Friday, 28 May 2010

After Brown Goldfish at Brook Field

Thursday 27th May, 16:30 - 19:30. Brook Field. 16C. Moderate W. 

I had a couple of hours after work trying for brown goldfish on the pole tonight. No good I'm afraid.

I did meet Merv' Wilkinson again however and spent the latter half of this short outing chatting with him. Merv's the sort of gent who knows a lot about local fishing, and about fishing in general, but especially about the lineage and recent histories of local waters and rivers and the rise and fall of particular specimen species and big name anglers. It's the sort of stuff that's gold dust amongst us fishermen, and absolutely needs to be passed on as its the roots upon which our latter day sorties and myths are built. I just wish I had total recall on all that he said! 

He has a sideline in leads and rig bits and I bought some excellent leads from him in preparation for the river season. I particularly like the mussel shaped ones. All at a very good price.

 Merv, if people want some of these from you how should they go about contacting you? Leave a comment on this post perhaps. 


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Three Types of Snitterfield Carp.

Monday 24th May, 06:00 - 21:00. Snitterfield reservoir. 13>26>16C. Light NW. Sunny.

The target for my day was a Crucian carp point in our competition (4lb 9oz bag weight). Both Pete and Danny had given this a go at Snitterfield in recent days but had failed to get amongst them.

My day fell into two discrete parts.

Section 1 - After Crucians.

I was at the reservoir and fishing by just after six this morning. The dawn was amazing and the early cool air was welcome after the heat of the weekend. The peg I was fishing on the road bank was south facing but remained in the shadow until about eight o'clock as it has a steep bank behind it.

I fished down the edge with mainly paste on the hook under a pole float.

I could see one of Danny's roll-up butts on the floor of the peg from the day before and a huge turd in the long grass, I'm hoping the two were unrelated.

It took twenty minutes for my first proper bite but there was a crescendo of indications of fish in the swim before it came. Snitterfield is the venue of a thousand nibbles.

I fed pellet and slurried fishmeal particles sparingly (for me).

I bumped off the first four fish hooked and decided to change my hook pattern to one with a more pronounced 'u' shape as I felt the shallow bend of the paste hook I had on was the cause.

Next fish after the change was a......... bream. However the fish after that was a crucian.

This was quickly followed by two more giving me a three fish weight of 3lb 12oz.

I then went on to catch nothing but bream and the odd roach for about the next forty five minutes. My nerves were becoming on edge.

As the sun rose in the sky the day warmed quickly. My float was now in full sunlight as was most of the pool.

As quickly as they'd left they reappeared and I landed two more crucians in successive casts. I'd just come off the phone to Pete, warming him up to the situation and wanting to share my angst with someone.

So five crucians in all for 6lb 3ozs (1-1, 1-5, 1-6, 1-1, 1-6). Not monsters but job done between 06:30 and  08:07 - result!

Section Two - Pressure off. Go after the king carp.

Once I'd succeeded in bagging the crucian point my mind turned to the king carp in the lake as I had the whole day ahead of me. I did consider switching venues but had tuned my tackle for Snit and the place was so alive with fish I could find no real reason to move.

At first I tried a zig rig for cruising carp and stepped-up the margin rod and bait to try down the edge for the bigger fish but the sun continued to rise and the temperature soared and I was soon hot, bothered and bored without action.

Owen the bailiff came round and I had a good catch up with him for twenty minutes or so. I explained I was now focusing on the king carp today and he commended the dam wall to me as a likely place for them given the heat and wind direction.

I took a walk around the lake after he'd gone and did spy two carp very close in by the pier. In addition to the carp there were thousands of roach and rudd on the surface spanning at least five year classes. Thankfully I'd bought half a loaf of bread with me so I nipped back to the car to fetch it and armed myself with a stalking outfit to try for the carp.

There were four other fisherman present by this time and so when stalking the fish on the dam wall required me to first creep and crawl up behind the solitary hawthorn bush and then for me to practically sit in it I could here the stifled guffaws. If I'm objective about it I must have looked like a total prat, but do you know what? I'm passed caring what I look like when there are large carp at my feet.

Come fry with me, let's fry, let's fry away.

I caught a carp from the dam pretty quickly however and the singing pin made me feel a little less self conscious when the next group of fish I stalked required me to lay completely flat to the dam wall and do an impression of one of the modified pallets used as fishing platforms. Thankfully both ruses resulted in a screaming reel.

I plucked out five king carp for 43lbs in weight after shape-shifting into various backgrounds during the red heat of the day. Here's a few:



At three o'clock and now feeling a little fried 'n' wobbly by the heat, a long fish slurped down the carefully presented bread from the surface. It was obvious once hooked that this was a good fish and something different to the other carp I'd caught. It's runs were incredibly pacey and startlingly long. It took forty yards off the reel in a flash at the outset. It stayed deep and I only really saw it five minutes into the fight. It looked chub-like in shape and I realised I had one of the grass carp the ressy holds.

