Monday, 27 March 2017

River seasons end. River Pike, Chub and River Rudd fishing.

The problem with being an all round angler is trying to find time to track down the larger specimens of your quarry. But the plus side is catching a variety of species and keeping the excitement levels high. The last couple of months of the river season was great fun for me for that very reason.

Pike seem to be my bogie species as I've never caught a large specimen. Although I have caught them to just shy of 20lbs. My local river was my choice for the day as I know it holds a good number of Pike and also throws up the odd bigger specimen. I was fishing 3 rods as I wanted to up my chances of catching. Two ledgered deadbaits and one float fished. Action was not long in coming and the ledgered smelt was snapped up! A spirited fight ensued and a good fish was in the net. A mint 12lber made it worth the early start!

Not long after that a fish of around 8lb graced my net. Again it was on a ledgered smelt. The action dried up after and it was about an hour after starting so I decided it was time for a move. I don't tend to move far on rivers as the fish may not be far away and I don't want to miss them. 30 yards away gave me fresh water to spread my rods.

The river was getting busy and three row boats were right in front of me over my baits. Just as I was thinking I hope I don't get a take now I got one and the ledgered roach was away! I had to hit into the fish as I didn't want to wait for the boats to go and risk deep hooking it. I kept the rod tip under water hoping to keep the line away from the boat oars. The fish decided to come to the surface between two boats! It was a good fish and I didn't want to lose it! Some how I got the fish under the boats and into the net. What a relief! It was a chunky fish and weighed over 16lb. It was recognisable as it had a vertical scare on its back. Maybe from a propeller? And in fact I actually caught the fish again one week later. I had a couple more jacks on float fished baits in the evening before calling it a day.

I use to do lots of Chub fishing in years gone by. It had been too long in fact so I made an evening trip out to a little river I knew had good form at that time. The light was fading fast by the time I got to the river. I set up in a nice looking area with cover on the far bank. A gentle under arm cast had my ledgered cheese paste deposited on the far margin. Just as I was getting my second rod baited the first rod was being dragged off the rest! Much to my surprise it was only a small Chub of about a pound in weight that was punching above his weight! Another small Chub took a liking to my cheese paste but it soon went quiet. It was now dark and a fancied a move.

Ten minutes later I had moved a short way upstream and got my rods into position. It didn't take long before a bite on ledgered luncheon meat saw my rod nearly pulled in again! This was a much heavier fish than the previous ones. It was a very dirty fight with the fish trying to bury itself in the near margin weed! It fought hard all the way to the net but eventually I scooped it up! At just under 5lb it was a lovely welcome back to Chub fishing and has given me the bug for the new season.

Time was getting on now and there was less than a week left of the river season. A Piking trip was planned but it turned into an unexpected Rudd trip too. I decided to take a float and feeder rod with me just in case the Pike fishing was slow. I got the pike rods out first and then got a rod out for the Rudd. I wasn't expecting much to be honest but I knew there had been some good late season catches in the past. Well it didn't take long for something to happen and I soon pulled into what felt like a good fish. Half expecting a Bream I was stunned when a golden Rudd splashed as it hit the surface! I prayed it would stay on and I'm happy it did as it was a beautiful fish weighing 2lb 7oz!

As soon as the bites came they dried up just as fast. The sun was out and it seemed to put the fish off for now. I did manage a few more smaller Rudd through the day but it was the Pike fishing that kept me busy. I had several fish to 14lb up to the evening when the Rudd switched on again. I had another two 2 pounders and several approach that weight too. I had to come back and try just for the Rudd.

I returned to the river a few days later nice and early. Rudd were topping on the surface and some sizable ones too! From the off I was catching 2lbers and in 15 crazy minutes I had four 2lb plus Rudd in a row! The biggest being 2lb 5oz. My mate Giles turned up soon after and was getting among the 2lbers too.

