Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Review of the year

With 2009 drawing to a close I thought I would do a round up of some of my favourite catches of the year.

'Ryton Carp' this blog was initially going to be an online diary of my Carp catches at Ryton Pool but you never know where fishing will take you next, different species, different waters and different styles of fishing not suited to Ryton have all seen me drift away from the place and return, I always keep an eye on what's happening there and as soon as the ice melts I'll be back on the lake fishing for the Pike but with one eye on the water looking for any early signs of Carpy activity. My first post was back in March this year, I'd just had one of those really good days at Ryton, (Rare, but they do happen!) it was a surprisingly warm day for the time of year considering we'd had a very cold winter and I managed to bag four good Carp as well as five Tench. The biggest Carp of the day was a Common of 22lb, this was to be my biggest Carp from Ryton Pool this year.

There have been rumours of a big Carp being caught at Ryton this year and from the descriptions I've heard, short and round like a beach ball, I believe it to be 'Melissa' the Common Carp I caught a couple of years ago when she was 27lb 13ozs, she now weighs in at 32lb! One to go for next year!!

'Melissa' at 27lb 13oz back in 2007

Carp on the fly.
I spent a lot of time at Jubilee Pools this year pursuing the Carp with fly tackle, something I'm not able to do at Ryton because of the lack of space for a cast. I find catching Carp on the fly as a really exciting branch of the sport and would highly recommend giving it a go if you have some old fly tackle at home. I get a lot of satisfaction from making the biscuit shaped flies and then see a Carp take one off the surface, the scrap you get even from the smaller fish is something else, the bigger fish, wow!!.

I lost count of how many Carp I caught on the fly this year but the largest was a Mirror of 15lb 12 oz, a real pretty fish.

Sea Fishing. On my Holidays this year in Devon and North Wales, the rods were taken and fish were caught but the weather did have an affect on the sport. At Westward Ho!, the change in wind direction made it unsafe to fish the nearby rock marks so a trip up the local estuary helped me find some small Bass. After a few days I got back onto the rock marks and caught some more Dogfish, I'd heard of a few Smoothhounds coming out from these marks but I wasn't able to gather enough of the correct bait, peeler crab, to catch any. I'm at the same place next summer so fingers crossed this time for a Smoothy.
North Wales was my annual camping jolly to Shell Island with more small Bass and Flounders. I've caught Bass to 6lb here on previous holidays but not this year, the one plus point about this years trip was that I caught my first ever Bass on a fly which was magic. I'm tying some new saltwater flies ready for next years trip, I hope the Bass like them!

Zander. I'd seen Zander being caught but never realised they were as prolific as they are in the canal and river systems in the midlands area. I caught my first Zed in the autumn of this year after being introduced to a stretch of canal that holds a good population, it's after fishing this stretch that I decided to try and catch a Zed from the local canal in Coventry this was the start of my 'Quest for an urban Zed' series of posts, most of these Zander were not monsters and only weighed a few pounds but I did get one very lucky catch of a fish weighing 9lb 11oz, caught on one of my first trips fishing into darkness for these predators.

Winter. The colder weather has either seen me at Ryton Pike fishing or on the Avon chasing Chub. The Pike have been very shy on deadbaits and I have done much better with spinning tactics on previous years but all these fish have been the smaller jacks and not any of the lakes larger ladies. I have had been told that the best time for them is at the beginning of the year so fingers crossed for a new PB Pike in 2010.
When Ryton and the canals have been frozen solid I've spent some time on a stretch of river I've not been to for a few years, the Avon at Coventry and it has produced some rather nice Chub over the past week when most places weren't fishable. I know there are good Chub in this stretch to over 5lb so fingers crossed for some better fish from this stretch of river for next year.

To all the anglers who have casually stumbled across these pages or who subscribe to my blog, may I wish you all the best for the new year and tight lines for 2010.

The luck of the Fly

Today was going to be another day on the river at Barford with Barry, our last trip to Barford just happened to be on a match day, usually a Saturday, which spoilt our choice of pegs so with today being a Wednesday we thought we would have had the river to ourselves. We called in at Baileys in Warwick to purchase my ticket for the day and luckily/unluckily we found out there was a match on today, mid week. I'd prepared myself for a day of Barbel and Chub fishing but also brought a few frozen Roach to have a go for the Zander, the plans were now out of the window. Barry suggested a few places and we settled on the pound at Kingswood Junction, Lapworth, he'd heard of a good Pike coming out of there recently through a hole in the ice so it was worth a go. I've not fished there before so anywhere new is worth having a look at and on arrival it looked promising, the canal was free of ice along that section and the pound was clear up the centre. I was not prepared for Pike fishing having only my Avon rods with me but I put a small Roach on each rod and out they went.
After about ten minutes one of the yellow washing up liquid bottle top indicators on Barry's rod rose slowly and the line tightening as a Pike made off with his Sardine, after a short scrap a nice jack of around eight pound lay nicely lip hooked in the bottom of the net, it looked to be a good start.

