Thursday, 23 June 2016

22/6/16 A Dozen Bass


Today was one of those days when I had to search very hard for my fish despite sticking to just one mark.
 I left the mooring at lunchtime with the intention of fishing the ebb tide before having to return in time to catch enough water depth over the river bar. I had about three hours fishing  on the mark and the method of choice was vertically fished , soft plastic lures- 60g Fiiish Minnows.
The first dozen or so drifts produced, apart from a bitten lure tail (wrasse), absolutely nothing but I was convinced that the bass were holed up somewhere and it was merely a question of patience and methodically scanning the area.
Eventually, my stubborn determination paid off and I successfully hit a fish on a new drift line-a 3lb bass.
 Glancing at the sounder, when the take occurred, I saw what I thought  was a very prominent rock on the screen and immediately hit the waypoint button so I could locate it again.
With almost no wind to hamper my drift I returned to exactly the same line and again, took a fish within a few feet of the 'rock'.
This was how it was to continue on almost every drift and I finished up with a dozen bass before having to call it a day-no monsters but all reasonable fish with a best of 5lb on the nose.
Interestingly quite the best method to hook these fish was to retrieve the lure steadily after feeling the initial 'knock' which seemed to occur in most cases, rather than an instant take. In some ways I felt that they were actually being quite finicky  but cannot explain why.
There were very few boats out today ,  I had 'my' mark all to myself, but my good mate, and marina neighbour Tony had been out fishing a few wrecks before dropping the pick to do a bit of breaming f. He did catch a few of the 'intended' but one of his small squid baits was taken by a truly stunning bass of 14lb 11oz-well done that man.
Of course he returned the fish and its nice to know that its still down there swimming around.......somewhere.

19/6/16 The River

Over the past few weeks Dave and me have been prebaiting a swim on the river in readiness for the new season, our intention being, to attract either a carp or a barbel- both relatively rare captures on the venue.
The first few days of the season, I was otherwise engaged, allowing Dave to fish the swim solo and hopefully reap the benefits of our hard work, which he certainly did.
We're under no illusions that our intended quarry are going to be easy to catch and it will require some considerable 'rod hours' many in darkness, and no small amount of luck to succeed in their capture but , we know that it can be done.
In the meantime, as expected, we've been entertained by one of the river's legendary bream shoals and they're no 'tiddlers' either. Over three consecutive days fishing Dave took roughly twenty good sized bream, among others, with fish to 7lb 11oz-the most consistent general coarse fishing that we've experienced on this most challenging of venues.
Today I managed to join my mate, in less than ideal weather conditions (wet and windy) and experience some of the action for myself.
Our 'pre-bait' comprises ; mixed seeds, including hemp, which must be soaked and boiled before using, 'Vitalin' dry dog food and a bulk supply of 'donkey choker' 22mm Halibut pellets.
Our gear is basically our river pike outfits (2.5lb T.C rods) with big method feeders and a mix of pellet, boilie (flavour irrelevant)and fake corn as hook bait fished on a hair rig.
The heavy gear may not be necessary for the bream but if one of our 'intended' does put in an appearance at least we will be properly equipped to deal with them in the sometimes extremely strong tide flows.
Today I caught four bream, two at 4-11, and two more at 6-03 and in contrast to the rather lacklustre battle a bream puts up in still waters, these 'tideway dustbins' display a reasonable turn of speed using their broad flanks to advantage in the current. In short, I didn't feel over gunned.
There was constant activity in the swim all day long and our rod tips were rarely still for any length of time-mostly line bites and activity on the feeder from smaller fish we would assume. I did at one point briefly put my underwater 'Water wolf' camera down and , despite very murky conditions, big bream could clearly be seen and quite startlingly, at one point a sizable pike came into view. Food for thought indeed.
As darkness fell the bream bites faded somewhat and we continued to fish into the small hours but with little success this time around however, it's early days yet.
We both intend to continue 'grooming' this swim throughout the season ahead and it'll be fascinating to see how it all pans out. If nothing else, we'll catch some really good quality bream and personally, I've nothing against that.

