Saturday 25 July 2020

Living doll

Date fished 25/7/2020
5.45am until 12.45pm

The unhooking mat had barely dried from my last trip, but I was back on the Swale to try for Barbel. A 4am alarm got me started and with rain forecast I was eager to get fishing. It's amazing how doing something you really enjoy makes an early alarm and the prospect of soaking wet kit seem like paradise.

Arriving early doors, it was straight to the area I did well in on Wednesday. But today, I really wanted a Barbel to beat any Chub to the bait! If that's possible!?
A few casts with no interest so I moved to a different swim. A bit longer in here and still no interest. I switched between meat and large pellets. I did not have lots of meat so was hoping to switch between that and pellets throughout the session.

I was soon back in the first swim, casting to familiar spots. 4 quick bites resulted in 4 chub. The same chub that I caught on Wednesday!

I was feeling a bit of a cheat. I couldn't explain the feeling but I didn't feel good. Am not sure why as just because the fish are there does not mean you catch them. I have fished a swim where a friend has caught a huge fish and it has never graced my net. So, I am not really sure why I was feeling so bad as I caught the same fish.

I moved a little further down and put the rod on the rest. Again, the rod was away and this fish had a scar on its nose, again I recognised it from Wednesday.

I moved even further down in front of large bushes and when the rod tapped and a "new" fish lay in the net I was happy.

I was still just using meat. My alternate plan had not worked out well and soon I was down to only a few pieces.

A few bites here that I missed and no Barbel so I decided to move further away. A good walk downstream and I was at a swim where a couple were fishing on Wednesday. I cast to the far bush, missing it by milimetres. I put the rod on my bag and sat down in the Sun. There had only been a few spots of rain and I only put my coat on earlier to carry it easier. The heavy downpours had not appeared.
The rod suddenly hooped round and I was playing another fish. Hoping for the Barbel, alas it was another Chub. Seven Chub now, 5 repeats and 2 new fish. I had definitely hit my chub quota for the week!

With a single piece of meat left, I went to one last swim and thought how perfect an ending to the blog would be if I caught a Barbel.
I listened to the radio on my headphones and as Broad made light work of the West Indies, my Barbel count remained on a duck.

As I walked back to the car, I concluded it was a good day. Yes, I caught some of the same fish, but I am learning every time and hopefully I will catch that Barbel soon. In my 4 videos I have also proved to you that I am the one and only walking, talking, living doll.

You can have one still pic!! 

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Seventh Heaven

Date fished 22/7/2020
6.30am until 12.30pm

The Magnificent Seven

With plenty of flexi time credit in the bank, I decided to take a day off work and fish the Swale. I was going to target the Chub and fingers crossed a Barbel would slip up too. Using the same tactics as Ellis and I used the other week, link ledgered / rolling meat, it was also great to fish light and adopt a roving approach. Taking just a rod, net, unhooking mat and small bag, I thought I would try likely swims upstream of the area we fished last time in the hope of more fish.

Not sure how the weather impacts fish. I think pressure has a big impact and obviously if it has rained heavily before hand, regards the river level, but normally its to see if I need to take a rain coat or not!

The river looked perfect, well it was a Wednesday and I was fishing, what could be more perfect?!?
Reviewing and comparing the river levels from our last trip on 11th July, you will note the river still contains water and its likely my sandwiches will not get wet when wading this time! ( very scientific!) 
In fact the river was quite a bit lower than that trip and very clear. 

I arrived at 6.15am and quickly walked to the river. I say quickly because the field was full of cows. They are perfectly ok, but after that evening a few years ago, they do make me a touch nervous.

(Pic of cows - but I didn't want to stop long enough to take it!)

I started in the Barbel swim and after a very short wade across the stream to get there,  I could not see them. I didn't bother to fish for them and moved to the Chub swim. A quick cast here and no takers. Very odd, I thought and moved to where I caught a small Chub before. First cast and fish on. It was the same fish! Same swim, same weight and had the damaged tail ( that's how I knew). It made me smile, like meeting up with an old friend. 

