Thursday 27 August 2020

Fisherman's Tale

Date fished 27/8/2020
7am until 12pm

Today's trip was a lot different from any of my other trips. To start with I was fishing with a non fisher, an old school friend, Dwix. Secondly it was down South, and lastly and the most strange point of all, we got to the venue on the London Underground and we were in zone 3!
Doing the prep the night before was a little bit different....

Earlier in the week we had tried to obtain a licence for Dwix on the "Take a friend fishing" campaign but unfortunately the website never sent us a confirmation e mail and we chased them a few times on the online help but no-one replied, so Dwix paid £6 for a one day licence. Quite frustrated that no one replied, it's not the money, it's the point of having, what I think is a really good scheme, but it didn't work!

Setting the alarm for 5am, we were up and ready promptly. Getting on the Tube it was just over an hour to our venue. A few changes and we arrived. Coming out of the underground it struck me how urban it was. I was defo not going to be bothered by cows today!
There was a petrol station, Sainsbury's and Burger king a cast away from the bit of river we were to fish. The river, however looked spot on. There was plenty of streamer weed, stones and far bank cover. The water was so clear too, it had to be good for an urban Barbel!

Tackling up a rod, Dwix was soon fishing under a bush, my first cast a little too zealous and I  was in the bush!! Because we didn't know the stretch, we were going to fish a few swims and keep walking. Noting any fish or spots to fish again on the way back. We fished a good few spots by a weir, around streamer weed but no fish yet. Dwix by now was a proficient caster and a master catcher of sticks!

Finally we came to a reed lined deeper area by a bridge. I cast my pellet in and spotted a fish slowly swimming away. At least we knew fish were here. Dwix sat waiting patiently but then declared,
"There does not seem to be a fish on my hook".
No sooner as he finished the k, his rod wrapped round and a (very?) large fish had picked up his pellet. He picked up his rod and immediately the 8lb hooklink snapped. We will never know what the one that got away was.

We fished a few more swims upstream but to no avail. Our alcohol fuelled tummies were now calling for stodge. We turned around and headed back downstream. We stopped for 10 minutes in the "one that got away" swim. Well, who wouldn't?!? But sadly no luck or unluck this time.

We finally packed up the gear and headed to find the golden arches.
Back at the supermarket area, it was now a bustling high street. I chatted to a couple of security guys who were interested to know about the fish. We looked down over the bridge and saw a large Koi Carp swimming about in the flow.

We said our goodbyes and headed off. I was glad to have shared my passion with an old friend, and I am glad we had some action of sorts. I was supposed to meet a fellow blogger, Brian, on the bank. He had told me of the venue but sadly we missed eachother. Next time we will make firm plans Brian, and Thanks for the venue advice!

I taught Dwix how to cast, what to do when a fish takes your bait and how to play a fish. But the best lesson he learnt, which he picked up quickly was as follows.
I just told him, as he went off for a nap, that I was going to write my blog and he replied,
"Make sure you don't under estimate the size of the fish I lost".
That my dear friend is the fisherman's tale.

Saturday 22 August 2020

Pellet planning

Date fished 22/8/2020
6am until 12.30pm

It is currently Tuesday 18/8 at 6pm and I am starting to think about the upcoming trip. I have recently been drafting the opening paragraphs of my blogs a day or two before as I plan for that trip. Albeit a review of conditions or kit required, as in reality this is what I am doing at this time. The trip does not just start when the alarm goes off. There has been thought and plans made ahead of this. Usually the "where to go?" element. Its not like a stillwater where you can just plonk down and fish. The river levels have to be checked as even in "summer" we can have storms and plenty of rain meaning the rivers are unfishable. So, I am beginning to plan for this next trip, and will take you along with me.

I am not going to be fishing in NE46, but you get the idea.
The weather had been some what indifferent during the week and I am sure the river levels would be reflecting this.

Whizz forward to Friday 4pm.

With Ellis unable to come, it was down to me to decide where to go and pick well! I put some local feelers out and looked at the rain radar and subsequent river levels. After a bit of deliberation I concluded the rivers would be very high and bombing through, so I decided to stay local and fish Tilcon for the Tench and Bream. My last few trips there have resulted in blanks, so I am very keen to address that. I will let you know how I get on tomorrow.

