Saturday, 23 November 2013

Quite a Week

After catching such a nice fish earlier in the week I decided to get back out while my luck was in. Although the river wasn't in the greatest of conditions, with a bit too much colour, I was hoping to hit it in perfect conditions as the colour dropped out.

Unfortunately this didn't prove to be the case but after a lot of searching things came good in the end.

On Wednesday night I pondered going fishing on Thursday but the weather wasn't looking good with strong northerly's and north easterly's planned so had decided to go on Friday instead. My body clock had other ideas though and I awoke on Thursday at 4.30am! Shame to waste such an early start so off I went.

The fishing was hard and after 7 hours without a fish or even a follow things were looking pretty grim. I still had a few hours of daylight left so went off to a different stretch ever hopeful of a change in fortune. The river was still quite high and pushing strongly through but I came across a slack behind a fallen tree and sent my lure along the bank. About half way back next to a big clump of submerged grass a good pike shot out and smashed the lure, sending a spray of water everywhere as I struck, but the hooks didn't connect! How the hell did I miss that one I thought to myself! I wandered off gutted at missing the fish but encouraged by some action at last.

On I went, fishing every suitable spot with just one follow off a scraper double to show for it. Time was getting on and I was nearing the end of the stretch when a fish smashed the lure off the surface as I went to lift it out. I struck into it and the fish thrashed around on top for a while before I could get down to her with the net. In she went first time and I could see it was a good fish. I secured the net and left her to recover while I got myself sorted... with the weigh sling wetted, scales zeroed and camera set up for a self-take I lifted her out. After such a short fight and a rest in the net she was full of beans and gave me a bit of a beating up on the mat and as I leant over her, cradled in my arms, the loose stinger hook whipped past and caught my chin which started bleeding badly. No matter, it's only blood! After unhooking her she calmed down and went on the scales which went round to 24.14lb. As luck would have it one of the bailiffs came along at the perfect time and took a few photo's...

That was it for the day but plans were in place for me to come back again the following day.

Friday started pretty much the same as Thursday. The first stretch produced nothing at all so it was back to the same stretch as the day before. As I got to the slack where I'd missed the fish I was hopeful that she might still be there, even though the river had dropped about 18", and sure enough the lure got smashed on the first cast in exactly the same spot. This time she didn't want to risk it getting away and inhaled the whole lure. On setting the hooks she went berserk and powered all around the shallow swim, kicking up clouds of mud as she went. As she went in the net she looked a lot bigger than I'd thought she was when I missed her and on the scales she went 26.04lb.. exactly the same weight as the fish from another stretch a few days earlier.

This fish was in great condition and was very long. If she'd had the girth of a lot of the big fish from lately she'd be very big indeed. After a few quick photo's I held her in the water in the net but after a few minutes she didn't seem to want to swim off. I was getting worried a bit as I couldn't reach her to "swim" her back and forth to get some oxygen through her gills and the length of her meant her nose was pushed up against the mesh of the net, even though it's a XL size. Only one thing for it; off came the boots and socks and with trousers rolled up I slid down the bank into the shallows. I wouldn't normally have been able to do this (and it's certainly not recommended from a safety point of view) but I could see the bottom which was flooded grass. Bloody hell was it cold! I grabbed her tail wrist and eased her out of the net. I pushed her forwards and backwards about 4 or 5 times when I felt her kick, then with an immense amount of power she exploded out of my hand and shot off, leaving me dripping with the spray. Not sure if it was the net mesh restricting her breathing or whether she was just having me at it but it was worth getting wet to see her swim off so strongly.

This week's not been easy with the river not quite being on form but with 4 fish caught, 2 at 26.04lb, a 24.14lb and one about 11lb it has been a great weeks fishing.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Back in the Game

After having my arse handed to me at Chew it was back to my usual haunts yesterday. It was freezing cold at first light with the temperature at -0.5°C and a hard frost covering the ground. The river had again dropped a few more feet and the water was gin clear which aren't good conditions.

I started off and on the third cast I felt a quick bump as a pike hit the lure but I think it only grabbed the tail as the hooks didn't go home, but it was an encouraging start in the conditions. Unfortunately that was the only action for several hours apart from a low double following my lure in 3 times but not taking it.

Lunchtime was approaching before I finally got a proper hit and a feisty fish about 11lb was landed. I was happy with this fish in the conditions but made my way back to the car fishing all of the available swims. As I neared the car I got to a swim I'd not yet fished, and which happens to be the swim my biggest fish from this stretch had come from at 24.12lb last year. It's a tricky swim as there's a tree lying on the bottom parallel to the bank that's about 60ft long! I'd lost plenty of lures on this tree last year before the water dropped and I could see what was down there. I made a couple of short casts and bought the lure over the tree. On the third cast the lure came close in, clearly visible in the clear water about 15ft from where I was stood when a big fish shot out of nowhere and engulfed the lure. I struck and with a big splash she was hooked. I could see it was 20lb+ so when she went in the net first time I let out a big sigh of relief. I secured the net and got my scales and camera ready, and asked the coarse angler in the next swim to come and take a few trophy shots. With everything ready I lifted the net and as she left the water she seemed to grow! She was a stunning fish in perfect condition and had been feeding really well. I laid her on the mat and noticed that the hooks had come out in the net! There's such a fine line between catching them and losing them sometimes.

