Thursday, 31 May 2012

27/5/12 Father And Son Stuff - Land Rover #5

Fishing, and messing about with old motors........what could be better.

Jack came up from Devon for the week -end and we spent Saturday 'Land Rovering' , and Sunday was dedicated to a spot of fishing in the boat.
The 'Landie' is now stripped down to a rolling chassis having had the remainder of its panels removed and stored in the corner of the back yard.It all came apart relatively easily on the day ,despite forty odd years of rust binding each nut and bolt, and will allow me excellent access to the work that is required. There are four main areas of welding to be done on the chassis-the two front spring mountings although still fairly solid, will need replacing along with a side member and a bit of patchwork to the rear cross member-not too bad considering.
The 'heart' of the Land Rover-the steel bulkhead, through which practically everything which makes the truck go and stop goes is now stripped bare and residing in the luxury of my garage awaiting it's own bit of welding magic. These panels are fearsomely expensive to buy as a replacement, so it's worth spending some time and effort in restoring an original and, from what I can see, on this particular example, although the corrosion is quite severe, it's all repairable.
As far as dismantling goes- that's the end of it.From now on it's all repair, refurbish and build up so I suppose you could say we've reached something of a turning point in the project but, of course, there's still a long way to go.All being well it should be finished (up and running)by the time I retire in two years time!
Sunday's fishing was some action packed breaming on both ends of 'The Ditch' . We soon lost count of the fish caught- many of a good size-he's a big fellah so he makes fish look small but those bream are well into the 2-3lb bracket.The weather was kind and it was terrific fun just being out there with 'the boy'.Great stuff.

16-23/5/12 Scooby Goes To Loch Lomond

Dave and me spent six days fishing amongst some stunning scenery and on hallowed piking water experiencing the full range of weather conditions that spring time Scotland can throw at the angler.Dragging the boat five hundred miles wasn't the 'epic' I thought it might be and indeed, cruising the motorways at a steady 'sixty' with the big trucks was actually quite relaxed driving.
The campsite at Milarrochy was superb, and our pitch was a stone's throw from an excellent slipway complete with a convenient pontoon. The boat had to be recovered every day but this proved to be a very easy task and 'working' the Loch was pure boating pleasure.The first two days gave us some pretty cold ,wet weather conditions which improved to hot sunny days as the week progressed.
We divided our fishing time between trolling lures and fishing static sea dead baits in some very famous areas such as Endrick,Balmaha and Portnellan farm-the location of the capture of a one time British record pike and scene of Fred Buller's great lost pike as recounted in his iconic book.
Naturally the going was rock hard which, as first time visitors, was to be expected but we did find a few pike on dead baits the best of which was this beautifully marked double taken from a small and shallow bay near  Lomond's golf course at Rossdhu.The pike fought with a tenacity I've rarely experienced before with the specie, and gave us an aerial display as well as diving beneath the boat for a few nerve racking moments before finally being subdued.
It's just a pity that we didn't come into contact with a few more but. i'm sure armed with the little bit of knowledge that we now have, we'd do better next time.
By way of a consolation. and highlight of the trip, was the sighting of an Osprey flying over Portnellan on three seperate occasions.Each time, carrying a decent sized fish in it's talons.Obviously a more accomplished fisher that either of us!


