Sunday, 8 December 2013

Canal red letter day -Zeds, Perch and the mysterious monster

I had another trip down to the midlands at the weekend to meet up with friends, deliver Christmas presents and of course wet a line in the local canal. Having arrived on Friday evening it was an early start for me Saturday morning. The plan was to be on the water at dawn to catch the Zeds and Perch having their breakfast. After a quick coffee and a wrestle with my mates Doberman pup Otto I was on the water for about 7.45am.
Kerry supllied this picture, think he's going to be a handful
I didn’t have the best of starts as I got snagged first cast and as it happened this set the tone for the day on that front. Being a little superstitious I was thinking to myself, yeah here we go. I needn’t have worried as not long after that I was netting the first Perch of the trip which took a SG Fourplay fished on a drop shot rig. I didn’t realise it at this point but it was was going to be one of those days when the camera would be out attached to the gorrilapod all day.
The next 45 minutes were hectic. I pretty much must have found every snag in that stretch of the canal, between tying new rigs I managed three Perch and two Zeds and lost a couple of fish.

Typical red fin
A better Zed
You can see why they can be hard to hook sometimes
A nice Perch from the shadows under the bridge
This one's well fed
I took a break for ten minutes then got back on it with a slightly better Zander and a few more Perch. I guess it must have been about 10.30am and breakfast time seemed to be over for the fish. I had a quick check on Google found a tackle shop and set off in search of drop shot weights and another coffee.
The forecast was accurate and with the bright conditions I had checked Google maps ahead of my trip and wanted to check out a section that provided some shade. I arrived at the next spot and lost a rig on my second cast so it was back in to my bag yet again. As I was gearing up a boat passed and I pretty much pitched my lure at its wake and straight away hooked a decent Perch which came off, next cast a nice Zed, again it came off.
I'm not the only one cracking a smile today
There was definitely some structure they were hanging on. As I worked my way around the area there seemed to be three definite snags causing me a few problems, the good news however was that  there was no shortage of action along with losing some gear. I lost a few fish  including a Zed which I guess would have gone five or six pounds but I was optimistic the way things were going something else would come along. I was actually right for once.
The best of the Zander I caught, check the paddle
The occasional dog walker came in handy
I moved slightly left of where I was catching most of the fish and pitched the lure about 15 yards along the canal when I felt the lure stop slightly and lifted in to it. What happened next was pretty strange as before I knew it ten yards of line slipped from the drag and I found myself chasing whatever it was down the canal with my net stuck between my legs. The Zander and Perch I had been catching typically shake and run around a little but whatever this fish was it was in a different league. For the first couple of minutes I’m thinking I’ve hooked the biggest Zed in the UK. I’m then thinking it’s possibly a really big Pike. It was tearing around the swim stirring up the silt on the bottom and with the water clarity I had no chance of getting an eye on it as it stayed deep. As the fight wore on I came to the conclusion it was still very big but was possibly foul hooked as I could not do much with it. I took my time as I really wanted to find out what it was. I was desperate not to bust it off. After a long time it was eventually below the rod tip, still no visual I was sweating when I gripped the spool and applied as much pressure as I could to lift its head up. I couldn’t believe my eyes when this popped up!
The mystery fish makes an appearance! I was about as surprised as I've ever been while fishing

I could barely get it in the net. I was pretty shocked to see a massive common Carp. A small crowd had been watching from the nearby bridge and a local who was also an angler came down to take the picture, he was pissing himself laughing. He was surprised to see a fish of this size in this canal and laughed at how lucky I’d been keeping hold of the fish which was hooked about two inches from tail. He took a couple of pictures and helped me release the fish before heading off with his family, still laughing. My luck was in. 
Stef brought the kids down when he found out I wasn’t far from where he was heading. He told me I had ten minutes to catch them a fish but I only took five.

The kids went on their way after a look at the Zeds teeth and dipping my tackle box for Kopyto Shads and SG Dying minnows, minus the hooks of course.
The fish were still in the mood, so was I, so we cracked on together till dusk.
My intention had been to fish for a few hours on Sunday before heading home. The canal had been very good to me, thirty odd fish, my first Carp and some great memories. I decided to quit while I was ahead. I settled for a few beers on Saturday night, some sleep and a visit to the Christmas market on Sunday, nice way to end the trip as Christmas seemed to have arrived early for me.



