Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ghosts and freaks.

The cooling wind felt heavenly as it whipped along the valley across the pool and straight into my face. Every gust that broke over me helped towards clearing the fuzz from my head that had developed in the four hours preceding dawn where I'd flitted in and out of consciousness. Still though I was only half awake, not that it made much difference as the fish hadn't turned up onto my bait as yet, so I just sat in a trance looking at the float but not looking, if you know what I mean. I was however about to get the waking up I needed to kick start my morning...

My florescent orange tipped pole float did a little pirouette and rose from the water showing it's shoulder a little as if some of the shot had just fallen off the line. Anyone looking would have seen a visibly perplexed twist to my face, but that wasn't really my fault as my brain wasn't totally in gear as yet. In my fuddled state it never occurred to me that the reason my float seemed to be looking like a three year old had shot it was that something big was below lifting it up. Still dazed and confused I watched it move a foot left to right before lifting the pole clumsily straight up. But the only thing that happened was the expensive elastic pulled out in resistance to what I thought was the bottom.

"Ahh F#^*!.......Oh F#^*! it's moving"

Truly I never expect there to be any particularity big fish swimming around in commercial lakes. I know when the owner pitches them to prospective customers there's always a thirty that ain't been caught since it went in, or plenty of twenty's if you can catch them, but  I always take this information with a pinch of salt. Mind you when you're fishing for big perch and not carp anything becomes a bother in light gear and the fish I was attached to was, in my opinion, a little bit on the big side for pole fishing.

There was no heroic playing of an unseen beast on my part; it was more like a hung over giant gnome clinging onto five meters of pole whilst a couple of meters of high-tech hydro elastic did all the work. Mind, the fish wasn't giving it the big one either; it too seemed to be in just as much as a daze as me and just plodded around like a huge wet sack. For a while I wondered if I might have have hooked a galactic record bream of fifty pounds or more, until I saw something in the water which indicated the fish was commonly weird.

It was a bit of a squeeze to force it into my net but it did just fit. Looking down into the net I was now fully awake, my head was clear but my eyes were struggling to comprehend what was the whitest carp I have ever seen. Turned out the camera couldn't comprehend it either in the early morning light as on every attempt to do a self take using the auto timer my camera went into full metal spastic. I could actually hear the lens focusing in and out unable to decide on where to stop. After a few attempts the fish was not having any of it, and after ending up with an upside down white ghost koi slapping me in the face I wanted no more of it either. This was the best of a bad bunch but it certainly gets across exactly how white this weirdo was.

I should have know there and then as I slipped back that double figure ghost that it was going to be one of those days where the perch wouldn't get a look in, and why shouldn't it have been one either? The previous weeks drop in temperature had been reversed and even with that bit of wind it was hovering into mid teens even early in the morning. This was probably a day when I should have gone barbel fishing, but honestly right now I don't feel inclined that way. So here I was, sitting on the edge of a lake capable of producing huge nets of carp, trying to catch big perch in conditions when every instinct is telling the carp that now is the time to fill up ready for winter. Six roach and few skimmers later I caught myself that most ubiquitous of summer fish, a crucian, and further proved the point.

After that I should have gone home I think. But instead I thought maybe, just maybe, I could buck the trend or fish through the numbers and sort out a monster perch. No, no, no; I was very wrong. Feeding harder just brought the carp on the feed and holding off on the bait after they had mopped up just meant no bites, so I found myself in a difficult place. With only a hour or more left to fish I conceded to just have a good time with the time I had left and took on the guise of a match angler feeding regularly and striking all bites. It paid off and in that last hour I put five more carp on the bank along with a mess of good roach and two small tench. 

The last and final fish of the day was quite nearly as freaky as the first. This would have literally been one of the best looking fish I have ever caught if it wasn't for the bulging set of bug eyes it had. Other than that it was stunning with its complete covering of apple slice mirror scales and rich golden flanks. What this stunner was doing in a man made hole in the ground was anyone's guess. 

I think I would like to see a few more frosts adorning my car before I go rushing back to fish this venue after perch again, as it will be a while before all those freaky carps get the message from mother nature to slow down and rest up till next year.

Friday, 17 October 2014

To drop shot or not to drop shot, that is the question.

The cynical element of my personality grows proportionately larger with age. By that I mean I grow ever more suspicious of those who pedal shiny things in relation to those who are attracted to and purchase shiny things. I may not be making myself totally clear here so some clarification or specifics may well be in order.

This autumn/winter/spring I fancy having me a proper big perch campaign once again, with the aim of a new PB as the ultimate target. As always, this will entail catching copious amounts of perch of all sizes in order to sort out some top of the pyramid type beasts. I have been mulling and planning this for a while and in doing so have concluded that refining my methods and adding new ones  might be in order. The refining I will get to as time goes by but it's the new methods, or method, I am alluding to now; as I already float fish and ledger for perch this really only leaves lure fishing as the "legal" and "sporting" method to add to my armory and to help attain my target.

Those of you who may read of my earlier exploits with lures will already be aware that I am a sucker for a bright shiny lure and although I have dabbled before with them I have never felt truly comfortable slinging plastic at my quarry, largely because I've always felt it to be a little disruptive to fish in conjunction with my more favored and reliable methods. But then the in vogue drop shot method caught my eye and I now have found myself thinking this more subtle form of fakery might be a little more conducive to how I fish. But, and there's always a but, when you're growing cynical with age, how efficient is this method? and are those sneaky chaps at the popular angling rags pulling out their fish eye lenses to snap piccies of little perch with the latest line of CAD designed fish imitations hanging from their mouths in order to placate their wage paying overlords, sorry I mean advertisers, or does this method really sort out some big billies?

