Tuesday, 28 September 2010

28-9-10 One hour.

Andy had texted me to let me know that his LW morning plugging session at 'tesco's' had failed and that he should've tried for the mullet.I was passing after work,had bread, so stopped off to fish the first part of the flood for an hour.

Fish were evident and the first trot produced a missed take.Third time down ....no mistake, and this plump two pounder was soon beached.Cracking to be back on the fish regardless of size.

As the flood poured In, the water gradually lost it's colour and that was that.I followed three mullet upriver for quite away and although thirty yards below them,it was obvious they were aware of me,and moving away .This clear water at the moment is doing us no favours when it comes to mullet.

27-9-10 Two Trips Out - Bassquest #5 Popping!

Charming Bob Charman caught a seven pound mullet at the Arun fish-in a couple of weeks ago and ,on returning from my holiday to France and hearing this news, I just had to get out and have a crack.

HW at the Tesco's flats was the venue(the scene of Bob's success) but the water was gin clear and the mullet not playing at all.I fished feeder, and float for four hours over the top of the tide, but was pestered endlessly by swans and crabs and the only take came from this tiny bass.

Called Andy in the evening,who was plugging at Ford,so decided to join him for an hour with a 'skitterpop'.First cast, as I drew the lure alongside the marginal weed, came a take but the bass didn't connect-still...It's given me confidence in a method i've never scored with previously, and as Andy seems to be getting a few on surface lures, i'll be back for this one.

Monday, 13 September 2010

13/9/10 Braziers Hanger

Dave's got a new motor for his boat so we decided to take it for a spin this afternoon, check out the launching at Pulborough, and explore a section of the river, that I'd recently stumbled across on a kayak expo, to assess its potential as a winter pike venue..Naturally, a couple of lure rods were stashed on board just in case.
This atmospheric stretch is Inaccessible from the bank, being completely surrounded by private land with ominous looking 'keep out' signs to prevent herberts like us from poking our noses in. It's also quite tricky to reach by boat, the approaches being narrow, and overgrown.However, after furiously paddling against  low tide 'rapids', and negotiating a jungle of vegetation, we managed reach our destination, the journey punctuated by several stops to clear the prop.Weed, at this time of year, is very much, an 'issue'.
I was Immensely pleased that Dave felt as enthusiastic about the place as I had been on discovering it. Whether It will produce the goods will remain to be seen but ,I sense that It might have something to offer us.
In the meantime we spent a couple of hours battling with the weed, chucking spinnerbaits and surface lures about. The only take coming from a 'thuggish'  perch of about five inches on a chocolate and orange 'coat hanger' roughly twice its size.............
I'm happy to report that the new motor performed well, although we did have a potential technical glitch when Dave's tow hitch jammed on his ball. Thankfully the problem was overcome with a touch of brute force, otherwise the Sussex roads may have been graced by a, permanently articulated, Ford Focus.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

12/9/10 A Precarious Perch

It's always satisfying to get a mullet from a new swim,especially if it involves taking a risk or two.I just couldn't NOT go fishing this morning.The weather was beautiful,sunny and clear with just a hint of northerly breeze, It would have been a crime not to make the effort, and nip out for a couple of hours.The tide was also suitable for a low water trotting session on the  mud flats, and I really wanted to squeeze in a fish or two before we head off to France later this week.

I arrived at the flats at about 9-30, passing the usual handful of fish on the Windmill straight in their regular Inaccessible swims, on the walk down.I'm sure these fish know that they are safe here.

I had a negative feeling about the flats right from the off.Nothing at all was showing, a larger than normal group of swans were being a real nuisance,which Irritated me,and after giving it an hour gradually moving down the stretch,I found myself heading back upstream with a sense of Impending defeat.

I had to make a decision.If I got my skates on ,I could probably make it down to the lower reaches of the river nearer Littlehampton, and maybe get half an hour before the flood set in.I started to walk back towards Arundel, but those damned fish on the straight just annoyed me.They were only ten yards away, but they might just as well have been in the next county.The flood banks here are absolutely lethal.Steep and slippery, there Is no way you can gain a safe footing and If you were to fall in ,it would be extremely difficult to pull yourself out again as the water is very deep close in.

