Saturday, 31 October 2015

25/10/15, 27/10/15 More Pike Fishing

The river continues to challenge us on the pike front and today (25th)was no exception for me and Dave with just one pike, an upper single, to my mackerel bait.
Its slow fishing but I think one needs to be philosophical about the whole thing and adopt the mind set that if you catch a pike, any pike, then you're having a good day. If a 'double' turns up or you pick up a few pike, then its a very good day and a 'twenty' is indeed a 'red letter' day and one I haven't personally experienced for nearly three years!
I returned to the river two days later and headed back to the scene of last week's lost pike thinking that she might still be around. In short she wasn't there, or perhaps she didn't like sardines but a couple of small pike did so it wasn't a wasted journey.
The hunt continues................................

24/10/15 Wrasse No Bass

I took Simon out in the boat with me today for a 'bass hunt' that produced not one solitary bass but plenty of wrasse, in the 1-2lb bracket mostly, to our soft plastic lures.
Trying several of the better known reef marks we searched and searched all day but conclusively failed to locate the target 'silver' and even the ' experts' struggled too. Martin reported a similar situation which is highly unusual for him but perhaps a little encouraging for me in that at least I knew I was doing nothing drastically wrong although realistically, I'm no bass angler.
We also managed to fish some live baits which were constantly 'mullered' by persistent cuttle fish one of which I took home to eat that evening-delicious.
Whatever, its always an enjoyable day with Simon on board who seems to have a 'tenacity' for fishing similar to myself. He won't give up until the bitter end. The bass will return I'm sure of it.


22/10/15 A Move Upstream

The boat gives us unlimited access to the tidal reaches of our local river and, providing that we don't anchor above the high tide mark, we are able to fish without permission of the respective landowners. This opens up a great deal of water ,some of which would rarely see an angler's bait and, as every pike enthusiast knows, our favourite predator thrives on neglect.
However, lets not forget that pike fishing on tidal rivers is always going to be challenging and, in this respect, ours is no different.
Today I decided to head a few miles upstream and into territories that are not controlled by any of our local angling clubs at least, they haven't been for several years. Its a remote area that I've fished in the past and one that has produced fish,being loaded with bank side features. Water conditions are superb at the moment with the river running comparatively clear(for a tideway) and 'freshened' occasionally by the short periods of rain we've been experiencing of late. It really is a time to make the 'most of it' before the 'real' winter weather arrives to spoil it all.
Tucking in to the first swim at mid morning, and literally within minutes of dropping in my roach bait, the clicker on the multiplier sang its song. The run came so quickly that, foolishly, I hadn't even had a chance to assemble the landing net and I didn't even see the float disappear. I bent into a decent fish ( I would estimate it at a very good double) but the pike tore off so powerfully it snagged me in a sunken tree just a few feet from the take zone. I kept the tension on whilst I messed around trying to sort out the landing net but to no avail. The pike slipped the hooks and I wasn't best pleased although thankfully, I managed to successfully retrieve all my tackle.
Feeling slightly dejected I opted to stick it out in the same spot and, although the 'lost fish' swim didn't produce, the second rod, fished upstream of the boat. soon provided an eight pounder , again on a roach bait, to lift my spirits somewhat.
Proceedings went a little quiet following that so I elected to carry out a short hop, a few yards downstream and tuck the boat in some slack water among several overhanging trees. The river widens here and the flow becomes barely noticeable making for comfortable fishing conditions. The stretch ( I moved a couple of times) gave me a brace of low doubles (10 and 12lb) on the roach baits and a repeatedly dropped run , a lightly hooked jack pike, on a joey mackerel to make for some lively fishing before the light faded and I was forced to make tracks back to the mooring.
A good days piking.

Monday, 19 October 2015

18/10/15 Trashing Plastic

One of the biggest problems with the Fiiish Minnow soft plastic lure is that virtually every time you catch a ballan wrasse, you're a fiver out of pocket. These toothy marauders seem to trash every F.M body I throw in front of their noses and Simon and me had more than our fair share of them today.
The one above was a respectable 4lb 8oz and ,along with a solitary bass and a cod of about 5lb for Simon to take home for tea, made for an entertaining afternoon's drifting.

