Thursday, 29 September 2016

Toddler holiday fishing.

Before I became a parent I stupidly thought that having a baby would be the most demanding aspect of parenthood. Well that was until that helpless little gurgling bundle of joy turned into a toddler. Jesus shit Christ how naive was I!!! Since mobility has been achieved I quickly realized babies are piss easy when they're just lying around and staring. Toddlers on the other hand still have the same needs as babies but with the added fear and danger that comes from them exploring the lethal world we live in with overkeen abandon; it sends shivers down my spine just writing it. Literally just a week ago, BB learnt that the world was not two dimensional and is in fact three dimensional and in the spark of a thought everything over twelve inches high suddenly became as dangerous as a nitroglycerine filled jack in the box.

The reason I write this is because when BB learnt this wondrous new climbing ability we were on our first ever toddler holiday. From the moment we arrived at our destination, literally within spitting distance of the sea, it became quickly evident that our excited toddler was going to need even more looking after in his new jungle gym caravan environment than he would in the confines of our baby proofed home. This in mind it dawned on me quickly that what for many years had been holidays where myself and JB had just relaxed, done what we want when we wanted, were now all about BB and my selfish desire to fulfill my fishing needs were going to be taking the quiet back seat of a family man..

Knowing I'd be within a very short walk of water I had however packed a rod, a few rigs, breakaway leads and acquired a small amount of bait so as to seize any time I could on the beach. The first opportunity came the day after arriving when after feeding young BB, I shot off for a few hours on the beach. The sea was almost dormant, which was perfect as I'd only brought a 3.5lb test curve Chub outcast carp rod along to use. A two hook wire boomed rig was generously baited with vicious rag worm and cast out towards the misty horizon.

Late summer can be a funny fishing time in land, but on the sea I reckon it's worse. The summer species are thinking about drifting out to deeper water and the winter species haven't yet arrived. The only thing that seemed to be on the feed was the ever present horde of shore crabs which were quickly finding my baited hooks and devouring the expensive bait that adorned them. Straight away I knew this was not going to be a bagging holiday and that it was going to taking some serious working out to be able to get on the fish.

The morning sessions weren't working out at all from the off. With my friendly little alarm clock waking up at 5.45am most mornings and quickly taking over our time it just didn't seem right to leave JB alone to bear the brunt of a fourteen month olds onslaught, so any fishing soon became an after dinner affair with me slipping off at dusk to fish into the dark on the eerie east coast moonlit beach.

First trip out it seemed a different world to the arid fishless days. Yes, the crabs were still feeding hard, but in between the crab knocks on the rod tips came a few hard twangs which set the night light lit tip of my rod dancing. At first I'd forgotten that you have to let bites develop when beach fishing and after a few fruitless strikes I finally began catching a few smooth hound pups in between the crabs stripping my hooks clean.

The next couple of short evening sessions were much the same, with me sneaking away as the little one went to bed and fishing into dark for little more reward than a pup here and there. Although enjoyable being on the beach in the dark, my head light had given up the ghost on the first night and I repeatedly forgot to obtain more batteries which left me fishing by the light of the moon. If trying to thread nippy king rag on a hook in the dark isn't hard enough, try untangling angry crabs from tangle prone rigs in silhouette against the moon for fun.

A change in the weather came just before we left, when for the first time in five days I looked out the caravan window and it wasn't wall to wall blue sky. Luckily I'd had the foresight to refresh my bait after the local weather had predicted overcast conditions. Fresh bait in the bag and rod in hand, I did my duties and nipped off for a few hours. The sea was a bit more active with an off shore wind and my makeshift beach rod was only just coping with the added tide and waves. But scaling up just a bit in lead weight I was able to target a sandy bank I'd found a few days before when the sea was clearer.

Really, the fish I had been hoping to catch in this area were the sole that are reputed to reside in the area and although they are predominately a night feeding species from what I've heard the overcast sky could mean they might have a feed in daylight. The crabs seemed to be a bit less active in the more turbulent water and when I got a couple of sharp jags on the rod tip I was keen to reel in what had found my bait. There was definitely a fish on the hook as I could feel it occasionally thump on the way in and when I saw a flash of white in the surf I thought I may have caught a small flat fish like a dab. As the rig came out of the surf I watched something small flipping on the shingle and I was about to swing what I now suspected was a tiny whiting to hand, but aborted grabbing it at the last minute as I realized its real identity.

Trust me to catch the one poisonous species of fish which swim in our seas! If you hadn't already identified it, the culprit was a weaver fish which can, if grabbed or stood on, inflict a very painful sting from the small spiny dorsal fin on its back. These nasty little monsters linger buried in the sand waiting for prey to pass by whereupon they shoot out and snatch it in it wide opening teeth lined mouth. Apparently the sting is very painful and can be so for up to two weeks.

