What a lovely day Sunday was!

What a great day on the bank.

Advertisements

As I mentioned in my last post, things have been a bit up in the air personally with family things so I haven’t been able to do much fishing.

I did get out Sunday though and I went to one of my favorite places locally; Leigh Sinton, located roughly 15 to 20 minutes from Worcester. It was a great day, started off right with a great bacon & black pudding sandwich made by Pam from the onsite cafe. The sun was out and there was a nice breeze taking the edge off the heat. There were plenty of carp cruising about as well as large shoals of roach and perch, all of which you could see fin perfect due to the water being gin clear; a wonderful change to most commercials.

There was nothing at all fancy about the way I fished. I used a two rod approach, targeting a reed bed to my right with a running leger rig and the margin just in front of me on the float.

The leger rig was simple, 1oz weight running above approx 20cm fluorocarbon hook link with a hair rigged size 16 with a boilie on there. The float rig was a small buoyant float straight through to a size 16 hook with a 1 inch cube of meat.

The leger rig was out for any bonus patrolling fish, my main area of concentration was the margin in front of me. I fished about a meter out, as there were lots of weeds I kept my bait to a clear patch just out in front of me. I put down a large amount of corn, hemp & chick peas along with a smaller amount of meat.

It didn’t take long for the carp to find the food, guided in by the feeding activity of the large shoal of roach. I hooked up into my first fish and it shot off, taking my by surprise a bit and in doing so it took a load of line and eventually it snapped me. Gutting, yes but still very encouraging at the same time.

This prompted me to switch to stronger line and also to get rid of the float. The reason for this was that I could see them taking the bait and the fact that I was fishing in about 2-3 foot of water the float was getting in the way and spooking the feeding fish. So again it was straight through to a size 16 but with a AAA weight about 15cm from the hook. This got the bait down quickly but still allowed a bit of a wafting action in case they wanted to take it on the drop and also allowed me to move it around a lot easier under the water.

From there it was a case of keep topping up the bait and waiting for them to come in and feed. It didn’t take long to hook into and land a nice 10lb carp, soon followed by a beauty of a 13lb and then an 8lb. After losing the first I then lost another on the leger rig on a crab boilie and finally I then lost my last fish of the day in a reed bed. I think the last one must of been at least over 13lb. All of these fish fought like crazy and kept me on my toes,  they were all beautiful with the first fish being a deep, deep bronze and gold.

Without a doubt it was my best session of the year so far, the fact that I had at one point 15-18 double figure fish in front of me, along with a huge shoal of roach; all of which you could see the scales on through the water just made it all the more special. It was literally like fishing in a huge aquarium, but it was still a challenge. In fact it was nerve shredding at points; I was there, sitting on my hands, not breathing and just waiting and hoping that my cube of meat would be taken so that I could see one of those beautiful slabs of gold in the flesh. It really was a day that will live long in the memory and after the testing month I’ve had it reminded me just how much fishing can help to reset all that is wrong or what seems to be wrong. Whether it’s the solitude, being among nature or just the slowing down of life. It really helps me in taking stock of what matters in life and what is needed to be happy in life. It also helps to land a few nice fish as well though.

So finally I’ve got over the hump of mediocre sessions and bagged some beauties.

Until next time; tight lines

Sam

So that was the weekend.

Well my plan was simple, attack the margins and try to get them on the surface out in front. Did it work, not really but I kept at it! I’m a bit baffled really, both last Sunday and the Sunday before were some of the hardest fishing I’ve done on commercials in a long time. They just didn’t want to seem to feed.

The venue I was at is lovely, very secluded with great looking lakes that have tree lined banks with a bit of a wooded area around the lakes. So the setting was great and the fishing looked like it could be awesome and I am sure that it can be. As someone on a booked lake had a 25lb, 28lb and 30lb carp; so it must be good at times.

