Monday, 27 August 2012

Late summer Perching

With the August bank holiday upon us it means that we now find ourselves on the cusp of autumn and the great fishing it brings with it. With this in mind I decided to try some new perch swims out in preparation for the colder months. I've had my eye on some swims for a while but never got round to giving them a bash so, after finding myself with a free morning on Sunday, I headed out there.
We'd had a lot of rain in previous days but the river looked to be in fine form, carrying a couple of inches with a slight tinge of colour. Rain had threatened my whole journey over there and once I got out of the car and halfway across the field it decided to hammer it down, great start!
Livebaiting was to be my tactic for the day and it didn't take me long at all to catch a few dace and bleak for bait.  In fact I was quite surprised that I was getting a bite a chuck as the river has suffered badly through cormorant predation in recent times yet today it was like fish soup, they were everywhere. A float-paternostered bleak was soon bobbing about in the margin to my right and after half an hour of inactivity I was starting to think the Perch weren't home.
Suddenly the float shot under and stayed under and my strike met with solid resistance, straight away I knew it was a Pike. Sure enough after much tailwalking a lively jack of around 5lb was quickly unhooked and returned a few pegs downstream. That pike must've been putting the Perch off because not long after I received another take which proved to be a nice stripey of 2lb6oz which pulled every bit as hard as the Pike.

2lb6oz, a fine start

The swim went a bit dead after that so I moved a few pegs downstream. Within minutes of casting I started to get a bit of interest and soon enough another jack, this one about 3lb was on the mat. Once again it was as if the Perch were holding back from the Pike and almost straight away upon recasting I hit a nice one of 2lb4oz.
After that things slowed up and I noticed that the river had risen around three inches since my arrival. It was also getting pretty coloured up and I assumed that the previous nights rain must've finally started to filter downstream. I busied myself catching bits whilst contemplating packing up. experience told me that the Perch don't like coloured water much in this river and this was manifesting itself in the total lack of any further action on the paternoster.
As I started to slowly get a few bits of kit together in preparation I received a take on the livebait. A strike met with resistance which suddenly went slack amidst a big swirl on the surface. I reeled to find that the bait had masked the hookpoint hence no hookup, cursing my luck I put a fresh bleak on and dropped it back in. Immediately there was a large swirl where the bait hit the water and I found myself connected to a powerful fish. After a quick tussle I was pleased to see a bucket mouthed head pop up off the end of the waiting net followed by a large spikey dorsal fin, it looked a good perch. On the bank it had the length of a monster but no belly on it, I was still most chuffed to record a weight of 3lb4oz though. I'd like to catch that fish around March time as it would be a new PB for sure! After that I packed up happy with a good mornings sport, even more so that I'd caught from a couple of new spots.

3lb4oz, a future monster?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Club lake Cats - another PB

My main trip this weekend came about due a to a conversation i had with Phil Smith whilst fishing the Tench lake a couple of months ago. We were talking Catfish and with Phil having such great success on Orchid lakes club lake in recent months we decided to arrange a trip down there. A motley crew in the shape of myself, Phil, Rob Thompson and Merv Wilkinson was eventually assembled and on Sunday we all met up in the carpark at Orchid lakes.
Orchid lake is very well known in Carp fishing circles and has been producing monster carp for many years but in recent times its smaller brother next door, the club lake, has really started to come into its own due to the monster Catfish which reside in there. Stocked around 15 years ago with a handful of small Cats they have really flourished in there and now fish to well over 50lb are available for the price of a day ticket.
We met Marsh, the lakes owner in the clubhouse and after a quick brew we ferried our gear around to the pool. There was a few other anglers already fishing but most were packing up later in the afternoon which would leave the entire main body of the lake available to the four of us. A quick coin toss chose our swims for us and soon enough we were getting set up.

A view of our swims, mine was the one in the right foreground

We were down for 48hrs and as usual i had brought way too much gear with me and it seemed to take forever to sort everything out in the sweltering afternoon heat.  I was hoping to do battle with some leviathans and had geared up accordingly, 18lb mainline, 85lb hooklinks and size 2/0 hooks were the order of the day. Baitwise we had a large selection between us in the form of luncheon meat, halibut pellets, squid, mackerel and worms, how could any self respecting moggy resist!

The rigs werent shy........

