Monday, 31 March 2014

Throwing loops in the rain

The beach was a bleak affair tonight, sideways rain in a strong easterly wind brought me my first blank for this season fishing for Sea Trout. It was only a two hour attempt and given that I had got the tides so wrong it was beyond belief, not surprising and a mistake I've not made in years. Also, when I factor in that it was my fly rod in my hand I was totally on the wrong end of the odds. I’m looking at this one as a two hour after work practice casting session; a fish would have been a bonus. This was pretty much the first shakedown of my set up in a fishing situation lasting more than 10 minutes. Simple things like getting used to the stripping basket on my hip, what I have in my pockets, where I carry my net and line control in the waves left me feeling like it was my first day at school. Some things worked well, some things need changing, worth the effort on reflection.   Somehow repeating smooth acceleration and positive stop gets lost in translation (for the moment) in the wind and rain of the coast. Anyway, no wind knots, that’s good surely?

Sunday, 30 March 2014

RNLI species hunt

I joined Gordon on Tickety Boo for the annual RNLI Loch Etive species hunt on Sunday. The objective of the day is to have a laugh, raise some money for a good cause and catch as many species as you can for the boat you’re fishing on.

Arriving on the beach it was blowing about 30mph and despite the forecast suggesting it would drop it blew like this all day making things pretty difficult.  The field was to be made up of various boats and kayaks. Things were going to be hard for the boats but the kayaks deserved a medal for trying and some committed guys made an effort to get in the water and find an area they could fish safely.
First drop Gordon gets a double shot and we’re off the mark.
He then adds a doggie

We then repeat these species over the next 2 hours before I manage to add the smallest Grey Gurnard I’ve caught before we have a move. It’s clear on the radio it’s a tough day with nobody doing well.

I suggested a spot to Gordon that I think will be good for a Spur, Thornback and maybe a Whiting. On my first drop I let the bait settle and then tap the bottom six or seven times and put the rod back in the rest.
Within a minute I get a positive bite that turns into a Thornback.

I repeat the process exactly on the next drop and get a decent Spur, maybe 7 pounds. I’ve used this method of tapping the bottom to good effect here before but that the magic was gone, no more fish for me.
Gordon then got a decent bite that materialised into a double shot. It was hard to fish today and as you can see, something went wrong with Gordon in the process.
The Whiting didn’t make an appearance but Gordon did manage to nip a Poor Cod before we went in search of a Pollack or  a Scorpion.

We then spent the next three hours with a hardly a bite between 5 rods. None too soon we were back on beach sorting the scores, placings and raffle prizes.

Daft hats and wigs were the order of the day and the lads raised £200 in the process.

Our seven species put us in first position winning a day out Tope fishing with  Scott on Scary Mary.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Great service from Patagonia

Anybody that knows me or reads my blog can tell I'm a fan of Patagonia gear. I’ve used the lightweight deep wading jacket for around 5 years now. At the end of last season the zip broke, usual place I guess, a combination of the salt and general wear. I dropped them an email regarding a possible repair, they replied asking me for the model reference numbers from the label. These were barely visible due to the wear but with some guess work on the digits they confirmed they could sort it. I ‘ve just received this back today, main zip  replaced as well as  two new chest pockets zips.

The repair was turned around in 3 weeks via their service centre in Portugal costing a total pf £12, the price of the postage. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Some spring Sea Trout action

The radio announced spring had arrived a few days back, so typically when the hills came into view they were wearing a dusting of fresh snow. I picked a spot I liked the look of, not far from where I ended up last week, reasonably close to civilisation but it has a feeling of isolation, ideal.

It was a mid-morning start and I took a fish within the first 30 minutes.

The next couple of hours were fishless. I did try making a few changes, covered some ground and got a take on a tandem ragworm style fly fished with a Bombarda, first cast with it as it happens but the fish came off. I reckon that the birds that were consistently dipping and feeding when I was out last week were picking these up during their breeding cycle.
If you’ve ever dug ragworm at this time of year you’ll know two things, they’re harder to come by, and you also come across them in breeding colours, most likely green. Anyway, maybe there were just no fish around, maybe it was the seal that was following me but I walked back to car for a brew and some food, time for a move.

