Saturday, 7 January 2017

The first fish of 2017

It was 8c when I left home at  6.30am. This was a full 12c warmer than last week on my journey to the loch. Would the Pike feel inclined to bite in the balmy winter conditions?
Certainly a high teen, perhaps a 20? My best Pike so far regardless
Relying on the GoPro in low light isn't the best idea for great shots but it's better for the fish just leaving the camera running.

And another nice fish. Both fish took a Westin Monster Teez presented
on an Uli rig.
I'll take the positives from today but I did have a few problems, bait, batteries  and I also left my paddle at home. I didn't travel too far on the peddles without a back up. All things considered I'm happy though, think I'm just a bit rusty after some time off.
I'll update the hit list as I work my way through the year, this was a decent start to the challenge.

Monday, 2 January 2017

It’s been a while

I’ve been getting lazy from a fishing perspective over the last few months so decided enough was enough. I had my first launch of 2017 today in sub-zero conditions. I would love to report a few fish but unfortunately it was a blank session. My plan was to fish deadbaits and do some trolling with large lures for Pike. This was scuppered right from the start, after I rigged up my float rod I noticed the mono furring up somewhere along the first three eyes of the rod as it took the weight of rig. Yes, another cracked eye…

 Given that the water temperature was just above 5c this was probably the method that would have worked best. In hindsight, I should probably have set up my heavy lure rod with a deadbait, instead I decided to track down the areas with plenty of baitfish and spend my time with the lures around these spots.

There is a lot of barren water, some areas had some life. These are baitfish represented in traditional sonar also showing in structure scan. There may be one or two slightly larger fish in amongst the mainstay of small fish.
When you see marks like this you might expect the predators to be somewhere nearby. Especially given the acres of lifeless water covered while searching.
On traditional sonar you just see the mass return on the left. It is open to interpretation  but I suspect there are a few dour Perch underneath that tree shown on the right. I spent some time with the dropshot rod around one or two spots like this.  A few worms might have helped. You can see the shadow of the tree on the structure scan on the top right.
I fished pretty hard to no avail.
These Patagonia gloves worked really well as did my new Thermos Ultimate Flask. Along with new neoprene socks over my drysuit feet I wasn't bothered by the cold at all. Just as well really or I would have been up the road after a few hours. I'm certainly geared up for the cold weather, I just hope it's worth the effort at some point.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Four days in Sin City

We had a short trip to Las Vegas recently, it’s some place. Amongst the various shows, trips and fun we had a half day’s fishing booked on the Colorado River. The intention was to target Striped and Smallmouth Bass. Surprisingly, high winds put an end to that. Pretty disappointing really as I’ve no idea when I might be able to do this again. We did however get to the range (again) making the most of some other opportunities that might not come along anytime soon, or indeed at all. If you don’t agree with the current American policy/access to firearms don’t watch this video. Outside of the military, police units as well as the majority of other countries this was a one-time opportunity to shoot some classic weapons. Nothing more.

If you try it, just make sure you’re standing behind your wife when a guy you’ve never met before hands her .357 Magnum. Even more so when it was her idea to go there in the first place :0)

Four days in Sin City from Martin A on Vimeo.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Winter is here

Not having been fishing for about 6 weeks I was starting to get crabbit (grumpy for non Scots readers) I had planned a Grafham trip but the forecast for day one looked shaky for the kayak 15mph wind limit rule. Saturday looked fine but it was too far for me to travel for a single days fishing, so I decided the trip was off on Thursday morning. On checking the local forecast at 6am before setting off for yet another plan B trip I couldn’t resist having a look at Grafham. The forecast was now fine, the laptop was thumped shut and I was out the door 5 minutes later.

It was great to be back on the water, if nothing else it would be a shakedown on my new Lowrance Ti/Berley Pro combo. In my mini refit I had also added a Yakattack dogbone camera mount fitting this to the mast hole with RAM 1.5 inch wedge mount. One of the first things I noticed was the water temperature, the last time I was on here it was 16c, it was now 10c, winter is here! I then took a run over the first snag which I like to target, wow! The structure scan was impressive, it looked like a pencil drawing of a tree. When I sold my old unit I had posted it off to the new owner before realising that I hadn’t backed up my GPS marks. Initially I was annoyed about this but they were so easy to find again with this I needn’t have worried.

I picked up fish here and there, this one came from one of my marks which looks like a boulder field about 20ft square.

