Monday, 14 March 2011

14/3/11 Last Day Of the Season

Its always a bit of a wrench when the end of the traditional coarse season arrives, and with it the end of another winter's piking on the rivers. But, It also signifies the beginning of another year's sea fishing and the promise of 'T' shirt and shorts weather.
I'd originally intended to take my dinghy up to Brazier's Hangar but it looks like this will have to wait until next season . Instead , I chose to bank fish at Parham, mostly because I felt confident It would produce, but also because, due to it's remote nature, I felt it the least likely place I'd meet any other 'last day' anglers.
Apart from a herd of cattle which meant that me and the dog had to avoid the first stretch I did indeed have the river to myself-not another soul in sight.This meant I could fish three rods and hop them about ten yards at a time every 20 minutes, which meant each bait had an hour to do it's work. I've found this system to be very successful and must cover all the pike on a given stretch.Whether they choose to feed or not, is another issue.
I started at the half way sluice and within minutes a tiny pike had grabbed the tail of my roach bait and, though not hooked, decided to hold on all the way in to the shallows. I found It highly amusing watching the little fellah hang on doggedly.A few minutes passed, and then another slightly bigger pike had a go at my second bait on the retrieve.....but also let go. Finally after a third missed take-almost certainly another jack, I decided that the place was infested with tiddlers and moved upstream.
Things did quieten down for a while enabling me to get a brew on, but it was not long before another small critter snaffled my precious roach bait , and suffered the consequences by being successfully lifted from the water.It made a pound if It was lucky.
Having 'wasted' three of my precious baits,(I can't say I didn't enjoy the fun of tangling with these ;little jacks) I decided to mix it up a bit with sardines and continue moving upstream.
Eventually the first decent pike of the day arrived, actually as far up as Hattie's swim. A nice fish of 11-08 which I believe might have been the same pike Dave had out at the end of our last session due to a recognisable growth beneath it's L.H gill plate.I decided that there might be more big pike in this area so slowed the hopping down to a virtual stand still. This would prove to be a wise move.
By now the tide was slacking off and the second take, coming an hour or so later,produced this pristine,boldly marked, and really hard fighting 17-08.
I quickly 'tubed' this fish and set up the camera to perform the self take shots shown above.Quite pleased with the results though, as you can see in the un-cropped picture, the dog was less than Impressed.
Having nearly fallen in the river, and plastered myself in mud returning the fish, I settled down only to have another take on my last roach bait within the hour.The fish made a complete hash of my landing net so I had to cut all the hooks and trace free with side cutters (essential piking kit) and trashed the net in the process.I quickly weighed the fish at around 11-08 but didn't bother with the camera as she'd been out of the water long enough. I needn't have worried as she powered off with no damage done.
I 'm pretty sure this double was the same fish that I'd caught earlier, back for another go which goes some way to show that they are not bothered by being captured.Dave had a similar experience a couple of years ago on a last day on the Adur with a big double.It came back twice for a half mackerel!
With all my roach gone(six of seven  had produced fish) I finished the session with all the rods on sardines but nothing further showed and I called it a day, and a season, as the light started to fail at around 6-00p.m.
Conditions have been perfect the past few days which probably accounts for the quality of the fishing on the river, and this has been the best 'last week' i've personally ever experienced.Parham has been consistent, but of course this doesn't mean that if we return next October the fishing will be the same. This stretch has been a 'heart breaker' on as many , if not more occasions, than it has produced, and serves to illustrate just how transient the pike are on this river.
So, another season ends and It hasn't been an easy one.The total number of pike that I've caught  is lower than previous years, but there have been some really good fish among them, so I not unhappy with my results.A late start didn't help matters, but my mind was on other salt water predators at the time.A long series of blanks during the harsh weather ,at the end of last year, could have possibly been avoided with roach baits, but I can't be sure.
The tidal stretch of the Adur turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, but this was probably due fishing it during poor weather.As usual the Arun was challenging, but when we found the pike,in favourable conditions, we scored.

One thing is certain...........I'll be back next winter .

Sunday, 13 March 2011

11/3/11 The Farm Pond

Andy and me caught some lovely roach today in a short session at the farm pond. Bites were tricky to hit but we managed a respectable bag with the best going to Andy at about 1lb 4oz I reckon.I think I'll try to scrounge the use of Dave's conventional pole and return with some punched bread and see if I can catch a few more of these really nice fish.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

10/3/11 Doubles.

