Wednesday, 22 December 2010

22/12/10 Not for the faint hearted .

It almost been a month since i've caught a pike but it's not for the want of trying.I've had four blank trips out to Ham Corner and Streatham recently, and the cold snowy weather has got the better of me-not a sniff.For some strange reason, blanking locally is not bothering me half as much as It did on the Broads.I'm still enjoying just being out there especially in the extreme weather conditions we're experiencing,but it would be nice to put something in the net.
To be realistic, the snow melt can't be helping matters as the river temperatures are extremely low, but the clarity and levels haven't been bad which Is why I'm keeping at it.If I could get them, i feel that livebaits would help.When that next pike does eventually turn up, I'm sure it'll give me a great feeling of satisfaction.
Opportunities to get out in the boat have been limited by the weather and, when it has been possible, i've been on shift.Purchasing the boat when i did, and also lacking in experience on the open sea, I expected to have little chance of fishing through this winter and it's really not a problem. However I did get the chance for another 'test run' with Jack a few days ago when we sailed over to Selsey to check out distance, fuel consumption etc.
The trip took about 50 minutes at 12 knots average and the fuel consumed was minimal-a valuable learning exercise as the fishing grounds out there are pretty good come the warmer months and worth the trip.Tweaking the boat is just about done now though I will spend Christmas and Boxing day with her tucked up in the warmth of the fire station appliance bay, whilst I programme the GPS. I'll have nothing better to do.

Monday, 6 December 2010

6/12/10 Messing About In The Boat

At the moment, patience seems to be the name of the game with my fishing. Being philosophical about it helps too.
The forecast looked good for today. Light winds from the North, and a first proper chance at some sea fishing from the boat. Plan was to head for a mark near to Black Ledge but as soon as we left the harbour the wind picked up and were forced to turn back, and resign ourselves (Andy and Me) to spending a bit of time fishing in the lee of the land about half a mile off the back of my house.We were still battered by the bitingly cold Northerly, but at least the sea state was calm.
A few bites and a proper 'run' for Andy but unfortunately nothing connected,  and another blank ensued.The only other boat out there was 'Spirit' probably fishing the Kingmere.
However, basking in the winter sun was very enjoyable, and I learnt a bit more about, and built up my confidence in handling, the boat, which performed faultlessly.A couple more trips out like this during the winter months and I should have Ironed out all the glitches, and sorted out all the switches, before the real fishing begins next spring. .....Wouldn't mind a cod in the meantime though.
One final thought- I have to laugh at myself sometimes. I've probably spent as much time today, prepping the boat, and cleaning it, and all the gear  up afterwards, as we spent with baits in the water.
It'll all be worth it in the long run.

3/12/10 Greatham in the Snow

Just had to get up the river for another crack at getting a picture of a decent pike in the snow. No pike for Dave and me, but some stunning scenery and a pleasant way to spend a morning.
Thing is, at the moment, despite the extremely low temperatures making fishing difficult,the water clarity and levels are good so we've got to take advantage and get out.If it warms up It usually means rain and the rivers will colour up , and probably flood, making fishing Impossible. Catch 22.
Even Dave admitted today that Livebaits would've probably made a difference!

Monday, 29 November 2010

29/11/10 Streatham

At the end of our last session together I vowed to Andy that we'd get him a double, so today I took him to the tidal stretch just upstream of Streatham Bridge for a three hour stint.
Things were a bit slow and my goodness it was very cold but, nearing the end of the session Andy's white and red float was attacked by a small pike as it waved in the current and shortly after as he was retrieving his sardine bait to pack up, a bigger pike decided to have a go at it......and missed.
Quickly returning the bait to the water it wasn't long before the same pike decided that she'd have another crack, and out she came- a nice fish at 10-03 and Andy first double for some time.Great when a plan comes together!

28/11/10 Washingham

I was supposed to meet Dave but, when i arrived at his house this morning I thought that ,because his blinds were still closed, he'd still be asleep. I headed for Washingham, but he was already out on the upper Greatham stretch and had a take from an upper single early on.

Unfortunately Washingham didn't produce for me in the cold weather , and I packed up Just before midday. can't win em all.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

25/11/10 Ham Corner.....Back In Action.

