Monday, 14 September 2015

Late Season Tench

With just a few hours spare it was only going to be a quick visit, however it would be good to familiarise myself with the lake once again now the Autumn had arrived.  

I used my usual tactics, a spread of boilie, helicopter rigs and a critically balanced bait on the hair.  The day in question saw blazing sunshine, a real Indian summer few days were on the cards.  I climbed a nearby tree to hopefully spot a few fish, however I saw nothing moving and saw no movement in the shallows just to my right.  I decided to sit it out on my known spots that produced in the summer.

After a couple of hours just gone midday, with the sun at its highest and hottest my rod tore off and the alarm alerted me to a vicious take.  The weed at this time of year was very thick and twice the fish found sanctuary causing me to keep the pressure on and slowly pull the fish through, eventually a pretty tench around 4 1/2 pounds was safely in the net.

The fish was in great condition after spawning and obviously feeding again in preparation for the colder months ahead.  The tench was returned and I recast the rod.  I didnt have to wait long within 15 minutes I was into my second fish which turned out to be another lovely looking Tench in the 4lb bracket.  A brace of fours in the blazing heat, in the middle of the day, you just never know with this fishing lark!

The dragonflys were in abundance and I did manage to capture a courting couple that sat still for a few seconds.  

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Time for Tench

This Spring and early Summer has seen me tackling a stillwater that sees very little angling pressure and because of this I started a baiting campaign a few weeks prior to fishing.  It is a very weedy venue and finding clear spots can be tricky however a few hours spent with the marker rod I soon had the venue mapped out.

My prebaiting consisted of boilies only, the reliable Charwood Baits MPP.  As the venue also holds perch and silver fish I wanted to create feeding areas for the tench.   I stuck with the helicopter rig as this venue has silt and soft mud on the bottom.  I have had a handful of sessions on the venue in the last month with reasonable success.

My first session I decided to target a shallower area of the lake and and with just an hour of my session left I hooked and landed the biggest tench to fall from the venue this season, at 6lb 8oz she was real plump beautiful tench.

The next time I visited the lake I targetted a different area however I didnt have to wait long for another take, this time a battered looking male around 4lb put in an appearance.

The best was yet to come and although a repeat capture and obviously preparing to spawn was a fish of 6lb 14oz.  It was part of a 5 fish haul in a few hours and was a very enjoyable session.  I also lost another tench to the weed that managed to shed the hook.

All the fish have fallen to Charwood MPP boilie and the helicopter rig and quite often during the middle of the day. 

 I felt I got the prebaiting tactics correct and it paid dividends on my short sessions.  Im sure the fish will be looking to spawn over the next few weeks as the weather warms which falls in nicely with the start of the river season.  I am hoping to improve on both my barbel and chub pbs this season with a couple of different stretches to target.  

Small fish attacking a discarded pop up

My lack of fishing sessions this year, have coincided with me finally completing the remaining chapters of my first ebook Fishing The Dream, which will be available to download in the next month.  It covers a 12 month period of my fishing some years ago when I managed several pbs including pike, tench, roach, bream, catfish, zander also dozens of big carp from some famous fisheries.  It will include tactics, characters I met along the way and my experiences of my time on the bank.  Keep an eye for it on Amazon shortly.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Spring Carp

As I drove through the gated entrance of this nearby day ticket venue, I was greeted with an array of Crocus in various colours.  This pretty flower is often given as a mothers day gift as it emerges in late winter, early spring and is a sign of longer, milder days. Officially, according to the UK meteorologists the last day of February sees the end of winter, so I suppose my winter campaign on that chosen venue is over. 

My aim during the spring and summer is to fish 2 different venues, both day ticket, in search of larger carp and I have set myself a target on the number of twenties I would like to land during that time.  I do not normally set targets in numbers of fish, however, I am relishing the challenge.   The last time I set such a challenge was 10 years ago whilst fishing a Linear syndicate with good success, I go into great detail about this in my ebook "Fishing The Dream" which will be available for download in the coming months.

The staff at this venue are always helpful and after a chat I chose my swim, the lad then pointed out that I could drive directly to it, bonus, no need to use the barrow.  The swim I chose had access to deep and shallower water with some tempting margin features.  Regular readers of my blog will already know that my favourite type of carping is at close range, fishing to overhanging trees, reeds etc.   Alot of anglers avoid the margins and prefer to cast at range believing all the carp are holed up in the middle, im sure some might be, but certainly not all!  In this session I adopted 2 tactics, I chose a margin feature and baited up sparingly and left it for 2 hours.  During those two hours I would cast the rods around at regular intervals to various features to see if I can find out where the carp are feeding or receive any line bites.  

