Friday, 25 December 2015

21/12/15 Wild River Piking.

Strong winds and driving rain didn't make for easy pike fishing today but I am determined to take advantage of the good river conditions while they last especially as the pike seem to be in feeding mode.
Not wanting to waste too much time travelling, I ventured to an area just a mile or so from the mooring where bank side reeds help to shelter the boat when at anchor. Because I almost always fish  float paternoster rigs, whether using live or dead baits, It's not strictly necessary to keep the boat absolutely still. The line from rod tips to floats doesn't have to be kept tight which allows for a certain amount of boat movement without affecting bait presentation.
The floats I use are sliders, but fixed bottom end only 'waggler' fashion-an unusual style of pike float but very effective. By fishing over depth, though not excessively so, the current tensions the rig to the float and the slightest movement of the bait is difficult to miss. I've been using these floats for several years now and can highly recommend them.You'll find them here;
Today those floats were taking a beating from the wind but it didn't effect their sensitivity nor the pikes' willingness to feed.
 I'd fished about four different spots before the first take came to a sardine bait tucked close to the opposite bank. A scraper double came to the net and, in truth, I was very pleased with it considering the weather conditions which, as you can see, didn't help the photography.
My only other take came from a swim where I'd parked the boat deep in the mouth of a rife in an attempt to keep out of the wind - a small pike that dropped the bait (quite a sizable roach) but it was a spot noted for future reference. After that I decided to call it a day finishing earlier than usual about mid afternoon.
A day or two later , the rain has entered the river, causing high levels, and plenty of colour in the water but then again, the tides are also increasing in size which doesn't help matters. Timing is everything with tidal river piking.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

19/12/15 Another 'Twenty'

22lb 6oz
Three long years since I've caught a tidal twenty pound pike and what happens ......I catch two within a month. Fishing is indeed an unpredictable pastime.
My favourite small tides have come around once again so I was able to return to the general area of our( mine and Dave's) recent success.
 The river was in reasonable condition, far better in fact than last week when the combination of a big tide, plus the presence of some recent rain water, made piking almost a waste of time.However, the strong winds haven't abated and finding some shelter that would enable me to keep the boat relatively still was actually quite difficult today.
The bites  were slow in coming but, after a few moves downstream eventually, at about midday, my roach bait was attacked by a small pike which quite quickly let go.
 The bait remained in 'fishable' condition so I dropped it back in place and waited. The were obviously pike about.
It took a while and the next take, when it came, was delicate in the extreme. The  float twitched a little and slowly, very slowly , glided a few inches across the surface. Hardly a 'run'.
Not wanting to leave it too long and thinking that my diminutive friend was coming back for another go, I tightened up.
 At first the fish didn't feel that big, as I was easily able to 'lead' it towards the boat but suddenly, the pike woke up, and tore off like a 'mad thing'. Usually this isn't a problem but, in a boat, with ten feet of water all around the fish have far more room to 'play'. Pike don't usually 'fight' in the true sense of the word but, this one obviously didn't know that.
It dived deep, bending the rod double, stealing line , swam straight under the boat and I could feel that awful 'grating' sensation as the braid made contact with the rear anchor rope.
To make matters worse it managed to  swim around the rope , surface again on the other side of the boat and then had the audacity to 'tail walk'- the first time I've ever seen a pike this big do that-an impressive sight.
I'd managed to lift the anchor while all this was going on and , by now,had no control of the fish on the rod at all , it being left on a 'tight line' connected to the anchor rope. Thankfully, there was  enough slack so, grabbing the braid I just managed to 'hand line' the pike into the net before it decided to perform any more acrobatics.
Glancing in the mesh, I could see the trace in the pike's mouth, but no connection to the braid. It must have parted right at the last moment. It was my lucky day.
At first I thought it may be the same fish as my last ' twenty' ,which was caught nearby but , checking the markings, it is indeed a different pike .
Two new pieces of equipment have been added to the boat inventory of late both of which were used for the first time today on this pike and both performing faultlessly.
 Firstly, a 'Savage Gear Predator' landing net with a rubberised mesh and folding frame is literally a revelation in boat nets for pike, and secondly, an Eddie Turner's 'Sladle' which takes pike welfare when afloat to a new level. I would highly recommend checking both items out.
With all the disturbance caused by the capture its hardly surprising that very little happened in the swim afterwards so I decided to head upstream to a 'bay' where Dave and me had previously scored with pike in his 'tinny' (An aluminium boat)
Almost Immediately a pike of about 7lb snatched  one of my baits, but the wind made fishing very uncomfortable so I decided to abort, and return to a sheltered area known as the 'jungle,' and tuck the boat in amongst some thick trees , continuing to fish, unsuccessfully, until well after dark before returning to the mooring.

17/12/15 Perch

When the winds are blowing and the rivers are flooding something needs to be fished for and, In mine and Dave's case, It's perch.
We did have, until last year, a rather pleasant little lake on our club ticket which provided both of us with some modest specimens but unfortunately ownership changed and the fishing rights were lost.
Thankfully the club secured an alternative venue that has something of a reputation with big perch and Dave proved that they were still there by teasing out a monster last season.
Today was our first attempt of the winter season and bites were few and far between. Dave managed a very pretty fully scaled carp of around 5lb whilst I did actually hit our target specie with this plump 'stripey' of about a pound.
It's a start.