The action soon died down so a pub break was in order at lunchtime to recharge the batteries. When I got back to the river I resisted the urge of an afternoon nap and got the rods out straight away. The Rudd were feeding again and taking the bread flake on the drop. I lost count  of the good sized fish I caught but weighed the best ones and ended up with eight 2lb plus Rudd to 2lb 6oz before packing up not long after dark. The day was such a great day that it didn't seem so bad that the rivers were closing for three months. It just builds the anticipation for the new season.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Grafham Perch, socials and Rutland Zander.

It's time for another round-up of my fishing for Autumn and early Winter. Most of my fishing had been targeting Pike on rivers and lakes with the odd day chasing dreams on the big reservoirs. The last four years I have been cutting my teeth on the big Anglian water reservoirs of Grafham and Rutland waters. When I started fishing these massive lakes I felt like I was pissing in the wind as I had to learn how to tackle them on my own. To say the reservoir fishing had been hard this season would be an understatement! Although some anglers had caught fish of dreams most left with memories of what might have been!

September the 1st saw me and angling buddy Giles waiting at the gates of Grafham water for the chance to get an opening day specimen Perch in the net. We were not alone and I expect every boat was booked for the day! In just a few years I have noticed Grafham getting very busy. It's no surprise considering whats in there. Tickets were soon purchased and we set off chugging to the main tower (along with everyone else) to get our spot. We were mainly jigging and drop shotting to target the Perch. From the off we were catching lots of small Perch to a pound or so. Everyone was catching this size of fish with only the odd big stripey coming out. One particular take felt strange. It was just heavy and coming in like a dead weight. To my surprise it was a big Bream around 8lb in weight! In fact there were a few caught that day.

We were having fun but we wondered if we were going to get a chance of a big Perch? Well we did, but it was last knockings when I finally hit into a solid fish that started taking line fast! I was praying it was not a Trout and by the way it was fighting I didn't think I would be disappointed. Sure enough a big black and green stripey went in the net with a cheer! It had been hard work but very enjoyable. It went 3lb 7oz. The action didn't stop there as next drop down and Giles was into a good fish. It was not fighting like a Perch and when a good sized Zander started flapping on the surface it showed us why. At over 8lb it was a pb for Giles. That was it for the opening day of the season. We made our way back and saw that several boats had gone in early. Who knows what they would have caught if they had stayed out for the whole day?

With Pike in mind I decided to visit an old haunt in the fens. These lakes gave me my pb Zander many years ago and if the Pike were not in the feeding mood I hoped the Zander would be. I pitched up in the smaller lake as the trees would protect me from the strong cold fenland winds that were blowing! It did not take long before my DLD float was bobbing away nicely. I gave it several seconds before I wound down and pulled into thin air! Most likely a small Zander being the culprit?! Not long after this I saw a good Pike swirl on the surface. There was a lot of small fish activity so I switched the bait from a Smelt to a small dead Roach. Within a minute I had a savage take and the DLD float was ripping along the surface! I hit into the fish and this time was met with solid resistance. It gave me a good scrap with several strong runs. A solid looking Pike went into the net and weighed 14lb 8oz.

Another Piking trip saw me and Giles fishing from his boat on my local river. The plan was to anchor up at likely looking spots and float fish dead baits and allow them to go down river with the flow. However, the river was low and clear due to a lack of rain so it was like fishing a long narrow lake as there was no flow! It did not affect our plan much apart from we had to cast the baits around more to search the water. We had a great day watching the DLD floats bobbing along as Jacks to 7lb pulled them around the river.

It was way overdue for a social session with longtime angling mates Colin, Alan and Giles. We decided on a trip to my local club lake as it held a big stock of hard fighting Carp that Al and Giles would target. Me and Col would target the lakes small stock of Pike hoping that one of the few bigguns would make an appearance. Giles and I got there before sunrise and were soon looking over the lake watching Carp bosh out in front of us. Colin and Al arrived some time later and after casting out we were all drinking tea and eating bacon sarnies. Col had the 1st take and a small Jack Pike was netted. Soon after I had a Jack too.

