with my limited time it seemed perfectly convenient change of tack. 
I have heard along the grapevine that Jubilee pools big lake contains some rather large bream. I myself have never witnessed any of these rumoured leviathons, but the depth of this lake combined with the hoards of smaller fish and the masses of bait deposited into the venue by the dedicated band of carp anglers which surround this lake, lead me to believe that there could be some very large bream swimming in its waters. So this mornings trip was as much about finding out possible feeding areas as it was fishing.

Upon arriving I headed straight to the area where most of the carp fishing gets done. Chatting with those already fishing anglers confirmed that the bream here have taken a real shining to bolies/spod mix, and why shouldn't they when its getting throw in by the bucket load daily. So I set up down the bank in a position which would enable me to fish a couple of feeders whilst watching where got baited by others.

It all went pretty much to plan and as I made notes for future sessions my buzzers sounded intermittently as a shoal of bream passed time and again over my baited area. I took about five or six proper bream up to 3.6lb and a few immature skimmer bream. One had foul hooked itself whilst mooching over the bait causing the most unbelievable one toner and made me think I'd hooked a much bigger fish as it came in sideways.

Just about every fish like this three pound example were sporting spawning tubercles and fought pretty hard on the way in.

Later in the morning I decided to have a walk down the bank and investigate what I suspected was a group of carp milling round on the top. My suspicions were correct, and in an area called (ironically) 'no carp corner' by the regulars five or six decent carp were basking on the top. It was too much to resist! Even though I had no floaters I thought casting a pop up or two at them may give me a chance to a slurp or two. As always a few casts turned into many but sadly every time one of the carp went to take the white pop up it tuned off at the last minute. As I sat in the shade dappled corner I got chatting to a chap called Alan who is a regular fishing companion of  someone I know from another venue, so we sat discussing Zander fishing as I time and again flicked my single bait in front of these wary carp.

I never did contact any of those carp but still I spent an enjoyable day in the sun whilst bagging some bream and learning some very useful information for future trips to a venue I have ignored over the last few years.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Out for the night.

I just could not resist sneaking back to the canal for an impromptu session Thursday night. It may sound rather mental but I was intending to try and avoid the hoards of perch and try and find maybe a bigger Zander or even try for a hint of eel.

Just before leaving I dropped Andy a text informing him of my intentions. On the way my phone repeatedly rang and although I never answered it as that would be against the law (I wasn't ignoring you Andy) I knew perfectly well it was him. Back at the swim I had fished four days previously I was hurriedly setting up when I saw a figure coming towards me. It seemed Andy had the same thing on his mind and my text had only convinced him to pack the car.

First shot in both our floats went. Me with my first bream from the area and Andy with a nice perch. From the off we were getting bites on all lines. It took a while for my dead bait rod to join the fray but soon enough it went and the first Zander - all be it a tiddler - was mine, shortly followed by another lost unseen predator which felt much larger.

We made a strange discovery as the time ticked on. The perch, of which by now we had landed a couple of very nice examples, actually stopped feeding well before dark and everything went rather quiet. A little while later my now illuminated float began to stir in the dark; something was perusing the half pint of dead maggots and chopped prawn I had throw in to attract the attention of any passing eels.

It took a couple of tentative dips before the float totally disappeared. I could tell straight away this was no perch or Zander and definitely not an eel. When I caught sight of a big silver flank through the murk I really got nervous. It looked like a huge roach had scoffed my three lobs on a size 2 hook. 

When I finally turned on my head lamp well away from the waters edge saw at least half a big roach in the net, it was just a pity the other half of the fish was bream. Still it made for a nice brace shot with a perch just under two and roach/bream hybrid of just over two.

I made two discoveries on this session; firstly there seems to be two distinctive shifts of fish that feed at totally different times on this stretch, and second that taking pictures in the pitch black is really effin hard!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Jurassic perch

As always mothers day was busy one for me. Any chance of getting out in the morning for a few hours is a serious no no, as I have far to many stops to make. Any Star Wars fans who read this will appreciate my referring to this mad mothers day dash through Warwickshire as the kessel run!

