Sunday, 22 January 2017

December Predators

So December started with my now annual pairs lure match which I organise on the Trent and Mersey canal each year. This year it was kindly sponsored by ecogear and they sent an enormous box of prize goodies especially for the occasion. 18 teams turned up on the day and it was clear from the outset that the fishing was going to be tough. An overnight frost had put cat-ice on the water in some parts and the canal bottom was clearly visible along most of its length.

 

With the extremely clear conditions I said beforehand it would be pike that made all the difference and so it proved with several being landed throughout the course of the match. The perch were being difficult to tempt and overall lengths remained low for the first half of the match. A couple of boats came through late on and people began to catch a few at last knockings. In the end it was won by Vidar Thomassen and Alan Brown with a fantastic 2.7m which was a great result in the conditions.

Next session of note was a trip to Rutland just before Christmas with Potto, Andy and Dave. Conditions were chilly with no wind which meant for a flat calm lake with no drift, casting it was then! We landed on fish straight away and everybody caught within the first 20mins of fishing so we were confident of a good day.

 
Andy managed a couple of lovely 60cm plus Zander both consecutive PBs but as ever these things don't last and the bites tailed off considerably. I had a run of missed bites and lost a couple mid morning but a change of retrieve style finally managed to snare a few small consolation prizes late on. It was Dave and Andys first time out on the ressies and to say they are now hooked is an understatement!
 

 

A few days later I had a window for quick two hour session into dark on a local river which gave me a couple of Perch with shoulders! About time too as it seemed like ages since I last bagged some decent ones! It was tough going and I only had three bites but I made them count at least.

 

Soon enough Christmas was upon us and due to family commitments I was struggling to get out although I did manage a trip to the Severn with Potto where I bagged a fine conditioned Pike from my only bite of a very tough day.

So that rounds off 2016 then! Not a great year for big fish, I've certainly had many better years, but I've broadened my horizons a great deal by trying lots of new tactics and fishing a good selection of different waters at home and abroad . I've fished with old friends and met many new ones in my travels and I feel my fishing has been enormously enriched as a result.

I'm very positive going into 2017 as I have big plans, with various matches and a couple of European trips hopefully on the cards. Outside fishing I have settled into my new job and am looking forward to a house move and a fresh start which I'm certain will carry through into my fishing and help me bank some kippers!

 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Mega update! I'm back!

Crikey, it's been a while!! A few months back my blog kind of fell by the wayside it appears and it's been one of those things where the longer you leave it, the harder it is to get back into it! I've had one or two ideas to completely change the direction of this blog anyway but until I come up with a format I'm happy with then I shall just update it normally as and when.

A lot has taken place in my fishing and personal life since my last update so rather than giving a blow by blow account which would take forever to write and somewhat bore the reader I shall just put a few pics on with a bit of background info so you can flick through to anything of interest more quickly.

Ok, starting from early summer which is where my last entry kind of finished I enjoyed a couple of cracking days on Pitsford reservoir with the SHUK (specimen hunting UK) lads in pursuit of its predators and it didn't disappoint. Pikewise I never managed anything decent but there was plenty of them to keep a bend in the rod . I did catch some nice perch however and was most privileged to be on hand to photograph a cracking 4lb pb for my buddy Carl and witness another PB in the form of a 24lb pike to another friend steve. The other SHUK lads fared well also with numerous big perch landed on the other boats.

 

 
A trip up to the Lake District to fish an event organised by the Lure anglers society on esthwaite water proved interesting. We camped on the shoreline and got eaten alive by midges but after Potto managed a lovely double figure fish just casting from the bank upon our arrival we were hopeful of a good session the following day. Unfortunately it wasn't to be and we managed just one fish each between us. It turned out it fished pretty hard for everybody and our two modest Pike were enough for third place which was a result considering neither of us had even seen the Lake before! A truly stunning place to wet a line though.
 
 
I also joined a little carp syndicate this year with the intention of getting to grips with the lakes bream population, however, my burgeoning lure fishing obsession got in the way of those plans for the most part. I did mange a couple of trips though and had some nice doubles, no PBs but I have little doubt that I've found the right water to nail my biggest bream at some point.
 

Around this time I got notice that my unit at work was to be closed down as the powers that be decided a move to Scotland with its cheap labour would be more profitable. This threw all my plans into disarray as I had only recently put my house on the market with a view to upsizing. After the initial panic I decided to continue with the house sale and forsake any meagre redundancy payout in favour of getting a new job as quickly as possible so I could get enough time in my new job behind me to enable a smooth transfer into a new mortgage when I needed to. Trouble is the house wasn't selling and finding the right job wasn't easy!

