Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.108 – Bawdy Baskets and Bartholomew Babies

Now Innkeepers Mark and Alison of the Navigation Pub in Lapworth have been awarded the Cask Marque accreditation for serving the perfect pint of cask conditioned ale.

Backed by 50 of the country’s leading brewers and pub companies, Cask Marque accreditation is only awarded to licensees whose ale passes a series of rigorous independent quality audits of both the beer and the cellar standards. By the way they were rated 5*, the highest possible accreditation.

For someone who prides themselves in visiting many of the public houses in the area, they certainly keep a good pint, in-fact for me consistency is the key, and they certainly offer that. Purity Mad Goose for me please, you won’t find one in the area kept better.

Now a little sign in the pub apparently reckons that they have the only Guinness on hand pull in the country! Which I was quite surprised at.

For for someone who doesn’t rate the stuff despite enjoying porters and stouts, in-fact it's very overrated in my opinion, the Carling of the stout world if there ever was one. (Sorry Loz).

Maybe it’s just my palate, who knows, they certainly sell enough of the stuff, maybe I should try one next time I'm down there, maybe a proper hand pull is the edge I need, and yes I have been on the Guinness tour.

Anyway back on track, talking of overrated, the Tefal Head is anything but, an area of form, towpath quiet, cover lots. This area has always been on my radar as it has been home to 2 of my biggest fish, the 9lber and a fish of 8lb 10oz. It’s an area where a bigger fish can live in relative peace with only really boats for disturbance. I rarely bump in to another angler too which is more my sort of location, fishing on my terms, leapfrog without hindrance.

One of the biggest issues on this stretch though is the amount of smaller fish there are, now I’m not talking fish that will take a small lure, I’m talking fish of 2lb and over where if you stumble on a shoal, multiple fish can be caught.

Good sport certainly, but it’s those bigger fish waiting in the wings I’m trying to catch, not the humdrum.

Oddly last closed season the quantity of fish had certainly gone down and I was wondering what the hell could have happened, sessions seemingly getting tougher and tougher, even blank sessions which was unheard of when I started fishing it initially.

A couple or three sessions recently when I wanted a break from the river, showed that not only were the fish back in numbers, but also that the average size of the first were bigger than they were before.

If the lunkers I’d caught are still around, and I manage to catch one again, they would most certainly close chapter and verse this stupid quest of mine to catch a canal double figure Zander. I’ll keep plugging away though.

The session was only short, 2 and a bit hours where a length of cover would be leapfrogged and two main swims would be also be fished. The second swim produced a bite quite quick with the float being dragged all over the shop, but it was a swingable schoolie with eyes bigger than its belly.

My complacency meant it fell off before banking it. Soon after the Roach bait went out again another bite, I could feel the fish wasn't big, but again it let go of the bait.

I scaled down one of the rods for the section of cover but after about 45 minutes leap frogging a nice section I returned to a swim above the fish swim I fished. A banker swim if there ever was one, but oddly nothing doing despite fishing in to dusk.

Hmmm, not sure what's going on, they were certainly off today, in-fact one of the quietest sessions I've had up at the Tefal Head. Cold water for sure, but even the full moon didn't spur them on.

Family duties called time sadly but to be honest I would be wasting my time for sure. 15 minutes in each swim, no bites, move on, that's my experience anyway. So the next session, a couple of days time, in an area I've not fished for a while, I'm looking forward to it as it's one of the areas I know that can also throw up a snot rocket.

I'd also had a job lot of deadbaits waiting for me when I got back which are now separated in to session bags. Nice nice chunky smelts as well which I'd run out of, for me I wouldn't leave it out in ones armoury now, believe you me smelt catches Zander. You would think they might turn their noses up to them, but they have been a revelation and an eye opener in recent time.

