Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A change of direction

The light was starting to fade by the time I had my baits out at nine. Partly due to being a month past tghe longest day and partly due to the overcast sky. A piece of squid had been under-armed out on the left hand rod and a bunch of worms cast well out on the into Bleatmere for my first overnight eel session for a long long time on the other one. Recent summers seeing me on the way home well before first light after my eel sessions.

The next jobs were to get the bedchair and brolly sorted out so I could be on the rods quickly, then get the kettle on. Water out, teabag and sugar in the cup, milk to hand, stove screwed to the gas bottle and kettle at the ready. Bugger. I'd taken my big tackle box out of the rucksack. Which vital piece of equipment was missing?? The lighter...

I searched high and low hoping I'd have one stashed in one of the rucky's pockets, or in the tackle box I had with me. I considered shorting out a battery with some trace wire in the hope it would glow hot enough to light the gas, such was my desperation. Fear of an explosive catastrophe quashed that idea! Thankfully the overcast meant the night was warm and a little muggy, so drinking cold water or milk wouldn't be too unbearable. One thing the lack of a light did do was decide when I'd pack up in the morning - shortly after it was light enough to see what I was doing without my headtorch.

Right on cue the first run came shortly before ten. Had the sky been clearer I'm sure it would have come a bit later, particularly given the clear water. This run was dropped but signalled the start of sporadic action with short take, bleeps and twitches filling the gaps between full blooded runs that occurred almost hourly. As usual these runs were either missed, ended with a pinched bait or, in one instance, resulted in a fish on - that came off taking the bait with it. Every bit of action was to the squid. When I missed the one o'clock run I thought that would be my lot until the hour before sunrise. Sure enough when I nodded off I wasn't disturbed until twenty five to four, a hint of light in the sky.

To my amazement my strike was met with sold resistance and a writhing feeling coming up the braid and through the rod to my hand. I kept the pressure on and let the eel swim backwards against the well bent rod while I used my free hand to get my headtorch on and lit and the landing net into position. Then I cranked the fish in. As soon as it's head appeared I could see it was a reasonable fish. Maybe not a three, but getting there.

The single hook was easily removed from the bottom jaw and the eel slipped into the weighsling, the scales proving me right in my prediction. Half a pound short. Everyone else I meet who fishes for eels or catches them by accident gets two pounders all the time, yet they don't come my way with the same regualrity and I class them as worth photographing. I guess I'm easily pleased, and usually have a cup of tea to celebrate my small victory. I settled for milk and a Nutrigrain bar for a pre-breakfast snack this time.

Try as I might I couldn't get back to sleep. The sun was on its slow way up, not putting much brightness through the grey clouds. I'd call it quits around five. Or I would have done if the squid hadn't started to speed away again. It was back to striking at ghosts though. But tempting enough for me to give it another half hour, during which time the worm rod saw it's first attention. The couple of twitchy indications proved to be something removing the worms from the hook when I came to wind the rig in.

I hadn't been back home long when it started to rain. Only light rain, but it was the time I'd have been starting to pack up. Something good had come from leaving the lighter at home after all.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Full Circle

For some unknown reason the members of The Pikers Pit forums voted for me to write the 100th article for The Pike Pool blog which features contributions from forum members.

I decided to write a  brief look back at my piking life which you can read here.

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Rods for sale

The fishing has been dire. Hence nothing to report, unless you'd like to read about bootlace eels and blanking. It's been so bad I've given up. I think the eel rods will be in action next time I get the urge to wet a line. At least I should get a few runs - even if it's a return to the frustration of missing 90% of them!

Rooting around in my stock of blanks the other week I found a 12ft 2.5lb Torrix in gloss finish. I don't know why it was there. I probably double ordered it. It's now built up 'carp style' with six Kigan 3D rings(40-12) plus tip Rover style, Japanese shrink butt grip with stainless button, DPS reel seat with stainless collars. All lettering underneath the rod.

Harrison factory build is listed as £288 RRP. I'm shifting this one for £200 inc delivery.