It weighed 18lb 2ozs and is my pb for the species.


........nnnnnnnnnnnnng and in mint nick.
After the kerfuffle of the grass carp capture all of the other fish moved well out of the windward margin and into the middle out of casting range.

I finished the evening off experimenting with the sub-float zig rig and was pleased with the results. I now have a little belief in the method.

Like my old mate Ice Cube used to say to me, 'Keith' he said, 'Today Was a Good Day'.

Zig Rig.

Here are the current scores, although Jeff's looking likely to crack the silver bream conundrum any day now and both Danny and Pete now know how to approach the Snitterfield crucians.

I get the feeling this competition will be won in the months of June and July.


Sunday, 23 May 2010

ps. The Middle Avon's Looking Good Too!

Sunday 23rd May, 08:10 - 09:00. College Pool Wasperton before a work party. 18C Sunny.

I spent an hour at college pool before todays work party and had three carp off the top.

The work party was most enjoyable - strimming the long grass on the river and readying it for the new season.

Looking as good as it's younger upstream sections the middle Avon wore the same colour scheme but had elements of enhanced scale.


Saturday, 22 May 2010

Upper Warks Avon in Late Spring Never Fails to Astound.

After the winter we've just had (remember that!?), with temperatures staying in the low single figures right up until the last week of the fishing season, it's always reassuring to return to the river and confirm the fish made it through. It never amazes me the contrast two months and a little insolation can generate.

Today is a scorcher, and the fragrant hawthorn has been out for a week filling hollows with perfume in the mornings until the breeze lifts and disperses the concentrated scents. I've been breathing them in every morning on my commute to work.

There's some long grass at the back of my house and this morning when I got the car out the hawthorn and ground elder mingled and flashed me back directly onto the river bank. A strong call from the river imploring me not to forget. A memory so striking and intense I could shut my eyes and transport myself there.

River fishermen have had to be satisfied with still water mistresses of late but the never ending march of time,  date and the nettles signifies the approach of a new season.

To be honest I had no spare time this morning. Kids opticians, jobs at home and a birthday lunch appointment lined up like big kids in a game of British bulldog preventing me from reaching the other side. I smashed an impromptu hole in the schedule.

This is one of those posts where the photos my hardware is capable of capturing is never going to do the experience justice. Holding my polaroids in front of the lens I managed to capture a few subsurface shots.

I'm going to waste no effort in trying to describe the surroundings which greeted me as another injustice would be done.

Suffice to say I saw separate groups of seven, four and three barbel and endless good chub. Gudgeon, minnows and fry were in the warm shallows. The weed is the most piercing green and the gravel is clean and rich.

It's all still there fellas, get out and see it!

Ground Elder

A classic upper Avon ''run and dump' into a clear pool stuffed with chub.

Trying to remember where the weed beds are for high water reference.

Look closely, a barbel feeds.

Barbel and chub.

Chub and barbel.

What a difference a few months make.

It's down there somewhere.


Thursday, 20 May 2010

Ruddy Fantastic

Tuesday 18th May, 16:00 - 21:00. Disused golf course with Danny. Warm 16C, light SW.

The target for a rudd point in our fishing challenge is 4lb 10ozs. Reading about both Sean and Jeff’s results after fishing the set of pools on disused land on the outskirts of Coventry I arranged to give them a go myself.

My plan went a bit crumbly round the edge when first Jeff said he couldn’t make it and then I had a meeting at work which was scheduled to finish after five. As it happened Jeff gave me good directions to the Rudd pool, the meeting finished a little early and then Danny managed to join me later on. He swaggered up with his brand-fire new, cutting edge pound shop Chinese made bamboo pole. He’s such a tackle tart!

I was fishing by four o'clock on the dot and soaked up the suns warmth like a sponge.

I didn’t know quite what to expect of the pool and so played safe and set up a pole float on my long float rod and centrepin reel with light line, intending to fish it whip style but with the insurance of a running line should anything larger grab hold.

The warm weather of late is working its magic and the pool was greener and more inviting than Jeff’s description from just a few weeks ago. Iris pointed skywards and there was a wealth of other marginal weed in the edge. I saw newts and tadpoles amongst the weeds. The immediate surroundings were pretty sparse and there was the ever-present edge to the place which I’ve come to associate with any free fishing near a conurbation.

The only disruption to the uniform breeze-riffled surface of the pool was an occasional roll or bow wave from one of the small head of carp, or the infrequent scattering of small fish from an unseen threat.

