Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pike therapy

Today I made the effort to get my arse into gear and go fishing. I even planned to have my main meal ready at lunchtime so all I'd have to do when I got back was make a snack. Despite my meticulous preparations I managed to forget my new woolly hat. I'd removed my old one from the rucksack, but not replaced it with the new one. Thankfully although there was some north in the breeze the day was reasonably mild and my tatty baseball cap kept my head warm enough.

Thinking about it leaving the new hat behind might have been a good move as I was giving a new pair of boots their first fishing outing. Two new items on one session would have been a sure fire blank inducer!

Where there a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Boots I'd be banned from keeping them for life. I never look after my footwear. I don't willingly abuse them or anything, I just neglect them. Not only do I wear my boots for fishing, I put them on to tramp around with my camera. Salt water when I wear them to paddle about at the beach when I'm out with my camera probably does them no favours. As a consequence the leather always ends up cracking and letting in water long before I have worn the soles out.

Last winter I just about managed to keep my feet dry, but a few dew laden mornings this summer saw my socks getting damp. It was time to stump up for new boots. I could wear my Muckboots, but I prefer an eight inch leather boot. Mostly because I can't drive in wellies and am too lazy to swap from my 'day boots' to wellies when I get to where I'm fishing and swap back to go home. Boots one as I set off and straight out of the car to the swim. Old habits of fishing popular waters and having to beat the hordes die hard. Time will tell how long this pair last. If I get three winters out of them it'll be par for the course.

I wasn't sure how a clean Fred would affect my luck either, after he'd had a bath (i.e. spin in the washing machine and tumble drier...) a couple of weeks ago. As it turned out none of this voodoo resulted in a blank. Although one small jack that took a liking to a headless joey mackerel wasn't what I'd have scripted it was better than catching nothing. As soon as the float wobbled it was obvious a small fish was playing with the bait. The float hardly moved and just a few ticks at a time were made by the baitrunner.

Once more there wasn't much to see in the way of birdlife. A small flock of goldfinches twittered as they fed in an alder. A sparrowhawk made a close flyby, agitating a blackbird as it reached the other side of the lake. An indecisive flock of fieldfares flew over heading west, turned and flew off and out of sight in a north easterly direction.

After an hour and a half I moved to a spot where I could cover more water. One bait in close, one to another feature and one out into more open water. Nothing happened apart from a reed stem catching one of the lines and making the remote bleep in my pocket. With half an hour of light left I repositioned all three baits o places they remained until I packed up in the dark.

Not the most successful of sessions in terms of fish caught, but one which renewed my enthusiasm and cleared my still snuffly sinuses a little. One thing that the session reminded me was that I need to restock the freezer. There's not a lot of choice in it at the moment. Not that I'm sure the pike in this place are too fussy. It's just nice to have a selection of bait sizes if nothing else.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Not long after my last post I called in at my local tackle shop for some reason. Either to drop off a repair or gather some tubes for despatching rods. Anyway, 'someone' was diseased and unable to speak above a whisper. A couple of days later my nose started dripping. Then the sneezing started. Sleep was interrupted at frequent intervals by snot collecting at the back of my throat making me wake up choking. Just when I was feeling better the cough started, accompanied by the loss of the will to do anything at all. I thought I was over it but no. The continual hawking up of phlegm commenced and is only now abating. That's why I haven't been fishing for a while. Of course, the weather that was warm and windless has turned wet and windy now.

In between the endless cups of tea, nose blowings and Strepsils I've been getting on with work.  One lovely little job was to re-ring a couple of Loch Tamers belonging to 'a well known pike angler'. The first part of the job was to remove the repairs he'd made. I've seen worse ring replacement jobs in my time.

One thing was for sure, these rings weren't going to fall off! Meaning the highlight of this task was removing the whippings which were braided line liberally soaked with Superglue. A hideous combination to take off.

The other rings cleaned up remarkably well, which meant that altering the spacings didn't leave too much of a mess. Which was a relief.