A few hours later and after a move around to the mouth of the pound the only thing that touched my bait was a gull that grabbed one of my Roach when I cast it out, nothing else sniffed at our baits, so, with the wind getting colder, we called it a day.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Chub - Another cold one!

I had thought of fishing at Ryton today but after a drive past this morning I could see it was still in a frozen state so it was to be another afternoon on the Avon. I walked a bit further than my previous two trips and fished another stretch that I haven't seen for several years, it looked pretty much as it did then with just a few extra fallen tree's adding some more features to fish to, there were a few larger tree's missing from a couple of swims, these had been cut down and from what I can recall they weren't too safe when I was last there!. The rivers pace was the same as yesterday although the level had dropped a couple of inches, the colour was still very milky so I wasn't too concerned about staying out of sight, I just kept very quiet. The sun was bright and gave a little welcome warmth but the walking kept the body temperature up, it was freezing, frost still lay on the ground in the shadows of the tree's and in areas the sun couldn't reach. It took a while to find a fish and I was on the return leg of my trip after walking about a mile and a half, this particular spot held fish a few years ago so it was worth a try. After trying a piece of flake close to the bank I flicked another bait into the edge of the flow and within minutes it was taken by a hungry Chub, a good start even though I'd just spent the past few hours walking the banks and trying loads of promising swims. I tried a second cast but any other fish would have melted away as they do in the summer months, it's a bit hit and run this Chub fishing, catch a fish then move on.
The second Chub came from the edge of the flow on a large bend, I'd tried a couple of baits in here on my walk up the river and it looked too good not to give it another go on the way back, it used to be one of my 'Guaranteed a fish' spots a few years ago but there used to be a large willow over the river at this spot back then and the Chub used to live under it. I flicked another piece of bread flake out into the flow and let it settle and within a couple of minutes I had a tap on the tip signalling the bait had been picked up,

Chub two was soon in the net.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Not such a cold one!

River Avon again, Chub the target and the weather was a little milder. There was a good couple of inches of extra water in the river and the pace was a little quicker than last Wednesday. I was only out for a few hours to wet a line but it took nearly that long to find my target, I think the extra few inches of water must be the salty run off from the local roads, the extra salt in the water could have put the fish off, still, I did manage catch the one fish.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Chub and Brass Monkey's

All the shopping is done, everything is wrapped so I'm ready for Christmas. To have the Wednesday as a day for fishing was planned a few weeks ago the only thing not planned was the 'Brass Monkey' weather. The original plan was to fish for Carp at Ryton using fish baits but a thick layer of ice forced me to scrap that idea, I had thought about Zander on the canal as an alternative plan but they are also frozen solid. The solution was to find some moving water and the Avon near to the Middlemarch Business Park was the chosen stretch, I haven't fished this part of the river for some time so it was nice to be back on a familiar stretch.
It was minus two degree's and I was doubting my sanity when getting ready to go but we're all mad, if we weren't, we wouldn't go fishing. The sun was out and helped along with the thermal layers to give a little warmth as I crunched through the frozen grass to my first swim. The method was simple, a hook on the end of the line with a lump of bread as bait, the same method I have always used along this stretch as I move from swim to swim searching for Chub.

The first fish came within a couple of casts and it was nice to see a good plump Chub on the bank, the last one I saw was the one at Ryton a couple of years ago! I kept moving and trying swims as I made my way through the first field. Most of this stretch has a heavy growth of bull rushes which during the summer months limits where you can fish, however, being winter all but the roots have died back revealing loads of far bank swims.

Casting into these runs along the far bank helped me bank another three fish through the afternoon, most of them having to be bullied over the roots to the waiting landing net.

The final fish of the day was a lovely looking fish of 4lb.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Ryton Pike - Part 3

The weekend before last, before the big freeze, I fished an early session at Ryton. Arriving just before eight meant I had the place to myself with the choice of swims, I opted for the sand bank and it wasn't too long before I had a couple of dead baits out onto spots that had produced runs on previous trips.
To cut a long story short, it was another one of those long sessions that suddenly burst into life right at the end. I'd tried a few casts all around the sandbank area through the morning without a touch and decided to have one last cast into the area that had seen the first cast of the day. I was due to pack up at midday for an afternoon of festive shopping so had kind of got everything all packed up ready to go, I had a couple of twitches on my free lined bait which developed into coils of line slowly being pulled from the reel, I picked up the rod and allowed the fish to take some more line before closing the bale arm and arching the rod back into a satisfying curve with a resistance to match, at last a Pike. I was hoping for a good scrap and have one of the lakes 'big girls' roll into the landing net, the scrap was very dull and the small Pike gave up fairly easily.