My only option to get out was to make the kessel run in less than ten parsecs, get home, down my dinner quicker than a blogger downs a pint at the Xmas piss up, before jumping back into the car dukes of hazard style and screeching off down the cut.

The week before the suggestion had arisen between me and Andy to have another poky on the canal. I am absolutely convinced there are some very special fish in this stretch and I am also convinced that there has to be double figure Zander here too.

I arrived to find Andy entrenched in a sea of Sunday afternoon walkers who to be honest aint that bad BUT! by the time you receive your thirteenth ' is there any fish in there' or 'trying to catch some fish for your supper ' it is wearing very thin. I set up next to him. It wasn't the area I wanted to target but until the boat traffic slowed and the towing stopped and it seemed a fair enough area to fish. 

I didn't take long for me to start getting a few bites and after landing a couple of measly 10-14oz perch on my lob worm line I hooked my first bulging two pounder of the session.


Yes I did say first two pounder! The Midlands perch rush has in my opinion been some of the most insane fishing I have seen in this area for a long time, with fish between 2-3lb+ coming out over a myriad of venues constantly over the last two months. As for my part in this insanity, the particular bit of canal holds far too much allure for me to leave it alone. I was only intending to fish the lob rig for a bit of fun before changing over to another dead bait rig but something about this evening felt very right and the lob rig held it's first team place all night.

Once it quietened down both myself and Andy moved in opposite directions to our intended target areas.  In place I had to wait all of ten seconds for my float to zip off attached to a 1.14lb perch, at this point I knew it was going to be a good evening. My dead bait rod was soon away as well, this time a small Zander had snaffled one of my new mini dead baits from the boat channel. 

The action was non stop and perch after perch cast themselves upon my lob worms fished just down the edge. It did not take long for my next plump 2lb perch to turn up taking my tally for this stretch to five twos.

After a while the bites stopped and I knew exactly what would bite next... My attentions had been drawn to the dead bait float which was zipping across the surface. My strike was met by a good fish which ploughed straight for my bank. I was desperately trying to keep contact with it until out of the corner of my eye I spotted the bow of a barge chugging towards me. Annoyingly whilst trying to save my other rod a Zander of maybe five pounds appeared on the surface and did that bloody head shaking trick sending my hook flying. Whilst cursing the inconsiderate boater I hadn't noticed that my other float had slipped away until the tip of the rod was bending round attached to a determined fish. It turned out to be a  very small Zander which had more than swallowed my bait and hook, leaving only the line protruding from its stomach. Even before I tried to unhook it there was blood emanating from its gill covers, so rather than distress it any further I made the decision the knock the poor little fella on the head. It was far too small to make anything more than a hors d'oevre so I decided to try something I have never done before. Using Zander dead bait to catch a Zander.

I have heard like most predators they are cannibalistic. So I cut off the tail section of the fish hooked it up and swung it out onto the hot spot.

This had the desired result when after a while the float bobbed once then moved sideways before stopping as the fish dropped the bait. I gave it a while to see if it would go again before trying a trick I have used a hundred times for finicky Zander. I tightened up on the line and pulled the bait back gently about six inches. Bingo! The float immediately bobbed again then slid away totally. I felt rather smug as I struck into another small Zander and was powering it in with my Avon rod chuckling away to myself when I got a glimpse of the
fish. What I saw stopped my inane laughing dead! 'Stripes' It was no little Zander it was a big Sargent with a Zander tail firmly in its gob. The realization that I had been dragging the biggest perch I'd had from this venue in like a common Zander prompted a little more care on my part to say the least.

Finally I think I may have found key to sorting out some bigger fish and the result. A perfect 2.6lb wild as you like canal perch.

