Monday, 16 July 2018

Straight to the point with winning ways

Date fished 14/7/18 to 15/7/18

Like, share. Win.
It was that simple. I entered a competition on the book of faces to win a weekend glamping at Stonebridge fishing lakes. I had followed them for a while as I had seen Anglers Mail do a feature there and also seen some match results with plenty of cracking still water chub. I had kept it as a place to try if the river was unfishable.

The glamping was ace. A huge tent with double bed, sofa, chairs and bedside cabinets! A breakfast tent, with sofas, chairs, stove and indoor fire pit all adjoining a pristine ex fly fishing lake for an evening fishing.
A convenient shower block close by made for a less stinky camping experience. I guess that's why they call it glamping!!

Sat morning, 8.30am I arrived on the Coarse lake, a short walk from the tent and across the park.
Plenty of carp were showing, I was certain to catch one. Or so I thought.

First cast with a newly tied and never used before helicopter rig, and I sat ready. Suddenly the rod jumped towards the lake, I grabbed it and held on. After a few runs across the lake, I finally had the fish on my side of the lake! A tree to my right and this fish was straight into it. I managed to get some side on it, only to feel the dreaded ping!
The hook had come free, still not knowing if this was a carp or a big chub, I sat back. Examining the hook, I was surprised at how straight it was, nearly straightened completely!

After a change of hook, I carried on. But as it warmed up, the carp just swam under the surface, my rig on the bottom just tempting small roach, perch and the odd hybrid.

I alternated between feeder and float and thoroughly enjoyed "catching", it was a fish a chuck and they kept coming, even carp in perfect minature.

Eventually the float managed to tempt a proper carp again, I am saying "again", but deep down I wanted the first fish to be a 7lb chub!
The result was the same again though! The fish stripped line, did a figure of eight in the middle and ping! The hook came back, but fishless.

I beefed up the tackle, from the previous size 16 to a stronger sized kodex size 10. These hooks I won from writing a letter to "Improve your Coarse fishing" magazine!

As the afternoon wore on, more and more carp cruised on the top. Floating baits were not allowed, but I changed my rig to a hook and one small weight. Casting in front of cruising carp and watching them turn and head down for the maggots! It was a great way of fishing, stalking and trying to outwit nature.

I hooked a nice sized carp, again the hook came free. The line was not breaking, but I was just getting bullied by these powerful carp.

The time came to call it a day. Walking back to the gate, I saw a few more cruising carp. This time I was the victor, a perfectly formed carp finally on the bank.

The second day seemed hotter. I only managed two hours fishing, so decided just to stalk with maggots again.
Again I watched, casting to the cruisers. The bailiff had told me to not just cast gently, but slap the bait down in front. Telling me that this time of year the carp are super inquistive to suspected food so will investigate those noise falls on the water in search for food.

Eventually I had hooked a carp, easily the biggest one so far, I would predict it to be a double, unfortunately I will never know 'cos at the net the hook hold gave up.

I dont blame the ghilley, but she had one job! Lucy had done so well with my first ever river Barbel at Newark on the Trent. Seems she needs to come more often, or not at all!!

1 caught from the 4 hooked, I should be disappointed, but I am not. No line breakages, and all hooks were returned.  I arrived a winner, but left firm in the knowledge that fishing was the real winner!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

When is a blank not a blank??

Date fished 4/7/2018

1700 till 2100

Big elbow was the platform, the location was the Tees. Ellis and I went for a short evening session for perch and pike.

The river looked very different from 2 days ago, flat calm and with little fish topping. It actually looked ideal for fishing, seems under the water something different was happening!

A quick motor to “Disco Corner” christened this by Ellis for its corner design and its locals that can be heard busting out tunes on their ghetto blasters quite often!

The pole was out, maggots were thrown in and the float was sat in the water. There the float remained, just sat, not moving, nothing.

More maggots were thrown in, and more and more. The bait fish we were trying to catch had gone. Eventually we started to get bites, and soon we had each got off the mark with a 4oz (being generous to Ellis) Roach each!

One was used for live baiting for pike, the other was maybe a bit small! Third cast and the roach flew further than the hooks. We were now without bait!

It was time for a move. We found likely looking bays along the river bank, over hanging trees and classic looking pike swims. We slowly drifted on the flat calm water, each taking a side of the boat to thrash the water with every lure in our armoury! Although it looked perfect in every way, no pike wanted to join us.

