Sunday, 30 September 2018

If you can't beat them, join them!

Date fished 28/09/18 10am till 29/09/18 3pm

Ellis and I planned another trip to Cundall farm fishing for Barbel. The Swale Barbel was still eluding me and with winter approaching, the time seemed right.


Chris Gaines, predominately game fishing member of big elbow was joining us for a few hours to whet his coarse fishing appetite.
The track at the farm was dry, so I braved driving down to the river, we can park right behind our swim, it is great to have a mobile tackle box a few steps away for leaving rods and bulky tackle in. It means you can bring more stuff but not necessarily have to carry it far, win, win!

To tempt these Barbel we were well armed, pellets, boilies, meat, worms, hemp and deadbaits formed our arsenal. "Deadbaits?!" I hear you cry, yes, Elis decided at the 11th hour to add deadbaits to the list in case we decided to target Pike. I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!!



We settled in a swim where  all 3 of us could comfortably sit. We covered a large bend, with deep and shallow areas. Soon the bait was going in and our traps were set. I was on the far end, a little way from the other too, and I soon heard Chris laughing and fishing chatter. It was great to be on the bank again.

With little action coming from the water, Ellis took to the sky. His drone quickly spanning the river and fields. No Barbel spotted.
Soon it was time for Chris to leave, he will have to come another time as he left hungry on this occasion, his coarse fishing appetite not met!

Decisions had to be made. Did we stick or twist? We twisted. We upped sticks and moved swims, opting for a section of river heavily tree lined on the far side. Feeling that here we could bait to the trees, and draw fish out from this feature.
Soon we had new traps set and Ellis's trap was a dead bait. I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!


It was not long before Ellis's float twitched and sailed away. He was in to our first fish, not a Barbel, but a blank saving Pike! I know!! I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!
Unfortunately the hooks pulled at the net and we were still fish less.

A new sardine was elasticated on the hooks and he was casting the deadbait back on the spot. I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!

So far the Barbel had not put in an appearance, we had laid down another carpet of hemp and smaller mixed pellets and had meat and pellets or boilies on the hook. At one stage I even had a boilie and pellet cocktail, but nothing seemed to work. As Ellis started on the Bar B Q, I was watching his float, mesmerized by it's stillness. Suddenly it gave a twitch and a bob and was gone. Ellis was back on the rod, and this time I netted it. A nice pike to get Ellis off the mark, I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!




The time soon came, to sit back, open a beer and have a chat. Discussing new trips on the canal and possibly Trent to target Zander. This was Barbel fishing at it's best!


The rods were all re-baited and cast to the perfect, but not always snag free position and we sat down to eat. It seems Ellis is a dab hand in the kitchen, but only when it is bank side and can include a blow torch! The bar b q coals never stood a chance, but the resulting perfectly cooked chicken, sweet corn and salad really brought the day to a delish end.


As the light was about to fade, we cast again and sat waiting. The night lights and bite alarm taking over from float watching now. Soon we we were reaching for the Whiskey and one last cast to a position for the night.

Now, most of you will appreciate casting to a tree lined bank in the dark is not easy.  It's a simple job of casting, probably a little bit under your normal throw and hearing the splash to confirm it's in the water. Ellis stood ready, his bait perfectly mounted. The rod over his shoulder. I saw the throw, waited for the splash. But all I heard was bush!!! The loud rustle of lead hitting  leaf, quickly followed but a roar of laughter from me and an expletive from Ellis. This really was Barbel fishing at it's best!

Soon, all the rods were in, and we sat to watch the night lights. As bats started to fly over our heads, the moon rose from above the trees and gave us a little bit more light. The rods did not move, so we decided to reel in and have some kip, deciding to get up early and put the rods back out before light.


Forgoing the bivvy this time, we opted for car seats to be our bed. Ellis opting for the warm, heated seat of his car, me for the cold back seat of mine! After not a lot of sleep, and a chat at 3.30am, I had my rod back on the spot well before any light came up. Ellis opting for a few more hours warming his bum! 

As the light rose, there were fish topping everywhere, it was a beautiful start to another day Barbel fishing. When Ellis got up, I had 2 rods back on the perfect spot ready. Ellis joined me by baiting with meat, pellets and dead bait! Yes, I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!
It didn't take long before Ellis was rushing to his rod, striking and playing another fish. "Was it a Barbel?" You ask. No, no another Pike! I netted this one and after taking the pics, I got back to the Barbel fishing!



Ellis then had about 4 or 5 fish all in the space of an hour, unfortunately he didn't land them. The fish picking up the bait, then throwing the hooks. Yes, all Pike! That was it, I gave in and joined Ellis for a perfect days Pike fishing!

