Sunday, 20 February 2011

Choosing Your Moment.

Thursday 17th February, the Avon at Wasperton. 16:00 - 19:00. 8C, light E.

A blindingly obvious aspect of this years bloggers fishing challenge has become clear to me: it's about catching big fish.

[Our competition is one of percentage of record weight, so convert the weight of your biggest fish for each species into a percentage of the record and add 'em all up at the end to see who wins.]

Although catching a wide variety of species is enough to build a par score there aren't enough gold dust species -  ones others just might not catch - e.g. catfish, grass carp, silver bream, grayling, to rely upon to win the day. Sheer diversity is in my opinion not enough. To win this thing there will have to be a few special fish on your score card.

There is of course the bonus fifty percent up for grabs at the end of the year but to count on that is just Russian roulette. In good time we can disclose the criteria for these bonus points but for now we must remain tight-lipped and clenched.

This revelation is forcing me to adopt a two tier approach to my fishing. Tier one is just to catch something of everything and that is by far the most enjoyable task. I've become quite partial to a day on a commercial, wading through mid-double carp in recent years, and am looking forward to that day again this year but I suspect catching  mid-double carp is well within the capability of all of the excellent anglers this year.

Tier two is to try and catch something truly special for at least a handful of the species, and this one is starting to get to me. You see it's almost March and although I've been on the water quite a bit of late I've yet to catch anything I'd consider truly special. If I cast my mind back to last year I'd say I had two special fish. The first was an eighteen pound grass carp from the ressy and the second was a catfish from a midlands gravel pit. The year before was different - two six pound chub and a fifteen pound barbel are highlights in my memory.

The big fish mentality is getting to me because I know how quickly time flies when you're chasing the biggies. You could spend a whole year after a thirty pound carp, a three pound crucian, a one pound dace, a six pound chub and not come close.  There is often a lot of waiting and not a lot of action when chasing monsters.

To this end I've resolved to focus my big fish activities on the species I'm good at - and which are worth the most! - and to enjoy the par building days for what they are. If you can deliberately lower your expectations for a trip then you will be far more likely to enjoy things and not be disappointed. Going out expecting the magnificent on each session is a recipe for despondency.

So this is where venue selection comes in. In midweek and whilst dusk is still coming early I'm starting to choose venues where on one rod I can cement par whilst on the second I can play the lottery. If I played the lottery on both rods all week every week my numbers might never have been drawn this time next year.

On high days and holidays however I will put my big fish head on and be prepared to wait for something special to come along.

Last Thursday evening I was at Wasperton. I started with maggots on one feeder rod and persisted with pellets on a lasso on the second. Both fished and baited a line two thirds across.

The maggot rod didn't stop jiggling until sunset, but all I could connect with was a small roach. There were hundreds of small fish topping across the river and I saw two predator strikes on them on the surface.

I had a pike of two pounds seven ounces (fair and square in the chops) on a pellet.

And then as the sun sank I had an incrementally weighty bream of five pounds eight ounces.

Once the sun had sank I moved the maggot rod across to a different bait......

Can you tell what it is yet...?

Warums my loverly.

These two fish poked my nose ahead once again on the score card.


Saturday, 12 February 2011

Summer Comes Early.

Saturday 12th February, 09:00 - 18:00. Stratford town then Stockton reservoir. Sunny with the odd cloud. Moderate SW. 8>11>6C.

It didn't take me long to fall asleep last night. A combination of the working week with its early starts, uneventful evening fishing trips, and Friday evening chasing monster perch all took their toll.

I had a plan for Saturday at Stratford. I would spend the morning roach fishing on the pole by the theatre and then by way of a diversion would join Pete on the weirs for an afternoon, roach fishing .

I was on the scene by nine but wasn't the first on the bank, three other anglers were already fishing. I put out a red maggot under my pole and whilst the sun was low I caught some roach. Nothing much of note though.

I droppered in liquidised bread and some maggots to avoid catching the swans attention.