Not that far away from us was my good friend, talented photographer (see above) and bass guru Clive Hodges. We pulled over for a chat (as you do) and Clive complained to us that the bass had been extremely uncooperative  with just two fish caught all day. Clive who, it must be said, is a master of rhetoric, then casually informed us that one of the bass was 12lb 10oz!!! Gutted for ya mate!
I sincerely hope that Clive doesn't mind me publishing this truly impressive picture on here. What a fish!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

12/10/15 Cod On Plastic

At the moment we're experiencing a series of days with double figure (Knots) Northerly winds albeit  combined with a period of high pressure and relatively settled weather. From the shore, the sea state looks relatively calm however , five miles off it could be a different story although as can be seen in the picture, today wasn't actually too bad and definitely worth poking a nose out to have a look.
In the summer months  cod appeared to be very prolific on the middle distance wrecks in our area and we'd all hoped that they would appear inshore to entertain us during the colder months.
Early signs indicate that this could well be happening as  a few of us are starting to pick the odd fish from reef marks.
 I had three modest fish this afternoon on soft plastic lures and marina buddy, Tony also scored a hat trick of 'green backs' although of a much better size in a catch that also included some excellent bass. Well done mate.

I also found small bass on all three marks that I fished, along with plenty of wrasse and a pollack but, for the first time in quite a while I stumbled across a shoal of bass that showed clearly on the sounder and managed to extract a couple of 'easy fish' before having to 'high tail' it to cross the river bar before the tide ran off too much. I guess they'll have to wait for next time.
Marks #6,2,31

9/10/15 Wreck Madness

A last minute(literally) invite today to jump on board 'The Blueprint' with 'nippers' Martin and Pete for a spot of long distance wrecking.
Armed only with a 40g spinning rod, a box of Fiiish Minnow variants and a few hastily collected ball weights, as I'd only intended to quickly nip out to the  inshore reefs in my own boat, I did feel somewhat 'ill equipped' however, I needn't have worried.
Its amazing what you can do with such light kit even in 180ft of water.
The fish weren't exactly throwing themselves at our lures on every drift and Martin worked extremely hard to find them but, find them he did and over the course of the day  we built a respectable catch of pollack cod, and bass.
Prize of the day however must go to Martin who caught his first ever coalfish- a specie I'd never even seen before.
Pete gave me a quick ',master class' in using some 'slow jigs' that have recently become available on the market and these proved to be equally effective and, in the smaller versions, could prove useful on the inshore marks.
Somehow, I think that wrecking with the 'old school' methods using a flying collar rig and conventional boat gear will never be the same again. The light tackle approach, fishing the lure 'direct' with exceptionally thin PE braid and  a light spinning rod is definitely the way forward for me.

8/10/15 Chunky Wrasse.....and a few Bass

We're just starting to see the bass return to our reefs in enough numbers to make them worthwhile fishing for again so, from now until Christmas, when the weather allows, I suspect they will become my main target .
Today's trip was merely a couple of hours with a lure rod and resulted in a modest catch of smallish bass along with a few plump wrasse all taken on vertically fished soft plastics.
Quick, easy, hassle free fishing.

6-7/10/15 Slow Piking

Two very slow days on the river with just a solitary pike to show for all that effort. Oh well, nobody said it was going to be easy did they.

Monday, 5 October 2015

3/10/15 Chasing Turbot

Marina buddy Martin has been fishing very well this year on a distant bank for turbot and today, I managed to wangle an invite to join him on another foray on board his extremely capable craft 'The Blueprint'.
To say that the fishing was 'rock hard' is something of an understatement but , one thing I've always admired about my skipper mate, is his patience and determination and I was more than keen to play along.
We did catch several 'huge' greater weever , some very close to the British record of 2lb 2oz, and the first time I'd even seen one in the flesh. These curious looking fish, which derive their name from an 'old french' language word meaning 'dragon or 'viper', have, like their smaller cousins the lesser weever , a rather nasty venomous sting, and should be handled with extreme care even when deceased.
 The specimen pictured above was flicked off the hook and returned to grow into a record but others were kept as they do make an extremely tough fillet bait.
We did take a small brill each, again a first for me (others have caught them on my boat) and prior to typing this I had one for lunch and am happy to report that they taste as good as they are reputed to .
However, our main target was conspicuous by their absence until , late in the day,  this one showed up on my 'bling rig'. A most welcome sight.
Challenging fishing indeed but no less enjoyable (it was a beautiful day) and a real treat for me as its highly unlikely I'll ever be able to carry out this sort of trip in my own boat.
Ironically, the following day, a turbot was caught on our local plaice ground just a couple of miles out of port . Just goes to show!!

30/9 - 1/10 Two Days On The River

Two consecutive days on the river in a vain attempt to catch some bream with Dave. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be and, despite some heavy ground baiting, we only managed to attract roach and dace although there were a few respectable specimens among them.
The river continues to be a challenge and this will probably be the last general' coarse' fishing trip of the season for us as. with the ever shortening days, our thoughts turn to pike fishing once again.
Hopefully this year, with the advantage of being afloat, we'll be able to score a few decent fish and also target the considerable areas of the river that are completely inaccessible from the bank.

