Wednesday, 29 February 2012

29/2/12 Mastering The Pole.

In complete contrast to yesterday's wrecking i decided sample the other extreme of the angling spectrum today, and persevere with some pole fishing for a couple of hours , making the most of the unseasonably fine weather. On my last trip to the pond, I found the pole a little cumbersome to use, and thought it of little advantage to standard rod and line gear, but I've always admired the simplicity and finesse of the method, and thought it deserved a little more application.

When i was a youngster, Ray Mumford-a famous 70's match angler gave a talk on the method at my local angling club in Leatherhead, Surrey. At the time very few British anglers used poles, although they had been  popular, albeit in a bamboo form, with Thames roach fishermen for many decades. Fascinated by Ray's presentation, I decided to save my pocket money and buy a pole-an 18ft fibreglass Shakespeare model with an alloy crook that weighed a ton. I did fish quite successfully with it and not just for tiddlers. I remember a 3lb chub from the Mole giving me quite a hard time although it was successfully landed.
Of course, nowadays poles are a common sight, and not just among match anglers. My coarse angling friend Paul uses his quite successfully on the Arun for roach and bream fishing. Mine is a very cheap model borrowed from Dave and is a world apart from my old 'Shakey' being comparatively light and stiff. I tend not to use it at full length at the moment, but on this pond there is really no need.
Because of the still conditions, I changed tactics slightly today by dispensing with the bait cup, and feeding both crumb ground bait and maggots by hand and still keep the feed in a tight area of about a square meter. Things took a while to get going but, once I'd got the fish on the feed, it was a bite every cast, and my hit rate was, i reckon about 90%. The results were very good and after only about three hours of fun fishing, I'd amassed a nice bag of 40 odd fish, mostly roach in the 4oz-8oz bracket with a couple of perch and a rather tatty 1lb 4oz rudd.
Once I'd got my pitch sorted and  myself comfortable with everything in easy reach from my perch, I found the pole much easier to use, and it was definitely more effective at hitting the shy roach bites, but I don't think for one minute that I'd ever become a threat to the local match angling community.
Interestingly, the roach were very wary of white maggots, ignoring them whenever i tried them on the hook even though they were in the feed. Nearly all fish came to reds and I'm sure if I'd had casters, I'd have done even better. The brown crumb seems to have been very effective at bringing the fish in.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, there were only a couple of 'pike bait' sized tiddlers in the catch, and it remains a mystery why smaller fish don't show up more often.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

28/2/12 Wrecking!

I've never been wreck fishing before and , if I'm honest,had a preconceived opinion as to what it would be like. The thought of travelling relatively huge distances out to sea, compared to what I'm accustomed to, was also a little daunting but when Russ invited me out for a trip today in the spell of unseasonably fine weather we've recently been experiencing, curiosity got the better of me, and I wanted to find out for myself what all the fuss was about.
Lots of big numbers here;
 We started out at 6-00 a.m from the marina, returning a full 11 hours later.
We fished three wrecks up to 22 miles off shore, right on the edge of both my admiralty chart, and the shipping lanes. I did wonder whether I should have brought my passport.
 The wrecks were in 200ft plus of water...all I could think about was that equated to twenty storeys underneath me!!
We(well actually mostly Russell) caught 110lb of Pollack up to 14lb and a Ling-a boat weight record , and a pretty spectacular catch considering it's February-usually a very quiet time even on the wrecks.
Finally, the total distance travelled in the boat , is probably as much as the distance from my house on the coast to The Houses of Parliament.