By ten the sun was well up and with it my sport slowed almost to a stop in the clear water. The gents fishing upstream of me were faring considerably better fishing out mid river with a waggler into deeper water, presumably it was darker and safer for the fish out there.

As the tourist crowds continued to build I started to get 'the feeling'. It's a feeling which my mate Pete (who was now fishing down on the weirs) has trouble comprehending. It happens when I can see a fishing day going downhill and can't think of a way of turning it around...... without upping sticks and changing venue.

Pete had reported four other anglers down on the weir section, leaving little room, and so even though I fancied a move I couldn't muster enough enthusiasm for the remaining free spots. Push came to shove when the guy upstream had his roach taken by a pike and a watching crowd started to gather instantaneously. For the first time in a while Stratford was getting on my nerves.


I walked down to see Pete and have a catch up but by one o'clock I'd decamped and was fishing again at Stockton. The number of fish and size of roach I'd had here on my last visit was enough to pull me back.

I put out a cage feeder and red maggot and added some ground pellet to my bread groundbait mix. I tend not to use pellet in my bait for uneducated roach but I reasoned the fish in Stockton would have seen enough fishmeal to acquire the taste.

Bites were slow to start off with but I had a few roach in the first hour. I changed my hook a couple of times, trying to find a pattern thin enough of gauge and sharp of point to prick well when used in conjunction with the soft tip.

Amongst the roach I caught two chub (biggest ~2lbs), more than Pete was to have all day on the river.

Then out of the blue (lias) came a small rudd of 6ozs.

The wind had now dropped and I folded back the hood on my coat and could feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I started furtively looking at the margins and wondering whether the carp would be moving into them yet. A sure sign things are warming.

To add to the unseasonal fishing feel a plump one pound seven ounce crucian carp followed the rudd.

1lb 7oz Stockton Crucian.

And then to finish off my February summer species trio I had a small mirror carp of 2lb.


Others have been catching well in our % of Record Weight Challenge this year. Here are the scores:

Now where to go tomorrow?


Saturday, 5 February 2011

River Sowe Chub.

Sunday 30th January, 14:15 - 17:00. River Sowe Ernesford Grange. Sunny, 5C.

After a busy weekend away visiting my mate in St. Evenage [that's Stevenage to you and me] and prior to an evening out at The Stanton, Coventry's finest social club which has Cobra on tap and great Indian food, I squeezed a small amount of time onto a small river hoping for a big roach.

I'd recce'd this stretch the week before whilst my son swam at the nearby school and was keen to give it a try.

The first spot was a pool on a bend.

I fed mashed bread and red maggots very lightly and after twenty minutes had a couple of bites, the second of which resulted in a small chub.

Now I know it's tiny but I'm well chuffed with this fish, it put a big smile on my face.

I tried a couple more spots and caught another slightly bigger chub on a piece of bread.

I started getting bites immediately after casting into one such spot. Unfortunately without a roach expert on hand I was left wondering whether the plucks I was receiving and missing were from small chub or finicky roach.

Whatever they were they'll keep.


Friday, 4 February 2011

Dace And Roach On The Waggler.

Friday 28th January, 08:30 - 14:00. Warks Avon at Warwick. 1C > 3C. N breeze.

The omens were against me at the start of this bright cold day.

I somehow snapped the tip off my originally 14ft, more recently 13ft 8", and now subsequently 13ft  float rod. Oaf!

I clipped off the bit of blank with my pliers which was protruding beyond the last eye and set up a 2AA waggler.

Out went a pouchful of reds and a small ball of liquidised bread with stewed hemp.

Second cast, I caught the tree above the peg and lost my hooklength. Calm.

My float set up was simple, just two bulk shot with three no.8's six inches apart by the hook but the fishing was surprisingly technical.

Firstly there was the cast. An overhanging branch on the peg meant it had to be punched out with minimal elevation to avoid being caught up. [FAO the bailiff: It would be a 45 min job with my chainsaw to remove all trace of said branch.]