In the meantime on The fishing front it was early July and the Cornish lure festival was beckoning so myself and Carl headed to Cornwall for a long weekend of camping and fishing. Registration at the art of fishing tackle shop in wadebridge was quite surreal, I was five hours from home and it was like being in the local tackle shop, everybody that walked through the door was a familiar face from the midlands!

Our target for the weekend was to catch as many different species as possible and From our base in fowey we covered a lot of spots all around the area from Looe to Mevagissey. The main problem for us was lack of local knowledge, we knew where we wanted to fish but really struggled to get to most of the marks and not being sea anglers whatsoever we knew nothing of how the tides affected the different species. We did manage a few fish though and it was a real eye opener catching fish on lures in tiny rockpools that you wouldn't normally give a second glance to!

 

A couple of weeks later I was in Cornwall again on a family holiday so I got chance to revisit some spots with my daughter charlotte. We had a great time and the mackerel fishing was mental!!

Within a week of returning home I had a couple of successful job interviews and accepted a new role with a company that designs and builds industrial machines for the food industry, I started there in August, things were looking up hopefully!

Soon enough it was time for the opening of two big boys of the UK reservoir fishing scene, namely Rutland and Grafham. I was booked to fish the Zandermasters competition on Rutland to kick things off and I came a very respectable 6th place out of a large field of very good anglers. My target had been to beat last years 11th place and I had blown that out of the water, really pleased.

 

A couple of days on Grafham again with the SHUK and perch hunters lads was next on the list and what a trip that turned out to be! Carl and I really got stuck into the perch and we lost count of how many we caught over the two days, it was ridiculous! Most averaged around the pound mark with numerous twos and whilst the real monsters eluded us I still managed fish to mid three. Carl found some small 3-4lb Zander and seemed to be catching them for fun whereas I couldn't get one to save my life! I even resorted to the same lure and fished right next to his yet still no joy. Some of the other lads in our party got amongst some monster Zander with one boat landing six doubles on one day! Fantastic fishing, no wonder they call it the theatre of dreams.

 

 

Much canal and river lure fishing filled in the gaps between the ressy trips and September also saw my appointment as an ambassador for Japanese lure company Ecogear. They manufacture some great lures and no doubt you will be seeing a lot more of them on here in the coming months. They sent me a few bits to play with and I have to say they certainly catch a few!

Backend of September and early October saw me back in a boat again with my old mate Potto. Firstly a trip to Rutland to celebrate my 40th which turned out to be much tougher than I'd expected. We'd spent a good portion of the day drifting over fairly deep water for very little action indeed, all the usual spots seemed devoid of fish and we were scratching our heads a bit. On one drift we overran into shallower water around 35ft deep and immediately started getting pulls and catching. After this we concentrated on the 25-35ft depth band and caught well for the rest of the day, the consistent warm weather had obviously moved the fish into the shallower areas.

 

The next trip out with Potto was a couple of firsts for me, it was my first trip to the river Severn and my first time fishing a river from a boat, I had no idea what to expect but Potto assured me of a good day and he didn't disappoint! My second cast produced a Zander and from then on we caught consistently throughout the day. Several Pike and Zeds plus a ruck of Perch made for some great fishing and I was amazed to catch fish below the boat in less than 10ft of water. I was previously convinced they would've been spooked straight away but the reality was far from it. Another thing I learned was the need for good boat control, pottos skills on the leccy motor worked wonders and certainly kept us on the fish. The ability to tackle snags from different angles was also a massive bonus and saved us loads of lost gear. After that trip I'm now determined to get a boat of my own now to tackle my local bits of soar and Trent.

 

 

Since then I've had a bit of a grueller on the fishing front, yes I've caught a few littleuns but it's been hard work. The weather has cooled dramatically and all the leaves seem to have come off the trees at once filling up my local waterways with crap.

I did have a fairly impromptu grafham trip last weekend but the wind was horrendous and for the first time since I've fished the ressies I actually got a bit seasick. I don't think anchoring up in the waves helped the situation because I was fine once we started fish the drift again. I lost a good Zander just beneath the surface and managed a couple of decent brown trout but bites were very hard to come by.

 

 

Going forward, I have my own DRAC match to look forward to in December, the LACC predator pairs next week and a whole load of ideas for new waters to try. Oh and my house is finally sold and I'm looking forward to a January move to my new house which just happens to have a fish filled stream at the end of the garden! Tight lines all :-)

 

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Seasons merge

As I write this is now the middle of May and I'm wondering where the rivers closed season has gone! It doesn't seem like five minutes since I was chub fishing on the dove but I realise now it's been nearly two months! Winter has given away firmly to spring and now daytime temperatures are right up we find ourselves on the cusp of summer and the angling delights it brings.