I couldn't fish yesterday because I  had to pick up my new bike, but Dave did get out and had a blinder.Two big doubles on dead baits, both takes coming at opposing turns of the tide. We've now had so many big pike at tide turns that it must surely be more than just coincidence. Time of day seems to matter little.Traditionally, dawn and dusk are cited as 'hot' feeding times for pike but we've not found this to be the case.Our pike seem capable of appearing at any time of the day even during that 'dead' early afternoon period.
We have experienced  feeding spells, with multiple captures in short time slots often , distanced quite far apart, but they've not been that common.'Hot spots' and 'lairs' seem not to exist on the river, unless we've not come across them yet (hopefully)and I can safely say that neither of us have had more than two fish consecutively from an individual swim.
So where does this leave us.It seems that the tide is our only guide and today this, yet again proved to be the case............but only with half of our catch.
Conditions ,of course, matter a lot.The past three days of warm dry weather, with that all important sunlight, seemed to have worked in our favour, and has definitely stirred the pike into action and got them feeding.Today, however, a strong south westerly was ripping across the river, but it remained comparatively mild, and despite some rain,the clarity was still there.
 Overall, deads have done almost as well as lives which backs up the theory that they've been 'up for it'.The pike have also proved to be very lively when hooked.One of Dave's fish yesterday took a full five minutes to get to the net.
Although we've never been able to figure out where they are spawning in the immediate area, due to there being no obvious sites evident (unlike in the upper river) , It's apparent that they are. We're taking some heavily gravid fish, along with some spent.
I had to work last night so joined in the fun around 9-30 a.m and within minutes of casting my half mackerel was taken, I connected, felt a thump , and then she was gone.An hour or so later  I had better luck, and just managed to land,(one hook of the bottom treble was in the pike's lower lip),a scraper double on sardine.Once netted the hook just dropped out.
Dave's double(10-08) also on sardine, came just as we were packing up at 4-00p.m coinciding with the top of the tide and completed another successful, by Arun standards, session.In fact the last few days have probably provided us with the best pike fishing we've had on the river for some time, making up somewhat for the hard season we've had generally.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

8/3/11 Hamming It

'Make Hay While the Sun Shines' as the saying goes and, as the sun was still shining brightly today, we did.With overnight temperatures troubling brass monkeys last night,and a thick layer of ice on the windscreen needing removal for our 6-00 a.m start, any hint of murk in the river would have surely disappeared,and with a little bit of mid morning sun to stir up a pike or two, expectations for today's trip to Ham were high.
Dave and myself started opposite the sluice on the lower stretch, a swim recommended by Phil Jones as a 'hot' zone.
I fished a pair of roach  whilst Dave stuck to his trusty sardines and at 9-30, with our rods poking through a bed of reeds, my first take came.A spirited nine pounder was banked followed 20 minutes later, and in exactly the same spot,by another hard tugging double at 13-12.It's been a very long time since I've had more than one fish from a swim on consecutive casts.I hasten to add that, despite all three of my Ham doubles this year weighing in at 13-12, I can confirm that today's fish was definitely NOT a recapture.
Both these pike gave a good account of themselves, possibly due to a bit of much needed warmth  stirring them out of their winter torpor. Once the frost had burned off, it was 'off with coats' weather.
The only other action was a missed take, and stolen  bait, on one of my rods, and by mid-day we had to call a halt to proceedings as I had to get home to attend to some rather important non-fishy business.
My 4 1/2 year relationship with an American motor cycle has come to an abrupt end...........I flogged my Harley to a couple of chancers from the smoke! Actually they were thoroughly decent chaps acting on behalf of a non attending buyer-the perpetrator of yesterday's bank side telephone conversation.
Sad to see her go....totally gutted when I heard, for the first time ever, how good she sounded when one of the bike mechs took her for a test spin round the block. It's a nerve shredding experience , seeing a stranger riding YOUR motorcycle, especially if it's prior to them handing over the 'readies'.Unlike cars, as any sensible two wheeled enthusiast will tell you, bikes are hard things to part with.But the 'bling' thing had run it's course for me, and it is time for a change.
They'd brought hard cash with them to seal the deal and within an hour of them leaving with my cherished 'monster' in the back of their Iveco, the wedge had successfully burnt a hole in my pocket and I'd blown the lot on a German 'bird' from Surrey................The only downside to all this retail therapy being, that I've got to take a day off fishing tomorrow to go and collect her.Next project will be, how to attach fishing rods to her sturdy Bavarian bodywork !

