Sunday, 22 November 2015

A morning grayling fishing the river tees, with the 14ft drennan acolyte plus

With freezing overnight temperatures and the River Tees fining down after last weeks flood, conditions seemed ideal for a spot of grayling fishing. There's something just awesome about the lady of the stream; they bite in the harshest conditions, fight hard and look stunning. I didn't manage anything massive, but happy to catch a dozen or so nice grayling to slightly over a pound this morning.

The 14ft Drennan Acolyte Plus is a great tool for the job....

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Avoided the blank in difficult conditions

Just got back in from a mornings fishing in difficult conditions. There was a good few foot of water in, leaves thundering through and wind / rain. Decided to use some smelly paste to try and tempt a barbel or chub, roving about and fishing the slacks.

The first few swims produced nothing, other than big piles of leaves. On the next swim there was a tree in the river upstream, creating some slack water and a crease, ideal place to find a fish. First cast and the rod banged a...s the bait came round in the flow before settling. Next cast the same happened again so I assumed that something was sat in the crease picking off food as it flowed by. I took the weight off, cast out a big lump of paste, and touch ledgered as the bait swung round the crease. This got me a strikeable bite straight away, not massive but a chub all the same, and I was happy to avoid the blank.

Left shortly after as the rain got heavy....

Water Temp was 49.5f

Monday, 2 November 2015

A November barbel and a new pb

Well that was an eventful evening. River was up a fair few feet after the rain of the last few days, and temps into double figures, so it had to be barbel as the target. I turned up in dark to find thick fog, making moving about difficult in the torch light. The banks were treacherous as well.

I had to try five different swims before finally getting the wrap round I was after, resulting in a new pb of 9lb 14oz after a brilliant fight.

The banks were really treacherous, had to be careful in each swim in the dark, and the fog just made walking by torch light very difficult. 

Returning to my car and trying to drive away, it soon became apparent that my car was stuck. After trying as much as I could, I ended up calling darren to help me, and then shortly after two anglers came walking by and helped push me out - cheers for the help everyone!  

Saturday, 31 October 2015

New Closed face reel on the market - Abu 507 MK II

Now this is something I am intrigued about, for various reasons. 

I've been using closed face reels on and off for years, since the old fella gave me his 1970's 506. As all of the original, Swedish built, Abu's this is a solid reel, built to last, and great for trotting a stick float. I still use it now. It's not perfect though - the drag / clutch system was useless, and most have had the anti reverse dog removed because of this. It's great for bagging up on dace, but quite often I would hook up on a decent chub and that's when difficulties arose. For some reason, I struggled to control them, couldn't back wind quickly enough or wasn't comfortable putting loads of strain on the reel. I usually landed them, but with difficulty. I've also tried a 501 which, for all intents and purposes is the same reel.

Abu then brought out a modern looking 706 - built quality was very plastic, but it performed, same issue with the drag though. The 506 MK II came out a couple of years ago, performs very well indeed, and incorporates a quarter turn mechanism to reduce the drag when playing a fish close in. The drag still wasn't up to scratch though. 

So today I noticed out of the corner of my eye when in the tackle shop, this 507 MK II. 

First thing I noticed was that's it's bigger than the 506 and felt more solid. Second thing is that it has a rotating drag on the bottom, that feels very smooth (when turning the spool by hand and altering the drag). You could feel the subtle increase in drag with each turn. I've not tried it yet, just bought it, but I think that the drag could, for the first time, be useable. When a fish takes line, the cup and pin remain stationary and the spool rotates, exactly how such a system should work. The older versions were just odd, the cup would rotate to give line, akin to back winding....

It comes with 3 shallow spools and 1 deep spool. I honestly believe that this well cover most of my river float fishing needs, perfect for trotting a float. The true test will be to see how it copes when dealing with a bag of chub on the river Swale, and I intend to try it out in the next week or two. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Pike fishing - River Swale

I started my main winter campaign earlier this week, which is to try for a big pike from the river Swale. I've had a few over the magic 20 mark from the tees, and want to try and broaden my horizons. 

