Monday, February 25, 2019

Second time lucky

When I backed the car out after lunch today it went into gear. As well it might having had a new clutch fitted last week. The weather conditions were still confusing for February. The car's thermometer read 15 degrees and there were daffodils in bloom at the lake. I was so sure of the weather forecast I left my brolly and bunny suit at home. The bunny suit was a risk as I knew that as soon as the sun put its pyjamas on normal February temperatures would return. By then I'd be ready for off.

A brief walk to have a look around for other angers and I was on my way. I walked on past a swim I had in mind to give a try intending to fish it on my way back. I even walked further than I'd planned and settled into a cosy swim sheltered from the light southerly breeze by tall reeds. Two standby baits, a lamprey head and a bluey tail got cast to likely looking spots while a small smelt a firned had given me was dropped in the margin to my right. I'm not a fan of smelt but it allowed me to have three different baits in the water.

The smelt had only been soaking for ten minutes when the float slid away. I was stunned! On setting the hooks there was little resistance. When the hammer handle popped up it was obvious why. Rather than get the landing net wet I chinned the rascal out. Small as it was that jack meant I hadn't blanked this year. One with a fresh, and slightly larger, smelt and back to business.

I was allowing myself an hour in each of four swims, moving baits around every fifteen to thirty minutes in each swim. With this process duly completed I moved to a swim which always looks like it should be a good one for pike, but has yet to provide me with one. Today was no exception despite giving it a little longer than the hour.

Next stop would be the spot I'd walked past earlier on. With the sun lower and the water there in shade it felt less appealing. I have a bit of a thing about fishing sunlit water in winter and avoiding shaded areas. Quite possibly a daft thing, but it gives me confidence. I carried on to what was supposed to be the fourth swim of the day. I'd stick it out there until I'd had enough.

This area has produced for me in the past. The trouble with that is there's the temptation to put baits in the same places pike have been caught from on earlier occasions. In some ways this is sensible, in others it eliminates the chance of finding better spots. So it was smelt in the margin, bluey tail to the feature on my left (which has yet to produce for me) and lamprey head to what would be the edge of a lily pad bed if it was summer.

By now the wind was dropping and the lake calming off. Coots and moorhens were getting active, there having been little in the way of bird activity earlier despite the warmth. My fleece was definitely required and I was glad of the lined trousers as I watched the clear sky turn pale shades of pink and blue.

The lamprey float dipped, wobbled, then sank as the alarm sounded. With line running steadily off the baitrunner I wound straight down and connected with what felt like a better fish than the first one. There was weight to it but no fight until it came in close where it did some head shaking and rolling before it hit the back of the net. It was when the net was staked out that the pike came to life.

With the weigh sling soaked and wrung out and the mat laid on some level ground the fish continued to fight. The free treble found the net and, after I'd unhooked the other treble from the fish, one of my fingers. Once in the damp sling things calmed down. My guestimate as I'd lifted the fish in the net was proved accurate by the scales. A fish with a full belly by the look of it, but not bloated with spawn. That it was showing signs of previous captures took a little of the shine off events, but it was still good to catch and recaptures are part of fishing small (and large) waters. Better a slightly tatty fish than none at all.

I fished on until six leaving while there was still a good fifteen minutes of light left. Maybe if I had taken the bunny suit I'd have stopped longer. Somehow I doubt it. My mission had been accomplished.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Slight return, and disappearance, of the mojo

Maybe it was scanning some old slides. Maybe it was the warming sun. Whatever it was I filled my flask with tea, checked over the contents of my rucksack and sling, put some baits in a cool bag and loaded the lot into the back of my car yesterday around one. Then I donned my bunny suit and boots, jumped in the car and reversed onto the street. Where the car promptly refused to go into gear. Any gear.

The minor slope into my gateway was too much for me. If Brenda from next door hadn't come to my rescue and helped me push the bloody thing I'd have left it in the middle of the road. Car unpacked, garage phoned, mojo well and truly departed. I'm convinced cars know when you're thinking of changing them and deliberately break down making you waste money on them in the hope you'll hang on to them a bit longer. Or perhaps this was a sign that's it's time to put the rods away for good? Somehow I doubt that.

In a bid to keep this blog active I've been considering telling some tales from the dim and distant past. Scanning slides was a precursor to that. When, or if, this will happen I don't know. It'll mean digging out the slides and the diaries to make semi-accurate accounts of some memorable days pike fishing in the last century and this. Don't hold your breath though!

In the meantime some pics from the past.

Monday, December 31, 2018

A funny old year

2018 will go down as the year I fished least since I got serious about fishing. Counting the days in my diary there were ten. Despite this I still managed to catch one more double figure pike than in my first serious season fishing for them. That season was a hard slog. I think it was over twenty sessions for four pike - two doubles. I guess with age come experience and that helps put a few fish on the bank for less apparent effort.