Swapping one rod for my pike gear, I soon had a sardine, float fished in the slack water and the Barbel rod perfect in the tree line. Suddenly we both saw it at once, movement, a fish was finally here. A twitch, strike and I was finally into a fish. Playing it whilst Ellis got the net. Joy on my face as I finally pulled the fish over the net. Bringing it on the bank, unhooking and some nice pics followed. I was off the mark on this Barbel fishing trip with, yes, you've guessed it. A Pike!!



It was time for Ellis to get back in the kitchen, this time emerging with sausages, bacon and beans.
I was going to shamelessly plug Ellis's spool bands again, but I don't need too. After seeing how easy he got line from a spool in strong winds  with no tangles or line blowing about, it seems they plug themselves!

The Barbel /Pike trip continued, as we tried hard to catch both. Unfortunately no more fish graced our net.
With the strong winds taking over from the snores of Ellis, and even staying till the Dave Jones 2pm, it was finally time to pack up and head home. A quick walk at Topcliffe bridge and a sneaky view of Billy's boards from the back (that's not easy to say) showed no fish in the aquarium swim. It was definitely time to admit defeat on this Barbel trip.



Another great Barbel trip, will always be remembered for the pike, Ellis's "bush" cast and the quote that sums it all up, "let's fish in this swim, it looks a lot more social".


Saturday, 15 September 2018

Dare to Spin and Drop!

Date fished 15/09/18
11 hours

What a trip!! Sometimes you just have one of those sessions. Yes, I saw 3 pairs of magpies on the drive to the river, but this was worth more than triple joy!!


Ellis and I were on board The Big Elbow for a day on the Tees for perch and hopefully pike, but to be honest perch was our main foray.

Meeting at 8am, we were soon tackled up and ready to go. The drop shot king had kindly brought me a spare drop shot set up, so I could hopefully catch my first drop shot fish. I had watched Ellis use it to great effect. It definitely catches alot of fish!

We were soon heading to likely looking areas. This particular area had been on fb the night before, with a 4lb 2oz Perch, this looked likely indeed! Nothing was here today though so we moved on.

We commented how we were starting to really know these areas, but today they all looked different! Not sure if it was the  leaves being brown, or the water level or colour, but it looked more fishy in every swim we saw.
We were soon drifting along the tree lined edge and the drop shot king was soon into fish! A few perch taking the lure, quickly adding to the kings tally. As we drifted over branches, I saw perch attacking my lure and a quick jig later the perch was on board the boat. Neither of us had blanked. Phew.

We fished on, Ellis continuing to catch alot of perch, me just, well, not catching. Finally I got the spare drop shot rod and dropped! It's a great technique, and soon I was catching too. Next was to try a spinner, another method I had not caught on, Ellis also wanted some spinner caught perch!


Of course we both soon had spinner perch too, this was becoming a session to remember.
As we drifted along a new stretch, I saw it. A large black hood in mid river. We hadn't drifted downstream and out to sea, but here was Sammy the seal, watching us cast. Sammy was soon impressed as I hooked a nice perch in the margins, quickly landing it, unhooking it and releasing back into the river. We looked up, but Sammy was gone. Maybe the fishing was better somewhere else!!







We moved to where the river Leven joins the Tees, expert manouvering from Ellis and we were soon quite a way up the Leven. It was narrow and fishy! Every swim looking perfect.

A few quick casts and a few more perch were ours. These fish were very pale, and the markings not very dark. The water conditions in the Leven must be very different! To us, it was just another perfect place to fish.

By now we had caught at least 30 perch between us. The Leven mouth was our end point, so we turned round and headed back, keen to try some other swims.

We had noted as we drifted close to the edges, we had spooked fish that were just sat at the edge of the river. I had seen a good sized chub as we drifted over it, Ellis just seeing the boil of water as it was gone. It happened a lot, enough that now our eyes were scanning for movement. As early evening approached, the light slowly declined, something was about to happen.
Drifting, I noticed a fish being chased on the surface. A quick cast and I was suddenly playing the culprit. It was my smallest ever pike, a micro pike, pefection in miniature. A quick pic and it was back.



Next cast, another fish, Now my smallest ever pike, a micro micro pike!! It made Ellis and I laugh as we had been chatting about catching a micro pike last trip out at Sockburn.




Suddenly there was action and topping fish everywhere, we moved further down, I cast to the splash. Instantly the fish grabbed my lure, a much bigger fish. In an instant, the line was bitten through, definitely not a micro pike!
As I reached for the spinner, Ellis had cast towards another topping fish. He was in to a much bigger fish, "pike" I shouted as it came to the surface. In fact it was a perch, and what a perch! Weighed, so we could get a feel for how big, exactly 1lb 8oz. What must the 4lber looked Like??






