Thursday, 29 March 2012

Hanningfield - My own perspective

As regular blogger readers will probably already know, several midlands bloggers made the long trip to Essex last weekend to fish Hanningfield reservoir in an attempt at catching one of its stripey leviathans. Jeff and Lee have already written great accounts of how our collective session panned out so ill keep it brief and try not to go over old ground.
After arriving in Basildon and spending a pleasant evening talking fishing and sinking a few ales with Lee, Keith and Jeff on the Saturday, i awoke on Sunday morning refreshed and eager to get down to the lake. So many times ive been on 2-3hour journeys on the day of a session and ended up spending most of the day feeling knackered, There really is something to be said for the luxury of stopping in a hotel prior to fishing when out any distance from home!
After a quick breakfast we arrived at a very foggy Hanningfield and the carpark was already heaving with a throng of anglers eager to get out and fish. Most were Eastern European and although some of the tackle on display was somewhat 'agricultural', the fact that they were all willing to pay Hanningfield prices was most surprising to me. This was a different side of the coin to what i am used to encountering on the Trent where the foreign nationals try every trick in the book to get something for nothing so to speak. Once out of the car we met up with two more of our party in the form of Andy and Jan.
The fog made going out in the boats a non starter so we headed around to the far side of the lake for some bank fishing till the fog lifted. The banks were solid concrete with steel mesh platforms dotted about, a far cry from my beloved Derwent and Soar! After walking around a quarter of a mile i came upon some fish topping within casting range. It was obvious they were Trout but i was eager to get a fish under my belt and went through a range of lures to try and induce a take, eventually i had a pull on a tiny Mepps but the fish came adrift. I decided to stick with the spinner and after adding a small weight to aid casting distance, a few minutes later i caught a hard fighting Rainbow of about 2lb or so. Lee and Jeff joined me and they too experienced a few pulls before Lee got off the mark with a Trout of his own.

Looking from the tower arm towards the dam end with Keith fishing in the mist

Eventually the fog lifted a little and it was time to make our way back around to claim our boats for the day. Lee was my boat partner and neither of us had used a boat with a petrol outboard before, my own inexperience was soon plain for all to see as i proceeded to crunch our boat into the jetty and few surrounding boats including Jeff and Keiths! Red-faced i regained my composure and quickly steered the boat out onto the main body of the lake.
It made sense to start in the area we had been bank fishing as a few fish were still showing there. Both Lee and i had a few hits on the spinner but no solid hookups and soon enough these dried up so we decided to move a hundred yards or so down the bank to where we could see a few showing.

Jeff and Keith setting up near the tower

 The sun was well and truly out by now and what breeze there was happened to be blowing up to the far end into the nature reserve where fishing is not allowed. If the Perch were spawning , i had the nagging feeling they wouldnt be in the featureless and deep area we were in, they would be where we couldnt get to them in the nice looking shallow reedy bays of the top end. Lee and i being impatient types we were soon in full Trout mode attempting to make the most of our 8 fish bag limit which we had paid for. We both caught another Trout each from the new area before sport slowed and another move beckoned.

First one from the boat

Lee at the helm, the hot area was along the bank either side of the tower in the background

We tried a couple of areas but even though Lee caught another fish from a spot near an inlet, no area produced as much fish activity as the area where we began. We kept heading back over but space started to get a little cramped as other anglers cottoned onto where the fish were. We headed as near to the out of bounds area as we dared and let the boat drift naturally on the wind into the area we thought the fish were. We worked the area as we drifted and once we reached the bank we motored back around and started the drift again. I managed another fish but it was tough going, we had lots of plucks and tugs on the lures and even some follows but they simply werent hooking up.

 In action with what proved to be last fish of a frustrating day

Eventually the wind began to get colder and stronger and time was getting on. We did briefly meet Steve (watery reflections) as our boats passed in the lake but soon it was time to head in and fill out our catch returns. My three fish combined went 5lb on the scales and Lees two went over 3lb. Although it wasnt great in terms of fish caught id had a very enjoyable day in good company and whats more it didnt rain either! By the time we were headed back up the M1 i was knackered, its amazing how much a day arsing about in a boat can take it out of you!
It was great to meet all of you lads and particular thanks go out to Lee for organising things and doing all the driving, if you ever need a future boat partner count me in! oh, i nearly forgot, happy birthday mate!