At 8lb 8oz, it's not big but at least it's a fish on the bank.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Carpy thoughts - Part 1

I've been doing a bit of thinking about my Carp fishing lately, with all the shopping and visiting people prior to the seasons festivities commencing, it's all I'm able to do. Looking at my diaries and notes of observations I've made I have a plan that might have to be actioned over the Christmas break.

Fish baits - we all use fish meal boilies to catch Carp so why not chunks of fish?

I think I mentioned a few blogs back about seeing lots of fry leaping from the lake as if being chased and after looking at my maps of the lake, it was happening in an area of the lake where Carp regularly feed, could they have been chased by Carp? I've heard stories of Carp being seen chasing fry and I've read stories of Pike anglers catching Carp on deadbaits so it is possible. This has lead me to think about scaling my pike approach down to Carp size and hair rig a section of frozen fish to try and tempt a bite from a Carp.
I've already come up with a hooklength based around a thin coated Pike trace, I've used wire to combat the teeth of a toothy critter should one pick up before a Carp. To this I'll add a PVA bag of flaked fish mixed with groundbait, the hook will be hair rigged with a chunk of frozen herring, the slick from all this should be enough to draw in any hungry fish, fingers crossed it works.

If I don't get a Carp then I would be happy with one of the lakes bigger Perch.

Mind you, with the luck I've been having on recent trips, any fish would do!

Monday, 30 November 2009

Ryton Pike - Part 2

I started the session off with a good deed. After seeing another angler struggling with a good sized pike I offered a helping hand, it was nicely hooked in the bottom jaw so wasn't to difficult to deal with and after weighing and a little instruction on the best way to hold a Pike, photo's were taken, the Pike weighed 15lb 12ozs. The angler did give me his name but all I can say is that I've had a senior moment since then and have completely forgotten it, apologies, maybe you could drop me an email if your reading this and remind me?

The day didn't go too well for me, after seeing where this Pike was caught I chose to fish the far side of the lake well away from any commotion that may have occurred, I did get one run but this failed to develop into a fish on the end of the line. I tried two other pegs and called it a day when I couldn't see my floats any more for the lack of light.

Another blank!

Avon at Barford

Barry introduced me to another stretch of water, the river Avon at Barford. It was just on a guest day ticket with a view to getting a season ticket for next season.
With my trip to China and Christmas shopping last weekend, I haden't been fishing for four weeks and was eager to get a line wet even if I didn't catch anything.
There was a slight mix up over dates which didn't allow us the freedom to fish the best pegs, this was because of a match between pegs 51 and 100.
I'd heard tales of the Barbel along this stretch as well as big Zander and Pike so I went equipped to target both Barbel and predators. The stretch from peg 50, above the weir, was at our disposal though I really liked the look of the stretch the matchmen had below the weir. The swims we fished were very wide and slow moving with plenty of colour from the recent rain. I put a feeder towards an overhanging willow with a view to catching a Chub or Barbel, anything would do, the second rod was baited with a small Roach and cast around to various parts to try and tempt one of the resident predators. A few hours passed and we hadn't caught anything, we asked the chap fishing the match on peg 52 how he was getting on and he'd had two Barbel of 11 and 14 pound which was good news, even though I wasn't catching it's nice to know fish of this quality were swimming in these waters.
The match finished at half three and I decided to have a go for a Barbel for the last hour before dark, Barry was to fish one of his favourite pegs for a Zander. I tried my best putting a good quality bait out into a spot that looked very 'barbely' but the light faded really quickly and that hour seemed to fly. I made my way down to where Barry was fishing and being the expert on this stretch in that last hour he'd had four runs with one Zander and one Pike on the bank both at the same time.

The Zander looked to be around 5lb

Will have to try again soon!

Monday, 16 November 2009

No fishing - China Trip

I've not added much to my blog for the last two weeks as I've not been fishing. Since bonfire night I've been hard at work in China, three days in Shanghai and six days in Shaoxing with a very long flight at each, However turned out that one of the people I was working with is as passionate about fishing as I am.
I was invited out on a couple of fishing trips but the amount of work I had to do and the jet lag meant that I had to decline. (On this trip, next time I'm taking my own rod!)

