Monday, 25 May 2015

LRF - I could get into this!

May bank holiday came around and some friends had invited me and my better half to a wedding in Cornwall. The idea was to drop the kids off at the in-laws in Torquay, stop the night and then drive on into Cornwall to a b&b near port Isaac, with all that sea around it would've been rude not to take a rod along!

Now, light rock fishing or LRF as it is better known has grown massively in popularity in recent years as more and more anglers discover the sporting opportunies that the mini species which can be found in abundance all around our coastline can offer. The best way I can describe it is ultralite lure fishing at the seaside!

Usually for me, a trip to the sea involves me packing my beachcasting gear and ordering some lugworm at the venues local tackle shop but this time around I really quite fancied a dabble at the whole LRF thing as I'd never tried it before and I was hoping that it would add a whole new dimension to my already varied lure fishing exploits.

I did a bit of research on the internet with regards to lures, tackle and suitable venues and soon enough something like a plan was formulated. It felt quite odd packing such light kit for sea fishing and I have to admit to being quite dubious as to whether it would be up to the task!

Padstow harbour was to be my first port of call as I figured fishing vertically off walls into calm water would be the easiest thing to start with as it allowed me to exert the most control over the lure without having to worry about currents, rocks and tides too much. My research had told me that the first thing I needed to fish there was a permit from the harbour master as I was told I risked a hefty fine if I was caught without one. Fortunately the permit is just a formality, it's free of charge and valid for life plus I got some tips from the harbour master as to the different spots to try and the ones to avoid.


That sorted, I was soon tentatively dangling a tiny jighead baited with an ecogear aji-must alongside a moored boat completely unsure as to what to expect. My initial confidence soon began to wane however as, despite trying several spots, I never had so much as a tap.


I checked the time, it was nearly 10am and the harbour area was really starting to fill up with tourists. I didn't have too much time left myself as the wedding was at 2pm that afternoon and I had to get back to the b&b to get ready. I was just contemplating giving it up as a bad job when I noticed a couple of kids across the way chuck a load of fish bits in as they packed up their crabbing gear, the small fish topping over the 'loosefeed' was what really caught my eye and I was round there like a shot. I couldn't see anything on the surface upon my arrival but a couple of sharp taps on my first put-in really got my heart going even though I missed them. Next drop I connected with a fish straight away and swung in my first LRF-caught fish and my first ever Sand Smelt, I was most chuffed!


I managed a couple more afterwards to prove it wasn't a fluke before time got the better of me and I had to be gone. Although I was pleased to have caught, from what I'd been reading I really was expecting a bit more in the way of small bottom dwelling species such as blennys and scorpionfish. I figured a change of venue might be worth a go next time out.

After the wedding and subsequent reception shenannigans the previous night we headed back to Torquay feeling somewhat jaded and decided to blow the cobwebs away with a stopoff for something to eat at Brixham on the way. Obviously I'd already planned this little adventure beforehand as it allowed me to checkout the dangling opportunities around the towns breakwater! After convincing the missus I needed to take my rod along for our walk to the lighthouse I was soon having a cast around a likely looking feature for 'research' purposes (of course!)


In the all too few minutes I managed to squeeze in I had several good pulls but really couldn't connect with them so was non-the-wiser as to what the culprits were. I resolved to return at first light the next morning for a proper go prior to our long journey back to the midlands. That afternoon I also popped into the tackle shop in Torquay to pick up a few bits and ended up buying a slightly heavier 3-12g rod as I felt a little undergunned with the 0.5-7g I had been using. The currents off the breakwater were much stronger than in the harbour before and it was also extremely rocky.

The next day I was back, this time with my daughter Charlotte in tow, both of us proper determined to catch something. Once again I was getting lots of unhittable taps and decided to scale everything right down further and switch to dropshotting as opposed to fishing jigheads.


Straight away I was getting taps and still not connecting but after spotting some small wrasse darting in and out of the seaweed and rocks at my feet I decided to drop the lure on top of them to observe their reaction. They were on the bait instantly and although they were having a good go it became obvious that the problem was my bait and hook size. I swapped the size 8 for a 12 and the 1.5inch sliver of marukyu isome worm was reduced to half an inch. First put-in gave me a pretty little wrasse and I knew I was onto a winner!