17/6/16 Tope Fishing With Clive

 15lb Undulate

 9lb Thornback

My good friend and marina neighbour Clive , along with his brother Kim, have been small boat fishing in our local 'arena' for several decades and, consequently have amassed a wealth of knowledge and understanding, and caught a few decent fish along the way too.
In my opinion, as a 'tyro', nothing is more valuable in our chosen branch of this glorious sport than 'experience' so when the opportunity to fish with someone like Clive arises, I jump at the chance , not only for the good company but for the 'snippets' of invaluable information that I tend to pick up. What Clive doesn't realise, is that when I get back home , I hastily jot things down in my little black note book which is often consulted to plan and execute subsequent forays afloat and has indeed proved to be a very useful tool.
Clive learned much of his 'trade' from one of our port's most famous anglers-Dutton Everington. Dutton was a very prominent charter skipper in the sixties and seventies often appearing in, and writing articles for contemporary magazines  such as 'Angling'- a very high quality publication which also regularly featured material by the likes of Darling, Gammon and Gibbinson and was aimed at the 'allround' angler- perhaps a more common 'specie' at that time.
Sadly,I doubt very much whether nowadays such a magazine could succeed primarily because of the internet,  which gives such convenient and instant access to the written word, but also because it appears to me that 'angling' has become a much more 'specialised' pursuit with most anglers concentrating on just one aspect of the sport. It's rare to find a carp angler who goes boat fishing at sea.
Clive however, is something of an 'all rounder' particularly in salt water, although I understand he's also quite useful with a trout fly rod, and I do have a cunning plan to one day, select a suitable hostelry, ply him 'ale' and write 'stuff' down as he says it. Watch this space!
Anyway, today's target was tope and Clive joined me for a trip to 'our' favourite deep mark somewhere 'out west'.
Three years ago I had some exceptional tope fishing from these marks but have struggled a little since then and this year has proved no different. I've had one or two reasonable fish to 35lb this time around, but generally the fish have been of a smaller average size. Today sport was 'consistent' but hardly spectacular with about fifteen tope to the boat to 'upper teen' size. Clive had a nice undulate ray of 15lb, and I had a 9lb thornback to punctuate proceedings but generally the fishing was slower in comparison to previous sessions. We moved the boat a couple of times seeking an improvement in sport,but this proved to be mostly unsuccessful.
As I've found on past trips, once the tide flooded hard anchoring became a little difficult and we were forced to end proceedings slightly earlier than originally planned.Whatever the case it was still an enjoyable day afloat in good company and I will look forward to future runs out with Clive.
I always feel the tope 'season' passes by far too quickly and whether I'll get another crack at these worthy adversaries this year remains to be seen- I hope so because there is a very real chance of connecting with something 'special' in these waters.


15/6/16 At Last.......................


Tiny but who cares!

Simon's stinger

I took to the shingle this evening for yet another attempt at catching a local stingray. This quest has become something of an obsession for me and I believe I've been trying for as long as the blog has been running which is about six years.
The recent spell of settled weather has brought very clear water inshore and combined with small tides , weed has also settled close to the wave line and hindered fishing which has been less than productive for my shore angling mates.
 Yesterday it 'blew' a bit, and stirred things up , which is no bad thing, and when Simon and me arrived at our chosen beach mark the wind was still  strong enough to cause a bit of of 'chop', and the water had plenty of colour.
The weed ' issue' looked , and subsequently proved to be, quite manageable and I think we were both quite confident that the evening would 'produce' the goods.
We had a wrap of rag worm each (very high quality stuff from local shop 'Hook-A-Fish') and a few spare morsels of squid which actually proved to be an inadequate bait supply.
Bites started from the 'off' with dogfish and 'schoolie' bass until a stronger pull on the rod tip gave me my prize stingray. At last the target had been achieved , although it has to be said that It's a rather modest specimen about the size of a frying pan.
Actually I couldn't have cared less by the diminutive size of the fish and was elated with my capture which was safely handled and returned none the worse for wear.
Simon also caught a better 'stinger' of about 7lb but it was the smooth hounds that provided the most fun, on one occasion toppling my tripod with their voracious take.
The hounds, which included some 'doubles', didn't seem fussy what they ate , taking both rag and squid with aplomb and demonstrating that , when they're 'having it', crab baits aren't strictly necessary.
We finished the session with just scraps of bait left as the tide  reached the foot of the shingle on the ebb, and the bites finally ceased.
 The catch included the two stingers, ten smoothounds, school bass, dogs an undulate ray, and an eel and proved to be one of the most entertaining beach sessions I've had for years.
On subsequent trips, over the past few days, the fishing has remained consistent ' especially with the smoothounds which have provided entertainment for fishing buddies Jim, Sam and Simon who also managed another small sting ray
So, the sting ray target has finally been achieved and I although I did light heartedly mention to fellow beach 'nut' Jim that once I'd reached my target I'd probably sell my beach gear, actually, I've changed my mind and my desire to catch another sting ray , preferably something larger than my first, is very strong Indeed. If not this year, then the next.......or the next.......or the next.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