I thought about having a cast from the top of the flood bank.I reasoned that if I hooked a fish I may be able to walk it 200yds or so downstream, climb over a fence, negotiate a sluice, and then steer it on to an exposed area of mud.What utter rubbish.There was no way I'd be able to do it.What was I thinking.

I packed up again and continued walking....and then i noticed it.About half way along the stretch there is a solid flat platform 5x1yd,which sits just above the low water mark on biggish tides.Also, the flood defence above it has a slightly different surface made up of plain concrete-still treacherously slippery, but a slightly better surface to clamber down.I've no idea what its there for, but there were fish about and it was the only place that i could possibly get near enough to perform a safe landing if.......I was lucky enough to hook one.

Gingerly, I made my way down to the deck using my  net pole to steady me.The tide had virtually bottomed out so I reckoned I had less than 30 minutes before I'd have to leave.Fish were swirling in the murky water right underneath my rod tip and I just knew I was in with a chance.

The take came In the 29th minute,at least that's what it felt like.The water was  lapping around my ankles but I managed to deal with the fish in the net as there was nowhere to put it down.Slipping the fish back and scrambling up the bank,I just managed  to secure my escape in the nick of time, before the tide quickly submerged my precarious perch.It's under the cloudy water in the top pic.

An average Arun fish of 3lb, but it saved me writing up another blank on here.Finally I could pack up ,go home and get on with my day knowing that all was well in the world.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

10/9/10 Kennet Barbel.

