Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A Wet Morning on the River

After the recent rain I was hopeful that a bit of a flush through would bring the fish on the feed on the river so decided to get down there.

The journey comprised of dry periods then heavy showers, and with further rain forecast it looked like I was going to get a bit damp. I started fishing about 6.30am and it was obvious that the river had risen about 6" and was pushing through a bit. The colour was perfect but there was a lot of streamer weed coming down. In the first swim I made a couple of casts when a fish banged the lure but didn't hook up. The next cast it followed the weed covered lure up the shelf and made a huge splash on the surface.. but missed it! A few casts later though the fish hit it hard and the first of the day was in the net. I slid down the muddy bank to the water and unhooked her. At about 9lb a nice fish but no monster. As I was releasing her my foot slipped and I got a boot full and chucked my pliers in! Luckily it was shallow and I was already wet so reached for them.. then the other foot slipped off a rock and that foot got a soaking as well! On checking the lure the fish had almost destroyed it.. there was a split in the head about 2" long and the tail was hanging off! Bit of a bugger as I used half a tube of superglue the night before repairing the slashes in that one and it's spare. On went the spare.

 I squelched to the next few swims but all I could catch was weed but further along another fish hit the lure and came to hand.. bit smaller around 6-7lb.

On I went, slipping and sliding down steep banks, all the while removing handfuls of weed on almost every cast. Had another fish about 6lb then got to a swim I've not had a take from before.. couple of casts and a decent fish hit mid river. She came in quite sedately compared to most fish in this river and into the net. I had a quick look and she was very fat, but not that long, and on the scales she went 15.07lb. Lovely fat fish but her back end was very tatty for some reason..

I went to re-set the stingers on the softbait to find that she had bitten the tail clean off! Bugger! Out with the initial lure and a load of superglue later I was ready again. A few casts later another fish hit which was about 6lb. Whilst unhooking it I noticed that it didn't have any teeth at all on the right side of the lower jaw! No damage but they just had never grown by the looks of it.. you could run your finger along a smooth surface.. very strange, never seen that before.

I carried on and missed a couple of small ones but the rain and the weed got heavier. It was now almost impossible to get 6 turns of the reel handle before it was weeded up. I'd fished pretty much the whole stretch by now anyway so called it a day about 1.30pm after noticing the river had risen several more inches since I arrived. I went looking at potential stretches but neither looked very promising.. the search continues.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A Week in Wales

It's been busier than normal for fishing this last week. I'd organised a North Wales Bass Fish-in for a few LAS members on 20-21st July and I took the opportunity to get a few extra days in.

Travelled up to the coast on Monday and spent some time with family who live there but on Tuesday decided on a few hours bass fishing in the estuary, my first of the year. Conditions and tides were not great with the low tide about 10am so a couple of hours after that the tide started flooding in, and brought with it quite a few fish.

As ever, I started out with a surface lure and with bass smashing into the biggest shoal of whitebait I've ever seen all around me it wasn't long before the first hit, albeit a bit subdued. Unfortunately it didn't stick but I was surprised to see a couple of garfish jump clear as I struck. I didn't know garfish took surface lures! That happened on a few more occasions over the next few hours but I didn't manage to connect with any of them. During those few hours I also got hit several times by, which I could clearly see, were very small bass. There were lots of them around which bodes well. I finally managed to hook one on an OSP Bent Minnow and while bringing it in two more bass were trying to steal the lure out of its mouth. At one point one of the other bass hooked itself on the loose treble so I was playing two fish at once. Unfortunately it came off but I was happy to land my first bass of 2013.. a tiddler really but they're all good..

Wednesday came and I made the trip to a big glacial lake for some pike fishing. I arrived about 11am and started fishing at the start of a long bay. Not long after I had a follow from a small jack then one about 4lb, which turned out to be the smallest pike of the trip.

I carried on wading along the bank and a couple of hundreds yards or so later hooked a better fish on my favourite blue Salmo Sweeper. Again not a big fish but it scraped into double figures at a guess..

To cut a long story short. I carried on all along the bank and caught a total of 10 pike, biggest around 14lb, three other doubles and the rest being 6-10lb. Every single fish was in perfect condition and fought like tigers in the clear, well oxygenated water, with most tailwalking and none of them giving up until you let them go. I got several soakings when releasing them which always makes me smile.. as long as it's summer! It was now time to get some food and set up camp on the other side of the lake for the night. On arrival at the spot I started fishing again but there didn't seem to be many pike around this area. I managed a small one on a jerkbait but after fishing a few hundred yards decided it was time to fish my way back. I clipped on one of my home made topwaters in black perch flavour and started back. Within half a dozen casts a pike came flying completely out of the water and engulfed it from behind. Another pike around 6lb came in and gave me one last soaking before I finished for the day. A great days fishing for this venue which usually gives up 3 or 4 fish a day.