After the disastrous trip to the Broads(I'm still reeling in pain) it was high time to get back into the fish, and get busy on the Sussex rivers, where the pike are unlikely to have ever seen a bait, let alone been caught.,...........and the closest angler(apart from your mate) is likely to be miles away. I like that!
I had set aside this morning for a possible trip out in the boat after cod, but the winds were strengthening from the north, and acting on Rusty's advice to pick the best times ,weather wise,to venture out at this time of year,I decided to cancel and instead, head up the river after pike.
Having returned home this lunchtime, I think it was, with hindsight, a wise decision, as the sea looks decidedly lumpy a few miles out. However, Rusty's been doing extremely well lately with cod, and i'm eager to follow in his footsteps and get my first fish aboard.There has also been some bass action drifting over the Kingmere to whet my appetite but, for the moment, i'll just have to be patient, and wait for a suitable window of opportunity.
Seeing as I was due to take Andy out, I let him decide on a venue for the morning's fishing and, rather pleasingly, he chose Ham Corner.This remote stretch of the river has produced a double figure pike for me in the past, albeit from a boat,and I've been meaning to return for a couple of years. It's also the lowest point on the tideway at which I personally have taken pike .
We parked the truck up at about half seven,but rather disappointingly, the gate to the long chalk track leading close to the river was locked, and I was unable to play silly buggers with the 4WD lever.She's still a 'mud' virgin in my hands.
 Shanks' pony was the only option, and we were fishing before eight-two rods out both on trusty float legered sardine for me, and Andy fishing one rod for the pike, and a bread feeder for whatever might pop along.The water conditions couldn't be better. The colour had dropped right out after the past few days of cold, dry weather and the level was spot on. Tide was ebbing strongly and there were plenty of small fish topping-in fact the place seemed quite 'alive'.I must admit, despite the bitingly cold northerly wind, I felt quietly confident.
 We worked our way downstream from the culvert entrance, hopping the rods every half hour or so and fishing in an average of ten feet of water, a couple of rod lengths out.
Dead on slack LW at 1130, one of my floats juddered.... then a bob.... then it lay flat....stood up ... then bobbed again......a very, very gentle take indeed.I tightened up within seconds, felt  the weight of a good fish,played it deep for a few more seconds and Andy wielded the net for me with his usual skill.The whole thing was over in a minute.....and then the pike woke up!....but it was too late.
Thankfully, I'd just reacted in time, as the bottom treble was an inch or so from the stomach entrance and , although  easily removed with the 'long noses', goes to show that It pays to be 'on the ball' when it comes to bite detection .I've never yet had a deep hooked pike that i've not been able to successfully retrieve my gear from.....and I'd like to keep it that way.After the pic(looks better blown up) she went back with no trouble at all and probably sat sulking in the margins for a while before sliding back down to the depths.
13lb 12oz, fit and fat, and my first double of the season-let's hope there are a few more.
An hour or so later, Andy and me were making our way back to the truck already planning a return trip.

Monday, 22 November 2010

15-19/11/10 Back to Reality.....with a crash!

It would seem that my bubble has finally burst. I had been wondering of late when it would happen.

FIVE days solid in the boat pike fishing on the Broads at Horning. Net result............nil............................... Not a sniff! ...............................Couldn't even buy a bite, while others around me were catching !  BUGGER!. i've said before ,It's a rare occasion that i go fishing without learning something, and lesson for this trip was the effectiveness of big live baits on the Broads, and especially when they are trolled slowly. Joining Dave and me for this trip was Jon Cook and his skill at tempting esox with the above method( he took at least nine fish ) was admirable.Jon's belief in the effectiveness of a live bait was concrete...and it was interesting to discuss the issue in depth, and get an insight into the 'psyche'  of an experienced 'circuit' piker for the first time, and find out that they're perhaps not all the 'rogues' that they're perceived to be.

Sadly,and rather hypocritically,It's likely that the method's days are numbered, and that it will be banned completely in the near future.

 Unfortunately my own attempts at 'dragging' lives were pitiful, not helped by being nabbed by a narky local 'jobsworth' for breaking the rules and trolling on an electric motor, as well as being told off for speeding, and not displaying my licence(it disintegrated in the rain) by the Broads Authority.All in all things went pretty well considering.

Dave did bring one beautifully marked pike aboard, to christen the boat,on a mackerel, but, for the majority of the time,unlike in Sussex, it just felt to me like we were 'drowning' our dead baits.

The wildlife(huge otter and marsh harrier among others), beer, food and company were, as always, it wasn't all bad, although, I don't think I'll be returning in a hurry, despite Jon's success.

Friday, 12 November 2010

12/11/10 Bassquest #13 More Fun In The Surf

Andy and me were out again tonight,joined by Andy's mate Baz, grabbing another opportunity to chase spikeys.
 We'd decided to try opposite the swimming pool to see how far these fish were spread along the L.A coastline.Compared to the turmoil we experienced last night, conditions tonight were far more manageable-in fact I'd go as far as to say that the surf was near perfect-for Sussex.Evenly breaking waves with nice flat tables of water separating them-standing in the surf it was easy to imagine that we were fishing a classic Cornish or Irish strand at times.
 The tide was relatively small and most of the areas where we've been catching of late would not have been accessible.The southerly winds and low pressure had also contributed to restricting the tide range which we realised, but it still looked quite odd at low tide seeing so little of the beach exposed.
Fishing from LW up, the flood was well underway before we had any bites and the first of these came to Andy who , after a few finicky missed takes, landed one of 2 1/2 lb.I too was getting definite bites but was failing to follow through until a steady pull resulted in this one at 4lb(55cm).
We could have had half a dozen out between us had we connected with the bites, but we felt that they were probably just schoolies hitting our big squid baits. It'll be interesting to see how long this continues but, all the time this weather is kicking up a surf, it's gotta be worth having a go at them.
These past few trips out after bass have been immensely enjoyable.Just being out there in the wild surf is an experience itself but the run of luck i've had with the catches has just put the Icing on the cake.Once again I say to myself 'what a season'

Thursday, 11 November 2010

11/11/10 Extreme Bassing....Bassquest #12

We're not sure how long these bass are going to be around so, taking advantage of the rough weather, Andy and me headed to west beach, for a change, this evening for another surf bass session.Conditions were extreme with wind speeds gusting to 45mph , that's force 8, according to Windguru.It certainly felt like it and we had to stand with our backs into the wind to avoid being blown off our feet,and keep an close eye on the incoming waves.

One cast at West Beach, which we'd both agreed would be worth a shot,and we were dragged along the shore by weed.It took seconds to decide to jump back in the truck, and relocate to the east side of the river, where we might at least get a little shelter and the weed would not be such an issue.

This indeed proved to be the case but, although fishable, it was right on the limit , our rods being thrown all over the place.