A poor session for sure, but to be fair I do well on the most part, I certainly shouldn't be disheartened by it, I know there are lunkers swimming around in this area and are there to be caught.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.107 – Blue Devils and Bog Landers

If you’ve been following my on-going quest for a Canal double figure Zander you’ve probably wondering “why the heck he is bothering!! “ again and to be fair I’ve had the same thoughts. Until that is, I’d stumbled upon more and more areas that not only contain decent Zander, but an ever increasing stamp of better’uns.

The schoolies sprouting hairs, balls dropping….!!

Now the areas I fish are certainly the Zander make up much of the biomass such their naturalisation in to the Midlands canal network, so much so when you stumble upon a feeding pack like I did back in December, the shoals moving around must be that big come a hard BREXIT if the politicians ever get their backsides in to gear I know what I could feed ones family on if the scaremongers would have us believe.

A veritable conveyor belt of food right on ones doorstep….!!

To be honest they are not particularly hard to catch but if you want to get beyond a waspers delight then you need to be a little more selective in your approach. They become lazy you see and they cannot be bothered to compete with the whippersnappers attending their first gig wanting to be part of the mosh pit. That session back in December mind you, only emphasized that I love fishing for canal Zeds under a float.

The float fished overdepth and sat quietly on its side on the surface all of a sudden springs in to life, a slight knock, a tiny ripple creating bob, a graceful drift or a full on submarine, that visual bite indication only a set-up like this can give, showing you exactly what’s going on under the surface.

I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got the rig spot on now, ridiculously sensitive, a good hook up rate and rarely a lost fish. The inline coffin leads, also help with preventing the float being pulled off line if the water is bouncing off the locks.

For the continuation of the quest though, a few changes, for starters I’m planning on more dusk in to dark sessions, so I’ve some simple chemical light floats sorted which came all the way from

The People’s Republic of China. I fish turbid coloured canals in the main, in-fact if the water is on the clear side, I head on down to where it isn’t, but I’ve had a few in to dark sessions and I would say a little like the river, I’m sure that’s when the bigger fish could possibly get on the move.

Maybe I’ve been missing a trick….?

New areas will also be looked for and explored because it’s a canal network after all, miles and miles of water to go at and like the ’deep bit’ I found late on in the last quest, there are certainly holding hotspots for a bigger stamp off fish.

Having stumbled upon the area by chance that produced a couple of nice Zander much bigger than the humdrum , a veritable Abraham’s bosom, an area where the adults wanting a bit of rest, contentment, and peace could lay up their fins and their sanctuary could remain just that and would unlikely see an Isham Baggs derived anode or two up the jacksie from the CRT or one of their contractors.

My best thus far, a canal 9lber
Now thirdly, on my travels last year the amount of carp I saw was an eye opener, as someone who spends an obscene amount of time trudging the towpath , you realise just how many of these mud sifters are in the dirty local waterways.

They can be out in the open when it’s warm and sunny but they are perfectly happy tucking themselves away out from view and it’s only me and the likeminded that they occasionally reveal their location to.

In order to capitalise on that I’ve invested in a small Nash scope black-ops sawn-off rod that can be packed away in my rucksack and be unpacked when a carp is spotted where I can quickly get a bait out to try and capitalise on the situation.

Double dipping for sure, but what right-minded person doesn’t like a bit of that….?

Well I've not missed this, back to dog poo alley
Bait again a smelt, roach and lamprey mix, you know my opinions of smelt as a Zander bait if you’ve kept up with my blog.

It matches roach for sure and maybe for hook-ups certainly it offer a better percentage ratio. 

The soft flesh allowing the hook to pass through the flesh easier and any hindrance helper is a benefit in canal Zed fishing because initially they can be difficult to hook properly, such the boniness of their mouths, and the way they pincer grab the bait.

So for this first morning session of what is likely be another >30 or so sessions to add to my quest challenge over the next coming weeks, I decided to visit the ‘deep bit’ to see if there were still some decent Zander in-situ.

Now this challenge is effectively the proverbial needle in a haystack,but what’s fishing without targets, if you think about it, there are no many pastimes that offer as much variety that fishing can do and it’s what you make of it, you’re the chieftain and puller of the strings.