We spent the majority of the day drifting (and losing) Russ' 6" Sidewinders on ten feet of flowing trace-a red tailed mackerel imitation seemed to be most successful, but I was extremely pleased when, after one pollack regurgitated a tiny sprat, to 'match the hatch' with a four inch Manns Shad from my own lure box, and score.
The method involved dropping the lure to the sea bed(itself a time consuming activity) then slowly winding up to about twenty turns(counted) of the reel handle before lowering again and repeating the exercise. I would estimate that the lures were in the take zone for no more than a minute on each 2 kt drift and  the bites were surprisingly finicky, and missed if 'struck'. It was also important to concentrate, and lift the lure just as the wreck was approached to get the best possible chance of a take-mistiming this could mean a lost lure, or no take. The level of anticipation is higher than in any other branch of fishing I've ever experienced.
Initially, i couldn't keep up with the skipper's catch rate but, with a bit of coaching from 'the man' on the subtleties of this highly subtle method, i managed to start catching.
Unsurprisingly a very high level of boat handling skill was required. Accurate positioning for each drift is absolutely essential, and extremely difficult especially with changing tide conditions but Russ made a superb job of it,improving as the day progressed and obviously managing to find us the fish.
Opportunities to get out to these far off wrecks at this time of year are rare indeed due to the required combination of good weather and tides  that logistically allow enough time to carry out the whole exercise.
A thoroughly enjoyable, and enlightening day's fishing.

Monday, 27 February 2012

27/2/12 Mojo's Back.

Usually when my pike fishing's not going too well, it takes me all of about a couple of hours after an unproductive session to get over the depression of not catching, and plan the next assault which invariably means a change of location .Today's outcome could have been very different had I not had just enough dead baits for a short session because I'd actually 'planned' to give up on the 'hotspot' area for a while and try my hand in other proven areas, stopping at Pulborough Tesco on the way to buy some of their finest, and highly reputable frozen sardines to replenish my diminishing stock.
On the drive up I hesitated, and actually pulled over to check exactly how many baits I had in my bag,six were found, and that sealed the deal.........or was it that I was just so doggedly determined to catch a decent pike from 'that' swim.I changed plan and pointed the van in a different direction .
The state of tide was much better today with the majority of my available fishing time spent on the bottom of the ebb and the conditions  were just perfect. Mild,overcast weather and unusually clear water contributed to a feeling of quiet confidence on my part.......but then I felt the same last week!.............
The flow was so gentle that I was able to fish both baits on the far side of the river with a sardine on one rod and lamprey on the second.I didn't have to wait long and within minutes of casting the ever trusty sardine float disappeared instantly,and the bite alarm shrilled signalling a take from a decent pike.(Jack's tend to fiddle about with a bait of this size)
The pike immediately felt reasonable, staying deep throughout the short battle and attempting to dig herself into the submerged tree branches.
Luckily I'd remembered to collect the net(the two rods are fished either side of a tree) but it wasn't easy landing the pike in the confined swim on my own, especially as I was very close to some 'tricky' mud.Thankfully,I kept her clear of the snags and she went in the net first time.Thinking it would be nice to finally get a picture of me with a decent pike this year, I sacked her immediately noticing that, despite being liberally adorned with leeches, she was very warm to the touch. I really must get a suitable water thermometer.

16lb 12oz and not a bad self take pic .I've spent some time studying the picture and comparing the markings with the other big pike we've seen and I can confirm,once again, that this is a new fish-the 12th from the area, and 6th double. Not my biggest pike but, one of the most satisfying that I've caught recently, and proof indeed that, having finally managed to pick one from this swim myself, It's still showing form.
The sardine bait continued to provide action from over active eels-another sign of warmer water conditions, but it was a dead roach on the other rod that produced the next pike action-luckily a jack which unhooked itself as , due to the size of the tide,and consequently very low water level,I'd ventured too far down the mud bank and  become firmly stuck.
Managing to eventually successfully self rescue ( I did at one point think that I might still be there now)I decided that I'd rather not risk the area any longer, and instead fished the last half an hour on firmer ground with the baits on the fringe of the 'hot' area No more takes were forthcoming.
It would have been interesting to fish on if I'd had more time but at least I'd achieved my goal (eventually) and, In a way, it would be nice to leave this area alone for the remainder of the season if only to retain my sanity.Brave words indeed especially as its highly likely that a twenty pound pike (Dave's) is in residence at least some of the time



23/2/12 From Bad To Worse.

