Saturday, 31 December 2011

Last of the year.

The last session of the year was a week ago on Christmas eve, it was a session for Zander on the canal in one of our usual spots, Longitch. We'd had very heavy rain the day before and a touch of frost over night, I was suspecting things would be rather slow to start with but we were fishing one of the deeper spots so should see some action.
After an hour, Barry's rod was the first to see some interest with the line pulling tight and slackening off but nothing developed, I returned to my rod and noticed one of the bobbins start to move, I thought it might have been a shoal of Zed's moving through our swims as it looked like a classic Zander take. As soon as the line pulled tight again I reeled into the fish, if this was a Zander, it was going to be a good one. The large fishy shape rose to the surface quickly but there was no head shake, it wasn't a Zander, it was a Pike and a fairly good one. Anticipating a session with only small Zed's I'd only brought my large river net, this wasn't going to be big enough, Barry had a couple of stabs at the beast and almost got it in the mesh but it was too lively, as Barry ran down the bank to get his bigger net I got the opportunity to chin it out.

Thirteen and a half
We'd both had Jacks out of this stretch but I'd not had a Pike this big from here before, it pulled the scales round to thirteen and a half pounds.
I think this Pike might have scarred off all the Zed's, I didn't get any more takes for the rest of the session.

Barry on the other hand

Dog walkers, an alternative bait?
despite using the freshest 'dead' baits

Can't get any fresher than this!

and plenty of 'skulduggery', he couldn't get a take.

He even tried an offering to the fishing god!
His swim remained 'lifeless' all day.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Birthday Double.

Every year around my birthday I always struggle to get a line in the water, we either have family visiting or the big day falls mid week making any kind of session impossible. This year was a little different, the family aren't going to visit till the week before Christmas, the shopping and days out were taken care of over the weekend leaving me with a bit of time on Monday to get a bait in the water. It wasn't going to be any kind of fancy trip to chase any more species for the challenge, I've pretty much decided to put that to bed and make do with what I've caught through the year, I think I'm currently in tenth place which will do me. It was a simple trip to Ryton fishing dead baits for Pike, Barry accompanied me and after a quick look around we made do with the first two pegs along the road bank, Barry dropped down onto the information desk and I settled on peg two, it might be the last time we fish these pegs in their current state!!!!!
We'd met Paul earlier on fishing the corner at the back of the point, he was fishing for Perch and wasn't having much luck, the frost might have put them down in the deeper water but it was sunny so there was always a chance, another angler was roving around the lake trying his luck at spinning for the Perch.
We'd been fishing for about an hour and Paul wandered down towards the car park with his gear, he'd had enough but stopped for a chat when a stutter of bleeps came from the direction of my right hand alarm, the back bobbin hadn't released the line but something was showing an interest. I picked up the rod and waited a few moments for the line to tighten before reeling into the fish, it felt good and came straight to the top and rolled a few times, Barry was on net duty and we soon had the fish under control and in the net. With my tool kit to hand I gave Paul a demonstration in gloveless Pike unhooking and after some light dentistry the hooks were out and I was able to hold the fish up for a quick photo......... the camera batteries were flat!
The toothy one had to rest in the margins whilst the batteries were swapped over in the old box brownie and it remained well behaved for the snap before swimming off.

Ten pound and twelve ounces, a birthday double.
Barry made a concerned comment about the condition of some of the Pike he'd caught recently at the pool, they were all good sized fish and should be weighing much more than they were and I must admit, this fish and the last one I caught at Ryton were very long and lean with big heads and would have looked better had they eaten a few more pies, might be something to keep an eye on!

The rest of the session remained fishless but I was happy to have caught something on my Birthday.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

So far away but never too far away!

Canton Tower
Last week I was in Guangzhou, China, on a very enjoyable works trip sourcing new materials to use for next seasons designs, the only thing I hated about the whole trip was being so far away from my little girl, it's the first time I've had to make a trip like this since she was born. Guangzhou is a very big, modern city situated on and around the Pearl river delta and my hotel was situated right on the bank of this river with views across to the canton tower and stadium.
I always enjoy an early morning walk when away from home and on the first morning the attraction of the river drew me to it's banks for a gentle stroll, fishermen never stay too far away from the medium our pray swim in and I always find myself being drawn to any waters edge if only to have a look, I had a look and was amazed at how many anglers were fishing along the walkway next to the Pearl.

