Saturday, 30 May 2009

A Surprise Bream

Saturday 30th May. 17:00 - 1900 at Jubilee. Glorious weather, 24C.

After some impromptu fish spotting with Pete on the upper Avon - he was on his way to fish Snitterfield for the evening - we went our separate ways. Not before we'd marveled at the Barbel though.

I had what can only be described as a 'domestic opening' this afternoon with both kids and wife being at some or other party for a few hours. As you might expect I got hold of the opening and stuffed it full of fishing! It's what I do.

I headed for Jubilee hoping to better my recent 1lb 7ozs Roach with something which would take me into the heady gold bracket for the species of the fishing challenge.

I fished shallow and light and fed maggots sparingly on Horseshoe pool. After fifteen minutes in one corner I'd had just one Roach.

I went looking for the Rudd. I found some out of the wind picking flies off the surface. I sat down and began to trickle in maggots. I could see the Rudd were interested in the bait and had a couple of half bites but nothing that took the light float under - apart from the carp that also occasionally showed an interest if their cruise paths happened to be near the maggots as they were trickled in.

Having not had enough interest to stick with the method in the first hour I again wandered off looking for an opportunity.

I found one in the shape of the shallow Lilly fringed margins on the far side of the pool. A chance to try for the Crucians in Horshoe which I've heard of but are rarely caught. Switching over to a bottom bait and a rope-like four pound line straight through I shovelled in the maggots and gave the marginal lake bed a go.

First fish from this new peg was a Roach. Second was a Bream. I weighed it and at 5lb 10oz was pretty pleased with myself. I thought of the fishing challenge however and recollected that nothing less than seven pounds would get me on the board.

I then hooked and lost a Carp which I think was HITA (hooked in the ass). Just before the bite a group of fish entered stage right and went straight through the swim. I think these guys and gals had only one thing on their mind however and it wasn't food. But a fisherman's reflex can damn you as quickly as it can anoint - the float went down and I immediately lifted into it. The Carp tore off up the bank with me giving it as much stick as I could. After about a minute of arm aching single directional pull the hook slipped.

I shovelled in more maggots and reflected on the fact I should have been home half an hour ago.

The float dipped under again and this time I lifted into something pretty weighty. We all know this fish is going to be a Bream now but at the time I didn't and would have been forgiven for mistaking the species for one that actually pulls back.

Are you sitting down? This Bream fought! Let that sink in a minute.

Also, once on the bank it gave me a right slapping. First it jumped out of the landing net back into the water making me have to trap it in the landing net and bring it ashore again. Then once in my weigh bag it gave some hefty thumps of the tail.

Is this a trait of big Bream? I'm used to the slimy buggers making like a rag on the way in then laying on their side for half an hour after you return them?

Upside of this bad tempered snotball is....... it weighed seven pounds on the nose!

That earns me a bronze in the challenge. Here's the scores;

I'll say now I wish it had weighed 7lb 2oz or something not so 'on the line'. But you can't argue with the scales and so that puts me ten ahead!

I've uploaded my 'proof' video I often take. It's classified PG as there are some gratuitous nose hair shots as I try to do the whole thing in one take. You suffer for my art don't you know.

I've another night session planned for the end of this week so am looking forward to another early summer dawn.


A Snitterfield Crucian

26.5.09 Snitterfield after work with Jeff Hatt (Idler's Quest blog). Weather warm and sunny with a brisk westerly wind.

Upon arrival at Snitterfield reservoir we could see the wind was causing quite a chop on the dam end. Given our target species for the evening was Crucian Carp we both agreed to fish in the lee of the wind to assist with the presentation under floats. There are also some weedbeds at the opposite end to the dam and the consensus was to associate Crucians with weed.

I fished a light float outfit just off the rod tip, in about 5ft of water. I baited with a mixture of particles and groundbait and fished corn on the hook.

Second cast and I got into a Crucian. After a pretty dogged fight I weighed it in at 1lb 12 ozs. It was certainly an old warrior, looking like it had been round the block a few times. It's worth a silver in the challenge I have with my mate Pete though irregardless of it's proximity to the great weedbed in the sky!

Bites were regular throughout the evening and we both caught our share of fish. I had predominantly Roach with the odd skimmer, Perch and Rudd.

After I'd caught the first Rudd off the bottom I thought I would have a go for them properly and switched from my centrepin to a fixed spool reel so I could reach a bit further out. There were fish coming up for some bread I'd put out which were obviously not Carp so I reckoned on them being good Rudd.

I fished shallow with a small piece of bread and got bites from the off. It took me a while to connect however and when I did - in came a Roach. I persevered but took only a couple more Roach fishing shallow like this.
I switched back to the bottom and carried on trying to hit the finicky bites I was getting there. I'd fed hemp and was now sure my tell-tale bottom shot were being picked up by fish thinking they were seeds. The float seemed perpetually on the move. I hit one of the slightest lifts and hooked a Roach on the underside of it's mouth. When I pulled the line forward the two dust shot lined directly up with it's mouth.