So, recently I obtained a reasonably priced but fairly high quality rod which I matched up with a two thousand size reel filled with light braid, to try my hand at drop shotting. I have always thought there was a lot more to lure fishing than just chucking out a lure retrieving it and hoping something is stupid enough to hit it. Hence the last few weeks I have whenever possible been throwing various bits of rubber into any-where I can and success or not I really feel doing so has taught me a lot  more about lure fishing. But! And there's that but again, even though I can, hand on heart, say I really enjoy strolling around the world shooting lures here there and everywhere, I still remain unconvinced of the true efficiency of this method compared to bait fishing and that's what I am hoping to try a discover a bit more about over the next few months.

I had two opportunities for sessions this past weekend and with my previous statement in mind the thought of trying to catch some big perch drove me firstly to a commercial pool that contains some kippers and has been rather obliging to me in the past.

Now, having not visited this venue for a good long time I set out my stall as per normal using float and worm tactics in order to ascertain if the perch were in the mood and that the carp which I was worried were still a little to active might be slowing down. The bites came on line very quickly after I'd baited up and after landing a string of rudd, roach and skimmers I finally struck into a big and much more determined fish. Happily it turned out to be what I was after; having not visited this lake for the whole summer it was good to see a nice but lean two pounder in the bottom of my net which confirmed this was still going to be a viable venue for this campaign.

More feed went in straight after that fish which in turn attracted more silver fish. I actually tracked the approach of a carp as it came bumbling through the swim truffling up the bottom sending up puffs of silt. Being a bit cheeky I tried to avoid it by removing my hook bait from the water and hoping it might move on, but that was in vain. I watched sipping a cup of tea, as the carp single handily mopped up all of my expensive chopped worm. Then when I thought it was gone I baited up and the bubbling started all over again. I had no choice but to try and fish it out of the swim, which took all of about a minute to initiate and ten minutes to end on the light gear I was fishing.

With the nuisance carp relocated a few pegs away I topped up and resumed trying to pick perch from the shoals of hungry silvers determined to peck my hook baits to pieces. I did eventually hook into another hard fighting perch which after really having a go found its way into the net. Although certainly related to the first this one was in slightly better condition which was reflected by it having six ounces on the first. 

I was over the moon with the performance of this little pool. The fishing went just as I suspected it might, with the perch beginning to get on the feed and the carp slowing down. Given that in just over four hours I picked out a couple of nice fish I think it bodes well for more sessions on here as the temperatures drop and hopefully I can find that bigger fish I know lives in this pool.

The next day I took a trip to the canal that has in the past has been so good to me. Now in all honesty I feel this sacred bit of navi dug water way has been a bit off colour of late fishing wise. Whether it's the change in seasons or some seasonal glut available that is keeping the perch catches low I couldn't say. Something that is for certain is the bloom of small zander on this bit of canal is unreal with the savage little blighter's turning up a lot more regularly that the perch I am after.

Even knowing the seeming state of affairs I found myself walking the tow path in the half light and setting up on a quite mist shrouded bend in the canal. Turned out I was exactly right and the bites were hard to come by. Annoyingly when I did get a little spell of action I bumped off three perch on the trot. Two of them weren't much to write home about but one was infuriatingly a definite mid two.

After scratching out a couple more small ones I made the decision to up sticks and try a second spot that has in the past been quite productive. In this area I was at least I was getting bites even if they were from the wrong fish. A small shoal of tiny fingerling sized zander turned up attracted by the free offerings and would not leave my bait alone. I was catching them at a ratio of three bites to one zed until a bigger perch stormed in and seemingly sent them packing. After the perch though it went dead as door nail until I had a very fast bite. Finally I thought I was hooked up to a good sized perch and after knocking those few off I took things very carefully. Then the fish rolled on the top and my hopes of a big Sargent were dashed. It looked like one of the big hybrids that I've caught in this area before so I turned up the pressure to get the damn thing in the net.

It was as it lay in the net and I lifted it towards me that I realized how rash I'd been. The sun caught its fins and I knew this was no roach bream hybrid at all. Two inches thick, well over a foot long, with massive silvery white scales and orange red fins it looked to be a massive roach.

I don't mind admitting that I did get Jeff to have a look at the photos before I would fully let myself believe it was what I hoped it was, but after multiple checks counts and comparisons he confirmed that yes, it was defiantly a big roach. Beyond that happy bit of information the only pill in this catch was the weight. On my digital scales in the lightest of carrier bags the display flickered back and forth between 1.15 and 2lb refusing to settle on that most magic of numbers. At best all I can figure is that with my scales not showing drams this fish was within a maggot's weight of being a very special fish indeed.

Drops shotting!!!

You may of noticed that even though the title of this post is in direct relation to the afore mentioned method I have not written a single word about partaking of this endeavor in this blog, This is not because I didn't do it, because I did and I did it quite a lot as well. In fact on the commercial I actually spent well over two hours searching out plenty of free water that has been very productive in the past. And on the canal I spent most my time alternating between a float road and a drop shot rod. But on both venues the result was exactly the same! On waters with loads of big perch and one stuffed with zander I failed to raise a single hit! Now I know that this method works on at least one of the venues as I have caught and seen others catch both perch and zander. But the result of this little experiment already has me leaning to what I kind of thought, and that is that although fun and en vogue right now lure fishing, or more specifically drop shotting, seems to not be as efficient as good old fashioned bait fishing.

I won't however be removing my drop shot rod from my quiver right away. Like all methods I think it will have its day and in the right circumstance I might well out fish the float or ledger. But right now I suspect those days when it works might well be when fishing a gin clear venue when you can't buy a bite on bait for love nor money, and that's when I feel sure I can have some real fun whilst getting the most out of this method.