Monday, 24 February 2014

Faltering February

I've not updated the blog in the last few weeks so a little catch up is in order. The start of the month saw the rivers very flooded and coloured and there didn't seem any opportunity to fish them so I had to get my fix somewhere else.

The month started slowly with the rivers being out of sorts so I had a couple of trips out for zander but apart from a couple of pike to about 14lb (a fish I'd caught a month or so ago) the zander were very hard to come by... it's not unusual for them to disappear on this big venue.

I then saw an opportunity to fish the river so I planned to fish deadbaits, and if the water wasn't looking too bad, go back the next day and fish with lures. I had a good idea where the pike might be but despite fishing two stretches I never had a single take on the baits. The river did drop another foot whilst I was there though so I went back the following day with the lure rod. Yet again, despite fishing two stretches I didn't even get a follow. Something had changed and the fish were off the feed big time.

The river then flooded again so another plan was put into place. Off I went early the next day to collect my Dad. On arrival the lake looked perfect.. good level and good water clarity meant expectations were high for a few fish. A quick pootle around in the boat looking at the sounder showed the baitfish still shoaled in deep water but also a little more spread out down the lake; ideal for trolling lures through the shoals. Well, we stuck to deep water and it turned out nothing like the plan. I didn't get any hits at all and the old man had one pike about 7lb.

It was now mid February and the next session was boat fishing on a trout reservoir. They like baits in this particular venue so my mate and I decided to fish baits from the boat in a known hotspot for a few hours then move around looking for fish with baits and lures. The first spot seemed dead but after casting lures around the boat my mate managed a jack about 6lb or so. It was obvious from seeing all the other boats moving around that everyone was struggling a bit and at the end of the day the earlier jack was the only fish that came our way. Chatting at the jetty with the other anglers it turned out just a few jacks had been caught although there was rumour that a good fish had been landed from the shallows.

We're now up to last week. A mate and I had planned a 3 day session somewhere and although the rivers were still high they were dropping, so we decided to go to the river. The first day it rained incessantly and despite fishing a whole stretch with baits I managed the only fish of the day on a whole mackerel. It was very short and fat so out of interest we decided to weigh it. I wasn't far off the mark when it went 13.12lb. All the kit was now soaked through so we called it a day about 4pm and set off to the hotel, a lovely country pub with a few quaint rooms to stay in.

Knowing that the rain was going to make the river rise again it was likely that baits would be the better bet the following day and the hotel were very accommodating when they agreed to keep our bait in their freezer. I'm not sure they would have been so keen if they'd seen the amount of mackerel, herring, blueys and sardines we were packing. After a night of good food and too many San Miguels the next day dawned.. and it wasn't raining! Well, it wasn't for 5 minutes, but whilst eating breakfast it started again. Luckily it was only a bit of rain which stopped after 15 minutes or so. Today we were off to a stretch I rarely fish. Although it allegedly holds big fish I've only ever seen one double follow my lure in along with a few jacks caught but I knew it would have a few big slacks in the flooded conditions. A couple of whole mackerel were under-armed into the slacks and we stood there watching the floats. After 10 minutes my left hand float bobbed, then slid under and a quick strike saw me hooked up. After a good fight she went in the net and although longer than the fish the day before it was much thinner. I guessed her to be about 14lb or so. We fished on, fishing every suitable spot, but nothing was happening so decided to spend the last 2 or 3 hours in a good area on another stretch. This area had given me 3 different 20's and several other fish a few weeks ago so I was confident that there would be some fish there.... nothing, nada, zilch! At least we knew the river was dropping as we stuck sticks at the water level and after an hour the water was 5" down.

Back to the hotel and during another night of much beer and piss taking a plan was hatched for the last day. The last day arrived looking much more pleasant. The river had dropped about 18" or so from the day before with not so much colour. The plan was to lure fish along stretch 1 as this is the area that holds the most 20's. We fished down and then back up for a few hours and didn't even get a follow between us! We went back to the car and made a plan to baitfish in the afternoon in some slacks by the car. These slacks are strange; I've had plenty of doubles along this short stretch, sometimes 4 or 5 a day, but I've never seen a pike bigger than one I had last year at 18lb something. Not fish to be sniffed at by any means but if there's 20's nearby willing to feed I'd rather be fishing for them. As they weren't these swims can be kind for a fish or two to get a bend in the rod. We managed to catch a fish each in the next few hours, mine being 13-14lb again, and Jonos' a bit bigger at 15-16lb and very fat. We fished downstream for the last couple of hours in the hope of a last gasp 20 but it didn't happen and that was the end of the trip. A shame we didn't catch any bigger fish for 3 days effort but I had a fish each day so not all bad. The worrying thing is that every fish we caught was just a random, lone fish from no area or swim in particular and I hadn't found out where most of the pike were!

Knowing the river had dropped, off I went again a couple of days after my return, this time to fish lures in the hopefully clearer water and hoping to find the whereabouts of the fish again. On arrival the level had dropped 3 or 4ft from mid week but there was still a bit of colour in it; clear enough. I fished stretch 1 with no sign of a fish. I was also sharing the bank with two other pikers who were roving with bait rods so I moved to stretch 2. I drove round and promptly bumped into the two bait anglers again at the gate. They managed a fish about 12lb or so and I managed a scraper double but yet again, no real concentrations of fish. Off I went to stretch 3. I fished down and back up for just one lively jack about 5lb, which came off as I was about to net it. Saved me unhooking him.

With the warm, if wet, winter we've had the water temperatures have stayed relatively high and as the days are now getting longer I'm certain that they are gathering to spawn much earlier this year. The last few weeks have been very hit and miss despite conditions that, although not ideal, were easily good enough for the fish to feed.

I get the feeling that my run of big fish has come to an end for this winter, well almost. I'll keep fishing until the rivers close but if I catch a spawned out fish I'll leave that stretch alone. I like to give them a good rest for a month or two to let them recover and heal their wounds from spawning.

Think I might go fishing tomorrow! :D

Ps. sorry for such a long post with no photo's.. I got carried away a bit  :cheers:

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