After this I adjusted my shotting pattern so the lowest shot were ten inches from the hook. This seemed to help matters but the bites were still proving hard to hit. I say I connected with about one in four.

I had no more Crucian's to show for my efforts.

Jeff's swim was deeper than mine and he took approximately six decent Bream to three pounds something during the session. He also connected with a Carp off the top but was playing a Bream at the time so the noises coming from his peg were pretty funny I can tell you. A combination of 'Aaaarrgh, help, Keith, take this rod will you' coupled with a screaming clutch followed by a punchy obscenity and then bemused laughter. As you can probably guess, the Bream was landed and the carp got away rather well.

The fishing challenge scores are now;

Monday, 25 May 2009

Sywell & Silver Jubilee

Weds - Thurs 20-21st May, Sywell Reservoir then Jubilee Pools.

I had twenty four hours of fishing over two venues in this session so I've got a job on my hands keeping the story moving to fit it in here.

Pete and I knocked off work at three on Weds and made our way to Sywell reservoir in Northamptonshire for an overnight session. The sole aim of the trip was a big Tench for which the place is famous.

Upon arrival the scale of the place was the first thing to hit us - it was big, and windy. Once paid up we looked out from the dam wall to select an area to fish before unloading. Sywell is shaped like the front of a giant thong. For the last few days the wind had been blowing into the right leg hole and out of the left (SW). We opted for a spot at the top of the left leg hole, looking over to the waistband (always nice).

First thing, Sywell is a beautiful place to fish. Crystal clear water and lush green countryside surrounds.

Once we'd set up the shelters and rods it was nearly seven o'clock. A lead cast around told me there was a weed bed about twenty yards out but a clearer area directly out from the bank. I had a depth of about 5ft in the clear area so thought this would be enough for a Tench. I spent half an hour raking in front of me and saw a Pike a rod length out which also gave me encouragement that the area was inhabited.

I set up two rods, one on a cage feeder with groundbait the second a maggot feeder. Both were on alarms.

After the raking I put in ten balls of grounbait and particles and a few pouches of maggots and cast both rods out.

There endeth the fishing story really as apart from a single bleep liner at about 21:45 I didn't have a knock all session. Also after the liner I reeled in and a Pike snapped at my feeder so it could have been that causing the bleep!

Ducks started diving on the bait as the night drew in leading me to wind in a two a.m. At four thirty I was up for the dawn but so was the wind so the float fishing session I had planned was shelved. I topped up the baited area but still no signs for me or Pete. Between us we had not seen a single fish roll, flip or jump since our arrival.

At six in the morning we talked tactics and agreed our best chance of a big Tench was now behind us. We decided to pack up the shelters dewy damp and head to LAA's Jubilee after Bream and Roach for the rest of the day.

To cut a lot of effort short, we were fishing at Jube by ten a.m. I opted for a maggot feeder over a bed of groundbait. First cast I had a Bream about two pounds, third cast I had a Perch and after that it all went very quiet. Locals said the Bream were spawning heavily and so were not likely to play ball today.

I took a walk and saw some half decent Rudd amongst the Carp at the windward end of the Horseshoe pool. Suffering from the mania brought on from lack of sleep I quickly returned to base to set up a float rod and return to where I'd seen the fish. By the time I arrived back it was chucking it down. I hunckered down and sat out that shower and subsequent ones in just my shirt, I was soon a combination of soaked then warm and damp.

I fed red maggots steadily and fished 12" deep. Once I'd got the fish going between the showers I had frequent bites. I had four or five Rudd to about nine ounces (not weighed), and a hybrid that I thought was the Roach of a lifetime at 2lb 9ozs before I got a closer look at it.

Best of all though was a pure Roach of 1lb 7ozs - just 1oz off a Gold!

After the big Roach things dried up a bit so I returned to the main pool next to Pete and we both fished shallow and caught well with the Roach for the rest of the day. After I'd left for home Pete had a 13oz Roach so the scores on the doors in the fishing challenge are now;


Friday, 15 May 2009

A Return to the River

10.5.09 An afternoon river walk in mid-May after a dry spell. The sun was out.

One thing the close season on the rivers grants me is a little respite from the maddening rush I always seem to be in to go fishing in them. When the season is in full swing I wouldn't dream of calmly walking a stretch of river without a hook somewhere about my person. I would be striding it out intent on rendering the thing currently residing at the forefront of my thoughts from the place probably already burned onto my minds eye. The only frequent exceptions to this are reccy's on new water and the exploratory strolls inevitably brought on by slow sport.

You know you're getting to know a stretch when particular conditions subconsciously conjure up precise directions to your brain about where and how you should be fishing. River walks like these power those instructions by storing every sighting you make whilst your hands are tied behind your back.

I was armed with polaroids and a cap, a bait pouch of 6mm pellets, a small catty and a drink. Perfect.

Making the most of this freedom I walked top to bottom of the middle section of a Club water of the Warks Avon near home. The water was low and clear and the sun was high in the sky so fish spotting was a dream. Especially easy were the big lazy Chub sunbathing on the top in the slack water. Only slightly harder to spot but greater in number were their shoal mates slowly moving around in the streamier water. I expect I was just as easy to pick out against the skyline though as a heavy footfall or unthoughtful approach and all Chub in sight would quite calmly dematerialise from view.