I saw one of the carp clearly under the surface later on. It was a common of about eight pounds and looked in good condition.

I sat low and fed liquidised bread, red maggots and a little hemp. As the session wore on I dropped all feed other than a trickle of maggots.

First cast a Rudd.

Second cast a Rudd.
Third cast a Rudd.
Things blur.

I tried to keep a running weight total but lost count after twenty minutes at two pounds eleven.

I chatted with a large group of lads who briefly fished the other end of the pool and also two guys doing the rounds on a motor cross bike. They were helpful and told me about the other lakes, the fish in each and where the biggest fish lived.

I tried larger baits on the hook but found I couldn’t discriminate in favour of the better fish with any of the variations I tried. I settled into a rhythm of a single red on the hook and a steady half dozen grubs every twenty seconds and found the smaller fish fell away and the larger fish came to the fore - probably a result of feeding-off the smaller ones.

I also tried a soft rubber red maggot on the hook and found I could catch with that too.

Rudd on a rubber maggot.
After two hours constant action and after Danny had arrived I thought I’d done enough and so weighed in - 9lbs 9ozs of pristine Rudd.

9lbs 9ozs of Rudd.

I then spent the last couple of hours sitting with Danny chatting and trickling in maggots for him whilst he fished for rudd and I had an exploratory go for any large perch that might inhabit the pond.

 Tres enjoyables.

Here are the current scores:


Monday, 17 May 2010

Short and Tall Stories

Sunday 16th May, 10:30 - 12:00. Oxford canal at Cathiron. 16C and sunny. Light NW.

During a few sherries with my fishing pals on Friday night the conversation eventually turned to angling. When I say eventually, I think the topic might just have cropped up before any of us even sat down.

The claims, counter claims, boasts and assertions grew taller as the evening progressed and our spirits soared, but it was a story much shorter in stature which Danny recounted that caught my imagination. He said whilst fishing on the canal when a little younger his float kept drifting up against the brickwork of a bridge due to the constant shifting of water, and that whilst up against the bricks he'd caught a number of ruffe or miller's thumb. I can't quite remember which species he said as I was er...... distracted, yes distracted, at the time. As he said this my brain lurched into action and I made the appearance-based connection between the small spiky creatures of the canal and the gobys of the seaside rock pools I spent hours hunting as a kid. What he said made real sense.

Saturday was mostly spent wondering whether the noise children made was usually that piercing or whether I was for some reason more susceptible to it that day.

Sunday a plan was hatched.

My eldest and I rode out the six miles to the canal past Brinklow. I had the top two sections of a whip, a fine bristled sliver of a pole float and a few red maggots with me.

We gave the first spot we came to a go and I fished right up against the bank. It was around forty centimetres deep down the edge.

Not much upholstery on that seat.

I fish. She takes the pictures.

Assorted boaters and dog walkers looked at me first, then like they felt sorry for my daughter.

No bites in the first spot. Back on the bikes and 'To a bridge!' was the cry.

We found three likely looking bridges in close proximity to each other clustered around the newly constructed Brinklow marina. No bites here either but some lovely brickwork!

At the third spot and entrance to the marina I had my head decorated. One captain of the waves commended me on my 'fishing helmet'. Sea-dog!

I didn't have a bite in the fourth spot either but still reckon the theory holds water.

I haven't fished this stretch of canal since I was a kid but with my new found appreciation for zander am certain the marina and entrance will be worth a go once the new infrastructure has had chance to settle in.


Thursday, 13 May 2010

Hello Tiger!

Tuesday 11th May, 09:00 - 20:30. Stockton reservoir with Jeff Hatt. 6>12>7C. Light NNE but cold!

Twas the night before fishing, and all through the house,
Jobling's stirring up buckets of seeds and liquidized dog muesli in various proportions and in huge quantities in his garage.

On the left we have method mix, on the right - particulates.
I prepared ten litres of method mix using liquidised vitalin, pellet crumb, halibut pellet, particles, chili powder and salt.

The looser particles had seeds, some tigers, small halibut pellet, salt, chili powder, liquid betaine and liquid molasses.

We arrived at Stockton to find a twenty peg match about to get underway. Although this lead to fewer car park spaces than normal there were still plenty of pegs available on the reservoir.

The wind had been northerly and north-easterly for the past week and notwithstanding the cooler temperatures I had the far end of the lake in my minds eye, hoping the fish would move on the wind and away from the disturbance of the match on the board walk (pegs 1-20).

