Monday, 27 April 2015

21 and 23/4/15 Back To Blighty


....and, as can be seen in the pics some rather pleasant , warm weather along with calm seas. On the 21st I joined Martin and Brian for an afternoon on the lures and we found some very good bass fishing on just one mark. We soon lost count of the numbers of fish and generally they proved to be of a pretty good stamp with several 'fours' and 'fives' hitting our shads.
 As usual, Martin picked up a 'double' although as his father rightly says ' he's at it an awful lot'. Good luck to him....he's a very talented angler.

Plump pigs for the 'elders'
On the 23rd again, with very favourable conditions, I decided to take 'Jupiter' out and joining me on this foray were two local 'lure' enthusiasts Pete Cook, and Pete Brown. Judging by the amount of gear they brought with them I suspect they may each have a small mortgage to finance their hobby LOL  but it's obvious that these guys love their lure fishing and their enthusiasm was infectious.
It didn't take too long to locate the bass which have now spread to most of our local marks and indeed, many of the fish we were 'chasing' were actually on clean ground 'off ' the reef. The gannets were a great help in finding the shoals and sometimes the bass were working the surface, although these fish tended to be quite mobile and tricky to stay in touch with.
Losing count as we passed 60 bass plus quite a few wrasse to 4lb ,we steadily caught all day long-most fish falling to size variations of split belly shads such as The Fiiish Minnow.
Quite why this lure proves to be so effective is anyone's guess but personally, I do put a lot of faith in this particular pattern especially when the bass are finicky as it tends to 'winkle' them out. How much of this is due to 'confidence' in the bait is open to debate.
 Although most of the bass were quite modest in size, a smattering of 'fours' and 'fives' showed up but, fish of the day was this beauty of 11lb 6oz that 'Cookie' tempted with a 'Crazy Eel' on the very last drift- well done mate..
Pete's double

The 'return'.

 One 'curiousity' was this small bass complete with attached lamprey-the first time I've ever seen this.


Plenty of these about too.



When my good mate Dave Nevatt told me that he was looking for someone to skipper a boat on a trip to  Norway, I didn't need asking twice. Despite not having visited the region before, I've had a long standing interest in Scandinavia fuelled no doubt by the excellent crime drama films that the Nordic countries produce of which I am a great fan.
Skjervoy is a small town in the Troms region of the country situated well inside the Arctic circle and , even though we are well into their Spring season, the weather, as can be seen in the photographs could be quite challenging at times. We flew in via Oslo, and Tromso reaching our final destination by road-a fascinating four hour drive through some of the most breath taking scenery I've ever seen.
Our accommodation,  at a 'Fiske camp', were self catering, timber built cabins just yards from the tiny marina which was fully equipped with a filleting shed, and a blast freezer.
After a quick introduction to the self drive boat-my ride was an Arvor 215, we were left to our own devices. Our party comprised nine members of Dave's family and friends and I took three crew members with me on the Arvor, which proved to be just fine for a craft of this size. The boat came fully equipped with an electronics package(Lowrance) that I was familiar with (same as my Warrior) and , by asking a few questions, it didn't take too long to find out where we needed to point the bows.
All of the fishing was done on the drift, and the most productive ground seemed to be offshore plateaus of about 300ft in depth.
 We used 30lb class gear and on the end that counts attached, either pirks, or huge paddle tail shads such as the 'beast' in the picture. The pirks tended to find the fish, but the shads seemed to single out the better specimens although at times, unless a stinger hook was used, fish could tricky to hook.
 Tidal movement  was minimal and drift speeds were controlled by the wind which could sometimes hamper keeping the lures 'vertical', and thus fishing effectively.
 We often needed up to 450grams of lure to achieve this and the majority of the cod were caught close to the sea bed, or occasionally 'teased' up on the retrieve.
 Once a shoal had been located-very often it would show clearly on the sounder, we were able to return to repeat the drift several times as long as the wind direction was constant-not dissimilar to the bass drifting we do at home on the reefs..
At times the fishing could be quite hectic , and I can recall several occasions when all four of us were into  big cod at the same time. Surprisingly, the fish could quite easily be successfully returned usually by firing them back into the sea like a dart, which I assume oxygenated their gills and gave them a helping hand to get back down again.
We were extremely fortunate in the weather department, there being only one day when we needed to stay 'close in' to land to gain some shelter.
We did catch on these marks, which were generally only yards offshore, yet could be hundreds of feet deep, but usually only small codling showed along with the occasional haddock. On that particular day the wind died off at about 4 p.m and  the fishing had been decidedly average so I suggested to my crew that we bite the bullet, and motor about nine miles further to the offshore ground.
 Including the travel time we only had, at most, a couple of hours to fish before having to return before dusk but both Dave, and our Polish friend Tomasz, were 'up for it' so we gave it a go and once we'd found them, it was a big cod on every drop. It made for a very long day afloat but was well worth the effort and I fully appreciated  the enthusiasm of my two crew that day.
By the end of the week our party had managed to fill nine, polystyrene cool boxes of filleted cod to take back to England and the remainder of ther fish caught were returned to fight another day.Nothing was wasted.
Our biggest cod weighed 34lb and we simply lost count of the 'twenties' we caught  virtually every day. Despite being a little early in the season for the best halibut fishing, three were landed with a magnificent 67lb fish going to trip organiser 'Uncle Jim'. We also saw a few wolf fish and torsk to add interest.
On the wildlife front, huge sea eagles entertained us along with pods of harbour dolphins which, when encountered, could be attracted close to the boat by tapping on the hull. Finally, as you would expect with this sort of terrain, the views of the landscape were truly spectacular and slightly deceiving in that , because of the sheer size of the mountains , land often appeared to be much closer than it actually was.