Monday, 14 December 2015

13/12/15 Cod n' Conger.

The winds forecasted for today were just light enough, though still double figure knots at times, to poke my nose out to sea for a spot of cod fishing.
A mere handful of other local boats had the same idea and it was extremely pleasing to see our charter fleet finally get out and earn some money-they've had a hard time of it of late.
After a bumpy ride out I settled on the 'half way' mark just as the flood tide was coming to an end and with these conditions, for convenience more than anything else, it was going to be a 'one mark' day.
I opted to fish whole baby cuttle on one rod, with a lug stuffed squid on the other -big baits to try and avoid the 'fodder' fish.
A couple of dogs, pin whiting and pout managed to hook themselves on the 6/0 pennels before the boat swung round with the ebb and into the breeze. Wind over tide made it quite 'lumpy' and some heavy swells were also pushing through but it was all very manageable.
A small conger of about 10lb came to the 'cuttle' rod and, seeing as I was also getting quite a bit of small stuff nipping at the baits I chose to switch the second rod to a live bait rig-a 1/0 hook directly below an 8/0 with just the small hook baited with a morsel of squid tipped lug.
The idea is that a small fish, whiting or pouting, hooks itself on the small hook and then prese3nts itself as a live bait.
In short,  it worked and, quite well.
A better fish hit the live bait rig and began to put up quite a fight in the increasing flow. Nearing the surface I could see that it was a conger well into double figures and just at that moment, the second rod bent over an almost leaped out of boat.
With a rod in each hand I was completely 'scuppered' but knowing that the first take was an eel, I opted to slacken the drag ,place that rod in a holder, and deal with the second take.
This turned out to be a very wise decision as what came up was a nice cod of 14lb-target hit.
No more cod showed but It would appear that I was sitting on a conger 'nest' because, three more eels showed up, all on the live bait rigs, one of them being a decent fish of about 35-40lb-excellent sport indeed.
One culprit even had the audacity to spit out the fat pout it had Intended to eat as it reached the surface. I doubt very much whether that eel had even been properly hooked.
Another that I'd brought on board for unhooking decided that it would go into reverse gear, and slither behind my fuel tanks in an attempt to hide-entertaining characters indeed.
Half a mile or so to the South of me Clive and Kim were also experiencing something of an 'eel fest' taking eleven conger in total along with a couple of cod.
We've experieced this situation with conger before, at this time of year, when it seems that they leave their lairs and hunt on open ground.
Listening to the radio it would appear that most boats managed to pick up a cod or two which was pleasing and some sizable fish to 20lb were taken on the 'skate marks' which is very encouraging indeed.
 Marina buddy Tony was also fishing my chosen mark and he'd managed to score a trio of cod including a new P.B of 13plus pounds-well done that man.
All in all, an excellent session afloat, and great to be able to finally get out to sea again.

11/12/15 Winter Roach

I had a couple of small jobs to carry out on the river boat this afternoon and managed to get them finished just as the light was fading so decided that a spot of fishing was in order.
With, a good bit of cloud cover, the tide ebbing nicely and wind dropping off , I opted to head a short distance downstream to an area that had produced some rather nice roach back in the summer to see if they were still about ,and to try a spot of night fishing- a classic time for winter roach.
 Approaching the swim as quietly as possible by cutting the engine and letting the boat drift before dropping the mud weights , I managed to anchor in the perfect position on the first attempt (more by luck than judgement it has to be said) at the head of the swim and just a rod length out from the bank.
Method of choice was  flake on the hook, a size 10, with liquidised bread squeezed on a frame feeder- typical mullet tactics actually. A 'starlight' chemical light stick was attached to the quiver tip and baiting up was carried out with the use of a red headlight to minimise disturbance. Everything inside the boat was as carefully organised as possible to make life easier.
 Fishing in about ten feet of water, all that was required was a gentle lob of a couple of rod lengths to get the bait in place directly down stream of the boat.
Very little happened until complete darkness and then a few tentative bites materialised which I assumed to be small fish pecking at the flake. Eventually I connected and a rather nice roach of about 12oz came to the net.
A few more 'pecks' followed until a very gentle bite connected with another nice fish-this time a pristine scale perfect roach of 1lb 1oz. Granted , hardly a specimen but,  a tidy fish nonetheless. If I could get one of double that weight from the river , I'd be a very happy man indeed though I suspect it might take some time,effort and a little luck.
Unfortunately I only had a couple of hours before having to leave for home as I was on 'dog' duty but, it was a pleasing start to my winter roach campaign and a successful first attempt at fishing from the boat in complete darkness.
The following day, flushed with our recent success, Dave and me attempted some more pike fishing , again afloat, but unfortunately suffered a 'biteless' day.
 I don't think the big 5.8m tide helped, nor the fact that the river was carrying quite a bit of rainwater and was therefore relatively coloured. It was however, quite interesting at high tide to be able to clearly see over the top of the flood banks and into the neighbouring fields and wetlands for the first time, and to be able to easily step off the boat back at the mooring rather than carry out our more usual , and sometimes precarious 'Spiderman' impersonations scaling the pontoon ladder.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