Thursday, 21 November 2013

Fangs for the memories

Scott and I had been planning to target Zander since our first jaunt to Rutland last year. We enjoyed that trip but were looking to have a crack at Grafham in the hope of hooking up with a big Zander and maybe a decent Perch. The weather however over the last couple of months has been having none of it so we put plan B into play. We bought our rod licenses and booked our day tickets for a midlands canal and headed for Englandshire. I had never fished a canal before but Scott had plenty of rod time dodging shopping trolleys on Scotland’s waterways so he would keep me on the right track.

Day one and it had been a heavy frost overnight; we had bright conditions and light winds. We tossed a coin as to where we would start and then got to work. After about an hour of walking and casting Scott connected with a little Perch on a drop shot rig, the blank was off! 
I made a few changes and put on a SG Fourplay hooked broadside on a drop shot rig and quickly hooked my first Zed of the trip. This was a brief encounter as when I went for the net it spat the hook, happy days….

Over the next 3 ½ hours we walked and covered loads of water trying locks, bends, weed beds , overhangs and bridges without a touch so we headed back to the car and made a move. When we arrived at the next spot Scott was straight into a fish so we both felt things were looking up.

I was next up with a small but much appreciated Zed which had wolfed the Fourplay, this one was staying on. 

Not long after that I looked over when I heard Scott shout that he was into a decent Zander.  I made my way along with the net but just as I got there the hook came out. The curse of the net strikes again!  It would have been rude not to have a few chucks so I walked a few feet up the canal and pitched in my rig which was promptly smacked by a decent fish.
You can see by the shape and distribution of the fins that the fish is built for agility and speed.Not the greatest fighters but an impressive fish just the same.

Scott reckons this might have been the same fish. It’s a PB for me, probably around 4 pounds so I ended the day on a high.

The forecast for day two was pretty grim with strong winds and rain in the forecast. Scott picked a spot on the map and was on the money as he hooked a Zed on what was probably his third cast of the day.  I walked over with the net, and well you can guess what happened next. Not a happy lad. A few minutes later he picked up this little chap.
This was a much better start to the day than Tuesday so we were optimistic we would get a few fish. We walked a fair distance, changed the lures and took cover under a bridge when the thunder and hailstorm started. Eventually I connected with a nice Perch on a SG Dying Minnow but to be honest it was slow.
We were about to have a move when I decided to try a spot before we made our way back to the car. I then had a couple of gentle taps on the lure which turned out to be a Zander, the net was brought out and yet again the fish was off. I gave Scott a shout and within a minute or so he hooked another Zed which promptly spat the hook again. A nearby wall then received a swift boot and I moved off in the opposite direction to give Scott some time to meditate. I was going to make a comment about rubber hooks but thought better of it and went on my way.

I sneaked this one out when Scott went back to get his bag
That was pretty much the end of the bad news.Over the next couple of hours we had steady action, we lost more Zeds and Scott dropped a thumper of a Perch but rubber hooks Hutchison had three Zander back to back and I went on a steady run of nice Perch. At one point I had to empty the landing net as it was full of autumn leaves picked up while netting fish, nice problem to have. We finished up day two with Scott having two Perch and three Zander and I finished on one Zander and eight or nine Perch.
The SG Dying Minnow again
Total relief- a Zed at last. This was Scott's 108th species of 2013 in fresh,salt and international waters.
But where are the Zeds ?
Rubber hooks is on a role-this is easy!
Stripes in the sun which came out at last
Bristling for a fight
One for the road.Check how broad this fish is in the picture below.
Chubby Perch this one
The business end!
Did we smear or way to success in the brown water ? Who knows but it helped the confidence levels

Tricky fish these Zander, subtle takes or lightning fast hits and a hard mouth full of dentures. We like the Zed. I think we both felt the assist hooks we had would kill the action of lures we were using so we might try something different on our next trip and maybe leave the rubber hooks in Scotland.

We both got over the coloured water pretty quickly but the shallow depth was a surprise to us both. Compared to the canal Scott has fished in Scotland it was really well maintained in terms of bank litter with virtually no snags or rubbish in the canal.  I guess this is down to the fact that it’s maintained as an active and well used waterway which was good to see.



