Sunday, 8 November 2015

Canals, rivers and the big G

This is going to be a busy update as I've been covering a lot of water in recent weeks! The canal lure fishing has continued unabated as have my quick 1-2hr trips to the local river. I did break the habit one Saturday with a bait fishing trip chasing chub before embarking upon my first ever trip to the theatre of dreams, or Grafham water as it is better known.

I recently joined the lure anglers canal club (LACC) and have been down Warwick way sampling some of their Zander and Perch sport. The grand union there is deeper and wider than the canals I'm used to and although the sport wasn't hectic we still caught a few. Dropshot tactics with micro lures seemed to be most effective although we did bump into another angler on one occasion who had caught a few on much bigger 4inch lures and jigheads.


Urban angling

The average Warwick stamp

The perch seemed bigger than the usual 'wasps' too

Unlike those at the other end of the LACC stretch!
Another area of grand union canal I visited recently was out towards Northampton. I had attended the annual Milton Keynes Specimen Group shindig in Newport Pagnell the previous evening where we were treated to a fantastic talk by well known big fish man Terry 'Theo' Theobold. Having booked into a local hotel I had taken my lure gear with the idea of exploring some waters in that area the following day. The locals directed me and Phil towards a couple of promising areas.
Although We awoke to the first decent frost of the autumn and had to scrape the ice off the car, the fishing didn't disappoint and plenty of bites were forthcoming despite several other lure anglers also working the stretch.
At one point Phil caught a perch which was followed right up to the bank by another of a similar size, I dropped in next to Phils fish and caught the other Imediately!

Double trouble!

A lovely stretch indeed

There was even some zander to be found
The following weekend I had a massive urge to go chubbing on the Trent so I packed my feeder rod, liquidised some bread and got myself down there! It was absolutely chucking it down which made for some uncomfortable fishing and bites were Initially hard to come by. After dropping in a couple of different swims though I managed to locate a few fish and even caught some before the rain finally beat me back to the car and home.

4lber, nice to watch a quivertip for a change!

Bread caught Bream

I'll never tire of catching these!
I used a couple of short trips to my local river soar to experiment with some flex-head jigs I'd recently aquired. I figured the extra joint in the rig would help impart more movement into the lure whilst possibly improving hookup rates, early results have been promising!

One of four in less than an hour
A hastily arranged trip to Grafham water was next on the agenda. Its not a water I've fished before and has a tough reputation but I figured my experiences on other large Trout reservoirs would stand me in good stead and I would be in with a chance at least. My boat partner Jamie had never fished it either but as luck would have it we met up with our old mucker Steve who was meant to be guiding on there but his client had cancelled due to bad weather in his part of the country stopping him flying down. His loss was our good fortune however as Steve agreed to come out in our boat for a couple of hours and hopefully show us the big G way.
We went straight to a mark Steve had found on previous trip and started to get the odd tap from the off. It turned out that these were mostly small perch but I was well chuffed when the first bite I connected with was my first Grafham Zander albeit a small one!
We had more Perch after that, Steve also nailed a Zed of around 7lb and I managed a feisty rainbow trout but it was tough going despite trying several other spots. After dropping Steve off at the boat dock around lunchtime Jamie and I headed back out to the first area as news filtered through that a couple of the other boats had found a few fish out that way.
It wasn't long before Jamie hooked what we initially though was a huge Zander or maybe a Pike but we were surprised to find he'd caught a lovely brown trout of maybe 4-5lb. We caught more perch and both lost what felt like good sized Zeds before all to soon it was time to head back in. I did snag another small Zander before hometime though which was pleasing. Upon our return to the lodge we were pleased to discover that Phil, another of our party in another boat, had caught a new PB zed of over 11lb which was a happy end to a most enjoyable day. It illustrated perfectly that Grafham has so much potential to obliterate those PBs, I've a feeling that I will be fishing there a lot over the next couple of years!

First one from the big G!

Typical grafham perch

Jamie bending into a good fish


Another little one at last knockings!


Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Zander theme continues!

What's this? Another post within a month of the last one? I'd better steady on a bit, don't want to push myself too hard!

Ok firstly, following on from my last entry, I'll just give a quick run down of my Rutland antics towards the end of last month. The first trip I had on there since the Zandermasters was one of our Facebook socials and it proved to be a tough day fishingwise but very enjoyable with loads of banter and mickey-taking. The actual write up of the day can be found on my good friend Phils blog which is well worth adding to anybodies reading list, .

Myself and boat partner Nate managed a fair few bites but the choppy conditions is what made it hard work and we were forced to find some slightly more sheltered water in order to fish effectively. Trouble is the fish were out in the wild stuff but despite this we still managed a nice mixed bag of around 20 Zander and Perch between us and, as I always say, whether you catch or not, there's no such thing as a bad day afloat!


Talk about greedy!