Since my last post lure fishing has absolutely dominated my time on the bank culminating in a pretty significant event in my angling career, more of which I will come onto later.

In these days of being able to fish lakes and canals in the closed season it doesn't seem quite so 'closed ' anymore and, although I long to fish running water, there are still opportunities to be had all over the place.

Towards the end of March I started doing the odd evening session after work on a local canal and it quickly became apparent that the perch were still well grouped up for spawning. There would be long stretches seemingly devoid of anything until suddenly a pocket of fish would be found and several would be caught in quick succession. More often than not these fish would be fit to burst with eggs which was the obvious clue as to why they were shoaling. One memorable evening gave me several half decent fish up to a very creditable 3lb2oz which, for the canal in question, was a true specimen!

I also dabbled in a little bait fishing in an attempt to catch a big perch from a commercial I'd been told about. Sadly, although I caught several small(and spawnbound) perch, the big ones weren't forthcoming and I had to make do with several nice carp and Tench instead. They really pulled the string so I wasn't complaining.

As the weather warmed slightly through April I noticed a lot of nice Trout suddenly appearing on the timelines of some of my lure fishing Facebook friends so naturally I wanted a piece of the action. I wasn't at all sure about the legalities of it all and after a few enquiries I managed to get permission to fish a small stretch of Derbyshire Dove.

If your reading this and fancy some trout action yourself, please note that all angling clubs are different in their rules regarding trout fishing during the closed season with most either being fly only or not allowing it whatsoever so it's worth asking the question before rocking up to the river and starting to chuck lures everywhere. You could save yourself from being banned or ending up in court!

It was an overcast day with a biting wind and the river was carrying slightly but it was good to be back fishing running water again albeit in a somewhat limited way. I started the day fishing tiny jigheads with creature type lures such as micro shrimps and crayfish with little success other than a few gentle taps. As lunchtime approached I switched to a dropshot setup and caught a small browny straight away and I really thought I'd found the method of the day, how wrong I was!

Nothing else happened for an hour or so so I decided to change to a tiny crankbait I had in my bag. It was a mega cheap thing I'd ordered on eBay for about £1.50 and to be honest I'd only brought it along to see what action, if any, it had. As you can imagine I was somewhat shocked when my first cast resulted in a savage thump and a lost fish!

 

Over the next hour I hooked several Trout and the takes were properly violent. I missed several good thumps in various swims but still ended up landing five fish so the day turned out to be a good one after all!

Since the back end of April the lure match calendar has really begun to kick in and my first one for a while was the 1st round of the LACC pairs league which was held at knowle locks on the GUC.

After an initial gamble didn't pay off, myself and partner in crime Carl had to think on our feet as we were seriously trailing behind the leaders at the halfway point. Eventually we managed to find a few tiny Perch to amass a total length of 2.38m for a hard earned 4th place overall which gives us some decent points to build on throughout the rest of the series. 11 points puts us in 5th place leaguewise at the moment but it's tight so still all to play for!

My most recent match was the International lure challenge run by the CRT and angling trust building bridges initiative. Teams from England, Poland, Romania and Lithuania were to battle it out on the GUC at leamington with prizes for both team and individual glory.

To be honest I wasn't sure about this one as my only previous dealings with Eastern European anglers was from a bailiffs point of view if you know what I mean! The point of the match was integration with a competitive edge and Each competitor had to team up with a member of one of the opposing teams and in my case I drew a Polish guy called Robert who turned out to be a really nice chap as it happened. There was over 70 anglers on an 8mile stretch of canal, the weather was set to be a sunny scorcher and the boats were out in force before the match even started,this was going to be tough! To add to the difficulty there was minimum size limits on qualifying fish, 20cm for Perch, 25cm for Zander and 45cm for Pike, anything under these sizes wouldn't count.

 

Fortunately we were drawn 4th or 5th out of the bag and got an early start. Seeing as the stretch was so long the organisers allowed driving so I persuaded Robert to head straight to the car and we headed straight to a spot I knew would hold a few. Great minds think alike because my SHUK teammate Carl and his Romanian partner were already at the spot when we arrived!

The size limits meant that wasp fishing was out of the question so my opening gambit was to be dropshotting 3inch plus lures in an attempt to find some Zander. 90% of the opposition seemed to be using 2-5inch shads on jigheads so I figured the different presentation of a dropshot approach might make the difference especially with the bright sunshine. The lure up off the bottom creates more of a profile in the murk for the fish to see, that was my thinking anyway.