A fish on my first cast at the next spot.

  And then another 10 minutes later.
I could have stayed put and probably picked up another couple of fish but I had a move instead but caught nothing. When the sun was shining it was a beautiful day, with the clouds came the rain and the gusting wind made it sting my hands and face. Exhilarating conditions, when you’re dressed for it, and not walking to work with your best suit on for instance…..

I thought about heading home but decided to stick it out till dusk, predictably this proved to be the most productive part of my session. There was plenty of action in a 45 min period and I added a handful of smallish fish to my tally for the day before hitting the road.


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Back on the beach

Well, I hit the beach today with my lure rod for the first time in five months. Having renewed my permit my wallet was considerably lighter and despite this and as well as the rain there wasn’t much going to stop me enjoying my day out.

The spot I had chosen to start at is usually consistent but was strangely quite today so I went for a walk with the tide as it flooded a nearby bay. I had arrived later than expected and wondered if the fish had gone past me.
Half a dozen casts later the first Sea Trout of the year was in the net.


This was followed by another two in the next 30 minutes. I was pleased with the start I'd made so decided to make it more difficult by setting up my fly rod and head to a HT mark that’s usually a banker for a fish or two.
When I started out it wasn’t too bad as the wind had dropped to maybe 15mph and as I made some casts with my new outfit I was feeling confident. This lasted about 5 minutes as the awkward angle of the wind and a sudden change in strength sent my back to the car beaten not long after I started, must try harder. I need to get some practice before attempting those conditions again.
I had worked my way along the beach and was on the return journey and decided to have a break and change my lure. Shortly after that I had solid take which resulted in a nice fish which despite not being in A1 condition punched well above its weight and made several jumps before it was slipped back. Next cast another fish but a little smaller this time. I decided I’d had enough of the wind and rain and made my way back to the car and looked to tuck in out of the weather at a spot I had not tried before.
On arrival it looked OK, a few hundred yards away I could see about a dozen gulls swooping down and dipping continually without landing so made my way along for a look. I was surprised by the strength of the tide running past the rocks I was stood on and also the direction it was running which was the opposite from what I expected.  The gulls were still there feeding so I attempted to put my lure in the same area but fell short by about ten yards. Not much happened for the first 20 minutes but then I felt a fish bump the lure a few times before feeling the hook then coming off. This happened another three times so I decided to change my lure and show them something different trying a smaller pattern. A few casts later I had my last fish of the day.
So, despite the wind and rain an enjoyable and successful day, it was just great to be on the beach again.




Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A tough road trip

Scott and I hit the road on Friday for a few days fishing. The first target was the addition of the Bitterling to Scott’s species crusade and then onwards to the Gloucester & Sharpness canal for some Zander.

First stop on Friday morning was a lake near Wigan using waggler tactics with size 22’s and pinkies. After 2 hours we’d not had a bite and boredom got the better of Scott.  He sat his rod down and walked ten feet to investigate something he’d spotted hanging from a nearby branch.  Just as he got there his rod lurched across the ground as a fish picked up his offering and shot off. He managed to get to the rod and played the fish for a few seconds till the hook pulled, probably a Carp, typical after spending two hours looking at his float. Five hours later we had moved a couple of times and I spotted a fish turn over on the surface about 20ft away. As we both looked over my float must have disappeared as the line came tight to my hand and then hook length snapped, being 1 ½ pounds BS it didn’t take much, probably a Carp again, happy days.
The elusive target fish

