Monday, 26 July 2010

The Fearfullest of Fishes

Monday 26th July

Having booked today off work in order to fish i decided to head back to the River Dove in search of some Chub . The title of this entry is how Isaak Walton described the Chub in his book the Compleat Angler and i was soon to find out just how right he was!

The river was extremely low and clear today not great chub fishing conditions but i was hopeful of getting a few especially as the weather was overcast with a slight drizzle in the air. As i walked the stretch as was struck by the lack of fish normally visible in the gravel runs between the streamer weed, there wasnt even any Trout rising which is unusual.
My tactics were to be quivertipped luncheon meat on a tiny straight lead to minimise casting disturbance. I tried several spots along a stretch of around a mile or so over the course of the morning to no avail. The whole stretch looked pretty dead with only a couple of small fish topping here and there. A change of stretch was called for so i went back to the car and headed a couple of miles upstream to an area which i knew a bit better.

It was a similar story here to the previous area with not much visible although there was a few Trout rising so at least there was something moving which gave me a confidence boost. I decided to start right at the top of the stretch and work my way down. The first pool is an absolutely stunning spot which screams Chub so i wanted to spend a bit of time there and get some bait down. After about an hour of careful feeding and recasting i finally had a tentative pluck followed by a firm pull on the tip which i promptly missed! I was a bit gutted but the feeling was to be pretty shortlived because about 10 minutes later i had another bite and connected with a nice Chub of 4lb, finally!

After that i moved and tried a couple more spots downstream and even though they looked cock-on i could only manage one bite which was missed. By now it was about 3pm and i was starting to get low on bait. I headed back upstream and noticed a couple of fish ghost across a gravel run and into a deeper hole where i couldnt see the bottom. With the distinct lack of any better offers i decided to chance a cast into the hole on the offchance of a bite.
Im glad i did cos within 5 minutes i was connected to a lively Chub of about 3lb which was duly landed.

This was the signal for me to call it a day, the fishing had been extremely tough with only 4 bites in about 7 hours of fishing and around 2 miles of riverbank covered. I can only put the lack of action down to the water conditions but at least i caught a couple.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Holiday Fishing

Friday 23rd July

As mentioned in my last blog entry, ive been on my hols in Devon over the last week and after a week of touring the local attractions in the rain i was raring to get out and do a spot of fishing. On friday i finally got my chance. Over the course of the week whilst on my travels id been sizing up a few likely areas but the main problem was getting access to a decent spot. All the rock marks seemed to be at the bottom of sheer drop cliffs and were extremely difficult to get to even at low tide. Any area of beach had hoards of surfers and bodyboarders which made it a non-starter so i was a bit stumped.

First thing friday morning i was at the tackleshop in Ilfracombe to buy some bait and ask for some advice on where to go. They were obviously used to being asked because no sooner had i done so when he produced a photocopied map of all the hotspots around Ifracombe which included details of what could be caught where and also tactics to use as well, great stuff!

I opted to fish on the seaward side of the outermost harbour wall, a spot according to the map known as the berricks. Parking was good, if a little expensive, but my spot was only 50 yards from the car which was nice, it certainly saved me clambering about on dodgy cliffs or shouting at pesky surfers! The tide was dropping fast so i would be fishing it at its lowest, i dont know if thats when its at its least prodauctive or not, i was to find out soon enough.

As i walked down there was couple of other anglers in residence along the harbour wall who had very little to report other than one chap who said hed had some sort of spiky fish which hed never seen before in 20 years of fishing there. I set up a two hook rig baited with ragworm and cockles and cast it about 30 yards out from the rocks. I was taken by surprise when almost straight away the tip started tapping and i reeled in this little chap below.

Pleased to have caught i recast and over the next hour was plagued by loads of taps and knocks which resulted in lots of missed strikes. I decided to scale my hook size down as i suspected that small fish were the culprits and sure enough i managed to hit the next bite and caught this oddity. Ive never seen or caught one before but the chap next to me said it was some kind of gurnard or something, when i remember ill look it up anyway.

