Sunday, 22 April 2012

Its getting very addictive!

After a successful day of car shopping on the Saturday i got home to a message in my inbox asking if i fancied spending a Sunday morning working on my fly casting at some local pits. Phil, the sender, was already an extremely accomplished fly angler for both Trout and Pike and with my own casting being so utterly pants it was an offer i couldnt refuse!
After meeting at the entrance to the fishery we headed for a quiet area with plenty of room to have a chuck about. Phil rigged me up with a shooting head line to help with my timing and it wasnt long before i felt i was starting to get somewhere with it. Compared to Phils casting, my own efforts were far from pretty but my confidence was building and soon we decided to head around the lakes to have a cast or two in anger. The wind wasnt very good on the big pit i caught from on Friday but the even bigger pit next door looked a pretty good proposition.

After a few casts it didnt appear that anything was showing any interest. I reached down to unhook my line from the undergrowth for the upteenth time in preparation to recast and when i looked back at the water i was surprised to see a Pike sat right next to my now motionless fly. I gave it a twitch and it turned and took it imediately but it then spat it back out just as quick before i had a chance to strike. It swam off slowly out of view as i recast. As my retrieve neared the bank there were two Jacks following the fly and i was certain of another take and sure enough the lead fish engulfed it yet somehow i managed to strike the fly clean out of its mouth! The second fish shot off but the first one stayed put and had a confused look about it as if it was wondering where its dinner had just gone! i dropped the fly back in front of it and it was inhaled without hesitation, this time the fish was firmly hooked!

After that, Phil and i tried several more swims and had follows but no hookups. A move to another pool proved to give a similar story although i did manage to lose a couple. I think the single hook sometimes has difficulty getting a hold in the Pikes bony mouth which is why a few drop off but from what ive seen so far the number of takes on the method more than make up for the amount of dropped fish. Im planning on trying my hand at making some flies up of my own in the next couple of weeks, its all exciting stuff!

Friday, 20 April 2012

A new string to my bow

In recent weeks ive been reading a great deal about fly fishing for Pike and i must admit the method seems to have taken something of a hold over me. My first trip a couple of weeks back was a spur of the moment affair in that i originally set off on a lure trip and chucked the fly rod in the car as an afterthought. My intention was to practice a bit of casting with it after the lures had worked their magic.
Unfortunately the lures didnt produce so much as a sniff from two circuits of the lake so i took the fly rod out of the car and found a nice roomy swim to have a cast about in. I only had one fly with me, a gaudy red white and green affair but itd serve my purposes i thought. Imagine my surprise when, on the very first cast i recieved a savage pull from the depths! i didnt hook it up but on the next cast a small jack followed the fly right to the bank before engulfing it properly. After a very lively scrap on my light fly rod i was soon gloving out my first fly caught Pike, awesome!
I walked a couple of swims along to attempt a repeat performance and was truly gobsmacked when after a couple of casts the fly was hit right at my feet. That fish made a good escape after throwing the hook as it tailwalked across the surface. The next spot gave me another surprise because as i retrieved the fly i became aware of a large shape following it up the marginal slope. As it came into view i was stunned to see a Carp of about 15lb following around 6inches behind. I think it was more curious than hungry as it turned away as soon as i stopped the retrieve.

My first Pike on the fly fell to this creation, its missing eyes are proof of its attraction!

I tried a couple more spots with no action but the wind was making casting somewhat difficult for me so i headed around to the opposite bank with the wind off my back. On my second cast into a shallow bay i saw a larger Pike slowly following the fly around ten feet behind. I stopped the retrieve and the fish swam up to the fly bristling its fins before turning away. I cast towards the direction it swam off in and as soon as the fly became visible to me the Pike shot in and grabbed it. It tore off along the bank stripping line through my fingers before suddenly the hook pulled and it was game over. This was heart stopping stuff!
Some other anglers turned up to fish at that point and, not wanting to make a prat of myself with my embarassingly shocking casting, i headed back to the car. I was amazed at the contrast in the fishes response to the fly as opposed to the lures. It was like fishing a different lake.

Over the next week i continued to read up on the subject of fly fishing and even bought a couple more big and hairy concoctions to try out. I was mad keen to get out again but the weather stepped in and ruined any chance i had of having another dabble. The rain poured all week and it wasnt until Friday that the rain had lifted enough for me to be able cast a line again.

The new additions

I arrived at the lake and was disappointed to find eight other anglers on the pool. With it being a small venue the extra rods left me very limited for spots to fish so i headed to the deeper lake next door. This lake was directly affected by levels in the nearby river due to a connecting pipe and as such was quite coloured and carrying around 2ft of extra water. It was also surrounded by trees which made casting very difficult. Not surprisingly i struggled so after doing my bailiff duties on the original lake i headed for another much larger pit just up the road.
The sky was starting to get pretty dark as i approached and i knew that some serious rain was imminent. I quickly made my way to a nice looking corner and began to fish. Third cast in and i had an explosive take on the surface which had me jumping out of my skin! the fish tailwalked left right and centre but it was well hooked and i soon had it on the bank. A nice fish and proof of the flys effectiveness as i had never caught a single fish from there before despite trying conventional lures time after time.