Next morning I was up early and made my way back over the far side near to where I'd fished to the day before. It started well with a scraper double hitting a jerkbait within a few casts. 30 yards further along I missed the same fish twice in two casts before she put her head down and skulked off.

I carried on around a point to a favourite bay but caught only one jack and after fishing several more hundred yards without anything happening I made my way back to the first bay for a last few casts before I had to leave. This turned out to be a good move as I had a fish about 13lb. Apologies for lack of photo's but it was red hot and I was up to my chest in water so didn't bother with weighing or photo's.

It was now Thursday afternoon so after stopping for provisions and essentials (beer) I drove up to the Llyn peninsula for the bass bumble.

After setting up camp, and with Jono arriving within the hour, decided a rest and a beer or two were in order. Jono arrived and an hour later we decided to go have a few casts. This bass fish-in has been going for 3 years now and even if the bass fishing isn't great you can usually catch small pollock easily so we were hopeful of a fish or two..... Wrong! We fished the first area without so much as a tap on the lures. This wasn't looking good for the fish-in! After a couple of hours fishing we went back to camp feeling deflated and thinking of possible other venues. Too early to give up on it yet though as the daytime sunlight and temperature levels were blistering.

We made our way back for the evening session up to dark not feeling very confident but within half an hour I landed a bass on a toby.. a small one but very welcome.

We fished around to a bay where we've done well before and I had a decent pollock on the way. On arriving at the bay I started chucking a Lucky Craft Gunfish around. Just a quick mention of this lure; I always loved the Lucky Craft Sammy which was my no.1 surface lure but the Gunfish is even better imho. It's like a Sammy on steroids and allows you to fish it in many more ways than a Sammy. Anyway, I was lucky to hit a shoal of bass and I managed 3 more before they moved on. The biggest was about 3½lb or so and it jumped a good 3-4ft out of the water during the fight.

After a late night of festivities we were up early(ish) for another go but it seemed as hard as yesterdays daytime session with just a few small pollock landed, although I did manage another bass. Jono decided to do a bit of LRF'ing and was quickly into tiny pollock, blennies and Gobies. I haven't got the patience for fishing miniscule lures but I wanted to catch my first wrasse this year so on went a tiny jighead and grub.. not exactly LRF'ing as I just clipped it to my 20lb fluoro bass leader. After feeling like a bit of an idiot jigging tiny softies around the rocks I actually had something take a bite.. but I missed it! A few drops later and as I lifted a tiddler jumped on it, but I was like a kid in a sweet shop when a scorpion fish swung in. I rarely do this type of fishing so thought I'd never see one of these cool little fish.

We moved our way around the coast to some deeper water and I had a hit off a decent pollock but it took me in the kelp.. no way was I losing one of my favourite bass lures so I eventually got the courage up to jump in.. bloody hell it was cold! I thought I was having a heart attack for a minute but after swimming past the lure a gentle pull and it came up with the fish still attached! We carried on and after a few casts with bass lures we switched back to the tiny grubs. I found a huge rock with an overhang and started dangling. Suddenly a decent wrasse hit it and dived for the rocks. I held it out and it came up before diving again for rocks. I held it again and then it made its last attempt at some rocks before I stopped it.

My first wrasse and I'm well happy!

Moved around the same rock and it happened again! Similar length to the first one but much fatter with some beautiful markings with turquoise flashes coming from the eyes.

That night two more lads arrived and on Saturday another lad arrived which made 5 of us. The day went by in a similar fashion.. up early, fish until mid afternoon, back for a rest then back out for the evening. The fishing was quite poor but a few fish were caught and we were having a good laugh anyway.

We fished the Saturday daytime with just a few small wrasse and pollock but things picked up on the evening and I had two more bass off the top along with a couple of pollock. Sunday was similar and I did manage another half decent wrasse. Unfortunately most people had to leave which left me and Jono to fish the Sunday evening.. that didn't go well, with Jono breaking a reel and no fish showing at all apart from a pollock, albeit the biggest of the trip at about 2½lb.

So that was it; we left on the Monday morning for the long drive home.. exhausted but pretty happy with my weeks fishing.

