Saturday, 26 October 2013

26/10/13 Superpike.

I took my piking buddy Dave with me today for a trip to the 'new' river venue and, on his first cast,he managed to winkle out this big old gal of 23lb 6oz on a rather manky mackerel dead bait. A fantastic start and a very encouraging indication of the potential of this section of river-what a fish.
Rather unusually, we decided to stay put in one swim for the duration of the short five hour session and this was the only take that we experienced.
She was  a rather old and slightly battle scarred one eyed specimen but certainly full in the body and gave a powerful account of herself probably due to the relatively high water temperatures for the time of year .Fortunately, she recovered quickly and went back strongly which is always a pleasant sight .Let's hope we get a few more of these this season-well done Dave.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

22/10/13 Surf Skool.

Back out in the surf for a daytime trip today.I'd left it a bit late starting and the tide was already well into the flood when I arrived and, it really was blowing a hoolie. The Southerly was strong enough to make it difficult to stand still and casting directly into the wind wasn't exactly easy.
Luckily, I'd switched to a fixed spool reel loaded with braid for this one and It certainly made getting the bait out achievable.
I only had time for four casts and it was the first one that produced the only bite of the session-a sharp rap on the rod tip , enhanced no doubt by the stretch free braid, produced this little schoolie bass to  save a blank.
I would have ventured out again this evening but the wind has died, and the sea has almost flattened off so I've decided against it. Judging by the weather forecast, I don't think it'll be long before those strong winds return.
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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

20/10/13 Surf's Up!

Surf's Up indeed. With massive southerly winds there is absolutely no chance of getting out in the boat but, It's that time again for some surf bassing.
Low tide was about 6 p.m and that's when I headed out, for the first time this year,from the back of my house in search of bass. I wanted to check out the sea bed in the intertidal zone before darkness fell so that I would be able to negotiate a safe passage landwards. The big tide meant that i'd be moving inshore quite quickly and I wanted to make sure I had a level playing field on which to retreat so selected a clean run of sand all the way to the shingle bank.
Wading out to knee depth I had a full moon to keep me company, and provide some decent light and, with the lack of weed present, felt I was in with a chance.Armed with whole squid on a 4/0-6/0 pennel, the strong wind directly in my face did give some 'bird's nest'  trouble when casting-or maybe i'm just out of practise.
The tide had flooded more than half way when the bite finally came. A sudden drop back that saw me instantly winding furiously to connect , and connect I did. A 58cm fish(about five pounds) in prime condition despite a curious shape.If it wasn't the 'wrong' time of year I'd have said she'd just spawned but, its probably just a deformity.
I had one more cast before 'calling it' but the tide was fast reaching the shingle and I've never really done that well at this time so, job done, I called time.
A wild night to be out!
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18/10/13 Further Exploration

I investigated the river again today on my new club ticket, once more taking a lure rod with me for company. A much slower, deeper section of slow moving water that i'm eager to get busy with baits on, and looks more than capable of producing big pike.
I caught a real tiddler on virtually the first cast but didn't locate any more, though I suspect they will appear and I have indeed been gathering reports of pike from various sources which is promising.
Its always exciting fishing a new venue and hopefully, there will be plenty to blog this winter.
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Friday, 11 October 2013

10/10/13 Pastures New


I've decided that's its high time I fished a different stretch of my favourite river for pike this season and have selected about six miles to target upstream of the tidal zone.
Naturally, the river  here is completely different beast to what I'm usually accustomed to . It will be strange having a consistent uni-directional flow , and to not have to consider a six foot change in depth whilst fishing .
Armed with a completely useless club 'map', and a very useful large scale O/S sheet, I set off up the river today lightly adorned with just a spinning outfit with the intention of exploring about half the water that is available to me.
In places the river is so tiny that it would be entirely possible to jump to the opposite bank but,there are also some interesting looking deep glides along with pools and even a rather attractive weir pool that looks likely to contain my favourite predator .
Casting occasionally I did track down a couple of small pike (one exceedingly small) and neither fish was hooked on the first follow.The larger fish actually took the shad 'jigged' under rod tip right in the margin-a tactic I've used before with this very versatile style of lure.
I covered approximately three miles of  the secluded and rather beautiful river as it twisted and turned though the local countryside, though most was, due to the dense vegetation, quite difficult to access. This situation should improve as the winter progresses.
Deer,kingfisher, heron and what appeared to be yellowhammer and snipe(I'm no bird watcher) kept me company along the way- a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

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5-6/10/13 Jupiter Gets Porbeagles.