It was another example of a great evening fishing, perfect conditions for learning new things about the river, getting a better understanding of how it works and changes with the days. The excitement came when we were nearly torpedoed by a merry band of 4 rowers who were on a direct course to put a huge hole in the side of the boat!

Soon it was time to head home, we both commented on how it looked so perfect for pike tonight, but they were just not there. We left in the knowledge that catching bait fish albeit tenuous is enough to put a smile on our faces and avoid the blank!!

Monday, 2 July 2018

Tees, trees; Swale, Sticks; Boat, sucess!

Date fished 27/6/18, 16.00 to 21.00, Tees (bank)
Date fished 30/6/18, 0455 to 1030, Swale
Date fished 1/7/18, 0900 to 1900, Tees (boat)

What a busy few days I have had!? It's been great to do a lot of varied fishing, both alone and with great friends.

It started on the Tees, another after work session to target perch and pike on lures. Would the pike be as frustrating as the night Dave and I threw the kitchen sink at them?? I started with surface lures just to have a look. I got a follow from a large perch that just didn't have the confidence or maybe the mouth to grab my toad as it tried to nibble it. I alternated between small and larger lures for perch and pike respectively, silly really when I have caught nice pike on very small lures!! But the thought of big lures for big fish rings true in all our lure chucking heads!!

A move up stream brought another follow from a good sized perch, its dorsal up as it chased my lure and then it happened.
A loud crack, from about 20 metres away, near a swim I had just left. A tree had split in half and I watched as it fell with a mighty splash into the river.  I have been wary of creaking trees during windy weather in the winter, but never during glorious sunshine.

I continued fishing, avoiding trees and fish. But eventually caught a small perch like last week's. It was a nice evening to be sat on the bank and watch the world go by.

The pike evaded me though, and I left for home still wondering " if and when" my Tees Pike will come.

The weekend approached and I was going fishing again.  In this hot weather, I decided to go early, like early early, alarm set for 3am!! I was going to practice with the stick float, hoping that using maggots I may get a mixed bag with a bonus chub.

My bag was not mixed, it was small and contained 8 minnows!! I did see the chub, in shallow, warm water, just sat. They looked like they were as unimpressed with the hot weather as I was starting to be. I felt I had mastered the Stick float though, being able to cast it in the same spot, trot it along the edge of the bushes and continually feed maggots in the spot too. Next time I will invite the Chub!

It was good to walk the river again though. With very little water in, I was able to look at likely areas to fish come winter.

Sunday Social was back after a closed season of going solo and fly fishing. Ellis has been on the Wear for Trout, Sea Trout and Salmon and Dave has been fly fishing on the Tees. We boarded “Big Elbow”, Ellis’s boat at the Tees barrage and headed off in pursuit of Pike. It was another hot day, very bright and the water was clear. Our excuses were already being developed as Ellis piloted us to superb Pike looking country.


Lures were thrown, dropped (drop shotting) flung and trolled, but still the Pike stay hidden. We ended up in a reed lined corner and got the pole out so we could:

  1. All avoid the blank
  2. Catch some live bait

With a few silvers in the bucket and smiles on all our faces, we headed further along the river. The pole was a magic 20 mins of fun, and Ellis had commented that he could stay there all day, I really had to agree with him. Watching a float constantly bobbing and catching little silvers with the occasional Perch as they move in to have a look is proper fishing and I love it!!

Alas we had to move on. We had “seen” activity that looked like pike, and with the boat we were able to position ourselves within casting distance. Eventually we came to an area that was perfect, and as the boat steadily drifted in the wind, we all attacked the water from our respective positions on the boat. My live bait being given extra movement from the very slow drift of the boat obviously worked. My float bobbed and in Jaws’s fin like action but in reverse, it sailed away and under.

“Fish on” was the excited cry from both Dave and Ellis, even whilst they fished they were trying to pop my Tees Pike cherry!

A firm strike, was enough and I slayed the beast, well definitely more beauty.  It maybe was slightly bigger than some of Dave’s Burts but it was a pike, and a very welcome Pike! I was happy, not only to finally catch a Tees Pike, but to do it with my mates on a day that was so much fun.

We fished on as it got hotter, finding areas where the trees nearly covered the whole stretch, overlapping at the top from each side of the bank – none of them broke and fell in this time fortunately!!