Anyway, enough of the ramblings, I need to beat my PB of 9lb and catch that double….!!

How did I get on…?

Well to be honest I knew it would be tough looking at the clarity of the water, the cold water and bright sunshine. I wanted to try out my new floats though that will accept a chemical light. A bite came quickly but it was back to reality as a small schoolie decided it would like the small whole roach. And that is where the action stopped, no more bites sadly despite fishing the usual productive spots.

The schoolie caught was covered in leeches so they are laying up probably before getting on the move when the water warms up and their minds go on to other things.

The floats performed ok, but when debris collected on the line the float went from lying on the surface to upright. That wouldn't happen with the inline set-up, so maybe back to the drawing-board, I'm sure a heavier version of the same float would perform differently.

So back to dog poo riddled towpaths and small Zander, it can only get better, glad to be back on the canal though, I've missed it.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Pot-wabblers and Princods

Storm Gareth hit the UK quite hard over this last week with its strong north-westerly winds and it also dumped a load of rain with it. The little river Alne I fish nearly over its banks and flood levels, the Warwickshire Avon rising faster than I’d seen it for a long time, me thinking would I ever get out to fish again before season close. Thursday afternoon was looking favourable however as the river would have hopefully peaked by then with levels slowly on the drop.

So what to fish for ?

I took an age to mull it over, this being the last day of the river season....!!

Well as it would be coloured Barbel for sure, I’ve had success with Barbel in flood and coloured conditions with meat baits but having already beaten my PB this year with a 12lb 14oz fish I fancied trying for another last minute lunker to round a cracking season where I’d also managed to catch myself a 5lb Chub which had eluded me for a while, in-fact it was the veritable ‘monkey off my back’ that had been clinging on for so long, I was glad to finally get it off.

The water being the way it is, another species popped up in ones radar. yeap, you guessed it Zander, you see I know an area that is sheltered away from the main flow of the river where I’ve caught them before as well as Barbel. So despite the flow when it's tanking it through, here some sanctuary can be found, also a WhatsApp message to the wife during the planning stage, dictated one of the targets, so the venue chose itself.

I did think about visiting the WBAS water but come the new season as that’s where much of my efforts will be concentrated but others would be fishing it and it would be nice to spread the field out a bit to see where is fishing well in these testing conditions. I had a swim in mind you see where I’d lost a decent Perch but I doubt that would be fishable, well not the way I’d like to fish for them anyway.

So back on track and the area in question, the problem for those fish seeking some peace from the turbulence is that is also attracts the predators, sitting duck springs to mind, and with the water being coloured the Zander have one up on the prey fish because of their superior eyesight. They have two types of cones the most responsible for seeing yellow and orange, and smaller ones registering green. Any zander hunter can confirm the effectiveness of these colours.

What’s more, the cones in this predator are especially large. Thanks to this, they have become the subject of research of physiologists interested in the process of seeing, not only in fish. An additional upgrade of the zander’s eyesight is a reflective guanine layer covering the inside of the eyeball. Thanks to this light passes through the cones twice strengthening the signal sent to the brain. That is why zander’s eyes shine with a silvery glow even by the most delicate light.

Thanks to such eye construction, a zander’s eyesight is unbelievably sensitive. It can see perfectly when other fish, let alone humans, can’t see anything at all! Anglers should know then, that in the case of this predator, it is worth it to pay attention to detail on the lure and the most effective combination of colours should be yellow and green.

So an afternoon double dipping session then, with the river up and coloured 2 barbel rods skyward, one rod equipped with a size 6 hook, a couple of lobworms, and a feeder full of chopped worms and a few red maggots I had to use up, and I'd alternate with a chunk of contraband garlic spam. With the 2nd rod I intended to fish a small roach or smelt to try and pick up a Zander.

Pheeewwww !!

Like a military operation ones session planning as you know, rods made up the night before, targets in mind….!!