Friday, 15 November 2013

How I see it

Not sure what to make of this year in some respects. The open coast Sea Trout fishing at times was outstanding, good numbers and a nice average size. Having filled out my end of season catch returns that included a new salt caught PB I don’t have much to complain about. I’m already looking forward to next year and catching up with that possible double that escaped at the last moment. Norway was good; we had some huge Cod including another PB for me and also for two of the other guys on the trip.  The Bass have for the most part been hard to locate but I'm happy enough.  I guess it comes with the nature of the fish, weather and the limitations of my knowledge, to some extent this might always be the case. I spent a fair amount of time prospecting some areas where I’ve not fished much before. This was a challenge, at the same time exciting and it did produce some decent fish for what was a lot of effort. This pony needs more than one or two tricks, so that’s the price of progress for me as there are few shortcuts to be had. By my own humble standards I’ve had nine notable fish this year including a 71cm and eight over 60cm so if I were to gauge progress by this measure alone I guess, it is what it is. I’m still making rookie mistakes, mainly going when I feel conditions are more against me than with me but it’s hard to knock enthusiasm. I should maybe just read the fuel receipts at the end of the month to get the message.
It’s been around eight years since I came across a decent shoals of school size Bass.  I occasionally encountered them back then, you could throw a toby at them and get multiple hook ups back to back. This was not the norm but it did happen, maybe once a season, never been close to that since despite spending time more time on the water year on year. It might be fair to say that what I’m now catching are the survivors. What about the up and coming recruitment? Have a  look at this link bye bye Bass for a take on the current position of Bass stocks. I don’t agree with it all but it makes some sense to me based on my own experiences. If you’re interested in catching Bass in the future have a think about it, there’s not a lot we can do to influence nature but down on personal basis maybe there is.
At club level there were a number of disappointing things that occurred. I can’t say I’ve fallen out with anyone, life is after all way too short and it’s only fishing but if you value your angling some of it makes no sense at all. My blog was down, pictures weren’t taken and info wasn’t shared, too far? Probably. I’d like to think I’ve helped a lot of people and that’s been a two way street most of the time. I’m far from a one species angler but if people don’t get it by now, well…….

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Welcome to winter!

I got my ass kicked up, down and around a variety of beaches today. The small tides normally suit the first mark I tried and with the sea conditions spot on I chucked out  large crab baits on 3/0  hooks using two rods. I was pretty confident the fishing was about to kick off so I got myself organised so that I could move with the tide as it made its way up the beach. I needn’t have bothered. I also bumped into another couple of anglers, 3 ½ hours, not a touch between three of us.

The sea was building but instead of ducking it I moved on to the open coast in search of a fish. I made my first cast and waited to see how bad the weed was before getting the other rod set up. The first cast came back clean, this was a fluke.  When I got  next rig back  below me with the associated weed  it was really hard to control as the waves swept it up the gully to my right. I’ve had worse fights off a Tope. It was horrendous.
Between building myself a seaweed shelter and thinking of happy summer evenings I took this little video clip
 I stomached that for about an hour and then ran for some cover and somewhere that was easy to fish. It’s not a great spot but at least it was fishable. I carried on for a little while till the  change of light and into darkness.

The gorillapod was handy for something today
What a day, a sore one to bow out with for  my 2013 Bass season. This time last year I was in Ireland. June 2014 and my next crack at a Bass now seems a long long way away.


Friday, 18 October 2013

Fishing Doppelganger

Not much fishing getting done so I’ve resorted to reading about, well fishing…..
Stewart gave me this magazine a few weeks back but it wasn’t till Lynne asked me how I got on the front of the magazine I actually noticed the resemblance. My mother was here for dinner that night so when I told her I’d made the front cover she was pleased for me :0) My dad did have a brother that went to Oz in the 70’s. Maybe I should get the family tree looked up as the lure fishing looks great.

Monday, 7 October 2013

From dawn till dusk

A changeable weather outlook put and an end to my plans for the weekend. I found myself fishing where I had to as opposed to where I wanted to.  I took some crab out the freezer as a backup as my thoughts were that conditions would be difficult, I wasn’t wrong.