As dusk arrived the lake came alive and fish seemed to showing everywhere, most were from Carp but wishful thinking had me convinced that some of the bigger splashes were caused by Cats striking at the numerous Rudd on the surface.
Nothing happened until dark when Merv struck into a heavy fish, it gave him the proper runaround going through both Phil and Robs lines before it was eventually netted. The scales settled on a clonking 39lb2oz and Merv was over the moon as were the rest of us, we all returned to our bivvies for the night with our confidence sky high.
After seeing Mervs fish on the bank i was buzzing and couldnt sleep at all, the heavy sounding splashes from out in the lake didnt help matters either! At around midnight the water just in front of my rod tips erupted as something rolled very close in. I didnt need any more prompting and quickly repositioned a bait just out in front of me.
As the early hours slipped by i could finally feel myself slipping into a slumber but it wasnt to last long as suddenly my baitrunner went into meltdown on the repositioned rod! As i threw myself out of my sleeping bag and down the bank to my rod It suddenly occurred to me what might have picked my bait up and i have to say i was actually a little bit frightened of what awaited me in the coming moments!
I didnt have time to think anymore and i picked up the rod, disengaged the baitrunner and heaved into the fish to set the hook. It was like striking into a moving car and the rod immediately buckled over alarmingly. Rob heard the commotion and came over to assist, the fish at this point was very much in control. Whenever it wanted to go i had no choice but let it, all i could do was hold on keeping the rod well bent until hopefully it began to tire.  Eventually i could feel it relenting and i began to gain line slowly but surely and soon enough i had one hell of a Catfish wallowing in the landing net.
After unhooking it we hoisted it up on the scales and i was blown away to see the needle fly past the 40lb mark and settle on a cracking 43lb12oz, my old PB was blown out of the water!


The photo session was something of an ordeal and one ill never forget. Big fish equals lots of slime, couple that with one of the most difficult species of fish on the planet to hold up for the camera (especially at 3am in the morning) and you get a recipe for a right old mess!

Good job i had a change of clothes!

After returning it and getting changed i lay there on my bedchair in a state of happy shock, drinking in the moment of having just landed my heaviest fish of all time, absolute magic!
The rest of the session passed completely uneventfully for myself but i couldnt have cared less, id caught what i went there for and it was mission accomplished as far as i was concerned. The following night i slept soundly all night and didnt actually get out of bed till around nine the following morning. Merv had lost one in the night and Phil had landed a 22lber. Mine and Robs rods had stayed silent.
Many thanks go out to Phil for setting the whole thing up and to Marsh for his hospitality, that was certainly a session to remember!

Trent Carbelling - The long walk

It was Friday evening, my favourite time of the week and i had arranged an evening trip to the Trent with Keith. The area we had chosen was one id not fished for a few years due to the club losing access and it being one hell of a walk. With the distance involved it was decided between us that we should take my carp barrow and take turns pushing it. The weather was overcast but hideously humid and the sweat was pouring of us as we manhandled the barrow throught the undergrowth. It was bloody hard work but ten times better than carrying the gear on our backs  and we were setting up in our chosen swims in next to no time.
Nobody had been up there for ages and we both had to beat a swim out to get near the river. The flow in front of me was very powerful and i found that i needed 6oz to hold bottom only a third of the way across. It was a bit better along the margin and 3oz was more than adequate. After casting in and baiting up it wasnt long before i began to get a few indications as the downstream rod tip began to show up the odd chubby tap. The river appeared to be rising a little and there was quite a bit of flotsam coming down which kept snagging my line on the upstreamer and moving the lead out of position.
Despite the knocks, no proper pulls ensued and the evening was fast becoming night-time. A couple of Bream and a Carp head and shouldered over the downstream rod and i was confident of a bite at any minute. Suddenly the upstream rod buckled over and i found myself connected to an angry Barbel. It made full use of the heavy flow and had me thinking it was bigger than it actually was but on the bank it went 9lb exactly, a fine start!

A pristine 9lber

Shortly after returning that fish i heard a whistle from upstream and went up to find Keith doing battle with a lovely Barbel which turned out to be 10lb9oz, his first Trent double of the season. I headed back to my swim but nothing more was forthcoming and it wasnt long before Keith whistled once again. I got there just in time to net a nice Trent Common of 14.8, the man was on fire!

Keiths Carp

He went on to lose a fish to a hookpull  just prior to packing up which was a slightly disappointing end to a pretty successful evening for us, it was certainly worth the walk and i saw more than enough to make me head back up there again sometime soon!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Up all night!