Ellis continued with drop shotting and caught over a dozen Perch, Dave and I persisted for the Pike but no more were caught.

The boat was great for getting into “those” swims. Those ones you see from a bank, but could never cast too. We saw Chub hiding amongst tree routes, plenty of smaller silvers and even scared a pike that was just drifting in the shallows as we approached. It fleeing with a loud splash that nearly made Dave fill his pants!

As the evening came, it was time to head back. Three redder guys returned, all with smiles and all already talking about the next trip. The fishing was great, but the social was what made the day…. Cheers Chaps, Parmo’s on me next time!

Friday, 22 June 2018

Perfect Perch aplenty, but the Pike were taking the Pish

Date fished 21/6/18 Time fished 16:00 to 22:00

The significance of the time fished is that this is the latest I have fished on a club river stretch. I normally opt for a dawn raid and then am home before the night time equivalent. This time was different, I had worked till 3pm, jumped in the car and hot footed it down to the Tees. Arriving in an hour, there was still a good chunk of the longest day of the year left for me to wet a line. I had decided to target Perch on small soft plastic lures and then Chub on hard crankbaits and/or ledgered bait into dark if I could brave it!

At the last minute Dave decided to join me, brining only a few large lures to see if he could tempt any of the resident Pike. Settling into a few swims was hard work, the bankside vegetation was akin to the jungles of Borneo! with many places not accessible. I managed to get into a nice open swim with some tree features on the far bank.

The river was a little low, quite clear and full of weed, this was constantly coming down the river and collecting on my ledger line, causing Dave to keep telling me I had a bite. Most of the time, I believed him, struck and ended up just dragging in a small island of weed!

We continued up river, creating swims where we could and having a few casts. We ended up in separate swims. It was not long before I heard the splashing's of a hooked fish. A quick call to Dave to find him, as I could not see any parting of the vegetation, told me he had a nice Jack Pike in the net. At about 3lb and in addition to a few he had already caught since June16th, it was another perfectly formed predator to kick start Dave's season.

As we continued upstream, we watched the patches of weed hoping to see fish dart between them, always looking, seeing shapes that had to be fish, or glints of light moving. It was lovely being on the river at this time of day.

We returned downstream, coming back to my first swim, where I cast to the trees with pellets on the hook. The weed continued to come down and I was constantly having to remove it, this was not as welcome as the picturesque scenes previously described!

Walking back to a clearing, I decided the ledger tactics were probably not right today and I would start to mark my account with Perch. Small lures were dispatched to likely looking areas and some little perch were my reward. 3 in total, all greedy and all welcome!

What happened next can only be described as Pike pandemonium. We sat and watched as Pike repeatedly chased, crashed and corralled fish on the far bank. Splashing in the water as tiny fish jumped out and tried to flee. We witnessed many attempts from maybe many Pike and it got us excited. We tried everything with lures to tempt these Pike, to no avail. I swear at one point Dave actually cast the kitchen sink at those toothy critters!

All our attempts were met with big pockets of weed and 2 fishy finned salutes. In the end we had to admit defeat and sat in awe as the Pike continued their onslaught of the bait fish.

As the mist started to drift off the bank and over the water, it was time to go home after what was a long day. Now, fully in amazement of the evenings entertainment that the river put on for us, we vowed to come back and see if we could witness this again. Next time we hope for a different predatory ending though.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Blogging, back to basics

I have not been fishing in a while, but that does not stop the little grey cells thinking about all things fishing.

I was thinking about how I used to record my trips. Long before this blog, as a child I was never very organised, and no mobiles so it was old school cameras if any.
Needless to say, I do not have many photos of times at Greenfields, Boulters lock or the Upper Benyons!

When I moved North, started a family and had a camera in my pocket 24 hours a day, things changed. My son was always keen to "know how I got on" after a trip, so I started to keep pics of the scenery or fish caught on my phone for him.

After many pairs of socks and smellies given at birthdays and the like, soon I was un wrapping a photo album given from both my kids.

I was hooked! I would take pics, get them printed at Tesco and stick them in with comments that would make me smile as I wrote them. The kids were then able to look through it later and we had a record. I was as happy writing my "blog" as catching the fish, especially as back then I did not record the blanks!!