All the work was finished last Friday so on Saturday morning I was introduced to the local tackle shop in Shaoxing. My new friend Terry was on hand to translate for me and a couple of photos of fish that I had in a small photo album I take with me on these trips helped bridge the language barrier and brought a sense of mutual respect to the gathering in the shop.

The fishing out there is totally different to here in the UK, rods are much longer and are nearly all telescopic, lines are fished lighter with end tackle looking more like it should be hanging from the end of a 16 metre pole. There were some spinning outfits on display but I was told that these were not good for the fish in the area where we were. I bought a small fly reel for a lighter fly fishing set-up for next year and a couple of lures for my spinning box.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Ryton Pike - Part 1

It's a while since I've fished at Ryton so it was nice to be back even though I wasn't after my usual quarry the Carp, today I was after a Pike.
Barry had fished there a few times this Autumn and blanked so he was determined to catch one. I had the first run and didn't even see the float go and was a bit quick with the strike, I felt a good fish on the end of the line then everything fell slack, it had spat out the bait. The half a mackerel had been scored with deep teeth marks which started at the first hook, so close!
About half an hour later Barry had a run and like a professional he first opened his bail arm and let out some line, everything stopped for a moment then the fish made off again, the bail arm was closed and he stuck the rod into a very satisfying curve, fish on. The Pike stayed fairly deep during the scrap and gave a couple of good runs before coming to the net.

A nice fish of 13lb 14oz's.

I had another take later on in the afternoon which caused the float to bob a few times and move a short distance before stopping, after about thirty minutes I pulled it in only to find another set of teeth marks on my bait.

A blank for me then!

The Quest for an Urban Zed - Part 5

Friday's on the Coventry Canal are becoming a regular thing and I was there again this Friday. I headed to my usual stretch as I'd seen a few features that were worth investigating with a bait on my last visit but I'd not got round to fishing them on that trip. I didn't get a touch till it was just about dark then I saw the Isotope glowing tip of my rod give a couple of sharp taps, Zander.

Not big and the only fish of the evening but now that we are turning the clocks I am looking forward to a few longer sessions in the dark to see if I can bag some bigger Zed's.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Oxford Canal

Saturday and Sunday were both spent exploring new stretches of the Oxford Canal near Coventry searching for new Zander holding areas. It's a slow job, moving swims every twenty minutes and with the swims being only a few yards apart, you don't cover much ground. I'm beginning to have an eye for a good daytime lay for these predators and providing it has some depth, I'll put a bait on it, I've already found some good spots to put a bait in the evening and wait for a hunting fish to find and I finished both these sessions fishing one of these spots. Apart from the boat traffic this stretch of canal is lovely to fish compared to NED central where I fish on a Friday, I can have a civilised conversation with passers by that are usually accompanied by a dog and not a can of high strength lager, there's less of a risk of getting run over by motorbikes and I have a much higher concentration level as I don't have to keep one eye on my back.

Saturday was very quiet with only one of the target fish picking up a bait in the evening just as it got dark, it was a new peg that I'd not fished before so was a result. I did find a new spike on the outside of the Zed's head which I only discovered after releasing the fish, I had blood everywhere from a cut in my thumb that I use to hold they fishes head whilst unhooking, this Zed was a bit lively on the mat and did have a good thrash around.

I do carry a small roll of plaster in my tackle box and a small piece stopped the flow of blood and allowed me to carry on fishing.

Sunday looked promising, I had a small fish early on with the plan to fish a marina entrance at dark, the stories I'd heard about this spot sounded good so I had to give it a go.
That evening was a blank.

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Quest for an Urban Zed - Part 4

Friday, Coventry canal, the same stretch as last week. The tall tree's were the first target swim, there was more than one fish in there last week and I was aiming to catch more than one today. Things looked good as within a few minutes of casting in my first bait in I had a slow steady tightening of the line, I struck and missed but the hook came back minus the bait, I had two more casts with the same result, each cast had a smaller bait as the fish from this swim last week was no monster. After chucking out the fourth bait of a small section of Roach I had success and the first fish was soon on the bank. It wasn't long before a second fish took the small Roach mounted on a double hook which is a pattern that I've not tried before and seemed to do the trick with these smaller baits and fish.

A third was not far behind.