The plan of attack is to cover as much water this winter as I can. I've got access to many miles of water through various clubs. I reckon about 20 morning trips should cover it with a roving approach. 

On Monday, the levels were good and I decided to give it a try at the upper limit of the Swale I'll be fishing. It's pretty wild water up here, Rapids, pools, as well as some nice eddies etc. There are good pike, and I've had them to 19.04lb previously. 

Tactics involved fishing a smelt and lamprey deadbaits, two rods, roving between swims. The second peg produced a run within minutes, and I was happy to avoid the spaniard they call el blanco, even though the fish only weighed 5lb 6oz (this one took the smelt). I covered about 1.5 miles of water, but didn't get any further activity. Well, we have to start somewhere! 

I'm out again tomorrow morning, however spate rivers being as they are, the Pennines have been hit by downpours and the river is filling up with warm water. The pike will have to wait another week whilst the barbel rods are dusted off again. 

Here's a pic of my Swale pb which in hoping to beat this year.....

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Barbel o clock

There was a lot of water in the rivers earlier this week, and one in particular was just fining down nicely but carrying a little water and flow still. Perfect conditions for a few hours barbel fishing into dark.

I'm experimenting with baits and flavouring at the moment, and had made some pretty potent boilies that i'd had recommended, which I wrapped in a similar flavoured paste. The first swim I got too had a tree overhanging on the near bank with the flow pushing out towards the far bank. A cast into the flow and letting it swing round seemed ideal, and I threw in a couple of samples (no mass baiting). Within 20 mins, the rod slammed round and I was into a hard fighting barbel; unfortunately the hooked pulled out as it was fighting near the bank.

After sitting it out for a short while, I decided a move was in order. Next swim I used paste only, direct to the hook, and within 10 mins later the rod stated  pulling round and I struck instantly into what was clearly another barbel. Happy when this one was finally landed...

I said it last week and i'll say it again - the lone angler landing net handle is brilliant. Very solid, and ideal for tricky swims where you need reach and strength. I had to land this fish between a bed of reeds that I couldn't get near because of the extra water and it was just what I needed.

I'm happy that I've found a bait flavour that seems to work very well. Two swims, two bites very quickly. That shows to me they are finding the nice scent trail in the dark and being drawn to it. I think I will keep on it!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Night time chub fishing

I had intended to go bass fishing this morning, however things changed and I ended up having a few spare night time hours by the river. With it being low, I decided to guarantee a couple of fish and target the chub (i'm after another 6lber this season).

Tactics involved using steak on the hook and mince in the feeder; a favourite tactic of mine and one that rarely fails me. A greys prodigy 1.5lb rod, 12lb line and shimano aero feeder reel finished the set up (there is no point in going light at night time).

It didn't take long to get the usual indications as a chub try to get the mince out, and not long after the the rod hooped over to a battling 4lber. This happened two more times in the next hour or so, and I ended up with three fish of 4lb 4oz, 4lb 7oz and 4lb 9oz. Happy with that.

I have just purchased a lone angler landing net pole. I have a drennan twistlock, which is good, but can be unreliable in muddy or freezing weather, as the locking mechanism can be temperamental. The lone angler one is a lot heavier, but built to last, with a much simpler locking mechanism. Tried it for the first time today and I was very impressed to say the least. Definitely not one to be holding often to land silverfish due to the weight, but as a pike / chub / barbel handle, it seems spot on.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Targets for this Autumn / Winter

Now that Autumn is upon us, I thought I would list my autumn / winter targets (my favourite fishing season), mainly for my own benefit and to focus my fishing.

- A 20lb pike from a different river - this would be a very good achievement from round here; so far one river has produced a few 20s for me, I want to try broaden my horizons. It's a tough old challenge this, and I imagine one I will fail for a number of years to come, but I'm going to have fun trying. 