At the beginning of this year I had a burning ambition to consistently catch tope from my local area and the thought of catching a 'proper' shark from my new boat was a distant dream.
At that time my sole encounter with larger U.K ' toothy ones'(I've caught bronze whaler shark from a surf beach in Namibia) had been one tope of about 50lb that I was reluctant to bring on board my little Orkney 520 a couple of seasons back.
How times have changed. The tope fishing saga is documented in the blog and, the blue shark fishing has been, by my modest standards, a runaway success but, I was still desperate to catch a North Cornwall porbeagle shark from my Warrior .
I was lucky enough to catch  my first ever porbeagle, in July, towing Wayne's Wilson Flyer to Boscastle, but I truly wanted to get one alongside 'Jupiter' and time ,was running out.
 My U.K 50lb Rovex and 4/0 Senator had coped with that first big shark, but they had been pushed to the limit so,  whilst down in Falmouth on the last 'blue' trip, I managed to meet up with Paul from 'Rokmax', try out, and purchase a pair of superb 'Star' brand  30/50 one piece stand up sticks from the U.S.A which are completely different to anything that's regularly available in our country.
I've matched these up with a brace of left hand 6/0 Senators, one of which I converted myself with parts from U.K Penn supplier-Mick Simons. These outfits are far more powerful than my  50s ,despite the confusing nominal line ratings, and should cope admirably with anything I'm likely to encounter in British waters including hopefully, one day, a local thresher shark.
I've spent a lot of time this year researching how to go about catching the North Cornwall porbeagle sharks and by far the most difficult problem to solve, is actually getting the boat down to the isolated grounds that I choose to fish.
Boscastle slip is simply too small for my Warrior and the risk of damaging the boat when launching there is too high. Bude, although very close to the target area is, it would appear from advice I've been given by the local anglers,  a treacherous launch with a fierce surf break. The Bideford and Barstaple based slips are simply too  restricted by the tide to be convenient which leaves Ilfracombe, and it's picturesque harbour.
The disadvantage with Ilfracombe is it's sheer distance from the marks. The journey is 28 nautical miles and,  one has to negotiate Hartland Point , and it's legendary tide race caused by the Bristol Channel emptying its not inconsiderable contents into the Atlantic ocean twice daily on the ebb tide.
The decision to actually go on this trip was very much made at the last minute . I'd spotted a three day weather window in my leave slot that coincided with favourable tide times i.e running to and from the mark with the tide, and had contacted Wayne , to see if he was up for it, just two days prior to leaving.
The weather held, the boat was on its trailer having just had an engine service anyway, Wayne was good to go, I had plenty of chum, so we hitched her up and went for it-just like that.
Ilfracombe is indeed a superb facility. The slipway is excellent and the tide 'window' is approximately three hours either side of high water which is  reassuring if are forced to cut short a trip.The harbour dries but, is soft sand , there are very convenient visitor's moorings available and the prices are extremely reasonable indeed, especially compared to those that we're accustomed to in Sussex.
 We launched the boat  on  Friday afternoon and my good friend, and Ilfracombe contact  Nick (Pix) Dabney lent us his tender so we could get to and from the mooring.
Saturday dawned and there was still residue swell  from recent westerly winds but, at least the breeze itself had died so we set off on our mission. Everything was fine on the journey down until we reached Hartland and then 'all hell' let loose.
Of course, it didn't look too bad from a distance but as we approached the tide race the extent of the turmoil was apparent, and we soon found ourselves in a huge, by my standards, sea. Despite continuing to make a good ground speed running with the tide at about 10kts, the boat was bucking quite violently and I decided to 'bail out' of the maelstrom, making a quick turn and running alongside the race until I felt it safe to resume the originally intended course.
It was an exhilarating experience which hugely added to my confidence in the boat and certainly honed my handling skills and, I can honestly say that, at no time, did I feel at all threatened. However, it was prudent to take , what I judged at the time, to be the safe option and Wayne agreed.
Down tide of the point the sea calmed considerably and we soon arrived at our destination, settled  on our chosen drift line, and set our chum trail. Unfortunately, we waited all day for one solitary run-a tope of about 20lb to one of Wayne's baits but, that is shark fishing.
What was noticeable compared to our last visit, were the small number of bait fish . Our feathers were completely ignored and we reasoned that this may be the reason for our lack of shark takes.They simply, may not have been there, at least, in any significant numbers.
The run home with the flood was much kinder and, skirting the coastline closely ,we actually ran directly through the middle of the Hartland race experiencing minimal chop over the reef at the mark.A startling contrast to our experience on the ebb tide.
Day two arrived and I'd invited Nick along for the ride not only to try to catch his first shark (he'd had four failed attempts) but also to see how three aboard would work out. Good teamwork ensured no problems on that score.
This time around we steered well clear of the Hartland race which considerably added to the distance travelled and , judging by what we could see of the race, may not have been strictly necessary but ,It's always better to be safe than sorry, especially in alien waters.
We started our drift slightly north of the previous day's  and still had a steady knot or two of drift speed running with the ebb. We were each allocated a rod on float gear and  ,as skipper,I was also charged with a  rod simply dropped with a weight attached twenty feet or so directly under the boat.