Total caught - 15 pike, 8 bass, 3 wrasse, a scorpion fish, several pollock and a foot long launce!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Good Day on the River

Went down to the river again on Thursday for another bash and after a couple of casts in the swim I had a fish from last week near the overhanging tree it was clear there wasn't any fish under it. A couple of casts to the middle of the river and a pike hit the lure as it came up over the nearside shelf. At about 9lb not big but a good start to the day.

A few casts later and another fish hit the lure a bit further out as I twitched it mid retrieve. A big swirl and a big flash of a decent fish and it was off! "Curses" or words to that effect! Stayed in the swim for a bit longer trying different lures and eventually she followed the lure in but wouldn't take it. At least I got a good look at her and she looked every inch a mid to upper double. I left her to calm down a bit for another try on the way back.

Fished a few swims further along but nothing doing at all then came to an opening in the undergrowth that I'd scrambled down before. It's not a swim as such but you can get down to the water with a controlled slide and a bit of luck. I noticed a small shoal of bleak in the swim which seems to be a rare sight this year as there's hardly any food fish showing at all on this stretch.

A few casts later and the lure got smashed a couple of rod lengths in front of me. Slightly better at about 10 or 11lb. Half a dozen casts later and another fish hit as I was bringing the lure upstream.. big splash as it hit it but it didn't connect. No matter as it chased it down and hit it again a few seconds later. Much stronger fish this one and put in a great fight. On the scales she went 15lb bang on.


Fished the swim for a bit longer but it had gone quiet so carried on to fish the remaining few swims in this direction. Again, nothing showing at all so turned back. On the way back I dropped into the successful swim again and after a few casts another fish hit. This one fought like a demon and tailwalked a few times, soaking me in the process. Didn't weigh her but a very similar size to the earlier 15lb'er. That made it 3 fish from this one swim.

Carried on and fished the rest of the stretch to the far end with only a tap off a jack that followed the lure in and a follow from another double which then promptly disappeared back under it's tree and didn't come back out. I've got a feeling it was the same fish that I had a couple of chances at on opening day.. she seems to live under that particular tree.

Went back to the car for lunch and decided to walk back to the swims I'd caught from for a last go as they seemed to be stacked up in the one swim.

Fished the first swim but the fish I'd missed earlier seemed to have moved on so carried on to the swim I'd had the 3 fish from. A few casts in this spot and the lure got hit yet again.. another good fight with the fish making several powerful runs and tailwalking before I could chin her out. On the scales this one went bang on 15lb as well and for a moment thought it might be one of the earlier fish but on inspection of the photo's they show that all 3 were different fish. So that was three 15lb'ers and a low double from one swim!

Fished just downstream of this spot as I could just reach the back end of the run and promptly missed another double, then a smaller one! I contemplated the day so far over an ice cold pint of stella which lasted a good 2 minutes and made my way back to the car.

I'd arranged to meet a mate at a different venue and an hour later was there. Despite fishing a few areas over a further 5 hours all we had to show for it was one small jack for my mate which was disappointing but can't complain after the mornings fishing I'd had. Another long day though.. out the house at 6.30am and back at 11pm after driving 200 miles!

Looking at the photo of the last fish I've noticed that it is the same fish I had last week at 15.07lb.

Monday, 8 July 2013

A Couple of Hours Zander Fishing

Popped out to a local canal on Sunday evening for a bit of zander fishing with a light rod and small Kopyto shads. It started off well with a small zed on the first cast and over the next couple of hours we managed 6 more all on 3" shads either slowly retrieved or hopped along the bottom. None of them were over 3lb but fun all the same on light gear comprising 20lb braid, 15lb Wonderwire leader and a 5g, 4/0 jighead.

I had a chat with a chap who lives on the bank of the canal who had told me that a 19lb pike had been caught a few days earlier from a few hundred yards upstream in a basin. If I'm honest I was sceptical as I've fished here infrequently for 5 years and only had 3 pike, biggest about 2½lb. After leaving him I had a cast and then another when I had a hit. This fish felt a lot bigger and thoughts of a big zander started going through my mind. After a couple of minutes without seeing the fish I then thought maybe I'd hooked a carp but eventually the fish swirled on the top and powered off again. I now knew it was a pike, and not a bad one.

I coaxed her into the net where she thrashed, and the hook promptly came out! On the scales she went bang on 16lb.. a nice end to a couple of hours.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

River Exploration

I've been looking for new areas of the river recently, without much success if I'm honest, with only a couple of missed fish so decided a long day would be in order. The plan was to fish a stretch I've been trying for the morning then go looking for new stretches for potential.