A few weeks back I put a quote in the to-build and ended up mistakenly building three Ultra Matt P-5s with cork handles and stainless trimmings. Usual Rover Ringing with six BSVOG plus tip, 30mm butt ring. These would normally be £645 for the three but this set are on offer for £600 inc carriage.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


The weather and work have been discouraging me from putting the rod hours in  lately. Not to mention the lack of tench. Wednesday the 20th saw me sitting it out in the teeth of a strong north westerly. It was a bright evening but out in the open it was cold. Pop behind a thick bush and it was warm.

Dramatic clouds scudded by, the water sparkled and lily leaves flipped over showering spray as they did so. Had it been a hot dry wind it would have been enjoyable to behold, but having to wrap up in a bunny suit in late May doesn't inspire me when it comes to catching tench.

The now customary bag and pellet approach was in action. Trying to catty out freebies into the wind would have been futile in any case. It took a couple of hours for the bobbin on the corn rod to do a bream jig, and another hour for it to repeat the dance. Not even big enough to think about weighing and only grudgingly, and badly, photographed for the purposes of this blog. It was one of those sessions when I was glad to pack up

It's funny, that although I like fishing this water I'm frustrated by the rules. I don't like having my hands tied when I'm trying to catch fish. especially when there's things I'd like to try. Tenchy methods that have worked for me elsewhere. When a chance came to fish somewhere with fewer restrictions, but probably smaller tench, I gave it a go. Although it's not as attractive a venue I'd be able to give the LIttle Richards a whirl.

So it was I got my gear together for an overnighter. Or so I thought. Loading the barrow I realised that my sleeping bag and cover were back home. Thankfully the night was set to be mild. A rarity this spring. At least I hadn't forgotten my bunny suit! Everything was in place before dark and I was all set to watch the isotopes glow increasingly bright.

The bag approach was abandoned. Mainly because I'd forgotten them and the pellets I put in them. Instead I put PVA foan nuggets (salvaged from a parcel rather than bought in a tackle shop) on the hooks to make sure they stayed weed free. The main baiting of hemp and corn was done by catty. The double fake corn rig always gets used on one rod when I'm after tench, at least until they show a marked preference for something else. That was on the right. On the left was a dumbbell wafter on a longer than usual hooklink and in the middle were two 10mm boilies. Rooting in my bait cupboard I thought I'd grabbed a bag of Little Richards, but I hadn't. What I did have were some monster crabby things. They'd do. But I wasn't totally happy without the rock'n'rollers.

Although  couple of liners every time I nodded off was all the action I had before packing up around nine and heading off to get some jobs done I'd enjoyed being out at night again. Having a barn owl fly past between my brolly and rods three times just after dawn almost made up for blanking.

A few days later I was back. This time with my sleeping bag... Also with a packet of choc chip cookies to nibble on - and the right 10 milly baits. I was buzzing! The hemp and corn was supplemented with a scattering of pellets, and the PVA bags used on a couple of the rigs. Not long after setting up the bobbin on the middle rod dropped back convincingly, jiggled, then began to rise. My strike met with the proverbial thin air. Not to worry. Everything felt right and the magic beans had got some interest. It was another mild night, but one completely uninterrupted by any sounds from the alarms. A few fishy noises were heard, but that was it. At least I'd got some shut eye.

A week later there was a dry night forecast and I thought I'd give it a go. The plan was to repeat my previous tactics. The only difference was that I shortened the hooklink on the wafter rod. I made sure that all mainline knots were retied and tested before casting out. Before dark there were bubbles bursting in the vicinity of the wafter. Not really fizzy enough for tench, but then again, maybe they were.

As the light faded fell the cloud cover remained keeping the temperature up. Unusually the wind didn't drop away at sunset. There was a good ripple, almost a light chop, on the water. Everything felt right for some action. It was 10.15 when the right hand bobbin dropped back sharply. I stood by the rod wondering if that was it when the bobbin jumped, then flew to the butt ring. The rod was hooped right over as soon as I picked it up, line peeling off the spool that I was trying to brake with my forefinger before knocking the anti-reverse off and engaging the gears. The line went slack. Cut above the sliding stop of the helicopter rig. I was baffled. The rig was replaced with an in-line set up. easier to rig up and something I have more faith in for big fish. Another wafter went out in a bag of pellets.