On arrival I looked around and saw definite signs of feeding the margins, so I baited up with some groundbait and sweetcorn; looking out over the lake there was nothing showing on the surface. So I set up a small 3BB float set up with bulk shot pattern and also a controller float. I did this far away from the bank so as not to spook any fish in the margins.

Once set up I dropped my bait in the margin and waited and waited. I kept the feed going in, little bits nothing too crazy with a ball of groundbait about the size of a golf ball every 30-45 minutes. I changed depths, shot patterns, baits in short, I did everything I could think of to get them going but nothing seemed to work.

While doing this I kept sending about 4 floaters out into the middle to coax them up onto the feed, in my swim there was a nice large patch of lilies out in front to the right. So I was putting them in just off of the lilies with the wind blowing them into there. It took a long time but around 4pm they started appearing. So I took in the margin set up as it was going no where and started putting the floater set up out. It took a few casts to get the feel for the distance but once I had I was putting the bait just off the lilies.

An hour passed with no real interest in my bait, they were up but they are canny fish at this venue. They stuck hard to the middle of the lilies, so I increased the free offerings on the edge and made more casts. My logic being that the noise might draw in some inquisitive fish. It did the trick, I started getting a couple coming up around the bait, again the fish showed that they knew the game being played, eyeing up the bait and not taking it. Now we all have our opinions on the intelligence of fish,  but these carp were very clued up; it defiantly seemed to me like a pressured water for this style of fishing. What I mean is I think they have seen this tactic so many times that they weren’t going to be fooled twice.

So what to do, how to get around this was a difficult prospect. I don’t like using bread any more for floating bait; it comes off too easy at distance and can quickly cover a lake due to this; which is not fair to anyone else fishing. So hiding the hook in there was out of the question, I needed to figure out how to hide the hook in a dog biscuit. One method I’d seen was to insert a BB weight in the opposite side to the hook; this flips the hook over and lays it on the surface. Sounds good but in reality it would be very easy to snag up on the lilies and what happens to the weight? Does the fish eat it, is that good for them; I don’t think it would be. So what I did was bury the hook inside the floater so that none of the hook was showing. It was a risk because the carp might just suck the floater off the hook leaving me with no fish; the floaters I’ve got though are very soft, so I was confident that I’d be able to hook one. The added bonus of this was I could cast into the lilies and carefully pull the bait into open patches of water inside the patch of  lilies. It was a dangerous tactic, it would very easy to get snagged but that’s where technique comes in when playing a fish.

So the trap was again set, slowly the carp started approaching my hook bait; weary at first but soon they were feeding confidently and I started to get close. I missed 3 or 4 fish, being at distance and not in open water it really played havoc with the self hooking properties of the floats I was using. So it was a case of timing it just right which at about 20 meters is not as easy as 5 meters. So on it went, until finally at around 6pm after being there from 10am (couldn’t make it any earlier, disgraceful I know) I finally hooked one. My back was already aching, so too was my shoulder from the constant casting to a far distance and this fish went off like a train! I’d hooked it tight in the middle of the lilies, so I kept the rod tip angled as far down as I could and pulled with the clutch set to the tightest it could go and then wound down and repeated. What I was trying to do was to keep the fish deep, my reasoning being that the lilies would get harder and thicker near the surface and would be soft and supple in deeper water. Therefore by keeping the rod tip low, almost in the water and pulling and winding in as I brought the rod back in front of me would bring the fish through the bottom of the lilies and be less likely to snag up and not be able to be brought out. Finally after a good 5 minute tussle it came free and into open water. It was still up for a scrap and took another 10 minutes to tame.

When it finally came in the poor thing was knakard, it was hooked in the corner of the mouth so I unhooked in the water to save it the stress of coming out onto the bank. I would have got some pictures but the poor thing was so tired that it wouldn’t have been fair to it to put it through that for pure vanity. I did quickly weigh it though in the net and taking the weight of the net off it came to 19 3/4lb of lovely common carp. By far my biggest fish of 2017 so far and agonizingly close to the 20lb mark I’m aiming for!! It was a lovely looking fish, one that in Autumn would have probably packed on a few more pounds as it was really long in the body with plenty of room to grown. On releasing it I held it there for a good 3-5 minutes before it got the power to swim off. Well fought my friend well fought!