13/6/16 First mullet

Today's weather was far from ideal for a spot of mullet fishing from the river boat but, the tide was convenient ( we run downstream to the mullet grounds with the ebb) and , as I'd been spying quite a few skulking around the bottom of the river,  Dave and me decided to give it a crack anyway.
We headed to our favourite stretch - a shallow area just downstream of a sizable bend where the flow is very gentle allowing a delicate float trotting method to be used. Bait was the usual bread flake with 'mash' as feed.
With such a small tide however, the flow was virtually non-existent and the wind, which had developed quite considerably, was hampering our presentation .
Not only that but the swans were being a proverbial pain in the neck, which is unusual when we're afloat, so we decided to change tactics, run the boat aground and feeder fish. This proved to be a wise move.
Plenty of mullet were showing in the swim and before long bites ensued. Tentative nibbles to begin with, which is often the case but eventually the quiver tip on my outfit pulled round strongly and I hit the bite so hard , the mullet momentarily became airborn.
As usual, the scrappy little three pound thick lip had no intentions of being netted and simply darted around the boat like a mad thing.
Eventually Dave did manage to trap it in the mesh and the first mullet of the 2016 season was well and truly mine.
The scrap undoubtedly disturbed the swim sufficiently to see every other mullet off the premises so that was the sole bite in that location, and indeed of the session, as we had an appointment further upstream........................................ Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you more about that in a later entry.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

11/6/16 Breamfest At Brian's

A phone call to Simon shortly before lunchtime was enough to tempt him out for an afternoon's bream fishing even though he'd spent most of the previous night fishing the 'shingle'. You have to admire the man's dedication.
'Brian's' was the mark of choice and, as a little experiment, I decided to bring along a bucket of boiled rice to try as ground bait.
The method of dispensing the rice is fiendishly clever and was shown to me by one of our well known charter skippers. A suitably heavy lead with some heavy mono attached is trapped in the bottom of a stout plastic bag using a cable tie.
 Main line of a 30lb outfit is connected to the mono by a swivel and the bag filled with a lump of rice about the size of a grapefruit. This is quickly lowered off the stern, the contents  being held in place on the way down  by water pressure. Once the sea bed is felt the rod is raised sharply inverting the bag and spilling the contents just where you want them.
Adjusting the lead size effects where the bait will land so keeping the 'attraction' in the take zone
Whether it improved the catch rate ,or not, is difficult to say for sure but we certainly amassed a very good bag of bream with 44 fish to just under 3lb  in just 3 hours fishing.
Some of the fish regurgitated the rice at the surface so they'd obviously found it appealing. My learned friend Clive tells me that the rice is a close imitation of cuttlefish eggs which they tend to feed heavily on at this time of year.
Interestingly sport didn't slow down noticeably over the slack water period which is usually the case so perhaps this 'ground bait' lark warrants further investigation.
We had hoped to break the 'half century' but sadly a call from a nearby boat in trouble resulted in us having to quit early and facilitate a tow back to port before the ebb tide had built up too much.

10/6/16 The Bass Comp.

