Monday, 26 March 2012

Commercial success.

A few weeks ago I made the hard decision that with a trip to the coast looming, joining the rest of the crazy crew on a jaunt to Hanningfield reservoir was financially unfeasible for me. It turned out Baz from Return to Ryton was in the same predicament, so I suggested we get together on the weekend in question for a perch session on one of the local commercial fisheries on my hit list.
My previous midweek trip out had actually been to check out this new lake and as I had bumped off a good Sargent early on, it seemed the rumours of big perch may of had some credence. So this seemed to be the perfect place for us to spend our Saturday searching for something special.

A week of bright sunny skies meant my confidence was not high. Even though the lake in question was far from clear. The sun had hampered even the small perches feeding in the week but when I awoke Saturday morning half the country was shrouded in fog and it seemed fate was at hand.

After Baz picked me up and we had one small disaster where my much needed net was left outside my front door, we finally arrived in rural Warwickshire and drove between newly planted fields towards the fog cloaked lake.
It was quite eerie making our way to the lake. The fog as always dampened all sound and all I could hear was the occasional ribbet of toads from the reed beds where the spring orgy was well underway.

On my last visit I had fished only one rod over a bed of chopped worms and prawns. This had lead me to keep swapping from one the other as hook baits, as when fishing worm I felt I should have been fishing prawn and vice versa. This time though, even knowing how hard it is to fish two float rods and watch both floats efficiently, I went for identical rigs with a different bait on each one and fished them a meter apart.
This was not easy as I had opted to fish the most awkward swim on the entire lake. The slight breeze blowing onto my rigs meant they had to be fished eight inches over depth to hold bottom. But they were under tension, so even the slightest bite was detected. So that problem turned into a bonus. 

It was the overhanging tree that hung so low that I could not even raise my rod which caused the most problems. All casts had to be flicked under deftly from my right and all strikes had to go out the same way. The casting I knew would not be a problem but in the panic of a fight I worried I could find myself tangled on the branches. A few hits at slight bites from silvers worrying my baits got me on the right track soon enough.

The glorious fog was not going to last all day. So with that in mind both Baz and myself worked hard to make the most of the lack of sun, but all too soon I could feel the rays burning away our cover.
I like to think any change can help when you aren't getting the right bites and even when light levels go from good to bad, fish sometimes feed just as that light changes. 

If I learnt one thing last year fishing for perch using floats on the canal, it was what a bite from a good perch looks like. At least that's what I thought when my float did a little bob before sliding off. But what I was attached to felt like a small carp trying to bore into my own bank. With my trusty new John Wilson Avon rod bent nicely I confidently pulled the little bugger into open water where it rolled once before I went white as a sheet and scrabbled for the net. I forgot that the rest of the world existed! Only one thing mattered - getting this fish in my net at all cost. Everything held, I managed not to flap and she was mine.

With it safely in the net I stood shaking and whistled over to Baz. I knew it was new PB before I even lifted it from the water, but I never expected the sheer size and girth of it. I have to thank Baz at this point because my composure had just vaporised and whilst I held the net in the edge he organised scales and cameras.

When I picked up those scales with a bulging carrier bag hanging beneath, I could not have put a weight on it. The moment the dial moved, it went confidently round to 4lb.

On the mat it looked like it could eat the flipping scales, it was that big. Still it had no anger in it like perch sometimes do, and for the life of me I could not get that fin to stand proud but that did not matter to me as I had a fish in my hands that most anglers go there entire lives without catching.
The thickness of this fish was probably around five inches and a six ounce roach would go in it's mouth no problems. In fact I remember thinking clearly at the time that two golf balls would easy go in it's mouth, it was that big.

Neither Baz or myself had ever seen a perch like this in the flesh and I wonder if I ever will again. After taking  loads of photos she was treated with the utmost respect. I crouched on the waters edge cradling her gently in the water as I took one last look before she swam back under the bank.

I must have sat, rods out the water smiling like a goon for ages before I snapped round and thought, what the hell do I do now. I just caught the biggest perch of my life and it's only ten in the morning.
Then the most insane thing sprang to mind! Who's to say that the biggest one in the lake. So I spent the rest of the day hunting for something bigger. Honestly...

I did actually hook and lose a smaller fish of maybe 2lb, which on any other day would have had me screaming but not today after having held a true giant.