However, despite the presumed difficulties in bite detection, when the take came, it was unmistakable, and unmissable- a solid thump felt through the rod.. The fish did however, decide to run towards me  quite quickly, and when I eventually caught up with it,it was virtually at my feet.A nice little specimen at 3-08 that was returned safely .The bass came right on moonset which apparently, according to Drew's theory,is a 'hot time'.The man is full of priceless little gems like this which make fishing with him extremely interesting and entertaining.I'm not quite so scientific in my approach and feel that the little bass, rather than gazing up at the fading moon and thinking it must be teatime, just happened upon my juicy squid and fancied a munch.

Unfortunately that was the only bite of the session, but I feel we did well not to blank. We left the beach feeling rather exhilarated, if not a little exhausted, by our little adventure, both agreeing that it would've been quite dicey to attempt it alone, and both looking forward to getting home to a nice hot cuppa.

Monday, 8 November 2010

8/11/10 Bassquest #11 - My First Double

 I was disappointed not to have been with my mate Andy last week to photograph his double figure bass for him, having not, at that point in time, caught or even seen one myself............
Yesterday morning we experienced the heaviest storm of the winter so far which was accompanied by some seriously spectacular seas around HW .I'd been out cruising along the sea front in the 'firm's car' using the company's time wisely,by checking out the conditions, when It dawned on me that, with all this bass food being stirred up, I should phone Drew and arrange a session at L.W for tonight. It turned out that he'd been thinking the same. Great minds...........
The wind had steadily tailed off throughout the afternoon but, when I arrived home from work in the evening,I could still hear a decent surf rolling in at the back of the house, though of course,in the darkness, I couldn't see it.I picked Andy up at about 6-30p.m, we headed out west, and were in place by about 7-00.Today's L.W was at 1816.Conditions were just perfect.The wind had dropped to a mere 'breath' but, there was indeed still enough movement in the water, and the sea and air temperatures felt warm enough to Instill confidence.
My chosen rig was a whole squid on a 6/0-4/0 pennel(I don't take prisoners) on a running paternoster, and Andy had a mackerel strip on a 3/0(a more delicate approach) for the first chuck, but was to switch to squid for the remainder of the fishing.
Within minutes of starting, and both on our first casts, Andy signalled that he'd had a bite.....and was in......Just seconds after, I had a strong thump and I was In too.......... and..........., it felt like a good fish.Two good bass on at the same time.....this would be fun!
Our baits had been quite close together, the idea being to concentrate a scent in the water(teamwork), and it soon became apparent that Andy's fish had kited over my line(the cheek of it !).Things did get a bit confused at this point as it seemed, in a bit of a 'comedy' moment, that we were possibly fighting the same fish.My line was still out, but looped round Andy's, and as he'd played his fish in to our feet,and could see that it was a good'n, we both decided to start the 150yd 'wade' back to shore together, without untangling my line first, as we didn't want to lose Andy's fish.
As we moved back a few yards the weight on my line still seemed heavy. I thought that perhaps I was just dragging weed or the lead was snagging...but I wasn't entirely sure.I suggested to Andy that we free my line and, as soon as we'd done so, I was back into fighting my fish...I've made worse decisions.
The bass came in relatively easily, though feeling quite heavy on the light estuary rod, and as she appeared out of the darkness, we could both see she was something special.......'You've got a double there mate'.... P.P exclaimed.
Finally reaching 'dry' land ,we laid both bass down together on the sand and, as you can see , it was a splendid sight.What a brace. Quickly weighing and individually photographing each fish, we were both keen to get them back unharmed, and this indeed was successfully achieved. I must have followed mine out for 75yds or so to see it safely back.
P.P had forgotten his beloved tape measure, but luckily, I'd remembered to pack my scales.Andy's fish weighed 7-04 and mine 10-10, both fantastic fish, my first ever double figure bass and 'catch of the year' without a doubt.I was over the moon.
Second cast produced another lesser bass for me at 3-12 and my third cast gave me a dropped fish, both takes being preceded by the slightest of knocks.As the tide flooded,and the depth increased, we both felt that the surf conditions were deteriorating but, there were still fish feeding and Andy concluded the session, and balanced the numbers, with another nice bass of 4-12 taken home for a well deserved meal.
We did have an additional 'comedy' moment during the sesh' when Andy's hands had become too cold to delicately thread a frozen squid on to his fine wire 3/0.Gallantly, I offered my assistance, only to remember that my eyesight at closer than a yard, is total pants-hence the reason for my use of giant viking hooks.
I doubt whether we had half a dozen casts each, and were fishing for just a couple of hours, but it was a truly memorable session and one of many that Andy and me have had this year.What with last month's success on lures....Lady Luck has definitely been on my side this season.

Friday, 5 November 2010

5/11/10 Rustington Surf

Back out again this afternoon for another crack at bass, but this time fishing the beach at the back of the house.Conditions were similar to yesterday, although the wind was a little lighter . We started by scouting the area at LW to select likely looking spots and began fishing directly on to rough ground, using the same tactics and bait .

After a while a drop back signified some action to my rod but, it turned out to be a dogfish, quickly followed by a similar fish to Andy's rod, so we decided to move along the beach.Some more dogfish 'action' ensued but unfortunately no bass showed, although we did identify some sand bars that will be targeted on future tides if there is surf about.

