Sunday, 29 January 2017

January piking

As  I compose this entry on the evening of the 29th, we are experiencing the first significant rainfall  for quite a while. What effect this will have on river conditions is unknown at this time but I'm hoping that it will simply freshen things up a bit. This winter has certainly been the driest I can remember in the fifteen or so years that I've been regularly pike fishing on the venue and, these favourable conditions have allowed us to fish with some regularity although results thus far have been somewhat mediocre.
My first trip of the year was to a favourite bend and, in quite bright sunny conditions, produced just one take and a pike of 11lb 5oz
 11lb 5oz

The following day I returned with Dave and the day's action all came to his dead baits. Several takes resulted in some dropped baits, an eight pounder and finally this spectacular fish of 23lb 4oz- our first 'twenty' of the season and biggest pike so far.
Here's a link to Dave's blog

24lb 4oz
We've certainly not seen this fish before and she was found in a new swim which makes her capture doubly exciting. I subsequently returned to the general area a few days later but drew a complete blank.
By the final week of January air temperatures had reduced quite significantly with regular morning frosts but, remained consistently low in the following days. Although a sharp drop in temperature usually means difficult pike fishing, In our experience, once the plateau has been reached, they will feed again and , if the light conditions are favourable, with some vigour.
The forecast of fog on the 25th meant I just had to go despite the fact that , for most of the session, the tide would be flooding , which is less that ideal. I didn't bother with an early start but just followed the tide up, mid morning, to a swim that provides 'kind' flows as the tide pushes in,
Placing my rudd bait just a yard or so from a sunken tree saw it taken quite quickly by this 16lb 6oz fish...
 16lb 6oz
I decided to stick around and see if any more pike were present and this was indeed to be the case as , within the hour , in exactly the same spot , my float slid away signalling another take. I connected briefly with the pike but it managed to steal the bait, and slip the hooks so, after re-baiting with a roach, I cast again . Literally within seconds, and before I'd even set the rod In Its holder, the float shot off again but, this time, I managed to hold on to the fish, and an 11lb 6oz was successfully netted-almost certainly the same pike had returned for a second meal.
 11lb 6oz
 Intense action indeed but that was to be the end of it in that swim. The tide had turned to ebb and it was time for a move downstream.
 I had to wait over an hour in the chosen swim before my rudd was snatched- a very gentle bite that belied the culprit's size-a superb fish of 19lb 2oz and my biggest of the season .
 19lb 2oz


A productive session indeed but there was more to follow that week.
The next day I set off again heading upstream again ,with the tide, but not quite as far. Literally within minutes of dropping in my first bait-indeed before I'd even set up my second rod, I had a take which produced a 12lb 10oz pike...another good start.
Shortly afterwards my bait was taken again by what I estimate was another low double but unfortunately that one slipped off.
 A change of location produced almost Immediate action in a fifteen minute feeding spell with a 9lb fish, followed by a dropped bait, followed again by a 10lb 5oz pike all from exactly the same spot in the swim.
 For most of the day the sky had been clouded over but cleared considerably following these captures. Read into this what you wish but that was the last pike I saw that day.
The following morning I was out again with Dave joining me for the outing. Although initially very cold the weather had turned quite mild during the day and we hoped that our dead baits would be sufficient to attract the quarry.
 We had to wait until well into the afternoon, and after the turn of the tide before contact was finally made but, again, It was more than one fish from a particular location.
My roach  were taken by two pike of 10lb 2oz and another fine fish of 19lb 2oz which gave us a rather tense moment when it took a liking to our back anchor rope. Luckily Dave cleverly wielded the landing net in time, and just before the hooks let go which had both bent under the strain.
 Another 19lb 2oz
So ended my three consecutive days piking on the river leaving me more than satisfied and needing a well earned rest.
What is baffling us once again however, is where the smaller pike have got to , particularly over the last two years whilst we've been using the boat.
 I've now taken over thirty pike since the beginning of this season, and over half of them have been double figure fish and above ,  the majority of the remainder being high singles in the 8-9lb class. This is following a similar pattern to last year but quite different to past seasons when we would contact a high proportion of  'jack' pike particularly when fishing live baits. Who knows.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

3/1/17 Bass Account Open.

A much, much more difficult day today at sea due to the winds being considerably stronger than forecast- the plan was to mimic exactly the events of last week's bumper session.
Gathering the live baits was challenging, but Brian and me soon had enough in the tank for the session and along the way, my crew mate also picking up a couple of tidy tub gurnards, to 2lb 12oz, on our baited sabiki rigs.