All day I kept flicking on my camera and looking through the pictures, as I have done ever since. On the way home we chatted. I won't go back to this lake until autumn when they are feeding up for winter. And when I do I will follow up another tip off I got from a local, regarding a second hot spot on the lake where the capture of four fish over three pounds in one session was meant to have taken place.

Friday, 23 March 2012

The man from Del Monte he say No!

I would like to say before going onto the main topic of this blog that my impromptu mid week session at a tranquil and deserted commercial fishery after a big sarge was a sobering experience! 
About an hour into the fishing on this immaculate pool that is reputed to hold some staggering perch, I hooked and played a good fish which from the one glimpse I got of it, was somewhere in the big category. Just as I got to the 'grab the net' point in the fight, it made a twist which sent my hook and float flying out the water like a missile from a submarine and made me feel rather sick.

So, onto the main topic of this tale. I continued chasing after another giant perch from the same swim even though what was supposed to be a hazy spring day soon became a bright sunny one. 
With the horrible thought that my one chance was wasted ringing in my head I persevered. When my float bobbed again just like a perch, then slipped off, I thought my luck was again in. This turned out to be a small skimmer, which was followed by another, then another, then another. It would seem my chopped worm had today not attracted carp but a shoal of slimy immature bream. The next one I caught seemed different to the rest for some reason, so rather than tossing it back I took a closer look.

Bigger than normal eyes and peachy pectoral fins. Could it be...?

Did this pool contain an unknown population of silver bream? When the bailiff came round for his money I asked all the right questions and confirmed that yes, they stocked some silver bream as well as bronze bream. I did check that we were on the same page, and he again confirmed that he meant silver bream not skimmer bream.
But rather than get myself all het up thinking I had just landed a silver bar of rocking horse doo dee, I took some suitable photos weighed it at 10oz and let it go. Then caught another of 1.10 oz and nearly pissed my pants.

It was hard not to get excited about a possible 55% of the record fish. But again I took the close up shots and released it.

The rest of the session passed without a any more possible silver bream and without anymore big perch encounters. I did however catch several smallish perch and noticed some of the male fish exuding milt all over my hands, meaning that they must be just about to spawn which will scupper the perch fishing soon. Also I was amazed at how small of a size perch seem to be able to breed at. One of the milting fish was under an ounce, which did seem rather odd.

The next step was to get the possible silver bream checked out by the man who knows. Some call him the man from Del Monte, others call him Gongoozler extraordinaire. I call him Jeff Hatt off of idlersquest  

Yes folks, you can always trust a man who wears a carrier bag on his head and points at trees.

Whatever you care to call him his number one hobby is fishing and his number two hobby is silver bream identification confirmation.

So the morning after I sent Jeff a full picture of each fish and a head shot as well and awaited his experienced verdict. For my own part I had gone back to the pictures repeatedly since taking them and once on my computer I had myself compared them to previous captures documented on line and had myself sown the seeds of doubt. Truthfully to me they looked like nether silver bream or skimmer bream.

The man from Del Montes email confirmed my already growing suspicions. They were not silver bream but some form of bastard hybrid of god only knows what.
The lake in question does contain roach, rudd, bream, supposedly silver bream as well as all possible connotations of hybrids within those true species. This is were the problem lies. Not only are we talking about telling the difference of a silver bream from a skimmer bream but also the possibly that it could be a hybrid of two thorough bred parents or even possibly  the product of twenty years of cross breeding and contamination of gene pools. So I reckon trying to catch a pure fish from this pool would be an absolute waste of time.

Although I kind of knew in my heart they did not seem quite right I was still a little disappointed by the verdict. It would have been very nice to bag a PB silver bream twice in one session, but on the other hand I am happy I offered it up for confirmation, as I at least know for sure they were not silver bream rather than living with my own doubts should I have not.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Beauty and the beasties.

This past weekend I took my second step into  the commercial  perch fishing scene and quite honestly I can't make up my mind if it was a success or not!

Like many before me I have already started looking at your average £7 a day carp puddle with squinted eyes. My ears are open listening for those sacred words whenever I am in the tackle shop, hoping to hear one of the match men that hang around on a Saturday utter something about a whopping perch.

Then the other day whilst talking to a acquaintance of mine, who likes to spend his weekend wearing matching Preston innovations gear,  he mentioned that during some of the winter matches on a water he had fished, bonus perch up to four pounds had topped up several winning bags of blade roach. This was more than enough information for me plan a trip over to this popular venue.