It was coming up for midnight, my eyelids getting heavy when the swim lit up bright red and the sounder box in the brolly ribs screeched. Little Richard was singing! Again the fish had run to the right, but the line didn't part on anything. After dark I take my specs off when intending to get some sleep, so what I could see in the light of my head torch was either a carp the hardest fighting bream on the planet! Despite the 2lb test curve of the eleven foot Torrix it didn't take me long to get the fish in the net. I'm going to have to take up carp fishing in earnest. That way I might start catching tench. The one saving grace was that the fish was a common and not a pot-bellied mirror.

Around one the wind began to ease. Not quite full the moon was still bright enough to cast long shadows. I don't know what it is about being by water on a warm night that I enjoy, but it does relax me. Even the reed warbler singing its erratic song all night didn't drive me nuts.

After a dawn brew I baited up with more hemp, corn and pellets. Checked the rigs and refreshed the baits. It took a while for the sun to rise and swing round and burn the dew off the grass, but a proper late spring morning was in prospect. A bacon butty, and a brew accompanied by a custard cream or two set me up in good style. It wasn't even a surprise when something made off with my little orange balls just before seven. At first I thought it might be another nuisance fish but when it gave up easily I realised it was my first tench-by-design of the year. One of the smallest male tench I've caught since I fished for them on the local canal in the early 1980s!

One thing about concentrating on big fish waters is that the average size is high. That's why they are big fish waters. The canal tench were big if they were over three pounds, even the females. The biggest I ever caught was 3lb 12oz, most were around two to two and a half. On the big tench waters such fish are almost unheard of and fives are about as small as you'd get. Small tench don't fill me with hopes of big ones. They are kind of cute though.

It'll be June tomorrow with the hawthorn is still in fresh flower and the elder not yet in bloom. It really is a late spring this year. Maybe the increasing temperatures that are supposed to be on the way later in the week will get things back on track and I'll manage to nobble some more tench by design before the eel bug bites me again. Or should I give in and deliberately target pests?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pest control

Full of tenchy enthusiasm I set my alarm clock on Tuesday night so I could make an early start on what promised to be a hot spring day. It goes without saying that half an hour after I'd switched the alarm off I was still lying in bed. After a drive through the dawn I arrived at the lake with enough light to go fish spotting. So that was what I did. Not that I spotted any fish. Not tench at any rate. The only signs were small fish dimpling and rolling in the mirror calm surface.

It felt good to be up and around before the hum of traffic competed with the sedge warblers and whitehroats. That summery smell was in the air too. Despite seeing no signs of tench - which I rarely do on this water - I was happy enough in my choice of swim.

One bait to the edge of some pads to my right, one in open water straight in front and the third down the left hand margin. Continuing my 'carp' fishing approach I had fake corn on one and pellets on the other (if there wasn't a pointless boilie ban I'd be using Tuttis, but there is, so I'm not). For a change I was trying a Spicy Sausage pellet-O on the margin rod. In the vain hope that bream might not like the taste but tench will.

I'd not been fishing more than fifteen minutes when the left hand rod began twitching, the bobbin not moving. It sure looked like a bite. A bream bite. I picked the rod up and was surprised to connect with a fish that was almost in front of me. Judging by the feel through the line the fish must have taken the rig through weed as it cam towards me. Hence the lack of a drop-back as the line stayed tight. The fish was no bream either.

The scrap was good one. The fish hugged the bottom, zig-zagging around the swim trying to make for the pads without going on a run. I was convinced that it was a good tench. A really good tench. I just couldn't get it up on the surface. A big boil came up one time when I tried. I wasn't taking it easy on teh fish, but I was being careful. If that makes sense. Then it rolled. Tench don't have big golden scales. The gloves came off and the nuisance fish was skimmed into the net. It didn't even get weighed. A bit tatty with a split dorsal, some mouth damage and a few missing scales.