On the scales she went 26.04lb and to say I was happy is an understatement. I sat down for a coffee and a fag and grinned like an idiot... this is what it's all about for me; seeing a big pike hit a lure up close and feeling the power and aggression of the strike.. it never fails to impress me.

I carried on and fished the rest of the day without a sign of a fish, apart from a small jack that followed the lure in but after a fish like that it didn't matter. Can't wait to get back again now.

A Tough Few Days

After the success of a few days earlier I went out again hoping for some of the same but things had changed somewhat. There had been some early morning frosts which were the first of the winter and the river had dropped a couple of feet. The fishing was hard all day but ended up with 3 fish.. one about 14lb, one about 11lb and a 6lb jack on lures.

A close friend of mine had managed to book a couple of days boat fishing on Chew a couple of days later and although it's not a place I particularly like or fish very often I thought it would make a change and of course, you're always in with a chance of a real monster sized pike. To cut a long story short, we fished Saturday and Sunday and boated 6 fish between us but the biggest was about 7-8lb! I had a big fish we estimated at about 25lb nip the tail of my lure a couple of times before it turned away at the boat but that was the highlight of the trip. Not what we went there for but there was a 36lb'er, 2 x 29's and a number of other 20's caught whilst we were on there. It seems that Chew is a bit of a lottery when it comes to fish location and you either drop on them or you don't. That doesn't really suit me as I always like to have a plan on big waters.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Back on the River

With the rivers having been in almost continual flood, one of my favourite lakes having 15ft of water drained from it for repairs and another still 5ft down on normal levels it's been a bit quiet over recent weeks. I've had a few trips out landing a couple of perch to about 1½lb and a handful of pike to about 11lb so when the river started to fall a couple of days ago I decided on a trip. The anticipation meant I had very little sleep and was raring to go at 5am. On arrival I was very happy to see the water relatively clear with a tinge of colour, although it was pushing through quite fast... good conditions for this river.

I arrived at my favourite swim at first light and my big softbait got walloped on only the second cast. It felt like a decent fish but with a big headshake and an underwater flash of the fish it was off! Not a great start but at least the fish were up for it. I fished a few more swims then came to another favourite. Although the water was pushing through there is a small slack of a couple of feet against the bank and with the level quite high the vegetation meant the pike had plenty of spots to lie up and ambush from. This proved to be the case and within a few casts a good fish hit the lure hard. After a good fight she was in the net and was in perfect condition. She weighed in at 18.09lb which was a very nice start to the day.

I had a few more casts when an old chap arrived at the top of the swim, obviously wanting to fish it. We had a quick chat and I said I'd be moving along soon so he was welcome to it. As he started to set up it turned out he's been fishing this river for over 50 years and was a mine of information, a really nice fella, named Ken. I'd caught the fish within a few feet of me and there was still a big chunk of water I'd not covered so flipped the bait out again, further downstream. As it got closer a fish hit it hard and on striking into it it was obviously a good fish. It got closer and came to the surface where we could both see it was long, wide and deep and the lure was completely inside it's mouth. It seemed beat but as I reached for the net it decided to tailwalk, thrashing it's head from side to side, and as it did so the lure came flying out at me! I was left shaking and gutted. We both estimated it to be at least 25lb. By now a lot of pleasure anglers had turned up and swims were very limited. I fished on and managed another about 10lb or so, but the loss of that fish was still stinging. I eventually got back to the same swim and was having a chat with the old fella, who was catching roach, dace and bleak almost every cast but every now and again a pike would shoot out and nick one off his hooks on the surface. After about the third time he asked me to have a chuck in his swim to try and catch it. After a couple of casts a good pike followed the lure to my feet then disappeared into the depths. I made a short cast and as the lure hit the surface at my feet a big mouth appeared out of nowhere and smashed it, sending a spray of water everywhere. Unfortunately the hooks didn't find a home and an inspection of the lure showed that it had just grabbed the tail. Ken started to fish again but a few minutes later the pike nailed a roach he was winding in, attacking it like a broaching submarine.. very impressive! Once again he asked me to have another go for it and on the first cast downstream it hit the lure. This time she was hooked and after a few powerful surges she was in the net. Once on the bank her true depth could be seen and she was deep, but not that long, and on the scales she went 20.12lb, making up for the earlier lost fish.

I carried on and the light was fading fast by now but I decided to stick it out. I got to a swim I'd not fished as a coarse angler had been there all day and flicked my lure out, letting the current swing it into the bank. A couple of turns of the reel handle and another fish hit it. After an brief fight she was in the net and it was another good fish. Much longer than the earlier fish but her belly was completely empty. On the scales she came agonisingly close but after weighing her twice I settled on 19.15lb. Just one small roach and she'd have gone over the magical 20 but no matter, still a great fish. It was pitch dark by now so instead of setting up a self-take photo I let her go.

All in all a great days fishing which hopefully won't be the last if the rain stays away.