Trout for supper, the fruits of a hard days work!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

A fishing fix on the cut

I had originally planned to lay off the fishing this weekend but when i awoke in the early hours of Saturday morning unable to get back to sleep again, i had a massive urge to hit the bank and get an angling fix. With the rivers now shut i headed for a club stretch of the Trent and Mersey canal to target some Perch.
It was just getting light upon my arrival and as expected there wasnt another soul in sight. I picked a swim with some reeds and overhanging trees on the far bank, i say far bank but the canal is only about 10yards wide so its not very far at all! an easy underarm swing put the bait within inches of the cover and i sat back expectantly awaiting events.
I fed half a dozen maggots every 2-3minutes and it wasnt long before the tip nodded around as a fish made off with my Lobworm hookbait. The fish pulled as if its life depended on it making me think it was bigger than it actually was. A small but pristine Chub of about a pound was a welcome start.
Bites proved hard to come by over the next hour and i missed a couple before finally hitting into another Chub. This one too fought like a demon and was bigger than the last fish at over 2lb, not a big fish by any stretch of the imagination but a nice fish for a canal i thought. After that i missed two more bites before packing up at around 9am.
Id wager that neither Chub had been caught before purely because the entire stretch rarely sees a baited hook from ones years end to the next. I cant believe how neglected the canal is from a fishing perspective because its stuffed with fish.
Next weekend, all being well, ill be headed to Hanningfield res 'darn sarf' to join the Coventry bloggers in an attempt at a 5lb Perch. Any Perch will do me, in fact any fish of any description will do me so heres hoping..............

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Season finale

After last weekends trip to Scotland i realised that i hadnt left myself much time to get out and make the most of the iminently closing rivers. With this in mind i decided to book a couple of days off work and have an extended weekend of fishing.
My first trip out was Sunday and i had arranged a trip to the Trent with Phil targetting some Chub . We both decided upon a roving approach fishing with bread . The sun was extremely bright and i really struggled for bites, i missed a couple early on but my sum total for the entire mornings work was a solitary Chub of about 10oz. Phil fared slightly better taking three fish between 3-4lb and losing one in a snag.
The sunny weather certainly brought out the ticketless masses and we had to eject three different groups of foreign nationals off the clubs water over the course of the morning, a new club record i believe!

Monday morning and i was up and making my way to the river before first light, it was much cooler and cloudier today and the river upon my arrival was eerily enshrouded in mist. After yesterdays failure with the bread i decided upon a luncheon meat approach today with the hope of possibly attracting a Barbel or two aswell as the Chub. I didnt have to wait long for a pull and i was soon bending into what felt like a small Barbel by the way it was swimming upstream. The fish surfaced midriver and i could see it was a half decent Chub, by the time i had it in the net however it had become a very decent Chub!
"This has gotta be as big as the one i had the other week" i was thinking as the scales took the weight and at 6lb5oz it wasnt far off! This fish was much more compact but equally as impressive, i was over the moon!

Within minutes of returning the Chub i had another bite and hit into a small Barbel . It put up a spirited scrap both in the water and on the bank, i did attempt a couple of quick snaps but it wouldnt keep still so they turned out crap. The scales registered 7lb2oz anyway.
As it got light proper a cold wind got up and the action slowed right down, over the the next three hours i managed to lose a fish to a hookpull and miss two other bites . After such a great start i was looking to carry on the success but the sun was starting to break through the cloud cover and even the small fish topping on the surface were much less active. I tried one last spot before the homeward journey and was pleased to see the tip buckle over as a fish tried to make good its escape. A brief tussle ensued and i soon had another decent looking Chub in the net. At 4.14 it wasnt as big as id thought but it was still a nice fish and it rounded off the session nicely.