2lb 14oz
I decided conditions were not right for this area, so moved up stream to try some new parts. I didn't travel far and thought I would stop for a quick coffee and cast into the big pool above the Barbel swim. As I looked for my flask, the rod was away. Sadly I missed the bite, would this be my last chance? 
Second cast and after a few minutes the rod was away. I was ready this time and the second chub was in the net. It was still not 8am! 

3lb 14oz
Adding a pound to the first chub, they were getting bigger! 
Again, I decided to move. I wanted to explore the top end of the beat and fish some swims I had not fished for years.
I set off upstream. I stopped in Ellis and my banker (winter) swim and tried my luck. Realising I was fishing on the exit ramp from the water, I made a hasty get away as a large cow started walking purposely at me! 

I found a neat looking swim, cut away from the bank and settled in. It looked good for a bite close in, so I crept quietly down. Breaking all my stealth work when suddenly the heavens opened and I noisily and clumsily put my rain coat on. Nothing here, so I moved on.

Reaching the top of the bank, I was greeted by a committee member. I have chatted with him before, so it was good to have a natter. I showed him my membership card for good measure and shared some tales. We both agreed it was a great stretch for chub but sadly I wasn't able to compete with his Barbel stories. One day! Although I did share Ellis's capture.

We wished eachother luck, and I carried on my way. I noted it was just after 9am. I settled in a swim that I waded around a fallen tree too. It looked good for a fish or five! 

What then followed, I have never experienced before. I caught five Chub, probably lost as many bites too. I say lost, but I lost fish and then carried on and caught fish, so who's to say it was not the same fish? I fished here for 2 hours, moving between two areas. At one point I thought I would run out of meat! 

4lb 3oz

3lb 12oz 

4lb 5oz

4lb 7oz
I was playing with the head gear so I could tell the fish apart in their pics! 
The fish were feeding confidently. It was a bite a chuck. Sometimes as soon as the meat hit the water, the fish were on to it.
The rain came back, and this time it was heavy and persistent. I caught my 7th fish in the middle of a downpour.  
I was still getting bites, but I wanted to see some more if the river, so I moved on.

4lb 3oz

I only fished a few more swims, but walked all of the stretch. It's amazing to see the different parts of the river, fast, slow, deep and shallow. It takes some understanding, but a club like this is great because you can always chat to other members and "compare notes".
As I walked to the top limit, the rain stopped. I was close to the car, so thought I would call it a day. 

I may have left a few fish in that prolific swim un caught but at seven fish in total, I was in heaven! 

Too heavy- but caught 27lb 10oz of Chub! 

Sunday 12 July 2020

Red or dead

Date fished 12/7/2020
5.45am until 1pm

I was given some advice on Facebook last time I fished Bowesfield on the Tees, about a peg and location. Never looking a gift horse in the mouth, I headed off to use this imparted knowledge.

Alarm set for 4am, it was an early start. I decided to go early and and see if I could catch the fish napping.

I was parked up, on the bank and cast in just before ten to six. I was informed that I should fish peg 127 and at 20 turns out. So, that's what I was doing. I had about a pint of dead maggots and casters that I had frozen from last trip and a bait box full of groundbait.

Second cast and I had a bite. It was practically a bite every cast from then until I finished. I didn't catch a net full of fish though!
I started with two white maggots, a white and a red, a white and a caster and then a caster. It was a couple of hours until I realised I had not tried my (and your ? fave) combo. My dad does it, Ellis does it and I do it. It's always two red maggots! I don't know why we bother with the other colours! Please don't break down my statue!
Anyway, two red maggots, cast out. Bite. A lovely skimmer.

Next cast, again two reds, I hadn't even put the rod down and it was away. A small perch. I had stumbled onto the winning formula that I had been using the last 30 years!!

I caught a few more perch and some very small roach and thoroughly enjoyed being on the bank. There were fish topping in the early morning mist. I heard a splash to my left and looked at the bush as a kingfisher came out the water holding its breakfast. I wish I had seen it dive in, but it was magical seeing it emerge out the water.

