Wednesday, 6 July 2016

A quick catch up

A hectic couple of months has seen my blog entries dry up, I've started a few posts but have never found the time to finish and publish them. Thankfully things are beginning to settle at home and a job change a month or so ago means more spare time for fishing.

I've continued my eel and tench campaigns, however I'm still some distance from achieving my targets but I feel like I'm heading in the right direction

A quick sum up of the last couple of months

Eel sessions -

Only 3 attempts since my last update, on a different water on each occasion, 2 eels landed and 2 lost.

The fish landed went 1lb 12oz and 2lb 4oz.

Whilst fishing a carp water I lost an eel of about 3lb at the net and on my most recent session I lost an eel which felt huge, completely in a different league to any eel I've hooked before, unfortunately it slipped the hook after about 10 seconds and I didn't get to see it.

Tench sessions -

Just the 2 tench sessions, the first on a mature gravel pit that I have been waiting to fish for a year. The session was a bit of a disappointment, water still a bit cold no sign of any tench but a nice 2lb + perch as consolation prevented the blank.

2lb 2oz - worm, lift-method.
The next session was closer to home, I managed a tench first cast but it was only a few ounces. My caster and chopped worm approach was all wrong for thus water as I struggled to get past the perch, a switch to pellet later in the session saw me land a few more tench but the were all small, the largest was just shy of 3lb.

As things stand I've caught 6lb 11oz of the targeted 50lb...
Barbel distractions -

I was planning on waiting until September before fishing the rivers but a chance to fish opening day saw me on the bank on the evening of the 15th awaiting a midnight start. A disappointing session really, a few knocks nothing more. A second session saw a visit to my banker peg, but again another blank. A short barbel session on my local river (barbel blanks are the norm) saw a solitary chub landed. Another visit to the same stretch as opening day, Ben and I both landed our first barbel of the season, both fish were bests for us both from this river.

8lb 14oz for Ben, mine slightly less at 8lb 4oz
That's things up to date, I'll be focusing on my eel and tench targets during July and August, in fact I'm out tomorrow evening for a few hours tench fishing on a hard water, a probable blank but the water is capable of throwing up some decent fish.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A short eel session

As usual a hectic weekend left me with little time to fish, I was planning a tench session on a tricky water but after a quick recce of a local urban lake on Saturday afternoon I decided on an eel session. During the recce water temps were into double figures which was surprising given the low temperatures and northerly winds we've had recently.  I hadn't fished this water for about 20 years, I spent many a day during the school holidays fishing here with my mates, catching crucians, gudgeon and small skimmers on the whip. I think my first crucian and skimmers came from this water, nothing over 4oz, but at the time we thought they were awesome.

During that time no eels were caught, nor did we hear of any being caught. I've heard of a few coming to carp anglers recently so I thought I would give a go, not that hopeful of catching but a few hours on the bank and a chance to shake the eel kit out.

I arrived later than I hoped, about 20 minutes before sunset, but eventually got two rods out, both on running leads, one with lobworms, the other with half a roach. No action for the first hour, then I started getting pestered by the ducks. On a couple of occasions a duck dived down and picked the worms up (how they manage to find the bait in 4ft of water during the dark I'll never know), but it was becoming an issue so I was considering changing bait when the alarm on the worm rod sounded, again. This time I turned the head torch on, checked for ducks and couldn't see any, line was peeling from the spool and was being taken into the water, a definite take.

My first take of this seasons eel campaign, a little surprised and very happy until the strike meet with zero resistance. Whilst the rod was out of the water I changed bait to a prawn, hoping for less hassle from the ducks, it worked. The alarms remained silent for the next hour and despite the bitterly cold wind I managed to doze off in my chair. It had gone half past midnight when I woke, I doubt I was asleep for too long but this isn't the type of venue to fall asleep and leave your gear unattended, I decided to stick it out until 01:00 then pack up.