The only sign of carp in those first 2 hours was when a single carp head and shouldered near a dead patch of lillies on the far bank.  I walked around the lake, threw in a half a dozen of the Charwoods MPP boilie and then cast to this feature and decided to leave the rod there for a while.

The other rod was now cast to my prebaited spot on the edge of the nearside reeds and did not take long to give me my first fish of the session.  The hook bait had only been positioned there for 10 minutes when the alarm screamed out and I played a strong carp away from the thick reed bed.  The water was obviously still cold and this reflected in the fight, the carp plodded and never really troubled me once he was in open water.  
At over 13lb it was my first fish from the lake on my first visit and it came from 4 feet of water.  I introduced a few more MPP boilies and recast, sat back and had my own lunch.
The Charwoods MPP boilie has served me well through the winter and its a bait I am sticking with 12 months of the year.  With its candy like aroma and good nutritional value, as soon as you open the bag you want to stick one on your hair.  They are a good food source all year round and have caught fish from the very first time a venue has seen them.  For more information look up Charwood Baits on facebook or follow the link above.
 A cold wind sprang up in the afternoon which made it feel wintry once again.  The wind punished the left hand bank rustling through the lifeless reed stems sending a firm ripple across the lake.  The afternoon remained quiet, no showing carp, no liners.  

Two other anglers turned up mid afternoon to fish a night session. Sure enough it was not long before single hook baits were sent flying out to the middle of the lake, directly in front of my swim, just as well I was fishing the margins!  This is the drawback with day ticket venues, they can become busy even early in the season and although each swim has a sign with your fishing areas marked on them, they are not always adhered to!
Above all this, there is a reason why I keep returning to carp fishing and that is the stunning variety of carp you have the pleasure of catching.  At over 13lb, its far off the venues best however it was a cracking looking fish from a lake I had not fished before, that has to be a result.
Over the coming months I will go into more detail on my boilie only approach for carp, my preference to use glugs in the warmer weather and more in-depth look at margin fishing.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Royal Piking

Blenheim Palace has produced some special days for Dad and myself, it is the venue both our personal best pike have come from with the Old Mans being a fish of over 28lb.  We have fished it regular over the last 15 years, however due to family commitments we have not visited the water for about 2 years.  This was a couple of days fishing I was looking forward to.

As always we had booked into a B&B and arrived the night before the first days fishing.  We collected the keys to the room and made out way up the stairs to our room!  I'm surprised they did not provide a Sherpa to carry our gear, talk about in the rafters, I was half expecting oxygen masks in the room when we arrived, it was a lot of narrow stairs!  After our recovery we were soon in the local and enjoying a couple of cold beers.

The morning was cold and frosty as we loaded the rods into the van then made our way into the estate park that Capability Brown designed in the 18th century.  The Palace is steeped in history including being the birth place of Sir Winston Churchill.  The gardens are magnificent and you experience a taste as you walk from the car park to the boat house and pass the impressive fountains.

There were only 2 other boats on the lake when we arrived and chose boat number 17 for no particular reason.  Our tactics were deadbaiting and lure fishing so hopefully covering most situations.  It was great to be afloat again on this magnificent venue and we gently rowed to our first swim an overhanging tree just down from the boat house.  Our tactics would be to cast our deadbaits towards any bankside features for patrolling pike and then chuck the lure 360 degrees searching for pike, it is a tactic that has provided us with many memorable days at Blenheim.  
The fishing over the last few years, according to other fishing blogs and forums has notquite lived up to its reputation and that is another reason why we have not rushed back, however if you want to find out how a venue is fishing then it is always best to check it out for yourself for peace of mind.

It certainly was a slow start, we searched each area thoroughly with the lures and our floats on the deadbait rods remained motionless after fishing four different swims.  We tried a deeper area of the lake and again after sending our lures to various parts of the lake, stopped for a bit of  lunch.  Whilst eating a sandwich I noticed a red kite circling above, I reached for the camera, I managed alot of photos of the blue sky, not realising how much of a challenge photographing a circling bird of prey would be from a rocking boat! 
We then witnessed the kite fold in its wings and steadily swoop in between the trees onto the ground, a quick rip of its beak it was soon back in the air with a small mammal in its talons, which it proceeded to eat on the wing before the resident gulls mobbed it to no avail.  Its these experiences that I appreciate when out angling, its nature in full effect.
We rowed towards the Grand Bridge where the water is a lot shallower around 3-4 feet hoping the pike might be feeding or preparing to spawn.  The deadbait was cast towards the structure of the bridge which shadowed us in all its splendour.  The old saying "location, location, location" rang true as within 3 minutes of the bait settling it was taken, the float sailed away and I struck into what was obviously a jack pike, however on a slow day all pike are welcome.
The pike took a Gadda Baits Bluey with the head cut off for maximum attraction.  We fished on for another hour in this spot hoping that more pike would fall to our tactics however they did not so we decided to row back towards the boat house stopping every 50 yards to cast our lures.