Even after this I carried on catching more good perch on the lob line. It got to the stage were if they didn't look 2lb or more I was just slipping straight back.
As far as I can guess I had at least ten that looked over a pound plus a few just under and the ones I weighed went 1.8, 1.14, 2, 2.1, 2.6.
The Zeds were having it too. With three under 2lb landed, a couple more shed the hook and the bigger fish that I lost as well.

My faith in how special this stretch is just gets stronger every time I visit and this was only reaffirmed after I packed up and walked up to Andy who also had a net full of big perch which included a huge looking fish.

As far as canal fishing goes there is no way I am gonna leave this alone as there is bigger perch, Zander and god only knows what else in here.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

A lot of waiting for a little action.

Like a few others I have been dipping my toe in the fickle waters of Ryton pool on and off as the weather warms up, and a midweek session seemed the perfect opportunity to try again. A week or two of nice warm weather should be waking the fiskies from their winter slumber ready for a hearty breakfast. That's what I thought anyway...

Double figure temperatures and hazy sunshine made for good weather conditions and a few others thought so to as when I arrived there was three other anglers entrenched around the lake. I nearly always like to start out on the road bank but the peg I fancied was rather occupied by another regular and the only other free peg on that side was full of waring Canadian geese, so I opted to head for the shallow woodland bank.

Initially I started off in a swim called morris's but after punting a chod rig onto a holding feature on the opposite bank and a pva bag into open water, I spent the next hour scanning the lake for any signs of fish.
I sometimes amaze myself at my ability to discern the sound of a jumping carp from the noise a bunch of randy geese make when their kicking off, and somewhere in that racket I caught that lovely noise a carps tail makes as it propels its self skyward. Scrabbling along the bank I got into the next swim with enough time to see it breach again. The move was on!

Some frantic reeling and three trips later I was set up in a new swim and ready to fire the chod rig with upgraded lead as close to the area where the carp had jumped.

In front of this swim is a bar which acts as a fish highway so it seemed the obvious place for the bag rod to go. With the second rod out I settled in to make a few bags up ready for a quick change.
Early in the year I find putting the leads inside the bag reduces my runs for some reason, so instead I thread the  bags direct onto the hook link, this allows the lead to sink first with the buoyant bag slowing its descent onto the bottom. I have tested this rig loads of times in the edge, and nine times out of ten when the bag begins to dissolve and sink the hook link ends up straight in line, ready to tag anything that picks up the hook bait that is nestled within the attractive free pellets and crushed boilie.

Straight away I was getting indications on the buzzers but nothing seemed to be having it and soon I felt something was a miss. I am a real fan of slack lines but on this occasion I felt fish were on the baits but getting away with out getting hooked up. So some tension was in order! I hate having bow taught lines cutting through the water as it is a recipe for spooking wary fish, so the answer was to recast with a fresh bag and tighten up the line to straighten it out. I then slackened off to let the line sink, and tightened up with the bobbins attached using only the free spool, so the weight of the bobbin was resting on the floor but the line was just under tension against the flying backlead. 

I had loads of odd bleeps and was about to move on again before a different bleep sounded for the indicator and the bobbin rose slightly before dropping again. That was enough for me to strike and low and behold a dull resistance was felt through the rod. It felt heavy but wasn't pulling back much at all. What ever it was it came up to the top thirty yards out and wallowed on the top. A this point I thought I had hooked my first ever bream from this pool of which there are very few but which are very large but half way back I spotted green tail on the top.

My first Ryton tench of  2011 was soon in hand. Although it was on the lean side as they always are at this time of year it was a long female fish of 5.1lb. Later in the year when she's filled out she'll be well over six.

Later on I was just recasting after changing my chod rig over to another bag rig when mid cast the other rod screamed off on a proper one toner. I connected with a small but spirited common carp which vibrated its was right to the cord of the net before shedding the hook once in sight.

I only got two other runs both of which returned nothing but a sweetcorn masked off hook which I had added to the bag mix to add some continuity to the corn tipped hook baits. D'oh! but still they are waking up and  give it few more weeks and both the carp and tench should be hard on the feed.