Sunday, 8 February 2015

Winter Fishing


Sorry that I have not updated the blog for a while, but I bust my leg playing five a side just before Christmas and this has put the kybosh on much of the fishing that I intended to do over the festive period. As I type my leg is still giving me some jip and I cant really walk any distance without pain. This means that I have only been out for a couple of half hearted sessions and none of the roaming around with lures that I usually like to do.

First up was another go for some winter perch so armed with a match rod and one of my trusty centrepins I set of to a local stillwater.

It was not too long before I started to get some interest from some small perch with the float going under regularly. The perch were taking the worms with confidence. I continued to feed the swim with red maggots in the hope of attracting some better fish.
Something buried the float and started to put a bit more of a bend into the rod than the small perch had managed.

Not a monster but a nice winter roach, The pattern continued feed a few red maggots with worms fished over the top and the float didn't take too long before it was pulled under. Another nice pull on the light gear resulted in a small ide that put up short but lively battle.

It was probably around a pound but was in lovely winter condition. I was putting together a nice mixed bag but not really getting any interest from the bigger perch so I decided that a move was in order.
I relocated and began to feed with the maggots again, this time I also put in a good amount of chopped worm and fished worm over the top.
First cast resulted in a fish that felt better straight away, it stayed deep and plodded around in that characteristic perch manner. Going quite steady to avoid any hook pulls or parting of the light tackle the perch eventually came up in the water and into my waiting net.

It was a nice perch that pulled the scales around to 2lb 2 oz, the move had paid off, I thought it would now just be a case of fishing the worm to continue catching these better stamp perch......Wrong.
The other species in the lake provided some cracking sport for December but no more decent perch.
I managed five carp that provided some thrilling battles on the match rod and centerpin. None of them where huge but when playing them on light gear like this you have to be careful.

This mirror was probably the pick of the carp but I also had three nice Koi's that for some reason seem to fight even harder than the "normal" carp. one of them was into double figures and gave a really good account of itself. I love playing decent fish on the centrepin it gives you a lovely feel and I really believe that there is no better clutch than your thumb.

The other Koi were no less impressive if not a little smaller but each and every one of them provided some cracking winter fishing. With 5 carp 3 koi and a good back up of roach, perch and Ide I was very pleased with the session. I even manged a couple of small tench that dont normally put in much of an appearance at this venue at this time of year, so the fish must have been really feeding hard.

It was a really nice day and despite only managing one decent perch I didnt mind as the other species made up for the lack of big perch.

NEXT UP Was a trip out to the river for some stick float fishing, I met up with a chap called Bill who was keen to try his hand at some trotting. I had not been fishing with the stick for a very long time, probably over ten years. The leg was still playing up but this river is only small and has nice even banks so taking it steady I thought I would give it a go. Bill is mainly a fly angler so the idea was to show Bill the ropes with the stick float fishing and in return He would give me some guidance with the fly rod at a later date.
The day started off well for me with three fish in the first three casts. It was nice to once again trundle a float along in the flow and see it bury as some unseen adversary takes the bait. It was very enjoyable and had been too long since I had fished like this.  The first couple of fish were grayling but the third felt much more substantial. A decent chub was making for the roots of an overgrown bush, With a little careful sidestrain and steady pressure on the match rod the chub slowly started to ease from under the bush and shortly after into my net.

It was a bit of an old warrior with a split tail and was like a bar of ice when I handled it to remove the small hook, a quick snap and back he went.

Bill wasn't fairing too well so we decided to move. Next swim provided similar results a few grayling followed by another chub, thankfully by this time Bill was starting to get into the swing of things and started picking of a few grayling.

We split up a little after this and I moved into a nice swim on the inside of a bend with Bill fishing a nice run under some trees further downstream. I continued to catch grayling steadily with the odd chub making an appearance. One was a cracking fish of over four pounds and was in splendid, chunky winter condition.

When I found Bill again he had hit a bit of a purple patch under the trees and had a good string of grayling from the spot. Between us we finished with a really respectable bag of chub and grayling for this time of year (it was freezing).  It was great to meet up with Bill and also great to get back out with the stick float. Oh and it was also nice to meet up with "old big gob" again.....