My hopes of finishing in a flourish of flatties never came to fruit. In fact the only other fish that took the bait was a second smaller weaver fish which, same as the first, I unhooked using a set of forceps and was taken back to the sea by the waves. That was it for my holiday fishing on this occasion and although I know from this adventure that my holiday fishing might be taking a bit of a back seat I can't help looking forward to a few years time when I might have a little partner in crime along for some holiday fishing fun.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Back from injury yet again.

"Go easy! We've got all day", she said as I stood two feet below ground level with a large Japanese maple draped around me, in the hole where our nature pond used to be. But as I am a man and we're not known for heeding our other halves warnings I carried on like a man possessed. And possessed I was at reclaiming the hundred pound or more of pea gravel that I'd used as a leveling agent under the hard plastic pond years ago. I'd tried a shovel and a spade but neither seemed to be making a dent in the ever shifting gravel, the only thing that seemed to be making an impact was a terracotta plant pot as big as my head. On my knees sweating like a pig in barbecue season, I repeatedly scooped up pots full of gravel and tossed it up onto the ground around the pond. Bar being filthy and sweaty all was well until one particularly awkward twist prompted an almost audible twang accompanied by a dull stabbing pain in the right side of my lower back.

That was two weeks ago when I had specifically booked some time off work to clear my vegetable patch which has languished terribly since BB's arrival. We'd even sent the little fellow off for a day with the grandparents so as be free of the hindrance of childcare, and there I was two hours in with a developing back pain, starting to do the old Charlie Chaplin walk.

Not only did that end the gardening but it also shot down three shorts sessions I had been planning in my head. The kit and caboodle came out to nurse the strained back, but still it's taken well over a week to get back to anywhere near close to being able to get out fishing again.

I didn't think sitting on the old chair for a session would be beneficial for my first time out so I grabbed the crazy cranker and shot over to Napton for a lure session, hoping the perch might be on the feed as they have proved to be in the past in late summer. With all the perch that I've caught in Napton bait fishing, I have a suspicion that somewhere in those moody depths hides some real monsters. So I went at it with a range of small to medium sized lures to try and sort out something bigger if that was possible.

Over the last two years I have lure fished Napton a fair bit, and on every single trip it has been a case of feast or famine. I reckon it's just one of those waters where the fish are either on or off. I chatted to a few anglers just generally fishing before I started to see how the day was going and all bar one were struggling to get bites from any species. After hearing the fish seemed off the feed I quickly nipped back to the car to pick up a couple of extras boxes of lures I bought along just in case, and boy was I glad I did!

The perch were not in the mood to attack what so ever and after covering the smaller half of the water I put away the small soft baits which I'd been working slowly along the bottom. Out game the shallow running hard baits and surface baits to try and lure any waiting pike in the shallows to attack. Not long after I began casting a shallow running Yozuri lure along the reeds I watched and undeceive pike of maybe five pounds follow it all the way to the bank before thinking better of attacking. A few casts later a tiny jack pike shot out from the edge not five feet from where I was standing the bank and smashed the lure without even a moments consideration.

It was undoubtedly going to be a hard session but the fact I'd had one follow and one fish kept me going with the knowledge that it was a case of covering water to find pike rather than perch. The only problem was that the pike did seem to be holding in the shallow water, which on Napton is largely inaccessible. This in mind I headed down to the weedy shallow end at the head of the lake which most anglers avoid.

With the wind coming off my back I began casting slow sinking Sizmic toads tight against the reeds and reeling them quickly back just under the water but above the weed. Straight away another small pike slashed after the lure twice before disappearing. A lot of casting later I found a second fish which bow waved after the lure making me think it was a better fish before it hit the lure and turned into a second tiny jack.

After covering the whole shallow area at the top the lake and not finding any more fish I moved round working different diving hard baits trying to locate fish. Although I had no more takers I did spot a very large carp drifting over the weed with seemingly not a care in the world. The last modicum of action came when yet another small jack shot out from the nearside reeds after my little plug only to stop a foot off the lure with a look in its eye like it had just clocked the rouse.

In the past I might of said it was a bit of a disappointing session, but since I've been lure fishing I've figured that expectations are different from when bait fishing. Strikes and follows are seemingly as much as a prize as catching the fish in some cases, and when you can get one chasing the lure just under the water that I find is just as exciting as watching float lift up amongst a fizz of tench bubbles. My session in fact was made by that tiny jack snaffling the toad lure after following it for at least twenty feet before smashing so hard it sent the lure right up the trace over the clip and swivel. So even as hard a Napton has proved to be in the past I know I will be back in the future and maybe the perch might be a bit more obliging then.