Pearl River anglers
There appeared to be two methods of fishing the first being a smallish rod or pole with a small float set-up with around a one foot drop, an Eel like live bait was presented on a sizable hook. There were plenty of fish topping all over the place so I can only presume that this was the method used to catch these fish.

Using a bamboo pole.
The other method being used was a little more macabre, a few anglers appeared to be spinning but with a very heavy looking lure, on closer inspection it was no lure that was being chucked out but something that resembled a large breakaway lead, similar to the ones we would use when beach fishing, the only difference being that the grip wires were replaced with what I can only describe as small meat hooks. I think the intention was to deliberately foul hook anything that swam into the path of the 'claw' and an exaggerated sink and draw action seemed the way to retrieve this weight. 

The exaggerated sink and draw

The claw
I saw this dead catfish floating down with the current, it's belly ripped open, not sure if it had crossed the path of an anglers 'claw'!

A cat that got away!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Two more!

A quick trip to Barford was called for to try and bag a couple of much needed species for this years competition, an Eel and a Barbel. The trip had originally been planned for next week but had to be brought forward one week due to a work trip to Guangzhou, China, luckily there weren't any matches on this weekend.

Worth every penny.
Barry had got me a guest ticket and we decided to make a day of it, he'd been down the river a couple of times the week before and bagged both Barbel and Eels, with some much needed extra water in the river and a bit of colour, hopes were high, even if I only managed to bank one of the two species then it would be a result.
The first peg he put me in looked good and I flicked out a lump of luncheon meat into the flow and allowed it to trunddle round to where I thought a fish might be lying, I hadn't even got the second rod rigged up when the baitrunner started to give out line, I was on it like a shot and soon had the first of many Eel's in the net, I haven't caught Eel's like this since I was a kid fishing the small river Braint on Anglesey, great fun. 

Biggest Eel of the day was 1lb 8ozs
Barry had hoped to get me onto the oak tree peg at the start of the session but I had to wait until early afternoon before I could get onto what he called a 'banker' of a swim, either that or I miss heard him!
It proved to be an excellent swim with several Eel's taken, then, just as other anglers had predicted the late afternoon saw my rod tip slam forward as a whiskered critter made off with the lump of meat.

A six pound six whiskered critter!
A hard battle was soon won and I had my second target species in the net, a Barbel.

Just sitting there!

I was just sitting there minding my own business when this lump of dead fish landed right next to me, now, it was a Sunday, I knew there would be a few people around with the intent of pulling us out of the water, weighing us and taking a quick snap shot before throwing us back, I have absolutely know idea why they do this but it must be a popular thing that humans do as there's a lot of them that do it at this lake, some day's you just can't get away from them. Anyway, back to this lump of fish, like I said, I was just sitting there and not really in the mood to do much, the sun was out so it was a bit bright and I just fancied a couple of hours minding my own business before going out for a bite to eat later. This lump of fish smelt great and was defrosting nicely but I resisted for nearly an hour then out of nowhere I had to yawn and before I knew it this lump of fish was in my mouth, I wasn't sure what to do but before I had a chance to do anything something started to pull me towards the bank, now I didn't fancy having my picture taken and did try my best to escape but I soon found myself in the bottom of a mesh cage, then on a comfy mattress before being photographed.

This is me on the mattress!
I was let go shortly after but didn't fancy fish for dinner anymore!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Here Pikey Pikey!

Barry phoned me up last week and asked if I'd like to go on a bit of a Pike fishing session to one of his many haunts, a pass had already been granted so I agreed, like I didn't need much persuading.

Saturday afternoon arrived, as we set the gear up there was a bit of drizzle in the air along with a strong but pleasant smell of burning charcoal and wood from the stoves on the nearby canal boats, we were fairly sheltered from the wind in the spots we chose and had the water to ourselves. It was going to be a late afternoon/evening session so to save time I had everything organised and prepared, it was just a matter of attaching baits and casting out.
After a very brief half an hour I had a take on the bait that was only lobbed out a couple of rod lengths. The strike met with good solid resistance as a very nice sized Pike rolled on the surface, it came in fairly easily then woke up and made several attempts to get out of the pound we were fishing. Once netted I was very satisfied as my PB Pike was only just over twelve pounds, this one pulled the scales passed that and settled on fourteen pounds and four ounces, a new personal best.

A good chunky fish.
Barry was next but even though the Pike pulled hard it was only a Jack with a very nasty scar near it's tail.

Anyone need a tooth pulling?