Tuesday was to be split into two sessions, the morning would be spent Perching with Rob on the Derwent and the evening would be Barbel time in my favourite swim on the Soar.  As we headed to our Perch swims at first light I was hoping that some of that luck that helped Rob catch his mega Roach of late would rub off on me and result in an end of season whacker.
Conditions looked good, dull, mild and overcast with no wind, we had the stretch to ourselves too so we had the pick of the swims. Its a tough area to catch from but when a fish does bite its usually a goodun so i was a little disappointed when after a while the tip slowly pulled around in classic big Perch fashion and resulted in a small fish of just over a pound. It was an encouraging start but that was to be the only action i had, Rob had a Tench from his only bite of the trip and we headed back scratching our heads a little as to why none of the big girls showed in such seemingly good conditions.
Later that afternoon i headed out to do battle with the Barbel on my local stretch of the Soar and although the weather had brightened up a little i was confident of some action. In the event however, other than a few Chubby knocks and a hookpull from what im certain was a Chub, my last session of the season resulted in a total blank.

Well, that wraps up another river season! looking back id say its probably been my best Barbel season ever having broken my PB twice and maintaining a size average of well over 8lb. I devoted more time to Barbel this time around than i have done in the past and ive learned a lot which will hopefully stand me in good stead for next season.
Although ive not caught Chub in overly great numbers this season, the average size has been well up with most fish being 4lb plus. To end the season with two fish of over 6lb was beyond all my expectations and really turned my winter fortunes around.
The river Predator fishing didnt really go according to plan mostly because i was too distracted by the Barbel and Chub for much of the season but Perch to over 3lb and Pike to nearly 20lb kept my eye in somewhat.

As far as next season goes im already making plans, Barbel will be high on the agenda as i will be looking to build on last seasons success. In between the Barbs im hoping to find a bit more predator action and one of my burning ambitions this year is to catch a Zander on a lure. In the meantime the Tench are starting to beckon once again so its time to dust down the method feeders and bolt-rigs! 

Sunday, 4 March 2012

North of the border

A trip to Scotland to visit some friends was on the agenda for this weekend and after much grovelling with headquarters i managed to get a pass to squeeze a spot of fishing in whilst we were up there. Space in the car was pretty limited but i still managed to shoehorn a couple of lure rods in there! Our destination was Lockerbie and a quick bit of research on the net to see what piscatorial opportunities are available in that area pointed me towards Castle Loch at Lochmaben, a water that seemed a reliable bet for a Pike or two i hoped.
Saturday morning was my allocated fishing time and i was Lochside at the first opportunity. The first thing that struck me (apart from the god awful rain) was the lack of fishable swims on the water. At over 200 acres youd think that there would be plenty of bankspace but the vast majority of it was surrounded by thick beds of reeds and there was only maybe a dozen fishable swims! Most of these swims already had  bivvies in them belonging to the local Pikers and i wasnt filled with confidence when they revealed the fishing was extremely slow. One guy had been there for three days and only had a solitary Jack! I eventually managed to find some fishable water and set about trying to tempt something regardless.

A bloody long way from home!

The weather upon my arrival was pretty dire

Most of the lake was surrounded by this

There was some interesting woodcarvings dotted around the lake ........

..... and some great wildlife to be seen aswell

I even managed to catch something! not big but very welcome considering everybody else was blanking, good old Mepps never lets me down!

After finishing at Castle Loch i headed into Lochmaben to grab a bite to eat before heading to another nearby water called Kirk Loch. This place was much smaller compared to Castle at around 30 Acres id say and is set slap bang in the middle of a golf course. Despite being told the place was free fishing there was no other anglers present and as i made my first cast i was half expecting to be chucked off at any minute. Kirk loch, although deeper than Castle loch was a lot weedier but the fish were certainly more obliging. In about half an hours fishing i managed to hook 3 fish, all jacks and landed two of them. Id have loved to have given it a couple of hours more to try and tempt a bigger specimen but sadly my time ran out and i had to leave, i know where ill be headed next time im up there though!

Kirk Loch

I was bringing this back most casts

The fish seemed to be feeding though!