Friday, 26 May 2017

Ryton's on the change.

I read somewhere once that lakes go through cycles in relation to the dominant species within. It said that lakes are either dominated by bream or tench and that even if both are present it is normally a case that there will be one species that is dominant with the other only present in small numbers. At the time of reading this I never thought that much about it, but now thinking back and applying this theory to some of the lakes I fish, it makes sense. My old adversary Coombe pool was in the past renowned for being a bream Mecca, and although there is still a giant shoal of bream swimming round in it, there is no doubt that the bream numbers are dropping and more tench seem to be showing up. Napton reservoir in all its bleak resplendence is predominantly a tench water with apparently a handful of big bream. Personally I think the dominance of a species in an environment is simply down to environmental factors and who they benefit, and my belief was further reinforced when the other week I returned to a favourite lake of mine, Ryton pool. Ryton has changed a lot since I began fishing years ago. I remember the first year I fished it when the water was gin clear and the weed grew so much that by midsummer I reckon with a spot of luck and light feet you could have run across the top of it. Others years after that there was differing amounts of weeds and clarity but one thing remained the same; tench were what you caught and bream were just rumors. Fast forward ten or so years and I once again stared into the water exactly where I did when I first came to this lake and one difference was that I quite simply could not see the bottom as I could on that first visit. Over the years this sandpit lake has become more and more coloured during the warmer months and possibly as a result things might be changing.

When I arrived on my first session a while ago the water was coloured but the lake looked pretty much as it had when I last walked away four years ago. The few stages still dotted the woodland bank, people were still feeding the water fowl copious amounts of food from the duck feeding station and the long concrete road bank was still infested with rats all the way down to the very last swim on the side of the road point where I decided to fish.

Much to my amusement I was lectured quite arrogantly by a pair of young carp anglers after I asked how it was fishing. The pair of Noddys must have thought they were auditioning for a role on Thinking Tackle the way they were talking. Everything was casting out tight to this or using that and honestly, they sounded a proper pair of idiots. Worst of all was that I reckon when I first started fishing Ryton one of them might not have been that long out of nappies.

The faces sitting around the pool may have changed since back in the day, but the fishing it seemed hadn't. After pitching up on the end of the concrete I began fishing exactly as I used to, by casting method feeders at range. This tactic always worked well here as the disturbance caused by putting down a bed of bait seemed to put the fish off too long to be of benefit. By roaming the feeders round I always seemed to pick up a fair few fish, then once an area came to life repeated casting usually found more fish.

It didn't take much more than fifteen minutes for the line I had cast onto the plateau in front of the island to scream off. Much to my annoyance this fish snapped the five pound hook link I was using and straight away two new heavier links were tied and cast out baited with 10mm boilies, which proved to be the down fall of a slew of nice tench.

The best of the session was not much over four pounds but still I was very happy to see that the tench were still about in Ryton. Much to my amusement the arrogant young carpers down the bank were being driven crazy by my buzzers going off all afternoon and I wasn't helping the situation by increasing the volume with every fish to make sure they heard the shrill tones. They might not have been carp I was catching, but every time a buzzer sounded I could see their little faces looking over to see what I was reeling in.

What came along next though would herald a change which I think could well be the end of the tenchs domination of Ryton pool. After a single bleep the bobbin dropped back and for Ryton that's unusual. Every tench you catch generally pulls the bobbin up be it gently or violently and when I lifted into the fish I was met with a dead weight. In all the years previously fished on this pool I have caught two bream. The first was a random four pound silver thing and the other was an old bugger that was knobbly, black and blind in both eyes. What rolled into my net was young, a few pounds and just turning from skimmer too bream.

The tench were gone after this fish and no matter where I moved my feeders they seemed to be found by another little bream. Four more homed in on my ground bait topped method feeders and sent my bobbins back as they moved off with the baits.

Where these young bream had come from was a mystery, everyone who fished this pool knows of the shoal of big old bream which rarely got caught and everyone was of the opinion that they were well past breeding age. Turns out that might not be the case and that possibly some bream Viagra might have found its way into Ryton about three years ago from the look of these healthy young buggers.