By the time we reached the bass mark with the tide ebbing, the wind had picked up so much it was actually pushing us against the flow making float fishing virtually impossible as the baits were being strung out and rising to the surface.
A switch on both our outfits to a straight leger raised a few feet above the sea bed did the trick but we still needed an 8oz weight to maintain a vertical line.
I just could not get the boat to go where I wanted it but eventually, by placing it dead on the mark that produced so well a few days ago, my pout live bait was taken within seconds of dropping to the sea bed.
Not a big bass, probably a five plusser, but a welcome sight nonetheless and the first of 2017. Unfortunately that was to be the only take on the live baits.
On the run home we were treated to a spectacular sunset to end a tough, but as always, enjoyable day afloat.

Monday, 2 January 2017

30/12/16 The Final Fling

13lb 6oz ....a new personal best
'Jupiter' had spent most of December on dry land partly because It needed a couple of small jobs doing such as scrubbing the weed off of her bottom, but mostly, |If I'm completely honest, because I'd slightly lost my boat fishing 'mojo'.- a somewhat ridiculous scenario.
What I really needed was for someone to slap me round the face with a wet pouting!
In the event, that wasn't required and just after Christmas I came to my senses and dropped her back on the mooring, keen to get out to sea and fish again.
Usually, at this time of year, my thoughts turn to settling down at anchor with big cuttle baits in an attempt to catch a cod or two. Whilst my colleagues in the Eastern solent seem to be picking up a few 'greenbacks' , on our side of Selsey Bill they seem to be conspicuous by their absence.
The water is still very warm (52deg when last measured) and the clarity is excellent. What's more, the commercial rod and line bass fishermen are still out there doing their thing so, despite being very late in the year there really was only one target specie.
Brian joined for the trip and the plan was to fish live baits backed up with some lure fishing on a specific mark that had served me very well when the bass season started back in March.
Initially we dropped anchor on some clean ground in the hope of picking up some whiting for the bait tank but, as this proved completely fruitless, the decision was quickly made to visit an inshore wreck.
Pouting, mostly of quite a respectable size, soon filled the tank and we arrived at the chosen drift mark just as the tide had begun its ebb cycle. We also caught a couple of nice bream on the baited feathers - an unusual sight indeed.
There were a few boats in the vicinity but, visibility was poor due to  thick fog and anyway, we all appeared to be running slightly different drift lines.
My plotter is marked with waypoints that signify the spring bass catches and in particular, those of a good size and I used these as my guide. With zero wind speeds I was able to continually put the boat on the same drift line easily and this proved to be a distinct advantage.
Barely minutes into the first run through, my float took a dive resulting in an 8 1/2 pound bass and, from then on, it was virtually a take on every drift resulting in the following statistics;
Bass of 6lb 8oz, 10lb 6oz, 10lb 4oz,10lb 10oz,7lb 4oz...two fish in the 5-6lb class and finally a new personal best of 13lb 6oz.
Several dropped takes were also experienced, which I suspect were from smaller bass unable to properly take the out sized baits we were using. On a couple of occasions, flowing the aborted hit, we left the baits in place resulting in a successful hook up-usually one of the bigger bass.
Whilst all this action was taking place, my poor crew mate( a dab hand with the camera it has to be said) was having something of a nightmare due to a combination of tackle malfunctions and bad luck although, he did eventually manage to secure a couple of nice fish in the 5-6lb class to save his day. I'm pleased to say he returned the following day in his own boat and picked up half a dozen good fish.
Eventually, although we were the last boat fishing in the general area, I called a halt to proceedings as we'd run out of live baits, and the visibilty was down to a few yards resulting in a very slow and cautious run home which I'm happy to say we achieved without incident.
This has to be one of the very best sessions I've ever had afloat.-a rare day when almost everything went exactly as planned  producing some superb fishing which I'm unlikely to see again for quite some time.
 a double.........