Fishing day

A reasonably early alarm at 5am started the day, jumping in the car I was at the lake by 6am. I had bought Hybrid feeders for a change. I fished one on one of my rods and a simple ledger on the other. Different pellets as bait, Robin Reds in 6mm and 12mm and Marine Halibut in 8mm.
The lake had been managed via recent work parties and looked great. It was very low in terms of water level, but perfect in terms of fish and access to swims.

Some weed had been removed and lillies separated to get access. I cast to likely spots and waited. The fish were crashing about and showing themselves. A large carp splashed right over my right hand rod, a fellow angler looked up because he thought I was in. Sadly not, however ten seconds after the jump, the fish caught my line and set the spool spinning for a few seconds.

The Other angler set up on the far bank and was soon into a fish, sadly he lost it. I watched him fishing throughout the day and he lost two and caught one carp and at 10lb 6oz, was a great fish.

The rain came and soaked everything, I changed pellets, hook link lengths and casting location. Nothing it seemed was going to stop the blank. I chatted with another member who was out to have a look at the lake prior to tomorrow's match. We had a good chat about lots of local lakes and he had some crazy footage from Angel lakes that looked like a Koi pond at a garden centre!

With a mixture of sun and rain but with the constant of strong winds, it was not an unpleasant morning but sadly the fish didn't play ball.

I feel I should take more bait options on my sessions, I would like to make and use a paste type bait. Sometimes I don't have too much faith in pellets. Hopefully I will be saying different next week as I am off to London and intend only to use pellets. As ever, I enjoyed my time on the bank and am looking forward to my next trip on Thursday. I will see you then.....

I dunno!! 

Saturday 15 August 2020

Broomstick woes

Date fished 15/8/2020

7.30am until 4pm

My recent trips have definitely been missing something. Fish? Maggots? Chub pics? No, none of those. The answer is, Ellis!! He has been doing some diy as the weather has been helpful, with alot of it now completed he was able to come out with me this time. He suggested the boat, which I was quietly pleased about as it was exactly what I was thinking. We have not been on the boat in a while and we always have a great time up and down the river, so the plan was made.

See, two floats not one! 

I met Ellis at the Marina and we loaded Big Elbow with the gear. Perch and Pike the target on lures ( I brought the lure with no tail too) and maybe some live baits if we were able. We would have the trusty float/ maggot/ blank saver rod for silver's too!

First stop was at Disco Corner, we had not fished it for ages and it was some guaranteed silver's, or so we thought. Ellis plugged away on the float and although fish were clearly there, none were obliging. I caught a small Perch so we were off the mark.

We tried a few more swims and eventually caught some small silver's for live baits and I caught another Perch. The Pike did not seem to be interested and the floats only had the bait to make them move, and in some cases even that was too much! 

We swapped between the float rod, lures and live baits but still it was proving to be a difficult day. Ellis suddenly had enough, exclaimimg "Pass me my Broomstick!" 

I fell about laughing but duly passed him his 150 gram plus casting weight, 130lb braid broomstick onto which he put a large burt lure. He thrashed the water, but to no avail. It was getting desperate. 

Plan B was in order, I wondered why it took him so long to do it. When he did, he was soon catching Perch after Perch after Perch. Ellis had set up the drop shot rod!! 

We always like to use smaller silver baits for lives, releasing the Perch or better fish. We just do! Ellis catching a great fish that was released.

We discussed how many lures are Perch pattern and obvioulsy Perch and Pike will eat smaller Perch. I just wondered if they prefer fish that are alot less spikey. Anyway, I caught a small Perch and put it on as a live bait. We were in a swim where we had caught Pike before, although there were some large trees in the water here now which were not before. Actually, all along the river there were some large trees looking like potential hazards in the river. I digress, the Perch was cast to where we had just seen a splash.

"What was that?" I asked.

"You will see in a minute" being Ellis's confident reply. 

My float was in the water for about 30 seconds when it suddenly sailed away. I struck and was in. A small Pike, 3 to 4 lb shooting off like Usain Pike. It nearly went up the bank, it went round a floating branch and towards the tree. I tightened the drag, but long story short. The Pike escaped and managed to snag me in the fallen tree!! Hindsight is a glorious thing and maybe the swim was too cramped now with the tree, but that is probably why the fish are in it! 