The big question is; Are the bass more concentrated near the river? Who knows.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

4/11/10 Bassquest #9 L.A Surf

The surf conditions have been very favourable of late and P.P's been getting quite a few decent bass out culminating in a superb 77cm P.B specimen in the early hours of this morning.With the time and effort he puts in to his fishing, he really does deserve a fish of this calibre, and I personally am chuffed to bits for the man.Andy, when you read this-big well done mate!
 What I'm also very excited about,as results this season have confirmed, is the fact that bass of this stamp can be caught from our local venues, given the appropriate conditions, and although it's fun to travel 'out east' to try for bass, it's not strictly necessary.
Having been unable to join in on the fest over the past few days, I finally hooked up with Andy today for a low tide session just east of the river mouth for a couple of hours.The southerly was blowing quite hard (F5-6), whipping up a nice surf, and the temperature, despite the wind chill factor, was still reasonably high for the time of year.
Whole squid on a 6/0 -4/0 pennel were my tactics wading probably 100 plus yards out into the sea and chucking out a further 30yds into the strong headwind.
 I love this sort of fishing for it's sheer simplicity.Just a light rod and reel (AFAW 11ft estuary rod and a 6501), chest waders and a small shoulder bag with bait, scales and a few bits of spare end gear is all you need to carry. Anything else just becomes a hindrance.
Our first casts were into what looked like a slight depression adjacent to a sandbank and after about ten minutes i had the first bite- a solid unmissable thump, which even Andy noticed,was easily struck home and a very strong battle ensued.So unusually fierce was the fight that we both thought that it would turn out to be a very big fish,but instead a modest sized bass came in through the waves and although fairly hooked in the mouth by the pennel hook, the bottom hook had snagged a gill plate which may account for the tussle.
After walking her in to 'dry' land for the 'weights and measures' (4-08- 58cm) and trophy shot ,she went back in none the worse for her ordeal, and we made our way out again for Andy to get his turn.
It didn't take long, a couple of casts later and this time a more subtle bite ended in my mate beaching a 50cm fish to balance the session out nicely.
We had a few more casts as the big tide progressed up the beach, but the light was fading fast , and we were both a bit 'winded' by the 'wild' weather, so we called a halt to yet another success for the 'team'.
When the conditions are right, we could be in with a chance of a few more fish like this before the end of the year.Only time will tell.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

1/11/10 Fishing's Fickle Fortunes.

I'll make this entry short and sweet because I'm still reeling in pain over it's outcome.LOL

Rusty took me out in the 'Sea Fairy' today to one of his favourite marks and despite the skipper having a spectacular session with three superb cod to 12lb, plus a variety of rays, bream, gurnard, dogs and small hounds, my only contributuion to the days catch, apart from being brilliant with the net and camera, was a solitary dogfish and two small bream.I can't quite seem to get the hang of this boat fishing lark.Sometimes, that's the way it goes...................................Bugger!


Friday, 29 October 2010

29/10/10 All Change.

Only a week ago I was still targeting the summer species wearing a t-shirt but, with the daylight hours noticably decreasing, and the temperature dropping, it's time again to swap the delicate avon float for a 'mooring buoy',dig out the thermal suit, and fish for pike. Not that i'm completely discounting another crack at the mullet or bass.With the recent windy weather the surf's  up out back and P.P's been  there catching four pound bass (laterly a six pounder), and there's a possibility that , given the right conditions, I may get another chance of an Arun mullet..who knows.
Dave and me reached the first swim at the bottom of the Washingham stretch at dawn, with barely enough light to see the floats. The river ,despite the recent rain, was in excellent condition, clear enough to fish with lures had we brought any along with us,which we hadn't, and the tide was just beginning to drop.
The corner swim threw up a blank but after a move Dave landed the first pike on smelt, followed by a second on a pollan,hooked just as he was winding in to change his bait, and a third before we'd reached the sluice, again on paternostered pollan.Biggest of the three was a high single-I gave him 8lb.
By the afternoon we'd crossed the sluice ,my float finally decided to make a move, and out came the thinnest pike I've ever seen and a tiddler that would probably barely make saved me blanking.All the pike were still lively in the relatively warm water, and their markings remained bold due to a summer of clear water conditions. With the arrival of rain and generally murky water conditions, the pike tend to lose their colour ,and turn rather dull, some displaying a unique electric blue tinge along their flanks.
We covered a few more swims before knocking off at 4-30 . Nice way to start the river pike season in earnest.
In the evening we met up for a beer with Michael Kernan in Hampshire, whose success on the river with lures for pike is well documented in his book on the river.Michael's confidence in using lures throughout the winter season will give us plenty to think about over the next few months. Let's hope the pike co-operate.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

23/10/10 Eel Trouble.

I fished from 11-00p.m to 02-00a.m tonight returning to the scene of my recent bass captures but this time with big squid baits on a 6/0 pennel attached to a sunken float rig hoping to avoid the attention of the species anguilla.......In short,It didn't work.The Eels quickly found the bait and I did actually land one which wrecked my end rig.

It was however a stunning,albeit freezing full moon night, and the river had a certain eerie ambiance, so a pleasent way to spend a few hours.Just a shame no bass were forthcoming.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