Grinning from Ellis's capture, I cast towards more topping fish. The spinner came a few metres towards me, then bang. A much bigger fish was on. It was into snags, around branches, under the boat, but eventually in the net. My first proper Tees pike! Proper in size, but actually my 5th Tees Pike, I will stop counting them now as it's not a couple, or a few, I am a Tees Pike angler!
Again out of curiosity Ellis asked what weight, I said 5lb, Ellis instantly agreeing and confirming he thought the same. Then to prove we really were Pike anglers, into the sling it went. The needle banging between 4lb 12oz and 4lb 14oz. We really ARE pike anglers!!



As quickly as the madness started, it stopped. A few more perch were caught as we made our way back, just one more stop. Could we crown this off with a 4lber??

Sadly the answer to that is no. There was no more fish for us. We ended having caught at least 60 perch between us and the 3 pike. We had lost a fair amount of tackle too, we had dared to cast close to the snags, where the fish were living.
We dared and we won, and you know what? We liked it, and will be doing it again!






Saturday, 1 September 2018

Nature Trail

Date fished 1/9/18

The alarm shouted at me when it reached 4am! "You must be either mad or going fishing!!"

The clock was right. I was going fishing on the Tees. Ellis and I had planned a trip to a completely new area. One that I have wanted to fish for a while but the directions (rules) in the book made it sound so complicated and unfriendly, so I never bothered.  We were meeting down the track at 6am, well 6.10 Ellis time!

We met, put on our waders, it was due to be 20 degrees but we were expecting over grown banks, and might be doing some wading. A short walk and we came to a spectacular section of river. We found a gravel beach and started fishing.



Armed with worms, lures, pellets, maggots, bread, meat and I think Ellis had the kitchen sink in his bag, we were pretty much after everything!! (Error 1)

Whilst setting up, I saw fish going mad in a small area on the far bank. I think I will start there! Casting small lures, I had nothing. It was frustrating, but I gave up trying.
Setting up again with worm, I was getting bites, so sat and waited.
Ellis then saw the madness, so he thought, he would try there!
Armed with a float, but no float rod, as in our planning we decided definitely that we would not need float rods! (Error 2) he tried to see what was making the commotion. The master of float, soon had a dace, perch and minnows recorded against his name.




We wanted to fish new places, but also see what the river was like and find new swims for other times. So, we upped rods and set off. We found other swims, deep holes, shallow glides and fast water. We had casts in everything we saw. Ellis clocking another minnow.

Soon my lure got grabbed, and I mean grabbed. A sizeable fish was on. 20 seconds later it had gone. I was not able to see what it was, and will never know. (Error 3, maybe!)?

Not sure why I am counting errors, it is a nature trail, I should be counting nature.
In addition to Ellis's fish, we had also seen an otter and a kingfisher - Nature's  real master anglers!



Continuing on, we found the top limit of the stretch and a track to another section, however the game keeper had other ideas, and sent us back on our way, around the area we have already covered to get to another section. It added miles on to our legs, but we obeyed!

Reaching the cars, I told Ellis off and made him remove the sink, pellets and 1400 floats out his rucksac. We carried on, a little lighter!

Finding new swims is just as exciting as catching a fish. It's the whole day of being out, with a mate, and just "doing". On we went. A few casts, but mostly steps. Eventually we found another gravel beach, we sat down for lunch. A picnic lunch, this really was a nature trail!

Deciding we had walked enough, we u turned and headed for a third area. This beat really was one that keeps on giving!
By now, I was trying to avoid the blank, and Ellis was lying down on the gravel and still managed to catch another species! The nature trail now ticked off Grayling too!



Deeper into the woods we went, no bears but that would have been good! Another kingfisher shooting past. I settled in a swim, seeing a couple of otters playing on the other bank, I shouted to Ellis, but he must have been sleeping or something!
Eventually my rod, twitched and shook. I was in again. This time, no errors and a little chub was another species on the nature trail!



We walked on, fished some more and enjoyed the sun. Finding a double swim where we could sit and chat about our next fishing trips! Perfect.
Soon, it was time for home. What lay before us was cruel, a steep bank of wooden steps! As we made it to the top, cursing that extra chocolate bar we were happy and panting!

Back at the car, with 6 miles walked and with 5 species caught it really was a great nature trail, I mean fishing trip! Oops, you really do forget when you are having fun!



Thursday, 30 August 2018

Fishing Filosophy 2 years on

My blog is 2 years old!

The more I write my blog, the more I enjoy my fishing. It can be social, it can be a time to reflect on life on your own, but above all it should be fun.


A great philosopher once told me:

One thing is for certain Adam is that we will never find out what the fish think or act on. That’s why we keep on going back to the river bank, admiring the scenery, getting cold and mostly blanking but still wanting to go back for some more punishment the following week.
(Hutchinson, 2018)

And that is what keeps me/us going back, and continuing to blog about it after.

