6/12/15 More Decent Pike

  18lb 12oz
Another session afloat and, once again,  those dull , mild conditions were present that 'our' pike seem to relish................... a lot.
 Three nice doubles today- the 'eighteen' above for me- a rather scruffy old girl with a huge head that would suggest that, in her prime, she would probably have been at least a mid 'twenty'..........and two for Dave a 'fourteen' and a  'sixteen'. An upper single each finished off the catch nicely.
My fish both came on a huge whole mackerel bait- a method I've not tried before but one I'll pursue inn the future particularly if the water clarity is poor.
 Big head

  Dave's 'Sixteen'
Dave's 'Fourteen'

Clive, one of my blog readers has informed me that he has finally been able to leave a 'comment'- something he's not been able to do for some time.
 I've not made any alterations to the settings on here so I've really no idea why he's suddenly been able to do this but, if any other readers feel like doing the same, go ahead. You don't need to have anything in particular to say, just a friendly 'hello' will do. At least then 'I'll know that there's someone other that Clive reading all this .

2-4/12/15 'Red Letter' Piking.

Very, very occasionally, particularly so with my own fishing, an angler will experience a 'red letter' day when everything seems to fall into place and a good, if not spectacular catch is made. Compared to other waters, and other anglers' results, my catch today could hardly be called 'spectacular' but, as I've already mentioned in previous entries, my local river doesn't give up its pike without considerable effort so, what would elsewhere probably be considered an 'above average' catch, was today, something a bit special.
To begin with, the tide was very small, which makes everything so much easier from anchoring the boat to setting the floats. Also, In my opinion, the weather conditions were absolutely perfect with mild temperatures, a cloud covered sky resulting in low light levels, and a slightly rising barometer.
I'm afraid I wholeheartedly disagree with the traditional train of thought that pike don't feed until it's 'cold enough' . It's an excuse I hear quite often and I think it's a load of old 'tosh'.
To cut a long story short, I fished in about four locations over the course of the day along a stretch of about half a mile and each 'spot' produced at least a couple of pike making eleven fish in total.
 Just two of the 'offenders' were 'jacks', six more fish were in the upper single figure range (7-9lb) two nice lower doubles but the crowning glory was a 21lb 4oz pike-my first 'twenty' from the river for almost exactly three years.
Bites  came very quickly in all the swims that I tried and,at one point I had a take whilst I still had a  fish recovering in the landing net ready to be returned. Luckily I managed to unhook the culprit at the side of the boat but things did get a bit hectic at times.
Pike fishing with baits can be a very slow sport sometimes but when its like this, you barely even have enough time to make a cuppa-very exciting stuff indeed.
By way of a contrast the two days either side of this session produced startlingly different results. The first day, although being a very short session produced just one small pike however, it was taken from a swim lower down the river than I've ever caught pike  before so has given me a bit of confidence to explore those areas more in the future.
The third day, although naturally returning to the general area of my success again produced just the one pike- a nine pounder to save an otherwise bite less session. The reason for this lack of action?? Well, I'm putting it down to clear skies and bright sunlight because, this sole fish turned up late in the  afternoon, and just as some extensive cloud cover had occurred.
Whatever the case I'm sure these tidal pike will continue to prove a challenge and test our patience to the full.

An upper single.

A 'twenty' -my first for three years.

Another nice double.



26/11/15 More Codding

The recent consistent strong winds have played havoc with our local inshore fishing in that we simply cannot get out to sea in our boats. For many of those that fish for fun, it can be slightly irritating especially if  paying to 'park' a boat .
From a personal perspective, being an 'all rounder', I love the vagaries of the British climate and  relish the chance to get out and play in the surf and chase bass, or switch location to the river and hunt pike.
However, spare a thought for the professionals -the charter angling fleet and small boat commercial fishermen in particular whose living can be severely affected by the weather and, at the best of times ,can be described as 'precarious'. At the moment, they're having a hard time of it and have my utmost sympathy.
Today a rare opportunity presented itself to get out in the boat as the winds had abated, at least for a short time.
With colour in the water , the option to fish lures for bass , which can be very productive at this time of year, was a non-starter so I decided instead to keep things very simple, head for just one mark ,drop the pick for few hours and fish baits.
The 'half way' mark was selected , the target was cod and the bait choice was whole baby cuttle mounted on a 6/0 pennel rig.
As well as the usual run of 'fodder' fish-pout, whiting and dogs , four codling to 7lb came to the boat and I was actually quite pleased with the result, especially as it stocked up my freezer with some fresh fillets of prime fish.
I did consider staying out over the low tide 'lock out' and fish into darkness but, unfortunately I hadn't brought enough bait with me so had to head for home after an all too brief, albeit productive, session.