This one from a ridge that looked around 40ft long.
I probably ended the day in double figures but without any of the larger Perch I was attempting to target. What surprised me was the general lack of fish in this part of the loch.
When I woke up the next morning there had been a heavy overnight frost, my C-Tug was frozen to my Outback. The stove wouldn’t light so it was cold pasta for breakfast and ice cold water, not the hearty start to the day I had planned. The water temp was now 8c, the water level had also risen by about a 1.5ft due to a release of water upstream. I knew I was in for a tough day and as my mate Scott once put it, I was washing lures for most of the day. Large lures like Bulldawgs, small drop shot lures and shads- it was a balanced day in this respect.
All in it wasn’t a great couple of days fishing but the new kit worked well. I can’t say when I’ll be out next as the month ahead is busy. The weather, as ever will also play its part.


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Almost normal?

It’s been quiet recently, almost normal apparently, according to my wife. No fishing over the last month has meant I’ve been able to catch up with friends and do some things I’ve been putting off for a bit. I don’t see myself being back on the water for a couple of weeks yet either.

I made this mash up recently, wish Rodney had been with me on some of these trips. It's been a year since the accident, he's sadly missed.

Mash up from Martin A on Vimeo.
I’ve  also been doing a few things in the background, sold some gear I wasn’t using as well as my Lowrance to pay for a fancy new toy. Really looking forward to using this with side scan in the months ahead.
At the minute I’m waiting for some bits and pieces to arrive for a mini refit of my Outback. It’s rubbish  having to wait for the post to arrive from abroad, just couldn’t source what I needed in the UK. I should hopefully be good to go by mid-October.

On the whole I’ve had a decent enough year, really can’t complain. I didn’t set myself any objectives, just kind of drifted along.  Over what’s left of this year till the end of 2017 I’ll be looking at some tougher targets which should push me a bit.
I want to hit 5 from 7, Pike, Zander, Common Skate, Conger, Blue Shark, Bass or a specimen Perch. All from my kayak. I might allow myself a substitute if I don't fish for Bass, maybe a Tope. Other than the Perch and Pike I won’t be precious about the proportions of the others, but I won’t be lacking ambition on that front. Doing this from my Outback will mean a lot of travelling and a reliance on others to a point regarding involvement and planning.
To be updated over the months ahead with the best specimen (or any specimen in some cases)


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Solo down sarf

I’ve thought about going down to Grafham to fish for Zander for the last few years, so I decided I would just do it. The forecast looked great on Saturday, the full week ahead looked doable, so much so I changed my booking to four days. Monday morning came around it looked like two days- that’s what I got.

Things didn’t get off to a great start, tired from the journey it took me a little while to suss out a problem right at the start of my first day. It was either a cracked ceramic eye on a brand new rod or the same thing on my baitcaster. I bought that a year ago, this was its first trip out. 3 rigs and a lost fish later the rod was put away in disgust. Can’t say I enjoyed day one too much. I caught about a dozen Perch, picked up some info but I wasn’t sure how much further forward I was. I dropped a little Zander at the side of the boat about mid-afternoon but that didn’t provide much encouragement on the Zed front, I’ve had larger fish suppers.  I got some decent shut eye and I was ready for day two. Having carried out some late night preparation I was more organised. Not having to drive six hours to get here was a bonus. What did work well for me was my Lowrance 5 HDI. Having stripped it out of my Outback I rigged it to  a RAM mount on top of an old tool box. This held two 12v 9ah batteries, also from my Outback. I paired this to a Lowrance suction cup mount with a coating of Vaseline to assist in providing a better seal. A quick scrub of the transom with a scouring pad to get rid of the green gunge  provided a solid solution. I'm considering upgrading to a new Lowrance with structure scan. This would have been really handy on this trip, the more information you can get when fishing a new venue is always a good thing. Structure scan would  have been a great advantage.
The famous aeration tower
Some lovely Perch in here. I was somewhere between wanting to catch them but looking elsewhere. Maybe at the this time of year the best anglers on here can do broadly both at the same time. I struggled with this.
Long story short I didn’t land any Zander, certainly fished better on day two and gave myself some chances, lost two better fish, most likely  Zeds. I caught about a dozen Perch again in the process.  I fished better on day two, thought a lot more about what I was doing. I met a number of Grafham regulars, armed with experience earned and lots of electrickery catching good numbers of Perch and some Zeds.  I just wasn’t good enough for the latter on this occasion. I’m not too bothered if I fish much for the remainder of year, maybe a trip to Skye and back here. Grafham would be good again this month, would certainly save me the hassle of putting the Lowrance back in the Outback. Not caught a Zed for a year, being down here I could do the GUC tomorrow, doesn’t really hold the same prospects for big fish as here though. Up the road and a lazy Friday for me it is.