Sunday, 30 October 2016

29/10/16 Bassed

At last I've been able to get out fishing in my own boat and it's been far too long a wait to do so.
Bass were the target and I arrived at the mark with still a bit of energy left in the flooding tide.
First drop of the 'Fiiish minnow' and it was smashed before it had even reached the sea bed by a 6-12 bass.......................'good start' I thought but that was to be the end of the action on the flood as it soon lost its momentum, and no more bites followed.
Fish were indeed present so, I decided to hang around the mark, and wait for tide to start Its ebb.
In the meantime, I spotted some frantic bird activity and headed over to see what all the fuss was about. Sure enough a big 'green' mass up on the sounder Indication a big shoal of bass and I managed to coax a few up even though the tide was slack.
As the ebb tide set in I expected to find the shoal tighten up but, this wasn't to be the case, and they appeared to spread out on the mark.
I did catch them, and consistently but only by scanning across the area constantly changing the drift line however , that 'green mass' failed to show itself again.
By the end of the session, and before having to leave the fishing to make the river bar, I'd amassed 22 bass mostly in the three pound class.
As has happened on previous trips, most of the fish were felt to initially hit the lure, upon which I began my retrieve, sometimes quite quickly, before the bass chased the lure and nailed it properly. I don't think that I'd have had so much success just bouncing the lure vertically but who knows................

5.8m tide
On another note my bass guru mate Pete Cook has just bought himself a Warrior 165 and I managed to blag a lengthy test ride in it just the other day. Pete's been threatening to get a boat on the marina for quite a while now and this is a return to the pontoons for him as he had a 165 tied up there a few seasons back.
The 165 is a tried and tested design  in a neat little package that has a loyal following amongst small boat users and its easy to see why. I've now ridden in several different  boats in this size class and , In my opinion,this is by far the best of the bunch in virtually all respects.
 Our trip was not exactly in favourable conditions but I was still able to explore the boats handling capabilities and came back feeling very impressed indeed.
The boat maintains a reasonable speed even in a moderate sea and feels comfortable and stable with very predictable handling.
 Yes, it does feel quite a bit smaller than my 175 but the high freeboard is still there as is the almost perfect seat layout giving  excellent helm and fishing positions and making the best possible use of available space which is still more than adequate.
 The opening bow hatch and anchor stowage is still there making anchoring much safer and more convenient (all small boats should have this feature)
On the trailer It's light and easy to manoeuvre thus making it ideal for towing and 'unlike my 175, you don't need that gas guzzling 4wd monster to drag it up a slipway. On most occasions a normal 2wd tow vehicle will suffice.
In short , I can't really find much to complain about the 165 ,as a fishing machine, It just ticks all the boxes bar one.....................................It's not cheap. Even used examples command high prices probably because the build quality is such that they tend to still be in good structural and cosmetic condition regardless of age. Pete's boat is nine years old, has racked up a fair few hours of use but still looks sharp.
Angling journalist Dave Lewis tells me that the 165 is probably one of the best selling small fishing boats ever made and this speaks volumes. If you're prepared to pay the extra cash needed , then you probably won't go far wrong. If you want to keep the boat for twenty odd years, if you look after it, you probably will. If you want to flog it for something else then you'll get your money back anyway. It's not rocket science people.

25/10/16 Wrecked.

A  wrecking trip with Martin and Brian on  'Blueprint' that saw us motor so far across the channel that the fish were speaking French!
The wreck produced consistently throughout the day with plenty of Pollack to 15lb, bass to 7lb and a few conger to baits when anchoring over slack tide.
Most lures, fished direct on the light spinning outfits, seemed to work well enough but the key factor for consistent hook ups was a fast retrieve once the lure had hit the sea bed, and we were taking fish well up in the water column using this method.
As usual, the father and son team were great fun and they even let me drive the boat home. A terrific day's fishing.