We tried many more of our usual swims and although the drop shot produced countless more Perch, the Pike count remained zero.

It was a tough day. Back at the Marina, there was time for a few casts off the bank. Just enough to catch a few branches (or were they broomsticks) each, before jumping in the cars and calling it a day until next time.  

Thursday 13 August 2020

Per-ch-fect Morning

Date fished 13/8/2020

5.30am until 11.15am 

It's turning into alternate days fishing and staying at home, which in this heat is alot more sustainable than the seven days straight I 'achieved' in June. It means I can chill the next day, sort home stuff and still enjoy the next fishing trip. The thunder and heavy rain still has not materialised in the North East, so I thought another river trip would be good. To keep with the alternating theme I opted for the Tees this time, (Tees, Swale, Tees this week so far) although during the planning I did consider the Wharfe! 

Again without maggots, I decided on lures and spinners for Perch and a pellet and feeder approach in the hope for Chub. I went to a couple of club stretches that I have fished alot over the years and have always enjoyed. I have caught Chub, Pike and Perch on lures and Chub on cheesepaste from these stretches in the past, needless to say I have also blanked on them too! Not being bogged down with kit, (I still must do another maggot, keep net, stay in one swim session soon) I was planning to rove about from swim to swim. 

After an early alarm I was up and parked at the first venue. A quick walk to the river and I wondered where to start? 

With my waders on, I thought I would try a spot below the weir that I have caught at before, and I am very pleased I did.

First cast and I was in. A cracking Chub taking my spinner.

Second cast, a small Perch.

Third cast a slightly bigger Chub, at over 2lb it was a great Chub. Unfortunately as I held it whilst kneeling in the water to get a groovy picture for you, it flipped out my hand and landed in the water. It swam off under some streamer weed. I must get myself a go pro I think. I will have to ask Santa! 

Every 'next' cast was met by a Perch. I must have caught ten when a slightly larger one turned up. It wasn't bigger than the fish I caught with Ellis on the boat recently so it went back unweighed. It was amazing how close to where I was standing I was hooking the Perch. One that I lost nearly went through my legs. 

On my next cast, I connected with something good. I could see the Perch flash in the water and I carefully slipped the net under a much bigger fish. This was going to be weighed. After a quick rest in the shallows, I weighed the fish and at 1lb 2oz it was a new Pb. A great fish on what was turning out to be a great morning, well shorter than that, it was still only 6.25am!! 

A few more smaller Perch were caught but I was annoyed at not getting a picture of the bigger Chub (silly, I know) so I carried on in the hope of another Chub. I caught no more Chub but had another good Perch. I didn't weigh it as it was smaller than my (brand new) pb, but it looked great. If I had kept a keep net of the fish it would have looked pretty impressive. Nevermind, it's all about the memories.

By 7am, I had upped sticks and moved to another swim. I might try this first swim on the way back, I thought, knowing full well I would be coming back! 

Finding a new swim was tough, the vegetation was in full summer mode, but walking carefully I could see the tell tale sign of paths from other anglers. I went down a few before settling on a swim. I tackled up the feeder rod. I had "dead maggots, breadcrumb and cheese paste surprise" for the feeder. 

It looked awful but smelt good, am sure the fish would agree. I was just about to thread a pellet on when I saw a big, juicy slug. I have used them before but never caught on them, the day had gone pretty well up to now, so I gave it a go.


A few knocks on my slug (non eupho) but nothing much here, so I moved on. As I battled through the undergrowth I wished I hadn't brought the 12ft feeder rod. It is not easy to manoeuvre through trees and branches with it. I came to a clearing and could only cast the lure rod. I soon caught a Perch and everything was right with the world again.

A large splash on the far bank suddenly gave me "far bank envy". You know? I stand here and cast there, but if I was stood there I would cast here?!? Anyway, I cast to the splash but nothing happened so I walked on. I tried a couple more swims and decided that was far enough. I would walk straight back to the first swim and have a few more casts before jumping in the car and trying another spot slightly down stream.