As for the Arvor 215, I have to say that I became quite fond of this little boat during the week, and was actually quite impressed with the way she handled. They are a popular boat in Littlehampton and I'd been led to believe that they were a bit slow. Despite being a simple shaft drive diesel in a semi-planing hull mine easily achieved a cruise speed of 18kts which didn't drop by that much when experiencing a bit of a sea. On the flat, I squeezed 22 knots out of her and her diesel consumption was very good indeed.
Build quality and equipment were more than adequate and the all round visibility was truly excellent, as was the walk around cockpit giving easy access to the anchor when needed.  The asymmetric version , would be even better on score as the cabin is moved over to the port gunwale.
 My only criticism is the  huge engine 'hump' (cover)which I managed to trip over continuously. Its begging for a removable seat to be built on it. If I ever decide to buy a 'cabin' boat I'd certainly take a good look at these little Arvors.

Overall , I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and would highly recommend it to anyone, especially those anglers who run their own boats in the U.K. They will, I'm sure,  find the fishing extremely satisfying as Its a case having to put a bit of effort and skill in to catch your fish.
 Norway can be very expensive, but this package was very reasonably priced and if you shop at the supermarket and cook your own meals (I can highly recommend the cod) it can actually work out quite cheap.
We didn't really experience any 'extreme' conditions but it was useful to have full floatation suits along with hats and gloves at all times as, even in the slightest breeze, the temperature could drop to a very low level. I took just the one rod and reel and half a dozen lures and this proved to be more than adequate but local tackle shops tend to stock most of the necessary tackle if needed. However, I wouldn't recommend spending thirty quid on a huge pink monster shad only to lose it on the first fish.....Sorry Dave...I couldn't help myself mate.


'The Fleet'

'My' Arvor

Colin, Tomasz and two brimming boxes of prime cod.

Flat Matt.....could be good for tope this lure.

Uncle Jim's 67lb halibut

5-6/4/15 Progress

I managed to get out in the boat over two consecutive days enjoying some superb weather, along with a flat calm sea and some deserted marks.  Fishing solo enabled me to experiment to the full,and finally track down some shoals of feeding bass that now seem to have populated many of the less well known marks on our reef systems.
As always these fish take a bit of work and patience to find but, if the tide is running, once that green cloud appears on the sounder generally, its 'game on'.
 Honing my live bait catching skills I needed to change tack as the whiting shoals are thinning out .By drifting a paternoster rig with a tiny single squid baited hook barely tapping the rocks over slack tide,  I managed to get enough pout in the bait tank on both days before the 'real' fishing commenced .Fishing both live bait, and lures  the 5th produced 20 plus fish to 6-04 , and a bonus codling of 5lb for tea........on a swat shad!
On the 6th, at a different mark, I managed to find the fish again, and lost count after catching 30 bass, mostly 2-3lb fish on S.Ps fished vertically, but the  pout produced a much better stamp of fish. Every live bait was taken by fish in the 4-6lb range, culminating in this one at 9lb 3oz.
So, a very satisfying couple of trips with, by my modest standards, some good results and hopefully, this consistent fishing will continue.
I've been messing about with the Go-Pro recently in preparation for this year's shark fishing trips, and here's the result - a 5-08 bass caught on a float/Portland/circle hook live bait rig.To be honest, It needs a bit of editing .......can anyone suggest an easy to use editing package??

26-27/3/15 Martin's ...and.....Mine.

A double for Martin on the Blueprint.
26th- I joined Martin today for a run out on the 'Blueprint' for a lure only session  hoping to cover some different ground to those marks fished of late. Martin has a very impressive side scan  electronics image package on his boat and this certainly allowed us to see fish that normally we would miss although this still doesn't make them any easier to catch.
We did however, pick up quite a few bass including an impressive brace of doubles to the skipper on consecutive casts !!  an amazing feat which this very skilled angler took all in his stride.
My eight pounder
26th I sneaked out early again today and after quickly finding the whiting live baits at anchor, set up my drift and put five decent bass in the boat to 8lb 2oz...I should have doubled that number but suffered a run of dropped fish possibly by tightening up on the circle hook a bit too prematurely however, things are improving.
Martin joined me after a while  and managed  to take a
this pleasing 'boat to boat 'pic .
 Twenty four hours later , its blowing a hoolie and the sea is all churned up. I suspect that clarity will suffer for several days after these winds.

