I received my prize T-shirt for runner up in the LAS magazine cover competition at lunchtime today- Many thanks to Andrew Hodge of hookandlure.co.uk for sponsoring the competition. Really nice quality shirt
So on a mission to get a snap or two of fish and T-shirt I chose to spend a few hours this afternoon targeting......
I went out today with some Savage Gear 30cm Real Eel to target pike. I don't fish for them very often but I'm still looking for a good lure caught pike.
I had some heart stopping moments as I had three small fish attack the lure as I was about to lift out for a re- cast. Having missed a few I concentrated on fishing it right to my feet and enjoyed watching a few follows and eventually took this small fish.
Not long later had a slightly better one, again it nearly gave me a heart attack as it launched itself just as I was about to lift out!
The second lodge I tried is very shallow and I was using the eel almost as a wake bait, retrieving it just sub- surface to clear the weed. I had two fish do the 'Great White' death roll - leaping out of the water and crashing down on the eel - neither stuck but it was fantastic fun watching them!
Nothing like a bit of fishy action to inspire some confidence in a new lure. My next mission is to try and catch on one of my other bogey lures - the soft 4 play.
Today saw me fishing the River Severn for the first time. This was the latest LAS event at Ham Island. The River produces big fish of all species but it was the prospect of catching zander that most excited me about the venue. They are not present in waters close to home so I rarely get the opportunity to fish for them. The Uk record, a fish of over 20lb, was caught in this part of the river.
I went armed with one of my medium outfits a G.Loomis GLX able to cast lures up to28g paired with a Shimano curado loaded with 30lb braid as I had been warned the river is strewn with tackle hungry snags.
After the usual cark park antics the assembled anglers made for the bridge across the Avon which leads to the island. As we crossed the bridge it was clear that everyone wanted to fish at the weir pool at the top of the beat so when they all turned right - I went left heading for the deeper water.
I tried a few swims on the largely overgrown banks of the Lower Lode but the river was so low I pressed on heading for the confluence of the Avon and Severn at the downstream end of Ham island. After a good walk and thrashing my way through the jungle only to find no fishable swims I was wondering if my decision to go it alone had been wise! I eventually found the first swim with room to fish and clipped on a shad. I tried a few different lures changing colours and styles in an attempt to work out what the zander might want.
First fish of the day was an over ambitious small pike, the lure at 7'' was probably half the length of the pike!
I fished a few of the swims moving upstream towards the weir. I did have a few nips from zander but couldn't make anything stick. I came very close on a couple of occasions as evidenced by charteristic
slashes in the tails of my soft plastics. By early afternoon I found myself at the weir pool. The fast frothy water just screamed chub so on went one of my trusty crankbaits - within a few minutes the mission was accomplished.
With time running short I decided to spend the last couple of hours in the swims where I had contacted the zander. I had seen some perch attacking fry in the same area so decided to cover both species with a drop shot rig. I didn't have all my drop shot tackle and the rod isn't the ideal tool for this technique but I managed to cobble together a few bits and attached one of my favourite Lunker City 'Ribsters'. I managed to catch a few small perch and had another bite from what felt like a zander, which again didn't hook up.
I ended up with a grand slam of sorts and came close to four species in a session which would have been a first for me. I really enjoyed the day exploring on my own and felt satisfied that by changing approaches I had winkled a few fish out on my first visit. I had the dubious honour of winning a prize for the best chub with the only chub caught on the day! Many thanks once more to Roy Goddard, the LAS events organiser and to Savage Gear who sponsored the event.
Yesterday was one of those magic days that encapsulates all that I love about fishing.
A very early start and a long drive is often the start of a little adventure and I always have that sense of excitement about what the day may hold. I often don't sleep well when I know I am getting up early and a ritual stop half way to take on coffee has become part of my trips away. I like to get to the events early and enjoy the inevitable car park banter. Tackle that has been bought or sold is exchanged, new tackle shown off and plans for the day discussed and tales of recent fishy encounters are told
I had asked a fellow LAS member if I could buy some of his home made extra heavy drop shot weights and was delighted when he handed over a bag with my weights and some of his soft plastic shads. I have found many members of the society to be generous to a fault and he point blank refused to take my money. It was the kind of gesture that restores your faith in people and put a smile on my face.
It was great to catch up with familiar faces and event regulars and to meet new ones. I must admit to feeling a little out of place when I attended my first event, but having been to a few over the last three years I really enjoy the sense of community that our shared love of fishing brings.
With tickets bought and boats paid for the next job is to load the boats with small mountains of tackle and prepare for the hunt.
We were in a boat on the jetty next to Mark Kelly and John Copeman and at one point it was like it was raining shads as they both gave me lures they thought might work!
At 9 am we were given the 'go' and the armada of boats set off to their chosen spots. Rutland is the largest man made reservoir in England and has a surface area of four square miles so there is plenty of water for everyone!