Now, do I get the pike rods out again, try for the roach or go gudgeon bashing when I get a free (dry) day (or few hours)? I haven;t caught a gudgeon for a long, long time and quite fancy swinging a few to hand. Even if it's only to hear them squeak!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Piking again

It's been combination of work and lethargy that's been keeping me away from the water for a while. After my Railway Pond carp campaign came to a quick end I've been struggling to to find an incentive to catch fish.

There was a brief dabble at starting an evening roach campaign. Trouble was the roach didn't want to join in and I gave up after the one session. Forgetting the hemp to put in my feed didn't help my confidence and I really should have fished a spot that's produced before instead of one that has never thrown up a roach for me.

Eventually the cold turkey got too much for me and this afternoon was set fair. No rain, not to cold and not unseasonably hot. As soon as play at the test match finished for the day I was on my way to the Blue Lagoon armed with the pike rods still st up from my last session in March, and the same carrier bag of deadbaits I'd thrown in the freezer back then. There didn't seem to be much point in putting any new baits in as what was there looked good enough for three hours fishing.

Luckily enough the swim I had last fished for pike was free. Not surpassing as I couldn't see anyone else fishing! The beauty of braid is that knots don't deteriorate. The traces hadn't rusted over the summer so I hooked a bait on each one and cast them out. Jack herring to the left, a headless joey straight out on a decent chuck and a rather freezer burned lamprey tail in the right hand margin. There wasn't much avian activity. A noisy wren in the reeds was about it until a great crested grebe arrived in it's dull winter plumage matching the grey clouded sky.

I'd kept the weight down in the rucksack by leaving the flask at home and just having a bottle of water as it wasn't cold enough to need a warming brew. The quiver was similarly lightened by leaving the brolly at home. I'm sure it's those two items that weigh me down most.

After half an hour I twitched the distant bait. Fifteen minuets later I recast all three. It was only a matter of a few more minutes until I noticed the right hand rod top knock, the float bob and begin to move under the overhanging hawthorn. The baitrunner was knocked off and I wound into a pike which felt a bit like it might be a decent one, particularly when it pulled the P-5 right over. Fish always feel like they fight harder when they have enough depth to dive straight down under the rod tip rather than having to run away rom you in shallow water.

Once in teh net I wasn't so sure about the size of the fish. In the sling it looked on the skinny side, managing to spin the needle round past the nine pound mark but not much further.

It was almost time for a move, so I did. The two baits which hadn't been taken were still in good enough shape and the herring again went out to my left, close in, the macky hurled as far as I could. Then I got a fresh lamprey head out and dropped that hastily in the right hand margin as something was playing with the mackerel.

By the time I picked the middle rod up the bait had been dropped. I retrieved it to find it a mangled mess. Not too mangled to use though. I found some solid flesh to stick the end treble that had come free in and belted it back out whence it came. With the float cocked and the 'runner set I wound in the lamprey to position it more to my liking. Only I had to swing it back out quickly because the macky was on the move again!

This time I connected with what felt like a small pike, and so it was. As is often the case with small pike it proved to be more trouble in the net than on the end of the line. Despite being lightly hooked the thing had to be untangled, and the trace was a mess that took some straightening out. With everything back to normal I eventually got all three baits positioned where I was happy with them.

After an hour I was contemplating a move. There wasn't much to move to and I thought the light would be gone quickly. As it turned out the light stayed good enough for another hour. I should have made that move because the floats didn't.

There are still leaves clinging to the trees that a good blow will soon shift. The lily pads are well on their way out. A flock of fieldfares flew over towards dusk. The haws on the bushes will be under attack from them soon enough round the lake. Despite it being twelve degrees it's beginning to feel like winter is on its way now. More piking, or get the roach rods back in action? Perhaps I could travel light for pike when the weather is set fair and a brolly won't be needed and go roaching when the forecast is doubtful? Or perhaps lethargy will get the better of me again!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

I fibbed

With the Indian Summer returning after a short break it would have been churlish not to continue my  short session carp campaign in search of a monster from the Railway Pond. As it is almost dark by the time the Archers is over I got myself to the water by four with the air temp still in the teens and the sun shining on the barely rippled water. The spots I really fancied were all either taken or would have resulted in me casting too close to someone else, so I opted for the neglected bank. As I approached one swim I could see a carp was feeding close in. That was good enough for me.