The alarm went off at stupid o'clock, 4am, and a bleary eyed me stumbled out of bed. I arrived about 6.15am and was fishing at 6.30. I had the whole stretch to myself at this point which is the benefit of going so early. I fished most of the best looking, and so most fished, swims without even a follow and I started to question whether the stretch held many fish. I made my way upstream to the last half dozen swims and after fishing a few of them came to a non-descript swim which was so shallow you could see the bottom with only one small tree to the right of the swim. This tree only had a couple of feet of water under it so I wasn't expecting too much.

I pitched one of my favoured big lures just past the branches of the tree and it landed with a big splash. I hardly had time to engage the baitcaster before a decent pike flew out from under the tree and smacked it. I struck and the pike leapt out of the water and spit the hooks! This all happened within less than a second of the bait hitting the water. Several seconds of enthusiastic questioning of the parentage of the fish followed before I gathered my composure. I re-set the stingers on the softbait and under-armed the lure a bit further out from the tree... two winds of the handle and the pike came back for another shot. This time the hooks went home and after a decent fight she was in the net. I left the fish in the water in the net while I got the unhooking kit, scales and camera out and it was obvious she'd got some strength back when I lifted her out. I opened her mouth with one hand to see where the hooks were and sure enough they were in the same position 90% of them are with this hooking arrangement, 2-3" back in the bottom of the mouth with the front stinger hanging loose. This is where it got interesting as she shook her head and somehow one of the points of the spare 3/0 Owner ended up firmly embedded in my finger, past the barb! I've seen this happen to other lure anglers, even very experienced ones, but this is the first time it has happened to me. With the fish tensing up I didn't have time to think so just ripped it out.. luckily it came out first time but the blood was flowing. On the scales she went 15.07lb and was in perfect condition.

I carried on and fished the rest of the stretch and managed one more jack, but missed a very small one and lost an upper single. By this time I'd fished every swim on the stretch at least once so decided to get some lunch and go for a recce on some other stretches.

Off I set with just a vague idea of the areas I wanted to look at. I found a stretch I thought/think is day ticket but after walking a couple of miles of overgrown banks it was obvious that it wasn't really suitable pike habitat.. very shallow and fast with hardly any ambush points. I cast a few lures in one potential area which was slightly deeper and slower but to no avail. I walked back to the car, which involved an exhausting walk up a steep hill. By now I'd been fishing for 10 hours and walked about 5 or 6 miles. Undeterred I found another stretch which had a bit of deep water close in but there were a few anglers fishing there already. They were complaining that all they could catch were eels, and big ones! Personally I like eels and spent many years chasing them as a youngster, sometimes alongside the legendary John Sidley who lived just down the road from me. The "eels" info was stored for future reference and off I set to another stretch. I've fished this stretch before from the opposite bank and although very pacey there were some interesting slacks and eddy's which needed looking into on this bank. To cut a long story short I fished all the likely looking spots for just one jack and one more missed before exhaustion, stinging nettles and the biting insects got the better of me.

Overall I fished for 13 hours and walked about 10 miles for 3 pike. The disappointing thing was not finding much in the way of new stretches with good potential.. so the search goes on.

And remember.. be careful out there kids! Playing with sharp pointy things can be painful!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Couple of Hours with the Frogs

I popped out to a local(ish) river last night for a couple of hours to fish topwater frogs but on arrival found the normal stretch unfishable due to works to the weir. Tried to cast where the fish usually come from but couldn't reach it so made my way to a few swims downstream. When fishing weedless topwater frogs I always cast the lure onto the far bank and a straight, steady pull usually sees the frog gently "plopping" into the far margin. This can result in a very quick and violent strike and is probably the best tip I can give when using weedless frogs.

Fished the first spot with nothing to show for it apart from a half hearted swirl from the nearside margin so moved down a bit. 2 or 3 casts to the far margin and the frog fell into the water 2ft behind a small patch of weed. Half a second later a pike exploded out of the weed, across the surface and engulfed the frog. In the net it was only about 6lb but the fun of frog fishing is the take, not the size. It didn't fight particularly well and I could see why.. it only had half a tail! Not sure what had done the damage; most likely a heron or, even though unlikely, perhaps even an otter or mink.


This one certainly wanted the frog!

Carried on fishing a different spot around some lillies and had a big bow wave chase the lure down but it didn't hit it. Then managed to lose another one. All fun on the frogs though!