Nasty bite mark!
After only having one fish each on Saturday, I think Barry fancied a rematch on the Sunday and invited me to join him at Ryton for a few hours Piking. A family swim had been planned for lunchtime which meant I didn't get to the lake until half three so it was only going to be a very short, late session. As it turned out, I didn't need that long to get a fish on the bank.
It was exactly twenty five minutes (Barry likes to time these things) after casting out my first bait that my bobbins started to jump around as a fish made off with the Mackerel. It was another solid fight and another long fish soon found itself in the bottom of my net, however, even though this fish was long with a huge head, it's body was very thin. On the scales it only managed nine pounds and four ounces and was the only fish of the session.

Big head!!
Whilst passing the camera to Barry I managed to smear the lens with Pike slime (my excuse for the bad photo) I don't think they do a 'Pike Slime' plug-in for photoshop!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Like Buses.

A couple of weekends ago I fished one of my favourite swims on the stretch of canal near Long Itchington.
Bites started pretty much straight away but they were very tentative and I was experiencing a lot of dropped takes which were probably from smaller fish. Typically, when I least expected it, I had a run on both rods at the same time but after a bit of rod and net juggling both Zed's were safely in the folds of mesh.

then two come along at the same time!
They weren't big fish but very welcome.
The commotion from the double hook-up quietened the swim a little and I only managed one more fish before it got dark, then all went quiet.
I think this deep spot must be a daytime hole that empties at night time when they all go on the prowl!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Zander Hokey Cokey

When canals are really busy, you end up putting a Zed bait in, then you take a Zed bait out, in, out, in, out, but the only thing shaken about is the occasional double or single digit at grumpy boat captains that don't like anglers using their water.

It's mostly Zandering that's been on the angling calender over the last couple of weekends. I've tried to keep the sessions as late in the day as I can to avoid all the boat traffic but you can never plan these things and we've had to dance the Zander Hokey Cokey for an hour or so at the beginning of each session. With Autumn upon us I was hoping that the temperatures would start to take a tumble so that I can approach my fishing with Winter in mind but it looks as though we are in for a bit of a warm one for the next few days and possibly a week, I've even heard that snow has been forecast for October, talk about extremes!

Saved from a blank!
The Oxford canal has seen a few small Zander on the bank but nothing that's going to improve my current score on this years challenge board, Long Itchington has seen a few better fish but nothing really big. 

3lb 11ozs not including branch!
This fish came after I had a good bounce on my bobbin just as the nearby lock was being emptied, the water was churning all over the place and I was convinced that this was the cause of the dancing bobbin, I lifted the rod to find myself stuck to the bottom but it also began to move, I felt something give and then felt a good kick, fish on. I had to net a branch as well as a Zed, the fish must have wrapped the line around a sunken branch after picking up a quick snack.

There's a few spots I've yet to fish this year but as soon as a touch of frost starts to replace the morning dew I'll switch over to these venues and try for a biggie, that is until these spots become frozen solid like they did last year!

The joys of winter fishing approach!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

'Area 51'

I had a disaster of any early Autumn session for Pike last week but a couple of weeks ago, 'Area 51' was given a good seeing too with a good selection of baits over a two session stint. There were plenty of fish caught including Chub which can be added to the species list for this pool. (now six species) Fish banked were mostly Roach and Rudd with a few Perch thrown in, Carp were seen but avoided capture. When float fishing I experienced several quiet spells and put this down to predator activity, after seeing wounds to a fish on the last trip, something toothy. 
Much to Barry's annoyance, he'd been fishing a small dead bait all day on a sleeper rod, I caught a very small Pike on a large bunch of worms,

Pike on worm.

I thought it was a Carp the way the tip slammed round and couldn't believe it when the fish tail walked across my swim, great fun.

The highlight to the two sessions was was an increase to my Roach weight for this years challenge. I fished a sleeper rod at the bottom of a depression that was full of silt, worm was the bait and I had several slightly bigger fish to this rod, I was hoping that the fading light would bring out something a little larger and I wasn't to be disappointed. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a couple of quick taps to the tip before it pulled round, I was on it in a flash and the nerves kicked in when the fish surfaced, I haven't been so nervous about netting a good fish for a long time but I was so happy to get this one into the safety of the mesh.

New PB Roach.  
It's not as big as some that have been caught but it's a new PB Roach for me at one pound five and a half ounces, (not sure if the challenge chart will take a half ounce)

I think a winter/Spring visit to this pool might have to be made!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A couple of quick ones!