I arrived before dawn and made my way to my chosen mark, things looked OK. As the tide started to flood and being the only person in sight I seemed to turn into a seal magnet, normally a good indication or fish being in the area they became a pest. The only offer I had was when I launched a Wave Worm at one about 20 yards away and wound the lure back at some speed a small Bass chased it over the top of the weed but couldn’t find the hook. I made a few moves but three hours after HT I was still fishless, a long time to go with only one offer for my efforts.

I took a break for a few hours and rigged up the beach rod bang on LT. Action started pretty much straight away with a double shot of Dogfish and surprisingly given the conditions very little weed  in what was a cracking surf. For the next 3 hours it was pretty frantic and on a couple of occasions I had to send out the same baits as a result of getting a hook up just after touch down and not having the last rig re-baited. Conditions were quite difficult with the surf running up the beach but I managed a few unimaginative pictures for the blog when I could. All in a nice little session with Bass being there in decent numbers but all on the small side.

The mighty Shore Rockling

I think the Bass gear might be getting put away for the winter now, still sport to be had but the weather is the problem. I met one of my contacts in the afternoon and they had a good result on Friday but with weather patterns outlined below, typical of the autumn, it’s hard to plan to be there at the right time. Maybe it's time to go get myself a big Zander.....

 All over the place!!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The first Pike and Perch of 2013

After Lynne had a last minute change of plans at the weekend it left a slot for me to catch up with Stewart on a trip to Loch Ken for the first time this year. There was a strong easterly breeze forecast for most of the day but nothing that would cause us too much of a problem.

The tactics were to trawl with a selection of plastics and metals. Stewart was off the mark quickly hooking a fish shortly after we started. I’d noticed a fish boil just under the surface as we passed it and almost straight away Stewart got hit but after a moment or so the fish came off.

Stewart saw most of the action with another couple of small Pike and apart from me getting a few hits on a Fox Spinner blade and shad combo I had to wait till late afternoon before I hooked up.


I then had 3 fish in 20 minutes. We discussed how this can sometimes happen where the fish just seemingly appear to switch on. While it was certainly a bright day the sun was far from going down but the slight change of light appeared to make the difference.

I’ll get one of these Loch Ken monster Perch yet. This was my first trip of the year for them. It would have been really lucky to get one, on balance I certainly wouldn’t have deserved it or in other words literally earned my stripes. Bait and switch or bait and wait with plenty of groundbait going in and waiting it out would probably do the trick. With the first frost not far away I might need to wait till next year to set my stall to get a 3 pound plus fish…. but I will get it ;0)

Thanks for the day out Stewart.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

And then it happened

Friday night was bright so bright you could see individual stones and weed in the water at midnight. I’d lost a substantial fish at 10.30 in really odd circumstances after the gentlest of takes  I could barely keep up with it as it ran towards me and then held solid and started to take line and run parallel to the beach but then the hooks pulled for some reason? Very strange that one. I picked up a couple of school Bass and called it a night as I had an early start.
In the morning the plan was to throw some SP’s into a mark which is thick with kelp but has sand just out of casting range. I was enjoying doing this as with the surf rolling over the kelp and boulders I watched the wave’s turnover it was easy to imagine a nice fish making its way along the shore. It felt like the right plan as the Wave Worms couldn’t have been fishing any better to be honest. As the tide started to rise I had 3 offers from small fish, one was a Bass as it splashed on the surface and the other two maybe Wrasse or a Pollack so with no solid hooks ups it was time for a move. The best part of 5 hours later I still had nothing for my efforts despite things looking pretty much spot on. I was thinking of bed for a few hours when I lifted into a slight bump on the lure as it dropped.
The fish took a white weedless & weightless Wave Worm. The Seaguar 20 pound fluro looks like tow rope in the picture
  Happy lad! It gave a proper account of itself with a couple of twitchy moments at the water’s edge before I got my hands on it. I checked the camera lens was clear, set the timer, knocked out what I thought was one picture but there were two for some reason. A quick measure and back she went. After that I pretty much packed up and went for a pint, what else was there to do? I checked the B.A.S.S length to weight when I got to my digs and had a look on the web. Either it’s out a bit or I’m out with my measure by a couple of cm.  I called it 71cm to fork which by the looks of the LTW made it around 9 pounds, it's not that. Not too bothered about exacts, it’s the biggest Bass I’ve caught and the priority was to get it back with me having a picture. I wasn’t tempted to swing a fish of this size or  any other fish that’s being returned from a lip grip for a weight, no time for that to be honest and I’ve not had digital scales and a bag with me for wee while. So I would say 8 pounds for me to beat in the future.