After last weekends night session I was well up for another trip this week and although we'd had a bit of rain over previous days the river was dropping and looked to be in fine form. Phil joined me once again and we headed to a different area which looked a bit more Barbelly this time around.
We got to the river during a heavy rain shower at around 5.30 and made our way to our chosen swims. As you would expect, the rain stopped just after we got setup leaving all the gear soaked and it also left another major irritation in its wake, mosquitoes and flies! The air was thick with the little blighters and I gave myself a very liberal dose of insect repellant to keep them at bay.
Fishingwise I had decided to opt for a boilie and particle approach with idea being that I could hold any passing fishing in the swim a bit longer. Maize and chickpeas don't immediately spring to mind as top Barbel attractors but they are bigger and heavier than hemp and corn and I hoped that they would hold station in the powerful currents a bit better.
As expected the remaining hours of daylight were completely uneventful and by 10pm I hadn't even had a sniff. If it was going to be anything like last week then the period from midnight into the early hours would be the hot time for a bite so I was quite surprised when my upstream rod suddenly signalled a one noter! The fish put up a spirited fight and looked deceptively small in the torchlight as I netted it. On the bank it looked bigger than I thought and it registered a pleasing 9lb13oz on the scales.

After returning it I was just getting ready to recast when my downstream rod tore off and I found myself connected to another Barbel. This felt like a much smaller fish and upon netting it I was proved right, at 7lb1oz it was the smallest Barbel I've had this season by quite a margin. Nevertheless two fish under my belt before 11pm was a good sign and hopefully there would be more to come.
A few sizeable fish could be heard splashing out in the darkness and other than the occasional shot ringing out from somebody lamping rabbits upstream, all was silent. It didn't stay that way for long however as my downstream rod once again zipped off. Soon enough another small Barbel was on the mat and it tipped the scales around to 7lb10oz. Three fish caught, a good result for the upper Trent,  this was starting to have the makings of a memorable session!

After that last fish I decided to turn in for the night and made myself comfy in my sleeping bag. I lay there contemplating things and considering how many decent fish are currently present in the upper Trent, based on what I'd already caught, the odds of my next fish being a double were very much stacked in my favour I thought.
It was somewhere around midnight when the Delkim on my upstreamer warbled frantically as an angry fish smashed it's way downstream at a rate of knots. It felt like a decent fish and it kept low and deep even when I got it under the rod tip. Once netted I knew it was a double straight away and the confirmation soon came as the dial spun around to 10lb11oz.

After returning the fish I felt knackered and just wanted to sleep but the fish had different ideas. Over the next hour both rods kept getting intermittent bleeps as fish bumped the line and pulled at the bait. There was a lot of activity out there and I was very much on edge and unable to sleep. It was gone 1am when I found myself playing another Barbel which felt very similar to the last one. After gaining line on the fish it suddenly managed to find a previously unseen snag and everything locked up. After a quick tug of war I managed to get the fish moving again but the line was grating on something. Without warning the hooklink suddenly parted and left me with that horrible sunken feeling that only comes when you lose a nice fish.
I decided not to retackle that rod and just concentrate on the one remaining rod in a bid to get some sleep. Once again though the fish had other ideas and It wasn't long before another Barbel decided to put in an appearance, that one went 8lb10oz. Jeez, it was nearly 3oclock now and although i was five fish up I still hadn't been to sleep!
The  rod still kept getting bangs and knocks after recasting and I was seriously contemplating reeling it in. At about half three I heard Phils alarm sound and a few minutes later he came down in need of   some assistance with some pics. A 10lb4oz Barbel was a fine result for his first bite of the session and as he returned it in my swim my buzzer suddenly sounded. I thought Phil had caught my line to begin with but the hissing baitrunner soon brought me to my senses and I struck into another fish. It came in surprisingly quickly and I netted it before Phils double had even recovered. Fish number six went 7lb12oz.
By the time everything was sorted after that there was signs of fast approaching daylight, i recast and crawled back into my pit. Mercifully that was it as far as i was concerned actionwise and i did finally manage to sleep. I awoke and made a brew at around 8am and when Phil finally stirred his stumps he informed me that hed had another Barbel just as it got light, only a baby at around 2lb but a good sign that the different year classes are coming through. I began a slow packup and managed to get off the river and home for mid-morning, my bed was well and truly beckoning!