So all in all it was a very good day, very hard going but one of those where persistence, patience and experimentation won the day. We all like a day where we bag up however those days where you battle for every bite and then get rewarded like I did are what fishing is all about. Figuring out what’s going on, what’s going to work and how to get among them is why I go fishing, if it was easy all the time I’d get bored.

So that was my Sunday session. With it being a Bank Holiday this weekend I might have a weekend off as that seems to be when the one day a year fishermen come out. I don’t mind a busy fishery but I don’t think I want the hassle. I might throw some lures about in the morning on Sunday, get up for dawn and go on the attack. I have found however a secret water, I can’t say anything about where, what it looks like or anything else right now as I’m under orders from the land owners to not tell anyone about it. They have however given me limited rights to fish it, meaning I can fish it but I can’t just rock up. It has to be prebooked, fine by me! The only thing I will say about it is that Mr Crabtree would jealous of me fishing this place!!

Tight Lines

Sam

 

It’s the weekend & the suns out!

It’s the weekend!! Suns out rods out!

Well it looks nice out doesn’t it! Tomorrow can’t come quick enough!

My plan started off with the idea of going after some tench but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Mostly because I’m not going to get to where I’m going till they’ve most likely gone off the feed and I won’t be able to stay till dusk. So really trying to focus on them might be a waste of bait, which is a waste of money and time.

So what to do? Well where I’m going allows surface fishing, which I love, so why not aye! So the plan now is to make up a bit of groundbait and use that to feed the margin. Putting in a decent amount on arrival but nothing drastic in the hope of bringing in some fish and then feed over this with sweetcorn. While they are building some feeding confidence I plan to target any patrolling surface carp. Look at the weather; they’ve got to be coming up on the surface right!

My thinking in doing this is that I can keep an eye on the margin swim, looking for swirls and other signs of feeding. I’ll keep a rod set up with a small dumpy float that I can use to drop bait in with a bulk shot pattern causing minimal disturbance and hopefully land a nice fish. For hook baits I’m thinking sweetcorn, meat and paste. Nice visual and smelly baits that will carry instant attraction.

The floater approach is self explanatory really; if you can see em, then you can catch em! It’s low hanging fruit so why not capitalize on that when time is limited. That and I bagged a bargain on some secondhand controller floats, got to love a bargain! Going back to my aims for the Spring & Summer, one of which is a 20lb carp off the surface; well this place has 34lb fish so it’s possible. That and I watched the legend that is Matt Hayes land a 37lb beast off the surface and that’s all I can think of now!

As for set ups, simple really. I’ve got 3 rods in my bag and don’t think I need to take anything else. I’ve got my 1.25 test Avon and my 1.75 test barbel rod, both of which have specimen and quiver sections so they can handle both methods I’m looking to do; on top of that I have my 13ft float rod that so far can handle pretty much anything I throw at it.

So for the float rod; it’s simple really as I’m going in the margin I want the float to be small and buoyant to be able to stand up to the action below it but also so that it doesn’t dive deep and spook the fish. This I’ll set up to start off with on a bulk shot pattern to get it down fast as I think they’ll be eating heavy; if that doesn’t work then I’ll try a pattern to allow a more wafted approach to the bait settling. I’ll start with a size 18 and go up if I need to; I’m all about using the smallest hook possible. This will as with most of my fishing be a Kasman Animal hook.

For the floater set up, even simpler than above! I’ll have the main line straight through to a 16 or 18 hook, the size will depend on the size of the fish that I’m catching. There’ll then be a controller float attached with a clip swivel to allow a fast change if they go longer or come closer etc locked in place with float stops and beads.  Nothing fancy here!