Let’s go !!!!

Now I cannot remember the last time I brought a chair fishing but I did for this session, I wanted to hunker down in a swim and sit it out. When I got there at 12.30pm Joe Chatterton and Martin Robers were already in situ, Joe banking an eel, Martin biteless, another three there, one snotty. It looked perfect for Barbel, a nice tinge of brown and a decent pace. The river was dropping as well.

I settled upstream and got the gear out, lobworms and meat to start off with....

After a couple of hours without even as much as a nibble I decided to go on the rove and try and drop on some fish downstream, thinking the fish might be sheltering the best they can, they were certainly not interested where I was. After another hour and a half or so finding some nice slacks and undercuts was fruitless I returned to the original swim.

Again nothing doing for a while, so I packed up and went downstream, by this time Joe and 2 of the original anglers had left, with Martin soon after Joe, leaving me and one more angler bankside. He gave up around 5pm and I decided to stick it out till dusk. A smelt out in the margins and I alternated between lobworms and meat. The sun went down, the bats came out and if I was to get a bite, this would be the time, hoping that the Barbel would come out from their hiding place and a short feeding spell.

Best laid plans, because that didn't happen, yeap, a blank even on Garlic Spam, they definitely were not interested in feeding !!!!

Syndicate member Brian was at the bottom of the stretch and yeap, he blanked too. George Burton was catching a few on the Leam and in hindsight, I should have gone home from work first, dumped the boot full of tackle and joined him for some Chub roving instead, more my thing anyway, I hardly ever sit behind rods, oh well...

 ....a disappointing end to what has been a great season, now where are my canal Zander rods !!!!

Monday, 11 March 2019

Small Brook Fishing Pt.7 - Red Ribbin and Reconnoitre

A chance discovery of a tiny stream has got my interest ever since, this is my 7th trip now to this small waterway just down the road from ones abode. The first ‘field trip’ brought some encouraging signs and to this dace it is home to my dace PB. I've really only explored a few small areas of it as well and I'm sure there are dace to be caught to brobdingnagian proportions.

Now when winter proper arrives, and most of the fallen leaves have been swept away by successive spates, the fishing in many streams gradually improves again. The fish, by now accustomed to the change in the temperature of the water, often feed more freely than they did during the low-water period of autumn. 

The deeper pools, and the slower-moving swims edged by decaying masses of reeds, are often the best places to fish. The shallow, fast-moving water will contain very few coarse fish during the daylight hours.

From Christmas on until the end of the coarse-fishing season in March, the angler can usually expect to reap his richest re- wards from the small streams. The weather is milder, and the bed of the stream will have been swept clean of debris by many roaring spates. 

The fish, too, are often at their best: fat-bodied, strong, and brilliant of fin and eye. Some of the best catches, and some of the largest individual fish I have ever caught from streams, have been taken during this period.

The true angler, as distinct from the novice who merely baits a hook and casts it hopefully into the water, is the man who knows what he wants to catch, who understands fish, and angles for each species exclusively. 

One day he might angle for roach; the next for perch. On other occasions he will prefer to go for chub, pike, or rudd. But always he fishes selectively rather than indiscriminately.

Naturally, it is much easier to angle indiscriminately, and to catch any fish that might happen to take the bait. Selective angling is more difficult. The angler must first learn about the fish, their habits, the swims where they are most likely to be found, and the baits they are most likely to take. 

Only then can he begin to fish for each species with any confidence. If you follow my blog some of this is explained, in more detail, how this selectivity can be applied to the different species of fish, but the basic principles of selective fishing should perhaps be stated now, for they form the basis of what constitutes real angling, as distinct from mere fishing.

Now the first essential is to locate the fish. Nothing else the angler does is as important, nothing else he does will influence the end result so strongly. If his knowledge of the stream is full and complete, this will be the easiest part of the operation and will enormously increase his chances of catching the fish he has selected. If that knowledge is lacking, he will be handicapped right from the start. 