Now that I have been out fishing with the trotting gear I am keen to give it another go in the not too distant this space.

Bye for now.....Mark

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Winter Perch


Sometimes with fishing I get a "feeling" of what I should be doing. For the last ten years or so I have been concentrating on pike fishing with lures almost exclusively, but this year I have been getting to grips with fly fishing and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think having a change from chucking big lures around has done me good. Don't get me wrong I still love lure fishing but locally there is not too much to go at. So, only having a spare three or four hours I didn't fancy a long drive or bothering the local jack population....what else could I do....break out the old gear and go for a short winter perch session.

Only having a short amount of time I didn't want to be lugging loads of gear about, so armed with an old match rod ( the first propper rod that was ever bought for me some 30 yrs ago ) and my first ever center pin reel, the ever reliable "Arnold kingpin" which has been running like perpetual motion for the last 20 years, a small rucksack with a few bits in I headed off for a local pond that is only a matter of minutes from my house.

Setting off, the thermometer showed a chilly 3 degrees celsius and the day was bright and calm. After a short drive I arrived at the venue to find it empty...perfect.

The set up could not be simpler a large hook (Size 6)  then a small gap of about 6 " to the shot which were all bunched here, with just enough to sink the float which was a small crystal waggler. Some may think a size 6 excessive for perch fishing but if a small hook is used with worms it can easily become masked and the larger hook doesn't seem to put the perch off. The float was set slightly over depth and fished "Lift Method" style.

After getting the gear sorted I baited up with a good handful of pinkies and half a dozen worms that were broken up to get the perch rooting around. As the lake was empty I decided to bait another swim up in the same way....just in case.

On went the first worm and before long the float buried, expectations were high but on the strike I knew it was only a tiddler, never mind at least that was the blank avoided which is always a possibility this time of year.

On with another worm and out again with the rig...same result float under and a slightly better perch on. This continued for the next half an hour or so, and though it was good sport these were not really the stamp of perch I was after. One of the problems with worm fishing is that you can get done over by smallish perch before the biggies get a chance to bite. I decided to bulk the bait up and put three or four good sized worms on the hook tipped of with a pinkie to keep the hook point clear.

A few slightly better perch followed with the best one going 1lb 10oz, bites were coming thick and fast with a steady string of perch coming to the net.

Then I started to miss a few finicky bites....a slight change back to a smaller single worm hook bait and the culprit was a roach, followed soon after by another then much for fishing fine for roach in winter, These roach were taking size 6 hooks on 6lb line.  Time for a move to my reserve swim.

A quick top up of bait in the new swim and in with the rig, bites were not quite as frequent here but I was still catching every 5 or 10 minutes and the fish were a slightly better average size with another two going exactly 1lb 10 oz... although these are quality fish and put a nice bend in the match rod they still were not what I was looking for ...a 2lber was my target.

The weather had started to turn a little it was warmer now but with that the wind and rain had picked up and my small crystal waggler was being dragged under by the tow. Another weight was added to the rig and a swap to a slightly longer float...sorted. The steady sport continued as I was building a nice catch of perch but still no monsters. Time was also growing short as I had to be back home just after lunch for child minding duties:)

The pattern continued feed a few pinkies and two or three broken worms, rig in, float under, perch on. I knew that there would be the odd better one knocking about but the number of perch in the swim was making catching a specimen a bit of a lottery.

With about 10 minutes of time left I hit into something that felt a little more solid. The rod hooped over nicely and I even had to give a little line (grudgingly) as the fish hit the surface I thought it might just go two pounds, it was a stocky fish with a full belly.

However the scales refused to budge past 1lb 14oz. Another drop in with the hope of a last minute 2lber was in order but another fish of about 1lb this time I was risking the wrath of the missus, so decided to call it a day.

I had enjoyed a good session, I reckon I fished for about three and a half hours and had three perch over 1.5lb with one not far of 2lb. These fish were punctuated with a good catch of other perch that averaged about three quarters to a pound. I didn't use a keepnet but would estimate that I had well over 10lb of winter perch, not bad for a short session. Next time out I think I will try a more selective approach to catch a 2lb plus fish rather than the somewhat scatter gun method of worm fishing.

bye for now

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Reel Fishing

Well the fishing has sadly started to slow down for me with a return to work, after a great summer of fishing ( great as in enjoyable, not meaning massive amounts of monster fish ) and getting out very regularly my time is now somewhat limited.