Monday, 7 March 2011

7/3/11 A Grand Day Out

Dave's been really busy of late and we've not fished together for some time, so It was great to finally hook up with my mate for our usual end of season pikefest on P.A.S waters.
I hadn't returned to Washingham since catching 'Hattie' (it would seem that as well as mud grovellers, pike are also attracting silly names)for fear of tangling with the big old girl again. However, Dave's location suggestion seemed like a good idea, and anyway,in reality, the chances of actually catching her a third time were pretty slim. She was probably miles away.
Water and weather conditions were perfect, a clarity and warmth respectively,that I'd not seen or felt for a long while.
We started at the bottom bend where Dave had a small fish of about five pounds on his sardine, and I matched him with a similar fish on roach just upstream of the sluice shortly after.Gradually we moved along the bank,  and it was whilst setting up after a rod hop, that my other float ,50yds down stream again on roach,had disappeared.By the time I reached the rod it was bucking violently and the ratchet on the 6501(I'm using multipliers now) was clicking away.
Tightening up, the fish immediately felt strong, fresh and of a certain satisfying size.18lb she went, cleanly hooked as usual and rewarding us with a nice little show for a minute or two as she sulked in the shallows before powering off.I don't THINK i've caught this one before.LOLShe looks long and slim in the picture but photography can be deceiving.She'was actually quite broad and plump and it's just the angle of her body that is hiding her true dimensions.
The bait was relatively unmarked,  so was cast back out to the same spot to try and find a sister,kept company by my sardine baited rod which was returned briefly to aid the cause.
Minutes later Dave, who had successfully completed his upstream manoeuvre, was bending into his own decent fish which had snaffled a sardine, and turned out to be another good double at 16 1/2 lb.
We wiled away the remainder of the day sitting static,selling Harleys on the mobile phone, and basking in glorious sunshine in 'Hattie's ' swim, but neither she, nor any of her cronies put in a further appearance.
Meanwhile over in the east of the county on the Cuckmere river to be precise, hot news from Jon Cook was that he was bagging up with an amazing haul of fifteen pike including five doubles. He had to stop fishing as he'd ran out of live baits! That boy's on fire this year.
Nothing could steal our thunder however and by Arun standards, it was a grand day out..
On the wildlife front-hares and ravens put in an appearance today.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

6/3/11 Bines Bridge

Jon Cook contacted me yesterday saying that his mate Neil had a blinding session on the West Arm of the Adur taking several pike including a twenty, and most of them on deadbaits.
I don't usually follow up leads like this but this one was too hard to resist.Last season at about this time I witnessed several big pike spawning in the general area which only added to my enthusiasm to have a go.Confident that my sardines would work I neglected to bother with live baits and this may have been my down fall.I blanked!....As usual my 'end of season' river piking is proving as difficult as ever.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

4/3/11 Ham.

It's been a while,eight consecutive trips, since i've had a pike blank but unfortunately my luck ran out today.I fished the afternoon HW down at Ham corner without so much as a touch on two roach baits.
I'm beginning to think that the upper tidal reaches might be a better bet because, speaking to Jon Cook on the phone during the session revealed some useful information about a netting exercise that took place at the sailing cut and produced three pike of 25lb.He was unsure of the exact timing but the cut does seem to be a prime spawning location, and it's getting towards that time of year.Of course, I could be way off the mark.The mind plays strange tricks when one is blanking.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

3/3/11 River Adur

A recent spell of dry weather has allowed the rivers to recover and they will hopefully stay in shape for the last few days of the season and allow me to improve upon my pike tally for the year.The Adur was still showing a bit of colour despite the very cold temperatures of the past few nights and indeed the Northerly blowing today contributed to a 'healthy' chill factor despite the sunny clear weather.
I fished from Penlands Pentstock down for about three hundred yards , the majority of the time with one rod on sardine and the other on roach, though finished the session(10 til 5)with both rods on roach.
Bill joined me for this one and usually, he brings me luck having been present on the occasion of my first big double back in 2005, and also assisting me with my current  P.B.Today however, only one small pike of about 5lb showed, and that on a roach.Here's hoping for a few more before the end.

25/2/11 Out Back

The rivers are still out of sorts so Andy and me decided to have a go on the beach at the back of the house this afternoon.Whole squid on one rod and, smaller sections on a two hook flapper on the other but nothing was forthcoming.Worth a try though as this time last year Andy pulled a really nice bass out just yards from my back gate.