Steve, my boat partner for the day, and a season ticket holder for the water, wanted to spend some time targeting the pike so we headed to the North Arm. It took us almost 25 minutes at full throttle to reach the area we wanted to fish. Steve knows the lake well and placed us over a 'hotspot' that has produced some big fish recently. Not long after we started Steve hooked and played what was clearly a good fish, unfortunately as it neared the boat it shed the hooks and was gone. I got a good look at the fish and estimate it was around 20 lb! Despite the disappointment it was clear that there were fish in the area that might be persuaded to take our lures. We were fishing fairly shallow water over dense weed beds and a while later I was pulling my lure clear of some weed when suddenly everything went solid and I was into a good fish myself. I played the fish right to the side of the boat and I could see that it would have smashed my lure caught personal best. It is always hard to be accurate when estimating the size of fish in the water but again this fish was obviously a large double figure pike. As it neared the boat it turned and went on a powerful
run, taking line off the reel. I managed to turn it before it reached the sanctuary of the nearest weed and as I pumped it to the surface it rolled and spat the hooks. Another opportunity to practise my Anglo-Saxon vocabulary! Every angler has experienced that horrible moment when you realise that the big fish you had on the line has gone- time just seems to stand still. A good boat partner knows there are no words of consolation to compensate for the lost fish. Instead of two trophy shots of big pike we both had tales of 'the ones that got away'. Undeterred we covered the area for a few hours and had a few more attacks but failed to make a solid connection.
By lunch time I was itching to have a go for the zander. There are non in waters local to me and I had never tried vertical jigging from a boat. Steve had shared phone calls with other anglers and had an idea of where fish were being caught so we motored to the South Arm at around 1 pm. We knew that fish were being caught between 40-50' so once a suitable depth had been found the drogue was deployed and jigs lowered over the side.
Within minutes we both had small fish which are fairly typical for the water.
As always in these circumstances boat partners get into a mini competition and by 4 pm we ended with honours even at five each. Towards the end of the day we found ourselves drifting close to another boat. Andi had had a few fish but his boat partner John hadn't had a sniff all day. I shouted across and wanted to give John the lure that had been producing for me. Typically as he reeled in he had his first knock which didn't stick. They motored over and I gave John the lure and both boats began fishing again. John kept the lure on that he had just had a bite on and on his first drop down nailed his first fish of the day. I have never seen a man so pleased to catch such a modest fish! We were all chuffed to bits that he had avoided the dreaded blank. Having paid for a days fishing and made the effort to travel the journey home can be very long when you haven't caught. It was one of the moments when fishing despair can turn to elation in an instant!
The 'ZanderCup' for biggest fish was won by Andi with a really nice fish of 6lbs.
Sunset over the North Arm
So the day was not about the big fish caught, but the place, the good people and the ones that got away!
Having caught the bass bug with the capture of my first on a recent holiday I have spent the last few weeks acquiring a dedicated bass outfit. I bought a 7' 10-35g Shimano Biomaster Rod, a second hand Shimano Aernos reel loaded with Sunline Super PE braid. I also bought a nice selection of classic hard and soft bass lures.
The very popular Xorus Patchinko is a 'walk the dog' surface lure.
Having assembled all the necessary tackle I was keen to try it out so last Sunday I drove a couple of hours to the beautiful Menai Straights which lie between mainland Wales and the island of Anglesey.
I really enjoyed getting the feel of my new outfit and learning how to work each of the different types of lures. Unfortunately the bass were either not present or not feeding though I have a lot to learn about this new branch of lure fishing.
Mid week saw me chasing perch on the water that has produced so many good fish for me over the last twelve months. The dry summer coupled with constant draw down to keep a small river flowing has resulted in the reservoir dropping some 30' which represents a huge volume of water. The surface area has probably been reduced by a third so I thought it might be easier to locate the fish. I managed to find dozens of small fish which were great fun on the ultra light tackle but the specimens I was chasing eluded me.
These small fish are scale perfect.
With heavy rain forecast for today and tomorrow I decided to grab a few hours on the river this morning.
I had a small fish on the very first cast which is usually a prelude to a poor day!
The 'first cast curse' held true and for the next couple of hours a normally productive stretch provided no action. I decided to walk a mile or two downstream to an area I have neglected which proved to be a good move as I soon had a nice fish of 4lb 8oz followed by a dozen or so fish between 2-3lb.
A good morning despite the rain. Hopefully tales of more bass to follow!
Saturday 31st saw an early start as I set off for another LAS event, the venue Pitsford Water near Northampton. I was fortunate to be paired with Steve Bates who has an impressive record on the water having caught eight pike over 20lb along with a string of high double figure fish.
I love the banter around the jetty as everyone prepares for the days fishing.
We fished hard all day, in all his 'hot spots', and apart from a couple of follows saw no fish action.
The pike on this water are fished for year round and were proving reluctant to take our lures. I spent some time trying to tempt a fish on the fly outfit with, unfortunately, the same result.
I did have a bit of excitement as a rather ambitious trout took a fancy to a Salmo Slider jerk bait.
