Thursday, 27 February 2014

A painfully funny catch.

I was joined by Andy for my final foray to my new perch pool and I was beginning to rue the day I had waxed so lyrical about what I thought was the potential of this place. The biggest perch we had seen was barely longer than my little finger and I hadn't even caught it either. Things weren't going well with the warm spring-like sun beating down on the water. I had nearly diverted this session to the now well-conditioned river but after spending hard earned money on bait I wasn't about to waste any of it.

So far, since arriving and feeding generously I'd had not much more than a few small rudd and two dog eared hybrids to show for my efforts. The whole thing was made worse by the constant attentions of the small roach that although very interested in my half worm hook baits that were far too small to actually eat it and thus my float danced incessantly with the nibbles from hungry little mouths.
The last cup worth of tea was cooling in the flask and not wanting to waste that I reached behind my seat for the container. After draining the last of the warm sweet tea into my enamel cup I sat back, enjoying the hint of warmth that radiated through the metal cup. With only a single swig left I put the cup down on my bag. Just as I turned my head back in the direction of the water I caught sight of my float as it slipped away. Perhaps it was panic at the sight of a proper bite that did it but I jerked into action repositioning my feet as I struck. The instant I moved my right thigh, or more specifically hamstring, went into an instant spasming cramp. Anyone who ever gets these savage cramps anywhere in their body has my greatest sympathy, I can assure you. I have had plenty of these almost debilitating cramps at various times over the years, but never one whilst I was playing a fish. The only thing I could do was stretch out my leg straight and squeal loudly like a great big pansy. Oh and yes the lake which was on the last two occasions deserted was on this occasion quite well populated on this day figure that. After only moments of trying to ease the cramp my tense body cursed me once again with a second cramp in, if I am correct, what is referred to as the external oblique or possibly the transverse abdominis. Now I was literally lying prone across my seat rigid like a board squealing like a stuck pig and half laughing while trying to hold my rod in the air and play the first decent perch of the day.
Luckily though Andy was there to help and did the decent thing and sat giggling like a twelve year old girl in Justin Beiber's presence. Honestly in the end he could barely get up he was laughing that much as I writhed around playing the fish, truly embarrassing myself. Somehow and somewhere my hand found my net and stabbed it under the perch just as Mr Lewis arrived to help. Even more to his amusement with the fish now landed I went about performing a strange rain/cramp dance were I hobbled around in the sloppy mud trying my best to elevate my pain whilst swearing loudly for all to hear.
It turned out to be a real doozey and literally after ten minutes I still hadn't shifted it. I had no choice but to bite the bullet and power through the pain to sort out the perch. The damn cramp wouldn't let me even bend my leg to kneel on the floor and every time I did the pain shot through my leg. With little choice I just unhooked the perch quickly weighed it at spot on two pounds before grabbing a mat shot then releasing away from my peg.

It had been a while since I had cramp that painful and it left me looking a little more than pitiful hobbling up and down the bank for the next half an hour sliding all over the shop in the mud, trying rid myself of the echos of that painfully hilarious cramp.

Friday, 21 February 2014

A surprising new water.

I have used up most of my back up waters by this point and like everyone still stalwart enough to continue through this infernal wet winter, I feel like I am fishing the same waters again and again. It is this that has pushed me on to venture forth to pastures new, where I don't risk repeat captures. Needing a new spot to angle upon I made a list of waters that fitted the bill. All were to be commercial and far away from rivers, but the size and age had to be just right for me. Honestly I felt goldilocks skimming the list uttering things like 'too big, too small and too young'. As I compared the information, one stuck out to me as 'just right' and in doing so warranted more research. How in god's name this place passed me by I do not know but thinking about it now, it seems a glaringly obvious big perch venue and I feel rather dim for passing it by for so long!
With a target in my sights I went into research mode on the internet and after going through a hundred possible searches and a similar amount of key words, I finally found snippets of information hidden away in some match reports; turned out this particular venue came into its own once the lakes carp population became a little more dormant. With this in mind I conferred with a couple of match angling chappies I know who both confirmed the presence of what I sought. They even tipped me off on areas that produced them and what baits they had caught them on before so I was well set for a visit over the weekend.
Normally this place is a no-go area at the weekends as matches dominate and non-competitive anglers are hissed at as they pass by stepping over amusingly named poles. But luckily for me no matches were booked and the banks were deserted. Now I have fished a fair few commercials in my endeavour to catch big perch but this one takes the first prize for most commercial commercial. The banks are so well trodden that somewhere in the twenty feet gaps between pegs I wouldn't of been at all surprised to see a bunch of WW1 soldiers exiting a trench. Honestly this place is so well worn that I feel sure Chris Yates would instantly bend double, stomach cramping, and vomit into his cap should he find himself here. But for me it did have a certain deserted or abandoned post-apocalyptic feel to it with no match anglers around, and I kind of liked it. It was like I was the last angler alive after the world had crumbled and I was after any wild fish that still remained in this god forsaken pool.
And wild fish I think is an important way to refer to the perch I was after. You see that carp rule in this place and the perch are neglected as they don't eat corn or pellets and certainly don't often get caught fishing a shot gun feeder fished within millimetres of the opposite bank. These fish roam free, the top predator in a world on heavenly pressured pigeon mouthed carp, only getting caught when times are so hard for the common garden carp bagger that they turn towards silver fish as a route to that ever important brown envelope full of cash. For me this is like a perverted form of heaven. Although they undeniably get caught the fish that reside in this pool I hoped would be maybe green and hopefully forthcoming and I couldn't wait to get after them.
Three casts and fifteen minutes was all it took... I walked the bank once picked out two swims out of the hundreds, which was actually quite hard as I was surprised by the volume of features on this commercial. I baited sparingly and built up the swim with a very match angler like rhythm of feeding. Then bam float slides away and seconds later a big stripy flank rolls on the surface and in the net went my first nice perch.