The prawn rod ripped off at 00:40, a very positive take, I struck immediately and felt the weight of a fish, I assumed it was a carp but after a second or so I knew it was an eel. It put up a decent fight even on the heavy tackle I use whilst targeting these creatures, I failed on my first attempt at netting the fish as the net had snagged in the shallow margin, but eventually netted it.

A decent eel to start the season with, I struggled with and eventually gave up with the self takes, so only managed a mat shot.

2lb 8oz - 31 x 6.5"
Very pleased with this capture, my first from this water, first on a prawn and the earliest I have caught an eel whilst deliberately targeting them.

I think I'll struggle to get out this week and I'm decorating two bedrooms at the weekend so probably won't get time then either. I have a weeks holiday in at the beginning of May, two sessions planned so far, a tench session on a farm pond and an overnighter for the eels on a carp water which supposedly holds plenty of eels.

Friday, 15 April 2016

The tench campaign (part 1) - A cold start

The tench campaign started on Sunday morning, a short session on a water that is still relatively new to me having only visited it twice previously. Arriving just before first light I felt the chill in the air and noticed the clear sky whilst unlocking the gate. The night anglers car windscreens had frosted over and a quick check on line confirmed over night temperatures had dropped to 0°C. Immediately I thought it would be a struggle, however whilst having a quick walk around the lake a few fish started topping, mainly bits but also a few decent carp started crashing.

I decided on a peg in a bay on the northern bank of the lake as this seemed to have the most activity. The water is fairly coloured so is relatively weed free so decided to use my lighter tench rods, one with a small method feeder and the second rod with a small in line maggot feeder. Both rods were already setup so it wasn't too much after 06:00 when I had them both in the water. I also setup a third rod to fish the lift method in the margin, this water has a two rod rule so I had to bring in a feeder rod to fish the margin.

This seasons tench setup for weed free waters - 12ft 1.25lb Series 7 avons, Shimano 5010 baitrunners, 6lb Hyper-sensor. A small method feeder (l) and an in line maggot feeder (r)
I was using a korum 'grub' feeder for the first time, I was slightly hesitant when buying these feeders as there are a few scathing on line reviews. Many users complain about the feeders opening up when hitting the water, but I'm pleased to say I suffered no such problems. On the method feeder I was using a micro pellet method mix I had some success with last year. The mix consists of dampened 2mm coarse pellets, a handful of robin red ground bait and a few ground robin red boilies. Hook bait with this mix is a 10mm robin red boilie.

I caught a number of tench last year on robin red and now have a lot of confidence in it as a tench bait, also on the waters where I tried the mix the bream didn't seem as keen to take it. I still caught a few bream on this mix but at the time I was using another mix of pellets and molasses and caught far more bream on this mix.

Top - robin red based mix and molasses based mix.
Bottom - small method feeder

During the session I didn't get any interest on the method rod, as expected I had some interest in maggot rig but probably nothing more than small silvers. I fed maggot and worm in the margin throughout the session, hoping to see some sign of tench but again there wasn't much happening. A blank to start the tench campaign it was a short session when I didn't really expect to catch. A good chance to shake out of the tench gear though, still a few bits to short out, spooling new line and a few bits to get from the tackle shop etc.....

A positive note -  during a quick chat to an old chap he revealed that he caught an eel there the day before, a decent size (2lb10oz) I suspected that eels would be in the water as access is reasonably easy but this was the first time I have heard of one being caught.

My next tench session will be on a water closer to home, full of weed, very low stock but a definite challenge.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Targets - Glancing back, looking forward

During the last few seasons I have set myself a number of targets, nothing spectacular or too unrealistic, really just a way of focusing my angling on the goals that I hope to achieve. Nothing too serious, just an enjoyable way of improving the numbers.

I have a dedicated page on the blog which I update as I achieve these targets.

Glancing back

2015/16 Targets - Personal best eel, perch, pike and a first zander.

Two targets achieved last year, pike and a zander, both good fish and both equally pleasing captures. The pike was caught locally at the start of my pike season and the zander came on a trip to the river Trent, on my second attempt for the species.

