Thursday, November 13, 2014

On a roll

It wasn't much of a choice to make between supermarket and fishing when the afternoon promised to be mild, dry, not too sunny and not too breezy. The early lunch might have proved to be a good move the way things panned out. For one of those unaccountable reasons I had a last minute change of plan and bypassed the swim I'd had in mind when I left home, and still had in mind when I got the gear out of the car. I ended up dropping a lamprey tail in the right hand margin with the light breeze in my face, followed by a longer chuck with a herring tail. Try as I might the two frozen smelts wouldn't separate easily, they'd need a bit of thawing unless I was to risk snapping the tail off one. I was gently trying to ease them apart when the sounder in my pocket let out a single bleep. A bleep which was followed by a prolonged trilling. The margin float was on the move!

Once more fishing off the baitrunner resulted in the rod hooping over after less than a full turn of the reel handle. You might expect a lively fish hooked at close range to make a bolt for open water, or more likely the remains of the nearby weedbed. This one just bulldogged, hugging the bottom and going round in circles. As it came up in the water the boils it created were encouragingly large. After making sure the net was sunk beyond the floating weed in the edge, and the dead tufty amongst it, I managed to draw the pike into the folds. It would obviously need the scales and sling so I left the fish in the net - secured by a bankstick - while I got the unhooking gear sorted.

With that the fish unhooked and weighed, and with only one bait in the water I sacked the fish to have another practice with the self-take set up. I had the tripod and mat all lined up and was still messing about with the camera when the sounder began a slow burbling. I looked up to see the only float I had in the water wobbling away to the left. Even at slightly longer range the hookset was instant. At first I wasn't able to gauge the weight of the fish but when it got closer I was sure it was another decent fish. I was glad that I'd tidied the first rod away and not left the hooks and rig in the landing net now. Once netted it was a simple matter to hoist the fish on to the unhooking mat, pop the hook out, weigh the fish and take two quick snaps. If it hadn't coughed up a four ounce roach on the way to the net it would have been close to a twin for the first fish.

With all that done and the fish released I dried the blood off my hands and got the plasters out before I got the sacked fish ashore and repeated the photo shoot with two quick snaps of each side for future reference.

By now the swim looked like the proverbial bomb had hit it and I had no baits in the water! The first job was to get another half lamprey in the margin. The smelts had softened up so one of those was stuck on a paternoster and lobbed to the right margin. Finally I replaced the trace on the middle rod, baited up with a small herring (or was it a big sprat?) which I bound to the trace with red elastic thread, and put back out where the herring tail had been taken from. Then I sat down for a rest and a brew.

Despite the almost instant success I had the urge to move after an hour more. Only a couple of swims away, but that can be enough at times. Not this time though. Another hour and I was on the move again. Quite a bit further this time to cover completely fresh water. By the time I had packed the gear, walked to the new swim and got the baits out I doubted I'd have time for another move and settled in to fish until dark.

This swim looks the part, with more features to go at than most, but it's one that had yet to produce a pike for me. The sky was not only getting darker, it was getting more cloudy where the wind was coming from. The temptation to pack up was there, especially after having caught a couple of nice doubles. On the basis that if i got wet I had all the next day to dry the gear out I hung on. The light had pretty much gone when I thought I saw the far float wobble. A trick of the fading light? It wobbled again then it moved. It definitely moved. I was on the rod just as the alarm sounded and the float disappeared. There wasn't much of a fight until the fish was in the net. That was the cue for the rain to fall. Resting the mesh of the net on the middle Delkim I went for my jacket and headtorch before starting the unhooking and weighing ritual. Not quite a double it still rounded off the afternoon nicely. Even the rain gave up by the time I had everything packed away ready for the walk back to the car.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Up and running again

Having seen my first fieldfares since spring last Friday, with the air temperature in single figures the low sun and clear sky made it feel like pike time was here at last. With that in mind and work not going to plan I had an early lunch, packed teh pike gear in the car and set off to make the most of the afternoon before the rain arrived.