Yes, you have guessed it! I was still hoping for a Chub. None came,  I caught a couple more Perch, I must have caught 15 or so by now but decided to leave on a positive and with a spring in my step, I was back in the car and moving off.

It was drizzling now and quite windy. The forecast said dry so stupidly I did not pack the rain coat. I drove to the next section and walked down the hill to the river. Hearing a sneeze from where I wanted to fish, I assumed someone was in the swim so walked downstream. As I got closer to the river I heard the sneeze again, but not obscured by trees I could see it came from the other side of the river. A cow clearly had a cold! I walked back around the thistles and into the swim that was always vacant.  Leaving the lure rod to the side, I wanted to catch on the feeder. A few knocks on the pellet, but I was going to be pretty lucky to get a Chub or Bream here in such short time I thought. I took off the pellet and put a bunch, 10 at least, dead maggots on the hook, filled up the feeder and cast back in. A matter of moments and the rod bent round. Yes, another Perch!, being quicker than anything else onto the maggots. 

I continued with this method but as nothing else came and the rain got heavier, by 11.15 I was packed up and walking back to the car. 

A short, early and rewarding session. A new Pb Perch and some Chub caught on the lure rod. I just have to be extra good now until December 24th so next time I might be able to show you too. 

Tuesday 11 August 2020

The Future's bright

Date fished 11/8/2020
5.40am until 11am
After the shambles of a trip earlier in the week I needed a day to recover. Fully fit now and ready to go, I thought I would get out whilst I had the opportunity. It won't be long until the days are short and colder and the rivers full of water, so I will be limited to fishing as conditions allow.
Regular readers will know, I have targets and elements in my fishing I want to achieve. But, I am not so hung up on them as to exclude everything else. I still want a good sized Perch, so hopefully that will come from the Tees this autumn or winter and I really would like a 5lb Tees Chub. The fish I caught last winter on the Tees, which would have been bread and butter from the Swale really got me excited about a big Tees Chub. I have also seen plenty of 5lb and 6lb Tees Chub caught by other anglers, so I will be hoping for that this winter too. I also want to fish the other end of the Swale at Morton, where I used to fish it first, again that will wait until autumn and winter I think.
So, that brings me on to today's trip. I fancied a change, so I went to the Swale at Morton, but fished different areas and also thought I would use pellets instead of meat. Here it goes...
As is customary at the moment, a 4am alarm and I was packed up and set off. Arriving at the River, I was fishing close to the car at first, so was quickly at a swim. Robin Red Pellets in 15mm was the bait, to be link ledgered under likely looking trees and bushes the method.
It was a little after 5.30 am and I cast in the first swim, after a few minutes the line tightened and the rod knocked. I missed the bite. Casting back, I waited. A few more minutes and the same again. This time I connected and was soon playing a lively Chub to the net. It gave a great fight in the flow, the light just changing from dawn, all played out below a magnificent stone bridge. If my filmographer had been there, it would have made a lovely opening sequence!!

Un weighed but at about 3lb plus it was a great Chub, I let it rest in the net. A quick video and it was back into the flow.

When It put the Chub back, some sheep came down for a morning drink.

Trying all the likely swims downstream, I continued to the Stockton Club water. As I am a member there too, I climbed the stile and carried on. I tried a few other swims with little interest. Suddenly the rod gave a few taps, I picked up the rod to strike, expecting a lump of a Chub. It was however a 5oz silver, either Chublet or Dace and it flew out the water with the 15mm pellet. Both falling harmlessly back into the water, not stopping for a picture.
I tried many swims that looked so promising, but nothing else happened. I turned around at the corner and walked straight back to the first swim to try my luck in there again. Second time was not as lucky and I left biteless. I unloaded some bits in the car and moved above the bridge. I tried a few more swims but again no luck. Soon, I was sat watching five or six inch fish swimming in the shallows. They were in the warm shallow water and clearly had not a care in the world. Some were Chub and I was sure some were small Barbel.
As I sat and watched the fish, it was getting warmer and warmer and soon I realised I was watching them more than my rod. I didn't realise then that a closure of the A1 would mean I would be driving around Gateshead in the sweltering heat and the homeward journey would take me over two and a half hours. On that journey though, I thought of the small fish I had watched. Their journey is going to be longer than that, and I hope the River will continue to prosper, so I can take their picture properly in many years to come.
Can't see them, but we will see them in years to come. 