My next trip to Rutland was a bit of a birthday treat to myself and I was joined by my old mucker and regular fishing partner Phil K. on this occasion. Conditions couldn't have been more different for this session than the last one, bright sunshine and flat calm, I wasn't sure how the fish would react as I'd not fished there in such conditions before.

Out we went straight to our favourite spot in the south arm which was between 50-60ft deep and usually pretty reliable. There really was hardly any wind and when we deployed the drogue in an attempt to keep the boat from spinning around it jus sank straight down! The water was too deep to anchor in so we just sat there dead in the water for a bit.

Never a bad day afloat!

Phil struck first blood with a Zander but bites were hard to come by as we weren't moving much. I fined everything right down and eventually managed a Perch at which point a gentle breeze started up, it wasn't much but it was enough to get a slow drift and we could finally start exploring the area.
We soon started hitting fish, lots of them too! The finer tackle made a real difference with bite indication and we had a few double hookups between us. There seemed to be a gully on the bottom stacked up with fish and our drift was taking us along it perfectly.
The wind gathered strength as the day progressed and our drifts were covering a lot of water. despite having to uprate the tackle to account for the conditions we managed to stay in contact with the fish. We had a dalliance in the north arm for a couple of hours and we did catch but the south arm certainly seemed more prolific so we resolved to spend the rest of the day there.


By the end of the day we had amassed over 50 fish between us and my shoulder was actually aching from so much hauling! Red letter days like that are always welcome and are one of the reasons that's keeps most of us doing what we do.

The obligatory sunset shot......

Tiling the bathroom and other DIY jobs around the house took precedence over the following weekend although I did manage a bit of 'wasping' on the Trent one evening and was pleased to record 28 fish in just 2hours fishing, the practice is paying off!


I decided to leave the lure gear at home for my latest trip as I had been meaning to try a certain canal with deadbaits for ages in a bid to find some bigger Zander. I'd never used deadbaits there before so I was going in completely unsure of what to expect.

I started fishing float paternosters but the tow brought on by the nearby locks was akin to the flow on the Trent so I switched both rods to straight leger. I backleaded to avoid the boats and it seemed to work fine although there was a lot of debris being pushed around on the bottom by the tow and boatwash which meant I had to recast fairly regularly.

A good take early on had me striking into thin air but certainly filled my confidence reserves. As the afternoon became evening the boats died right off and my next bite was soon forthcoming. I struck a very stuttery take and was surprised to land a 2lb+ Perch.


That was followed around 30mins later by it's brother! Maybe I was onto something here and deadbaits could be the way forward with these better canal fish?


Darkness began to close in and I could hear some hefty splashes out in the darkness, sounded like the resident carp were on the move anyway! A very late boat came past which forced me to check the rigs and recast but shortly afterwards my right hand rod was nearly pulled in! After a typically poor fight I soon had a shiny Zander on the bank of 3lb-odd and was most chuffed to have finally got off the mark.


I only had one roach left and was in two minds whether to bother casting back out but I thought another half hour wouldn't hurt so out it went. I was just contemplating packing up when I had a couple of bleeps on my right hander once again. I hovered over the rod and 10seconds later the tip properly buckled around and I was in, These bites were mental!

This one definately felt heavier than the last although once again the battle was pretty one sided. When it came up for netting I could see it was much more thick set and I hurriedly slipped the net under it pleased to get a proper one on my first trip.

Canal PB :-)
At 6.4 it was easily my best canal Zander and it left me cursing myself that I'd not brought more bait to stay on for a bit longer! It was certainly an interesting trip and I have a feeling I will be back down for more of the same very shortly!














Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Autumn predators on the plastics

Well, what can I say? It appears I have neglected my blog for far too long once again! No I've not packed in fishing, far from it in fact but, as usual, life has got in the way and some things have fallen somewhat by the wayside.

Throughout most of August work was manic leaving me with little time to fish but I did have a cat fishing social with some lads from our little Facebook group on Office lake fishery in Notts. In the event it was tough going and the only cat caught was this little fella whilst we were trying to catch livebaits!



I had a blistering run in the middle of the night and hooked something heavy and powerful which wiped out my other rod before weeding me up and shedding the hook. I was totally gutted by this as you can imagine especially seeing as it was the only run our group had between us! It's a nice lake though and I will certainly head back there next year to even the score.

The bank holiday weekend after that was a busy one too as I had organised our fishing clubs inaugural Barbel match on the river Trent and I was fishing the zandermasters lure match on Rutland water also. The barbel match went really smoothly although I was disappointed that the barbel didn't play ball after all the effort I'd put in. No barbel were caught by the competitors and only a few chub were caught. It was decided that the prize money went to charity seeing as nobody could claim it and I got some great feedback from the lads, most of whom said they couldn't wait to come back and do it again next year.