16,27/10/16 Roached

As the current pike fishing  has been a bit lacklustre, to say the least, I fancied a bit of a change and decided to target some roach in a couple of afternoon/evening sessions.
 The river seems to have a very healthy population of roach and whilst they probably don't reach the size of some of the famous southern chalk stream fish, a pound plus fish is a worthy target in my book and these seem to turn up quite regularly and  provide challenging fishing. I have heard of fish caught recently, from reliable sources approaching double this weight and I think a two pounder is certainly not out of the question and would indeed make a wonderful capture.
A good friend of mine , Steve Lucas caught a  huge roach of 3lb 1oz in the mid eighties winning him an Angling Times prize and matches, held on the lower reaches of the river in the same era, often produced high quality fish. Nobody knows if they still exist.
My two trips were fished on comparatively large tides, which are usually accompanied by their own specific problems such as huge quantities of floating debris in the river,  making the fishing extremely difficult at times.
My chosen roach swim is sheltered at either end by overhanging trees which, although not restricting the water flow, traps the debris rafts thus keeping the surface clear, thus allowing hassle free fishing.
The ebbing tide seems to produce much better sport and both these sessions were timed accordingly-my arrival at the boat usually being at the top of the tide and the ebb well underway once fishing commenced.
Chosen method is feeder fishing with bread flake on a size 10 hook, and liquidised as ground bait either moulded around a small frame feeder, or stuffed in a similar sized cage.
Bread does seem to pick out the better roach although smaller fish are often felt nipping at the flake whilst failing to hook up, so the bait needs regularly checking and replenishing-no bad thing in itself. These 'nuisance' bites seem to slow down as the light fades, and completely disappear after dark, allowing the better roach a chance to get in on the act.
This indeed proved to be the case on the first trip as I took a brace of 'pound plus' fish once the 'tiddlers' had switched off. A reasonable dace also put in an appearance just to add a bit of variety.
On the second trip the small fish didn't seem to be so prevalent , and a good catch of eight  roach was made from nine ounces up to an ounce over the pound- all plump fish in perfect condition.
'Not exactly monsters' I hear you say but............................................

7,13,19/10/16 East Wind Blues-Difficult Piking

It's been a rather tricky start to the pike season on the river with some relatively slow fishing despite almost perfect water conditions, and mild weather.
On the 7th , Dave and me ventured upstream, having caught some suitable roach baits but, apart from some aborted takes and a small jack for Dave,  little else showed up.
I returned a few days later, In biting easterly winds, and drew a total blank despite fishing swims that have regularly produced pike in the past.
Finally, on the third outing the following week, I did manage to actually catch a pike-an eight pounder having thoroughly searched a lengthy stretch of river.
Little reward for the amount of effort put in and it would seem that we're simply not finding the fish, rather than them being present and not feeding. Hopefully, this situation will change as the season unfolds.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

4/10/16 The Pike Season Opens

 First double of the season.

 I think it's fair to say that I find pike fishing one of the most enjoyable facets of our sport. The (traditional) season is long, taking in a full five months of the year , the quarry are visually impressive, regardless of their size, and the methods used to entrap them are varied and interesting.
Whilst I agree that pike are perhaps not the most exciting of fish when it comes to fighting ability, particularly in the colder months, being our premier freshwater predator they are capable of growing to a considerable size and, personally speaking, I like to catch 'big' fish.
The sight of an upper double figure or, If I'm extremely lucky, a rare twenty pounder always takes my breath away and the Intense feeling of excitement when a big orange pike float is 'on the move' is an aspect of our sport that I hope I'll never tire of.
Every year, regular as clockwork, I relish the falling leaves of autumn and the prospect of the season's pike fishing that lay ahead.
Last year, the first spent fishing afloat, was something of a bumper season with far more, and bigger pike caught on the river than in several previous season's of bank fishing.
This week Dave and me started our campaign in earnest and, as in the norm with our tidal river pike, they proved to be something of a challenge.
We've never really cracked lure fishing on our chosen venue. Dave's devoted quite a bit more time than myself to 'artificials' with modest results,  and I can't quite seem to gain enough confidence in the method, although this could possibly be because I mostly prefer to bait fish for pike.
However, we chose a lure approach for our first day's fishing and despite covering a huge area of river had very little action-the exception being the low double above that hit a jointed diving plug.
Two subsequent trips were devoted to bait fishing, both live and dead  . The river seems to have a very healthy roach population that are comparatively easy to catch as the water is still warm, and we soon amassed enough, by fishing maggot feeders, for a day's supply.
Among the bait catch was a real rarity -a tench.
This is the first I've actually caught from the river although I've since found out that the area we fished has produced a couple this season for my match angling friend Paul Holden.
Unfortunately, apart from several dropped takes on my part which were probably small pike (I hope) the action was slow we finished with one smallish pike each. 