Saturday, 12 May 2012

11/5/12 A Trio Of Tench

Last night I spent an unsuccessful couple of hours trying to extract a bass from quite decent surf on the beach at the back of my house with Andy and Simon to keep me company.
A short afternoon return trip to Deep Lake Chichester today however,proved to be quite productive  ....and not before time.It would seem that this year's tench fishing has finally kicked off having been held back by the seemingly endless rain and low air temperatures.
I selected a pitch in the SW corner of the lake, sending one bait forty yards out into the middle adjacent a patch of lillies,and another into a margin swim approximately ten feet from an overgrown bank.Tactics again, were 'bolt feeder' maggots on both outfits though I suspect that in future, due to the general shallow nature of these pits,I'll be getting the float rod out, just for fun.
The brighter and warmer weather seemed to work its magic and before long, a drop back bite on the margin rod produced the first fish  of the day weighing in at 5-14- the biggest tench i've had for some time.
At the moment I'm reading 'Big Tench' by Rickards and Webb borrowed from Dave W's extensive collection of classic angling literature. Penned in 1976 , a time when, as a teenager, I was doing quite a bit of coarse fishing, it is interesting to note that, In those days a tench of this size would have been considered to be quite a specimen. Indeed, at that time, Barrie Rickards,despite being a bit of a tench expert , had not caught a 'six'.
How times have changed. Nowadays, nobody bats an eyelid at such a fish and a ten pounder would be needed to merit a report in the angling press.Several theories have been put forward as to why some coarse species have increased so much in weight in recent years from the use of high protein baits by anglers, to agricultural nutrients seeping into our water systems but, whatever the cause, it's effects are quite dramatic. I've recently heard of the bream record being broken with a 'dustbin lid' twenty pounder!
As the afternoon progressed, so did the bites.Liner's became quite common indicate fish moving around the feeders  and soon enough,up came my second tench  ,also  from the margin swim- a plucky 3-08, followed shortly after by a screaming run on the distance rod and a really hard fighting 4-08 to complete the hat-trick. A couple of small 'silvers' had also put in an appearance, but the last fish of the day was this pleasing rudd at 1-05 to round off the session, and a very pleasent afternoon's fishing.
I think I'll spend a bit more time chasing these tench when I'm unable to use my boat,at least until the mullet start to show in numbers on the Arun. They're handsome fish , put up a good scrap and, as far as I know, the population in these very mature pits is pretty much an indigenous one.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

8/5/12 A Mixed Bag

I headed out to the Kingmere reef at 1000 with the intention of trying for bass on live bait and was surprised that, despite the light wind conditions,and a window of opportunity in the weather,very few boats were about on the popular mark.
'Spirit' and 'Lynander' were fishing the Eastern end and were reporting some very good sized bream over the 'wireless'. Alan on 'Walrus' was in the general area I'd chosen to target and was also anchored up after bream. The 6.1m tide was just beginning to lose its strength as I sent down a line of feathers which, on clearing the Northern edge of the reef produced three really nice mackerel-a welcome return. Unfortunately, i hadn't previously set up the bait tank and only two survived in a bucket whilst i was doing so but, after wasting more time setting up the float rig, one was sent down on an 8/0 circle, whilst I jigged a 'norden' with the second rod.
One the second or third run through the float  disappeared , and the ratchet screamed signalling a really good take and even though I thought i'd left it long enough, when I tightened up, there was no extra resistance-bugger! It was a big mackerel bait and obviously I hadn't allowed enough time for it to be taken properly so I missed my chance.
The tide soon fell away to nothing and feeling slightly deflated, I decided to move closer to the eastern end relax,(I was feeling knackered after a particularly hectic night shift anyway)and drop the pick for some bream. By the time I'd settled into position, the ebb had begun it's work and the takes started from the first drop. Good fish too. I probably had about a dozen plus with the best a female of 3lb before things started to slow a little leaving room for a bass of a couple of pounds to step in and take the squid bait. This gave me the ideal opportunity to test out my latest toy(tool) 'The Fish Grip' from the U.S.A.
The tool, a cheaper all plastic version of a 'boga grip', is an alternative to a net as a landing/boating device, but can also be used to temporarily keep a fish whilst still in the water.
The grip, which floats, is tethered to the boat's handrail by some strong elastic cord and, once the jaws were locked on to the bass' lower lip, she was returned to the sea whilst I set up the self take.It seemed to work very well with the fish showing no signs of being harmed by the operation swimming away strongly once the jaws had been released.Hopefully, I'll be thethering some bigger relatives in the future.
I'd also sent down a mackerel head on a second rod whilst at anchor but it just succeeded in being nibbled away by the bream.
With the tide now 'belting' through at a pace making it tricky to hold bottom, I decided to up anchor and drift with a white 'Norden' ,criss crossing the reef. A pollack of about 2lb hit the lure and eventually a second bass about the same size also turned up but the fishing was quite slow so, for the last hour before having to leave to cross the bar, I anchored back over on the west side and ended the day with a handful of more good bream.The small and very dark male in the picture is also shown with one of the new floating beads which i'm using to good effect.
I'm probably going to upset a few 'spikey' fans by saying this but, those little reef pollack fight much harder than bass of the same size, especially on a lighter outfit.
By 1700 I was heading for home and despite being out fishing for nearly seven hours, the time had flown by, probably because of the mixture of methods i was using.I still feel I've a way to go with the live bait technique for bass and indeed , drifting in general. It would help to be a little better organised and I'm sure that'll come with practice.
Back at the mooring and neighbour Alan reported similar sport on the bream and also offered some bass advice ,citing marks #7 and #9 to try a little later in the season-duly noted. He still felt it was a little early for the best bass fishing.