- A 6lb Chub - caught my first late last winter, and want to keep going on from there. They are stunning fish!

- A 2.5lb perch - it's about time I had a big stripey under my hat!

- A 10oz dace - When they start to shoal up this winter, I do intend to try for them!

- A winter barbel - timing the conditions to a warm water influx in the middle of winter, I hope to get a decent barbel

- A 1.5lb grayling - they are there, and I have a few ideas up my sleeve for this one. 

- A couple of cod - not too much to ask...I hope! 

Best get to it then......................

Monday, 28 September 2015

Stick float & Caster for river chub

I fancied a change from pike fishing (I find this keeps my fishing fresh!). There's a long stretch of river that I keep going back to year on year as it offers a brilliant variety of fishing, some fantastic chub shoals and one or two very nice pike.

A bit of research with the locals told me where the chub were likely hiding, and I turned up with the 14ft drennan acolyte plus, stick float and casters. Turning up on the first swim, I was struggling to get a bite other than off a kamikaze trout, despite steady feeding. I was then rudely interrupted when i looked behind me to find a big herd of cows wondering why an intruder had come between them and the water hole. Time to move....

Next swim looked inviting, though was not the easiest to trot the float through, and required an accurate cast and careful float control to trot through, avoiding the bushes and weed growth underwater. I soon hooked the first chub, which took me straight in the bushes and I pulled only to open out the hook. Increasing the hook gauge and line strength, the next trot through and a chub was hooked, the fight lasted long this time, only for the hook to pull at the last minute - damn. A couple of trots later, and i hooked into another solid lump. This time I had to react quickly to lower the rod angle and pull away from the tree roots, the acolyte worked nicely to carefully prize the fish away and into the net. A few casts later, and same result, this time a bigger 4lb+ chub. Despite trying more, I must have spooked the swim, and no more bites were forthcoming. A wander downstream and I could see the shoal had dropped downstream near the bridge, however unfortunately I had to leave. A nice morning

Prior to this, I had an evening session into dark in search of barbel, without success. I did, however, take a couple of pics of the night sky, one showing the movement of a satellite....why not!

Friday, 18 September 2015

River piking with Big Lures

After attending a recent PAC talk by Eric Edwards, I was very interested in his way of fishing his local spate rivers with big lures, jerk bait rods and Abu multipliers. His record speaks for itself, and the style of fishing suits my general roving approach big time. I decided to purchase a little more kit, including 100lb Power Pro braid, and giving it a good try; generally my pike fishing is centred around either float fished deadbaits, and roving about or using a couple of rods and concentrating on ledgered deads in a couple of swims.

I had a few hours spare, and decided to give it a go on a stretch of my local river. As usual, the path was difficult and a fair bit of walking was required, but that doesn't both me. The first swim has fenced off to keep the livestock away, and I foolishly argued that it wouldn't be electrified - how wrong was I (ouch). Different to how I have previously lure fished (which is a rare event), and on the advice of Eric, I was covering each swim for longer periods, trying different lures, with different actions and at different depths. On my third or fourth swim, after flogging away with a lure for a while, I was thinking that there probably wasn't a pike there. A change of lure to a spinner bait brought an instant response in water i'd covered a few times (just goes to show!). The rod slammed over, all hell broke loose, and the small rod and multiplier outfit performed admirably.

This one weighed 8lb 15oz.

After a few more swims on the spinner bait, but without success, a change to a rapala max-rap brought an instant response. I'd decided to try and make the lure seem like a dying fish, stopping at times, and it was when I stopped retrieving that a pike smashed the lure and then swam towards me at a rate of knots, causing me to quickly reel. It was netted quickly, and this weight 7lb 8oz.

Happy with that, hopefully many more to follow....

Saturday, 12 September 2015

River piking

As previous blog, I'd decided to get the pike gear out. After a grueller of a roving session last sunday which resulted in a blank (4 miles of cutting through vegetation!!). I was out again this morning in the rain, again roving about with deadbaits, and eventually the float sailed away and this tail walking pike graced my net.