So that’s the plan, lets hope it’s a good one!

Tight Lines

Sam

Planning ahead

Fail to plan, plan to fail

So it might not be that warm out but the sun is shinning and it’s got me thinking; what do I want to achieve this Spring and Summer?

Last Spring & Summer I wanted to catch some Barbel, I managed to do that; only landing two but still it was a nice start to river and Barbel fishing in general. This time around I’m going to try and be a bit more ambitious. Obviously as I write this the rivers are closed which puts any plans for Barbel or Chub on hold for now. So with that in mind what to aim for!

The way I see it I have two main avenues to go down, first of all I live very close to the canal, a canal I’ve had good success from in the past; secondly I live quite close to 3 lakes that again have all produced well in the past. So the way I see it, in the week I can focus on tracking down more 2lb plus perch and on the weekend I can focus on other species.

The chasing down of a Perch will be the easiest to get to do, I leave my lure rods set up all the time so I can grab and go. The hard part is getting them on the hook! As I see it I have two ways to go about this, pre bait a swim that I know holds fish and the other track them down by walking miles. I think that combining these two will work well. The plan is fairly simple; there is a spot just down the road that I have caught all manner of fish from including decent Perch. It has reacted well to the introduction of lose bait when float fishing; so my idea is when I go fishing on a weekend, any leftover bait goes in there. I never have much left so it won’t be loads and if I vary the times I introduce it they won’t get used to a pattern. So with this being so close to the house my plan is to get on my bike and ride out as far as it will take me to get back to the pre baited spot in time for last light, as we all know it’s the best time to catch all types of fish. This I hope will allow me to cover lots of ground but then have a spot that has been built up, the beauty of it being the canal is that to a degree the fish stay in the section they’re in and the pre baited one is in a smallish sections so not far for them to go to find the food.

So now for the lakes, I have a few things I’d like to achieve. The first and most pressing in my mind is to get among some nice Tench. It has been years since I’ve even caught one let alone seen one. This must change. I now have an ideal set up in an Avon and slightly stronger Barbel Avon rod, the only thing I need now are a couple of bait alarms. Luckily two of the local lakes hold nice Tench and both offer night fishing so I’m confident given the right approach I stand a good chance in achieving this.

The next thing I want to do is catch a 20lb carp off the surface, as I said in my last post; surface fishing is my favorite way to catch carp and a 20lb one off the surface would be amazing! This is going to be a bit harder, the lake I was on, on Monday holds very nice fish but is there a 20lb fish? That I’m not too sure of. The other issue is that the other two local lakes don’t allow surface fishing! So I may be forced to do a bit of searching to find a suitable venue but after all that’s part of the fun!

My final desire over the Spring & Summer or at the very least in the time before the river opens back up is to tie down my feeder fishing to help when I do get back on the river. Feeder fishing is not new to me but on lakes is probably my most under used method of fishing. I’ve focused a lot on it over the winter and while I’ve not had the best of winters I do certainly feel that I’m getting there with it.

It’s good to have a plan it keeps you focused and motivated, don’t get me wrong I’m not going to go fishing every session with the idea I MUST catch this fish. However I am certainly going to set aside some definite sessions to try and achieve these goals. While I do I will write up the tactics etc I use to let people know what’s working and what’s not!

Tight Lines

Sam

It’s been a hard winter but Spring is here!

First session of Spring and what a cracker!!

Not posted for a while, mainly because I’ve had such a hard winter with the rod. I’ve been out lots, got frozen fingers and feet but nothing of merit to show for it.

I had one decent perch out the canal on my jig & dropshot set up but apart from that it’s been blank after blank after blank. So in the end I took a bit of a break; I needed to refresh and recharge ready for hitting it in Spring.