I have still managed to get out a couple of times with the warm end to summer and start of autumn.
First up was a trip to a still water trout fishery with a friend of mine called Bob. We fished at Pennine fisheries and both managed to catch a few fish on dry flies. My best was a rainbow of exactly 6lb which gave a real good scrap.

The most pleasing fish however was a nice brown trout that I stalked out of the margins. Watching the trout take the fly in the shallow clear water after, what for me, was an accurate cast was great fun.
it wasnt the biggest fish of the day but the way I caught it felt good.

Other than this stillwater fishing I found myself spending more and more time on the river chasing trout and grayling with the fly rod, I have to admit being from a Coarse fishing back ground I thought that game fishing was a bit snooty and not for me. Well if you know me you will know that snooty wouldnt be a word to describe me. However, I have really enjoyed the fly fishing this summer it has been a revelation and has given me a new branch of the sport to explore. Its great because after fishing since being a little chap things can become a bit samey but with the fly fishing everything is new and I have loads to learn, it has to be said that it has totally rejuvenated my fishing.

I have even managed to catch a few in my first full season on the fly, my casting still leaves a lot to be desired but despite this a few nice fish have been taken.

The trout have been a little disappointing and I have not managed anything sizeable from the river, just a few small browns.

Even though they have only been small they are stunning little creatures and its nice catching them in some beautiful locations.

I have fared rather better with the grayling and caught these quite regularly, with some decent ones thrown in.

I even manged to give my underwater camera a go, I wont post too many pics as I did catch quite a few decent grayling, but here are a few underwater pics.

and away she goes:-

One from a very clear river, no wonder I spook them.

That pretty much sums up the summer, a few more trips are planned with the fly rod and then I think I will try for some Pike and Perch. I am even getting the feeling that I may even break out the barbel gear.

bye for now

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Last of the summer wind


I was reluctant to pile too much into one post, so have been spreading out some of the fishing I had whilst away over the summer with the family. However if I carry on at this rate I feel that I will never get back up to date with the blog. The problem with typing this stuff up a few weeks later is some of the memories and details get a bit sketchy. Nevertheless Im going to try to summarise the rest of the holiday in this one post: here goes.

After the red hot weather and slow pike fishing it was back to the fly rod and down to the river. I am still too heavy handed with the fly casting but I suppose its hard to switch back to the delicate casting of a 3# after hoying 10oz jerkbaits round for 8 hrs the day before. Needless to say I started off having a bit of a mare.   Fly in long grass behind me = fly gone and set up again. Fly in tree on far bank = 3 flies gone and set up again. Rogue boulder = face plant in river and bent thumb. Creep up to slow glide with fish rising, heavy splashy cast = mass exodus of fish. I have had days were things go wrong but this was getting beyond a joke. I did finally manage to hook something that felt decent in some fast flowing water (to be fair most things feel decent in fast water on a 3 weight) I saw a nice flash then the hooks pulled whizzed past my ear resulting in a gargantuan tangle - set up again.

After continuing to get a good kicking from the fish and the river I was begining to think enough's enough. I persevered along the river and caught a glimpse of a little Egret. Now I know its nothing to do with fishing but its the first one I had ever seen so decided to try and get a snap. David Bailey I am not but it is something that I will remember. I managed to get reasonably close before it flew off.

That brightened things up a bit anyway. I carried on to fluff a few chances on the dry fly but there were not that many fish moving, the river was still spectacularly low and clear. despite it being a bit of a shocker fishing wise I decided that if i packed up I definitely would not catch so carried on regardless.

As I started to fish another piece of fast water I got a solid take....please please please dont come off. The fish felt like a goodun and headed upstream. The light rod was bending under the strain and I reluctantly had to give line as I was concerned the 3lb tippet might part. After a great little battle I manged to subdue the was a cracking looking Grayling.