The Zandermasters match was something I'd been looking forward to for a while and was to be a totally new experience for me considering I'd never fished a match before in my life! Organised by Steve Collett in association with the lure company Ecogear it was held on the mighty Rutland water with the aim of the game being to catch the longest combined length of Zander possible.

The match gave me an opportunity to rub shoulders with some really good anglers and the atmosphere was fantastic. Our boat partners had been drawn prior to the event and my partner, Tony, was certainly no slouch in the lure fishing stakes having already qualified for this years british lure angling champs final.

I have to admit was somewhat nervous about whether I'd end up blanking and making a tit of myself in front of all these experienced anglers but after five minutes in the boat with Tony all that was long forgotten and despite the horrendous weather we had a right laugh. It didn't take us long to find a few fish either with my dropshot tactics soon putting a couple on the scoresheet up in the North arm. Tony switched to dropshot too and quickly added some fish of his own. I even managed a Rutland PB of 60cm which helped my cause no-end!



We tried a couple of other areas and although it was tough going we managed a few bites and pretty much matched each other fish for fish. By the end of the match Tony had beaten me by two fish which had edged him in front of me by 31cm. I finished with six fish for 2.37m which I was more than pleased with especially as, when we arrived back at the boat dock, we found out that half of the field had struggled to catch 1-3fish with some even blanking altogether. It was a tough day as the results below show but it's great to see Tony made the top 10 which also means I wasn't too far behind!



The match really whetted my appetite for more of the same and since then I've been making plans to fish further matches with my next one being fished in early October.

August rolled into September and throughout the whole month I've nothing but lure fish! I just can't get enough of it at the moment and my bait fishing has taken I real backseat. Part of me feels a bit guilty because I know I could be out there catching fish for the bloggers comp or kicking my Barbel and Perch campaigns into gear but the simple truth is that I'm having too much fun with the lures and I'm not ready to stop yet!

I've been trying some new swims on my local Trent and Mersey canal with some success in a bit to overcome my mental block of catching on lures in coloured water. I know I've mentioned it before but I just can't get my head around how fish can be caught on lures, which, on the face of it is very visual method in water with little or no visibility. I did catch a few Perch but to be fair the water wasn't THAT coloured and I figured that I needed to do it properly if I was to conquer this thing.



I decided to organise a trip with my mate Carl who fishes (and catches from) the eternally chocolate coloured Ashby canal to try and get a few pointers and build confidence. On the day our first port of call was the Oxford canal which was fairly coloured but still had 8inches or so of visibility which meant we found some decent early success with some nice perch, a good start.



Pretty soon though a couple of boats went through and the water went pretty mucky but Carl assured me the fish would still feed. The perch were quickly conspicuous by their absence but they were soon replaced by a string of Zander, obviously switched on by the turbid conditions. Visibility was reduced to around 4inches by now.


The boat traffic soon became really busy and the visibility was reduced to zero as was our bite rate so we decided to up sticks and head to the Ashby canal instead. I was immediately disheartened to see that the water was as chocolate coloured as it possibly could be with zero visibility but Carl said press on so that is what we did. Half an hour later I was just chatting on my phone whilst casually bumping my dropshot on the bottom under the rodtip, at that point two boats passed each other right in front of me and I groaned inwardly at the futility of my chances when all of a sudden there was a kick on the rodtip and I found myself connected to a Zander! Well bugger me, the biggest of the day too!


How that fish found my lure I will never know because visibility was absolute zero and I can only assume the vibration of the weight hitting the bottom must've brought it in to investigate. My confidence was transformed and although it was soon packup time I already had plans to try other similarly coloured canals.

The following weekend saw me hit the Oxford and Ashby canals again aswell as the Grand Union and despite all being coloured I still caught a fair few fish. I quickly found that the dirtier the water the slower the bait needs to be fished.



In between my canal trips I was also having quick sessions on my local rivers with the dropshot gear and absolutely slaughtered them on natural coloured baits.


September also saw me back on Rutland again twice possibly for the last time this year but as usual it didn't disappoint and although the fish weren't huge there was plenty of them and the last trip in particular was very productive indeed. That will have to wait till next time however as time is short as usual and I must go, tight lines y'all!












Friday, 26 June 2015

Back to some proper fishing - part 3

........ A text from my buddy Phil enquiring as to whether I'd be up for an after work lure session brought the obvious response and soon enough I once more found myself trentside. After the exciting session with the surface poppers last week I was keen to use the method again, Some of the takes we had were truly spectacular and really got the old ticker racing that's for sure. We decided to try a shallow section with the surface gear first for chub and jacks and then planned to move to a slower deeper section with the shads in the hope of a zander or decent Pike as the light faded.