Another busy weekend but there's always room for a quick session or two. We'd been busy preparing everything ready for Cerys's christening on Sunday and the knees-up afterwards, the rest of the family and friends weren't due to arrive from wales until Saturday so when an offer to go Zandering on Friday landed on my table I snatched at the chance.
Yes, we know, it was rather wet on Friday and only nutters go fishing in the rain but it had actually eased off when we got to the canal and was very pleasant. Several boats were moving through the locks but within the first hour I managed a run which resulted in a bit of a tussle with a head shaking Zed.

A very useful 3lb 6oz
The rain returned and I started to theorize with Barry about why the rain put fish off feeding and the fact that as soon as it stopped they would start to feed heavily again, I've witnessed this at Ryton and used it to my advantage, getting wet whilst setting traps then sitting back praying it would stop raining.
After a biteless two hours of rain had passed we had a break in the weather with a small patch of blue sky, this was quickly being followed by another patch of black stuff but at least the rain had stopped and no sooner than fresh baits were in place, Barry's rod was away. It wasn't too long before the jammy git had a very good Zed on the bank and then agreed with my theories.

5lb 9ozs, Jammy git!
That evening, Barry had a chat with a passing angler and was told about a place that neither of us had heard of or even knew existed, time to get the map out. 
Over the next couple of days between all the babysitting, cooking, sorting out family and friends, attending church and eating a belly full of cake, I managed a few sneak peeks at the internet searching for this place that I will now refer to as 'Area 51' because Google Earth doesn't even show this pool!. When Monday afternoon arrived and the last of my friends set off on their drive back to North Wales, we had a chance to search for this mystery pool. We'd both been looking at maps and had both come up with the same area to search and headed off on a recce, rods and some basic kit was put in the boot just in case.
To cut a long story short, we found the spot and gave it a go, within a couple of hours we'd banked three species, saw a fourth and seeing the wounds on the flanks of one of the fish we caught, there's a possible fifth.

A very useful half pounder.

The next visit will see some proper bait going in, not just worm and luncheon meat.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

What's fishing?

Fishing is continuing to be a bit of a non starter, other than a few trips to local waters scratching for tiddlers under a float even the annual jolly to north wales only saw me fish a couple of times. 

A good few weeks ago I went to Parker's pool, well I think it was Parker's, it's the pool in the middle of the old golf coarse, the one with the half submerged wheelie bin and several tyres visible on the bottom in the few clear spots between all the pads. I had a really good bag of Rudd and I honestly lost count at around the 25 fish mark. I was hoping for one of the Cruician's.

Parker's Rudd

I was promised a Crucian from a small stillwater near the blue lias. I've always looked through the tree's on the bend just before reaching the canal but never fished the pool. It looked good but as with most waters in the area it could have done with a foot of extra water.

On the edge of the pads

There were plenty of Carp eager to smash up the light float gear and after a couple of takes from two brutes they left my corner of the pads alone which allowed the smaller stuff to tuck into the free food. After several Rudd, Roach and Perch I hooked a sizable fish which turned out to be my quarry but sods law took over just before I could get a net under it. 

The day before our holiday saw me on the local river which is now really choked with weed the level being so low. All the likely spots were devoid of anything fishy but a couple of Chublets saved me from a blank session.

I was hoping to have some much better luck whilst on holiday in North Wales but my plan to fish one lakes for Eel's was abandoned when I saw the colour of the water, bright turquoise, apparently there are several waters around the country experiencing the same algae blooms and having blanked on waters with blooms in the past I didn't fancy blanking again. As I had a skeleton coarse kit with me and an Avon rod, I decided to pay a visit to day ticket lake Llyn y gors, I remember this place opening the year before I went to university and it was just the one lake, it's now a whole complex of lakes with everything on offer and if I had the time and the money I think it would be worth a lengthy trip to notch up a few for the board. After a recce the day before fishing I chose one pool that was supposed to be stocked with just Tench, Rudd and Crucians. 
Can you guess what the target was?

Blanking at Llyn Y Gors

Should have tried the other lake, I blanked!!

Cerys on her first family fishing trip.
Cerys wasn't impressed.

Sunrise at Pwllfanogl

After the failure the day before, I got my arse out of bed early to do a morning session on the Menai Straits at Pwllfanogl, one of my old haunts. The session was a 'dig and fish' as I hadn't been out to collect any bait during the week but you can't get any fresher than this. After a good half hours dig I had some cracking bait, fresh lug and king rag which really took some digging.

Spot the King Rag.