I hoped the NE would funnel the fish to us.
We walked the long way round the lake to the most southerly swims so as not to disturb the matchmen. Despite Jeff's offer of assistance from his free hand I was determined to carry all my own bait buckets and containers. A fisherman should be a self-sufficient beast of burden if nothing else. Partially strangled by shoulder straps and with my grip fading in both hands under a ton of bait we settled into two very likely looking swims in the lakes appendix.

Early doors up windward end and the sun was warm on my face.

Jeff's swim looked really fishy.
I put out a method feeder towards the tree line on the opposite bank. The sploosh as it hit the water offended my senses so much it was laughable. It's like lobbing half a house brick out. Art-less. But I was in the market for a king carp point in our fishing challenge and despite not being suited to sitting behind a rod on an alarm I was happy for this rod to play a sleeper role whilst I focused on a float on the second rod.

Within a few minutes of casting the method ball was receiving attention and on about the fourth cast it produced a carp of eight and a half pounds. I fluffed a take on the third cast forgetting I had to turn the reel handle to engage the drag before picking the rod up!

As the day progressed the cloud built up overhead and we had smatterings of rain. Talk about blowing hot and cold. When the sun came out and the wind dropped it was more than pleasant, when the cloud came over and the wind whipped up it was properly chilly.

Although I caught pretty consistently to the method rod all day it was in fits and starts. For example two fish within fifteen minutes followed by an hour of nothing. I suffered a number of false dawns when I thought things would 'take off' only to find they faded to nothing again shortly afterwards. I put this down to the iffy weather. Catch this place on the tail end of a week of south westerlies and it will produce all day long.

I tried 15mm and 10mm boilies on the method rod but found a tiger nut converted the most interest into a run.

As a total aside I have a hobby horse objection to runs on self-hooking rigs being referred to as 'bites' by carp anglers. In my world a bite is an indication on a tip or float caused by a fish taking the bait into it's mouth. A bite by definition can be 'missed' and requires a strike. A screaming run is not a bite, it's a fish that's hooked itself and is tear-arseing off across the lake. It also doesn't require a strike. I am a little perturbed when I see anglers picking up a screamer and striking into it hard, I think there's just no need.

I found a tiger nut the most effective bait with my method mix.

The sky produced some great light and shade contrasts in the afternoon but believe me it was cold without the sun!

I'll let Jeff tell you about his day, but when the chance arose I took some little before seen action shots of the crack photographer landing his fish.

Jeff's lost his Hat!!
I fished red maggot over particles close in on the float rod and had a steady procession of roach throughout the day. These were interspersed with occasional perch and rudd. As the afternoon wore on the margin came alive with carp and although hooking four under the float each time the hook slipped. Two of the four were certainly foul hooked but the other two were lost due to either brute force on the fishes part or the sanctuary of a nearby wooden platform.

I had my ever-present 10ft Shakespeare wand with me and gave that a go with a light cage feeder for a few hours in the middle of the day. Once again the sensitive tip illuminated movements in the swim but only one proper bite resulted. Now I've used this rod a few times I have become skilled at discerning liners from the bites.

I landed eight carp for just over forty five pounds on the method rod and also a  still water chub. The biggest carp went eleven pounds.

To be honest the most pervasive memory from the day was the mouth damage to one of the carp I caught. The damage was fresh and I'm almost certain it resulted from my capture. The damage took the form of a slit to the left side of the fishes mouth. The fish was landed on the method rod and was hooked on the inside left of the mouth and so I could see how the damage could have occurred during the fight. As I've said before I don't regularly use modern carp tactics and can honestly say I've never even suspected I might be the cause of such damage to a fish before. It didn't feel good and I will seek to make the necessary rig adjustments in future to eliminate this. The fish themselves are the ultimate source of all enjoyment in our sport and we each have a duty to return them to the water unharmed and in the same condition they were before they slipped up.

I recall Jeff too was subjected to an eye-watering moment during this session but once again I'll leave it to his discretion whether or not to disclose the painful story.

To lighten the mood somewhat I'll conclude by relating Jeff's appeasement strategy with two disruptive swans which took a serious liking to the floating seeds emitted from my particle mix and which were unfortunately being blown downwind into his swim.

Jeff took direct action by walking a few hundred yards up the bank holding a slice of bread. The swans dutifully followed him of course, sensing the free scoff. Once Jeff had broken the bread and the swans had fed (no wine in this ceremony) he returned to his peg. A sound peace-offering you might think. I've done you a favour now do me one in return and leave me in peace for half an hour eh?

Rule No. 1 : Never feed a bloody swan.

Of course now the swans now considered Jeff to be a member of their own family. A giver of food.  Flesh and blood if you will.

And in essence that was the end of that. They followed his every movement until packing up time like devoted disciples.

Jeff's new bezzy mates.
Nil points betwixt but an almost entirely enjoyable day.