No monsters today I'm afraid, although a 3lb bream isn't a bad fish I suppose.Looks like it's going to be windy for a few days now so no more boating for me for a while which is a bit of a shame as these big tides usually throw up a big bass or two.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

3/5/12 Bream In The Murk.

A very gloomy and damp day to be out in the boat but the sea was , for the most part, flat calm,(look left) and the bream were more than obliging.
By way of a change ,I started off by heading out to #6 with the intention of fishing the ebb by drifting feathers to pick up some bait fish to use for bass.After several unproductive runs through and,  hearing on the radio that 'Jennifer's Pride ' , also in the locale, was picking up quality bream, I changed tactics and set the pick down on some pretty 'heavy' ground .
It was a wise choice as the action began immediately and once again I soon lost count of the decent sized bream that were coming to the boat, with not one fish below a pound in weight, and most in the 1 1/2 to 2 1/2lb range.
A plucky pouting also showed and this was sent down on a 'portland' rig on a second rod, just in case something bigger with spikes might be around, but this proved to be a fruitless exercise.
As the tide slackened, bites began to slow down eventually grinding to a halt.I experimented with a float rig trotting down last of the tide, and tried drifting again with feathers but to no avail and it seemed to me more productive to spend the 'slack' period, which for some strange reason seemed to last forever on this tide,scanning the area with the sonar.
Eventually, as the tide began it's flood, i settled on an interesting 'lump' to the west of the reef around #5. From the first drop the bream 'kicked off' -mostly males and again, a very good size.I seem to have refined the technique so that the hook up rate to bites is now much improved.Regularly lifting the rig off the bottom invariably induces a take and allowing the bites to develop, rather than wasting time trying to strike at 'taps on the tip' also seems far more productive.Size 1 vikings seem to be the optimum hook size stuffed to the brim with squid strip, and i'm now convinced that Malcolm's (Tropicana) 14mm floating beads , on a longer than usual trace,are making a difference.
Bites did eventually tail off at the mark leaving only a few dogs to 'clean up' however, there was a brief visit by some shoaling fish on the surface causing a bit of a commotion.I didn't find out what they were(mackerel , bass or perhaps even mullet which i've witnessed in similar open sea conditions before) as i couldn't get a lure attached quickly enough before they disappeared. I really must get that spinning rod, fully made up , on board for future outings.
  By 6-00p.m the gloom and drizzle had descended upon me and with visibility down to a few hundred yards, a flat calm sea and not another soul in sight,I felt that tremendous thrill of being completely isolated.But there was more than enough water to get over the bar, and time to go home.
I'd had about 30 plus bream, all decent with the best at 2-14. most were returned but a nice box was taken home for friends along with a half full baler of roe-later eaten spread on buttered toast-superb!
I had a little bit of a problem, eventually overcome, as i approached the marina when the engine died, and the warning buzzer sounded. A plastic bag had blocked the cooling intake and the engine had overheated. Luckily no damage was done and at least I know that the warning system works correctly.
Listening to the radio Steve, on Jennifer's Pride had reported poor sport on the flood at #6 so it was lucky that i was restless and moved marks.Over on #12 Neil on 'Spirit' had a 'luring ' crew and had done well with bass including what i believe, at the time of writing, was a double on a mackerel tail bait.Food for thought for the next outing.
On the last trip Dave had mentioned that we probably take for granted the quality of bream fishing that we have over here In Littlehampton. I know no different, so he may have a point but,after my third consecutive bream trip. i'm still enjoying catching these feisty little blighters.
I make no apologies for talking tackle.If Dave Lumb is allowed to mention it on his blog, then I see no reason why I shouldn't do the same.
 Having given the Daiwa Kenzaki 12/20 rod a good try out, I decided that it didn't suit me and it's now been sold on and been replaced with a third Sonik SK4-this time an 8/12 lb class version.Not hugely different from the 12/20lb model , it has to be said,but it's a fine light rod especially suited for bream, and bass live bait methods. With the 20/30, which i think will handle anything I'm ever likely to come across out there short of a porbeagle shark(I kid you not)this range of three rods, plus a spinning rod should cover all the angles.
I have tried Dave W's uptider, but it's a little unwieldy in such a confined space and as all the Soniks cast so well anyway,  I feel no need to go down that route.
Another L/H Avet SX is also on it's way from the U.S.A to go on the new Sonik,and the Abu 7001 was shifted on 'The Piker's Pit' to fund it (partially).It's a pity that after using the extremely well engineered Avets, other 'lesser' reels are just no fun to use and in fact, I now have only one Abu left-a 6501 that will sit on my light surf rod.
So, the boat fishing kit is pretty much sorted......for the time being.
As for the boat itself, I've made a few changes to the layout in an attempt to better balance the outfit. The auxiliary engine, has been moved under the cuddy in front of the crew seat where it will remain securely strapped to the buoyancy chamber until needed.The second 'bait tank' battery has also been moved up front to the crew locker.
The boat certainly sits better, the weight on the port side balancing out laterally my not inconsiderable frame at the starboard helm....but it hasn't really increased the top speed noticeably.I guess I'm still pushing along the same weight.There may be some hull drag issues but I'll know in a couple of weeks as she's coming out to go up to Scotland.
 The bait tank, when in use, will have to remain at the stern, and it's weight when full will mean that any live baiting activities will have to be carried out fishing solo-not an issue as i'm usually out on my own anyway.I tried it next to the crew seat but it just doesn't work. The feed and outlet pipes will not clear the gunwale.
The handrails fitted in the winter give a far more secure feeling when in the cockpit -another fine piece of work from 'Stainless Steve'.
So the boat is now pretty much how I want it and I'll be endeavouring to get as much use out of her as possible over the coming season-hopefully with a few fish on board as well.
0900-1800 HW 0934 5.2M