A succession of small wrasse followed and it was really interesting watching them approach the bait and almost bristle at it in much the same way as perch do. It was also fascinating how they just appeared from nowhere every time the bait was lowered down amongst the rocks, the camouflage on those things is incredible. Charlotte was quick to get in on the action too and I ended up having a job prising the rod off her so I could have another go myself!


I spotted a few much larger shapes moving about further down the rocky slope and after much coaxing with a larger bit of worm I managed to hook one which looked around the 3lb mark. Now this thing really pulled and I struggled to stop it getting down into the rocks whereupon it promptly smashed me up, gutted! I couldn't hook another despite my best efforts so decided instead to stick with their smaller brethren.

Apart from a solitary goby all the fish we caught were wrasse and from what I can make out we caught three different species of them, Corkwing, Goldsinny and Ballan.


After a couple of hours I'd well and truly lost count of how many we'd caught but it had been a great trip for both of us. On my part it had given me loads of confidence in the whole LRF approach and for Charlotte it had given her lots of dropshotting practice to build on and obviously we both really enjoyed ourselves. Forget the bait fishing in future, whenever I visit the inlaws it's going to be LRF all the way now!


Sunday, 24 May 2015

Pitsford Predators

Following on from last years successful trip to Rutland water, the lads from the same Facebook group decided to organise a similar session on Pitsford water. The venue was to open it's doors early to predator anglers this year so we decided to book some boats there on opening day.

Having never been to the lake before I was surprised at how big it was. For some reason I had a picture in my mind of something much smaller but after setting out in the boat and motoring through the tunnel under the nearby road into the main body of water it became obvious we had a seriously long trip ahead of us to get to the dam end! The wind had really put a good chop on the water and we were motoring directly into it, waves crashed over the bow of the boat and we got soaked, the sun might've been out but it certainly wasn't overly warm.

Eventually we got to where we wanted to be near the bubblers and, after bailing out some water, we set about fishing. We had 35ft of water below us which seemed a good depth given the bright conditions. Not much happened for the first hour but I think that was more down to Phil and I getting used to handling and positioning the boat in the strong wind. Neither of us had boat fished in such conditions before so it was a steep learning curve for us but we got somewhere near in the end.

Phil struck first blood fishwise when his shad was smashed by something considerably larger than the perch we were hoping for. After an unbelievable battle we were surprised to see a small Pike of about 6lb break the surface, it pulled so hard we were convinced it was a large trout for most of the fight.


After that we had a couple of fruitless drifts along the dam wall before deciding to head to some shallower water. In the entrance to a large bay we found a lovely drop off which sloped from 23-25ft up to 8-11ft over a very short distance and it was here where we both found some fish. After a couple of missed hits I eventually connected with a small jack to open my account and Phil nailed another one too.


There seemed to be a few fish in this area and we both had another pike apiece aswell as missing/losing others then another boat moved in and it went dead. We decided to work our way along the windward bank from there back around the lake towards the road end. Over the next hour or so I managed another jack aswell as missing a couple more thumps before we found another area with a significant drop off where we concentrated our efforts.

More fish were landed albeit pike, the perch were noticeably conspicuous in their absence so I decided to go all out for old esox with the big lures. I was amazed that some pike were literally following the lure right to the boat in over 20ft of water and I even had a couple of hits right under the rod tip. I was fishing with Savage gear real eels and the small supply I had were getting chewed up pretty quick!


I don't want to steal phils thunder as I'm sure he will want to recount the story in detail in his own blog but he did catch an absolutely fantastic pike of 22.8 on very light tackle after a lengthy battle which involved me having to follow the fish around the lake in the boat big-game stylee!


Morning rolled into afternoon and after beaching in a picnic area for some lunch with our comrades the wind had dropped quite a lot and we headed back through the road tunnel into the area of lake in front of the boat dock. This side of the water appeared much shallower and we had an average depth of around 16-18ft and there seemed to be less weed also. Phil managed a jack and I had a follow from a very decent fish but it was slow eventually we found ourselves headed back to the area we caught well from earlier.

It didn't take long to get amongst a couple more pike but I had to switch to large spinnerbaits to provoke a response as the eels seemed to suddenly lose all effectiveness. Maybe it was because the fish had seen them being pulled over their heads in that area for most of the day.

As the evening drew in I became aware at just how much I'd caught the sun. Because it had been windy for much of the day I never really noticed it but now it had dropped I found I was absolutely glowing and I think a touch of sunstroke may have occurred because the next day I felt quite unwell as a result, another lesson learned!