Three small Zander within the first hour was a good start but everything fell quiet and it was time for a move. I headed back in the direction of the city centre and stopped at a few spots along the way that looked as though they would hold a fish or two, nothing. The final couple of pegs I fished as it got dark and the first was the spot where I had a fish over four pound last week and then the basin next to the treble four tunnel, I was expecting to see some action here as there were shoals of prey fish on the surface all over this area. Packed up at around 8.30pm with no more takes.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

After dark Zed

Saturday afternoon, the plan was to fish a few likely looking areas of the canal where a zander or two might hold up when not on the feed, the goal was to be in the spot I had the big one last week just as it gets dark then stay there till late. We both struggled for a while but Barry was the first to bank a Zed of around three pound, a good start. I followed that with one of around a pound which was OK as I was catching but things could have been better.

We tried to locate a few more Zed's before dark but failed so we made or way to the final peg of the night just as the light started to fade and settled down for a few hours fishing. It was cloudy and we had a good orange glow from the city centre behind us, we even had a firework display at one point. Not long after dark I had a tap on one of the rod tips followed by a second, I picked the rod up and payed out a small amount of slack line and as soon as I felt a pull I struck into a head shaker, It felt good and put a reasonable bend into the 2lb test Carp rod, it stayed deep right to the net and I wasn't disappointed when I saw it hit the back of the net, it looked a good fish.
After a quick service with the tool kit and a picture or two I was very pleased to see the scales pull round to 5lb 2oz's.

Whilst resting the Zed in the margins Barry had a run on one of his rods which was dropped as he hit it, this was the only activity we saw for the rest of the evening.

Monday, 12 October 2009

The Quest for an Urban Zed - Part 3

Friday, I fished the stretch of canal between where I lost a fish that I thought was a Zed last week and the back of Tesco. My chosen rig had been simplified from the previous weekend and was just a small weight sliding on the main line with a bead to cushion against the swivel then a wire trace to a single size eight semi barbless treble, I've got rid of the floats for now to cut down on any drag that might spook the Zeds into dropping the bait. I started the session at a spot that looked promising as there were several small fish on the surface and every now and then there would be a larger splash as if something was having a go at them. After giving this spot ten minutes with nothing I tried another spot with a group of tall tree's on the far bank which cast a large shadow over the canal. This spot looked as though it would hold a fish or two and within a few minutes I had a slow pull on the line which resulted in a small Zander of around a pound, I discovered at this point that both sets of batteries for my camera were dead and had to use the one on my phone to get a shot.

I've been told that after catching a zed from a swim, if you carry on fishing the same swim there is a chance that you could catch another as they tend to shoal together when not hunting. Another fish section went out onto the same spot which was a deep depression on the bottom, the cast that went in next to this was was into around three to four feet, this was more like five. A few minutes past and I had another slow pull on the line and struck too early pulling the hook out of the fish chunk. I quickly re-baited and cast out again and after about five minutes I had another slow take, this time I waited for a couple of seconds then struck, I felt a few head shakes before the hook was thrown free.
I continued to fish this spot which was now very quiet but I could still see something chasing the fish at the first spot I fished at so decided to move back, whatever it was I was determined to catch it. I put a couple of deads out and had a take straight away, it turned out to be the smallest Pike I'd ever caught.

I headed back towards the city with the peg I lost a fish at last week the target for finishing the session at around dark. I dropped some baits onto a few spots along the way but had no takes, One bush looked promising but I was distracted by a tramp that decided to stop for a chat and I missed a take. The line pulled up tight without me noticing and if I'd reacted quicker I might have been able to hit whatever it was before it dropped the bait. it was nearly dark and the next spot along the path was the one I wanted to bait and wait. I put the two deads out either side of the bush just on the drop off and put the rods down with slack lines, it was dark now but I could just make out the line leaving the tip ring in a reflection from the road lights on the treble four, I half expected the same rod as last week to go and concentrating my eyes on watching this rod I failed to notice the line tighten up on my second rod but I did see a gentle tap at the tip and was on it like a shot, I hit a very satisfying weight with some head shaking thrown in and it came to the net fairly easily. The photo is a really crap as it was on the phone with no flash and only a poor headlight to light it up, you can only just make out the reel upside down next to the Zed.

On the scales it went 4lb 8oz.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Quest for an Urban Zed - Part 2

Sunday, back on the Coventry canal, this time I was within a stones throw of the M6 motorway. After another look at the satellite views on Google I felt this stretch had to be investigated. It was the usual set-up with deadbait's fished either side of a couple of features that looked good, I was doing the same as Friday and giving a spot around ten minutes before moving a few yards to the next. After a couple of hours I found a feature very similar to the one I fished to on Saturday, a Blackberry bush, I gave it a go and had a fish tighten my line within minutes, after a quick scrap I had my first Coventry Zander in the net, a reasonable fish of around 3-4lb, in my haste to return the Zed the photo was rather poor.

Bad photo alert!