I booked a day off work today to try and break my run of bad luck with the pike and failed yet again. In fact, I did even worse than last time with not even one take to show for a long hard session.
After spending what i thought was more than enough time for a pike to take in the 'hotspot', I moved upstream a quarter of a mile fishing all the 'usual' haunts on the way but to no avail. What makes the situation even more frustrating is that I was fishing with the very best of 'live' baits(and deads) and apart from the state of the tide, which i must concede was not ideal for this stretch, the conditions were pretty good.
If there were pike about-they just weren't havin' it!

Monday, 20 February 2012

20/2/12 My Mojo's Gone!

Yesterday took a trip with some WSFers to Dorset . Andy's done a brilliant write up ,and it can be found here
With so few fish being caught for so much effort, I had to get out again today to try and redress the balance and a return to the' hotspot'.............................but failed miserably.
One take-one pike at HW slack, and that pike turned out to be, yet again, 'yellow spot'.If the bigger girls were in residence, they weren't tempted by my 'finest quality' roach baits. I'm not going to attempt to reason's just fishing.
Mojo's definitely gone..............................temporarily.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

18/2/12 Dave's In Again.

Four pike to 18lb plus two more lost for Dave today in the 'hotspot' confirming that this is a really very special place indeed. I had one chance at a fish when my bait, cast  on the fringe of the area was taken whilst I was landing one of Dave's fish. Unfortunately, the pike took the bait straight into a tree before |I could get to it, and I was extremely relieved to be able to retrieve the end tackle complete, albeit with some bent hooks, bits of tree, but minus said pike. Bugger!
 Thanks goodness I was using heavy braid as i would never have forgiven myself if I'd left the gear in that fish-it felt like a good'n....but I'll never know.
My second rod outside of the take zone didn't even get a sniff. We're pretty sure they were all 'new' pike suggesting that there is a very high concentration of fish in a very small area and it will be interesting to see how long they stay around.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

16/2/12 Private Piking

Jon Cook  kindly invited me to join him today as a guest on a private stretch of a tidal East Sussex river  which he'd secured permission to fish from the land owner. Water clarity is apparently essential to success but, with snow still showing on the downs , and plenty of melt water evident in the river, it was still quite coloured which didn't Instill confidence in Jon. I, on the other hand, was just pleased to be doing something different.

In the past the pike fishing here has been very prolific for Jon, with several doubles being caught in a session and today, despite the poor water conditions, those pike were still showing to our single trotted live roach. Takes were quick in materialising and we both had a single and double figure fish, as well as a dropped pike each in a session that was called to a halt at lunch time-Jon being actually quite disappointed with our results and eager to get me back and show me what it's like when the water's clear and the pike on form. Who am I to refuse.
It reminded me a little of the trips I 'd had with Mike Ladle on the Frome, not so much for the physical characteristics of the rivers, which are completely different, but for the style of fishing and the frequency of takes. The roaming approach, fishing one bait ,and carrying the bare minimum of equipment ,made a pleasant change from the  usual 'sit and wait'  methods that are used on the Arun and Adur. We've tried, and failed with more mobile approaches on our local tidals.
Interestingly one of the pike we caught displayed a similar blue hue that is found on our own Arun pike-perhaps common among tidal river fish.
Jon thinks that he's probably caught most of the pike in the small section he fishes ,which run to upper double figures but, studying the river, my feeling is that it would be perfectly capable of producing something special despite it's diminutive size.


13/2/12 Piking and Poling.

I'm sure Andy won't mind if I poach his post on this trip;
After what seems like ages I finally got out to wet a line with Jeff who I haven't fished with for ages. First we tried the fields below Houghton bridge for Pike, we passed 2 good looking swims in the woods on the way which need a revisit sometime. The fields swim was interesting since I've not fished it for more than 20yrs, still much the same with a nice bit of sheltered water on the near bank (not quite a back eddy) and water steaming through on the far bank. The bottom was harder than I remember and you could feel the lead hit the bottom and bounce, to me that screams Barbel and I might have to put some time into this area especially since we didn't get approached to move on (I was hoping we wouldn't but it's a bit unknown who owns this field now). It did look very fishy and we fished the later half of the ebb until the point the water just about stopped moving at which point Jeff wanted to hit the farm pond to get a few Roach/Rudd and I said I'd join him.