A few days later I went back to have a second crack at Ryton under the belief that these bream might have just been a freak occurrence, but exactly the same thing happened. Two tench were landed not long after arriving...

Then the rest of the session was dominated by the veracious horde of young bream which quite literally followed my feeders back to my own bank after I began fishing at range and ultimately ended up margin fishing in an attempt to avoid them. 

It is with disappointment in my heart that I say I reckon Ryton is on the change. Yes the tench are still present, but undoubtedly after a couple of sessions it is obvious that there is a hell of a lot of these 2-4lb bream present at this time. Looking at them they look really young and strong, they almost seem pre programmed to eat boilies, which is no suprise as loads get fed into this water. It's a sad time for the tench fishing at Ryton which I used to love so much, as these bream will ultimately have a huge effect on the water and probably push the tench out over time. Although there could be a silver lining to this change! If they can avoid the predators and keep growing as they seem to have, maybe in a few years Ryton might be filled with really big bream which could make for some interesting fishing in the future.

Friday, 19 May 2017

A Jobber's point collecting job.

When I decided to take part in this most recent fishing challenge, I said to myself it was always going to be a case of just doing what I wanted to do and collecting any points that came along as a result of my captures, unlike in previous challenges where I have gone off searching for specific points. My good intentions though lasted all of five minutes, after I decided to go on a point collecting mission and head down to one of my favorite sections of canal to try and catch a few decent examples of a few different species. 

The idea to go a fish the canal using some old school Sensas ground bait while fishing worms over the top had popped out of my brain goo a while ago.  As it's something I rarely do on canals nowadays I wondered what the reaction on this highly populated area might be. So after settling on a favorite fish holding area I plumbed my float up two inches over depth and baited a small area about a foot square with four hard golf ball sized balls of Lake black ground bait, laced with a few broken worms, and threw in one loose ball to break up on the way down. Then while that stewed away sending of waves of scent down the canal with the tow, I got comfortable.

I reckon worms must make up a huge proportion of small zanders diet as I regularly catch them on worm sections and because of that I wasn't surprised to see the first fish that pulled my float under was a sprightly little zander.

The next bite came not even minutes after the float had settled down to only the orange tip. A quick dip indicated the lob tail being sucked in and the float then slid away as something moved out of the swim. My light rod hooped over severely towards the water as I tried to man handle the fish away from my spot to the side of the swim so as not to spook any other still on my bait. It turned out to be a nice big perch. Wanting to weigh the fish I kept it in the net after unhooking it and nonchalantly just threw the bait out into the water. As I was faffing around with my scales I notice the rod nodding down towards the water. After picking it up I was once again playing a powerful fish and moments later a brace of big perch lay side by side in the net ready to be weighed.

I wished I had bought a keep net along as the sport had gone from zero to frantic instantly and I could just saved the weighing of the fish till the end. But having not bought a  keep net I just persevered and the next fish that needed weighing came along immediately after a quartet of pound perch. With no hint of an impending bite my float zipped under, I struck and straight away I knew I was playing a different sort of fish. With a dogged thumping fight I knew it was a roach and as per normal for this area it was a big one of well over a pound in weight

Before messing around trying to photograph the roach I took a moment to top up again and hopefully prime the swim. So two hard golf ball sized balls of ground bait went in followed by a single loose ball help spread the scent. It worked too, as first put in a small bream took the bait, followed by two of it mates up to nearly three pounds.

In little over an hour I had amassed a very nice catch, that any match angler fishing a canal match would have happily swapped this catch for his right nut I know. After the last bream it turned into a perch finale until the sky clouded over. I think my feeding of broken lob worms over the ground bait kept a few lingering around and every so often one would nip in to have a feed. I quickly figured what the perch really liked was taking the worms falling through the water, rather than picking them up of the bottom. Once I'd clocked this I was constantly lifting the bait up and dropping it down. By doing this I kept busy right up until home time catching another twenty or so fish topped off with a very nice near two.

Apart from amassing a weight of fish that would have won a match on pretty much any canal, I easily totted up a few points for the challenge whilst having thoroughly enjoyable evening. I reckon I might do a few more of these point collecting forays through the year, especially in the late summer when these perch should be in prime condition and maybe that bench mark two pound roach might be a little more attainable.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Challenge accepted.