The reeds are in their winter colours, the trees almost completely bare with a strong southerly stripping a few more leaves from their branches. Despite the ripple on the water it had that cold blue look which it takes on through the winter months on days such as this. A blue that makes orange pike floats glow like beacons in the sunlight. All that was missing was a frost to make the ground hard and the grass crisp. That'll come.

I thought that fishing the edges of remaining weed would be a good place to start so two float legered deads and a paternostered sprat were cast to strategic places that matched that profile. It was quarter past one as I settled in with my back to the wind to watch the floats. After an hour I repositioned the lamprey head. Half an hour later I was wondering if a move might be worthwhile. After moving my gear two swims along I put the rods in the second swim along for some reason and moved the rest of the gear to join it.

There wasn't much in the way of weed in this swim but I could cover more water. Two baits were dropped in the margins - left ad right - the lamprey got chucked out into no-man's land. I can't say I was feeling any more confident. As so often happens as soon as you stop expecting or hoping for a run one materialises. So it goes. The least likely float was on the move.

The good thing about fishing braid off the baitrunner is that there is no slack and no stretch when you come to set the hooks. There's hardly anything to the 'winding down' part of the hookset. Half a turn of the reel handle and you feel the pike enough to pull the rod back and drive the hooks home. A carefully set clutch can be advantageous in case the pike makes a sudden lung on feeling steel.

This fish made no such lunge. It came in like the proverbial wet sack, only waking up at the net where it did the big-headed gill flare and shake that makes you think you've hooked something much bigger than you have. Obviously a double the headshake looked about eighteen pounds, the length about fourteen, in the net the girth looked nearer ten. Not really big enough for a self-take but I thought I should try out the camera I bought earlier in the year having caught nothing worth setting the tripod up for all spring and summer. I left the pike in the net, after staking the net out with a bankstick just in case the fish got frisky.

Everything went smoothly. I set the mat and forceps out, with the sling and zeroed scales close by, then rigged up the tripod, camera and bulb release. Two quick practice shots to make sure things were lined up and it was time to get the fish out of the water.

Laid on the mat the hooks were easily removed, the rod put out of harms way and the pike weighed. Just over twelve pounds and tatty for the time of year. More like a post spawn fish. Lift for two shots of each side then back into the sling to go back to the water. Easy peasy.

The lamprey head was still dripping blood so back out it went. I put a fresh joey on the other float leger rig and cast it further out to my right adjacent to some dying weed. The sky was getting darker grey from the west and the air temperature dropping.

Was another move in order, or should I put the brolly up to keep the breeze off? The first spots of light rain made up my mind. The brolly went up and I hunkered down on the low chair with another cup of flask tea. There was less than an hour of light left as the rain got a little heavier and the wind dropped. A small flock of starlings circled looking for a roost site. Jackdaws headed east. A kingfisher dashed along the margin clipping my middle line as the light faded to that stage where colours disappear. The rain eased again and I took the chance to pack up before the head torch was required.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Beaten again

Somehow or other I managed to get to the water just before light this morning. Before I had two baits out the rain that wasn't forecast began to fall. A light drizzle was all and it soon passed over. Small fish were dimpling and flipping in front of me. There had to be a pike or two lurking under the overhanging willows on my right or in the remains of the lily pads to my left. The baits were positioned accordingly before I sat under the brolly to drink tea and watch a flock of long tailed tits twittering their way through the sparse willow and birch leaves.

As the sky began to clear and the light levels increase the small fish stopped showing. The weed is starting to die back despite the continuing warmer than normal weather. This makes presentation easier, and twitching baits. Not that it did me much good. After a little more than an hour, with the drizzle no more, I got the urge to move to a swim where I could fish a weed edge and a marginal drop-off.