The  only time I could spare this weekend was Saturday afternoon and with cloudy skies on the horizon and showers expected it seemed the perfect conditions. When I arrived at the featureless fishery with it's distinct slabbed swims I did stop for a moment with my hand on the car boot and ask myself, did I want to do this as it looked busy. But I had made the effort to drive there and if I backed out now I was too far to get to another lake in time. So I stuck with and headed towards the tip off pool.
When I got there I did not really have much choice of swims as thirty of the thirty three were occupied by serious men sitting on fishing boxes that would have given a transformer a chubby, throwing method feeders at the islands. The few free swims that were left as the did not give a clear cast to the island so were ignored but they did however appeal to me. Reed lined corners of which one had a all the scum of the lake collected in it and that what I went for.
After baiting up with a few handfuls of chopped worm and red maggots I sat back to watch the soap opera around the lake. I don't think one of the other anglers knew I was there dressed in green keeping off the sky line, whilst they all yelled to each other at the top of their voices.

Holy crap! I thought my luck was in when my float bobbed a couple of times before slipping away. There was that pause for a fleeting moment when the hooked fish computes the resistance and you have no idea what it is for a moment. But then the reel went into overdrive as a carp headed out into the lake. It did not take to long to subdue a pale and rather deformed near double, and neither did the next five or six. By now my presence in the corner had been acknowledged, as it would seem I had caught seven more carp than anyone else this afternoon.
By the third visit I thought I had sprouted a extra leg as I seemed to be the new attraction of the fishery. 'Wot you gettin em on mate?' was the standard question and they all seemed agog when I told them worms. I get the feeling that they thought I was using some new hightech bait developed in a laboratory by Japanese scientists that cost fifty quid a bag instead of the much maligned worm.

The cue of minging carp attracted by my dirty clouds of chopped worm sinking through the water seemed endless and they did not get better looking. Most looked like they had taken a swift right from Mike Tyson as they were stocked into the lake and one was the spitting image of Pete Burns. For those of you who don't get that reference follow this link

I thought the string of damaged fish would never end until I hooked and landed  this...

What a stunner!

I don't understand for the life of me how this was even in the same lake as the other fish I had caught. The only explanation must be that it had only just been introduced because it was perfect. Golden flanks slight red tinge to it's tail and it's mouth looked untouched by hook. I felt bad putting it back in the lake knowing what will undoubtedly happen to it. It would of been far better off if I would have tucked in my top and drove it down the nearest bit of canal.

As the light drew in it only got worse - the carp seemed insatiable. I did consider moving to one of the vacant spots, but every angler that left did the same thing and dumped any remaining bait in front of their peg before they left, which I knew would only serve to attract more carp onto it and maybe away from me.

By dusk I had landed no less than seventeen carp all 8 -12lb, and that's when it hit me. I had not got a single bite which I thought could of been from a perch. But I had just easily landed over a 100lb of carp in just over five hours on a bait most of the other anglers on refused to believe I was using. Maybe I should look into one of those qualifying matches for Fish 'O' Mania because 25k would be very nice and I would not look that much of a Muppet dressed in camo hiding behind a bush whilst all those match men sit three foot in the air in gaudy colours would I ?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

1-2-3 and it's over for the rivers.

As any of my facebook friends will already know, last week I suffered a bereavement. My favourite rod bit the proverbial dust in the worst possible way, meaning it did not break as all rods should deserve to, under the pressure of some unexpected leviathan; instead it went quietly and unnoticed until I spotted the already rather diminished and only remaining quiver tip shattered beyond repair.

With the appropriate amount of sulking and mourning observed I pondered whether, with only days of the fishing season remaining I should replace it, or wait until autumn to do so. Having given up smoking earlier this year I felt a little reward for my efforts would be justified considering my small financial gains.

I have for ages been denying myself a new rod purchase, as frankly I did not need one. Up until now. For a good long time I have been tempted by one these from Angling direct. So after checking the price against my local tackle emporium and finding they wanted a hefty £30 more for an older version I made my purchase.

Wow! I think is the only way to describe the service. Hand picked and checked over before being sent out this rod was in my hands in, I s*** you not, 22 hrs. I was like a kid in a candy shop unable to wait to open it and I was not disappointed because it really looked nice.

On my way home Friday I stopped off to get me ears lowered  before going home for a shower and a shave. I had a date with a brand spanking new bit of carbon this weekend and the only thing I needed was a bend, and what better place than my favourite chub hole on the Upper Warks Avon to get one.