This brings me to something I've been thinking about recently, that of nets. I was getting sick of a 42" triangular net with standard mesh, the hooks get caught, the shape of the net is wrong, etc etc. I've decided on a 32" round greys free flow, which is nice and deep. The pike today was 33" long and the net was brilliant, I think it would have no problem with a much bigger pike. However, I have now ordered some new mesh, 3" salmon mesh, which is very deep and should prevent hooks getting caught up. Just waiting on delivery of it, and i'll do a bit of a review once  I use it. The ideal pike  river net is, in my opinion, found by buying it in bits. A nice big round net, a long telescopic handle (drennan twist lock) and large mesh / deep net.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Time to start thinking of River Piking

I've decided on an early start to the river piking this year, rather than traditional 1st October, i'll be out on 1st September. Although many suffered a poor winter on my local river last year, i'm going to continue with this one - the bream population seems to have suddenly expanded with matches producing 40lb+ of bream in the 1lb-3lb bracket (I assume a successful spawning a couple of seasons ago). The dace shoals will start moving downstream after the first frosts to join them, and the perch shoals will follow shortly after. The lower stretches will therefore be a good area to hit after the first frost (the plan is to monitor the match weights and follow the shoals downstream). Until then, I intend to target the middle stretches as there's always a chance of localised and very big pike, as has been proven in the past by myself and others.

This gets me on to Pike movements on this river. After fishing the river for its pike for five years, I'm of the opinion that the Pike on the middle stretches don't necessarily migrate to follow the shoals. After witnessing and knowing of repeat captures in consecutive years, and at different times of the year, I believe there is relatively little movement. This is surprising, as you would imagine they would follow the shoals of dace, however many of the big chub remain and the middle reaches are topped up each winter by grayling from the upper reaches - add to this a natural boundary in the form of a weirpool (which I imagine is easier for dace to pass), then you can see why certain big pike would remain.

Of the lower reaches, I know very little as I have done very little piking there. Certain areas of the lower stretches during winter become stacked with shoals of bream, dace and perch in the deeper stretches - the lower reaches would be a lot easier for big pike to navigate and I would theorise that the pike do follow the shoals. The good news is that, with regular matches, I can monitor the movement of prey fish shoals, and I do intend to fish the lower stretches more and more - the potential is great, it's a much easier life for a pike in the deep, slow moving water, especially during flood where the middle reach pike need to buckle down and find some slack water. It has produced big pike in the past, rumoured to 29lb+. That's not to say you have a better chance of a big fish here than upstream. I believe that, where a fish finds a suitable slack area with a good head of prey fish in the middle reaches, an easy life can follow for a number of years, and they can continue to pile on the weight - this is especially so where they have a good deep hole to move into during a high flood on the spate rivers. 

I have started researching and logging particular pike that I know are repeat captures, from both myself and others, and hope to (over time) get some idea of pike growth and movement.

Target will be as always for this season - a 20+ river pike. They aren't common but I've managed three in the last five years, so it's achievable. However my other target is to learn the tactics for and habits of the pike in the lower stretches. 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Chub on the centrepin

I had a nice trip to the river this morning. Conditions were low and I was fishing during the day, so wading, centrepin and casters were the order of the day. I had a nice mixed bag of roach, face, grayling and topped off with this decent chub which put a nice bend into the acolyte.

Tactics involved using a drennan acolyte plus (14ft), centrepin loaded with 6lb supplex (there's always the chance of hooking a barbel in this stretch), and 3 pints of maggots / caster. I loose fed a dozen or so samples before and during each trot, which was easy enough as I was stood in the middle of the river dropping it by my feet.

I'm never a fan of fishing the same way time after time, so it was a nice change from the norm

Sunday, 26 July 2015

A couple of trips with limited success

Well the last two trips to the bank have resulted in very little.

I managed to try my new camera and lense though which I'm enjoying researching, a couple of pics....

