Saturday 24 November 2012

Bread, flies & floods

Some things in fishing, you can legislate for. Others keep you guessing. The location of fish is just one area nobody can predict with unerring certainty. Such was the case on a pole fishing trip, where I fancied another crack on breadpunch with Russ Hilton. We picked the wrong pegs at first- there had been fish around Charlton before in this particular area, but we couldn't buy a bite for a whole hour- and punch seems to work quite soon or not at all. Photobucket Undaunted, we upped sticks and took a walk before deciding on a new area. The banks were horrendous, but we could see lots of silvers and several pike nearby too. It was bite a chuck fishing from the off, but rather a struggle to get anything over about an ounce. The place was absolutely heaving with small silver bream, and in fact the only thing which prevented constant bites was the odd pike boiling in the swim and sending the little buggers scattering. DSC_0071-1 In the end, we knocked the session on the head and grabbed pike tackle. Drifted deadbaits were accepted in no time at all, with several runs in the space of perhaps 90 minutes. The pike were on the small side, as is typical for the cut, but fun nevertheless. Otherwise, It has been a period of hectic sorting things out, including a trip to hospital rapidly followed by the final, concluding day for my Level 2 Angling Coaching badge. The paperwork has been a nightmare- but the course itself worthwhile and I've learned a lot. By the end of it I needed a relaxing day out somewhere, and fancied a bit of stillwater fly fishing. I also caught up with the two Adams, Aplin and Moxey, for whom the whole idea of "catch and take" trout fishing was totally new. DSC_0061-2 A pretty scene at Blakewell it was to, and as well as trout we could spot perch in the margins. Sure these never used to be here- contrary to the wishes of the management to remove them, I like seeing perch in trout lakes. Adam managed to catch one on a damsel nymph, while things started slowly with the trout. The first hits came not on naturals, but by switching to a good old Woolly Bugger: securedownload-24Funny how fisheries can change. Once upon a time, it felt like the fishing was almost too easy at Blakewell. On this occasion things took a bit of sussing- and the fish seemed to want a lure presented nice and slow, rather than stripped aggressively. The real turning point was switching to that purist's nightmare, the blob. With less weight than the goldheads, this fly could be fished much slower without dropping into the weed and it led to a hectic final hour. It's always especially pleasing to introduce others to a new type of fishing too, and it was brilliant to watch Adam Aplin play a first ever rainbow trout that leapt clear three times before hitting the net. A third new species on the fly rod for Adam then- and one very happy camper! photo-31 On a more sobering final note, the damage to the Grand Western Canal has been a horrible shock. Even to the most ardent fisherman, when folks have to be evacuated, it does put the welfare of fish into perspective. I gather there is now a floodwater lake formed near Greenways. For man and fish alike, let's just pray things settle down.

Sunday 11 November 2012

So near, yet so darned far!