21/10/10 Double Shots! inc.Bassquest #7

Myself and Drew had already arranged this one before I'd caught yesterday's bass and It was hardly surprising that we had no intention of changing our plan.
Once again the weather was fine and sunny, although today there was even less of a breeze, and the water conditions were still gin clear.
I'd managed to finish my work by 12-30 and indeed was just returning to the truck when I got P.P's call. He was already fishing,  had taken a six pounder from above the prison bend, and was lucky enough to nab a passing dog walker(also keen angler) to take the shot.I was chuffed to bits for my mate, but a little disappointed that I'd not been there to see the fish and take the picture myself .It's not often I get a chance to see bass of this nature and they are truly a  sight for sore eyes.
Within half an hour I'd arrived at the prison bend myself and elected to gradually work my way back downstream with a blue and silver version of yesterday's killer lure-a 6" manns shad.
Probably ten yards or so upstream of the scene of the previous day's action, came the take.Another strong fight ensued but more spectacular was the sight of six or so similarly sized bass following my own hooked fish into the shallows in the bright sunlight. This incredible image remains in my minds eye as I'm writing-stunning.Once again i had to side step gingerly down the flood bank(tide had ebbed considerably) to net the fish,but being an old hand at the game by now, i had no problems flipping the net and actually landed the fish without coating it in sticky mud.
Another lovely bass, this time at 4-13 (23inches)- I was one happy bunny and once again Andy did the honours with the camera.
I had one more definite 'bump' shortly afterwards which pulled the shad body down the hook shank by the tail,but despite covering quite a bit of ground heading towards the sewer outlet, that was the only bass action for the two of us and we decided to head back.
Why did I not do more lure bassing this year-I love it.
On the way back  to the truck we spotted a few mullet, obviously down in numbers , but still enough to have a go at.I had packed the mullet kit that morning and as we were five minutes away from Tesco , which might possibly have some bread for sale,I decided to swap the baitcaster and multiplier, for a float rod and centrepin, get it sorted, and try for a mullet.
Starting point was the top of the west bank straight. I did the fishing. P.P(who didn't bring his mullet kit) did the recon work perched high up on the flood bank hidden in the bushes, offering tips and advice on where the fish were,how not to spook them in the gin clear water(difficult), and when to hit the bites.That's called teamwork.
The ebb was quite strong so a fair bit of mash went in, and it didn't take long for the fish to switch on to the bread with lots of surface activity showing.
'They're right by that old shopping trolley mate' P.P reported as I glimpsed at said trolley, and proceeded to miss the first bite.Ouch.
Couple of trots later , the float buried, and I didn't make the same mistake.I'll admit that I bullied this fish in, trying to keep the rod low in a vain attempt to keep the fish under water and preserve the swim, but unfortunately  I  beached it  a bit too close to the feed area, and take zone.Lovely mullet at 4-08 and distinguished by only having the use of one eye.
Now it was Drew's turn and being the unselfish sort of bloke that I am and because my man had only brought along his bassing kit, I lent him my mullet gear, and took over the role of 'groundbaiter'.
The swim had indeed 'died', so we moved upstream, and found a couple of likely targets flashing on the sewerage farm straight.It took about half an hour before Andy had his chance,  hit a steady bite, and complete the double shot for both of us with this mullet of 2-04.
Four hours fishing, including all the bank walking and shopping, and one of the most enjoyable and memorable sessions of the year.Great fun to mix methods and species.
Thankfully, after four straight days of fishing, I'm going on shift at the Fire Station for the next few days for a well earned rest.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

20/10/10 Bassquest #6 ....Success at last!

This is a story of extreme good fortune(luck) and opportunism.I was making my way home after finishing some long overdue work when I received a muffled mobile call from a rather excited P.P saying that he was up the river plugging,and that he'd come across an angler who'd had a couple of really nice bass.
I did have one last job planned but despite the cold northerly,the sun was shining in a clear blue sky, and  the temptation to quickly nip home and grab my lure kit was too much, I succumbed,let's face it- i hadn't wet a line for at least 18 hours!
 Thirty minutes later,I was walking up the west bank spotting numerous good sized mullet in the clear, high water. I did think to myself that perhaps I should have brought along a float rod and some bread, but the fish were so easily spooked by the slightest of movement and would probably be best tackled at low water.My choice of target would turn out to be a wise(lucky) move.
Half way along the first bend I came across 'Barry from Barnham' who had packed up and was making his way home.This was indeed Andy's angler, and in his bag were three fine bass, captured on shad tactics, including what looked like a 'six'.We nattered for a while and Barry turned out to be a really amiable chap , was keen on both the river's mullet and bass, and had quite coincidentally met P.P before on a trip to Dorset.It was great to meet a like minded angler on the river and inspiring to see what he'd caught. There were obviously some decent bass about and the water conditions were near perfect.
Resolving to meet up again sometime on the river, we headed off in different directions and I began casting my own mustard shad ,starting at the lower end of the prison bend. By this time Andy had wandered towards Ford. We made contact by mobile and I decided to fish my way up to him.
.Reaching half way up the prison straight with the tide ebbing strongly, nothing had happened and I'd met up with my mate who'd fared similarly. We both marvelled over Barry's bass and discussed our options, planning to have another crack tomorrow catching the tide a little earlier.Andy then decided to carry on upstream whilst I opted to head for home with the intention of doing a little more at the prison bend before calling it.
I had a couple of casts by the top sluice and then, moving on, half way around the bend, a huge swirl- far too violent to be a mullet , ten yards from the bank, caught my eye and I immediately sent the shad out to do it's work. It was taken Instantly and a sizable fish was on for just a few seconds before letting go-'bugger' I thought, I'd missed my chance.
Seconds later and following another cast there was again,a huge swirl (hitting fry perhaps) fifteen yards down. This fish, if it was the same one, was moving very fast.The third cast went mid river.I took a couple of turns and then BANG-a tremendous thump was fed down to the rod handle through the braid and a fish was on.The little baitcaster curved over and the drag slipped on the baby multiplier conceding line as the fish ran downstream and out into deeper water .
 Rather nervously I scrambled down the slippery flood defence to get to the mud bank ,all the time trying to keep a bend in the rod and worrying that I'd lose this one too.It did feel like a very good fish indeed.Once i'd gained my footing the battle was virtually won and although feeling heavy, I was able to glide the fish in and, not having time to assemble the fold up net, I just beached her on the mud.....and started to shake.
I'd finally caught the bass I was after.
Fumbling around and covering everything in mud, I phoned P.P and asked him to come and take the pic whilst I held the fish in the net.By now i'd moved off the mud and was standing on the concrete steps at the lower end- a convenient perch. When Andy arrived, rather out of breath after running a not inconsiderable distance, he was as excited as myself. We quickly lifted the fish out to get the pics(skillfully done) and carry out the weighing,as I was really nervous about holding on to the fish for too long.
 I was still shaking, according to Andy,after I'd returned her to the river, having experienced that wonderful feeling of relief( I needn't really have worried) as the bass strongly swam off to 'fight another day' they say.
Andy- when you read this this. Thanks a million mate. It's all down to you. If you hadn't have phoned me none of this would be being written.
She went 7-13,a modest size to some, but brilliant by my standards.The look on my face says it all.Whether or not the two takes were from the same fish I'll never really know for sure. But, my gut feeling tells me that the first fish, of which I did catch a brief glimpse, was smaller.At least, that's what I'd like to think.
 A large headed, and truly handsome fish, beating my previous p.b by three pounds and in P.P's opinion- 'a fine lure caught specimen'. As I write this a few hours later.....I'm still shaking.....................................................................................only kidding!