We had a bit of fun this afternoon on father and son team, Brian and Martin's boat, 'Blueprint' with 'The Elders'(myself and Brian), taking on 'The Nippers' (Martin and Pete) in a hotly contested lure fishing competition.
The bass weren't exactly easy to catch , perhaps because of the reduced size of tide, but I suppose we had about twenty over the side in total with a few 'goodns' in the mix.
Naturally there was a good deal of banter being thrown around but sadly for us (the more mature contingent), 'the kids' showed us the way(trounced us to be fair) but I don't think we showed ourselves up and indeed were perhaps a little unlucky by losing about four good fish.
I suspect there'll be a rematch sometime in the near future.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

6/6/16 Top Bassin'

Inspired by yesterday's run out with Martin I decided  to go 'solo' today and explore some relatively new ground in the hope of a bass or two. Setting off at midday with just a spinning outfit on board (no bait) my intention was to fish as much of the ebb tide as was possible before having to return to port to catch the river bar.
This gave me about three hours maximum to fish so I set out to concentrate solely on one mark, and thoroughly scan it repeatedly with my drifts. If I managed to catch, then all well and good but if not, then at least I'd have learned something about the geography of the place.
The first few drifts in still 'slackish' water proved fruitless and nothing at all was showing up on the fish finder but, I was committed and the easterly wind was less than forecasted so not hampering my drift speeds. In short I was fishing efficiently and was confident that if bass were present they would take.
As the speed of the tide gathered the bass 'switched on' and it was a 'hit' on almost every drift-all fish of a reasonable size and all taking vertically fished soft plastics. It's probably best to just list the fish in order of capture for the sake of simplicity and in addition, I dropped three more fish too.
The '4's are estimated so fall in the 4-5lb bracket.
here's the list; 5-00, 8-12, 5-12, 7-08, 4-00, 5-04, 7-12, 6-06, 4-00
Sadly, at the prescribed time I had to leave the shoal and head for home and it was indeed a difficult thing to do but it had been a most enjoyable session and time will tell whether the mark can produce consistently.
 8-12...the best fish


5/6/16 Blueprint

Another  trip out with Martin and Brian on their boat 'The Blueprint' hunting bass, with some success it must be said, on our local marks.

Several fish were taken by all three of us on a variety of soft plastic lures, both cast, and fished vertically culminating in the 'double' for Brian that is pictured above. Top skippering again from Martin on the day.

3/6/16 More Summer Tench

Another brief afternoon/evening session to the local pits in search of tench.
This time I selected an old favourite swim that I haven't visited for a couple of years tucked away in a quiet corner of the lake. The spot features a couple of lily pads at different ranges so the feeders were placed as close as I dared thinking that the intended quarry would be present.
In fact, the tench can be caught from this lake in open water, as I've proved before, but tradition dictates that these leafy spots are classic holding areas.
The only slight problem comes when these hard battlers decide to dive for cover, which they regularly like to do when hooked.
Thinking back to when I was a keen coarse fisher in my teenage years, a tench of five pounds was something of a specimen revered by pleasure and specimen hunters alike and, If I remember correctly, the British rod caught record at the time(mid nineteen seventies) was a tad over nine pounds.
Standard tench tackle at the time was a five pound breaking strain line and, If you were float fishing, which you generally were, then your  'match' rod would be pressed into service for the task, and it would usually prove more than adequate.
Tench have grown somewhat over the years, as have many coarse species, although quite why this is the case I really have no idea ,and tackle and methods have also evolved mostly due to the use of advanced materials.
Float fishing is still a viable method and is probably more aesthetically pleasing but personally, I see nothing wrong with modern approaches, they are certainly very efficient fish catchers, and I adopt them where I see fit and if the mood takes me.
My approach is to fish a 'bolt rig' in-line maggot feeder , which is semi fixed in case it should snag, with a very short 2-3inch hook length, and a size 14 hook. Bait is double red maggot but also added to the hook is an imitation maggot which floats and theoretically gives the hook bait neutral buoyancy.
Main line is a 'whopping' ten pound breaking strain matched to a 1 3/4lb test curve rod (a pike stopper back in the day), balanced kit designed primarily to cast the heavy 2oz feeder but the hard fighting tench still get to display their fighting prowess. Also if they do dive into the lily pads , on this strength of kit, you will generally get them out by being patient and keeping the pressure switched on.
I caught two tench this evening , almost 'peas in a pod' at 5-05 and 5-06 in weight but, annoyingly, I was bitten off by three more fish. This is not the first time its happened to me here either and is extremely frustrating. It cannot be the line or knot failing as I've thoroughly tested both, and even increased the line strength to 10lb fluorocarbon which should be more than adequate so, in truth, its all a bit of a mystery.