As a youngster,and yet to discover the joys of pike fishing, I  thought of  barbel as my favourite coarse fish.Not that I'd ever caught,or even seen one, you understand.It's just that I dreamed about catching one more than any other specie-a wild river torpedo that was only taken,in those days, from exclusive, Inaccessible  fisheries,such as those in Hampshire, appearing In the Angler's Mail ,all bronze and muscular,cradled in the arms of the 'big names' of the era.
It is interesting to read a book entitled 'Quest for barbel' first penned in the early nineties,and note that , a double figure barbel was a special fish indeed.There is a whole chapter devoted to the capture of such a fish.
Nowadays of course, things are a bit different.Those Hampshire fisheries have somewhat lost their exclusivity,and barbel seem to be flourishing in many of our river systems.A ten pound fish, despite still being spectacular in my eyes, doesn't even get a mention in the angling press.There are even huge fish caught my local river, the tidal Arun- a more unlikely haunt of barbel in the traditional sense, you'd be hard pressed to find, though I understand it may take a season of trying to winkle one out....if you're lucky.(Postscript-I've just found out that an 18lb barbel has been caught at Watersfield)
In 1982/83..I'm not entirely sure which,I walked out of a tackle shop in Norbury,South London armed with the Information I needed to catch my first barbel .The proprietor had told me all,the exact swim location,method to use, bait etc.From memory, I just turned up at the Walton-on- Thames swim and nabbed one of about 6lb, simple.....and that was the last time I caught a barbel by design.
I did once,I think, catch a tiny one on an occasional visit to a 'commercial' in my doldrum years.Quite who's bright idea it was to put such a noble river dweller in a 'puddle' is beyond me.And...a couple of years ago whilst on holiday in The Mayenne river region of France, one happened to attach itself to my sweetcorn bait Intended for bream and carp-a rather tatty example of about a pound, if I remember rightly, though at least it came from a suitable aquatic environment.
Piking buddy Dave and me have had a couple of unproductive sessions on the Royalty fishery in recent years, but neither of us were particularly keen on the place,despite it's heritage.Too busy.
A brief fling trying to extract one from the Rother one past winter using home made garlic meatballs as bait, only amounted to  a few eels , although Jan caught a nice chub on Christmas day.So..........,it was high time I tangled with another barbel..........and Dave agreed.
Now Dave Is a man of means. And, using the funds he raises(policeman's salary) by catching the country's villains to good effect, he has secured a very limited season ticket to fish the River Kennet on The Wasing Estate in Berkshire.Not cheap I can tell you.Being a good mate, he asked me along on a guest ticket,as long as I did the driving.Not a problem.
We headed for a stretch near the village of Brimpton and on walking the beat, my first Impression of this stunningly beautiful, Mr. Crabtree type river,was that it was devoid of fish.It was that clear and shallow. How wrong could I have been. It was just that my eyes were tuned for spotting mullet,not barbel .
Weather conditions were 'classic coarse fishing'- a mild, cloudy day with relatively low light levels and a gentle breeze, and more importantly,we had the whole stretch to ourselves.
Our first likely spots were mere yards from the van, mine underneath a red berry bush( I've never been good with plant life), and Dave's close to a bridge with an overhanging tree that was later to reveal hidden jewels.
Tactics were plain running leger on standard mullet feeder rod and reel,8lb main straight through to a barbless size 4 loaded with a cube of luncheon meat.
First bite came to me around mid morning but, it wasn't so much a 'bite' as whatever was on the other end tried to 'yank' the rod clear from the rest.No problems hooking these bad boys.The battle was, to be honest, a little disappointing and the fish came to Dave's waiting net 'relatively' easily, but the result was a stunner.My first barbel by design for 27 years and a fish of 8lb.. what a result.
It was only when releasing the fish that I noticed how flat bellied,  and  'pear shaped' in cross section barbel are.Obviously, these beautiful fish are streamlined to hold position, hugging the river bed, in strong currents.I didn't spot it at the time, but my fish looks a bit 'hump backed' in the picture, and a bit lean in the hind quarters which may account for the rather lack lustre fight.
We continued up the river for the remainder of the morning and early afternoon fishing all the likely looking spots, but were troubled by no more fish until we reached a mill pool at the extent of the beat.Here Dave had small chub and perch on worms and I played with some equally diminutive dace on float fished bread flake.
Following a hearty bacon and sausage roll back at the van for lunch, we gave the pool another hour , then returned to our original swims with the Intention of feeding them up with hemp and pellet, and fishing Into the darkness- the recommended ' banker' time.This is when things started to get interesting again.
Dave had spotted a fish in his 'tree' swim, and I decided to sneak up to the bridge and take a proper gander.It took some minutes to get my eyes 'sorted', but after a while the fish appeared as If by magic.A dark shape barely visible,hovering over the river bed,cruising in a circling motion, one moment in the open river, the next,  tucking itself away back under the overhanging tree- the whole movement covering an area about ten yards long,with an occasional delayed stop a yard or so further upstream, settling for a few seconds behind an obvious depression marked by a light grey stone.
It soon became apparent to me,that there wasn't just one fish, but several under that tree, seemingly taking it in turns to head out and 'patrol' the swim and following a regular path with each sortie.I estimated that there were maybe four fish in the group, but we later learned from a visiting regular, that there may have been  as many as ten or more hidden there, waiting for the light to go and the signal to begin to feed.
What a sight for sore eyes.
Having allowed plenty of time for the two swims to settle, we resumed fishing again in the early evening and I think there was an air of expectation,if not tension, coming from Dave's locale.He would catch one of those barbel.
It took about an hour and just before dusk.The first I knew about it was the ratchet scream on Dave's Kingpin and glancing at the bend in his rod, I sensed that he might be 'in'.The fight was far more exciting than my  fish, and a real treat for me visually watching the whole thing unfold in the clear water.  I think we were both relieved when the fish finally slid into the net and it turned out to be another cracker at 8-10.Dave's first barbel for ten years.We'd both scored..... perfect.
Yet, the show was not yet over.Soon the river was shrouded In near complete darkness,the moon masked completely by thick cloud cover.  Numerous fluttering bats gorged themselves on flying insects, using their devastatingly efficient radar to good effect,scampering rodents rustled along the bankside vegetation, and a shrieking owl somewhere in the nearby woodland defined the boundaries of it's territory through its haunting call.I'd forgotten just how atmospheric night time coarse fishing could be..especially on a river.The sense of expectation within me again began to build.Was another on the cards, I wondered.
I couldn't even see the white of my quivertip but, that was Irrelevant,as before long, once again the rod attempted to leap out of it's rests , I Immediately struck into something solid and, for a split second,the fish was Immobile.Then all hell let loose.Even with our headlights on, flooding the river with unnatural light, the job of subduing the fish was tricky, as it just went wherever it wanted to go and I struggled to detect whether it was to the right, or left of me.A much better fight this time not perhaps, as fast as a mullet, but strong and determined.
Both Dave and I commented that it would be a awkward operation to land one of these solo at night and once again,I experienced true relief when the fish finally slid into the net.I think we both thought it would creep into double figures but it turned out to be just six ounces short of the magic mark.Who am I to be fussy- it was still ,by my standards, a great capture, fantastic looking and In pristine condition. .
I managed to slide down the bank and stand in the shallows to return the fish which rather than shoot off back into the main river, decided amusingly,to skulk a yard or two from my boots for a couple of minutes,hidden in an undercut with just it tail visible in my headlight beam.
We called it a day at around 9-45 and arrived home just before midnight-a great introduction to the delights of The Kennet, and Its barbel.