The sun came out and it was starting to get warm. The jumper came off and even the wellies did too!

I missed bites as I typed to Tom, he had caught a pb bream (5lb 2oz) in Hexham and I was so pleased for him. I missed fish later as I checked the cricket score on my phone, but you know what? It didn't matter. I was still having Fun.

I hooked a bigger fish at about 11am, I assume it had been waiting for the match start time, sadly it came off and I didn't see it. I will claim it was a good sized bream, but we will never know.

It was soon time to pack up and head home. My modest net would not win any awards, but I head home happy. (Am writing this sat in the car)
I am learning  every time I fish the river and hopefully soon, I will be able to give you some knowledge in my ramblings like the knowledge given to me.

Saturday 11 July 2020

Cordon Bleu

Date fished 11/7/2020
7am until 4pm

With a very different looking river due to the amount of rain we have had recently, Ellis and I headed back to the Swale at Morton / Scruton to target Chub and dare I say it? Barbel.
We decided on the trip on Thursday evening so Friday afternoon was spent reviewing conditions and looking at the rigs I made.

I made several new hook links with varying length hairs, I needed to group them such that I could use smaller or larger pieces of meat depending on the flow etc. Am sure there is an -ology in this somewhere? Baitlogy, Prepology or Rigology maybe?
I do enjoy the planning (fannying) before a fishing trip, it just adds to the excitement for me!

I had cut up 2 x 400g tins of chopped pork into manageable baits. It filled a 3 pint bait box, I think we had enough bait!

I had planned to use a simple link ledger again with double or treble size SSG weights, maybe a small bullet lead if conditions required.

We met and walked to the river. The swim Ellis had caught the Barbel from was still there but there was alot of extra water! Whole islands were now covered. We decided to wade through but further down, where we knew the water was slower. I went across first, the water getting to my middle and wetting the bottom of my bag. It was ok, it was only my lunch in the bottom compartment! Ellis came across and we were both safe.

We made our way to an area above where we fished last time. We could not get lower as the water was too high. I was using meat and Ellis had recently read good things about cheese as a bait. We had all the ingredients for the blogs title. I wouldn't go hungry then if my lunch was soggy!
Tackling up, I dropped my bait in the edge and waited. Within minutes a fish grabbed my bait and I struck. One nil to the fish.  Next cast and I connected. A lovely chub putting up a great fight in the faster water. At 4lb 8oz and 8.01am it was the start we wanted.

Ellis then had a proper bite on the cheese (from a fish, not him personally!) which would have capped off a perfect start but sadly the fish won that battle too.

Changes of bait and position followed for the next couple of hours but unfortunately no more fish. The large shoal that were here two  weeks ago must have taken advantage of relaxation to social distancing rules, they were off!!

Ellis then ventured across the stream and made it to the Island we fished from last time. It was all the encouragement I needed. We picked up the gear and waded across. The water was fast and we couldn't quite get the bait to roll down right. It was time for a drastic move. We moved away from the area completely. We waded back, but a different way. Again up to our waist and it needed some branch holding too. With even wetter lunch, we went off down stream to try our luck. 

First cast in the new swim, I was straight in the tree. Second cast, also went in the tree but luckily landed in the water too. Sitting quite happily, Ellis suddenly noticed my bait. It was floating a few inches under the surface. Things were getting strange!

We moved further down stream and both had bites in our next swim choices. They didn't feel chubby though. Ellis thought trout. With no catches here we moved further down.