That aside we were treated to a lovely sunset as we took the boat back to dock and another cracking day afloat came to an end. Pitsford is certainly a water I shall be returning to in the not too distant future without a doubt as there are some cracking fish to be caught there.









Saturday, 9 May 2015

Dawn raid

I needed to get some more species down on the list for the bloggers challenge and with limited time I decided an early morning attack on the local canal could well give me a few points. I had to be back home for 10am and it was 5.30 when I arrived bankside.

I began by chucking some hard lures about in my favourite Zander swim and despite getting a couple of savage pulls I couldn't connect. A switch to a soft lure saw me land a scrappy little Zed on my first chuck which went 1lb12oz.



My next cast saw me bump another then I couldn't buy another pull so I went back to the car to swap the lure gear for the float rod and set about trying to winkle out some more fish.

The wind was pretty horrendous which meant I had to fish down the inside track which wasn't where I really wanted to be. I managed to scrape a few different species together though, perch, dace, gudgeon, roach and a roach/bream hybrid, all small but all points!



Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Braving the elements

First day back at work after the bank holiday and as I travelled to the gulag I couldn't help but notice that the weather conditions were screaming at me to go fishing! The wind was strong but very warm and rain showers intermittently poured out of the thick black clouds above, for the first time in ages conditions looked really good.

My local lake hadn't been at all good to me this year, in fact not a single carp had fallen to my rods and it wasn't for lack of trying either! As I sat in the office watching the wild weather battering the windows I visualised the carp stacking up on the windward bank of the pool, embarking on their first mad feeding spell of the year. I really needed to be there.

4pm arrived and I was out of the workhouse in double quick time and first out of the carpark by a country mile! after an ultra fast pitstop at home to eat and load the gear I was soon back on the road and headed to the lake. Upon my arrival there was already two anglers in residence with very little to report but fortunately neither were in my fancied areas. The wind seemed to be gusting from all different angles and no single swim jumped out at me. It was generally pushing towards the longest and blandest bit of bank on the lake which also has some very deep water in front of it so I decided to wait for the carp to tell me where to go.

Within a couple of minutes one stuck it's head out of the water in the vague vicinity of where I thought I should be so I headed around there. I opted for a boilie only approach using good old fashioned stringers as I think the fish are wary of little piles of pellets and groundbait because every man and his dog seem to be using pva sticks/bags and method feeders in there at the moment.

The weather lashed at my brolly to the extreme over the next hour and I soon got fed up with adjusting it to stop it blowing away. Somewhere in all the chaos though I suddenly became aware of a delkim warbling urgently and thank god for snag ears because my left hand rod was taking on an alarming bend as a fish made it's bid to get to the far end of the pool.

I leaned into the fish to try and turn it but it seemed hellbent on getting into the reeds along my margin. After a few hairy moments I managed to turn it towards open water where it was much easier to battle despite the ferocious wind making my wielding of the landing net somewhat difficult. A nice looking common was eventually netted and I was pleased to record a weight of 22lb8oz, my biggest from the venue so far.

After that I never bothered to recast as the weather had really started to close in and the drizzle became torrential, home beckoned! A quick result with a decent fish on a work night was a sweet reward for braving some truly shocking weather :-)

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Taking up the challenge

In past years some of my fellow bloggers have taken part in a big fish challenge whereupon points are awarded for specimen fish caught across three different catagories, river, canal and Stillwater. The number of points awarded is based upon the fishes percentage of the current record for that species. After seeing that the lads were running another one this year I thought it might be fun to have a go at it myself and, after a belated email to Russell Hilton to sign up, I now find myself in the lineup!

Everybodies got to start somewhere and after the major grueller I've been having of late I decided to head out to try and bag a couple of easy carp to kick things off. A trip to a favourite little pool in Leicestershire was the order of the day as I knew it would give me a double or two with the outside chance of a 20.

The rain was tipping it down upon my arrival which made for some uncomfortable fishing but It cleared up as the day progressed and I managed to find a few in the end. The biggest I had was a slightly disappointing 11lb on the button but points is points and I need every one I can get at the moment! I had a few bait robbing skimmers too and again it was all about the points as I weighed a veritable monster of 2lb5oz.


A mediocre start I know, But I'll be building on it soon enough for sure. A bonus koi touching double figures provided a nice end to my trip, shame they don't count in the comp though!