The next step is to choose a selective bait—one which the chosen species is most likely to take at any given time. If, for instance….

….a shoal of dace can be seen rising, an artificial fly, or a chrysalid, would be the most obvious choice of bait. If, on the other hand, pike were the quarry, a live fish would be preferable. These may seem obvious choices, but it is surprising how many anglers fail to give sufficient thought to this matter.

Choosing the most favourable time to seek each species is also important. Some are caught more readily when the water is coloured. For others, when the water is low, dawn and dusk are often the best times to seek them. 

Certain swims produce more fish when the water is high; others fish better when the water is running at normal, or low level. The angler who has acquired this knowledge, and puts it to use, will catch the species of fish he is after far more often than the angler who relies upon luck and chance to carry him through.

Anyway back to the fishing, not ideal conditions to be honest, but a night out for a mates 50th some fresh air was much needed and as the morning went on the wind would get worse and conclude the session early than I'd like. The stream had been well up a few days earlier but was now on the drop but you can tell from experience where the fish are likely to be holding up.

A dendrobaena tipped with a red maggot would be the bait of choice, a link ledger set-up and my little F1 wand rod complete with a 1oz tip. The first bite took a while to be honest, the usual holding spot more turbulent than I'd liked but eventually a millers thumb with eyes bigger than its belly decided he would like a bit of gluttony.

As I said before winter is the ideal time to explore the swims being more accessible and 100 or so yards down from the first swim there was a small pool, and to the sides a couple of nice slacks. Sure enough within seconds of the bait being out a telltale snappy bite turned in to a proper pull round.

It was fairly shallow and as soon as I saw it's flanks I knew it was a decent dace, wriggling around like they do, similar to a grayling flight I suppose.

Three or four were caught, I didn't weigh the biggest but you can see the scale compared to the balance scales, they are a good stamp certainly, maybe 7oz's the largest. Considering I've only fished in a few areas, very encouraging indeed. 

I'm sure there are some gems to be had among the humdrum there has to be. It's common knowledge that dace particularly are the lovers of small stream like this, they are happy here in areas where I doubt sees other anglers apart from Sam and I. 

Angling pressure basically nonexistent.... 

When the bloggers species challenge starts up again in June, I certainly know where my dace will be caught from. 

A small trout was caught as well but then the weather front drifted in and it was like someone flicked a switch, the wind bordering on the ridiculous, the tip moving around too much and bites hard to detect and it was time to head home. 

A heavy downpour of thick sleet later on in the day highlighted that we are still in winter despite the mild weather of late.

Back to basics fishing  I know, but for me, trips like this is why I love this pastime of ours, the unexpected.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Gap Stoppers and Gilflurts

A heavy fall of rain can transform the tiniest of stream in to a torrent of thick brown water. Swims that once contained only a few inches of water now contain several feet, and their character is altered overnight. The angler must adjust his tactics and methods to the new conditions.

Now while the spate is at its height the big lobworm is undoubtedly the finest bait, and will remain so while the water retains its colour. Chub are more active in the open water, and this can be a great time to catch them, especially when the water begins to fall and clear.

Now like this morning session when the water begins to fall, ledgering methods are particularly deadly. I use a link ledger set-up with just sufficient weight to sink the bait and to hold it in to position once it's found, so the slightest nudge from a Chevin will dislodge it and therefore register it as a bite on the rod-tip.

Once the rig has settled in position, a little slack line should be allowed to form between rod-tip and water. This is important because the first indication of a bite is given when the line begins to tighten. If this indication is missed the bite will be registered on the rod-tip, but it is best to watch the line sometimes and to strike as soon as it begins to tighten.

Fewer Chub will then be missed....

Ledgering is normally done in a downstream  direction, but the upstream style should not be neglected as it if often better to fish upstream than down, especially for registering the bite. Chub usually don't mess around though, a pull is usually confident affair and transitions in to a proper wrap round.