As i returned the fish the heavens truly opened and seeing as i was around half a mile away from the motor i got well soaked. I didnt mind though because id proved to myself  that i was doing something right with the technique. I always took it with a pinch of salt that fly fishing converts often boast about the method outfishing conventional lures by two or three fish to one but im slowly starting to believe that what they say might actually have an element of truth . I cant wait for the rivers to open so i can really start to explore the possibilities however, my casting does need an awful lot of work in the meantime!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Urban Breaming

The recent cold snap seems to have really knocked the Tench on the head somewhat if the reports from some of my local lakes are anything to go by. Rather than struggling for a bite on my regular Tench water  i decided to head away from the crowds to the peace and quite of a local club pool in a bid to see if its own population of Tincas had woken up yet. I say peace and quiet but the lake in question is slap bang in the middle of a housing estate and about half a mile from the town center so how quiet can it get? not very is the answer but at least there is no public access to the water which means it remains an oasis of tranquility despite the surrounding urban sprawl!
Ive never had a big Tench from the place, in fact 6lb is probably my best from there but the fish are good lookers due to the clear water and despite being relatively unpressured they dont give themselves up easily. The challenge and the quirky nature of the waters history and location combine to give me real enjoyment whenever i fish there, its not always about catching the whoppers is it?
The wind was very cool and hacking towards the carpark upon my arrival so, not wishing to sit there freezing my tits off all day, i opted to fish on the back of it into the open water of the main bowl. Theres not much in the way of features in the water other than the deep margins but i fancied a chance at some Bream should the Tench not want to play so the open water it was. Ive caught just as many Tench in the open as i have the margins there but ive never caught a Bream in the edge and i had a feeling that bites could be at a premium with such a cool breeze on the water. I set up shop and made several casts to get some bait out there before sitting back to await events.

 Both rods were cast just beyond the edge of the ripple

The left hand bobbin was soon bouncing as the first of a succession of small Roach took a fancy to my double red maggot offering. I didnt mind catching them though as it meant that the Cormorants had left them alone for another winter. I knew they soon disappear once something bigger moved into the swim. After a short while i had just recast and was tightening the bobbin when suddenly the line was snatched out of my fingers! I struck and the rod hooped over as the first Bream of the day nodded its way towards my waiting net.

The First of many!

That fish seemed to set the precedent for the next four hours or so. I had a few Skimmers and Roach in between but i went on to take several more proper slabs mostly averaging between 5-7lb with the biggest one going just shy of 8lb. It was good to see some skimmers coming through as it meant the Bream were at least spawning successfully guaranteeing sport for years to come. Eventually at around lunchtime the bites slowed right down and i was hopeful that the Breams departure might signal the arrival of a Tench or two. After a very quiet spell a stuttery bite resulted in a bit of a surprise for me in the shape of a nice fat Perch of nearly 2lb, a good fish for the lake. Considering that until fairly recently the place was heaving with stunted microperch its nice to see those steadily disappearing and fish like this one coming through.

Brightening my day!

Another similar sized Perch quickly followed before another quiet spell had me thinking about packing up. As i gathered my bits together i had a final bite which resulted in one last slab to cap off a very productive session. Those Tench never did show but another 50-60lb bag of Bream was a pleasing result considering some of the weather weve had of late.

The last fish of the trip

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Half a ton of Bream but wheres the Tench?

With all the unseasonably warm weather over the last week i was well up for some Tench fishing this weekend so i planned a Saturday morning session to my favourite water with my old mucker Keith. I knew the fish had already begun to show as several had been caught by those lucky enough to be able to get down earlier in the week.
I met Keith on the bank at about 5.30am just before first light and conditions looked pretty good, calm with quite a bit of cloud cover and a mild air temperature. As it got light there was a few fish showing in front of me at around 60-70yards so i cast both method feeders out to them around 20yards apart and clipped up. The waterfowl were in full dawn chorus and after about an hour of listening to their deafening cacophony i suddenly became aware of another sound, my first bite of the day! The bobbin was bouncing in a very Breamlike fashion as i picked up the rod and lifted into the fish. The distinctive nodding on the end of the line confirmed my suspicions and soon enough a Bream of about 5-6lb was lying on the mat.
Within minutes of recasting the same rod was away again with a slightly larger specimen which weighed in at over 7lb. I noticed that the fish were still rolling over my baited area and i had a feeling that i could be on for a good day. Keith chipped in with a Bream of his own next and at 8.6 it was a good fish for the lake and worthy of a pic but it was at this point i realised id left my camera in the bag i took to Hanningfield last week, doh! Any pics now would have to be taken on my phone which is really rubbish as can be seen from the pic below of an 8.10 fish i caught just after Keiths.

By now the Bream had really moved in and both of us were getting lots of liners in between catching them. I missed or bumped at least 5 fish but i ended up landing eight Bream for a total weight of over 60lb, a good mornings sport by any stretch of the imagination. The Tench were conspicuous by their absence and i can only put the fact that we never had any down to the Bream feeding hard and pushing them out of the swim? The Tench are usually more dominant in catches as the weather warms up so theres plenty of time yet.  All but one of todays Bream were upper 7s and 8s so they were a good average size but the lakes Tench are the real draw and it wont be long before im back down to bank a few im sure.