8/9/10 Bassquest #4 Cuckmere Haven.More disappointment.

In 2003 I had the good fortune,In less than fortunate circumstances,to meet John Darling shortly before his untimely passing.John was being treated In the same hospital as Jan and ,I bitterly regret that,although recognising the man,I did not have the courage to strike up a conversation with him until the last day of the week long treatment.

My own childhood memories of 'JD' were of  his appearances as a relatively young man, on the BBC's highly amusing 'Fishing Race' during the mid 1970's where he competed alongside other big names such as Clive Gammon,Ian Gillespie,and Jim Gibbinson,Brian Harris and Dennis Darkin for the 'Golden Maggot' trophy.An accolade awarded to the pair of anglers, who could catch the most species of fish over a fixed time period.From memory,I believe it Included the capture of goldfish from a garden pond.There's a picture of the group in John's book on bass.

With Ian Wooldridge's Inimitable 'dry humoured ' narrative,It was very much a programme of Its time,appealing to a far wider audience than just the angling fraternity.It was certainly essential family viewing in my household.Why don't they make T.V shows like that anymore,or am I just viewing the past through rose tinted spectacles.

John, who was 'press officer' with the NMC way back in the early years, was enthusiastic to hear that the club was still flourishing,and was 'chuffed to bits' to receive a spare copy of 'Grey Ghost' that I just happened to have brought along with me.We discussed both mullet and bass fishing in Sussex (John resided in Seaford), and he was kind enough to share with me a few favoured local marks.I even scribbled down a few pencil jottings on an O.S map.

What struck me most,In the short time that we chatted, was that John was far more angry that his disease had curtailed his fishing exploits,rather than holding his life in the balance.A true fishing 'nut' Indeed.

One of JD's favourite marks,and Indeed a regular pictorial highlight in his books,was the stunning beach at Cuckmere Haven.Despite it's obvious heritage ,I'd tried several times last season accompanied by Simon Pickles,to get a bass from the venue,but had failed miserably.The only notable capture being a smoothound which gave me the runaround on my light estuary rod.Simon had felt equally frustrated by the lack of fish,having had some superb bass from this venue in previous visits.

A couple of recently reported 'doubles' from around the East Sussex reefs this week had fired me up again to give the bass another go.The tides and conditions looked perfect on paper,so I phoned Simon on the off chance that he'd like to join me .My original plan was to try the reefs to the east of Brighton Marina ,but Simon had already earmarked this particular tide,and persuaded me to return to the Cuckmere.I agreed, and  arranged to pick him up at 9-00pm, and we'd be able to fish around the top of the tide from 10-00pm to 2-00am 

Coincidentally when we arrived,and much to Simon's frustration,there was another headlight twinkling under the chalk cliffs-our Intended spot.Luckily ,it was a familiar face.Robin,who I'd spoken to earlier in the day, had  the same idea, and brought along a client too.We fished hard with big squid and mackerel baits on the beach,and then moved along to the reef casting to a gully only ten yards out but, had nothing at all.Robin had a similar result to ourselves, and was unfortunate enough to have been fishless throughout the day, having tried several marks.

To cap it all, on returning to the van we came across a Chinese angler fishing from the Golden Gallion bridge,obviously struggling to deal with something attached to his line.He asked for our assistance as he had no net and, whilst I held on to his gear ,he retrieved the fish,a nice bass of about 3lb, from below.

On returning to the roadway,and to our surprise,he lay the fish down on the grass verge next to another bass of equal stature.Despite his crude kit,it looked like he'd already broken one rod,we couldn't help but admire the fact that he obviously knew exactly what he was doing fishing bubble float and prawn,'dangly down' from a road bridge at three o'clock in the morning.

