Sunday, 30 January 2011

30-1-11 An Old Friend Returns

Regular readers of this diary will realise by now, that I'm NOT currently experiencing my best winter's pike fishing on the tidals . In fact, It's not just pike I'm struggling with.Dave Nevatt's giving me a hard time for posting pics of 'specimen' whiting on the net.............I know, I know but I've got to put something on here otherwise my public will desert me!
However, it would seem, at least for the time being, that the tide has turned, and a little bit of luck Is coming my way.
Dave (Wilkins) has been busy of late-working too hard as usual and not getting enough fishing done,not that he's been missing much. But, he decided to set aside a couple of hours this morning for a spot of piking on the river.I finished my shift and then joined him at about half nine, at the bottom of the stretch where we were greeted by the rare, and impressive, sight of a hare working the opposite bank.
The tide was an 'easy' 4.7, HW approx 1030 Greatham, the river carrying very little extra water was, by now , an almost Ideal clarity, and, despite the air temperature being quite low, clear skies and bright sunshine made things very pleasant indeed.
Starting at the sluice we slowly moved upstream along the stretch but by one o'clock, when Dave had to leave to attend to domestic duties,nothing had stirred.Ordinarily, I would have called it a day too, but the morning seemed to have passed too quickly,the sun was still shining,and I had plenty of top quality baits left, so I decided to hang on a little longer.
Jan was fine with this. Usually when I say I'll finish fishing by lunchtime, It means I'll be back for tea!
With the river to myself , I set about methodically moving along, hopping the bottom rod every 15 minutes or so, 10yds at a time, in the hope of putting one of the roach right on the snout of an Idle pike.
The take finally came around half three,just when I'd arrived at a swim where Pulborough match ace Paul Holden had been troubled by pike whilst feeder fishing back in the summer.His experiences had been in the back of my mind for quite a while.
First sign was a slight twitch of the float which I Initially Interpreted as the bait becoming agitated.Perhaps a pike was in the area. I picked up the rod and waited for what seemed like an age, but was probably thirty seconds before it twitched again.
Still not sure of the identity of the perpetrator, I continued to wait, and eventually (ten seconds later)the float began Inching slowly upstream which was my signal to tighten into whatever was on the other end.I was met with something very solid,and a strong lunge ensued as the pike felt my resistance and successfully stole some line.
With the heavy gear, and the welfare of the pike the priority, the battle was all over within a couple of minutes and, as I slid the net under what was obviously a very big pike, the hooks fell out complete with, what appeared to be, an undamaged bait which I re-cast to the same spot immediately.The pike must have just been holding the fish lightly in its maw. A stroke of luck and certainly, the most delicate of takes that I've ever experienced on a roach bait.Usually they try to pull the rod into the river.
I quickly transferred the pike into the tube(superb bit of kit),submerged it in the shallows, tethering it with the rod rests, and gave Dave a call, who Immediately offered to return to the crime scene, and take one of the best pictures I have of a pike.-top bloke! After the ritual weighing and snapping,I slid her back easily, coating myself in mud in the process.It was certainly a sight for sore eyes watching her glide off in to the deep water.Big pike are impressive creatures indeed.
She came in at 24lb 10oz but was not a stranger to me, being easily identified as the same pike I caught almost exactly two years ago, at 26lb 6oz, just a few yards downstream.Interestingly, although she is now generally in better condition, she's still carrying the remains of some tail wounds that were pretty fresh looking back then, and has probably reached her ceiling weight .
Whether she's resident  in the area,or just moved back at this time of year, we'll never really know, but Dave and I must have fished this stretch a couple of dozen times between us over the past couple of seasons, and although we have had some big pike, she's not been among them.
A pike of this stature is a rare capture on the river and always an angling thrill.All the blank sessions,  and the wait for the river to get in trim pale into Insignificance when a fish like this comes along.I'll be on a 'high' for a few days yet but...hopefully,I'll personally never tangle with her again-a third capture would destroy some of the mystery.

Friday, 28 January 2011

28-1-11 Streatham

Making the most of the current weather conditions...i.e NO RAINtoday's choice of venue was the Adur at Streatham fishing HW down from 8am-2pm and again, with roach baits.Andy had joined me and we moved upstream using two rods each, in the bitingly cold easterly wind.
Water clarity was again good, and continued to improve as the tide dropped.The only action of the session, apart from seeing a barn owl on the wing,and me sliding ar** over t** in the mud when reacting to the take, was this plump little fellow at 7lb. Not a big pike by any standards but welcome nonetheless, and a fish on an otherwise difficult day.
I think I might have smiled for the pic though!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

27/1/11 A Pike At Last....and a double.