It is wise to study each swim, and then decide which method is best suited to it, always remembering that success is more likely if the angler remains undetected. During a period of high water it is sometime possible to take a large catch of chub from one swim, but the secret to my catch rate is the opposite, I rove however and move from swim to swim talking a chub or two from each swim like I did for this morning session.

Nearly 10,000 steps covered which for a short session just goes to show how much I rove and I often return to the same swim where I've caught fish from before. Once the spate has swept all the leaves and debris away and brought more colour to the water the fishing like it was for this morning session fantastic.

Ok nearly four hours but the conditions for many are tough judging by the catch report from others. So 7 or 8 fish caught, one lost and the two biggest fish registering 4lb. And the bait, well cheesepaste was the order of the day, all confident bites and why I love fishing for Chub.

The wind called the end to the session in the end as I'd had a much needed stay of execution I was enjoying it so much.

Chub got to love them !!!!

Friday, 8 March 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.13

A big billy, bold as brass, a thick body of dark teal with contrasting black stripes, ejected the roach deadbait like a baby spitting out a dummy. A sizeable dead for a Pike, but this sergeant engulfed it like it was a palate cleanser.

Certainly over 2lb, a proper chunk….

Sadly the more selective bait of a load of lobworms ready to chop is on the way via a courier so it would have to wait till next week, where I might try and fish in to dusk and a little beyond in an area I’ve not done so yet. Hopefully to try and winkle out something more what the venue appears to hold, as there appears to be a good stamp of fish in these seemingly forgotten waters.

Obviously a nice perch would be nice, but the session will be a bit of double dipping, as it would be a last gasp Pike session to conclude which has been a pretty good season to be fair…

….a chub and barbel PB and I seem to be enjoying my fishing more than ever.

Then it’s back to continue with the Canal Zander Challenge where I’m determined to catch a double figure fish.

Now talking of Zander albeit of the river kind, this short after work session was down at an area of the Warwickshire Avon where I’ve caught plenty of Zander in the past but they appear harder and harder to track down over the last couple of seasons. The Pike and especially the jacks certainly dominate and make up the predatory biomass but I’m sure they are still some good zeds to be had.

A session here not long ago I had bites galore on deads and landed a pike and a Zander and missed runs and had dropped takes, so I was back again for an in to dusk session this time though, with Zander in the back of my mind, rather than pike.

So baits would be smaller and this time smelt only….

Now the smelt is a bit of an oddball, you wouldn’t think the Zander would be attracted by it but they certainly are. They have a distinctive cucumber smell but with a background pungency that is unquestionably a fishy sea bait, however….

….for targeting canal Zander it was a revelation to be honest, and when bought in bulk is very cost effective as well. Being a soft bait, apart from allowing the hook to pass through without hindrance the bait give allowing a decent sized bait to be used without becoming a gobstopper if a similar sized roach was used for example.

So anyway, back on track, anything doing ?

Well to be fair, it wasn't a bad short session, the weather was cold, damp and the river up and coloured as expected, but it looked perfect for Zander rather than Pike, and sure enough the first bite a Zander of around 5lb and maybe a little over as it was quite rotund took a liking to the smelt offering.

Another fish came quite quickly after but then despite fishing in to dusk, the action was slow indeed and not even a bite at sundown. The Pike a no show as I expected.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.12

A rare opportunity, a whole days fishing, well not quite, but I’d have a morning and most of the afternoon, decisions decisions….

Given the choice I’d been roving a small river, but the time allowed and mulling it over, again and again, and once more, I decided on a bit of double dipping. The extra time meant I could build up a swim on this bigger stretch of river, whilst fishing a deadbait right where I’d caught Pike before. I’ve not really fished down here in anger, the problem is, and I’ve left myself with too many places to fish, so I tend to stick with convenience to maximize fishing time.

Others have been doing well down this stretch though, not just for the Chub which I like fishing for in the winter, but the roach and the bream too.

A good stamp of fish, that I’ve yet to plunder….