After this a procession of small Wrasse followed until i ran out of bait at around lunchtime. The biggest was about 2lb or so but i enjoyed getting out there and getting away from it all for a bit. I did try floatfishing sandeels in the hope of a bass and missed a couple of fast bites but it was hard going. Ive booked up again for next year anyway so at least ill know what to expect and ive still got that map so few other areas will be getting some attention i reckon.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Hit and Run Barbelling

Tuesday 14th July

The rain began in earnest today and once i got home from work and had some dinner i found myself itching to get out and have a go at catching a Barbel. Its the first time ive had the urge to fish for them this season so after clearing it with headquarters i grabbed a rod, a net and a bag of bait and bits and headed for a stretch of local river.

When i got there it was raining hard but the river, although flowing a bit more strongly , wasnt coloured in the slightest which surprised me a little considering the amount of rain wed had during the day. In hindsight i imagine most of it was soaked up into the ground after all the hot weather recently.

I set up a straight leger rig baited with double halibut pellet, cast it into a likely hole and sat back to await events from under my poncho. After about 20 minutes with no action i decided to change my bait to a cube of luncheon meat. By now the rain was really driving down and i was quite soaked even under the poncho.

Five minutes or so after recasting with the new hookbait the rod tip lurched over and the baitrunner started to scream, Fish on! As soon as i hit the run i had to lock everything up to stop the fish getting under the trees. The rod took on a savage curve and was literally bent to the cork as i prayed everything would hold, its times like that when i realise why i fish for Barbel. The power of the fish is awesome, the way they can hold station in the flow despite vain attemps to move them is incredible.

This fish was soon out in the open water and after some more hard bullying i had it in the net. It was around 6-7lb id estimate, the rain was so bad i never bothered weighing or photographing it. I was just nice to get the seasons first Barbel under my belt and after slipping it back i packed up the gear and headed back to the car having had my Barbel 'fix' for the day. All in all i had been out of the house no more than an hour, great stuff i should do these short sessions more often!

Thats probably gonna be it for a week or so now as im off to Devon next week on my hols. the sea fishing gear has been dusted off and im hoping to catch my first Bass!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Dog Days on the Dove

Saturday 10th July

I havent much chance to fish this week due to various work and family commitments but i had already decided on a bit of a change for my fishing this week. Saturday was to be fishing day for me and with the weather being so hot and dry (as the title of this piece suggests) i opted for a spot of early morning Chubbing on the river Dove.

It was around 4.30am when i arrived at the river and i decided to walk down to the bottom of the stretch with a view to working my way upstream back to the car. The river was painfully low but at least the sun wasnt up yet and it was still nice and cool.

My main line of attack was to be quivertipped breadflake with a small feeder full of liquidised bread. I made my first cast and straight away the tip pulled around only to be missed as i wasnt expecting it so soon. The next bite wasnt missed though and soon a lively little chub of around a pound or so was in the net. This wrecked the spot so i moved on upstream.

The new spot took a bit longer to warm up and after firing in a pouch of maggots and a couple of balls of bread, a couple of taps on the tip had my hand hovering. Seconds later it pulled around and i connected with a fish that went berserk. It repeatedly leapt out of the water but soon enough i had it netted. A nice Rainbow Trout of about 2lb.

Its the first of its kind ive caught for about 10 years so it made a nice change. I moved onto another spot and despite getting loads of knocks i only got a couple of hittable bites which were missed. Eventually the Sun got up and its heat could be felt getting stronger by the minute. This coincided with bites suddenly drying up so i soon found myself headed for the car and home.
That evening i headed for the Trent and hopefully some Barbel action but it quickly became apparent that the drifting blanket weed was horrendous, so bad that it was probably the worst ive ever known it. Needless to say i didnt last long and decided to cut my losses and leave.
Im at a bit of a loss as to what to do with my fishing now. So much of my early season plans revolved around the Trent but that weed is making it a nightmare to fish. Im not really fired up by anything anywhere else at the minute so ill just have to go with flow and pray for some rain.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Mixed fortunes

Tuesday 29th June

Swimmers Stop Play

Went down to a local bit of river this evening with a mind to catch a decent Perch or two. The weather was hot and sticky with little wind so i headed for an area with a fair bit of flow and a nice slack area to the side of it. I figured the baitfish would be in the well oxygenated flow and the Perch would be waiting in the slack area to pick them off as they came past.