It seemed as if the recent reports and forums were correct and perhaps Blenheim has seen better days with regards to its predator fishing.  Over 2 days fishing between us we would normally land a double or two or at least several jacks.  We discussed this over a few pints that night and decided we would fish the "arm" tomorrow, an area of about 5-6 feet of water, a place where the pike retreat to spawn.

The next morning, carrying slightly fuzzy heads, we had renewed confidence as I took to the oars and headed directly for the arm, passing the deep water we had fished the previous day.  We were in our third spot of the day half way up the arm when the Old Man had a merciless take on his shad.  A spirited pike of similar size to the one I caught, had brutally swallowed the lure which was deep in its throat. 

This is why it is important when piking to have the correct equipment, long nose pliers, long handled cutters and long traces even when lure fishing.  The pike was unhooked and returned quickly to the water.
As the fishing was slow going I had plenty of time to photograph the bird life that thrives on the palace grounds, which gave me a break from chucking the lures about.

Blenheim Palace will always hold a special place in my angling memories and we will return in the Autumn to have another go for the resident pike however as with many venues perhaps the best days are behind it, for now.  When you visit you will notice the dozens of cormorants that litter the trees over looking the lake, I would not be surprised if a lot of the prey fish have been decimated leaving the pike little to feed on, only time will tell.  

I would encourage anyone to visit this spectacular venue and have a go for the pike, bream or tench, the scenery is stunning, the wildlife abundant and more often than not the sun shines, tight lines.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Welsh Winter Grayling

The sun shone brightly as I made my way along the cycle path however the biting wind made it feel that spring was still a long way off.  I was on the banks of the River Taff in search of grayling that seem to have flourished over the years with my biggest, a fish of 2lb 9oz.  

Swim choice would be critical in such cold conditions, and like many other rivers over the years the swims change the banks erode due to high water and as I stepped onto the sandy banks, the swims looked alot different when I last fished here a few years ago.  I chose to fish an area that had fast running water which produced slightly slacker water on the near bank.  Grayling enjoy the feeling of water running over their backs.  I would fish the crease, where the fast and slacker water met.

The taff was once an industrial river running through mining villages and towns in the valleys before reaching Cardiff and at one stage ran black with coal waste supporting very little in the form of fish species.  Now the Taff is home to Barbel up to 18lb, big chub and also migratory fish.

It may not be as picturesque as the Wye or as intimate as the Monnow but what it lacks in beauty it makes up for in fishing.  I decided to use the maggot feeder today instead of the float as I only had a short session planned.  I rigged up a medium feeder rod, 5lb mainline with a 3lb hooklink and black cap feeder running on the line, fishing double maggot on the hook.

It didn't take long to build the swim up, I was casting every 2 minutes for the first half hour only filling the feeder half full with maggots and I was soon into my first fish and the familiar twisting and turning of a spirited Grayling fought all the way to the net.  The fish in the Taff average 14oz - 1lb so this was an average fish around the 1lb mark, a beautiful male with its large dorsal catching the bright sunlight.

Larger Grayling do not twist and turn when hooked and my third fish of the session pulled away strongly as I gave a little line as it entered the strong flow.  It was either a chub or a sizable Lady of the Stream.  It soon became obvious as the colourful dorsal fin broke the surface, I readied the net only for it to become entangled in a sunken branch, as I freed the mesh the Grayling swam around in the clear water and I prayed the hook wouldn't pull.  As I slid the net under her I could tell it was pushing the 2lb barrier.

At 1lb 14oz it was just short however it was still a splendid fish, I returned the fish as it swam away strongly.

One important fact to remember is Grayling are very delicate creatures and can take quite a while to recover, especially if deep hooked, even smaller fish.  I have in the past taken up to 10 minutes holding a grayling in the flow before they have swam away.  

The swim went quiet for a brief spell after that larger fish, however with constant casting the Grayling were soon back on the bait and I had a fish a cast for the last half hour of the session.  I did not count but I certainly had over 30 fish in just a few hours.  It was a very enjoyable session that kept me busy on a cold day when many other species would of not fed so v0raciously, the Grayling is a worthy target.

I will try and return before the end of the season and target a slightly larger fish.