Thursday, 29 March 2012

28/3/12 Better Plaice Fishing

Russ took me over to #35 and some mussel beds to try once again for some plaice-a mark he'd had some considerable success on a previous trip.Fishing both at anchor and on the drift a few plaice to about 1 1/2lb showed along with a hound and the inevitable doggies.
Drifting seemed to work better and worth bearing in mind for future outings though due to the tide speed on the shallow bank a small tide would be preferable.Mussels were clearly present, as we were dragging them up on the hooks.
The little feathered visitor , obviously on a big journey, spent half an hour resting , perched on the anchor.Can anyone Identify it?


24/3/12 Progress and Decisions.. Land Rover #4

With Jack around for the week-end, there was another  opportunity to carry on with work on the Landie, and tackle the first of the welding.Having removed both master cylinder and pedal box assemblies the extent of the corrosion to the driver's foot well was severe,and fitting the full replacement panel was justified.
Everything was fairly straightforward once I'd mastered the technique and reacquainted myself with the M.I.G welder, and the finished result was pretty satisfactory. However, we both agreed that further repair work to the bulkhead, which is really the heart of any Land rover,  would be much easier with the vehicle completely dismantled down to rolling chassis and all the panels removed.
So the major decision was made that the next phase of the project would be to completely strip the truck down, and work on the bulkhead in the comfort of my garage. It would be very easy to raid the bank account, and buy a replacement bulkhead but, they are stupidly expensive and this project is being carried out very much on a shoestring- the plan being to get the Landie back to a roadworthy state ,spending as little cash as possible.
Lifting the body, apart from being a whole heap of fun, would also greatly improve access to the major chassis components that will need repair or replacement. At the moment it looks like both front spring hangers will need to be replaced along with a side bulkhead support, and some welding work is need to the rear cross member, if not a complete replacement section. All this stuff is pretty cheap to buy so there's no great issue.
The remainder of the chassis appears sound , as I discovered when i first looked underneath her prior to  parting with my 'hard earned' but, it's highly likely that there are some hidden surprises (horrors) in store..............There usually is!

23/3/12 Hunting Flatties

Jack was staying up for a few days so , as well as getting some welding done on the Land Rover, we decided to venture out in the boat for a spot of fishing and my first trip out this year. Warm weather a flat calm seas with a small tide saw us heading to #34 to drift rag baited spoon rigs in search of plaice. A very smooth and easy mark to drift but the fish weren't obliging with Jack taking the only plaice.
We regrouped, investigating a recommendation just inshore of #33 but this proved to be too snaggy so we ended up at #20 with me finally catching a dab and a doggie. Slow fishing indeed, but the 'boy' still seemed to enjoy it and equally enjoyable was cooking up the two flatties for a snack-the dab winning hands down in the taste stakes.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

14/3/12 A Busy End To The Season.

I wanted to finish the season exploring uncharted territory, and fish the only area of this massive stretch of river that, in five years of chasing its pike , I've never quite reached. In fact, I've never even walked the banks here but of course, have visited it several times in both my own, and Dave's boat. Memory fails me when it comes to remembering whether or not we've cast a bait for pike along here whilst afloat.
After a healthy two mile 'yomp', we'd arrived at our destination and what we found was a much shallower area than we're used to. In  summer the river here is choked with streamer weed and combined with the gravel river bed, has always struck me as a likely haunt of barbel.
Today the shallow water warmed by the recent sun was the haunt of pike but, not very big ones. In fact, some were very small! I had six all told, with one conveniently dropping off in the margins all taken on roach, and Dave added another to the total on a sea dead along with some more inevitable eel activity.
Starting off cold, the weather soon improved enough for me to change hats, and revert to 'T' shirt 'drill', and it was pleasant enough to while away the last hours anticipating the arrival of a bigger female pike, which never showed, reflect upon the season past, and make plans for the next.
Personally, despite my best efforts this season has not been that productive, but Dave has fished a 'blinder', with some stunning pike in his net and luckily, I've been there to see them all. Well done mate.
According to my diary, I tend to take a little break from fishing at this time of year and to be honest yesterday, I felt a little 'fished out' and welcomed the 'rest'. Twenty four hours later, and I'm raring to go again. However, I do need to exercise a little restraint, maybe decorate a room and score a few brownie points. Yeah right!