With that pest turning up so early I thought there might still be a chance of a tench or two after the disturbance. More mixed pellets were cattied out over the close range baits. The open water rig got recast further out with its accompanying bag. I watched the mist rolling over the water as the sun slowly rose to burn it away.

Warblers zipped hither and thither, a great tit foraged low down in the brambles, an orange tip flitted about. Even  the swans and Canada geese avoided my lines. Small fish continued to dimple and roll.  All was right with the world. Apart from the lack of tench.

My hopes began to fade when bubbles appeared close in to my right. Had they been the fizzy bubbles of tench I'd have moved one bait on top of them, but they were the bubbly bubbles of carp. With them in the area my hopes began to fade. Nontheless, as is always the case with my early morning sessions I fished on for longer than planned. By the time I'd called at the pasty shop on my way home it was near enough lunch time.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Of mice and rats

Bank Holiday Mondays are usually off my list of fishing days, but when the last one was warm and sunny I couldn't resist trying for some evening tench. My first choice swim was occupied but number two was free. The usual rigs and baits went out with the usual bags of pellets followed by sprinklings of pellets over the baits as they were all being fished close in. Around seven, as the cooling wind began to drop, fish started to roll and bubble. The new bobbins remained motionless. So I took more photos of them to relieve the boredom!

Whitethroats were active in the hawthorn, singing and flitting about. A song thrush perched on high and sang it's little heart out. A swan drifted gracefully by and picked up one of my baits. I wound that one in and whacked it out to deeper water.

Pacing around behind my swim I found the remains of a rat. The decaying corpse didn't stop it's relatives from scurrying around behind me when the sun had set. A few minutes before packing up time there were a couple of bleeps to the long chuck rod. Most likely liners. I was glad that the growing cloud cover was keeping the evening warm - because I'd left my fleece at home.It was encouraging to drive home in the dark with the thermometer reading still in double figures, even if the chippy was closed when I past by.

Work did its usual trick of keeping me occupied through the week. Which wasn't a problem as the rain had returned. Thursday was as sunny as it had been forecast to be but I didn't rush to get the rods out. The last few sessions hadn't seen much fish activity until seven so I felt there was little reason to rush.

Two of the rigs were simply retied to ensure reliable knots and cast out inside their pellet bags. The other rig got changed a little. I had been wondering if a longer hooklink might be worth a try and had tied one up in advance. My thinking being that four inch hooklinks might be burying the baits in the bottom weed. That rig got a different bait attached and was lobbed out to a nice looking gap in the pads to my left. The others were out in open water and near some pads on the right.

Almost as soon as I'd sat down the right hand bobbin dropped a fraction then remained still. Twenty minutes before seven it dropped again, then jiggled and rose before falling back once more. The result was a be-tuberculed bream around the three pound mark.

It was twenty past eight before the middle bobbin dropped slightly. This open water fish proved to be a hybrid a pound or so smaller than the previous two this season. Despite the surface going calm as the light faded and the wind dropped very little was showing in the way of fish. A bream had rolled in front of me but the only other fish topping were small roachy things. Bubbles were notable for their absence. Strange considering the conditions as the wind had been blowing not the bank I was fishing from all day. I was glad to have remembered my fleece this time because I needed it. Sure enough the car's thermometer was reading in single figures on the way home.

The tench, which are what I'm trying to catch, are continuing to play hard to get.I've heard of one or two being caught, and more being lost, but they're keeping well away from me. Maybe they'll wake up next week if the temperature rises as forecast.

Back at the work bench I've been dealing with the effects of mice on rod handles. I had a call from someone who had had mice nesting in his rod bag during the winter, making their nest from chewed up cork and Duplon - which must have provided fine insulation for them! In the tradition of the before and after photos you see of slimmers I photographed the ravaged handles in an unflattering way, and made a better attampt for the after pic...