Late in the afternoon Saturday I arrived at a calm river as the sun's probing light became obscured by intermittent cloud. The river although clear looked like spring was having its effect and small fish dimpled the margins.
As well as treating myself to the new rod I also invested in a kilo of dendrobenas to use over the coming three days. So my first action before casting out was to chop up an entire bait tub worth and bait dropper it in mixed with a generous helping of  red maggots just on the edge of  a crease emanating off my own bank.

Finally I made my first cast with the new rod before settling it lovingly on the rest where upon I began to ponder the white tip... 

I have never owned a rod with the entire quiver tip section painted white before. Though instantly I understand the advantages of why it should WHAM! the tip arched round as a chub found my two half's of a lob worm in the mess of chop in the crease. Unusually for me I had brought a keep net along, and once I had the culprit in hand, I made my way upstream to put out the net to keep this character from returning back to the shoal I hoped to continue plundering.

On the way to stake out the net I came across a distressing but surprisingly familiar site lying amongst the dead reeds. I have in my angling life seen absolutely loads of dead sheep in rivers all over the country which can only lead to one conclusion. Sheep can't swim very well.

Although it did not smell I did make a mental note not to put anything that may have been in contact with river water in my mouth, as I did not fancy a mild dose of anthrax screwing up my weekend.
Not long after this Andy dropped by for a chat in the now falling light and around the same time I began to get some bites that were very un chub like. The slight taps and savage rattles seemed more like roach or like something desperate to have a go at the bait, but unwilling to leave the shadows. After three strikes into nothing I finally connected with a perfect pound perch.
Although they kept moving in and out of the swim I constantly got harassed by this determined shoal who were intent and quite successful may I say at nabbing as many of my worms without getting hooked as possible. I did land one more but all to soon the sun set and it was time for a few pictures.

Another perfect Warwickshire Avon chub

Pristine perch that I seriously doubt have ever been landed before

My next plan was to head to a totally different section of the Avon for Sunday's jaunt, but with a appointment for Sunday lunch with Jacky's mother, going too far seemed senseless. So I refilled my worm tub and headed back to the swim I had left less than twelve hours before to take advantage of all that worm I lobbed in.

On the way across the meadow I walked a purposely large detour so as to avoid showing myself on the sky line and spooking anything in residence. On the way I spotted this. I have seem mole hills all over but nothing like this. The only explanation can be that this mole be heavily influenced by the loony tunes as this was some old school acme burrowing which lead to some nice fresh mole hills that I bagged for later use in conjunction with my worms.

It was a real 'get out and get some done' before the sun grew too bright to be fishing such clear water. This reverse session went exactly as I suspected it might - lots of interest straight away after more chopped worm was deposited.

Again I hadn't been cast out long when a bigger chub crashed the party and tore up the swim.
The new rod performed great in subduing this brute as it dived into every reed bed within reach and every time the rod had enough power to ether stop it or pull it out still on the hook.

Other than this four pound plus chub the only other interest I seemed to get diminished as the sun rose higher in the azure sky. It got to that point where I knew with the gin clear water clarity there was little chance of any more bites so I left my gear amongst the reeds and wandered off to have one last look into the depths. Then I walked away from the river for the off season with a nice fish and a smile on my face to finish it.

My third trip of the weekend could not be more of a opposite to the previous two, for it was my first foray in the seedy world of commercial perching. I knew it would be a shock even though I had timed it specifically to be on a Monday when the thronging hordes were hopefully back at work or at least signing on.

Even with the chosen lake as quiet as it was, I did get the distinct feeling I had swapped Crabtree for NASCAR. But there is a reason way I was here. Last year along with Andy I targeted a prolific section of canal where I personally bagged no less than twenty four perch over 2lb. Only problem was that my best was 2.8lb and for all the hours and money I put in driving the long miles to the canal I felt that I could  have probably done better going over to the dark side where three pound fish seem to have become very common, living neglected as the apex predator in the world of pellets and sweetcorn.

Only the day before I had heard along the grapevine that this small lake had no less than seventeen bivvies round it and all the residents having two rods nailed tight to one of two islands. Today however there was only me, Keith, and one hardcore carp angler leftover from the day before. So I opted to fish my third of the lake in quiet area under the breeze where I'd seen a few silvers topping.

It was not a good choice as for all my worms and effort I only had two slimy skimmers to my name as lunch approached. So I made the decision to move to the exact opposite swim right at the end of the lake where the wind was blowing and the scum was collecting.