 Another double

 One for Brian

December 2016

 One of many 'nines'
Looking back over my pike catches in this month and things have improved, although there were also several slow days in the mix. A completely blank day however was something of a rarity.
The still water continues to challenge me although I did get a fifteen pounder on a very foggy day early in the month which decided that it wanted a slice of my pink 'manns' shad. Lures seem to work quite well on the water due in no small part to the superb clarity I suspect, and its a method that I will be pursuing in the future.
Trolling, on the other hand, has proved less successful only producing a couple of small fish, which I find surprising as the venue lends itself well to the method.
On the river there were a couple of notable days where sport was Interesting to say the least.
The 8th, a very mild day weather wise, gave me an excellent session with doubles of 18lb 5oz ( my best of the season so far) and 17lb 4oz along with an upper single from the same area.
A short move upstream subsequently produced a 12lb fish to round off an excellent day's piking. Following days produced another double and yet another 'nine' which seem to be showing up regularly this year, along with a couple of lower 'singles' which made for a week of good pike fishing.
I've been spending a bit of time pre baiting a swim with dead baits in an attempt to attract pike to a swim which has never actually produced one in the past. My choice of location was governed more by convenience than anything else being in close proximity to the mooring and most of the baiting was done late in the day, sometimes in darkness.
I'd never caught a pike in the dark before despite often continuing to fish well after dusk on many sessions over the years.
 On Christmas eve, having taken an eleven pounder earlier In  daylight hours, I decided to finish the session at the baited swim and stayed well into darkness. Eventually fishing just one rod and barely able to see  my float I managed to winkle out an 8 1/2 pounder on a live bait  from the baited swim . Obviously I cannot draw any conclusions from this capture but there may be some merit in the pre bait technique and, if its practical to do so, I might try it again in the future.
My final pike session on New year's eve, fishing with Dave, proved to be one of those rare blanks but mattered not in the slightest because I was still buzzing from a session the previous day, which deserves an account all to itself.


12lb 8th

 15lb still water on a lure 6th


 18lb 5oz 8th

 Christmas eve double

November 2016

Autumn bream  3rd


 Lure bass. 14th Part of a 29 fish haul on lures.

Apologies for the above pics being all over the shop but I guess it does give some representation of what a chaotic month, fishing wise, November was for me.
I also need to apologise, particularly to my No.1 Fan-Paul Holden,(only person silly enough to read this rubbish?) for the lateness of my entries too. Paul collared me the other day on the river complaining that I hadn't written anything on here for a while. Well, here I am attempting to catch up but my memory is not serving me too well and I'm sure there are sessions that I've (conveniently)forgotten about.
It was a month of mixed fortunes really leaving me a little 'fished out' by the end. Fortunately, as I write this (Its new year)I'm pleased to say that I'm back on top form and as eager as ever to get out and wet a line.
The boat fishing started with a session with Dave who has re-joined me as a regular on 'Jupiter' following a period of absence due to seasickness issues. I desperately wanted to give him a comfortable day to regain his confidence but the weather forecast let me down badly, In reality a bad decision on my part, and we were forced to cut short the trip with very little (one doggie I think) to show for our efforts.
Clive joined me for the next outing -an attempt to catch bass. It proved to be a hard day with just one of the intended target species to my crew mate but, a couple of very nice late autumn bream to 2 3/4lb showed up whilst we were bait catching.
We were also entertained by wrasse up to about 3lb on vertically fished lures although, it must be said , that Clive thoroughly out fished me on this score-I just couldn't seem to get my hand in.
Following trips however showed a great Improvement and I did manage to hit quite a few good wrasse with a few average bass thrown in.
One notable mid month solo trip to a relatively new mark to me, but one that has so far provided consistent sport with the specie, gave me an excellent lure session with 29 bass . Mostly, they were in the 3-4lb class but a few entered the 5-6lb range and provided superb sport.
 Later in the month however, my enthusiasm began to wane although I cannot fully explain why. I had a lure only trip to a close in reef mark and did catch a handful of smallish bass but in truth, my heart wasn't in it,  and I returned to the moorings early.
 A few days later and I'd taken the boat out of the water to attend to some corrosion issues, which was not actually strictly necessary, and the boat stayed on dry land for almost a month, unused.
On the last day of the month however, I joined Brian on a stunning day weather wise, for a thoroughly enjoyable lure session after wrasse but with the odd good bass thrown in for good measure. This restored my enthusiasm somewhat but, then again, any trip out with Brian Is a 'hoot' regardless of what is caught.
On the pike fishing front, the river turned out to be as awkward as ever and failed to produce a single double figure fish all month despite some considerable effort. I did however, pick up a run of nine pounders and, in a way, isn't it ridiculous to put so much merit on catching pike of certain sizes? Surely a 'nine' is as good as a fish just one pound heavier?
My 'new' still water venue  finally opened its gates and allowed pike fishing to commence but it hasn't been especially kind to me so far, although I've seen others catch some very nice pike indeed.
Things started quite well, with a double figure pike (there I go again) with minutes of starting on my first ever trip to the water. But, for the reminder of the month I struggled somewhat and only managed to tempt a few small pike.
It'll be interesting to see what happens over the next few months with visits to this water. I'd intended it as a 'bolt hole, somewhere' to go pike piking when the river was 'out of sorts' due to flooding but, this hasn't happened yet this season. In fact, the river has been in pristine condition although this hasn't been reflected in the quality of the fishing.