I really thought a nice bit of mashed bread would score well with a bit of flake on the hook but after a couple of hours of watching Jeff get a few on the pole and maggots I relented and very cheekily parked myself right next to him and cast my float within 2ft of his (I'd only get away with this on this pond but my excuse was he was feeding very tight with a pole cup and I couldn't stray too far, plus it was too late to start feeding a new swim!). 2 Rudd in 2 casts before they got much more finicky, for me I was fishing very light with 2.1lb line and a size 18 hook and tbh it's starting to get difficult to focus on this small stuff when you're used to the great big gaff sized hooks used in sea fishing, I don't think I could've gone any lighter that's for sure!

None of the fish in this pond are that small but there weren't really any big ones today with just one decent 12oz+ one to Jeff but they continue to amaze me just how well conditioned they are considering the venue and it's size, feisty little things to that put up a decent scrap and it was a pleasure to return to this venue and have some fun fishing. Might have to have a rethink on the mashed bread though!

12/2/12 Land Rover Diary #3 She drives.

      Since my last installment I've fitted three wheel cylinders,both front flexibles ,and a new master cylinder, in an attempt to get the brakes working so I can take her for a test drive. The brakes have proved to be extremely difficult to bleed despite having help from the missus but, after scanning the forums, it would appear that this problem is not uncommon.
 Jack came up for three days to spend some time messing with the 'landie' and, after another fruitless attempt to bleed out the brakes, it was decided to renew the rear flexible, and wheel cylinder along with a couple of rear pipes, and try again.
Whilst shopping, I also managed to pick up a bargain. £15 for a complete O/S floor well repair section shop soiled (bit of surface rust)from Paul at 'Drop Zone' which will save me a heap of work and hopefully make a neater job of the steel work.
We did eventually achieve a solid pedal but it took some clever work, and no end of patience, getting pressure in the system and momentarily releasing each bleed valve in turn. Definitely the simplest brake system we've both ever come across but, probably due to it's single circuit design, with inherent 'air traps', THE most difficult system either of us, have ever had to bleed. Without a 'brake bleed' gismo , which I'm not entirely sure would have worked anyway, I couldn't have done this job on my own so, thanks to 'the boy'

With the brakes done the fuel line was connected to the tank, glass bowl filter cleaned out, a small in-line plumbed in and the petrol pump tested. Fuel pick up and sender unit were also investigated (even the fuel gauge works)No problems there so we connected it all up and we were finally able to carry out a proper road test which showed that all the transmission components functioned properly.4WD,High and low ratio and overdrive all worked without fault and the ne pulled smoothly. Here she is driving properly at last;
Things didn't last long though as soon we experienced some rough engine running no doubt caused by crud entering the carb, and the in line was decidedly 'manky' but at least we'd been able to assess the condition of the running gear which appears to be good.
The tank will have to be removed for a proper flush out as the drain plug appears to be welded up tight.
We finished up by removing the O/S/F wing to give access to the first section of welding work which is required. Not too onerous a task although a few of the rusted bolts had to be attacked with the ever faithful mini grinder and it was far easier having a second pair of hands to remove the panel. It's now temporarily fixed in place with about three bolts.
The welding will probably have to wait until the weather perks up so, in the meantime, I'll have another go at the fuel system especially as the carb's accelerator pump does not seem to work-probably a blockage.

9/2/12 Birthday Piking

Returning again to our newly found 'hot spot' saw Dave see me off yet again with three pike landed-one a decent double whilst I missed my chance, and a  birthday pike, with one dropped run on the first cast.....and a lost pike, definitely in double figures, on the subsequent chuck out- a fish that stayed very deep during the battle which lasted for barely a minute.
In addition, Dave experienced two dropped runs and a lost pike so it was an action packed session, all on dead baits, despite the air temperatures being very low. We sat in the one spot all day and the majority of the action was during the ebbing tide. 'Yellow Spot' which turned up on my last visit ,was one of the pike to show up again today.

I am now becoming rather an expert at landing , and photographing Dave's pike but the boot could so easily be on the other foot, as it has so many times in the past.