Sunday, 23 February 2014


Well this week is my half-term holiday so rather than posting daily I thought I’d do a holiday round up type thing!
Monday morning saw me chasing perch again.  I figure the next few weeks, before they spawn, see my best chance of a real biggie. The river was surprisingly low and clear and I’ve struggled to catch them in these conditions.  I stuck it out in the swim that has been so productive for me but they just weren’t playing ball. I started out fishing a single hook drop shot rig and after an hour or so I hadn’t had a nibble. A change to a double hook rig had instant success with this fish,  again on the Fish Arrow  and thought maybe I’d cracked it but alas this was the only fish to show for a couple of hours.

I spent an hour or so on Monday evening preparing for another morning session. I am slowly replacing the hooks on my pike lures with owner ST 36 BC trebles so spent a while swapping out hooks on  my (Matt Holmes) custom jerk baits. Then I checked all the hook points on all the other lures and took a file to those that didn’t pass the ‘fingernail test’. I’d finished the session losing a crayfish on a jig head to a snag and need to  re – rig the perch rod. I spent a while colouring the end of the braid with a sharpie, tied on a new leader and  hooks, put baits and a weight on already to go. I also gave the bag a good clear out and cleaned everything up – after the rain and mud everything was in a sorry state! I love these sorting sessions – I don’t waste time after an early start rigging up and go with the knowledge that everything is as it should be. The plan was to have a go for the perch for a couple of hours and then try for the pike on a stretch which is on a newly acquired club card. It’s always exciting fishing a new bit of water – I always imagine the monsters that might lurk there and hope they haven’t seen many lures.
I was at the river just as it was getting light – definitely my favourite time of day. The river was as low as it has been for months and gin clear, and as the sun rose into a clear sky I thought I might be in for a tough session.  The perch were elusive, I tried everything in the box without even a nibble!
I’d spent longer trying for the perch than I had intended and decided to leave the new water for  better conditions. I had moved a big pike a few days ago and decided to revisit the same area.
I was really struggling without a sign of a fish, so on went one of my home tied jig flies.

Almost immediately I had a follow from a fish around double figures and a short while later one of the super tankers flashed up out of nowhere, right at my feet but failed to hook up!. It scared the living daylights out of me and left me shaking! I moved off intending to return to the same piece of water later on. I eventually managed this plump fish that again attacked at my feet.

I did go back to where I’d seen the monster but had no further sight of it, the session ended when I managed, quite skilfully, to cast the fly into an overhanging tree – where it still resides.
I hesitate to say this when so many are still suffering from flooding  - but my river could do with a drop of rain!
After completing a few domestic chores on Wednesday morning I wanted to take a look at another new club stretch. Conditions were the same as Tuesday with low clear water and brassy skies. I didn’t think the fishing would be great but it was a glorious day to be out.
The beat is a couple of miles long and between the fast shallow water there are two or three pools and some slacks that look very pikey. I did a lot of walking and had a quick chuck in the likeliest areas but didn’t see any sign of pike. I’d hoped for a follow or two or a tell tale swirl to give me some encouragement. I spoke to a couple of anglers, one chasing salmon who said he’d seen bait fish scattering in the warmer months which could mean perch or pike are present in this area – I’ve caught pike above and below this water so there is no reason to believe they are absent. I need to catch it in the right conditions to properly gauge whether it merits some more serious attention.
I had vowed to rest another productive area for a while as I’ve found revisiting too often seems to make the fish warier but now disappointed in a fish less afternoon  I thought I’d give it half an hour as I headed home.
On the first cast I was greeted with an amazing site – FIVE fish followed my jig fly right into the shallow margin at my feet. Two looked around 12-14lb and the other  three were clearly jacks from around 4-8lb. The jacks were the smallest fish I’ve seen in the river – I have never seen, let alone caught, fish of this size! They were very lazy follows and they all just drifted into view a couple of feet behind the lure. Not wanting to spook them I stopped the fly and then inched it up the slope until it was just on the bank – I then froze until they drifted off. The next ten minutes saw the pattern repeated over – The bigger fish following in with their escorts. At one point I had three jacks sat at my feet with the lure inches from their noses – I tried everything to induce a take – leaving it static, crawling it along the bottom, a gentle lift, jigging but they just couldn’t be provoked. It was like playing with a cat that isn’t interested in your ball of string! With time running out I did eventually nab one by ripping the fly through the swim at a million miles an hour – it’s always worth a go and has produced fish for me in the past – it is amazing how they can hit a lure moving that fast!
Not worthy of a trophy shot but a quick opportunity to use the macro function and another excuse to play around with photo-shop effects.

These fish are clearly grouping up ready to spawn – the last few days have seen a temperature rise which seems to have triggered pre- spawning behaviour and maybe the reason I had so little success earlier in the day – they may be shoaled up tightly in an as yet undiscovered location. 