Well it worked a treat; well kind of. I went out on Sunday; what a glorious day! What a rubbish days fishing, not a bite. I mean not one, not a wobble not a knock; nothing! To say I was annoyed is a understatement; for me fishing is not about catching the biggest fish going, it’s about being there to see views like this:

17795864_10212682872732694_5245572609680740571_n

However when it’s such a nice day you kind of expect to at least land one, anything would have done but alas no!

I am blessed however to have a very understanding misses, so on Monday when we couldn’t think of anything to do I cheekily proposed that fishing might be fun. To my delight (& slight surprise) she was up for it. So away I ran to pack some gear; the plan was surface fishing as I know a lovely little lake that’s in the middle of nowhere where the fish love a dog biscuit! Given the weather over the weekend I thought Id be in with a chance.

So away we went; when we got to the venue it took all of two minutes for the carp to start showing on the surface. Now I’m man enough to admit when I make a mistake but I’m not sure I should admit to this one but here goes; I FORGOT THE HOOKS!! The most rookie of rookie errors right there! Luckily my regular fishing partner Ben lives not far away from the venue and he came to the rescue (thanks again mate!!).

The scene was set, lovely bit of sun, lambs doing what lambs do; farm cats all around, the misses was loving it!!! So the set up was simple, the pool isn’t big so I didn’t need a big controller float or anything. I actually used a Drennan Zepplin float; they are great for this as you can thread the line straight through and with a couple of large floats stops fasten it in place. So that went on and then at the business end a size 18 Animal hook. Now I of course was limited to what Ben had given me but given the choice I would have picked the same size hook. The bait was just some cheap dog biscuits; I hook them direct onto the hook through the corner. You can band them if you want but I find it to be way too fiddly and it takes too long and presentation is not any better in my opinion.

You might be sat there thinking a size 18, on the surface; are you mad! I might be, people certainly have thought so in the past but I’m sure I’m not. Think about how many times you’ve seen a poor old carp with a mangled mouth; what did it? I can bet you that it was someone using an oversized hook. Think about it do you need a size 10 hook if you’re going after carp where the max size is going is the 20lb max? I don’t think you do. Now with surface fishing where there is no water to take the force out of any strike just think what a large hook can do to a carps mouth! So yeah a strong size 18 will see you fine; of course if you’re going after bigger fish; scale it up but in my opinion always, always, always use the smallest hook possible! Another thing I’ve seen people do while surface fishing is hitting the strike like they’re marlin fishing; again there is no water to take the sting out of the strike. Not only that I find with most if not all surface fishing that a hard strike is just not needed and is very dangerous to the fish (is it any surprise that a lot of places ban this style of fishing?); I find that most of my surface fishing is done within visual range. That means I can see the fish coming up and taking the bait, therefore I know which way the fish is going to turn it’s head as it goes back under. So with that all I do is lightly lift into the strike in the opposite direction the carp is going. This uses the carps momentum to hook them, in effect you tighten the slack and allow the fish to hook itself. There’s hardly any force involved at all, it is all about using the angles and the fishes movement to hook them, not power; as soon as the fish knows it’s hooked it will do the job of setting the hook as it bolts for the bottom all you need to do is hang on!

Enough of the technical stuff, lets show you the goods:

 

Well what a session it was, we were there for only about 4 hours but in that time Laura (my better half) managed to land her first ever fish and I managed to land 13 beauties. All of them put up a decent fight with the biggest being around 10lb. All taken off the surface; it’s hands down my favorite way to catch carp. There’s nothing quite like watching a carp saunter over to your floaters and slowly mouth your hook bait, hold, hold and bang fish on! The way they tear off, the fight is always more wham bam thank you Mam even if it’s a small fish. It truly is one of the most enjoyable was of fishing and all done at the start of April; can’t complain!!

This is my amazing and understanding partner Laura with her first ever fish:

d.jpgWell done baby!!!

So that’s it for me for now, it’s been a while, it’s been a horrible winter but hopefully Monday was an indication of a good Spring/Summer to come.