Saturday, 25 August 2018

Sparkling success (ish)

Date fished 1430 on 24/8/18 to 1430 25/8/18

How do you measure success? Just in your fishing trips, I can't be accountable for all your successes and failures!

Not freezing to death cos you didn't think you needed your sleeping bag when night fishing?
Not being attack by frisky sheep at 3am?
Not blanking?
4 1/2 hours "sleep"?
Realising great food can be cooked in one pan?
Weather in 24 hours containing wind, rain and blistering sun?
Dead mice?
A heavy dew that literally you watch soaking you as you sit up till 1am like a gnome?
Sharing a beer?
Catching 4 Barbel each?
Finding out David Beckham has a (very tasty) whiskey brand?
Ablutions?
Chatting and laughing with a friend?
Sharing kit?
Sunsets?
Sunrises?
Sitting in the car to warm up!?
Scenery?
Finding out that sparkling water hurts when you drink it?
Having a "snore off" without knowing you are?
Hot cups of coffee at 0530?
Struggling to put up a bivvy with more poles and holes than.... ( you can finish that one) ?


Ok, so not all these are true, and there was plenty more that didn't make the pre watershed edit. But, Ellis and I visited Cundall on the river Swale, targeting Barbel and doing a 24 hour over night trip.

We targeted a likely looking area, opposite over hanging willows and unfortunately the false success above was the " catching 4 Barbel each".

In fact we did not catch any Barbel. We both caught perch on worms to avoid the blank and Ellis hooked a Barbel, but his drag on his reel failed to work, so as he was trying to backwind the Barbel took him in the willows. When his reel finally worked, the fish had gone and left Ellis snagged.

So in truth, we went to target Barbel, but did not catch Barbel, but hand on heart I can say this was a really successful trip. It's not the catching (always) it's the doing and the other little things along the way!




















Wednesday, 22 August 2018

No fluke, Lucky Lures!

Date fished 22/08/2018
0700 to 1200

A short morning session on the Tees was today's plan. I headed there on my own but Dave was off work too, so was going to join me for a few hours.

Like everyone, I too, am a creature of habit. Same places, same swims, same bait, the sames could go on. But not today!! Instead of going right, I didn't go wrong, I went left!

A new area to fish lay in front of me. Coupled with some (assumed) Environment Agency spraying of the Himalayan Balsam meant there was a lot of river to target.

Now, I did start with the same lure. I was hoping for perch, so started with small shad style paddle tails in pink. This is my go to choice for perch, but you may remember I caught pike on this small lure a while ago on the canal.

No such fluke today, and quickly my perch count was at 2. The quality of the perch coupled with their eagerness to feed has got to make perch one of my favourite species of fish to catch.





As I moved from swim to swim, I found myself under a tree. Perfect timing to play hide and seek as Dave arrived. I continued to cast as I caught up with Dave, he has had a great season, already catching at least 20 Tees pike! My count was still one!!

As the lure came towards me, in a blur it was gone. My reel screaming as the clutch took the lunge from the pike! Yes, the fluke had happened again, making it skill, surely?? It was great battling the fish tight under the tree, and the predator net christened by a carp was eventually going to be used for what it was made.

The pike slipped into the net and I was grinning. My second Tees Pike and the first from the bank. Happy happy flukey, I mean skilled boy!!








I let Dave find me, so he could take the pics and then we headed further into the unknown to find more swims.  We fished a good few swims, my perch count trickling up until Dave joined in.

A pike, taking his soft plastic trout lure, actually splitting it with the force of the take. Soon the pike was ready for the net. River fishing is wild, no manicured pegs or swims and this was no exception. We always make sure we can land a fish from a swim before we cast, but no one told the pike this.

It wrapped itself round floating debris, then got stuck in my net, then I had to use Dave's net to net the fish, which was still in my net!! It really was a pike of mischief! The fierce take meant the hooks were a little deep, but within seconds Dave had snipped his trebles to pieces, removed all the metal and the fish was back in the net resting.
A quick pic and the fish was ready to go. Well not Mr mischief. As I slipped it out of the net it swam off, turned around and promptly swam back into the net!! This fish did not want to leave us.
Eventually, the pike got bored with us, and with a quick splash, was off on its way.



As we fished our way back, my perch count increased but no flukes.



As we got back to a spot where I lost a lure snagged to the bank, I was telling Dave the detail. "Like this lure?" He said, as he bent down and pulled up my lure, lost and left weeks before!!

I believe in luck and flukes, 2 pike now on small fry lures and my lost lure found.

I chuckled to myself driving home, "I'm the flukest, I mean "most skilled" angler I know!"