The Carp were not in the feeding mood during the day but as soon as light levels began to fade Giles had a run. It was a plodding fight so we thought it would be a decent fish and sure enough a chunky mirror was scooped up! The fish was unhooked and weighed in at 23lb 10oz. Giles was fishing as a guest so I was very pleased he caught a good fish after hearing my stories of the fantastic fishing this lake has given me over the years. Al was next and he was given a very hard fight from a Carp that weighed in just over 20lbs. The feeding spell came to an end when Giles was beaten up by a 17lb mirror! Now he believed the stories of me leaving the lake after just a few hours a broken man from catching these muscle bound torpedos!

It was time for another trip vertical jigging for Zander. Giles and I had fished Grafham several times already but fancied a change of scenery. Rutland water was to be the destination and it would hopefully be more accommodating?! The 1st port of call was a pipe that runs along the North arm of the lake. The fish finder showed a few pockets of fish along the pipe but nothing was taking the bait. A change was needed so we were soon jigging in the main part of the lake. Larger numbers of fish were given away here by the finder. 1st drop down and I was into a Zander of a few pounds and it was extremely welcome. Over the next few drifts a greedy bonus Perch of about 1lb 8oz engulfed my lure along with a few more small Zander. Giles had a few similar sized zeds too. Soon after a better fish fell to my static lure rod. This had some weight to it and put a healthy bend in my rod. At 8lb I was very happy indeed!

Time was drifting away and the sun was getting lower in the sky when my static lure rod bent over again. And another nice sized fish about 6lb was netted and swiftly returned. There was only a matter of minutes left before the boat was due back when yet again my static lure rod was bending over in anger! After what felt like an age a nice Zander about 7lbs made its way up from the depths. As soon as it was unhooked I plunged it back down and we made our way back to the boat yard. It was a very enjoyable day afloat and my batteries were fully recharged ready to tackle Grafham water next time out.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Club lake Crucian, river Rudd and surface carping. A varied summers fishing. Part 2.

The 2nd half of my summers fishing was just as rewarding as the 1st. Fishing fenland rivers to club lakes it was again all about variety. The highlight for me was catching a pb that I had been dreaming about for many years.

I have been targeting Crucians for the last few summers or so and have caught lots of beautiful fish to over 2lbs. Now a 2lb plus Crucian may not sound like a big fish but when they are as rare as they are in my part of the world ANY Crucian is a special fish. I had fished over at Marsh farm day ticket lakes in Surrey a few times in the hope of getting that special 3lb fish. But after catching many 2lbers it seemed like the place to catch a biggie was the club lake called Johnsons. It's a 200 mile round trip to Johnsons for me but there are not many other places (probably none) that you can go and fish for the quantity of big Crucians this lake has.

My 1st trip was at the end of July so the Crucian fishing had been in full swing for a few months already. I got to the lake about 6am after a very early start from Cambridge to find the lake very busy. And this was a Monday after the weekend crowds. I had some advice to follow from some regulars and headed to the train bank. There were only a few swims to choose from so settled into a quiet corner and dropped one ground bait method feeder in close to some lilies and one a good chuck out near to some weed. I was into a powerful fish almost straight away which turned out to be a plump Tench of around 5lbs in weight. A few more Tench over the next few hours had me thinking of a move. I found some fish bubbling in a shallow area the opposite side of the lake. It didn't take me long to move and it paid off within minutes and a 2lb 12oz Cru was soon being photographed. It tuned out to be the only Crucian for me that day but only a handful were caught around the entire lake. It was a pb for me so I was well happy with that!

Two weeks later I was again up at an absurd time in the morning navigating my way around the M25 to Johnsons lake. This time it was a Saturday so I got there even earlier to make sure I could get a swim in the fancied area. Well I couldn't believe it when there were only three cars in the car park! This time I had the pick of the "going" swims and soon had my rods out in the lake. This time I wanted to try something different along side the ground bait method feeder. I opted for a maggot feeder just to give them something different to the standard ground bait feeder. I cast the maggot feeder several times next to a weed bed to get some free offerings in the area. About 5 minutes after the 1st proper cast I was into a fish that I thought must be a Tench due to the speed of the take?! Not long into the fight I could feel the tell tale up and down fight of a Crucian. It went into the net with no drama and equaled my pb of 2lb 12oz. What a great start.