A few days  later, and Dave returned to the river with one of our mates Dave Nevatt  crewing and concentrated on fishing our 'baited' swim. A river is always capable of  producing surprises and  this 'monster' gudgeon (all of six and a half inches) showed up for Dave his own words ' the best fish he has ever caught'.
The guys reported some quiet periods during the day possibly caused by pike entering the swim-something we've caught on underwater camera in the past when we've introduced feed. This indeed proved to be the case when, having dropped a pike, Dave landed this nice double on a live bait.
So a bit of a slow start to the season but , of course , this is just the beginning and it'll be interesting to see how things pan out over the next five months.

2/10/16 Lure fishing with Clive

A six pounder for Clive

I haven't used the sea boat for far too long and have been itching to get out since returning from my holidays. Today was to be that 'return' trip until Clive asked me to join him on his boat for the day when we arrived at the marina.
It always makes for an enjoyable day afloat with Clive and today was little different. Our objectives were the same- to fish with lures for bass or wrasse but, the fishing was challenging.
We did get plenty of small wrasse and half a dozen or so bass, mostly captured by my skipper I hasten to add. I suspect, having been 'away' for so long I'm somewhat out of practice and will have to regain my 'touch'.
Best of the day was the six pounder pictured above in fine autumn fettle-a lovely fish.
Most of our regular boaters have been concentrating on the plaice fishing which has been consistent and thrown up the odd exceptional fish-Spirit Of Arun reported a five pounder this week.
There are also bream showing on the reef marks to a reasonable size and the first of the cod have also arrived both at sea, and from our beaches. Clive himself bagged a nice brace from a local piece of shingle a few days ago.
Also reported by fellow Warrior user Steve Wells, are some fine shoals of mackerel however, it would seem that as the winds veered around to the eastern sector, they mysteriously disappeared.
'When the wind's in the East.......................'

26/9/16 Mullet Mania

Two mullet trips in contrasting tidal conditions;
I've been away on holiday to Yorkshire and not cast a line for a whole two weeks!! 'How on earth did you manage ?' you may well ask.
To be fair, it was wholly my choice as my better half did urge me to pack some fishing gear in the van but for some reason I resisted-perhaps feeling that I needed a break. Fear not dear reader, I've not completely lost my marbles and the holiday was not completely devoid of angling input.
Whilst In Yorkshire I happened to conveniently stumble across  a famous, and  almost forgotten pike water from the past. A brief stroll along its banks provided much useful information for a possible future visit.
In a tackle shop in Whitby, a very fruitful conversation about porbeagle shark fishing with the proprietor provided many useful tips and finally, on the return journey, the startlingly scenic River Wye was visited with a view to sussing out campsites for future barbel forays.

 Flounder on trotted flake

On returning home however,  I was literally itching to wet a line and with the sea too rough to venture out in, the river boat was put to good use chasing thick lipped mullet in my local estuary.
A small tide was very useful on the first day and provided me with four fish to 4lb 1oz all on trotted flake in rather murky, overcast conditions. plenty of fish were apparent in the river and they were all plump, fit specimens having probably spent the summer sifting the silt and munching weed.

 Three days later and my return trip was undertaken in beautiful sunny conditions, but a much bigger, and far more challenging tide. I started by legering a mudflat and had bites almost immediately but, as Is the norm for this location,and although briefly hooking two fish, I failed to bring them to the boat.
Quite why this phenomenon occurs in this swim is, and always has been a mystery to me. A switch to the float rod produced an immediate result -a bite connected on the first cast and a 3lb 12oz mullet .What a relief. But, there were no more mullet to follow that day. As the tide ebbed I moved the boat down into the main river flow and trotted a shallow that usually provides plenty of fish but not on this occasion. The only bite came from a flounder of all things-the first I've ever taken from the river on float fished bread!