I continued to fish this same spot hoping for a second fish but the shoal must have moved on so I continued to move down the canal to the next feature. At around 6pm, I decided to move back to where I'd caught the only Zed of the day and leave a couple of baits out to see if anything would return. I was surprised at how many boats were still moving this late in the evening but with Hawksbury nearby a lot of these were probably returning to their moorings after a day out, it did give me a good chance to check that the bait was clear of any debris before recasting. Just before seven, nearly dark but with a glow from the full moon and a hint of blue still in the sky I could not believe one boat navigating it's way up the canal by spotlight, this was ridiculous. I wasn't ready to call it a night so reeled in the baits and cast them straight back as the boat passed, after the second bait was lobbed out and the line tension checked I noticed the tip of the first rod just give a slight nod, a quick check of the bobbin and it to was moving ever so slightly, I looked into the water and could see some leaves and twigs swirling around after the boat and put it down to this. The bobbin now started to move as the line tightened, I picked up the rod and could feel something moving around on the end of the line and struck, everything went solid and I could feel something thump back up the line, this felt good. The fish came straight into my bank before hitting the top, what a fish, at first I thought it was a Pike but it wasn't.
I'm new to Zander fishing and didn't think I'd see one this big for some time. I left the fish in the margins and had a flap around in the dark organising everything. The Zed unhooked itself by spitting out the deadbait and hook which was lucky as I'd forgotten to bring my head torch, photographing was a bit 'hit and miss' in the dim light but I was happy with the results even though I didn't smile in the pictures. The fish went back with a very health kick from it's tail and after a couple of phone calls I decided to call it a night.

The Zander!

9lb 11oz's

Windy Wasperton

Saturday, Wasperton. It was my turn to introduce Barry to a section of river that he hadn't fished before and to be honest, I'd only fished there a couple of times and not done that well but this trip was to be a little different as predators were the target species. As forecast, the weather wasn't on it's best behaviour and a very strong gusty wind blew straight in our faces, we were there to have a good look round with a view to fishing some proper sessions for Pike and Zander along that stretch, we'd both brought rods to have a go and deadbaits were the tactic. we cast these to some very likely spots, one of them being a huge raft of debris under an oak tree, this was the first spot to we tried, I'd fished this spot a few weeks ago with Chub in mind and caught nothing so I tried a whole sprat and allowed it to drift in the current beneath the raft to see if a Pike was at home, nothing. We tried several other 'Pikey' looking spots and got no interest in our baits, when the sun came out at around lunch time we could see how clear the water really was, crystal clear, you could almost see the bottom, the bright sun wasn't ideal for a predator and a bit of colour in the water would have improved our chances. We weren't to keen on continuing the fishing trip at Wasperton as the strengthening wind were starting to remove small branches from the tree's and we both felt that a move was on the cards, Barry suggested a stretch of canal he knew where a Zed was almost guaranteed and within an hour we were setting up for a spot of canal Zander fishing.

The spot was very calm and sheltered from the wind, being the weekend we did have some heavy boat traffic to contend with but we knew it would dye down towards the evening. We both felt fairly positive about this spot as Barry had fished there the previous week and had a few Zed's on the bank, within an hour Barry had his first fish, an excellent start.

This fish was shortly followed by a series of missed runs then a second smaller Zed for Barry, I had one fish throw the hook before we had a quiet spell. It was during this break in the bites that I noticed the line angle to one of my baits had altered by several yards, there was no indication on the tip or bobbin and I didn't see the line tighten at all, after a quick check of the bait it was back out on the spot, within minutes I had a jerky tightening of the line, I let the fish have a bit of slack before striking, fish on!

I was so glad to get a single fish on the bank!

Monday, 5 October 2009

The Quest for an Urban Zed - Part 1

Friday afternoon, a new challenge, to catch a Zander from the Coventry Canal in Coventry.
I'd heard of a few spots to try and some were confirmed by a passer by who commented about the eastern Europeans spinning for their evening meal and taking a few for the table. I enquired as to whether they were Pike but the answer was Zander, I was on the right track. I headed to a short stretch that I thought would produce a fish but saw plenty of likely looking spots along the way and I had to put a dead bait onto these spots and give them ten minutes. I didn't need to give them any longer, I've been told that if a Zed is there, It'll take the bait straight away, the same goes for Pike. It took a little longer than planned to get to the stretch I had originally intended to fish but on arrival it looked as good as it did on Google.
After a fishless hour on a spot that looked so promising a move was on the cards, I could see a large overhanging bush a hundred yards up from where I was and it looked just as good.
Within a couple of minutes I had two dead baits either side of the bush just on the edge of the drop off, the light was beginning to fade and that magic time just before dark had arrived, if I was going to get a bite, it was now and as though I'd just placed an order one of my floats bobbed a couple of times and slowly slid away from it's spot, I struck into something that shook it's head, I thought it was a Zander and was right when I saw it hit the surface, I pulled it towards the net but it had another head shaking fit and threw the hook, gutted!
I put another bait onto the spot and stayed until it was dark, well as dark as it would get with all the street lights, I was happy to have found a zed in Coventry but need to get one on the bank next time.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Canal Predators