Targets achieved - a p.b pike and a first zander
As mentioned on previous posts, for one reason or another my eel campaign never really got started. My largest perch of the year went just over two pounds, falling short of beating my best by a few ounces.

Looking forward

2016/17 Targets - An eel over 4lb, personal best pike and over 50lb of tench.

This spring/summer I will be targetting the eels as much as possible, I have a number of waters to try, some I have had previous success on, others not. I will be waiting for the water temps to approach double figures before starting my eel fishing, until then I will have a few tench sessions. Fifty pounds of tench isn't a lot really but the waters I fish are generally low stock waters, where the fish average 3 or 4 pound and catching a fish or two a session means your doing well. I'm hoping to fit a few morning/evening sessions in over the coming weeks.

As usual from autumn onwards I will be targetting the pike on my local river, in pursuit of that elusive twenty pounder.

Final pike session

I recently ended my pike season with a blank, my first blank on this canal. I was fishing with Ben and it was his first session on a canal ever. The initial excitement of a number of pike striking at silvers close to the surface didn't last long as it was obvious after a couple of hours that the pike weren't interested in our dead offerings. We fished hard leapfrogging our baits at regular intervals, fishing areas where I have previously caught and trying new areas for a first time. No interest whatsoever, we packed up early and went for a quick pint before heading home.

A quick breakdown of my 2015/16 pike season - 

Number of pike caught - 15
Number of doubles - 5  (17lb 9oz, 12lb 2oz, 12lb, 11lb 6oz, 10lb 6oz)
Largest pike caught - 17lb 9oz

A very difficult season really as I struggled for time to go fishing and river conditions were far from ideal. A few highlights of the season were catching a new best, a first gravel pit pike and finding a stretch of river that seems to produce a fish a session.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Homemade weed rake

During the warmer months a few of my tench waters are often choked with weed, leaving very few fishable areas. Occasionally a rake is available to clear swim but more often than not these communal rakes disappear, sometimes snagged on the bottom but usually they end up in the boot of someones car.

I had needed my own for a while but after struggling to find something suitable online I decided to make my own.

The box section, threaded bar, nuts and washers cost less than a tenner, a mate welded the box section for the price of a couple of pints and I 'liberated' the cordage from work. The main cost was time, it took a lot longer than to finish than I first hoped it would, not having the time to complete it in one go, I had to squeeze in 10 minutes here and there. I finished it earlier this month and tested it last week.

Not the most complicated of designs; simple, effective and hopefully built to last.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Just a jack

Well the 'final push' didn't really materialise, the session planned for Thursday morning didn't happen as the river rose 6ft overnight and I was too pushed for time on Monday, that just left Sunday.

The plan for Sundays session was to head to a few stretches that I hadn't fished for a while and cover as much water as possible. The morning didn't start too well as I managed to sleep through my alarm and as the kids were staying at there grandparents I didn't wake until after eight. Usually I would be over the moon with a sleep in but not when I'm supposed to be fishing.

It was well after nine when I eventually pulled up at the first stretch, a couple of cars were parked up and usually this is enough to make me turn round and head elsewhere but I decided to make my way down to the river and hope the areas I wanted to try were free.

I bumped into Marc (who I know through a local forum), he was chub fishing, not a sniff, no fishing rising, dead, was his response when I asked if he had caught anything. Not really what I wanted to hear but the despite the recent flood the river looked in decent enough condition so I was still fairly confident. After a lengthy chat with Marc and a decent walk to the pegs I had in mind it had gone half  ten before I had a bait in the water.

The river was still pushing through at pace and although it was still carrying some colour it had around 18" to 2ft of visibility which isn't too bad for this river, water temps were up from my last visit, just over 5°C. Decent conditions and I was quietly confident that I would find a few fish.

Four hours on the first stretch and six pegs covered, not a touch. I decided to head downstream, again to a stretch that I hadn't fished in months. Due to road closures and hoards of Sunday cyclists it took about an hour to move stretches and be fishing again.