It was a proper handful as you can see, and really thickset across its shoulders. The only problem when fishing alone is trying to get a decent picture, unfortunately this one doesnt really show off what a pristine fish this was. After the fish was held in the flow for a few moments it swam away strongly to fight another day.
Despite the earlier catastrophes this one showed that when things are going a "bit tango uniform" if you stick at things even a bad day can turn around.

Having got the fly fishing out of my system for the time being I was curious to see if the river held any pike. I checked the rules and lure fishing was allowed, so the next day I headed off with a light jerkbait rod and some smallish lures. I tried a few of the pikey looking deep areas but nothing was about. The river is predominantly low and clear so I was trying out any spots where I couldnt quite make out the bottom. There aren't that many on the stretch so this was only to be a quick session before going out with the family. As I got to one of the bends where there is deep water on the inside, I lobbed a close under arm cast and let it swing in under the trees. As the lure started to sink it got whacked by a nice golden coloured torpedo with teeth. With the reel locked up the fight was more frantic and splashy than spectacular and the pike was soon in the net.

It wasn't a monster but quite chunky and a lovely buttery yellow/gold colour. I was quite pleased to have caught one in such a short time. I tried a few more holes without any further joy so got back to the family to score some much needed brownie points.

A few days with no fishing followed (shock horror) before I decided to go up to a little rainbow trout lake in the hills. Its only a small fishery, but its a lovely place to be for a few hours in the evening.

Some of the places I get out to with the fishing really are breath taking and fish or no fish its a pleasure to be out and enjoy such places.

As you can see the conditions were flat calm but there were a few bows topping. Out with some weird looking dry fly that I tied and before long I started to get a bit of interest. A nice head and shoulders take was met with a lift of the rod and the first fish of the session was on. These fish are not that big when you compare them to Pike, but on the fly rod they give a terrific account of themselves and make for some nice rod bending action.

Check out the rod in this picture....
And the culprit.

Soon after another trout of a similar size made the same mistake as its pal by slurping in one of my dries. I had a couple more nice rainbows of a similar size before calling it quits for the session.

Despite trying to catch up Iv still got a bit more to report from the summer, so I have failed miserably to get back up to date, but I feel that the post is getting a bit long, and if I am getting bored writing it....well you probably haven't even got this far.
Bye for now more holiday catch ups to follow shortly.
cheers Mark

Monday, 15 September 2014

Summer Pike

Hello Again,

I am still trying to catch up with the fishing from over the summer on the blog, so here comes another update from August.

 With trying to get to grips with the fly fishing, the pike have been playing second fiddle of late. I have been spending a fair bit of time fly fishing on the streams and rivers of Wales, but decided that a nice day on the boat was in order.

A late start saw me launch around lunchtime, the weather had been very hot for the last few days so I had an idea that the fishing may not be quite so hot.....but when I get the feeling to fish a certain way that's what I do. Lures were to be the method of choice....again.

To be honest the fishing was very slow, I had a couple of half hearted follows but no proper takes. Even these follows started to fade away to almost non existent action. I usually watch just behind the lure when fishing like this, keeping an eye out for any signs of pike, follows, swirls or flashes sometimes give them away if you look just beyond the lure.

After a few fruitless hours my concentration had started to drift a little, instead of being "on guard" for a hit or even any signs of pike I found myself instead watching the buzzards circle in the distance, paying more attention than usual to the jets flying overhead, basically just going through the motions with the lure.....not that it really mattered. it was a beautiful day in a equally beautiful place. Sometimes when the action is slow I can get a tad frustrated but today it didnt seem to matter.

In one of the moments of just enjoying being there, I was bringing the lure out from the margins over the shelf and back towards the boat. I was using a home made lure that only fishes about 1ft deep, and not really paying that much attention to the fishing. As the lure neared the boat (situated in about 25ft) it  got absolutely WALLOPED just when I was at my most relaxed, this sent an electric shock through my body that gave me a right wake up. There was a big swirl on the surface and before I even had chance to strike the tip of the rod was dragged savagely towards the surface of the lake with what felt like a decent pike.
A short fight followed before I netted the pike. It was a cracking fish, really healthy looking and in pristine condition..I didnt weight the pike as it wasnt quite as big as I first thought when it woke me from my semi conscious state, but it would have made mid double figures I guess.