It's been two months since I've caught a pike and , with the recent rain,a long wait for the rivers to get back in condition.Having taken a 'look' at both the Arun and Adur yesterday,and finding them both to be in a fair state, I decided to take a leave day and head for Ham corner this morning.
The tide had just turned at the top, and the water had good clarity, assisted no doubt by the low temperatures of the past few hours.Wind was from the east...and a bit chilly.
I started with both rods near the sluice entrance and , on the first cast,after perhaps 20 minutes,one of the floats sailed away, the alarm sounded as line was Immediately taken at a rate of knots, and my paternostered roach had well and truly been 'mullered'(where does that phrase emanate from) In a very aggressive fashion, typical in fact, of a hit on a live bait.
Plump, heavily leeched fish this one, and exactly the same weight as my previous Ham double at 13lb 12oz.It's entirely possible that its the same fish however , from memory, my November fish, taken about 150yds downstream, seemed longer and leaner.In any case I'll never know,(do I really want to) as I photographed it on the opposing flank.
Another 'unknown' Is whether or not this fish would have taken my usual 'drowned' sardine.It had obviously recently been in quite a dormant state , and I'd like to think that the roach 'triggered' it into action.Dave calls live baiting' cheating'.......I call it 'giving yourself the edge'
Interestingly, the pike didn't seem to be bothered by the 'peaty' coloured water that was flowing out of the sluice.My bait was 'buried' right amongst it.
Unfortunately, that was the only take(I did expect more), and I packed up at 2-00p.m having worked my way downstream to the 'November' swim , and ended the session with  a final half hour return to the sluice, just in case.
Thank goodness I've finally caught a pike..............even if I was 'cheating'

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

19/1/11 Tiddler Bashing!

Well not quite tiddlers actually, as we caught some really nice fish today, that would have pleased a traditional 'roach' fanatic no end.In fact,'tiddlers' proper were conspicuous by their absence.

I've been away ski-ing so it feels like an age(two weeks exactly) since I've wet a line, and it feels like even longer (eons) since I've actually caught anything.Unfortunately, the rivers are in a severe state of flood, so piking is out of the question, and the beaches are, typically for this time of year, pretty barren.

I'd have put the boat on the water today but the repaired prop has only just arrived back(superb job), and although the sea conditions were perfect , I didn't really have enough time.

Instead, Andy and me decided to visit a local farmer's pond, that I'd been told about some time ago,and re-live our youth with a bit of legitimate free fishing-a rare occurrence these days.

Half a pint of maggots(between us) and some light float gear and we had a busy couple of hours catching about thirty nice roach with a few in the region of 12oz. In typical roach fashion,bites were extremely finicky and difficult to hit, but it was fun to recharge our angling 'batteries', and hone our coarse angling skills In readiness for this year's mullet fishing.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

5/1/11 Ham Corner....and A Pike But............

not for me. Andy got this one today at about 5lb on a chunk of herring mounted on a single hook. At least It  proves there are pike in the river. I was beginning to wonder!
We fished for about four hours and mostly on the flood tide with the usual dead bait tactics, and that was the only take of the session.Eleven blank pike trips in a row for's beginning to hurt.

3/1/11 A Fish At Last But.......................

Pretty tiny I'm afraid.A whiting about the size of a mackerel bait but that's not the point. it's a fish.
The pike have continued to elude me and I've had three more blank trips In December to the Arun at Ham corner, and The Adur at Streatham and Betley where i couldn't even catch a live bait.That's ten blanks in a row and the most difficult period of river pike angling i've ever experienced.On the Betley trip another angler did take two pike including a double, but he was 'cheating' with live baits. I'd be more than happy to cheat if i could catch some wrigglies.Also on the same trip I came across Richard Donnelly, an ex NMC member and mate of Ben's, and now a keen barbel angler with a few taken from the Arun.
Anyway today I took Andy out on the boat for a first proper deep sea trip. We anchored up at Black Ledge and fished for a few hours but that whiting was the only fish to the boat on whole squid. It's a significant little feller though as It's MY first capture on the boat. Hopefully, things will improve.Fishing was generally slow although we did get a few knocks,probably small whiting, nothing else came on board . Rusty had similar luck, at the same time, a few more miles out at the Shirala.He took the picture of my boat on his way back home.
It was not however, a wasted trip as i got a chance to test out some proper anchoring and retrieval using the 'Alderney' method, and also play with the radio and GPS. Everything went well until we came back in to the river mouth where I trashed my prop on the shallows, having left it far too late to come home.Ouch....that hurt!