18/10/10,19/10/10 Chew.

Chew valley lake near Bristol has developed a fantastic reputation for excellent pike fishing in recent years and is capable of producing some real monsters.Like all 'BIG' waters however, it is not easy fishing,and the visiting angler is just as likely to blank, as have a red letter day.
Dave had managed to secure two days fishing for us-the first   from the bank, and the following day having the use of one of the reservoir's hire boats.
Having left home at 2-30am ,we arrived at the lake just as dawn was breaking to find several keen pikers already on the bank near to Woodford lodge, however there was plenty of room, and it only took a short walk to find a quiet spot.
The weather was extremely kind- warm sunny and with little breeze- an ideal day to have been out in a boat.I had a dropped run on legered mackerel early on but Dave caught our only fish of the day with a fish in the 6-7lb class. We did see some action in some distant bank swims and a brief feeding spell saw a handful of fish fall to boats moored in front of us , but i suspect that generally it was a quiet day for all.
Naturally we fished right until last knockings, which is the way Dave and I do business, and subsequently retired to our B&B/Pub in neighbouring Blagdon consuming a fine meal of home made 'babies' eads' washed down with some local ale.Totally knackered by the early start and the hectic days fishing,  we were probably well into the land of 'nod' by half ten.Rather surprisingly, my 'terrible' snoring that tortures Jan's sleeping regime ,didn't bother Dave at all.
After a full breakfast, another fine meal, we were out in our boat by about ten , consciously avoiding the 'rush hour' at the  pontoons.Unfortunately, the weather had deteriorated with strong winds and the occasional shower making life afloat rather tiring.
I had some fun messing around with a jerk bait rod that Jon Cook had kindly donated to my cause , and a small selection of 'huge' lures purchased specifically for the occasion from 'Sovereign Superbaits' but had no luck.Eventually we parked the boat close to a trout pen and I missed a run on a suspended mackerel, but succeeded a few casts later with my first pike of the year-a small jack .Staying in the general vicinity my sardine was soon snaffled by this upper single but that was the last action of the trip.
Beaten up by the weather we called it quits just before dark and despite the general lack of action, we hadn't blanked, and had still enjoyed the experience.Reports from other boats suggested that ,once again most had had a quiet time but, someone had struck lucky with a fish of 28lb which could just as easily fallen to our boat.Chew seems to have suffered the loss of quite a few of its big pike, but i'm sure one day, it will return to past form.
Dave and I have yet to get  lucky on these big waters but it doesn't stop us having a trip once a year by way of a change from our usual tidal river piking. The bird life and scenery is invariably stunning(Dave had a kingfisher perch himself on one of his rods)and we always have a good time regardless of what we catch.We both agreed to return next year if we can get tickets.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

17/10/10 Snoek is Gone.

Bit of a sad moment really,but my trusty Orkney Spinner 'Snoek' sold this morning,and went to pastures new (South Wales)with new owner Russ. It's funny how you can get attached to boats, especially if you've got a bit of history with them, more so than cars etc, and I've had some great fishing with this little boat.But therein lies the problem,she is just too small for the open sea fishing that i now want to have a crack at, however, for anyone considering mullet fishing in harbours and rivers in complete comfort,you'd be hard pushed to find a better craft.She was just perfect.

I bought the boat In April 2008, bringing her home(Orkneys are made in Arundel)  all the way down from Glasgow on a ridiculously dangerous trailer which all but fell apart as I parked it up in my back garden.That spring I welded up a new trailer from scratch,and totally overhauled the hull seperating the cuddy, removing the motor and steering and giving the whole topside a coat of fresh paint.A bit of custom fitting and she was ready to go giving me  three seasons of fun In the Sussex tidals, Hamble , Christchurch,piking on the Broads, and a little bit of inshore sea angling from Littlehampton.Unfortunately, and rather amusingly for my mates, the boat never lived up to its name(Snoek is Dutch for pike)and although catching some really nice mullet from her, I never did grace her decks with a decent pike.