I hooked on my lure as I approached the canal, dropped it in and had a sharp pluck within seconds which resulted in a 22cm Perch, a great start I couldn't believe it! Next spot I tried was a similar story and 37cm Zander was hurriedly netted and quickly followed by a 25cm fish! 30mins into the match and my length was up to 84cm already. Our team was keeping in touch via Facebook and it was quickly apparent that very little else was being caught.

 

As I expected with the boat traffic the canal got very coloured very quickly and the fishing became mega tough all round. I was keen to build on my early good start however and kept plugging away at it. Over the next four hours I had just 4 bites which, fortunately resulted in 3 more qualifying Perch included 2 over 30cm.

At 7hours the match was a long one and with 2 hours to go I was on 1.74m total length. The towpath was exceptionally busy with walkers and cyclists and by mid afternoon the fish had all but switched off, I really couldn't buy a bite and dispondancy was setting in a little. I knew I had a good total as the information which was creeping in was telling me that most were struggling badly. A Romanian guy had found some Zander though apparently as had a polish chap who had jumped in my original spot and camped there. I was kicking myself for leaving it but I had found fish elsewhere so couldn't be too upset about it, a look at his total gave him 1.63m so I was just in front! A 69cm Zander was reported as I headed back to base but I was quietly confident of a top 10 result.

As people rolled in it turned out that one or two people had a few fish but many more had really struggled and even blanked. I started to get twitchy as several people reported multiple Zander catches. I tried to sit back and relax with a beer as we all waited for the results to be announced but it was no good, people kept telling me I was in the lead and the tension was killing me!

Finally, after a few group photos, the individual results were announced. Third place with 1.63m is ............... Blimey! I was Second! .........second place with 1.66m is ........ Bloody hell! Bloody hell!!! ..... First place with 1.74m is ........ I was already in a daze and My teammates were already shaking my hand as they announced my name, I don't even remember walking up to accept my prize I just remember standing there grinning like a moron with a certificate and the best part of £300 in my hand, speechless was an understatement!

So there it was, my first ever match win! The only comparable feelings I've had before in my fishing was when I caught my first 30lb carp and my first 4lb Perch!

Despite my win and Carl managing a fantastic 4th place overall the English team was beaten back to third place behind Poland and Romania in the team event. Everybody had a laugh and an enjoyable day out of it however and I would certainly attend next years event if given the opportunity again. In the meantime I have new rods to buy .......... :-D

 

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Streetfishing - Amsterdam style

I have been fishing a fair bit since my last post on here and to be honest its been much of a muchness, lots of canal fishing and not enough river action due to some pretty evil conditions. Rather than boring you with the mundane details of that instead I will tell you a bit about a recent trip to holland.

Back in the autumn I was offered the chance to go and fish the open street event on the canals of Amsterdam at the back end of February. I didn't need asking twice and travel and hotel arrangements were quickly made. After that I pretty much forgot about it until the week before when the realisation that I might need to get some stuff ready finally hit me

Not knowing exactly what to expect saw me pack two rods, a light dropshot and a medium jigging setup as I had been advised it was fishing very hard and even the locals were struggling. Seeing as we were flying out there I was limited due to weight restrictions so I had to scale things back as much as I could. A small bag, my rods/reels and landing net was all I took tacklewise and my partner in crime,Potto, took the same. We manage to shoehorn both lots of gear into one suitcase and a flight tube which was pretty good going I thought!

Eventually the big day arrived and, after an infeasibly early start, myself and travelling companions Potto, Steve and Nick all found ourselves stood outside schiphol airport awaiting our pickup. Local angler And event organiser Frans soon arrived with his van and we all piled in and headed to his tackle shop. There we met other locals Gab, Richard and Leo and, after a quick coffee and sorting out some licenses we wasted no time getting tackled up and heading out onto the streets for some practice!

 

Although I have carp fished in holland before I was still struck by the sheer amount of water to go at out there, every corner turned presented us with a new canal and some were truly huge. The size of the boats motoring up and down them put our poxy little narrow boats to shame!

 

We started in an area on the northern bank of the river Amstel and the fishing proved to be very tough as we expected. Steve had a tiny perch first cast and Gab managed to nail a jack but the rest of us remained biteless despite our best efforts.

 

There was so much structure to fish to it was difficult to pick out fish holding areas. It all looked good but due, I think, to the size of the venue, the fish were massively spread out and only a few of these spots actually contained fish.