Now a method that has been doing well down this syndicate water is the maggot or caster approach, feed little and often and then when the fish turn up, which could be after an hour or so of trotting a float down, but stick with it, excuse the pun and the rewards appear to be there. 

I love fishing the float on small rivers but bigger rivers, nah not for me. I sometimes fish for Barbel on the float with chunks of meat in waters like this, but I fancied sticking to what I prefer and that’s fishing a feeder.

Simple tactics, aniseed tainted liquidised bread and maggots in the feeder, clip up the line and cast to a far bank marker every 5 or 10 minutes initially to get a bit of bait down and hopefully attract some fish in to the area. Bait would be breadflake in the main, a little smaller than I usually use for Chub, but a decent 2 pence sized piece all the same. 

I used this tactic down an area of the Avon that is chock full of roach and the method worked really well, bites, when they do come, can be hard to connect to fish initially, especially when the small roach get in on the act, however I add a small float stop above the free running feeder though, like a mini bolt rig I suppose, and the position on the line can be adjusted to help with the self-hooking ability of the set-up.

And what fish doesn’t like bread, they can lose their inhibitions and let their guard down, flour power my friends !!!! 

Anyway back to the session, my river and stream rod, a carbon tip and then I’d fish a sleeper for a Pike.

The thought was attract the bait fish, the Pike will come…

Now when I started this Pike quest, I thought it would be a little easier than I’ve found it. They are Pike after-all, not exactly the hardest fish to catch, but the problem is, you need to find them first. Now luckily here, I’d caught them to not far off double figures before, and there was a good reason for that, one particular swim was a holding spot, an area of interest, an area of varying flow change that attracts the Pike in to the area, it’s a bait fishing holder as well you see. 

Now to try and attract something a little bigger this time, it was out with the caviar, a palate quencher, yes a little joey mackerel rather than the smelt I’ve been using, to try and stand out from what’s usually laid on the buffet table. This time the usual single hook rig was boosted with a small stinger treble as it’s a slightly larger bait than I usually use.

It would be fishing under a float set-up, so I’d also fish a lively from time to time if I was getting desperate to catch a least one Pike, no matter the size.

So enough of the pre-planning ramblings, did I do any good ? 

Talk about peaking to soon, within fifteen minutes of putting the joey out, the float was on the move and good scrap ensued. After a few good bends of the rod and the fish taking some line a pike was in the net. After quickly unhooking it I put the float back out in the water because the bait was still intact within seconds it’s on the move again.

I’ve still got the first Pike resting in the net in the water ready to photograph so I’ve got no choice but to land both fish. This felt bigger again and after another decent scrap it was joining his mate in the landing net. This one a double, going 10lb 2oz on the scales. 

With all this commotion quite early on it was quite nice settling in to something more sedate, watching the tip on the quiver rod. Now after trying to build up a swim casting to the same area with the bread and maggot mix I thought after an hour I’d at least catch something. That didn’t materialise though and after another hour I packed the quiver gear up and knew I was wasting my time, the wind didn’t help either, the rod tip was all over the shop.

A cormorant feeding upstream, the water with a metre and half of visibility, clear blue skies, I knew it could go either of two ways, and it went the way I didn’t want it to go. I roved around with a roach deadbait to a couple of swims with outcrops where I’d caught a jack and lost a Zander before, but nothing doing, so returned to the original swim. 

Not long after a small bob on the float turned it to it going straight under. When it was being talking confidently I struck in to the fish and it was on. I thought it was a nodding Zander at first but when it surfaced it was a decent Perch, a lovely dark green colour with vibrant black stripes. It saw me though and left the water and shook its head which dislodged the big roach bait. It looked a good two which put a dampener on the session really.

Another hour went by, with no further bites so I packed up early and met the Wife in the pub for a late lunch.

I could get used to these midweek sessions I really could. What this long session brought home though, is how much happier I am on smaller waters, they are what properly float my boat, even though the fish are likely to match their territory.
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