Monday, 13 July 2015

The search for a River X Barbel......

I've been looking on in envy over recent weeks as others have landed a X barbel. I came very close to picking the right swim on opening day, only to be pipped at the post and a close double was caught. I've had a couple of other trips into dark, which have produced plenty of chub but no barbel. I will continue, firstly because the average size is extremely good, secondly because I like a challenge and thirdly because the river tees is a brilliant place to spend half a night.

Last night I needed a few hours by the bank, so arriving at a chosen stretch at 9pm I found, as is often the case, nobody fishing and miles of river to potentially fish. As the light dropped, the bats came out to play - it's astonishing just how many bats there are. I watched on as any moth that flew above head height was eagerly hunted by five or six bats, and definitely eaten - They don't stand a chance.

A poor picture, but a random photo in the pitch black resulted in three bats

I had been introducing free samples to the water over time, and at 11pm after an hour or so of plucks and pulls, the rod absolutely hoofed over and screamed into action. 'Barbel' was my instant thought, but it was soon apparent that a chub was the culprit, the fast shallow water causing the fish to eat and bolt away.

Despite trying for another hour or so, no more fish were forthcoming and I packed up and walked into the dark. I'll keep at it, and am determined to get one.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

A short session on a new stretch

I'm making a concerted effort this season to try new bits of water rather than sticking with the known, with the hope that I can locate some surprises rather than sticking with the known bits that produce.

I managed a few hours on a new stretch of river but disappointing result with only one chub to show. Definitely left with some new ideas though - I witnessed a very big pike in one swim and a final walk round before packing up showed up a few very interesting looking swims for next time (with a bit of battling through the undergrowth).

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Testing the Drennan Acolyte Plus rod, a morning on the River

After recently acquiring a Drennan Acolyte Plus rod in 14ft, I decided a morning on the stick float was in order. I have the Acolyte ultra which is my go to river tees rod, where you can expect a good head of dace with a chance of decent chub and perch. However things are different on the swale, the silverfish shoals just aren't there and instead you have a situation where there is a good head of chub (probably no more than the tees but they have a better chance of taking your bait), with a chance of a barbel in the right conditions.

I'm trying to get into photography a bit more so decided to get to the stretch for the crack of dawn at 4.30 am and get a decent shot....

Unfortunately there were already a few cars at my preferred so I dropped in a couple of miles upstream where there was more flow and oxygen. Tactics were 5.5lb Gamakatsu G-Line straight through to a size 16 kamasan animal, with a Dave Harrell big stick. Do to the flow, I started off by introducing ten droppers of caster, which I then topped up over time - the noise this created had no detrimental effect to the bites. To summarise, I had a nice steady morning hitting into 7 chub of various sizes (to about 4lb), a perch not far off 2lb and a couple of trout and gudgeon.

I was particularly pleased with the perch, fought very well in the flow and I just think that river perch in relatively clear waters look spectacular. The rod coped beautifully with all the fish, and there is plenty more in reserve that I hope to unlock at some point soon. An ideal rod for chub, with the ability to cope with a barbel I reckon.

As the sun rose higher, the bites tailed off and I had a little wander downstream to test my photography skills (or lack of) again, this time trying to get some flowing water. This wasn't easy to achieve, as there was too much light for any length of shutter speed. I think some filters are my next purchase.....

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Short evening trip to the river

I had a few hours spare this evening, so got to the river about 9pm with the idea of fishing until dark. After putting 10 droppers of hemp and some hookbait samples out, I was hoping for a barbel. It didn't take long for the rod to start knocking, but nothing concrete happened for a while. I spent a good while calling out to an owl that eventually landed directly above my head in a tree - a wonderful sight. Clearly didn't like the presence of another 'owl' in its territory.

Eventually, as the bats came out and start causing havoc with the line, the rod hooped over to the bite of a fish, which ended up in this chub. Despite a few more knocks, that was it for the session. Saved a blank at least....