Friday, I was introduced to a stretch of the Grand Union Canal that I had looked at a couple of years ago but never fished. Fishing was to be very simple, freelined deadbaits for predators. Pike and Zander were the quarry and this stretch apparently held plenty of both. Fishing was easy, cast to a feature, fish for around 20 minutes then move on to the next spot. Features were reed beds, bull rushes and overhanging trees and most of them looked good. After a couple of hours I noticed some fry leaping from the water obviously being chased by something trying to eat them and I put a bait into the area, after around ten minutes I had a very slow, steady pull on the line which stopped, I lifted the rod and struck with no resistance and no bait!
The light was fading fast and we had no fish on the bank, I decided then that I would have to spend some more time here exploring this stretch of water.

Saturday afternoon, I returned to the same piece of canal but approached it from a different direction so that I could explore the stretch before fishing, I didn't want to just fish the same spots that I fished on Friday. Further up the stretch the canal looked totally different with moored up boats and lots of people walking the tow path. There were still some features that looked good and I had to get a bait onto them so the exploring was to be slow going. One feature was a large clump of reeds on the far bank and I had to put a dead bait each side and give it a go, I'd changed my tackle slightly and opted for a lighter 2lb test Carp rod, I also used a sliding floats above the bait to give better, more visual indication. Being the weekend, the boat traffic was fairly heavy so baits were only on the spots for around ten to twenty minutes at a time which was fine, if there's a fish there, it'll take the bait, if it's not taken, I'll keep it moving it around till it is.
The constant flow of traffic meant that the lock gates just up stream were emptying frequently causing the canal to flow like a river for a few minutes before stopping, it was during one of these flows that I noticed one of my floats bob a couple of times before drifting with the current, I thought the bait had just become dislodged until the float started to move in the opposite direction. I picked the rod up and hit something that thumped back, fish on!

After netting, I unhooked my first ever Zander. Having spikes in similar places to Bass I've caught before, I was used to handling them you just have to avoid the spiky dorsal and gill plates and hold on tight, however a tool kit is essential for safe removal of the hook.

A few onlookers had gathered to have a look and I put one of them to use by getting them to photograph the catch. One comment passed by another onlookers was 'Don't you have to kill it now, your not supposed to put them back are you?' my reply was 'I'll leave that to the British Waterways Board to sort out, I put my fish back, alive' and promptly dropped the zed back into the canal to fight another day.

I fished several more spots further up the canal and eventually reached the stretched fished on Friday but I didn't get any more takes.

Sunday afternoon, arriving later in the afternoon meant that the boat traffic was slowing down for the day and fishing was to be a bit more peaceful, it was to be the same routine as the past couple of sessions and I must admit that I did concentrate my fishing around the area I caught the Zed from on Saturday. A small overhanging bush on the far bank looked promising and I put a bait in each side just on the edge of the drop off, after a few minutes I started to get some interest in one of the baits, I promptly removed the second rod in case a boat came along (apparently, they don't stop) and waited for the float to move, it shook a few more times before slowly sliding across the surface, I struck and missed. I promptly put another sprat onto the spot and didn't have to wait long before the float bobbed a couple of times and moved off, this time the fish was mine and I struck into an angry Jack which thrashed around the swim, it was soon netted and out came the tool kit to unhook the only fish of the day.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Third day of sunshine.

Sunday, the third day of sunshine, hardly any wind, I was determined not to blank today so went to Jubilee with the fly rod. I've had my eye on a swim for a few weeks, the casting space was good but every time I've thought about fishing there it's been occupied, today was the first opportunity to fish from this peg and it proved to be successful with a fish within the first hour. The fish was a hard fighting, good sized common that emptied the reel to the backing on the first run, After netting I left the Carp in the margins whilst I sorted things out, I had to change a set of batteries in my camera as the first set was flat then after that I found that I couldn't give the fish a number as the battery in my digi scales was also flat, must put the Reuben's back in the bag when I get home.

(Bad photo alert!) The Carp was a double around twelve pound.