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

1/5/12 May Day Breaming.

HW 0733 4.5m
0800-1700   Generally I fish from the boat on my own.I quite like the complete solitude, and also it gives me a chance to experiment and not feel under pressure to put crew 'on the fish'.However, there is a growing list of people who have asked to come out for a trip, and it made a nice change today to be able to take my mate Dave Nevatt out for a long promised first outing in the hope of sampling some of the bream fishing we have over this side of the county.Dave's more used to pulling out bar-be-cue bream from his 'end' and indeed, Dave's Club, the Hove Deep Sea Anglers'  record for the specie is a mere 3lb. But then, over here, we have 'The Kingmere' reef system.
I'll admit to being rather nervous about the prospect of taking Dave out. After all he's fished with the best of them-Wilson, Lewis and Plummer,among others, and for species as exiting and exotic as Cauvery mahseer,Ebro cats and Nile perch. Would a cold and gloomy day out in a mucky sea after the humble black bream make the grade, I wondered.
It was a last minute decision to go, and a night before Invite, but Dave seemed very enthusiastic and jumped at the chance to come along.It was raining quite heavily at the marina when we set off at 8-00 am.My original plan was to head for the usually quieter western reef marks but, because there were no other marina boats out, and most of the big charters were still in port, i decided to head for the Kingmere and mark #12.I couldn't really take a 'guest' anywhere else could I!
Sure enough , when we arrived at the famous mark, there was only one other boat 'Lynander' in the general vicinity and during the day only Neil in 'Spirit' and my new marina neighbour Alan in 'Walrus' turned up to join in.
Despite the small tide size the quality of fishing was excellent. The bream fed steadily both for the remainder of the ebb, and the majority of the flood and we soon lost count of the numbers we were catching.Also pleasing was the general size of the fish.Dave secured a new PB with one of 2-10,whilst i managed several over the two pound mark with 2-14,and 3-00 being the best and very few of those bar-be-cue fish showed up.A smoothound, strap conger,ballan wrasse, dogs and big pouting also graced the boat deck and by the afternoon, the 'gloom' had passed, the wind had completely died down, leaving us basking in some welcome sunshine.
Dave was extremely impressed with the fishing and when I suggested that it was time to go home, insisted that we stay until the bites dried out.Eventually they did, and I managed to drag him back to port screaming  at about 5-00pm. As usual, we were the last boat to leave the mark.I even managed to convert my crew member over to our 'stuffed big hook' method enhanced by some of Malcolm's new huge floating beads which seemed to work very well.