Now they are 8 and 6, so although they are happy to still know what daddy is up to, they are more likely to be logged on to my Ipad and reading this...... now get to bed you two, it's past your bed time!!!

Sunday, 13 May 2018

The little Tinca's

Date fished 12/5/18

As I write this now, titled "net for sale, used only once" I think of all the blanks I have had and will have. Its really not the catching that is important, but the doing, trying and being out. I think after I write I may change the title, now lets see what unfolds to determine this................

I was back to Lonsdale Park, this time to target the Tench (Tinca tinca) to be precise. My friend, Aidan had fished here last week and had 5 tinca's to 5lb 9oz. Having never caught a "weighable" tinca, I was up for this.

It was an early start, at the lake at 6 something. I was going to start float fishing with pellet and corn. I set the float to fish over depth, with a weight near the hook. I started by baiting a spot near reeds. Bubbles surrounded my float but I caught nothing.
Moving after a tip off from my friend, as in "this swim, this bait, cast here" I continued on the float. This produced plenty of liners but nothing took my bait. It was so enjoyable sat watching the float amongst the fizz and liners, a tinca would have just been a bonus.

It was colder in the morning, but soon the sun came up and it was hot again. I walked around the main lake watching the carp on the surface. A few casts with bread had plenty of takes but no fish.
I went back to the first lake, again with the float. Same outcome. Plenty of bubbles and liners but nothing took the bait.

I fished till early evening and then packed up for home. I am enjoying fishing at Lonsdale, gathering info and data, storing it on the Finygo app, my blog and my head. It will give me a history which I can use on future trips. Something I need to develop on the rivers too come June 16th.

In my head it's easier on a manmade lake as it's less changeable than on the mother nature owned rivers, I guess no one told the fish that. They really can be little tinca's.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Net christened

Date fished 7/5/2018

Today I decided to go back to Lonsdale Park to try and increase my pb again. The weather was hot and with it being a bank holiday, the Lake was a lot busier. When I arrived at around 7.30am the main lake was a bivvy paradise.  The swim I wanted to fish was taken. With a few anglers all looking like they had the middle covered, I opted for a swim where I could ledger and float fish the margins.

With the rods in, I sat back. Hopeful for bites. Nothing came, I wondered about the pressure caused by all the lines in the water, so I made good my escape and headed for the Lake on the other end of the site.

Although I saw plenty of bubbles around my float fished boilie ( random I know, but I tried it) no fish graced the new net.

It was time to up sticks again. This time another lake. On arriving at this lake I saw three stocky carp, like bouncers drifting around the shallows. After showing them my    I.d, I set to work with trying to catch them. I tried the lot, float fished, ledgered, free lined and bait thrown with no line! They were not having it.

I was on the move again. Yes, back to the first lake, but a different swim. I chatted with another angler who had caught a double earlier in the day. He suggested I try a particular swim. Ignoring this, I sat in a swim close to where I started.

I love the three foot twitch of ledgering and the mesmerizing nature of the float, but my favourite fishing technique has to be surface fishing. Watching your bait while fish swim all around it, is amazing. The problem comes with trying to catch them!!

I tried floating bread. First cast and a fish swam straight to the bait, engulfed it. I struck, not a thing!!
Second, not a thing.
Third, still not a thing.

They were happy to take my bait, but I had missed three quick bites. Now, they avoided my bait like the plague.

I continued in several swims, watching the fish, casting around them. They eventually started to feed again, but again I missed them. It was not going well.

I went to some Lilly pads and this was full of Fish! They were under them, in them, all over the pads. I had to catch!
First cast perfect, engulf, strike, not a thing!!
This was getting frustrating, they were feeding, I was getting bites. I just couldn't hook them.

Well done if you have read this far, in this heat the day was getting like this, tiresome.

Suddenly it got good. This time on my strike, it stuck. The lilly pads erupted. I had to steer the carp away from the snags. It was too late, it was stuck fast. I pulled, all the lilly pads drifted towards the bank. Then I remembered, bail arm off and leave it for 5 mins. It worked! The carp was free, quickly it was in the net. The hard work had paid off.

I did not weigh my prize, but had weights between 4 and half and 10 offered. Remember the net is not the xl.
But today I learnt a lesson, "if you only have the large net and its hot and sunny, keep moving till you are nearly back at your first swim!!"
I didn't say it was a good lesson, but it was worth learning.