A quick self take or two followed, then the pike was gently lowered into the water before she made an instant recovery and sped off back to the depths, giving me a good soaking on her way.

I know that I should have a life jacket on and normally do so, but it was a baking hot day, the lake was flat calm and I was only a matter of yards away from shallow water and the bank side.

The fishing continued to be hard work after that. I manged one more Pike that may have made about 6 or 7 pounds on the same lure but I just unhooked the fish over the side of the boat, and didn't get a picture.
So a total of two fish for quite a few hours fishing was not the best of results, but it was nice to get another good double on the home made lure. Despite the lack of numbers of pike, it really was a lovely day just to be out alone drifting around in the boat....the fish were just a bonus.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Grayling on the dry fly

After the last update, where I was taught a lesson in lure fishing by an 8 year old, I thought some R&R alone was in order, so I took myself off to try a little more fly fishing on a small stream about a mile away from where we were staying.

It really is a lovely spot and I very rarely see anyone else there, up to now I have only caught very small fish in here, but it is a nice spot to spend a couple of hours and gives me chance to practice (much needed) a bit more with the fly rod.
I was using my 3wt 10 ft rod, I find this more difficult to cast with than my other rods but really enjoy playing these smaller fish on this light rod, as even the smallest fish put a bit of a bend in it.

In the first pool I managed a couple of small Grayling.

Even though they were on the small side, in the fast water, on the light outfit they still managed to put up a spirited if short display. The second fish soon followed, so with the blog in mind I decided to get a picture or two whilst the going was good.

Having no one to show me what Im doing with the fly fishing, every trip is pretty much a learning experience at the minute. I just try different things until I start catching. The method I was using here, was just sort of letting the fly hold station in the fast water and then inch it back up the pool before letting it swing around in the flow. After a few seconds another short pull upstream and let the fly settle in the current again. Eventually I would feel a sharp pluck and pulled into the fish, I probably missed as many as I caught but at least I was getting some action. It's maybe not the text book way to do it but I was catching.

Even these little Grayling are very strong and wiry when you hold them to unhook. They seem to writhe and wriggle at the worst possible moment which makes getting a snap for the blog hard work whilst on your own.

 Anyway the pool continued to produce lots of Grayling around the same sort of size. Most of them probably somewhere between 4 to 8 oz to the same method. Little gold bead nymphs were working quite well in the turbulent water.

After maybe a dozen or so similar sized fish the action slowed a little, so I decided to head off downstream. I found some calmer water and switched over to the dry fly managing a few more similar sized Grayling. The trout were conspicuous by there absence!

Even though I had the blog at the back of my mind I didnt see the point in getting the camera out for every little Grayling  that came to hand, if I was to catch something bigger or a trout I would get a snap......but I didnt so I didnt.

The only thing that I was keen to try was an underwater shot as my wife had bought me a new camera with waterproof housing for my birthday. Not quite Jacques Cousteau, but at least the camera survived its dunking...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

North Wales Pike Fishing

Hello Again,

If I was to report in strictly chronological order, I should now be talking about the three days we had at the coast but to be honest it was again more of a social event ( that got a bit messy at times) and the fishing was again taken less than seriously. What was in fact a great trip away with mates was not very memorable on the fishing front, it was hard work each day with fishy action hard to come by. Tales of late night drinking sessions are not really appropriate for the blog and alas no pictures were taken of the fish we caught. So instead of a full report I will just list the species that were caught over the three days. Pollock, Wrasse, Mackerel, Cod and Bass were taken on lures and a few doggies caught one evening whilst bait fishing from the beach.

So moving swiftly on to things that I can remember and have a few pictures of.

After the trip away with the boys, I was back on family duty. We had a few weeks away on a family holiday, again in Wales. Now even though this was a family holiday, and the beer intake subsided, there was still chance to pop out for a few fishing sessions when the opportunity arose.