I fed in most swims, and the Chub were always first to the bait, taking the pellets as they sank through the layers. The Chub could be pulled upstream into a pool quickly and easily after a few hand fulls, however fish in upstream pools were never pulled down. I'm guessing this was simply because they were oblivious to the feeding going on downstream, probably as any feeding noise and scent were being carried downstream - like they were 'upwind' of it.

If I fed to a consistent place, eventually the Chub would group up on the deck and start sifting the gravel where the pellets had settled twisting, flashing in the sun as they forced small clouds of silt from the bed.

In just two spots I stuck around a while and fed more persistently and I saw Barbel in both. The Barbel were never immediately visible in the swim but always concealed beneath cover, coming out into the light much less readily than the Chub. The Barbel ate greedily once on the bait though and seemed to cycle in an orderly way up through the swim. A fish would begin truffling at the bottom of the baited gravel area and snuffle upstream. Once at the head of the feed it would peel off and up into the current and turn and swim pointing downstream before once again rejoining the conveyor belt.

At one point I had a group of five Barbel and about thirty Chub - some very large - feeding 6ft under my nose as I peered over the grass bank; amazing!

After seeing so many fish and feeding them freely on a cracking spring day I was tempted to declare myself a sovereign state and move quickly to distance myself from the UK and pass a whole new raft of laws which allow me to fish when and where I please. Roll on June 16th!!


Thursday, 7 May 2009

An Old Venue Revisited

5.5.09 Brookfield Fishery after work and until 20:45, strong westerly, air temp 15C

I used to fish this place a lot when I lived in the Radford area of Coventry. It's out towards Bedworth and I've had some pretty memorable days fishing here. Unfortunately I can't put my hands on any photos of catches just now as it was the pre-digital era for me. (If I can find a photo I'll scan one in)....

Both of these photos of Brookfield Carp were taken in 2000 - how time flies;

To be honest until recently I wasn't even sure the place was open as about two years ago it started to undergo some hefty ground work; draining and extending existing pools and digging out at least two new ones. The fishery is just about visible from the M6 when the leaves are down and I would regulary crane to see what was going on on my way to work. The last time I fished it I ended up helping with the fish move.

The fishery sits on a hill. Previously there was a top, middle and bottom pool.

I called in on the off chance a few months back, some time after the diggers visible from the motorway had disappeared and was surprised to see people fishing. A word with the new bailiff revealed that one of the pools had remained open almost throughout. There are now five pools on the fishery but I'm not sure if they're all open yet.

Reduced down to a liquor my memories of the place are of hard fighting ghost Carp caught ridiculously close in, Crucians in the top pool, some good Perch and a bailiff with a shotgun who often appeared worse for wear and would take a leak standing next to you whilst taking your money. Thankfully some things never made the cut in the overhaul.

I'm not a great lover of commercial fisheries but I can't ignore their potential, especially for a good Perch, and I know these pools contain thousands of small Rudd and Roach as food for them. My plan was to try for a Crucian on the top pool for an hour or so and then depending on what happened move to the middle pool for a Perch. I coudn't rely on my memories too heavily as I didn't know what fish had been moved where in the overhaul.

The top pool was almost entirely weeded of with dwarf pond lilly, leaving only one clear spot to fish. The pools sit on a clay bed and all carry some colour but this one had good clarity. Fishing maggots really light over grounbait and a few grains of corn, my float continuously disappeared. Blade Roach, Rudd, and 'stripes with eyes' Perch came in. I saw one decent fish move but couldn't work out what it was. I tried corn on the hook but no touches. I called it a day on this pool when my bait was being intercepted by blades more often than it was reaching the bottom.

Moving to the middle pool and sitting bout 12ft back from the edge into the teeth of the wind, I set up one rod for Perch and fished a second rod with a pole float dropped just over the side.

I'll say now my Perch rod didn't do anything.

Not that I'd have time to notice as the float rod kept me busy. My first fish was a Gudgeon, my next a skimmer, my next a Roach then it all blurs. I fed small pellets, maggots and corn continuously. I tried corn on the hook a couple of times but didn't get a single bite. Maggots were the order of the day.

I only hooked one Carp but that came off. I was surprised to have only touched one as the others were throwing themselves about all over the place. I would have expected more with my tactics.

I had couple of Roach about ten ounces (believe me I can spot a ten ounce Roach from half a mile nowadays).

The closest I came to a point in our fishing challenge was this fish;It weighed 12ozs (it was quite thick), but however hard I tried to convince myself it was pure-bred Roach I just couldn't overlook the Breamy anal and dorsal and so will not be putting in a claim to trouble the 'Dubious Fish Committee'.

So. Another pointless fishing trip. Get out of here! No fishing trip is pointless.

Although I might not have struck gold this time I reckon this place has place still has gold Perch potential, and besides I am really enjoying trying out all these new and old places and fishing for species which weren't really on my radar last year. I mean my god, I even fished off the bottom the other week!