I reckon I've used her on about 50 plus outings, so she's had a fair bit of use and was starting to get a little bit tatty around the edges.This didn't seem to put the new owner off at all and he seemed very pleased with the deal,which is always comforting, and I'm sure she'll be put to good use.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

13/10/10 Stragglers in the river.

Enough of this messing around with boats and motors, it was time to catch some fish.
The weather has been a tad chilly following the recent rain and it appears that there are less mullet showing in the river.I suppose the season is getting on, but i've had them this late in the year before.
I should have been working this morning but P.P really wanted to get out for a couple of hours, and I couldn't really let him go on his own,could I.We parked up at the road bridge and decided to walk up the west bank starting just upstream of the prison bend.I've not bank fished this stretch for many years, and the revisit reminded me of past sessions.It's a peaceful area to fish, out of earshot of the A259 and usually sheltered from prevailing winds by some huge trees.It was low tide  approaching slack and we saw very few fish on the way up-just the odd straggler. I'm convinced if they been around in numbers , we'd have seen more.
I'd been fishing for about half an hour, at the lower end of the Ford straight, when I spied a swirl 50yds or so downstream, and this was enough to get me moving.In short there was another whelm , and then the bite came within minutes providing me with this fish at 3-08.
The wind began funneling down the Ford prison straight from the north making things a bit unpleasant so we decided to relocate downstream beyond the prison bend.I walked a 100yds further than Andy and selected a calm area where I thought i might have seen some movement.A sail away bite in three feet of water was missed and after seeing a huge whelm in the swim, which was probably caused by more than one mullet,I bumped off a fish.Bugger!After this things went quiet and no more action was forthcoming.Andy had joined me and we decided to move on but, just as I was climbing back up the flood defence, there was major disturbance in the swim.There were definitely fish still present and, as I'd invested a lot of ground bait in the swim I decided to continue. This proved to be a good decision as I soon had a bite which produced my second of the session at 2-08, and that was enough for me.
P.P, being of stubborn nature, returned to the truck with me to collect his shoes, but elected to stay on and try to get his 'last' mullet of the season from the east bank.Three hours later he phoned me, delighted, to say that his determination had paid off,and he'd just done it with a fish taken from a swim close to the road bridge.Top man. He'd also spotted a shoal of 30 or so tightly grouped mullet, possibly forming up ready to leave the river-who knows.I think a session by the black shed low down in the harbour might be a good bet, but it'll have to wait until small tides.
With seven fish to go to reach my 50 target-it's looking like I might, just might stand a slim chance.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

11/10/10 New Toys To Play With.

Having mulled over it for several months, consulted experts in the field,researched the internet and quite possibly bored Dave to death with my deliberations, I've finally taken the plunge and gone for a 'new' boat that will hopefully be more suitable for open sea fishing than the little Spinner.It was to be my 50th birthday present to myself, but I'm blowed if I'm going to wait that long.

I picked up the Orkney 520 'Scooby 2' a few days ago from Northwich in Cheshire, hitching it on the back of the camper, a round trip of 500 odd miles, having seen it on an ebay auction, where it failed,just, to reach reserve.I'd already been up ,taking my Dad along for the ride, to have a look at it a few days previously, and it seemed to fit the bill.1000 miles for a boat, and I didn't even quibble over the price.

She's in great nick,and her sleek, graceful lines are certainly easy on the eye.Do Orkney make unattractive boats?....I don't think so.

 A Yamaha 4 stroke  (25 horses)matches my tiny little 'coble' motor which i'll use as an auxillary, she's got all the sparky bits(GPS, F/F, VHF which will take some figuring out) ,and some seriously, sexy stainless  (Bruce anchor and chain included-who can afford to buy a stainless steel anchor!).She towers over the spinner so looks like she'll handle a bit of a sea,and the roller trailer is, by reputation, a doddle to use-and has proved so.

From 'Beauty' to the 'Beast'. Also 'new' in the stable, is the 'truck' pulling the boat up the slipway.It looks like it should be towing one of those chrome trimmed, net curtained caravans that people who read tea leaves, and lay tarmac tend to inhabit. .A 20 year old Pajero(means Pampas Cat- also means something less complimentary in Spanish-wiki it) that I picked up for the princely sum of £750(T&T) from Dave's next door neighbour, Nigel- a thoroughly decent chap.I hasten to add that he's not a member of the travelling fraternity.

Nigel has owned the vehicle since it was first imported, and has maintained a huge file of service receipts and an unbroken record of former MOT's.

Now, I've never been particularly fond of 'Chelsea Tractors' especially two pedalled variants,and I've not had Jap wheels before, but after initially being a bit dubious about it (the steering was pants-now sorted) It's growing on me bit by bit.It's got all the bells and whistles(fully blinged.. air con, heated leather seats et al) and I can't complain about the price, can I. It is however, a masterpiece of late 80's automotive over Indulgence,probably cost a small fortune when new ,Is positively the ugliest vehicle I have ever owned,and is as aesthetic as a breeze block.... aspects of which add somewhat to its charm.Jan hates it and P.P's not keen either.What do they know.LOL

On the practical side, it's an Intercooled turbo diesel,(sounds funky if nothing else) so fuel shouldn't be an issue, and it generates enough torque to pull a house down.4WD is going to be handy when pulling the boat out at low tide and THAT, is the real reason for buying it- I need to get the boat in and out of the river, when I want, regardless of the tide state.

My Incredibly useful blue VW T4 panel van has gone.It did look peachy sat next to the camper. My son Jack bought it, having flogged his white Vee Dub T4 (ex Andy Male)in less that 24hrs after listing it on ebay.He's chuffed to bits and has had a right result too.I'm a bit sad to see it go, and will miss the huge payload,and the convenience of leaving my fishing gear fully rigged and safely hidden inside, but...needs must.