26/9/15 A Quickie.

I'd been given the task of looking after my wife's dog, so time today was limited and restricted to just fishing lures on nearby reefs.
The bass weren't easy to locate but I did find a few along with the obligatory wrasse, which are a bit on the small side at the moment but, as you can see from the pics, it was a very pleasant day to be afloat.

25/9/15 Rock And Mussel

 Chunky 'pig'

Dave wanted to catch something to take home to eat as his girlfriend is a bit of a 'dab hand' when it comes to the culinary arts so, we hatched a plan.
Initially we targeted the reef at mark No.5 with soft plastic lures fished vertically and an array of wrasse, bass, a nice cod and even a greedy black bream took a shine to a 'swat shad'.
The cod was obviously kept for the pot, but we thought it would be nice to catch something to keep it company so , for the afternoon, we headed to a nearby area that has been brimming with plaice of late.
Drifting with a mix of rag, and frozen black lug attached to a selection of 'bling' we soon collected a decent box of plaice to 2 1/2lb with the lightly hooked specimens being returned.
A thoroughly enjoyable mixed days fishing.

21-22/9/15 Penzance Shark

Jack's first shark.

 'Chumming' duties

 A proper 'tiddler'

 Something a little larger

A two day shark trip hunting blues but, steaming from a new location for me -Penzance.
Some of the catches made by the professional shark angling skippers at this time of year are very impressive indeed with crews often picking up numbers of blue shark well into double figures and even catching the odd small porbeagle from the same ground.
I felt as if I'd 'done' Falmouth and fancied a bit of a change of scene so when my good mate Andy Howell (Specialised Charters) gave me info on the slipway at Penzance as an alternative launch site, I decided to give it a try.
I'd been keen to get my son Jack out for a spot of shark fishing and, being a Saturday, he was able to take time off from 'his, ever busy automotive business and join me for his first ever go at the 'toothy ones'.
The fishing wasn't exactly hectic, with four blue shark on the first day but, seeing as its a new area for me to target, I wasn't disappointed and it was especially rewarding to see my son enjoying playing and 'wrestling' his first ever shark. The fish being held up above looks deceivingly small in the picture as we're both well over six foot tall.
At one point, we were joined by a very small shark swimming at the boat of less than a metre in length. Although it was undoubtedly attracted by the bait dangled in front of its snout, it obviously decided against taking it and it was a bit on the small side for us to want to catch it anyway.  We quite happily filmed it on the Go-Pro, and fed it on 'chunks', which it took readily, and she thoroughly entertained us for a quarter of an hour. Sometimes, its not just about 'catching'.
The film can be found here;

Day two saw me venturing out solo, only my second attempt at doing so, but was no less enjoyable. The shark took a while to pick up the trail but I ended the day with the same number of fish all cleanly released.
Highlight however, was when a pod of common dolphins decided to put on a show for me and again , I managed to capture some of the action on the Go-Pro . Appearing suddenly out of nowhere, they were regularly swimming right through my 'spread' of baits but are obviously intelligent enough to ignore them.........thankfully. Listen carefully to the film and you'll hear their sonar 'clicks' as they pass the boat-truly fantastic stuff.
Penzance proved to be an excellent launch location and will no doubt be visited again , with 'Jupiter' in tow, sometime in the future.
 I'm unsure whether I'll be able to fit another South West shark run in before the end of the year and , with just three trips under my belt this time around, I've done far less that I intended. As usual the weather patterns haven't helped as I really need at least two clear days to make a trip worthwhile, and it's been a tricky year on that score . We'll see.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

12/9/15 'Deadliest Catch' Devon Style.

My son Jack is often called upon to assist his girlfriend's brother Ben, with pot hauling duties and as I happened to be visiting him in Ilfracombe at the time, jumped at the chance to get on board and see how its done.
Ben, at a mere 19 years of age , must be one of the youngest commercial skippers in the country but judging by his display of skill and experience when handling his boat and gear, you'd be hard pushed to notice.
As 'green horn' I was given the job of baiting the pots whilst Jack hauled, cleared the catch, and meticulously stacked the pots ready for the 'shoot'.
 We retrieved and reset nine lines each comprising twelve pots in the space of a few hours. The target was Lobster and a modest catch worth about £200 was amassed for a considerable amount of hard work.
Due to bad weather the pots had lay in 'soak' for several days and, as well as crabs and the odd wrasse,some were  occupied by angry congers which had become trapped inside but made a hasty escape once the 'door' was opened.
A fascinating insight for me into the world of the commercial fisherman and an eye opener too. Never let it be said that this is an easy way to make a living.