It was a bite a chuck as the tide turned but it took a few casts before I hooked the first fish, I just couldn't hook them, I'd started off on a size two hook to give the small flatties in the area a chance but I ended up using the largest hook in the box, a 5/0, before I connected with the tip rattlers.

Bearded Tip Rattler.

Codling, loads of them and all small, at least I was catching something.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Small River Adventures - Part Two

That big Perch had me thinking all the way home and it was the first thing I thought about when sorting through my gear the next morning. Getting a pass to go fishing was tough but I managed to swing it and I was back on the river again for and afternoon session. 

Different plan today, choose a swim and fish it for a good few hours, I chose a spot on a bend that looked particularly fishy and started to feed maggots to try and tempt a few larger residents out from the far bank cover, it was deep, almost six foot but the fish were there. I started to catch small Dace and Roach as well as a few Chublets and then bingo, I hooked into something much bigger, I had visions of a huge striped beast rolling into my net but it turned out to be a Chub of three pound and four ounces.

Chub with scars from a previous encounter
It was a good start, so the maggots kept being fed and the fish kept coming but I was hoping for one big stripey, I had a few smaller Perch but the big ones kept themselves hidden. Before I made a move I had a new species, I don't ever recall catching a Ruffe before and was rather pleased to have met one, looked very similar to the sea scorpions I used to catch in the Menai Straits.

Spiky beast
I moved back upstream a few pools to where I'd lost the Perch the day before and saved all my best worms for this pool, it only took a couple of trots through to connect with the first Perch and after a good high speed thrash around the swim it was safely in the net. It wasn't anywhere near as big as the fish I saw yesterday but it was an improvement on what I have at the moment at one ounce over the pound. 

A pound and one ounce

I gave the swim a rest and just fed maggots for around ten minutes before trotting a worm through again, I was sure that the thrashing from the first Perch would have spooked the swim but I kept getting bites and it was a few trots later that I connected with another good stripey of exactly the same size, it may have been the same fish!

Small River Adventures - Part One

I like fishing new stretches of water, it's that element of the unknown that brings excitement into fishing a new venue with only reports and pictures to go on and a Google Earth view to look at and ponder over. In reality, each swim was worthy of a dangle with a bait, there were a few well worn spots giving an impression that this place was well fished but it looked mostly untouched as I walked through the knee high grass.

I looked for a swim with deeper water, a bit of a flow and plenty of cover, with the water level being so low I felt this was the best approach. We'd had some rain through the night and into the morning, I was in two minds whether to take the brolly but I put my trust in the weather forecasters predictions and went with the waterproofs, I was expecting the river to have plenty of colour but it was surprisingly clear.

I started with red maggot on a float to see what I could tempt and brought a couple of other baits as a reserve, as usual I was over gunned for such a small venue fishing with two rods, there was no need for the second rod, however, fished as a sleeper on the bottom with a big lobworm on the hook this rod did take a bite from a very good Perch which threw the hook at the net. This was a kick in the teeth for this session and just to rub salt into the open wound, I witnessed the capture of a much bigger Perch later in the day.

On a plus point, I doubled my Dace weight for the challenge, it's now two ounces!

A Whopper of a Dace!

It was a good day with plenty of fish, Roach, Dace, Gudgeon, Chublets and Perch, I even caught a small Pike on red maggot! 

Spot the maggot.

On my next visit I'll stick with the one rod and just float fish.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Jolly Time!

First week in July and time for the first summer jolly of 2011. Westward Ho! with the intention of kicking back and relaxing, spending some time with Cerys and maybe a spot of fishing to hopefully bag a few Smoothies. 

The holiday went basically like this:

Most of the time was spent doing a lot of this.

Out on a recce

After spending several hours collecting enough bait for the week I managed to spend some time doing what we all love, wetting a line.

Back on hound alley

Sadly, this year I didn't catch any of these.

2010 Hound

After a couple of good days, the wind swung round making rock fishing for Smoothhounds a bit tricky.

Rock to beach panorama

So I headed for the gulley's at the entrance to the estuary to fish for these.

Well below legal size

When the tide was out it looked like this

Where's the water gone?

But as the water level rose, the 'south gutt' filled up and in moved the shoals of Bass.

Ah, there it is!

It looks lovely and sunny in most of these pictures but a fair bit of time was spent with my back to the wind and heavy rain showers. 

Go on, rattle it again and I'll av ya!

Even though I fished hard, the Bass didn't get much bigger than this.

Bass like worm down here!

Roll on the next holiday.