2.12 was a very good start as far as I was concerned. But then how amazed was I when half an hour later another one took my bait. This one only scraped two pounds but still two twos in under an hour seemed good going for a first shot at a new venue and it didn't stop there.
After catching some small but very stocky sub pound fish that I knew had a very good set of genetics on them I landed another good fish of 2.6lb.

Time was flying by with the capture of a bunch of immaculate perch and my constant feeding and the rewards at that moment seemed amazing. Sometimes on commercials I have found myself fishing for a single bite from the right species in a plethora of bites from the wrong species. Today however they were crawling up the line. I feel I must say at this point that I had in fact landed several largish roach and skimmer as well as the perch, so it wasn't all perch purity.
I finished up landing two more fish over two pounds before time got the better of me and I had to make tracks. But this new lake had dug its hooks into me and having seen what it had to offer I couldn't wait to come back and see if it held what I suspected it could.
It was a week before I could return what with the weather and work. There was no messing round this time looking for spots so I headed straight back to the scene of the last good session. With my float still set at depth from before it was just a case of kicking starting the swim with a little feed then casting out. I stuck to the previous baiting pattern and after the initial feed I kept a constant stream of small amount of baits trickling in. This I think is more to attract the silver fish rather than the perch, which in turn attract the perch to their activity.
Now although I didn't catch anywhere as near as many fish in the second session I did catch three more fish just over two pounds. In doing so a small bit of paranoia crept into my mind, 'were there any repeaters?' Though I did no trophy shots of this second trio, I did take some net shots. Looking back the fish were worryingly similar, even having the same pattern of stripes, but by comparing similar shots differences began to appear, as the next two photos show.

Ignoring the different light levels both look very similar, but it's the fins that differentiate them. The bottom fish has a split in its tail and a tiny spot at the front of its anal fin, whereas the top fish has straight white bar down the front of its anal fin. The first fish also has some pitted markings just above its mouth. Apart from these incidental differences the fish it seems are the same shape, especially with their small heads and distinct hump just behind the head, as did all the other fish I caught. I checked as best I could and am convinced that in fact all eight decent fish are different fish. Furthermore after comparing them all it is obvious they are all closely related. The weights are so close that I would go as far as to say they could well be the same year class.

Honestly I am really pleased with this new pool and the results that have come in two very short sessions. Given the numbers of willing perch patrolling this pool and their good average size this pool might have an amazing future ahead of it! And it leaves me with a serious target... their mother.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Fish eye #3 Small zander

A small zander from a turbid winter canal.
I had originally said I intended to hold off on writing anything in these fish eye posts, but straight away I find myself unable to keep to my own rules and it's all this little zander's fault!

What can I say apart from I was really surprised by this picture. So often already when out on the bank I struggle to obtain the right angle of light in order to illuminate the fishes eye sufficiently so a macro shot can be taken. Then when I download the plethora of pictures I have taken and begin searching through them all I find one solitary gem where the light and camera have worked perfectly together to reveal something I never knew.

The zander, of all the fish I wanted to photograph, I suspected would have probably the most boring of eyes. Turns out that if you catch them in right light they are not as dull as I have always assumed. Both the eye and the paler areas of skin of the zander seem to have an almost iridescent hue in bright sunlight, which in low light or darkness would probably never appear. Given that the two aforementioned conditions are the time most associated with zander captures might be a clue as to why I for one had never noticed it before. The one last thing feel I must mention about this picture that intrigues me is the light flecks that can been seen on right hand side of the iris. Oddly though I think it is just simply minute particles of god only knows what on the clear outer eye, but I suspect that the reason they are only visible on one side of the iris that they are actually being illuminated from behind by light reflecting off the tapetum layer at the back of the eye, much as a cats eye reflects your cars headlights at night.