 A 'four'

 'Finatic' -our trusty river craft.

 Beached mullet
Hopefully these mullet will be around for a while yet and allow me to have another shot at them before they leave the river for the winter season. We're experiencing quite a mild October so I suspect that will be the case.

29/8/16 to 8/9/16 Yurts, Yaks and Yoghurt! Fly fishing In Mongolia

Dave Lewis is a far better journo than I'll ever be so read an account of this trip here;

12-14/8/16 Super Sharking

 The 'Tug'.......effortless towing.

 Small enough to come on board

 Bonus haddock

 Clive's porgie.....'cute'

 We 'pushed out' a bit

Clive mastering the release.
 By far my most productive  shark excursion to date with thirty two blues and a bonus porbeagle coming to the boat over the three days fishing. Five of the blues were estimated to top the 'ton' mark with one exceptional fish, and the average size was quite high with very few small specimens.
The final day produced fifteen good shark, which is a boat record, and at times the fishing was hectic enough for us both to stop fishing, and take a 'breather'. These figures may not be that special compared to the results of professional skippers operating in the locale, which quite frankly at times, can be quite stunning. But that's not the point. For two visiting anglers in a small boat there was more than enough fun to be had.
Clive Hodges, who accompanied me on this trip, is an expert small boat angler with several decades of experience fishing our local Sussex waters, and is also something of a legend among bass anglers.  However , apart from the odd charter trip, he'd done very little shark fishing and had expressed an interest in joining me earlier in the year with a view to topping up his 2016 species list which he certainly succeeded in doing.
 Both blue and porbeagle shark were added to his list on this trip,along with a haddock caught on a bottom bait. At the time of writing I believe Clive has reached  fifty four different U.K salt water species for the year, which is quite an achievement.
Interestingly, despite drifting in over 300ft of water Clive , who was also fishing a bottom bait whilst waiting for the shark floats to disappear, managed to also catch plenty of bait sized whiting. A recent article by Dave Lewis in Sea Angler magazine has cited these fish as excellent blue shark bait. We did struggle at times to find fresh mackerel for bait, having to rely on the frozen alternative, little realising that we were feeding the gulls on suitable blue shark faire. Food for thought for future trips.
The winds were kind enough to allow us to 'push out' quite a bit further than usual on the second and third days and this, I believe, is the main reason why more fish than my usual tally came to the boat. The porbeagle, a very cute little specimen which I just managed to squeeze into a landing net, was a tremendous bonus. They occasionally show up mixed in with the blue shark in this area, particularly later in the season, although are rarely caught to the sort of size you would expect on more traditional marks such as reefs or wrecks.
Overall the trip was a great success confirmed by Clive's request to join me again on a future foray. Unfortunately time is quickly running out for another run this year but I suspect I'll be returning to Penzance a few more times before seeking alternative shark venues to visit.


8/8/16 Lure Piking

Something a bit different here.
Dave and me have always struggled to catch pike on lures from the river and it was no different today. One aborted follow from a small pike, another from a tiny perch, and just this really scruffy looking 'Jack' on a curly tailed grub to show for my efforts but that, as they say, is fishing.
As I type this the traditional pike season is a few days old and naturally, thoughts are turning to our premier fresh water predator........................and bait tactics.

6/8/16 Brian's Double

Took Brian with me on this one for a spot of live baiting on an inshore reef and it threw up this very fine scraper double for my marina mate.
 I can't quite recall what else we caught that day but it's irrelevant really as usually a day out with Brian is a right 'crack' and, after a fish like that comes aboard, anything else is just a bonus.
Top bassin' Bri.

5/8/16 Short and Sweet.

That's my mate 'Pinchers' in the pic at the top with his new ride. Nice tub mate.
This was a short sharp late afternoon session chucking a few lures around at a mark within a stone's throw of the shore.
A few school bass played ball, along with this monster mackerel and. a first for me, a gurnard on plastic!!
Nice little bit of 'floaty fun.'