The session got underway really well with a succession of small roach and bleak falling to my rod straight away. Soon enough a livebait was cast into the slack water and got hit within minutes. A small perch of about a pound or so was soon in the net. 10 minutes after recasting the rod was virtually ripped off its rest as another Perch struck, this one wasnt to be however as the fish dropped the bait before i struck.

At this point a chap and his 3 kids turned up just upstream of where i was fishing. I thought they were just coming down for a look until they suddenly donned wetsuits and proceeded to jump in! The guy positioned himself waistdeep in the middle of the river about 10 yards away from me in order to catch any of the kids if they caught the flow and drifted down. I couldnt believe it, i asked him what he thought he was doing and was met with the stock response of it not being privately owned so he could do what he likes. A few choice words were soon fired in his direction and then, disgusted by this cretins sheer pig ignorance, i saw no reason to stay so i packed up and left. Is there any bigger moron than the great british public? i dont think so.

Friday 2nd July

Back on the Trent

After the fiasco the other night i headed for more peaceful fishing in pursuit of some Zander on the Trent. The weather was still warm but it was much cloudier and the wind had picked up somewhat too. As usual there was nobody on the stretch and i was soon fishing.

A dropped run within minutes of casting out told me there was a few about but the prolonged hot spell meant there was loads of drifting blanket weed coming down the river which meant i was having to recast every 15-20minutes, nightmare. I tried a backlead on my upstream rod and this seemed to do the trick at avoiding the green stuff, it wasnt gonna do my sensitive bite indication any good though,

After about half an hour the rod tip on the backleaded rod began to nod and i struck into something heavy. It was a really odd fight, coming in smoothly and then suddenly shaking the rod violently and taking line. At first i thought id foulhooked a Pike through the tail or something but was pleasantly surprised to find a large Eel on the end.

Thats where the pleasntries ended though because as soon as i got it on the bank it proceeded to destroy my kit by tying the net in knots, wrapping itself up in the line and generally sliming everything within reaching distance. After a brief wrestle i soon had it zipped up in the weigh sling out of harms way and the scales registered 3lb 7oz, a new pb for me, great stuff!

After releasing it and recasting, i was just making an attempt to clean off some of my kit when the downstream rod signalled some interest. A swift strike had me connected to what felt like another eel and sure enough i soon had it in the margins only for it to drop off. It was smaller than the first so i wasnt disappointed. The same thing happened again shortly afterwards strangely enough, the conditions must have been right for eels cos ive never had one from the Trent before and tonight i hooked 3 on the bounce!
It was about 8pm by now and id still not had a Zander, to be fair the weed was doing my head in though and even on the backleaded rod i was having to rechuck every 15 minutes or so. I decided to cast both rods right upstream so that the weed drifted up the line towards the rod rather than down it towards the rig and bait.
This seemed to do the trick because at about 8.30 my left hander pulled around and i found myself connected to a fish. The fight instantly told me it was gonna be a zed and soon enough a lively 4lber was on the mat.
This seemed to signal the start of feeding time for the zeds because over the next hour or so i had a bit of a mad one landing 3 more Zander and missing 3 other takes. Apart from a small one of about 2lb or so (see below) the others were all in the 4-5lb class. This seems to be the average size of the schoolies in the river at the minute and so far the bigger stamp of fish which i know are there seem to be eluding me. Ill keep at them though!
If your wondering why i wear a glove to handle Zander its cos theyre bloody sharp and it gives me a much better grip on them, id advise the same to any newcomer to zandering. As with Pike fishing, I find a glove makes for much more confident handling of the fish too. Another thing worth noting with Zander is that they often struggle a bit in a similar way to Barbel when you return them, be sure to support them upright in the water until they are ready to swim off under their own steam.