As the fish was only hooked by one point of the tail treble I decided to unhook the fish without removing it from the water. I know from past experience that lively trout, lures with two sets of trebles and nets are not a great combination. I bent down with my pliers in hand to turn the hook, the trout made a final bid for freedom and neatly set the belly treble into my little finger. I now have the rod in my left hand and a large feisty trout firmly attached to the other. I had to quickly put the rod down and lift lure and fish out of the water so I could grab the fish with my left hand. Steve very deftly removed the hook from the fish whilst I supported its weight. Fortunately the hook had gone clean through my finger leaving the barb exposed and Steve was able to cut the hook point including the barb allowing me to slip the hook out. The barbs on these big lures are large and the hooks not easy to remove when stuck in flesh! A short length of handy electrical tape and I was back fishing. At least the fish saved a blank!
Passing boats often share catch reports and I was really pleased to hear rumours of 'a big fish' caught by fellow North West Chapter member Alex Roberts.
On returning to the jetty it was clear that the fishing had been pretty tough for everyone with many blank sheets and boats with only a jack or two to show for their efforts.
However Alex's 'big fish' proved to be a monster 24lb plus fish, smashing his personal best. The capture was even more rewarding as this was his first fish caught on a home made lure! What a beautiful fish!
The smile says it all!
The killer 'window sill' lure looking a little worse for wear after its little encounter with a huge set of teeth!
Alex receiving the Pitsford Cup from Ron Dalton who donated the trophy for the event.
I enjoyed Steve's company and was delighted for Al and so despite a poor days fishing drove home with a big grin on my face.
I rarely go far on a bank holiday as I loathe fighting the traffic to get anywhere, however this morning I was in need of some river therapy. Didn't manage to connect with any big fish but it was nice to see the fish I caught seem to have recovered some of their winter condition. The river has been scoured clean of the blanket weed that carpeted the entire bottom and I think this makes it easier for the chub to feed well. Non of the fish were carrying argulus which seemed to be a problem in the low water heatwave conditions of the early season. This was the best of the bunch at a shade over 4lb.
Lots of smaller fish provided the complete river therapy!
We arrived for a few days holiday in North-East Anglesey on Monday lunchtime to be greeted with glorious sunshine despite the poor forecast.
The view of Point Lynas from our caravan
This is the view West down the coast from Point Lynas
It was really windy so grabbed a couple of hours fishing without success in a sheltered little cove. I had a few follows from wrasse but couldn't get any to actually take the lures. I was dying to try out my solid tipped Major Craft Zalt so went to Amlwch harbour and had a hour catching Blenny and Poor Cod with my youngest - Jack. We were just dibbling Marukyu Power Isome on tiny jig heads and sight fishing for the small fish living in the weed of the harbour wall. It reminded me of fishing with a piece of cane and a bent pin as a kid - great fun!
The Blennies come in a whole range of colours and patterns.
This one bit me and I had a job getting it to release my finger! A comical looking Blenny with attitude.
Both the Blenny and tiny Poor Cod were new lure caught species for me.
We ended our first day lying on our backs outside the caravan watching the amazing Perseid meteor shower!
Tuesday afternoon saw me trying to catch my first bass. I knew there were fish around as they were leaping out and swirling for sand eels near the surface. I tried everything in the box but couldn't manage to catch one.
I did get one of the Launce on a very small wedge though! New species number three!
The view across Bull Bay
Wednesday saw me still chasing my first bass. After a trawl on the internet and gleaning some useful information fro 'The Lure Forum' and from Scott and Mal from the LAS (thanks due to both!) I had a few marks not very far away from where we were staying to try. The chosen venue was not as picturesque as those I'd tried earlier in the week but I'd been told that it often holds a few bass and fishes best at low water. So while the family slept I sneaked out early and arrived at the mark at 6 am. I'd tried all the fancy crank baits without any luck so sticking to what I know from my fresh water luring stuck a free-lined slug-go rigged on an offset worm hook on.
I cast into the boiling white water and after a few turns of the reel there was a wrenching take. What followed was undoubtedly the best fight I have ever had from a fish of this size. The fish went on several blistering runs and repeatedly turned and shot off as I tried to net it. After half a dozen goes and some anxious moments I finally slipped the net under it. Not a monster, but one of the most satisfying catches in my life and a fourth new species.
The washing machine water that gave up my fish.
Thursday was a washout with the extreme winds and lashing rain making the rocks a pretty unpleasant, and at times dangerous, place to be and the fishing nigh on impossible using light lure tackle. I was hoping to catch wrasse but after an hour, and despite a few follows from good fish to small paddle tailed shads, I retreated to safer ground.
Friday saw a complete change in the weather with very light winds and warm sunshine, it would be hard to find any two more contrasting, consecutive days!
We spent a few hours catching small fish under our feet on the LRF set ups. I added more small Pollack to the weeks catch.
This is a bronze sculpture of Dick Evans - one of the brave lifeboat men who skippered the boat at Moelfre.
Another pair of bronzes in the grounds of the RNLI visitors centre at Moelfre
A fantastic short holiday that will live long in the memory!