After a couple or celebratory early afternoon beers the intention was to get some sleep before Callum picked me up for the night shift, no chance as I’d had big Bass caffeine. The next challenge was to try and get Callum a Bass on the fly at night. The fishing on the whole was not great and it didn’t exactly go by the numbers but he managed the fish below so I was delighted for him.
Check the fins in the flash light

Monday, 16 September 2013

Some light entertainment

I took a break from Bass fishing on Saturday to make the most of a lull in the weather and forecasted storms and rain heading our way over the week ahead.  The fishing was nonstop really with countless small Coalfish, Mackerel and of course a couple of Sea Trout which were the main target. With the rivers likely to be in spate shortly most of but not all of these fish will be heading up a burn or river very soon. This was just the change in scenery I needed. I fished on till 10.30pm with the intention of catching a fish or two in darkness. I've a lot to learn on this front as despite hearing and seeing fish I drew a blank despite adapting to a method I was sure would work at night. Its also the first time I've came across a seal actively hunting in darkness despite having a lot of night sessions under my belt. I'm not sure who got the biggest fright.
This one came home for my supper on Sunday, the first one I've taken this year.
As for the blog and Bass fishing? I’ve taken a couple of posts down and taken the blog off line as I don’t believe anything positive would’ve come from them at that point. It would though be fair to say that I put a different value on my Bass fishing than some, that’s just how I see it and more on that at some point in the future. The fishing’s been far from easy but with handful of fish and some nice ones at that it’s been worth pursuing.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

No country for old Bass anglers

I spent some time in Wales last week with Matt. This was my first visit to Wales fishing on what is a rough and tough Pembrokeshire coast.  
The plan was for me was to get some fishing done before meeting up with friends in the Midlands. Plans were made the forecast was good and the drive was a long one.

When I arrived Matt had the burgers on the barbi and this Soulpad tent which was to me home for the next few days was good to go. It was spacious, comfortable and the inflatable bed was already sorted out as after the long drive I don’t think I had the puff to deal with it.

After a couple of beers it was off to bed for a 4am start. When we got back for breakfast Matt introduced me to Laver seaweed picked fresh from the shore we fished that morning. This was fried with butter and seasoned and I have to say, really nice and a very different accompaniment to the sausage and egg.

Matt has some really nice spots to fish. The conditions in general were good with lots of movement in the sea which was running clear and green with a nice white fizzy look to it that sharpens you up the minute you get close to it.

A Weslh Bass in action
The tactics were mainly SP’s and my Wave Worm Bamboo Stiks fished weedless and weightless seemed to work well fished in the rocky gully’s, white water and current. It’s a nice way to fish picking your moments to cast between breaking waves and basically keeping in touch with the lure while imparting a few taps and a little movement.
Not the biggest Bass when they wanted it the takes were solid and these Welsh fish tore around in the white water putting a smile on my face and a bend in the rod. Nice fishing.
Me perched at sunset
As happens Matt and I have the same camera. We lost various picture to water on the lense.When you're in the water with the waves an auto close shutter might be an improvement for the Lumix.
 The bamboo stik again
A Wrasse on SG slug
Half man half seal?
The bald eagle with one from a nice run you can see in the background
On our last afternoon the conditions weren’t great so we had a crack for Mullet, what a laugh. We eventually brought the fish on the feed and had a lot of chances ending up with one each. We could have had a few more and big fish at that. I had my first thin lip and Matt had thick lip. It was nice way to end the trip.
Matt's fish which was a little porker
My Mullet making a break for it
I like what Matt’s doing in Wales have a look Here He worked his socks (in his case a wetsuit) off to find the fish and we caught each session and I ended up with a dozen Bass on my visit. I’ll remember the fish below for a while, it’s not allways about big fish or lots of fish but sometimes  just that one moment, attention to detail, something shared then put into action, good memories.