The Crucians carried on feeding through the day and I landed several 2lbers along with several Tench to 6lb. I noticed a Crucian jump 20 yards past the baited area so I wound in the ground bait rod and dropped it as close as I could to it. A few minutes later the bobbin slammed into the rod and I was into a better fish. As I played the fish in I knew it was a better Crucian and as I pulled it into the net I could see it for certain. Would this be my 3lber? At 3lb 4oz it was indeed! The early start and long drive was definitely worth it. And to cap the day off the very next fish was another 3lber! I can't wait to get back.

I manged to get out onto my local river for some more evening sessions after the Rudd. Although not the most practical way of targeting them I love fishing from a boat. With the evenings drawing in it doesn't leave much time for fishing once you have got the boat into the river and everything sorted! But nevertheless I had some very enjoyable fishing catching some beautiful Rudd to 2lb 4oz. In just half a dozen or so trips between me and my boat mates we boated 12 2lb plus Rudd. The highlight was one such evening session with my mate Mick. He had never caught a 2lb Rudd before so when his big piece of bread crust got inhaled by a 2lb 1oz fish I was just as over the moon as him.

Carp fishing has taken somewhat of a back seat for me over the last few years. That's the problem when you target multiple species. There's just never enough time for everything! Especially when you have a young family. I did manage to get out one particularly hot late August evening with the hope of catching some Carp off the surface at my local club lake.

There was a fair breeze blowing which made for tricky presentation. I opted to fish the back of the wind where there was some shelter from the tree's behind. There were a few fish on the surface and looked ripe for a floater or two! I spodded out 7 or so loads of mixers and the fish started taking instantly. I had several Carp to 19lb over the next hour or so but I noticed a sizable fish taking mixers relatively close in. I cast about 5 yards in front of the fish in the direction it was heading. As the fish got closer I repositioned the hook bait just to make sure it couldn't miss it. And it didn't! As it sucked down the mixer I set the hook. The fish didn't realise it was hooked for a few minutes and just plodded about. As it got closer to the bank it woke up and ran me all over the place for another 10 minutes! After a few attempts at netting it I finally bundled it in. It was a lovely old looking mirror of exactly 25lbs and a great way to see the summer out.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

River Rudd and reservoir Perch. A varied summers fishing. Part 1.

It's been a while since my last blog and this one is going to cover what I've been fishing for over the summer. They say variety is the spice of life and I believe that saying goes for fishing too. Most of my time was spent targeting fenland river Rudd with a few trips chasing big Crucians. I even managed to fit in a rare Carp fishing session!

The summer really kicked off on June 16th. The opening day of the river season. Fishing with Giles Cawston once again and joined for this special day by another friend Chris Netto we would be targeting fenland river Rudd.

We were in the boat so we set off to the known areas from last season. We found some Rudd and cast our float fished bread flake baits out into the crystal clear water. Chris had a bite and was into a good fish. It was a spirited fight and we were glad to see a sizable Rudd go in the net 1st time! It weighed in at 2lb 1oz and was Chris's biggest by far. He was over the moon and we were for him too.

In amongst the Rudd fishing Giles was casting lures around in an attempt to catch one of the fenland Pike that prey on the golden fish we were after. Well on one cast a Pike couldn't resist grabbing hold of Giles lure and proceeded to lead him a merry dance on his light set up! Over 10 minutes later Chris chinned the fish and lifted it into the boat and onto the mat. The long summer Pike weighed 15lb+ and was a personal best for Giles.

It was now late afternoon and it was my turn to get into a good fish and after dropping my bread crust bait on the surface it wasn't long before it was gulped down by a good fish. I struck into it and the fish bolted! I managed to keep it's head out of the weed and a couple of minutes later it was in the net. It was a beautiful battle scared fish with character. The best looking type of Rudd in my opinion. All 2lb 4oz of it!

It was now late in the evening and my bread crust was again smashed on the surface! Another spirited fight and another 2lb 4oz Rudd was in the net. This was a totally different looking fish without a silent scale out of place! A great end to a fantastic day on the river.