So, today I launched the 520 for the first time with P.P's assistance.She slipped off the trailer with literally just a slight push, and after mooring at the visitors pontoon whilst I parked up the 'rig', we headed firstly out to sea stopping off at the back of the house to wave to Jan,and then motored up river to Arundel chucking a few lures about for a minute or two here and there, while I sussed out the anchoring situation in the river.(Gonna need a bigger mud weight or switch to a grapnel and chain for close in mulleting).

Back at the slip just before it got dark and she went back on the trailer with no issues, easier in fact, than the spinner .The  trip went swimmingly well, and I couldn't be more pleased with the whole set up.The boat handles really well and is extremely comfortable.OK It's cost me, but I think it's worth it especially If i get out to sea as much as i'd like.Got a few mods to make but nothing too demanding.The Pajero, as a tow vehicle, performed faultlessly.

Snoek is now up for sale and I have to say I really will be sad to see it go having done so much work on her, and had some great fishing-especially mullet.I could keep her, but I think three boats would be bordering on the ridiculous ,I need the cash for the 520, and Jan needs her garden back.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

5-10-10 The Murky Arun

The recent rain is finally having a detrimental effect on the lower reaches of the river.Behind the house the brown slick can clearly be seen as the river empties it's muddy mess into the sea.

Having driven over 500 miles yesterday to look at the Orkney In Cheshire, and after Sunday's hectic Hamble heroics, I was feeling slightly jaded today.But it's my last leave day so I had to have a couple of hours fishing.Actually the prospect of going back to work for a rest is quite appealing.

Andy(P.P) and I headed up to Tortington initially, but the river looked awful , obviously carrying a huge quantity of rain water along with the usual associated debris.We relocated to Littlehampton Marina and fished the stretch behind the caravans.It still looked too murky, but was more 'fishable' and a couple of swirls close in amongst the weed gave away their presence.Andy, who I'd kitted out with a 'strikeright' , soon took this lovely looking three pounder- his first mullet on a centrepin reel and I'm happy to say,he's now a 'pin' enthusiast.

As the strength of the ebb increased, we moved upstream beyond the road bridge for a few casts but nothing materialised and we called it quits.Despite the effects of the rain, I still feel that the mullet will stay in the river for a while yet.

3-10-10 Hamble fish-In





Dave joined me for my only fish-in attendance this year and we were to be 'guided' for the day by Bob (The Arun Ace) Charman  who would be showing us some alternative marks, most of which i'd not tried before.

After the meet up at Swanwick in the drizzle, Bob took us to the area fronting the 'Jolly Sailor' pub.I have nipped in here with the dinghy before but never taken a mullet .Bob elected to leger, whilst Dave and I float fished.A few swirls to some surface ground bait were evident early on, and it didn't take long to hit a fish.

At the beginning of the season(it might even have been last season)I loaded my Okuma pin with about 50yds of line, which has always been enough, whilst not causing any tangling issues when fast trotting.I suppose every time i break off the end tackle to replace it, I lose a few feet.I've now got about 35yds of line left on the reel as I found out with this fish-it spooled me.The fish shot off, crossing through Dave's swim and into Bobs,and before i knew it, there was no line left on the reel.Not only that but although i was winding, the line was simply slipping round the spool.What a pillock! Note to self....get it sorted...and get a decent amount on the reel.

The only thing for it was to go in after the fish....I only had my wellies on! The pictures tell the story.Luckily the water was actually quite warm.The spectacle was witnessed by a few pub dwellers who gave  a round of applause when Dave netted the fish for me- a nice one at 5-04. A flying start indeed.I stayed over my patch of ground bait and it appeared that the group of mullet continued to feed taking two more fish at 4-14 and 2-07 quite quickly. I was alight.

5-10-10 Update.I've just heard that Steve Smith has had a 6-15 from this swim today-a P.B

As the tide dropped things went quiet so we relocated to the 'Chinese restaurant', a swim i've fished before with Ben.Dave switched to feeder fishing between two pontoons and soon had a three pounder out-his first ever mullet on leger tactics.Bob caught a small bass(Bob loves bass) and then proceeded to lose a mullet.Gutted for you mate.

I stuck with the float and initially began fishing on the bottom, at about nine feet deep and a yard or two out from the pontoon closest to the main river. Nothing but crabs gave me trouble down there and, as a few mullet were showing up in the water, I altered the rig to about half depth and scored virtually straight away with a 4-08, later followed by a beautiful, tiny mullet of about 6oz which tested my juggling skills(pic).

Our final location was just upstream of the railway bridge in a shallow pool where Paul Howe had taken some nice fish earlier in the week.I switched to leger and failed to add to my tally, but Dave took another fish of about 2 1/2 lb to end the day.

Great session thanks to Bob, and a few more marks to add to the Hamble repertoire. 14 anglers turn up for the fish-in which, considering the poor weather, was an excellent turn out and 19 fish were caught, the biggest falling to Dave Rigden at 5-09.

On a personal note-i'm having a run of good fortune at the moment and it would be nice if it would last a little longer so I could achieve my target of 50 mullet for the season-nine required.I've a feeling it'll be a close run thing however,there is a slight problem. My mind is turning towards those toothy freshwater beasts.In fact I'm just reading the late Barrie Rickards' last book on the subject, and can't help but be inspired to dust off the pike rods.We'll see.At the moment the rivers are up and coloured with recent rain and it's THAT which is stopping me going.