The first of these sessions was a day on the boat lure fishing for pike. My little lad does not often want to come fishing (much more interested in playing football, computer games etc) but as I had been missing for a few days with my friends he was keen to catch up and spend some time with me. A leisurely start saw us on the water by mid day. The idea was to fish with lures and cover as much water as possible.
The lake has not been fishing "easy" this year, with numbers of fish well down on last year. Despite this we started off with surface lures, daiwa DOA and Cisco kid toppers for those interested, last year these two lures caught me a lot of fish and as most lure anglers know, when  things are tough you find yourself reverting back to the banker lures that have done well for you in the past. I also wanted to use lures that had worked well as I was keen for the boy to catch a few, to hopefully spike his interest in fishing a little more.

Well we didnt have to wait long for his first fish it was only a small jack, but it was a start and it certainly put a smile on our faces.

After a couple of fruitless hours, another fish hit his lure ( again the Daiwa DOA). The hits on these surface lures can be awesome, this fish left the water and seemed to do a cartwheel with its nose touching the surface of the lake and its tail arcing over the top. A suitably shocked young man began to play the fish, he used to just wind and hope for the best but now it looked like he was playing the fish properly. The fish was a little bigger but not worth weighing, so after I unhooked the pike he wanted a quick picture before the pike was slipped back to his watery home

After a quick snack break on the bank, it was back on the boat and we carried on casting lures, as of yet I had not had any interest. I was reminded of this on a fairly regular basis. Things had slowed down even further and the little fella was starting to get a bit fed up....I sometimes forget hes only 8 and maybe expect him to stay out a little too long. I asked if he'd had enough but to my surprise he said he wanted to carry on fishing. To be fair he carried on chucking the lures like a good un. Whenever I asked if he wanted to change lures he declined the offer preferring to stick with the DOA. I was sure he could do a little better if he went subsurface....but there was no changing his mind.

As he was bringing the lure across a shallow bay, a much more substantial BAADDOOOSSHHH was heard and his rod looped over. I didnt see the take but the fish had left a pretty good swirl on the surface and was taking line from his fairly tight set clutch. "Its a biggun dad....." he said with a touch of panic in his voice. Again, I think I sometimes take for granted the gear that he is using when compared to his age and size. He was attached to a fairly sizeable pike, whilst stood up on a boat, with a heavy jerkbait rod, and 100lb braid so it probably felt like it was pulling back a bit. At one stage he wanted me to take the rod but I told him to carry on and gave him some much needed encouragement to hang on as he was doing well. As the pike got nearer to the boat/surface it decided it was going to give a final surge and dove down deep. At this point I heard " Icant hold it ....Im going to let go of the rod"  I grabbed the back of his life jacket to give him some confidence that he wouldnt be pulled overboard and told him to hold onto the rod at all costs. The next time the pike surfaced it was begining to see our side of the argument so I quickly netted it. 

Until this point he had never had a double figure pike by himself ( when he was about 5 he somehow managed to hook one about 11-12lb on a 1-5 gram ultralite rod, but after a minute or two it was evident that I would need to play that one in.). This was different however, he had done all of the work himself and when I looked at the fish in the net it was going to be 10lb or there abouts. I unhooked the fish for him in the boat but as we were close to the bank anyway we got out of the boat with the fish in the net for weighing and photographs. When he saw the fish lay on the unhooking mat ready to go in the sling he said "WWWOOOAAHHH I cant believe iv caught That!!" The scales went round to just a little over 10lb and I got a few pics of his new PB 10lb 2 oz. 

It was quite funny as there was a family walking past and I couldnt get them out of the way to take the picture so fascinated were they with what must have looked a bit of a beast to a non angler. So thats who the strangers are in the background.

He still needs a bit of practice holding the fish properly but that will come with experience.

After the fish was returned and swam away strongly, to the dismay of the onlookers ( are you not going to eat it?) a high five and a big hug was called for by a proud dad. We got back on the boat and decided to call it a day and end on a high note. On the way back to the launch He couldn't understand why he was shaking like a leaf even though the weather was fine. After a brief conversation about adrenaline rushes and then about a dozen what / why? questions about adrenaline we arrived back to shore. 

Just before we got off the boat I heard "Dad....."     "yes son!" I replied expecting something along the lines of "that was awesome" or "thanks for taking me out Dad" I was shocked to say the least when with a grin he simply said " three nil".  With a chuckle and shake of the head I had to give him that one...