DSC_0006-1 Talk about week of many miles and varied experiences. The difference between success and epic fail can be as fine as a fluorocarbon hooklength when it comes to fishing. Perhaps I'm being hard on myself, but it feels like a week of "not quite". I travelled all the way up to Lincoln to give a talk to the Lincoln PAC on Monday- well what can I say, RO Simon Blaydes has a persuasive enthusiasm! I very much enjoyed meeting all the lads from this well supported region, and also managed some fishing while I was there. I did a day for pike and another for perch, but both times encountered a similar challenge: masses of fry, along with predators that were tricky perhaps because they were so spoiled for choice. I managed just the one pike on my first day, but probably should have had more after seeing two or three decent fish repeatedly batter into shoals of diddy roach. DSC_0021-3 Day two was more of the same, albeit on a trout water in search of a big perch, and I'm not sure I've ever seen such thick shoals of fry as I found around inshore structures. However, it was the trout which came close to shore at intervals through the day to hunt- and create the sort of effect you get in a monster movie when a 60ft high reptile comes into view and tiny people scatter everywhere you look. Perhaps I shouldn't feel too disappointed at the lack of perch, because it was exciting stuff and enjoyed some good hits. This mint conditioned brown went like stink and actually coughed up three little roach as I unhooked it, including one which was still wriggling! DSC_0032-4 perch did finally show up, but only for a short feeding window just before dark. Take your pick of excuses- top of the list would be a foul wind making casting and presentation a nightmare, although I'm also going to go back to the drawing board as far as my fry copies are concerned. After a fair bit of effort on predator and fly fishing, I then fancied something a bit different. With the exception of pike events it has been a few years since I entered a match, but with Tiverton AC holding an open on the pretty Grand Western Canal at Tidcombe, I really fancied a crack with the pole. photo-30 Bread punch seemed the favoured method for bites- but taking a tip or two from friends, I went with a big piece of punch on a size 16 as an opening ploy, and bloody hell did it pay off. Well, nearly. I had two bream down the central track in the first half hour, which fought in a most un-breamlike manner on a number four elastic. Thrilling stuff and for a precious few minutes I was thinking "bloody hell, I might be in with a chance here!" photo-29 Unfortunately it wasn't quite to be- other anglers also latched into some bream, pushing me down the running order. I fished the peg hard, trying chopped worm, caster and even a single pinkie on a 22, but for little further reward. A lot of effort for perhaps a dozen roach, but that extra bream or two which might have won me some coin were not forthcoming. Never mind, a little under 6lbs for fifth place is probably no disgrace given my long absence from match fishing and I thoroughly enjoyed the day (big thanks to Russ Hilton for the match pics, whose towpath stroll I hijacked). At the risk of making a pretty tenuous analogy, I'd liken my performance to the current plight of Exeter City FC- some decent play, but not quite promotion material just yet.

Friday 2 November 2012

Predator Pickings

Photobucket As anyone who likes to seek out new locations discovers, fishery owners come in all types. I've met some brilliant, supportive characters, as well as some first class nutters! I don't think some of them realise the huge importance they play in the sport- treat your anglers well and they'll be back time and again. The curious part comes when you encounter owners who would almost rather you weren't there. With perch fishing especially though, it's worth seeking out those more hidden places which are hardly promoted and where "fishery management" means a bloke hopping off his tractor and saying "that'll be six quid please". Photobucket Autumn is invariably the most colourful time of the year. I'm glad in this instance I got Frazer McBain on the case again, who could make even the meekest little pond look elegant and mysterious. I've been doing more pole fishing lately for the perch. The pole is brilliant for getting accurate depths and pushing baits into tight spots- and as well as my favourite chopped worm tactics, I'm also using stepped up rigs to present small roach in perchy spots. It didn't start brilliantly on this occasion though, with a smashed pole section. Just as well the best areas are often near the bank- and this two and a bit pounder took a tiny roach close to cover over a decent helping of chop: Photobucket Talking of off the beaten trail waters, initial trials have begun with the PAC boys on what could be an exciting little detour. All made possible by the efforts of Adam Moxey- who has done a sterling job sniffing out the place and talking to the owner. I can't name it just yet- although the boys who came to the first PAC meeting of the season at Mill on Exe now have an inkling of where our annual fish in will be held. Top class winter wear from Mox too- he was so well concealed from the cold he looked a bit like an armed robber. DSC_0123 I had no pike on this occasion, but managed a perch on a drifted dead roach (an unusual occurrence on this method) and enjoyed a beautiful day in good company. Mox said the fateful lines "Just watch my rod for a minute mate, I'll be back in a few minutes" -and lo and behold, Chris Lambert was on hand to hit a screaming run and land a beautifully well conditioned double. Photobucket It's been a really sociable few weeks in fact, and I also had a great day out with Mox and Russ Hilton on the Grand Western. We tried wobbling, lures and flies out. All of the methods caught plenty, the place looked as cute as a canal gets and the pike were fiesty if not huge: Photobucket Definitely a month for predators then, and not only of the fishy variety. I took my other half Jo to Yarak Birds of Prey centre as a birthday treat and had a blast holding and photographing all the different birds, like this eagle: Photobucket