We're not the only ones with cormorant issues!
 

After the early start I was feeling somewhat jaded and struggling to concentrate and I think that feeling was shared with the others so we decided to have breakfast at a local cafe before continuing our quest on the much busier south side of the river.

It certainly was much busier too and as we disembarked from the ferry outside Amsterdam Central station and nearly got wiped out by several mopeds and pushbikes I knew to keep my wits about me!

 

We started around the boats outside the station and the sheer depth was the defining feature here, it must have been 30ft at least under the rod tip! After an hour or so with no bites between us we decided to head through the station and into the streets beyond.

 

Moving through the crowds was impossible with the rods made up so breaking them down was the only option. Nobody seemed to bat an eyelid at these weirdos walking amongst them with fishing tackle, it was certainly not like the UK where people look at you like you've got two heads!

 

Dropping in off the first bridge we came to yielded a nice perch and zander to our group which lifted our spirits and we thought we'd found a few fish but after another fishless half hour we moved on into the red light district.

 

 

Here the canals were a lot smaller, shallow and more intimate and although I missed a couple of plucks I still never caught a thing. We didn't give it much longer after that before heading to another tackle shop to get some lures and then onwards to the hotel.

The following day after a good nights sleep, our group split up and did our thing. There was a canal Imediately behind the hotel which potto and I decided to try for a bit but the sun was very bright and not surprisingly we blanked.

 

From there we walked into Amsterdam town which was much further than we anticipated but there was plenty of water to try on the way, all of it barren it seemed! We wanted to concentrate on the area where the match was going to be and seeing as it was so tough the object was to just find some fish!

 

We found some cracking looking spots but with it being Saturday everywhere was crazy busy with boat traffic and people. I got run over twice by people on pushbikes so we decided to head to a quieter area in the suburbs. On the map there appeared to be a nice looking loop around the back of the cities zoo so we headed over there.

 

It was indeed a lot quieter and the water was much less coloured too, for the first time since the morning I was actually quite confident. By now it was late afternoon and we didn't have long before darkness fell. I changed my lure to a little reins number remarking to potto that it was my top zander catcher and within a couple of casts I hit a pluck which turned out to be my first and very welcome Dutch zander!

 

We fished on for a short while afterwards before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the evenings shenannigans. Four other lads from the UK had come over for the match and we were already overdue to meet up with them in town.

Ahem, Fast forward to the following morning and everybody was late getting up, in fact by the time we assembled in the hotel lobby there was only around 30minutes of registration time left before the match started and we still had to get halfway across the city! Despite certain members of our party being somewhat worse for wear and dealing with a stroppy taxi driver we made it by the skin of our teeth and registered with less than five minutes to spare.

After the group photo the shout went up and everybody set forth across the city. Potto was still a bit worse for wear from the previous evening so we headed the opposite direction to the bulk of the crowds and after a ten minute walk we found our bearings and came upon a spot we had fished a day previously.

I was surprised to get a tap first put in and I reeled in a tiny perch which dropped off as I lifted it out of the water, I wasn't too worried though as it was way undersize for the match and it was a good sign. A couple of casts later and I hooked another tiddler which proved to be an unexpected oddity in the form of a Goby!

One of the Dutch lads informed me that these are quite common around Amsterdam as are other saltwater fish such as flounder and mullet as the water has a quite a brackish content in it.

I fished on in the spot for another 45mins, losing another fish and missing a couple of bites before we decided to move on to pastures new. Ideally we would've liked to fish back on the loop behind the zoo where I caught the Zander the previous day but we weren't 100percent sure how far away it was from where we were or how to get there.

As we fished I made a note of the nearest ferry movements and they all seemed to converge on Amsterdam central so we headed across the river. A few other lads were already working the whole area around there and , unsurprisingly, potto and I failed to trouble the scoresheet.

 

Back over the river and we continued to blank, the icy cold wind was picking up and to be honest I'd kind of lost interest in the fishing. The previous couple of days exertions had finally caught up with me and I was pretty fed up with dropping into superb looking spots and getting no reward whatsoever. Upon our return to the cafe noorderlicht a few other anglers had already returned with nothing to report. In fact by the time everybody returned it was apparent that 90percent of the field had blanked! The lads that won and placed all did so with a handful of Zander between them so it was certainly a tough one!

We departed from the venue and went straight to the airport and I eventually walked through my front door six long hours later. I was knackered but despite the hard fishing I had really enjoyed myself, potto was great company and it was interesting doing something outside my normal fishing boundaries. Would I do it again? Maybe if the fishing was slightly better next time!