Now into July and I fancied a change of scenery. It had been a while since my last reservoir boat trip so I soon found myself at Pitsford water chasing big Perch. I knew the areas to target from previous trips so headed to the Dam wall tower. Drop shotting rubber worms is my go to method when targeting big Perch and it didn't take long for a big stripey to fall for it! Several strong vertical runs later and a big Perch was netted. The needle settled on 2lb 15oz. No matter how much I shook the scales I could not get that extra ounce! Lol

A few more big 2lbers came my way before something a bit special made and appearance. I was smiling from ear to ear when a long 3lb 7oz Perch topped the lot from the tower. Giles had his fair share and the best was also 3lb+ before the action dried up.

Time was getting on and we started back to the boatyard stopping off at the road tunnel for the last few minutes. The echo sounder was picking up masses of fish inside the tunnel but you are not all to fish there for them. We anchored up away from the opening and cast our lures close to the tunnel bouncing them back to entice a take. This worked and a good fish hit hard! The fight was amazing and powerful. A pristine 3lb 7oz Perch was my prize. My 2nd 3lb 7oz fish of the of the day. Giles took an awesome picture of me and this fish and will take some beating to better it.

Those were the highlights of the 1st half of summer for me. But there was even better still to come!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Spring at last! Crucian and Tench fishing at Marsh Farm.

With nice Spring weather here at last I knew exactly where I wanted to be fishing. Marsh Farm in Surrey for a days Crucian and Tench fishing! I was up bright and early packing my car for the 2 hour drive to the venue. I was joined for this trip by my mate Giles who shares this addiction we call Angling!

We pulled into the car park and was greeted by a sea of cars! My heart sunk as I thought the 2 hour drive may be totally wasted if we could not get a swim on Harris lake. I unloaded the car while Giles bought the day tickets. Tickets bought Giles came back and asked if I wanted the good news or bad news? I said bad news first and was told the Tench fishers group had the whole railway bank booked! I asked what the good news was and the reply was "at least we will be fishing". And that's always good news!

With the railway bank was out of the mix so we took a look at was left. I talked to a guy who had only had 1 Tench so far on the float. He also told me the Crucians had been spawning the day before and the lake is not fishing well. So who's knows what they would be doing today?! As he had not caught much on the float I decided to go straight in with a small Drennan inline method feeder and a single hair rigged Drennan bouyant caster. I found a free swim which I knew had some variation of depth. It had a shallow area falling away from the island into deeper water. This way I could cover the warmer shallower water for fish enjoying the bright warm conditions and a deeper area if the fish wanted to get some cover from the bright sun.

Within minutes of the feeder settling on the lake bed I was away with a strong fish which tuned out to be a lovely Tench. Another Tench soon made off with my feeder in tow. A typically hard fight ensued and it didn't stop even when it was in the net! The fishing certainly didn't seem as slow in this area as it was elsewhere. I was beginning to think the Crucians may not be in the feeding mood but I was soon playing a fish that was fighting very different to the Tench. With characteristically short but strong lunges I knew this was a Crucian. Sure enough it's golden flanks were shining in the sun near the waters surface ready for the net. At around 1lb 8oz in weight I was very happy to get at least 1 Crucian in the net. But I need not have worried because this was just the beginning!

I noticed the odd Crucian jumping out of the water a couple of swims away. The guy sat in the swim had not caught anything so I thought they must be moving through his swim. When he packed up Giles noticed a shoal of Crucians right where the guy had been float fishing. It was Crucian soup! How he did not catch anything I don't know?! As Giles noticed the shoal he had 1st dibs on having a go for them. He dropped his feeder bang on the money. A minute later his rod tip banged over indicating a take. Not long after it unfortunately fell off! The fish understandably drifted away which gave me my chance to drop my feeder on the spot. The fish started to drift in again and it was not long until my rod tip was banging away! This time there was no drama and a lovely Crucian was netted. At 2lb 3oz I was very happy to make the most out of this situation.