Although my confidence rose in the new swim and the sun tried to break out of hiding the pike still played hard to get. A small bird also played hard to get in evading the pursuit of a sparrowhawk, and a buzzard flapped over the lake blithely ignoring the two crows swooping close to it in anger. If buzzards can plod that one did.

It was one of those mornings when I kept pouring tea for something to do. A Delkim let out a single bleep and through the still air I heard a few clicks of a baitrunner as I scanned the floats to see which one might have moved. The middle one rose back to the surface as my eyes reached it. That was it. I gave it a few minutes before slowly reeling the joey in to check for teeth marks. Not seeing any signs of pike on the bait I chopped its head off and cast it back out.

Time was getting on. I'd planned to jack it in at eleven, but put that on an hour and repositioned all the baits instead. Not that it did me any good. Half an hour later I was on my way back to the car.

I'm pretty sure that given the warmth of the water and its clarity a couple of livies would have saved a blank. Pity they're not allowed as the place is stuffed with easy to catch roach. As if to taunt me a grebe popped up in front of me as I packed the last rod away - a small roach in its beak.

The way I see it my options are to stick a lure rod in the quiver, try a different pike venue, or fish for something completely different. There's this water I've heard does a few big perch at this time of year...

Monday, October 20, 2014

That's better

That North Western SS4 now has a new handle. Although that was all I was asked to do it was easy enough to clean the blank up as the rings had to be refitted. Glass blanks always seem to clean up nicely - even if it does take a while to get the old polyurethane varnish off.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Falling at the second hurdle

Sunday started with a foggy dawn with the promise of sunshine later. Perfect for piking. However I spent it sat in my car on the M6 heading for the Tackle and Guns trade show. If you ever plan to have two days fishing in glorious autumnal weather find out when the PAC convention and T&G show are being held. Never fails.

The tackle show was disappointing. There was one highlight that attracted a lot of attention. A huge tank full of pike and a few perch which was to be used for lure demonstrations. The fish were nothing more than props, but interesting to watch.

There wasn't much revolutionary on show that I saw. Fuji's new Torzite rings look very nice, and shiny, but are hideously expensive. A 40mm butt ring will set you back around fifty quid! Everyone seems to be jumping on the lure fishing bandwagon. The small lure bandwagon that is. It's clearly a market open to exploitation as it caters to people who want to catch plenty of fish regardless of size.

The best two items I saw were clamshell 'bits boxes' from Korum with compartments long enough to hold rig sleeves, and on the same stand Avid's bait and bits boxes - maggot tubs with a lift out tray and no holes in the lids.You could forget the bait and use them to hold clamshell type boxes to keep your gear together.

Watching those pike must have got me fired up because on Monday afternoon I ventured forth into a chilly wind. I'd barley got the baits in the water when the rain arrived. Not heavy but enough to make me put the brolly up and sit it out in one spot. Not my preferred method these days.Still, I had plenty of water in front of me to allow me to move the baits around.

What really put me off was the cormorant which popped up right under my rods. I'm not sure why but when there are cormorants about my confidence for catching pike plummets. There was prey fish still in the area because I watched a great crested grebe swallow a rather large roach later on. Despite the rain it was a nice enough afternoon, which actually warmed up considerably by dusk. The bunny suit had been superfluous for the walk back to the car.

The only times I got excited were when the gusty wind blew reeds onto the line making a Delkim sound. The floats never bobbled or dipped. If it hadn't been raining I'd definitely have moved at least once. After the minor success last time out this was a not altogether unexpected disappointment. I get the feeling morning sessions might be the best option until this month is out and the days are a bit shorter. Using that as an excuse I might have an afternoon roach session next!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

A touch of glass

"Can you put a cork handle on this?" At first glance I suspected the 'this' to be North western SS4 - 10ft of 2lb test curve fibreglass. With the shrink tube handle removed I was proved right.

The rings had clearly been put on by an amateur! Although it's not a full strip and rebuild I'll have to tidy the butt section up, and I think the joint needs fettling too. Daft as it sounds little jobs like this keep me interested.