Tuesday, 25 February 2014

24/2/14 I've Finally Found The River.

I'm famous!! Its alright , there's no need to rush for your autograph books just yet. It's merely a mention(column) in the Angling Times about my zander capture and in typical journalistic fashion, they haven't quite got the facts right and have somewhat, sensationalised the event. According to them my lost second zander was 'an even bigger fish' and they added a decade to the elapsed time since I'd last visited the lake.
It looks like the sea angling monthlies have got hold of Brian's blonde too and I'm hoping that they get things right as its a far more significant capture.
It's finally stopped raining and the rivers are beginning to recover, recede into their banks and, according to the Environment Agency web site, are returning to 'normal' winter levels. I'm sure you can't have failed to notice the above.
There is however, still a huge amount of surrounding surface run off flowing into my favourite river, keeping the water coloured which is hardly conducive to good pike fishing. However, one of my piking buddies , Lionel Mills fired me up by catching a 'tidal' pike at the week-end, albeit on a different river and, curiosity got the better of me so, I had to take a look myself.
Naturally, I went armed with rods and bait and on crossing a conveniently placed road bridge on my journey to the chosen stretch, was pleasantly surprised. Yes it was running high and fast but definitely not the colour of chocolate. A fair estimate was to say that it was more akin to the colour of weak tea. Pretentious tea with a fancy name that is usually consumed from a bone china teacup complete with saucer springs to mind.
I decided to proceed.
On reaching my chosen swim(s) It was clearly (pun fully intended) 'worth a shot', I thought to myself and I actually felt cautiously optimistic that a pike might possibly find one of my smelly paternostered sardine baits. I'd certainly caught the odd pike before in similar conditions and anyway, the sun was shining, I was finally on the river, and just happy to be 'out there' fishing again.
My flood bank perch felt a bit like a causeway in a vast sea as all the surrounding fields were full of water gradually emptying into the river via ditches and sluice gates causing huge boils and heavily coloured flows downstream which I tactically avoided.
Keeping mobile, it was the second 'swim' that produced the only take of the day in the shape of this seven pounder.
Only small but nonetheless , a welcome sight and enough to encourage me to persevere for a couple more hours and half a dozen moves before it was time to pack up and go to work.
Interestingly, despite the ebbing tide, the river level changed very little during the course of the session and although I didn't hang around long enough to find out, I doubt whether the flooding tide and subsequent change of  direction of flow, even occurred. There is still a lot of flood water trying desperately to reach the sea and unsurprisingly ,it's this that is maintaining the high water levels as it slowly filters back into the main river.
Despite this, unless we experience more heavy rainfall, conditions can only improve and, I don't think it'll be long before I'm back for another try. As for the non-tidal upper reaches, I think I might have to wait a little while for those areas to recover sufficiently for fishing to be worthwhile and, with just a couple of weeks of the season remaining, time is running out on what has been the most difficult of pike fishing winters.

Monday, 10 February 2014

10/2/14 A Monster Blonde

Yet again , something REALLY special comes along just when you least expect it.
There was a window in the weather today. At least, that's what it said on my most trusted wind forecasting site and, as they rarely get it wrong, and the tides were favourable(very small)  I decided it was time, once again, to target the blonde rays on my favourite sand bank.
My good mate and marina neighbour Brian had expressed an interest in catching these BIG rays , so it was him I called upon to crew for the trip and he didn't need much persuading.
With 1to 4kts wind forecast, we were both quite surprised just how bumpy the sea was, and the ride down to the mark was a slow plod keeping the speed down to about 10-kts to avoid losing any teeth. Sorry Bri, no offence mate.
It was rough out there.
Bites were slow materialising but Brian eventually had a blonde on of about 20lb but, experiencing some extreme difficulties wielding the landing net whilst being thrown all over the 'shop', we proceeded to lose the fish when the trace chafed through. I was devastated as this fish would have easily beaten Brian's former P.B of 16 lb but my crew was far more philosophical about the event and quickly dropped his bait back down.
A small thornback ray followed to my bait but with bites a bit slow, I suggested a move to a different part of the bank in order to search out the fish. If the sea conditions had been better, we'd probably have moved sooner but sometimes its easier, and certainly more comfortable to sit things out.
With the tide slacking I repositioned the boat on a shallower section of the bank and, this proved to be a wise decision as it wasn't long before Brian's whole squid was taken again.
Despite switching to a heavier rod, this Ray rally 'battled' and when she surfaced I could tell that it was a special fish and would not fit in my 24 inch landing net. Instead, on Brian's suggestion, I wing gaffed the fish and this proved to be a much more efficient method of boating the fish and , despite perceived wisdom, actually did very little harm at all.
When on board 'Jupiter' the true size of the ray could be gauged...and this was one very big blonde. Once we'd  struggled to get her in the pike sling she whizzed the 'Avons' round to the red sector settling on 39lb , corrected to 37lb 8oz once the  sling had been subtracted. WHAT a fish. As I found out later just 2lb 2oz short of the British record for the specie.
A few fumbled snaps were taken before she was slid back into the sea, perhaps to reappear one day at a record weight.If she does, and its one of us that has the privilege of capturing her, she'd still be returned. On that we both agreed.
With the winds freshening and  on losing our anchorage I took the decision to 'call it' early and head inshore to calmer waters where we experienced similar anchoring issues before finally retiring, and returning to port. We'd had our day and what a day. Well done Brian for bringing such a superb fish on board 'Jupiter' and one that will certainly take some beating.

The big question is; How long do these Blonde Rays stay around.? I did well targeting them at this
 time last year but, I have relatively little experience and knowledge of the specie and  have been given mixed opinions on this question.
If anyone can throw any light on the matter,leave a comment on here or email me at  completeangler@sky.com

Sunday, 9 February 2014

27/1/13 Drowning Worms.

Continuing with the freshwater predator theme, Dave and me felt it was time to try and catch a decent perch or two. As a youngster, when I did a lot more coarse fishing, big perch were a very rare sight indeed as the specie had still not yet recovered from the stock depleting perch disease outbreak of the 1960's.
Nowadays big perch are far more common , particularly in 'commercial' fisheries but, as these places are not really our 'bag', we were looking for something a little more...'natural''.
We'd been given some 'hot' information that one of the stream fed stillwaters on our club ticket contained some nice perch so, armed with that most traditional of perch baits,the humble lobworm, we decided to investigate.
Our first trip produced a few very small perch along with some rather sizable silver bream
,or were they skimmers? Dave returned the following day, possibly taking advantage of a swim that had been pre baited by another angler  and scored with three nice perch.
Check out his own blog here http://ahookinmytrousers.blogspot.co.uk/
A few days later, and it was my turn picking up this new p.b perch at 2-09 along with a mixed catch including tench and a couple of really lively common carp to about 7lb which are tremendous fun on  light float tackle.
We've returned a couple more times to the lakes with some success but there is much to learn here and it provides a challenging and interesting diversion whilst the rivers are flooded and the sea too rough.