Tight Lines

Sam

I’ve been out a lot, not caught much though. 

I’ve managed a few sessions of late. I’ve split my time between jig & lure fishing with my growing barbel addiction.

It’s been tough, really tough. I’ve banked a total of 10 fish in 5 sessions. Not exactly prolific.

Let’s look at the barbel first, I’ve been out twice for them of late putting in around 5 hours each time. The first session I was on a nice spot out to open river not far from where two bodies of water meet. I was hopeful on setting out but when I got there the river was moving at such a pace it was, for me unfishable. I stuck a 5oz feeder out and my rod was still being pulled in. So I tried to fish tight to the bank but still had trouble with the flow, so after much frustration I decided to pack up.

My next trip saw my in a swim that is facing the end of an island, on one side there’s a weir on the other a lock. I was on the side of the lock so I was casting towards the crease where the two flows meet. Ideal I thought, 5 hours later and no bites; maybe not.

The first session I’m putting down to the pace the second session I’m puzzled over. On arrival I saw lots of fish but they were not interested. I think I might go back early in the morning armed with maggots. That I think will bag me a few.

So onto the lure fishing. It’s been slow, a heron flew into my usual spot the other day and since then it’s gone quiet and most other parts of the canal have been fishing rather hard as well.

So on a recent trip I decided to change things up. I put a much larger bait and jig head on and I changed up my retrieve. Up to now I’ve been using lures 2.5cm up to 5cm; these had been doing me really well, using a jerky, mixed pace retrieve. I changed this up to an 8cm stick worm with a jig head probably 4-5g and went for a much slower retrieve.

So I cast out and allowed the jig to hit the bottom, when I was happy it was on the bottom I wound the line tight, I lifted the rod tip lightly to bring the lure up in the water and reeled in the excess line, as I reeled in I lowered the rod tip to allow the jig to settle again before again lightly lifting the rod tip and repeating the process. What I was trying to achieve was the lure coming off the bottom and then fluttering and stuttering back down; I didn’t want the lure to come too far off the bottom, say about 10cm. Basically I was trying to replicate an injured fish trying to swim off the bottom and failing and failing back down before trying again. The theory for the changes was this, it’s getting colder so the fish are looking for more efficient food intake. That should mean larger meals that take less energy to get hold of; so that means to me a bigger lure with a slower action that works near the bottom or on bottom because as it gets colder the fish will most likely find deeper water/the bottom.

First cast a bigger than normal perch graced my net so I had a few more casts at the same spot and nothing, not a great start but not the worst. So I moved on; I was under a bridge which is also a main road when out of no where my rod doubled over. A flash of bronze shone through the water and I was greeted by the snarling beautiful face of a pike.

By no means my best photo, I know. He fought but not that much so still had a lot of fight left in him when he came to the net. As the bank where I caught him is made up of sharp stones and really is not too fish friendly I unhooked him in the water save him coming off the mat and hurting himself. So that and combined with him taking a chunk out of my thumb I thought it best to snap one quick photo of the fish in the net so I could get him straight back in the water.

You can see near the tail a scar, this was one of two large scars that to me looked like they may have been made by a large Zander.

The only downside to catching this amazing fish was the fact that I now needed to go home and patch myself up. Still I can’t complain as that is the first Pike I’ve landed in over 10 years.

It was really nice to land this fish for many reasons. I had been told that there were no Pike in this section so this was a shock to both me and others and I was very pleased to land a fish that was not meant to be there. The other reason is that I made a tactical change based on a gut feeling and it paid off. It’s always nice to when you make a change based on you’re own knowledge and intuition and have it pay off in style as it’s a bit of validation of your theories and who doesn’t like that!

I’m finally getting myself geared up for some deadbaiting and will hopefully be going out over the weekend to try and track down some more pike and hopefully I’ll be able to land another barbel soon!!

That’s it from me folks; hope you’ve had better luck than me of late.

Tight Lines

Sam