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.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Friday, a tough one!

The tough decision was whether to start my autumn campaign after the Carp at Ryton or to have another session at Jubilee on the fly, it was very warm, sunny, hardly a cloud in the sky perfect for surface fishing, Jubilee won!
I tried baiting a couple of spots on the main lake but can't get the fish to start feeding on top there so the back lake it was, a swim I'd hoped to fish was occupied but as there was hardly any wind swim choice was not an issue, a swim on the point that I'd fancied for a while was free and there was no head wind to try and cast into so I began my session here. A short while later another swim on the south of the point became vacant and I moved quickly, this swim is a bit special as I caught my first ever Carp on a fly from this swim, three years ago, I caught five that day.
It wasn't long before I got my first fish of the afternoon and a second and third followed fairly quickly.

The ducks were becoming a nuisance so I swapped swims to the point, I'd already put a few biscuits in this spot and one fish was picking them off slowly, one at a time. This looked like a challenge, as the fish was approaching the bait it was pausing for a second before taking or rejecting it, I had to catch this fish. My most 'biscuit' looking fly was out of the box and next in line to be inspected and was rejected loads of times but a quick flick of the rod and it was back out, next in line. This cautious fish eventually accepted my fly and took it, I struck but was quit disappointed by the lack of fight, it came straight in to the net and when I saw it I felt really sorry for it. The poor thing was small, had a deformed spine and a small head.

But liked biscuits!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Sunday afternoon

Another quick session arriving just as the match was finishing on the main lake and people are packing up, I tried baiting a couple of spots on the main lake as I've yet to catch a Carp off the surface, on a fly, on this lake. A few fish were showing but out towards the island, way to far for a cast on fly tackle, sometimes I wander whether or not I've shot myself in the foot when I only bring one rod, so many missed chances! I ended up on the back lake searching for a free swim, because of the match everyone else was on this lake, it was rammed! I tried one swim which was very tight for a back cast and did get some fish feeding in front of me but after an hour of catching bushes behind me, I was getting a little peeved.
A few people around the lake started to pack up and a swim near to mine became vacant so I moved, this swim was much better for a back cast and I could capitalise on the fact that the angler who was in this swim was also surface fishing so had already got the fish feeding on top, cheers mate!
Ducks! Why are we not allowed to get rid of them with a shot gun? They are such a pain hoovering up all the biscuits, I had to feed them off so used half of my bait to do so, I always carry plenty with me in case I have to do this. Once they'd cleared off to have a sleep I rebaited the swim ready for a Carp or two

and it wasn't long before two Carp had thier mug shots taken!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Just a quick one!

Cycled to Jubilee for a few hours on the fly. The very gusty west, north westerly wind meant I could fish a peg I fished successfully last Friday, it's usually a no go when the wind is blowing into that corner. The fish were visible on top and a scattering of a few biscuits encouraged them to start feeding, I kept feeding whilst setting up and soon had a fake biccie in amongst the real ones. After a few missed takes I had a fish on, it felt good but I was using a different rod to usual, a foot longer to make casting easier, It really pulled when I got it into the margins but eventually surrendered and slipped into the net. It was very lively on the bank and I did get a slap for my efforts but it soon behaved itself when it saw the camera.

Nice Mirror, 13lb 4oz.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

New PB Carp on the fly!

Saturday afternoon/evening, very slow, I think I did two complete circuits of the lake before finding some fish willing to feed on top. I fed biscuits but they stayed just out of range to avoid being caught out by a fake treat. I kept chucking in the biscuits but shortened the throw to try and tempt them closer, it started to work. I still struggled to get a take with loads of aborts and misses and tried several different coloured flies to try and tempt a more confident 'slurp' at my fly.
All this eventually worked and I had one fish slowly sucking in the treats within casting range, fly fishing is it's quiet, you can have several casts at a fish before they are spooked and that's usually only when they feel your line or suss out the fake one, I also like to see the fly and fix on it's position ready for a take so it sometimes takes a couple of casts to get the fly on the spot, this fish was sucking down the treats one at a time on this spot and my fake one was next.
I had a 'thump' transfer up the line as the fish took and the strike was into a Carp that felt heavy. Several runs to the backing later and after a lot of heavy plodding around in the margins I slipped the net under a very pretty looking mirror Carp.

The only fish of the day pulled the scales round to 15lb 12oz's
a new PB with a fly rod.

Friday, after work.

Friday, after finishing work at one, I cycled up to Jubilee to fly fish the horseshoe pool. Travelling light with just a fly rod and tackle I found a shoal of Rudd under a willow in a corner sheltered from the wind, a few Carp were also mooching around the area so first cast had to be here, I'd not fished with the fly from this swim before and it did look a bit tight for the back cast but not impossible. First chuck was a small fly I'd used over the previous few weeks for Rudd and after a few casts with plenty of interest from the Rudd I managed to fool one into taking the fly. After returning, the shoal of Rudd disappeared from this swim to the other side of the willow, casting to them from the next swim was impossible so I turned my attention to the Carp.
After plenty of feeding I got the Carp to start taking off the top just before a heavy shower of rain hit, I thought this may have put them off feeding but they continued to feed through the heavy shower as long as I fed them biscuits, a rumble of thunder kept me from fishing for them for around twenty minutes, after the rain eased a biscuit fly was soon on the spot and it wasn't long before it was slurped down by a small Carp. This spooked the Carp from the area, a move was made to keep in touch with the fish, I found a few off the point swim that were willing to feed but the wind carried everything towards the far side of the lake including the feeding Carp so a constant drizzle of just a few biscuits was required to keep the fish within casting range.

I had two more fish through the evening including one of around 10lb.