Secondly the flow. I was fishing two thirds over into about eight feet depth and the nearside was the faster water. This meant that frequent line mends were required to avoid a belly of line building up and the bait being dragged unnaturally speedily downstream.

Thirdly the wind. A Northerly downstream breeze meant even more mending as soon as the float hit the water.

Finally ice in the rod rings. This required clearing with my warm fingers about every five casts until eleven a.m. when the air temperature rose sufficiently to alleviate the problem. Left in place on the rings it grabs hold of the mono and turns the mainline into a pigtail.

The fishing however was worth the effort. I had my first bite on the second cast and became worried if I had two runs down thereafter without a bite.

I caught seventy seven fish in this session, a mixture of dace and roach, say 70:30.

Hoping to improve on my dace weight I was only a little disappointed when the largest fish of the day went five and a half ounces.

I've invested in some new scales to weight the smaller species accurately but that's another story.

Time to go home:

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Napton Gamble.

Thursday 27th January, 16:15 - 18:45. Napton Reservoir with Jeff Hatt. Stiff NE wind 2C - v. cold.

I realise that the length my posts on here have become shorter of late. I'll explain why.

The primary reason is I'm doing so much fishing it's becoming a struggle to cast my mind back into the fog of previous outings. Things which made me laugh or think hard on sorties past are now long forgotten and I'm relying mainly on photos as prompts. I may have to start taking a notebook with me if I maintain this fishing frequency so that I can record some diversionary passages, otherwise I fear I might actually bore one of you to actual death. Let's hope Blogger's public liability insurance covers such an event.

The increased fishing frequency has endowed another revelation: If the fishing's crap, go home, you'll no doubt get another chance tomorrow night.

Before when I was out only once a week I'd stay to the bitter end of every session determined to make the most of my time. Now time is less of an issue for me staying till the bitter end is far less.....compelling.

On the plus side of this is I spend less time in the freezing cold in January. On the minus side, if plan A isn't working I might call it a day rather than putting plan B into action and trying to turn things around.

There will have been only ten days in January on which I didn't fish. I doubt that number will be greater than five come June.

As a diversion from Chub and Roach on the river Jeff and I went to Napton chasing the dream of a three pounder or maybe even an early season tench.



J.Hatt esq. joins the 20th Century.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A Pleasant Evening Chubbing.

Tuesday 25th January, 15:30 - 17:30. The Plough AS. 6C, NE wind and showers.

I'm currently seeking a dog-headed log of a chub from the Warks Avon and even though I'm now catching regularly I can't seem to find the larger fish to contribute further to my score in this years % of record weight challenge with fellow fishing writers.

This evening is a case in point. Three chub on the bank for just a couple of hours fishing but they went ~2lb, 2lb 14oz and 4lb 3oz.

If recollection serves then the time between now and the end of the river season holds an ever increasing chance of a big one as the world warms its way towards spring.

Must try harder.

4lb 3oz

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Stratford's Elusive Roach.

Monday 24th Jan, 16:00 - 19:00. Stratford Upon Avon town water peg one. River at normal level.

A guy was packing his gear into his car and changing clothes at the end of his fishing day just as I was unloading.

We chatted for a few minutes and he said he'd done well with good roach on peg one by the boat club. Not far out. Stret-pegging bread. He mentioned a large predator which had swiped at his fish a few times during the afternoon.

I happened to have a bucket of mashed bread and a deadbait rod with me and so quickly settled onto the concrete bank next to a small pile of bread crumbs which gave away his position.

I cast a light feeder gently out, approximating the range he'd mentioned.

The deadbait rod I cast to mid river and pointed the tip up in the air so my dead bait was suspended off the bottom.

A couple of trembles to bread and a three pound chub were the only reward this evening.

 I engaged with a swan at one point but thankfully the line eventually came free.

One benefit of fishing up here by the theatre is that you can pick a street light on the far side and cast to it, ensuring accurate baiting.

I use a rear pole roller tripod as a rod rest on the concrete banks up here.