I had been thinking that sooner or later my liberal depositing of chopped worm would attract the unwanted attention of one the many carp in the lake. And I was right as first cast in the new swim my float slid away and I struck into a solid lump which turned out to be foul hooked after my hook retuned with a few scales threaded onto it.

A few casts later  I hooked one for real and the new rod with it's Avon top performed beautifully subduing a nice looking common of 11lb in a very sporting manner. Even though I was pleased with the performance of the rod I did not look too impressed when it came to the piccy.

The day had been perfect in my opinion for the perch to feed and Keith had dug in and landed a few small ones for his efforts. I on the other hand thought I had missed my chance when the sun finally burnt of the hazy clouds and the sun illuminated the water.
Luckily for me me I noticed one of the few bits of fauna on the lake was casting a shadow over the water and intersected my baited area. If you're not catching, a change in any way can bring a bite even if it goes against all hard rules of fishing law. So with that in mind I drew my worm bait towards the shadow one turn of the reel handle at a time which pulled the worm off the bottom before it sank slowly. Once it got to close in I recast it and repeated the same process again.
On my forth go the float got just to the shadow before the it bobbed nervously then slid away. This time the fish felt the right size and then I saw that stripy flank and my blood began pumping. Of  all the fish bar the zander, big perch get me nervous when I am playing them. Bony mouths and erratic fights are a recipe for loss so undeniably I rushed this one to the net.

It wasn't three three I wanted or the four that I dreamed of, but at 2.10lb it was bigger than anything I caught on the cut last year and also validated my change of venue type on my very first outing.
I did stick around for another hour or so and did get a few more shy perchish bite but nothing came of them. 

But now I have seen for myself what is on offer on these pike and zander free waters where perch grow big at the top of the food chain I find myself thinking where else might hold an as yet uncaught monster...

Oh and as for the new rod... What can I say? Not only did it look good but it performed in every situation in which I put it. Yoking spring chub from dead reed beds, taming savage carp runs and being forgiving enough to land my first decent commercial perch. 
So the only thing left to say are that if you are considering a new quiver /avon I highly recommend the Masterline Rovex John Wilson Avon quiver deulux as it actually does everthing it says it does and probably a bit more too.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

A case of the runs.

Ever had the feeling that you are on a run? You know, it's that time when you everything you do is right. You could cast a bait into a puddle on the pavement outside your house and land a twenty pound carp or just generally turn up to any old lake and bang a monster first chuck.
Now although what I caught last week were no record breakers they did give me the feeling that I was a member of the golden rod club. Paradoxically this weekend I have landed back in reality where my golden rod is snapped, I am soaked, my back hurts and the Avon once again falls into the shite and barren category.
I know, as we all do, that highs and lows are integral to stimulate passion. for if you do not have one or the other you automatically become apathetic about what you do. But honestly, to fall so far in one foul drop has been a smack in the face and worst of all it has come from my beloved Avon. And after I have been faithful to the last this past winter.

Like many my mind has been filled with the romantic notion that I to could chance a chubby barb before the bell rings time on the season in not much more than a weeks time.
My first step into the blank void it was nothing more than a bird-like reaction to spring. The weather had warmed us all to the point of breaking into song and the seemingly stable double figure temps proved too much temptation, resulting in me charging off into the sunset to angle after lovely golden barbel. When I left the car the handy thermometer highlighted in green told me the temperature was a balmy 12c. When I returned less than three hours later it said 2c. In between twelve and two degrees I sat in the dark and stared vacantly at two tip lights for no apparent reason. I did worry a little when the normal buzz of activity of rolling fish never happened at dusk. I dismissed it as nothing, though thinking back, that was probably a good indicator.
Every time I have caught here, there has always been a rise of some kind. Maybe I would have stood a better chance a day or two earlier as I get the distinct feeling I was late of the mark hitting that mild spell.

My second trip was ill founded from the start and again the Avon slapped me as a result. This session carried a hundred memories of fishing in my childhood. Freezing cold, water running down my back as damp maggots escaped my bait box. All the crappy suffering that make up the cliché's of our sport rolled into one stamina sapping session. It rained from the moment I awoke till the moment the last bit of kit was shoved in the car boot and I went home to sulk in the warmth, fishless and f***** off.

But as I have said before these are downs which punctuate the ups. So rightfully I should feel challenged to return with renewed vigour and make one last attempt to woo something special onto my hook before the fat lady breaks into song.

Well we will see next time won't we.