Friday saw another short morning session. I started with a drop shot and tried 2’’, 3’’ and 4’’ baits at everything from 6’’ to 18’’ off bottom without so much as a nibble. The temperature had plummeted close to freezing overnight and with the low water it seemed to have made the already difficult fishing this week even harder.Wondering if they were just nailed to the river bed I decided to try crawling a jika rigged cray through the area before changing swims. The jika is perfect for fishing the crays as the hinge effect makes them stand up and flutter down with the smallest of hops and allows the fish to initially pick the bait up without feeling any weight. Just inching it very slowly back met with almost instant success as a small perch took a liking. This was a reminder to myself not to get too fixated on drop-shot and to try other presentations when it is not producing the goods.

After half a dozen small fish in quick succession I guessed the bigger fish were elsewhere and decided to have a quick go at the pike in another area. Again the fish proved difficult and I eventually winkled this small fish out on one of BMJ’s small spinner-baits which arrived last week. I used a paddle tailed Fish Arrow as a trailer. I came very close to a decent fish as one of the big girls fish flashed  up at it but having felt the hook it quickly disappeared. I hoped this  meant they were not fully at it and I might still be in with a chance of a specimen before  the season ends.

The snow drops are out and a nice reminder that spring is on its way.

I spent some of the evening tying a couple of jig flies for the weekend sessions.
The first a vaguely ‘roachy’ one and the second was an attempt at a pike, tied with a white and cream belly, yellow flanks and a green back – not a close imitation but who knows? Both are tied with a fair amount of flashy fibres under the hollow tie.

I was up late on Saturday and by the time I got to the area I wanted to fish the swims I was interested in were occupied. I didn’t have much time so did a bit of half hearted exploring downstream but blanked.

With the perch and pike not playing I Spent Sunday morning chasing chub.  I really wanted to see one in full Winter condition. I did catch a couple in January/February last year but as the season progresses they become harder and harder to catch and then they seem to just vanish. I know there are fish over 6lb but I haven’t found one yet. I thought might have cracked it when I first saw this fish but at 5lb 8oz still a new PB and a nice end to the week.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Fish Arrow Pike!

Managed to remember to put coffee in my flask today - so that was a good start! Took my perch outfit, but after a lazy start found the 'A' swim occupied. I fished upsteam from where I really wanted to be and early on dropped two nice perch in quick succession on the DS rig.  After a quiet hour or so I had a sizeable swirl as I lifted out - I tried the crays again without  a sniff, then tried the biggest lure I had with me  - a 5'' Fish Arrow Flash J.

and bingo!!!

Very similar in size to the last one and I thought it might even be the same fish - but looking at the pics it is clearly a different fish!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Sweet Water!

Had another early finish today which meant if I was quick I could squeeze a couple of hours in after work. So I flew home and grabbed my perch gear. The river had peaked after the storm and although still high was on its way down.
I started drop shotting and had a take in the first few casts that didn't stick  and a few nibbles so I knew at least some fish were in the area. I then had a good hook up - a good fish that managed to throw the hooks as it rolled on the surface. Things were not going well - after all the commotion I thought I'd  have a coffee - out comes the flask and cup. In my haste to get out I had remembered the sugar and hot water coffee. After an hour, and still fishless, I decided to give some of the crawfish I'd bought earlier in the week from Alan at AGM a go. I'd bought two sizes, some 2 1/2'' and some 4''.

The 2 1/2''

The larger ones looked a bit big - but thought maybe it might tempt one of the clonkers. So off came the DS rig, on with a wire trace and clipped on the 4''.

 I had a couple of snatches but no hook ups and I think I was briefly attached to one of the big carp - the fish tore off at an unbelieveable speed before becoming detached -  I guess I had foul hooked it  (Some of the carp go to over 30lb and I'd love to get one of those on a lure at some point)
Having had a couple of hits and misses I thought I'd try one of the smaller ones - and again had a few hits and misses. Suddenly I latched onto something better and knew straight away it was a pike. Schoolboy error - I had the drag set to protect a 4lb fuorocarbon drop shot rig and had forgotten to tighten it up - as a consequence the fish shot off across the river and into the fast water. I quickly adjusted the drag and had the Gekkabijin hooped over. I had no idea how big it was as I've only had perch on the rod - I just felt I was seriously under-gunned! Things soon calmed down as I got the fish into some calmer water and I managed to chin it out as I'd only taken my perch sized net.
Not the greatest session I've ever enjoyed but this mint fish put a smile on my face!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Riders On The Storm

Had an early dart from work today so that I could take advantage of what little remains of the river season. The weather was insane with 90mph gusts forecast and lashing rain. I very nearly didn't bother but thought nothing ventured....
Finesse techniques were obviously out the window so decided to have my first go at the pike this year. I've had some good sessions in the past when it has been really windy - it often seems to stir them up and gets them on the munch.
I'd fished for a while with a real eel and hadn't had a sign of a fish so it was time for a change - on went one of Matt Holmes 'deadbait' jerks - this has already done the business for me and is one I have supreme confidence in.

Within minutes it had come up trumps again with this nice fish. I love my perch and chub fishing and if I had to choose one species - it would have to be perch - but the adrenaline rush when you find yourself attached to a good pike is hard to beat.

A short while later I had another solid take - unfortunately the poor light and shade from the trees fooled the camera and this is badly over exposed.

You always know you've had a good days (afternoons) fishing when you go home bleeding!