The fish scattered after that returning occasionally for a mooch around. We could not tempt them again so we went back to our own baited spots. The action continued in our own swims with the occasional Tench and Crucian until mid afternoon when it kicked off big time in my swim! A succession of mostly Crucians succumbed to my feeder tactics (see earlier blog for rig details) over the next 3 or 4 hours. One spot in particular was rocking and that was in the shallower water that drops away from the island. I even had a double take at one point and had a brace of 2lbers in the net! Giles had a fish at the same time too which made for a great photo opportunity.

The activity dropped off as the evening drew in. Which was the opposite to what we expected. It was mostly Tench that were feeding now and we decided to call it a day. But not before I tempted another hard fighting Tench as my rods lay on the ground. I always leave my rods and net as the last things to be packed away as I often bag a bonus fish doing this. I ended up with 14 Crucians up to 2lb 3oz and just as many Tench Giles did great too and was not far behind on numbers and had the biggest Crucian at 2lb 7oz. We were told the lake had been fishing hard. I feel this made us put in the extra effort and reaped the rewards.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Late Winter Tench fishing at Marsh Farm.

It was the last day of Winter and here I was sitting on the bank of Harris lake on the Marsh Farm complex in Surrey. This lake is famous for it's Tench and Crucian fishing but more so in Spring and Summer than a cold day like this! I was fishing with a couple of friends (Giles and Chris) and we knew it was going to be hard work due to the cold North/East wind!

We decided to start on the smallest lake on the complex. Hill pond. Although the smallest lake on the complex it still has Crucians over 3lb in weight and numerous Tench. The pond was well sheltered from the cold wind so we thought a few quick bites would be forthcoming. Unfortunately this was not the case and bites were hard to come by fishing in the shallow margins. I set up my trusty method feeder set up and cast out with an underarm flick. I did this a few times just to get a bit of bait on the spot. I had a quick response and soon had a small but very welcome Tench in the net. Nothing else was interested so Giles and I packed up and headed over to Harris lake to try and tempt the bigger fish to our baited hooks.

The obvious starting point was the sheltered Northern end of the lake. It was flat calm and noticeably warmer. We did have a look further down the lake just in case we saw signs of fish but there were none. I settled for a swim that gave me an island to cast to as well as open water. The first rod was placed at the bottom of the island shelf and the other in the open water. As always I cast the method feeders out several times each to get a bit of bait on the spot before leaving them to snare any hungry fish that come along. The ground bait method mix was a simple crushed hemp mix with a few larger food items such as 6mm low oil pellet, sweetcorn and casters. With the added pulling power of corn steep liquor and pellet betaine liquid. It had the desired affect as the island rod was off to a flier 10 minutes later! With the water still being very cold I was surprised how hard this fish was pulling! It took me all over the place before slipping the net under a fighting fit male Tench. Giles too had a Tench soon after me so it was worth the move already.

Maybe we had just hit the end of a morning feeding spell as we could not tempt another bite for what seemed like ages?! As nothing was happening where we were we moved down the lake to see if we could locate any feeding fish. The problem was the cold wind was pushing down the lake and I doubted there would be much more of a chance of feeding fish here. But rather than sit behind motionless bobbins and silent alarms it was a risk worth taking. I chose a similar swim to the last with island and open water features. The feeders went out in similar areas too. As I feared the fish did not seem to be in this area. We had no action for an hour so had no hesitation in heading back to the previous productive area.

We went straight back to our previous swims. I fished exactly the same spots as before hoping the bait had attracted some fish. It took a bit longer for the bite to come but when it did it was another hard fighting Tench. The Crucians really didn't want to feed today but the Tench were saving the day. Lee the bailiff popped over for a chat. It was great catching up as it had been almost a year since my last visit on the Association of Crucian anglers fish-in. We were rudely interrupted by another screaming take which turned out to be a Tench that thought it was Jack Pike by almost jumping out of the lake a couple of times! Giles was getting in on the action too and had two more Tench.

The day was drawing to an end and the pack up began. Another Tench tore off at a rate of knots and was the final reward on what was far from ideal as far as fishing conditions go. I'm already dreaming of returning in a month or so when the Spring is in full swing and when hopefully the big Crucians that swim along side the Tench will be in full feeding mode.