I set up back from the water then dropped a bait where the fish had been creating vortexes. Scattering a few freebies over the spot. I was using some boilies that had been in the bait cupboard since I last barbel fished. They hadn't gone mouldy, were still soft and sweet smelling. They'd catch. The other rod got a pop-up and a bag of matching bottom baits and was lobbed out about ten yards or so.

Although I had a back lead on one line and tungsten tubing on the other I managed to fish with slack lines by resting the bobbins on the platform I had the rods either side of!

The margin bobbin jumped off the deck after a short while, but no run materialised. I pulled more slack from the reel and left things as they were. Then the other bobbin leaped into space and the baitrunner spun a little until the line was just tight. I wasn't sure if that had been an abortive take. No. It was another skinny flappy thing which was soon wound in and released. The pop-up got lowered in the right hand margin after that.

A couple of hawkers hawked along the reedmace while there was still some heat from the sun. When the air chilled the geese began to arrive, making so much noise I could barely hear the radio. I was half way through the last mini pork pie of the day when there was a stuttery take to the bottom bait. This was being fished on a new rod I've been trying to put a bend in for some weeks, the new-gear-jinx being particularly strong on it. Something was bound to go wrong. I remembered I'd forgotten to retie the knot on that rig. Whatever it was that had picked up the bait it sure wasn't a flappy thing! At one point it tried to get in the reedmace to my right but the potentially dodgy knot held as I gave the fish some stick. Then it kited to the left where I steered it away from the reedmace and over the landing net in one smooth sequence. The rod had done the job, and it looked like I'd achieved my target of catching a double from the place in a short session. The scales proved me right.

There was just one strange thing. My knack for catching freakish fish had been at work. The poor thing only had one eye. Whatever had happened to it's left eye had happened a long time ago as there was no sign of any damage. In fact it appeared to have been hatched that way. Most unsettling to look at.

The fish was nopt in teh least bothered by it's lack of an eye. Nor had it been put out by my hustling it into the net. It made a good attempt at soaking me as it shot away from teh weighsling as I slipped it back.

The usual chaos of wet sling, net and rod was sorted out. The bait dropped back in place and more freebies scattered over it. Then the pork pie was finished.

After the commotion I didn't really expect anything more, but I hung on until the Archers was done. The air temp still over 12 by the time I got back to the car. That really is me done with carp for now. The roach rods are rigged up and I have some maggots in the fridge ready for a first session. The plan is to fish a couple of hours into dark for the roach. Knowing my luck the eels will be revelling in this mild weather and I'll be driven home by a succession of rig mangling bootlaces. It might be fun. It might be torment.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

All carped out

It's that transitional time of year, when summer fishing is over but winter fishing doesn't feel quite right. I know I could go piking on the drains, but they don't fire me with enthusiasm. Hitting the river for barbel is another option that doesn't appeal. These last two weeks of late summer days with temperatures as high as we had during high summer have confused matters even more. Yesterday there were a couple of swallows over the water and an early morning chiffchaff was calling, yet five whooper swans dropped in for a swim around and come evening the pink foots were nosily flighting in. No wonder I've been confused. That's my excuse for trying to catch carp.

An evening up to eleven session produced one line bite on the difficult lake. There might be twenty five fish in the place, most of them not worth catching. Even the real carp anglers aren't having any success. I think that's why I've been having a go. The challenge. But I can only stand so many blanks and have been visiting the Railway Pond where the challenge is to avoid the carp. I'm succeeding! The last two hours are the best chance to avoid other anglers too. The first session ended with a screaming run and another of the pond's skinny flappy things. However, I did notice some carp behaviour that I thought might push the odds in my favour next time.