23-24/3/15 More Bass Chasing

23rd-Back out today after an early start (0500 at the boat)  and once again I had 'the ' mark' all to myself for quite a while..  Just wrasse and pollack over slack water although I could clearly see shoaling bass on my sounder and , as the tide started to flood a run of three pounders (bass) soon hit my swat shad.
 Rather conveniently.......I managed to foul hook a four inch pouting. This was immediately deployed on a float live bait rig and smashed, literally within seconds of entering the water, by a seven pounder on the nose- my best of the session. The power of the live bait!!!!
As a more civilised hour approached the mark gradually became more populated with boats so I elected to drop the anchor nearby, and seek out some whiting live bait. It took very little time to fill the bait tank but, by then, the mark was truly 'crowded' so I decided to look elsewhere.
I carefully scanned four alternative reef marks for signs of fish but nothing showed up on the sounder and the whiting were released to grow bigger!

24th.  Dave joined me for today's run out and  yet another early start . This time, decided to begin by filling the bait tank with whiting. A by catch , on black lug tipped with squid, was a tiny starry smoothound......Spring has indeed arrived.
Wrasse were plentiful on lures but the bass were sparse on the mark ,with very little given away on the sounder. Eventually this fine bass hit my crew mate's live bait-a new p.b for him at nine pounds -a fish that we'd worked extremely hard for. Unfortunately that was the only bass to show and by lunch time we were back on the mooring.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

18/3/15 Bassin' and Wrassin'

Regular blog readers(if indeed there are any out there?) will have no doubt noted a distinct lack of effort recently on my part and indeed, as I write this entry (its the 25th April ) I'm still over a month behind............but , there's a very good reason for this...and its all to do with the picture of that silvery thing above.
Although the early arrival of bass in our local area is generally kept fairly quiet, word soon trickles out and gradually more boats appear to get in on the action. The problem is that the bass seem to be fairly localised and, although I'm convinced otherwise, seem to be concentrated on just one mark.
Despite having a really thorough look at other areas I failed to find them elsewhere though I suspect it won't be very long before they do turn up.
Brian hooked up with me on this, lure only, trip and with some degree  of success despite only 46.8 deg showing on the fish finder, and a biting N.E wind to boot.
 Thankfully this meant we had the mark to ourselves-I hate crowds!!
. On arrival , the tide hadn't really started to move but good sport was soon provided by wrasse on our vertically fished shads with fish to 4lb for my crew mate Brian. We did however, pass over several 'green masses' on the sounder and my feeling was that they were bass but wouldn't feed until the tide started running.
Unfortunately the wind ,which was directly opposing the tide, hampered us somewhat but, with patience as the tide increased, the clues on the sounder revealed their true identity with a handful of bass to 5lb-a good start.
Pictured top is a little feathered friend that turned up for a well earned rest on the boat. A chiffchaff, this little fellah may have had a long journey al the way from Africa. Total respect.

14/3/15 The End Of The Season

Three end of season pike trips covering both tidal, and non tidal stretches of both my local rivers to report here.
Again, nothing huge took a shine to our (me and Dave) baits but it was fun getting a few pike on the bank especially as I managed to winkle a pair out of  a tree swim that had proved to be a 'banker' in the past which was rewarding.
Its been a typical river pike season again with coloured water slowing the fishing down more often than not. Of course, as I say every year. 'I'll be back' but will perhaps concentrate more on some new stretches particularly those which I planned to fish this season, but didn't manage to get to.

1/3/15 Carps

I don't really coarse fish still waters a great deal, apart from chasing tench, but of late have had a couple of trips to some ponds that are on my club ticket that contain a good head of carp and, as you can see, they can be rather attractive looking specimens.
This one was caught on a feeder and a comparatively light rod ,gave me a good run for my money and actually gave me a clue as to why carp fishing is so popular. Simply put....'they don't half pull hard'
Its unlikely that I'll get into serious 'mud pig' fishing (just kidding carp fans) but I does remind me of the fun I've had chasing them on my local rivers so maybe this summer, when the season opens, I'll hatch a plan.

27/2/15 Grayling Again

My third and final trip of the season to the Lower Itchen Fishery trotting for grayling. Yet again I found these stunning fish took a liking to my sweet corn offerings but today produced no monsters-just average fish to 1lb 4oz.
Dave joined me having similar success and it did make for a thoroughly enjoyable day's fishing.
I shall return again next winter for another go.

18/2/15 Carl's Back Garden

Friend and ex-colleague Carl has a lake at the bottom of his garden that is rarely, if ever fished. He's been on my case for a while to get along with my pike gear and have a go and who am I to refuse such an invitation.
The lake is not big but does contain a good head of pike and one tale that Carl recounts really interests me. Whilst building a jetty at the foot of his garden, he spotted what he describes as an enormous pike just skulking in the shallows.
To be honest, this is more than enough reason for me to get interested even though, in all likelihood, the big pike in this lake is likely to be a 'double'....who knows.
Small, rich lakes in my area have produced some really huge pike and where there are jacks like the one above, there's going to be big mums.!
Today, I just caught the 'kids'....and plenty of them but, they were all pristine fish with beautiful markings and the lake certainly warrants a revisit next winter.
Thanks Carl-much appreciated.