I had a few missed takes after this fish and made the decision to move around the lake and find some less spooked fish, ended up on my favourite peg across the bay from my first peg, same fish, just as spooked.

One was bound to slip up again, I kept at it and banked another smaller common before the end of the session.

Couple of blanks

Friday afternoon, sunny, warm hardly any wind, perfect for a spot of fly fishing at Jubilee. I went to Ryton determined to revisit and prepare for the autumn assault on the Carp. I found a couple of Carp in the margins at one peg but even though in my usual camo outfit they saw me first and fled. I put a rod onto the spot and forgot about it, I was sure they would return. An hour past and nothing, I was very impatient as normally I would be constantly casting and baiting when fly fishing but as luck would have it I had my fly rod with me along with some newly tied Pike flies, time to give them a go.

Most of the swims at Ryton are very tight for casting with a fly rod but I was able to get the flies wet and get some lengthy casts in from a few pegs on the far bank and the sand bank area. The weather wasn't ideal for Pike as the sun was bright and the water crystal clear, however I did get some good practice in with fly presentation, the clear water allowed me to see the fly as I tried to make it look and act like a fish, the bucktail pulsed with each short pull of the line then a stop allow it to sink a little before a steady pull on the line made it move off again, very convincing, shame there wasn't a Pike around.

Saturday and I decided to pay a visit to the river Leam at Newbold. Took the fly rod to see if I could tempt a Pike from here, I didn't and after Reading Keith's last blog about the same stretch and the depth encountered, I can see why. (should have done my homework) There were a couple of swims with several good Chub milling around and did get one feeding on bread off the surface but this all stopped before I could get my line to it when a canoeist past through the swim, the Chub melted away not to return.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Three from a tight swim.

Jubilee's Horseshoe lake today, tried to get the Carp on top at a few pegs but the cool northerly wind was keeping them down, I found a couple of fish willing to take a surface bait in a sheltered corner and had to fish from a very tight swim to get to them, normal surface fishing wouldn't have been a problem but the fun is to be had with the fly. I had a willow tree to my right and sloe bushes behind me making casting very tricky, the back cast had to be high and short so as not to catch the bushes behind me and the forward push had to have enough power to shoot the line out to where the carp were feeding. After a about thirty minutes I had my first take, it wasn't big but I was satisfied to have managed to cast too and land a Carp from this tight spot and I would have been quit happy to leave things there and move to another swim but the fish kept feeding, usually it all goes quiet and I'm forced to move to find more fish.

It didn't take long to get the second fish and at one point I thought it had been foul hooked in the tail as it looked as though it was coming in backwards, it was just trying to bury itself in the marginal weed and at one point everything did go solid, steady pressure soon got the Carp out of the weed and into the net.

The fish were still feeding, should I push my luck and try for three, why not!

I had a visit from a fellow angler who was fishing from the point, he seemed surprised to see someone fly fishing for the Carp, but like I said to him, if a fish rejects my fly I don't have to disturb the swim by reeling in a controller and recasting beyond the fish before bringing it back to where they are feeding, I just lift the fly off and recast back to the spot with no more disturbance than the fish make when feeding on biscuits. I can even recast to the left or right to keep in touch with the fish as they move around searching for treats which is exactly what I had to do to get my third fish. This carp kept slurping biscuits off the top to the right of my swim and the cast to there was very tricky and I did manage to catch a couple of bushes, some careful positioning of the pouches of biscuits brought this fish into a better position where my fly was waiting which it took and tore off across the lake. I heard one of the anglers in the next swim acknowledge the fact I'd caught one and shout to his mate 'I bet that'll take him half an hour to land'.

About five minutes later the fish was in the net, it's surprising how much power you can stop with a fly rod.

12lb 11oz's of Common Carp

One from the Island Lake

At last a Carp on the fly from the island lake at Jubilee, it's a shame it wasn't the fish I first saw. The sun had a good bit of heat to it for September and I found a couple of Carp sheltering in a shadow of a tree. I threw some biscuits to them and they cautiously took a couple, that was enough for me and I set up my gear for a short session on the main island lake. The same two Carp kept drifting into the swim , sucking up a few treats and swimming off for a few minutes before returning, this gave me time to chuck out some more biscuits and reposition the fly, no long casts here, this was almost under the rod tip. One of the Carp was BIG, it's mouth was huge and could have swallowed ten biscuits at once, no problem. I'm not sure what I would have done if I'd hooked it, instead, just as I reached down for a couple of extra baits this little mirror swam in and hoovered up my fly when I wasn't looking, all I heard was a slurp and saw my line pull away beneath the surface, I thought for a second that it was the big one until I saw it.