So the sun once again rises on the dawn of a new fishing challenge and this year I am in it. It's been a few years since I was involved in one of these blogger fuelled cannon ball runs to establish bragging rights over a few brethren. When I was asked by George Burton off of Float, Flight and Flannel if I fancied taking part I pondered the history of the challenge for a while before confirming my entry. You see I was one of the original four who pioneered this madcap challenge in its infancy along with Keith Jobling (now full time fitness fanatic and lothario), Jeff Hatt (now an international art forger know as Le Hatt) and Brummie Pete (still lives in Birmingham). Back then the challenge was simpler, rather local and fuelled by beer, oh and every year Keith won because he was the only one of us prepared to commit his entire life to beating everyone into submission. Now though this newer more complex challenge is populated by many more anglers from all over the country and makes the old challenge look a bit like village cricket match, rather than a premiership season which it has become. The top challengers are now younger and even thirstier for success and I suppose from what I have seen watching from the wings these last few years, the challenger to beat, or the Chelsea of this group if you will, is James Dension off of James' Angling Adventures. And I quite fancy joining the pack of old dogs baying at his heels to depose him from the winner's podium.

I was quite excited for the whistle to blow and the challenge to begin as the clock rolled over midnight on the 31st of April. Mind you I had already predicted that on a session the day before I would bag something which would have made a lovely first fish on my score. After choosing a brutal swim on a local reservoir I battled it out for a full three hours throwing maggot feeders cross wind onto a spot I stuck with all morning. Finally after freezing half to death on the back of the wind, my bobbin lifted positivity as my alarm sounded some definite fishy attention. Fishing a heavy rod on windswept water did nothing more than make a dull battle even fuzzier. As I stabbed the net towards the fish I was certain it was a good rudd, turns out it was a great roach of 1.10 which would have been so useful twenty four hours later.

It actually took me twenty six and a half hours to get back to the reservoir and in that time the wind had swung round from an easterly to a north easterly. On arriving I was struggling to find a peg on the bank I wanted as the bank holiday crowds were very much in it for the day. In the end I found a corner peg in the shallows of the water. It was vacant apart from the angler in the next peg who had decided to cast a sleeper carp rod across the swim to some reeds. Stubbornly and with a little griping to his mate he got the hint that I was just going to cast across him if he didn't remove it from what was now my water. Really I had no problem with the situation apart from he was fishing a rod specifically after carp but only had with him one of those small match pan nets, which would have been about as much use as a tea strainer should he have hooked a actual carp.

The fishing on this evening session was more than a bit slow, really I had expected the fish to come on the feed as the day settled down and the sun sank towards the horizon, but it took ages for the residents to get onto the bed of red maggots I had spombed out, or to find the method feeder loaded with pungent groundbait I was casting at any nice looking spots or rolling fish. It was the arrival of the rudd and small perch which signaled the change. A few smaller six ounce rudd and a hand full of perch got the alarms beeping as they moved over the patch of feed, plucking at my maggot hook baits as they did.

Once the action started it soon became almost rhythmical. Fill the feeder, cast onto the clip, sink the line, set the bobbin, wait five minutes then beep beep beep. All was well and good until a tench turned up and kited from one side of the swim to the other on a tight line. After struggling to slowly draw it back and scooping it safely into the net I was unhooking it when the second rod came to life, bending round to the right as a self-hooked fish struggled to rid itself of the rig. I didn't quite get to it in time before the fish was off and I was striking into thin air, but I had one in the net already so I wasn't too disappointed with my fish proper tench of the year, albeit a right rum looking bugger.

With the sun setting the temperature sank further putting an end to an all too brief feeding spell. In the end it wasn't actually too bad of a session to start the challenge with. I'd had to work hard in still awkward conditions but my perseverance had come good with a few nice rudd up to 10oz, load of well marked perch and one really rough tench which all add up to a few points on the board. 

I feel this new challenge will serve to motivate me to doing a few things I haven't done for a while and certainly get me going after some species I have neglected the last few years, and you never know with a bit of luck to go with this motivation maybe, just maybe I can keep up with the favourites before until the sun sets on this challenge.