A few small fish started to become active as the light went and I ended the day on a personal worst Perch and a tiny Roach, Scott dropped a few fish. It was a really poor start to the trip.
The intention on Saturday was to pre fish the Gloucester end of the canal ahead of the TLF food and Zander meet organised be Kev Pugh. It’s a notoriously difficult venue but has the potential to through up some big Zeds. It’s not a typical canal in that it’s wider, deeper and could be described as lacking in obvious features. We hit the canal at first light and spent 3 hours throwing jigs at likely spots with only a couple of half-hearted knocks we phoned Kev for some advice. On the call it was decided to head to his for a coffee and then hit the GU canal and leave the G & S canal till Sunday.
The GUC has been good to me so I was confident we would get some fish. On arrival at the chosen stretch I hooked a Zed on my third cast, things were looking up till just as quickly it came off. Hours passed and the canal appeared devoid of life, we thought the Perch may have started to spawn due to the lack of action. Kev did manage a Zed which he weighed at 2 pound 6 oz and then sometime later Scott had a fish.
I walked for miles and caught nothing but sticks and branches and mixed this up with the occasional poly bag. As darkness fell Kev ended the evening hooking a specimen skip hat, what a day….
Sunday morning arrived and we meet the TLF crew in the car park at Sainsbury’s. I guess there were around 25 guys in total. Keven and his mates had organised the bacon rolls and coffee and we had a chat before heading off to a stretch of the canal to kick off the morning session. The weather was glorious and we got to work in the sunshine.

It wasn’t long before I felt a strong thump which I didn’t hook up with, given how hard things had been I was well pissed off. I was using a double drop shot rig so continued to cover the same area for ten minutes in the hope that the fish was still there.

And it was, not the intended Zander but a much appreciated jack
It was a friendly atmosphere as we walked the banks in the sunshine talking to the guys and a few small fish came out including the first Zed. The plan was to break for lunch around 12.30 and go back to cark pack to stock up on pizza and pasta. I had a chat with Scott and we decided to cut or losses and head back home via the GUC for a few hours, surely it couldn’t fish as bad as Saturday afternoon? We said our goodbyes and just over an hour later we were fishing one of my favourite parts of the canal. Two hours in and we were still fishless.
We walked and came across some structure; I put the drop shot rig accurately for once along the side of a barge length wise, tight in to the shadow. I decided as it was a likely spot I would just leave it there and shake it gently with just enough tension on the line to keep in touch with the lure. Ten seconds passed before it was hammered, the fish briefly came to the surface before it zig zagged across the canal giving a decent account of itself.
The bright conditions made for a difficult photo  but at
                                    60cm and probably 5 pounds and my best from the canal so far.

We fished on for another hour or so but no matter where we tried the Perch were absent and there were no more Zander hiding in the shadows.

Not the most productive of trips, we hit the long road home on what was a hard three days fishing. We discussed some potential trips as we drove north including a trip to Holland maybe later this year or possibly next year. There are two big Zeds’ somewhere with our names on them but I’m just not sure where they are for the moment.





Sunday, 2 March 2014

Another blank on the Tay

My club had their annual pilgrimage into freshwater on the 21st of Feb to the river Tay. The target fish being of course the elusive spring run Salmon. Over the last three years this trip has produced one springer and a handful of kelts and with the forecasted conditions I don’t think anyone was overly optimistic regarding the chances with the river on the day knocking on for 10ft above summer levels.

The payday if you’re able to cash in could be the fish of a lifetime and with a two nice fish coming off the Dalmarnock beat already that week you just never know. So eight of us made the journey north and found the river level at the expected height, the boat unable to be launched for safety reasons and the top beat also flooded out. It’s more of a social event for us so we cracked on with the usual banter.
Stewart looking for inspiration in the shrubs or maybe the car keys have been lost again?
The morning session provided an out of season brownie for Eddie and I think we were all happy to hit the hut at 1pm for some coffee and a warm up. River levels had dropped slightly and three of us managed on to the top beat in the afternoon but could only attempt to fish the top 300 yard section.
Me dreaming of what a take might feel like
We called time about 4.30pm, some of us including myself stopped over night for a few beers. I can also report that this year there was nothing left in the hotel, all bills were paid before leaving and that no suspicious stains were left on exiting the lodgings.

 Maybe next year…..