With work out of the way and yet another red hot afternoon under way, Thursday saw me setting off for an overnighter, intending to stop until after lunch. I left it a bit late and only got the baits out by six twenty. Two grains of fake corn over a bed of hemp and corn to the left margin, a spot I've seen fishy activity on a few occasions. A boilie/glow corn cocktail with a stringer out to nowhere and a 14mm pop-up over pellets close in straight over the now-dying weed edge.

My usual regime for bivvy sessions is to restrict them to the months when it goes dark at nine. I can't abide the long dark hours.  Right now it's dark before eight, and although the days have been hot the temperature soon drops with the sun. Six thirty and it's fine out in a t-shirt, by seven thirty it's almost time for the bunny suit!

The moon was just past full but still bright enough to cast long shadows as it rose, directly opposite me. Then the mist rose over the water and hung around all night. By daybreak it had turned into an all-enveloping fog covering the low-lying land all around. It didn't burn off until gone nine in the morning when the heat returned.

The alarms had remained silent all night long. Not a liner or anything. There had been fish topping at dusk and some noisy surface splashing from small fish during the night. No signs of carp, tench or bream though. The only indication I had was at quarter to eight when the cocktail bobbin dropped back a few inches. I waited for it to drop further or to fly up to the butt ring, but it didn't. After the bacon butty breakfast washed down with a mug of black tea (I forgot the milk...) I had a recast of all three rods. It was no wonder the corn hadn't been touched. The rig was tangled. Bugger.

It was tempting to sit it out all day, but by two I'd had enough. The thought of getting a bend in a rod, even from a flappy thing, was itching away in my head. Back home for a brew with milk then trim the gear down and snatch the last couple of hours at the pond, then call at the chippy after I packed up. Simple plan.

I don't know why I decided to band the two rods, landing net and banksticks together instead of using a quiver. I find it an awkward way to carry stuff. But that was what I did. The swim I fancied was vacant, so the rods were soon set up and the sticks in place. Then it was time to set up the landing net. That was odd. I had the net and half of the pole, but not the essential part. The part with the spreader block. I retraced my steps to the car hoping it might just have slipped out. Nope. Not in the car either. I'd have to manage without.

Thankfully, being rubbish at catching carp, the net problem didn't need to be overcome. There were a few liners, and some half-hearted tugs (probably from over ambitious baby carp) to make the alarm bleep. Nothing positive though. I mostly spent the time watching migrant hawkers hawking, hovering and chasing each other until it got too chilly for them. By which time the starlings and geese were flocking in to the safety of the mere and its reedbeds for the night. It's quite a spectacular sight, and sound, when the pinks fly in. There's something about the sight and sound of thousands of pinks that evokes feelings of lonely and wild places.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

It comes but once a year

Last week I actually managed the impossible. With the PAC's annual convention being held in Kettering last Saturday I had all my stuff ready to go by Thursday evening! All except the carrier bags, but I didn't realise that until I was in Northamptonshire...

Such pre-planning meant I could sneak out for a couple of hours catching suicidal carp at the Railways Pond. Naturally enough I didn't catch any. The weather had changed a bit since the previous visit and the pond was busy. A combination of the weather and boots on the ground could have been the cause of my failure. Or I might just have been in the wrong spot - the right one having a goon with a pole in it when I arrived. It was a pleasant enough two hours though. I might even sort out a set of gear to leave ready to snatch similar two hour sessions for the future. Although how the place will fish come winter I dunno.

An early start and a three hour drive saw me arrive at the venue for the PAC show in good time. Before the doors had opened in fact. The place is much better to get in and out of than the Ricoh Arena where the show was last year. And no officious jobsworths to contend either. Far more laid back and friendly.

It was a good day, with the usual suspects turning up, but a long one.All the usual suspects turned up and I grabbed a few photos of some of them.

Six hours driving in total and the rest of the day on my feet takes it out of an old codger. Well meaning plans to get the rods out in anger on Sunday fell by the wayside. I'd surely manage an evening or overnight session later in the week, especially given the weather forecast? Nope. Long awaited rod fittings turning up, plus other deliveries to wait in for, kept me away from the water. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get the roach rods out over the weekend.