I wussed out and put a large spinner on first just to get some instant action and was greatly encouraged when the action really was instant and I caught a Perch first put-in. Having broken my duck I quickly changed to a surface frog and a couple of casts across a shallow riffle brought an explosive take with the culprit looking very chub-like. It soon managed to shake the hook out though but I wasn't to be put off and a couple of swims later I had another hit which was more akin to a carp taking a dog biscuit off the top, a gentle swirl accompanied by a sucking sound. This proved to be my first Perch on a surface lure and at a tad over 2lb it was my best of the (short) season so far.



No more fish looked at the frog in that swim but a change of lure told me I'd found a group of half decent fish because I quickly hooked and landed another one which went 2lb12oz on the scales, a long fish with considerable winter potential I feel.



Several more smaller perch to around a pound followed as I worked my way down the field and before long it was time to head to the deeper area.

After a few minutes of bumping a shad slowly around in one of my favourite Trent zed swims I had a positive tug and struck into something which buried the lure in amongst the rocks in seconds and came off. Phil too reported a follow from a zander in the next swim along so we were in the right area.

One swim I came upon was only inches deep and fish could be seen bow waving on the shallows. I twitched a shad across them and after several bow waves shot across the gravel towards the lure I caught a small perch. There was still loads out there but I was struggling to hit the taps and pulls so I switched to the spinner again. First cast and a large hump in the water appeared behind the lure before it got smashed by a lively jack. The next swim brought the same response and another slightly larger fish tail walked it's way into the net .



Another lost pike and a couple of small perch landed later and it soon became apparent that the light was fading fast so we decided to work our way back to the car. I had another pike in my next swim and decided to call it a day,



Phil manage a couple of zed like pulls but no hookups and we then headed for home. So there you have it, my first week of the season, lots of fishing, not quite what I expected but I certainly enjoyed it all nevertheless, tight lines all.



Back to some proper fishing - part 2

....... The next evening I found myself on yet another different area of Trent in pursuit of a Barbel. It was quite late by the time I arrived and I didn't get much time to setup before dark. Straight away I was getting taps on the rodtip so there was obviously fish out there.

I didn't have to wait long to get an idea of what they were however because within minutes a large bream rolled out in the middle where my baits were, then another and another, the place was alive with them!

It didn't take me long to catch one, a typical Trent stamp of 6-7lb, and realise that I would be struggling to catch a Barbel amongst them. It was too late for a move so I resolved to stop till around midnight and hope a whiskered beast would be able to bully it's way through.

Of course it wasn't to be and after catching a more than respectable bag of several Bream to 8lb2oz I packed up still frustrated at the lack of barbellage. Looking at my records I now realise that I've never done great for Barbs at this time of year and my best results by far have come in late august through till early October, I'm not giving up just yet though!

I decided upon something completely different for my next trip as I'd recently acquired permission to fish a very private estate lake. I had no idea what to expect and even the gamekeeper couldn't tell me a great deal other than he reckoned there might be some carp and tench in there. The only way to find out was to fish it I guess so I planned a short Saturday afternoon session on there.

Armed with bread, maggots, sweetcorn, worms, ground bait and pellets I think I had all bases covered and upon arrival I settled into a nice looking corner swim fishing off a boat jetty. It was overcast but very muggy and a lot of Rudd could be seen milling around under the surface. A couple of balls of groundbait introduced alongside a overhanging tree soon turned that area of the swim into a jacuzzi as the tench homed in on it.

A good plumb around revealed that the lake was no more than 18inches deep all over and after casting a grain of corn into the jacuzzi it didn't take long to get an enquiry. A small Tench was soon swung to hand and that was followed up by several more and some Rudd aswell.


After around half an hour I finally managed to hook something a little more substantial which turned out to be a small carp. Well so far the lake certainly wasn't what I was expecting, it was stuffed with fish but they were all small!


I could see some bow waves and other signs of larger fish moving out in the middle of the pool so I decided to setup a small bolt feeder rig baited with a large pellet in bid to catch something better.

I placed the rod down on the edge of the boat jetty and before I even turned away the tip was pulling round! After a spirited scrap another little carp was soon netted.


And so that set the tone for the next 3 hours, cast, catch, net, rebait, cast, it got to the stage where I wasn't even putting the rod down, I just held it till it pulled round. It was still very shallow in the middle because every bite resulted in a splashy swirl out where I'd cast to.


I even attempted to fish two rods at one point but gave that up as a bad idea after three double hookups on the trot! The place was absolutely heaving with small stunted carp.


Eventually I ran out of bait and although I'd just had one of the maddest few hours fishing of my life it was a bittersweet end because I was almost expecting such an old estate lake to hold some really special fish. I'd enjoyed my trip on there though despite small carp not really being my thing, every one pulled like a demon and every one had a perfect mouth and was in great condition, certainly a lake to rival any commercial I've ever fished.

Anyway, having had my lake fix, I was soon back on the river with the lures for my most recent trip .....