A lesson learned again.

One day, I WILL catch a bass from here.

Right then......three blanks in a row....time to catch a fish.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

5/9/10, 7/9/10 Blanking!

Both opportune trips and both pretty short,but I did say that 'warts and all' would be included in the blog.Sunday evening after work, I had a go with peelers out back for possible hounds that might still be lingering.The previous night a WSF member had taken a couple which gave me the excuse to try.Couple of hours-not a sniff.Easterlies a real pain.

Tuesday, between night shifts, I decided to bank fish the Adur at the old toll bridge.I did see quite a few smallish mullet around the bridge struts on the east side and should have had a crack at them,but Instead decided to leger a short distance upstream .Being quite exposed, the wind,again,was a nuisance and,as my heart wasn't really in it,I packed up after a couple of hours biteless,but with a little bit more knowledge of the river, and the Intention of a return trip soon.

Friday, 3 September 2010

3/9/10 Afloat on the Adur

Back for another attempt to get the boat on the Adur today and, I finally managed it...just.I arrived at 7-00 a.m and had barely enough water to launch at Emerald Quay.Getting the boat on and off this river was never going to be easy.

First port of call, I headed upstream, to an area between the Norfolk Bridge and footbridge,where both Gary and Dave R had already done the groundwork ,and scored with some exceptional mullet.Tide was a bit down so I was able to trot in the light flow a few yards from the bank and in a couple of feet of water.

Just after 8-00 the float disappeared and I had what I thought was a decent fish on.The fight wasn't a prolonged effort, but then I wasn't contending with the flows I'm used to on the Arun.It just felt like a fairly solid fish.It turned out to be 5-10,my best fish from the Adur,and biggest of the season so far.Sadly the camera,which i'd set up on my newly adapted bank stick,over exposed the shot and ,as hard as I've tried to adjust it digitally,it's terrible..Shame....because it's a great pose.

That,was the only fish of the day.I moved downstream searching for fish but they were difficult to locate.I ended up back up near the footbridge where i'd spotted several whelms.I even managed to get quite close but ...no takes.

Eventually after waiting for the tide to make on the slipway,I retrieved the boat at 5-30 and found that some low life  parking attendant had ticketed my rig.I'd parked on the wide pavement but alongside double yellows-bugger!

So, another day of trials and tribulations but, saved by a great,by my standards, mullet.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

2/9/10 A morning fraught with problems

Tides are small and early at the moment and the weather's still fine, so I'm making the most of this set of leave days as next week the tides are huge.

The plan was to get the boat on the Adur to do a sort of scouting trip.Some very big mullet have come out recently with many way over my p.b weight so I thought it about time to get the river sorted out.Out of the house at 6-30 a.m,i reached Emerald quay at 7-00 and I was too late to catch the tide.It had already reached well down the mud and would've been too messy to launch.So, Plan B.

Half an hour later and I was launching at Littlehampton with the water just on the edge of the slip 2 1/2 hours down.I decided to head against the flow and again,attempt to get to 'Carp straight' .Trouble was,fish were showing just below the A259 on the east bank,and the sewer bend on the way up.

I should've learnt my lesson by now and fished for these sighted mullet because,there was nothing at C.S,so I  relocated to 'prison straight' and soon had this 3-04.Terrible picture as I was trying to use the self timer-definitely needs practice.

Finished up with another fish of 2-13 having sighted some whelms on the tesco's flats at dead low.

Packed up about 1-00p.m deciding not to bother with the flood.Left the boat unattended without an anchor at the slip and nearly lost it as it drifted off on the incoming tide and,made a total 'balls up'  getting her back on the trailer missing the rollers about six times,before patience prevailed.Trying session but,..........two more for the target.

1/9/10 Ben

I haven't fished with Ben for a very long time so,having already decided that i was going to try a H.W session around Ford,it wasn't too difficult to persuade Ben to come along who just happened to phone me as I was heading for the river.Sadly,despite the odd tentative bite,and the occasional fish moving in the swim, it was to be a fishless session.Never mind.It was great to spend the afternoon  catching up with my old mate and 'chew the rag' over various fishing matters.