What doesn't put fish on then bank is not going fishing. The reasons this year were a combination of cold and wet early on and a heatwave later. Add on a dollop of other interests and a smidgen of feeling under the weather and the motivation was soon lost. Once it's gone, if there is something to take its place, it can go for good. Not that it matters in the broader scheme of things. Fishing isn't life. So long as I have something to fill my spare time and, more importantly, occupy my mind, it's not the end of the world. These days taking photographs is fulfilling that role.In some ways the two are similar. You go to big fish waters if you want to catch big fish, you go to places where the subjects you want to photograph are. In both cases the results are not guaranteed!

I'm not selling my tackle just yet. My renewal for one club I belong to is in the post. Springtime will soon be here. A change in the weather might get me moving again. What I need is a fishy challenge, something new to do. If I don't find one then this blog may well have run its course.

On that cheery note, Happy New Year!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Something in the air

Maybe it was the way the sun was sifted through the clouds or the stillness and warmth in the air making it feel more like early spring rather than early winter that got me gathering my pike gear after lunch. For the first time in ages I actually felt like I needed to go fishing. To my surprise I had the place to myself. Apart from the huge flock of fieldfares which flew up from the hawthorns surrounding the car park when I arrived.

On Saturday damp feet had reminded me there was a pair of boots waiting for me in the country store and I'd been breaking them in ever since. Despite the boots feeling pretty comfortable this had resulted in a rather large blister on one big toe. I wasn't fit to walk to a distant swim so hobbled to one in sight of the car which had been good to me in the past.

After a freezer disaster during the summer I hadn't much choice in the deadbait trays. One pack of lamprey and one of small blueys would have to do. Two baits I have confidence in as it happens.  Half a lamprey was dropped in the margin to my right and a bluey to the left. Then I set about tying on a new trace to the third rod. This was rigged with a lamprey head and cast out to a feature. All was quiet and still.

Save for some bubbles repeatedly appearing just out from my right hand bait nothing happened. With it being so mild I wondered if bream fishing might have been a better idea. After an hour I moved.

The same baits were spread around the swim. The banker lamprey head was dropped next to the banker overhanging bush. That would trundle off when the light faded. Another hour later I repositioned the left hand and middle baits. Half an hour on I did it again. There was no fishy activity to be seen.

The fieldfare flock returned, flew overhead. Perched briefly in some tree tops. Then disappeared. From the reeds at the side of my swim came the angry churring of a blue tit and a higher pitched call. A small bird-shaped silhouette materialised. Smaller than a blue tit with a finer, more pointy beak. It flitted across my swim into a hawthorn and I realised it was a goldcrest. The first I've seen at the water. It was soon gone. The blue tit quietened down too.

It was still mild when the orange of the floats faded to grey and eventually to black against the water surface. Three hours and no pike activity. Head torch on and time to head home to fill my rumbling belly.

In some ways it had been good to be back by the water. Being increasingly impatient as I get older a fish or two would have made it even better. At least the gear is now ready to go as the whim takes me. That excuse has been eliminated! I might even stock up on bait.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Irish pike need your Euros

There were hopes that the tide was turning for Irish pike. Their status as an introduced species had been successfully questioned by scientific research. The wanton removal of pike looked as if it would be curtailed, and maybe even stopped in the not too distant future. Sadly, politics appears to have changed all that.

Since 2006 only one pike over 50cm was allowed to be taken by an angler. This went a long way to prevent (when obeyed and enforced) the wholesale slaughter of pike by anglers fishing for the pot or out of blind hatred of pike.

Sadly there remains a faction of Irish anglers who cannot accept that pike are native to their waters, that they play a beneficial role in the ecosystems, or that they are not intent on eating every trout and salmon that swims. Plain and simple they want to see an Ireland without pike. Some dream of an Ireland where only salmonids swim.

Through exerting political pressure in the face of scientific evidence these anglers have succeeded in lobbying to get a bye-law passed allowing the taking of four specimen pike per angler per day in certain limestone loughs. Although this bye-law is limited in its geographical application it is a major retrograde step for both pike, pike angling, and the economy in the area to which it applies. It also sets a most worrying precedent.

Irish pike anglers are not at all happy (gross understatement) with either the the bye-law or the manner in which it has been brought into force. Such is their anger that they are seeking to mount a challenge in the High Court to the legislation. This will cost money. Thanks to the internet it now only takes a few clicks for pike anglers around the world to give their support to the cause. If every pike angler contributes a few Euros their target will soon be met.

Please follow this link (please share far and wide) to read more details about this disgraceful state of affairs, and maybe add your donation to the pot.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Another handle style

Quite why I've built three sets of rods with cork handles that featured short cork 'cones' in front of the reel seat over the last few weeks is probably coincidence. Maybe the look has grown on me because of this, but I'm liking it.

For most rods the foregrip serves no practical function. Certainly when using a fixed spool reel.

On thicker diameter blanks there's not much scope for fitting a winding check (as per photo on the right), but on slimmer blanks a fine aluminium check is an option.

Functional and aesthetically pleasing to my eye.