As usual the salted chum sent out a superb trail and we sat back and waited on the almost flat calm sea.The ebb tide finished with no action and, as the boat turned for the flood ,we drifted closer to the shore and into slightly shallower 60ft depths, and within earshot of the waves breaking over the rocky coastline.
It was Nick's bait(the deepest and furthest set) that first to go with a short burst of 'music' before I managed to quickly, grab the rod, and reduce any resistance to zero by knocking off the clicker. Nothing happened.
 I felt the line tension momentarily but I couldn't be sure it was a bite. I handed Nick the rod anyway and kitted him out with the butt pad just in case.
Still nothing happened for , what seemed like a long time, but  I just sensed there was a shark there and,although both Wayne and Nick felt the gear had snagged the sea bed, we instructed Nick to gently tighten up and slowly wind in .
It did indeed appear, as the boat continued to drift, that the gear  had been snagged as it only gradually moved up tide but  then suddenly Nick reported that he'd felt a couple of solid thumps,the rod took on the fighting curve and 'our man' was 'IN'. The shark must have been dozing.!
The expression on Nick's face as he felt the power of the fish was priceless- a look of complete surprise especially as the fish stole line at a considerable pace on it's first run. Nick was having the time of his life and after about twenty minutes had the shark under control and near enough to the boat for us to get a decent look-a nice shark of about 80-90lb we estimated.
We'd had to run up the engine to take evasive action when the shark dived under the hull, and it was interesting to see the trail line on the plotter and how the fish had towed us around before we managed to gain the upper hand .
With Wayne filming I had my first chance at playing 'skipper', donning the gloves and getting 'up close and personal' with the porbeagle which was released by cutting the trace as close as possible to the fish.It was , yet again, a fantastic sight seeing the shark swim free and Nick was naturally elated,and not a little beaten up by his capture.His first shark and nearly double the size of his previous personal best fish of any specie, and the first porbeagle to Jupiter. I was chuffed to bits.In fact, we all were.
Very soon afterwards the bait on my second rod was bitten cleanly in half accompanied by a short violent burst on the ratchet.It's entirely possible that the culprit could have been a shark but, i'll never know for sure.
With time running out before we would have to leave to get back to port in daylight, I casually mentioned that it would be nice to get another one before going home and, almost immediately, the close in bait was taken , Wayne set the hook, and passed the rod to me.
A less spectacular fight than my own first porgie but nevertheless a whole heap of fun, and I handed the rod back to Wayne as the shark approached the boat to give him a 'bit of a play' and allow me once again to carry out the 'release'. A slightly bigger shark this time possibly approaching 100lb and again, cleanly released.
Unfortunately we didn't get another chance to even drop a bait down but, we'd all experienced a bit of action and it was immensely satisfying to get , not only Nick his first ever shark, but to realise the ambition of getting a porbeagle in Jupiter. A feat that rounds off a superb first year's sharking for me and one that I've found immensely rewarding.
The run home was super quick and smooth and was  carried out on just one tank of fuel at an average speed of 18kts for the hour and half run.
There would have been a third day but Wayne and me decided that we'd achieved our aim, learned loads in the process and, as there obviously weren't that many shark around, possibly due to lack of bait fish, we decided to pull the boat out, and head home that evening.
Mission accomplished.
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28/9/13 The Pike Season Begins.

Dave and me visited our favourite river stretch today, albeit a day or two early, for the beginning of the traditional winter pike season.
The game plan was for Dave to catch live bait on the feeder, and this worked a treat with the net soon being full of prime roach of a reasonable bait size-nice to see. Unfortunately, and rather surprisingly for the time of year there weren't that many active pike or at least, we failed to find them so the vast majority of those roach were returned.
Early in the session a 'jack' took a shine to our bait net and I think the same fish chased my sardine dead bait on the retrieve, and subsequently followed a curly tail that I put in front of it but, hooking up didn't happen.
The day ended with us taking a pike each on the live roach so at least we didn't blank but it was slow going.
I'm in the mood for a change for this year's pike fishing so will be joining another club which has a completely different stretch,  non-tidal , to explore.
As a footnote to this entry my work colleague Paul Holden, who is a very keen and successful match angler on the river, reported that his wife Gail,had recently taken a spectacular 96lb catch of  bream from this stretch, with specimens to over 6lb . A superb achievement indeed, and a good indication of the quality of bait fish present.

 Gail's bream haul.


24/9/13 Autumn Breaming

During the blue shark sortie to Falmouth the 100hour oil change warning light on Jupiter illuminated and , once again, it was time for another scheduled service. It hasn't taken long. Just nine months and my big Suzuki motor once again needs it's internal organs checked out-a scenario that I predicted would not occur until at least November. After the Cornish trip, I'd left her on the hard standing at the marina hoping that Mechanic Adrian would be able to fit her in whilst we were away on our annual hols to France but, it didn't pan out. Hearing that a few bream had been about locally, I decided to drop her in for a quick trip and see if I could make up for the lack of the specie during the spring period. A simple trip really, just anchoring directly on East Ditch and staying there for the duration. I did get a dozen or so bream to 2lb ,and my mackerel feather string, permanently fishing scored four mackerel so no complaints there. The charters continue to do well with the plaice on our local marks which is something I intend to try myself soon and, the first of the cod are showing occasionally -an indication of the seasonal change.