This stretch is a lot narrower than the first with many more near bank features, often the pike are found in these areas. First peg, first cast a whole float fished lamprey was taken. Just a jack, but enough to avoid a dreaded final session blank.

Blank saver!
Encouraged by the capture I fished on until dark, but despite covering a fair amount of water I didn't have any further success. Not the most successful final session of the season I've had, but I didn't blank!

An enjoyable day with plenty of wildlife on show, a mink on the far bank stalking a moorhen, woodpeckers doing their thing and a treecreeper coming within a few feet were the highlights,a lovely day to be out, spring is definitely here.

A quick phone snap of the mink
Once the rivers are closed I usually continue to fish for pike until the end of the month, normally I fit in a couple of sessions before my pike season ends, but I'm busy for the next few weeks so I'm only planning the one session, probably on a canal over the Easter weekend.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The final push

As the final week of the season approaches most river anglers are planning their final sessions of the season. I'm no different, a busy weekend meant no fishing, but I'm planning two, possibly three sessions before the season closes. Thursday morning (after a night shift), a full day Sunday and possibly a short session on the final day. My local rivers have been in a state of flood for most of the winter, with very few settled periods so fingers crossed for the week ahead.

My most recent session was last Thursday morning after a 12hour night shift, as usual conditions hadn't been great, so I packed a rod a piece for the chub and pike. Thankfully the river dropped overnight and although it was pushing through fast it wasn't too coloured so I targeted the pike.

The pace of the river limited my choice of pegs but I managed to find a few deep slacks to drop a bait into. No interest from the first two pegs, but the third looked promising, about 10ft of depth and snags either side. Twenty minutes past without interest in the float fished smelt, this peg had to hold fish, so a change to lamprey and a quick recast for five minutes before moving. Less than five minutes later the float slid under.

The pike went 11lb 6oz and was obviously carrying some spawn as river pike of this length are usually below 10lb. My first double in a while, blank avoided, very pleased.

Twenty minutes in a final peg but nothing to report, not a bad 2 hour session, hopefully next Thursday's session will produce a similar result.

Friday, 26 February 2016

It's been a while....

Working 60 hours plus weeks and a busier than usual family life has left very little time for fishing recently. The odd occasion That I have had the chance to go fishing the rivers were well up and I didn't really fancy heading to a still water. This is also the first time in a month or so I've looked at a blog, so I've got some catching up to do (plenty of reading material for the night shifts), and a few emails to respond to.

This month I have somehow managed to fit in a few short sessions on my local river which thankfully was at a reasonable winter level for a change.

Fri 12th

An early afternoon til just after dark pike session, a couple of stretches visited and although the river was a reasonable level it was still pushing through fairly fast. The second stretch I visited was deeper than the first which allowed me to float fish the marginal slacks.

Within an hour on the second stretch a mackerel was taken, just a jack, but more than welcome.

My first in a while
Despite trying a few different baits, methods and pegs there was no further interest in the deads I presented.

Sun 14th

Somehow I managed to escape for a couple of hours on Valentine's Day, again pike were the target. A different stretch of river and a different approach, one rod with minimal kit so I could stay as mobile as possible.

3 hours, 10 pegs, zero interest! A definite blank.

Thurs 25th

The same stretch as my last session and a similar roving approach but this session I was targeting chub. Overnight temps had dropped to -3°C and water temp's were just over 1°C. A very shy bite in the first peg brought some confidence, however nothing in the next half a dozen pegs and the session ended in a blank. Winter blanks are fairly common on this river so I wasn't too disappointed.

With the end of season rapidly approaching I am aiming to fish my local river as much as possible, hopefully the relatively settled weather will continue and the rivers stay within their banks until they close. I am planning a pike session on Sunday morning, high pressure is forecast so I will be trotting live baits (if I can catch some!), this method has been successful during similar periods in the past and fingers crossed it will be on Sunday.