Putting some floating bread in the swim, we watched it go round the cycle while our combined Cordon bleu was ledgered on the bottom. Suddenly my rod shuddered and then the line was slack. I wound down the slack and the fish was still on. Then it jumped. A clear foot out the water and splashed back down. I thought it looked like a chub, big and bronze, a carp maybe. Ellis knew straight away,
"Trout" he said.
A large trout had taken my meat and was going mental in front of us. I brought it to the surface and we saw it. It was 5lb plus, as large as the Chub we caught. It's large head and deep body powering around the swim. I told Ellis to get my net as it was slightly larger. He was ready and went down to net the fish. I played it and had it on the surface a few times and we both saw how large it was. It put up a scrap, and took lime as it raced around the swim. Then it jumped again, clear of the water, shaking it's head. Sadly the barbless hook was shaken free and nearly hooked a much larger beastie, Ellis!!
It was such a shame as it would have been a fish of a lifetime, a massive Brown Trout. Spurred on, Ellis changed from cheese to meat!!
We waited but no further fish here, and no interest in the floating bread.

We then fished a few swims in leap frog. Finding a swim, sitting in it for 20 mins and if nothing moving on. We found that although the far bank looked so fishy on this stretch, that meat cast behind trees and structure on our bank worked too! A second chub taking my bait. Weighing in at 5lb 5oz it made me grin!

We tried some more swims. Looking for big bushes to tuck in behind. Casting to the middle and hoping the bait swung around, snag free, under the bush. It worked for Ellis,  a fish grabbing the meat. The luck was not with Ellis today and the fish got off.

We tried some swims out of pity to the swim, if you know what I mean?
Some just didn't feel right. Our meat came back rounded, where little fish had eaten away the edges. Leaving this area we walked back towards the cars. Talking about saving the blank for Ellis, we tried near to where we waded earlier in the morning.

After telling you about the passers by/wee incident on the Tees last month, I went to a tree to have a wee. An almighty splash followed, I must have scared a huge fish. Then a cormorant flew out the water where it had been swimming at a million miles an hour. I am not sure who was more surprised, but I think I will not be weeing ever again!

With me having been snagged and straightening my hook to get back my gear, I didn't tackle back up. I sat with Ellis and prayed for one last bite. We talked to some departing anglers and of course I relayed the "one that got away" trout story. I think I will be telling that for a while.

It was time to call it a day, Ellis wound in but found he had been sat there in a snag. Trying to get the rig back his line broke.
"We'll, that's the quickest way to pack up" he exclaimed.
" You might aswell throw all your kit in the river" my reply.

Laughter followed, and on that happy note we walked away.

Thursday 9 July 2020

A blank?

Date fished 8/7/2020
3pm until 9pm

With my 7 day marathon a distant memory, it was time to go fishing again. Finishing work at 2.30 pm I jumped in the car and headed to Ryton. I was targeting the bream again on Tilcon. 2 rods, both ledgering, with pellet on one and worm on the other. I had made some new rigs with 8lb line and tougher hooks. I was determined not to get snapped off or have a hook straighten!

Straight away the worm was getting knocks. I suspected small perch were attacking the worms and because of the length of the hair (not mine, the hair rig!) they were never going to get hooked but would keep annoying me. 

There was always a chance it was bream though, so I kept worm on the hair but also put one on the hook. Sure enough a proper bite and a small perch was the culprit. After another one in quick succession, I took the worm from the hook and hair rigged pellet and worm cocktail. Why not!? I thought.

It started to drizzle as I watched 4 magpies and 2 rabbits playing about on the opposite bank, however my rods remained motionless. 
I kept a few pellets going in and watched for signs. There were fish surfacing around my baited areas, so I was sure a bite would come. Then I noticed a carp down to my left in about 6 inches of water. I watched it feeding and grubbing around in the silt. It swam away as carefully as it entered.

It was the right hand rod that went. The spool spinning as the fish quickly took line. It was just into the lillies, I held on and steered it out. Then the hook pulled. No line break, no hook straighten,  the barbless hook just lost its hold.
I stayed for another 45 mins but as the rain continued, it was time to head home. The lake suddenly looked alive, but I was getting a little bit cold and I was content with my nights work. 

So, to the Question. Did I blank? 
Technically not, but 2 micro perch when targeting big Bream. Who knows!? But I will take it. A fish is a fish after all.