13/3/12 Snakes and Pikes

Having finished my second night shift I joined Dave mid morning at the lower end of P1 by which time he'd given the 'hot area' a good go, and worked his way upstream a hundred yards with no luck. The intention was to complete the section, finishing where we left off last week, but give the middle sluice a good try. We also had the luxury of being able to fish most of the ebb which is useful, as the flood here leaves the river in a real mess.
Half way along the lower straight Dave had a good take on the mackerel and commented that it was 'pulling back hard'. It wasn't a pike that surfaced, but a good sized eel, in fact a three and a half pounder .This eel had obviously evolved into the predatory strain having a wide head and a full set of gnashers which I would be reluctant to get near my fingers.Photographing the 'beast' did prove a little problematical, but we eventually succeeded and it's capture has sparked a bit of interest in the species for both of us, particularly as they seem to be flourishing in our tidal rivers. Apparently, nationally, they're in decline.


Having crossed the sluice my roach baits started to do their job and the first pike to show was a nine pounder followed shortly after by a dropped take that left the bait in the margins, whilst I was moving the second rod.

We're fishing a little more 'out' in the river this season and it appears to be paying dividends but, unless I keep a keen eye on my floats, this sort of run can remain undetected as it has no effect on the back up bite alarms. Usually it's not an issue as I'm mostly concentrating hard on the floats, willing them to disappear-unfortunately not that regular occurrence this season.
Hopping the rods upstream we finally reached the location of Dave's brace success last week and, just on slack low water, once again my roach did the trick with this beautifully marked 15-08.
Whilst returning my pike , I glanced upstream and noticed my second float , again with a roach under slung, had performed another rush to bank side cover but, this time, I was quick enough to hit the pike and up came a pretty single to complete the hat-trick. This is one of numerous occasions that we've experienced a feeding spell but quite how the pike are triggered simultaneously into feeding is one of the great mysteries of pike fishing.
Dave had to call it a day at this point but i decided to hang on until the light faded but had no more action. Once the flood had set in, the debris washed into the river by the recent big tides made fishing impossible although I did try to fish the far bank, which was fairly clear, with the rods propped up 'beachcaster' style.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

12/3/12 Dave and Dave

Joined Dave and Dave on the Lock Estate for a bit of a social today in between night shifts. Beautiful sunny day after the fog had lifted, just right for dozing on the bank and chewing the cud .
Dave N landed a low double just as I arrived and the only other action , apart from eels nipping at the baits, was a similar sized pike to Dave W later in the day.
Jon Cook came and joined us for a banter in the afternoon having blanked at the fork, though he'd fared better the previous day, and plans were hatched for a spring pit tench campaign-something I've been meaning to do for a while.
I've only 'piked' the 'Lock'  once before but both Daves have been regulars here in the past taking good numbers of fish on wobbled dead bait methods. Being non-tidal it's a comfortable place to fish and has big pike heritage too so perhaps it would provide an alternative venue for next season.


Friday, 9 March 2012

9/3/12 Exceptional Piking

In my enthusiasm to go pike fishing on Monday I'd completely misjudged the quantity of rain that had fallen the previous day and, when I reached the river, fully kitted up for old esox, I found it in awful condition and running the colour of strong tea. An hour or two later I was back home playing with the Land Rover.
Tuesday, I tried again, but this time despite no further rain, I found the river in worse condition  , so didn't even get out of the van. Driving east to inspect the 'other' river, and I found it even more coloured which is highly unusual.
I spent the remainder of the day and  Wednesday giving Daryl a hand with his own Landie as he's doing a bit of an epic engine swap, in a bid to improve fuel economy, exchanging his silky smooth two and a quarter petrol, for a bone shaking 200Di .Brave man!
Thursday afternoon, and I returned to the river and gave it a bash for a couple of hours but, it was still a little too murky for my liking, and I blanked although it was nice to come across Paul with his wife and a mate fishing for bream and roach. They'd had a few, but it was slow going.
The 'hot' area seems to have run it's course and , as i mentioned at the end of my last pike entry, it would be nice to catch some big pike from a different area of river so today, Dave and me decided to head upstream finding the river had finally cleared.

Within minutes of dropping in my roach bait, and before Dave had even finished setting up his gear, I had a run, and out came this nice 'little' double of 12-04....confidence restored.
We fished the area for another couple of hours with a slight move upstream but no more pike showed.
Rather than make steady progress along the bank we decided on a complete move to an area we've not fished this year, but one that has produced some exceptional pike  in the past, especially this late in the season.
Dave mentioned in passing that he'd like to catch something big and , right on cue, proceeded to drop his baits on a superb brace of pike, on consecutive casts, and from the same swim. The first at 18lb, shortly followed by 22-08 (pic) both magnificently conditioned pike neither of which thankfully, we've  not seen before.
The opposite bank is very shallow and weedy and could possibly be a spawning area which might explain the presence of the pair but equally of course, this may be pure conjecture. Whatever the case it's still an excellent catch and Dave continues to have an exceptional season-well done mate!