Sunday 9 August 2020

Fake Bait

Date fished 9/8/2020

6am until 8.45am 

Back up North, I had Saturday to chill after the long drive on Friday so by Sunday I was ready to go fishing again. The forecast said hot and with thunderstorms expected later in the week, I thought I best go while I had the chance. 

With no maggots, I decided to use fake plastic maggots with some leftover ground bait and breadcrumb as feed. Maybe I should have gone for a meat or pellet approach for Chub, but I just fancied a day catching on the float, and having not really caught much on plastic bait, I thought I would give it a go. I have a selection of fake baits as back up, but not using them regularly it would be nice to catch some fish on them.

Fake bait

I also took the lure rod and small rubber lures and some spinners as I knew they were some decent Perch about. 

A 4am alarm and I was up and ready to go. I was heading to the Tees on a club water. A stretch I have fished a few times and really enjoyed, to the tune of 10lb 11oz previously!! 
Starting in my usual Swim, I thought I would fish here a while and then move between there and further up where Ellis had fished before but I would use the lure rod. As I arrived on the bank, I felt unwell. Both kids had been ill last week and I feared a tummy bug. Not sure what to do, I thought I would tackle up the lure rod and at least have a try. I heard that being sick over the side of the boat at sea just acted like extra chum and attracted sharks, so I had that as back up to the plastic back up! 
Second cast and the first fish. 

It was the biggest of the seven perch I would go on to catch. I had caught five by 6.45am, I bet you were still sleeping?!?
After the fifth, I rigged up the float rod. My tummy was still sore but I thought I would feel better stood up and trotting ( not what it sounds!!)

A few runs (ffs) down the swim and no bites. I fed the groundbait mix on a line and kept trying. Fish were in the swim but not biting. I tried with the lure rod and caught two more perch. Always an obliging species I find.

As I increased the feed, fish started to top on the line I was feeding. It was working. I had a few biteless trots down, but my tummy felt worse. It was time to pack up. Over an hours drive lay ahead and I felt rotten.

Am home and in bed, actually feel much better and wasn't sick. I think if I had carried on, I would have caught on the plastic maggots. Not sure if it would have been         "plastic fantastic" as a title, but you will have to watch out for that.
So, do fish eat fake baits?
Of course they do, even not 100% well today and I caught seven on this......


Thursday 6 August 2020

You won't win anything with kids (4 pb's)

Date fished 5/8/2020
9am until 14.30pm

The annual family holiday in Dorset could mean only one thing, the family fishing trip! 3 adults and 3 kids carp fishing at Potwell lake in Broadwindsor. 
Me, Rupe, Martha, Uncle (Dave)Dawson, Nephew Sam and Davey completed the line up. 
Not even the persistent drizzle could dampen our spirits as we set off to the venue. At only a mile from my parents house, it didn't matter if we forgot anything!

Arriving just a few mins after 9, we unloaded the car and walked to the lake. As the rain was heavyish, we opted for a close swim, knowing we could retreat to the car if needed. As I tackled up Mr Whippy for Martha to use, Rupe set up his own rod. I helped with the hook and float and soon they were both fishing. Sweetcorn and small cubes of meat being on the menu, we just had to wait for our fish diners.  

Setting up in close swims all 6 of us were soon tackled up and fishing away. I was ledgering small cubes of meat whilst all the others float fished their bait. As is always the way, Mr Whippy was first to bring luck to its user and Martha was soon holding on whilst a large carp tried to drag her in! She played it well and soon had a 4lb 8oz carp in the net! It was the biggest fish Martha has ever caught, dwarfing the small silver's she has caught in Hexham. Her first carp and obvioulsy a pb. 

All spurred on by Martha's fish, we got back to our rods to see if the boys could catch up. 
It was my rod that wrapped around, a small skimmer trying to pretend it was a bigger fish! 

Martha telling Daddy "that' small"

A second skimmer for me and it was soon time to stop for lunch.  The Cornish pasty was still warm, it definitely hit the spot on this drizzly day.  It was Uncle Dawson's turn next, he caught a small skimmer too that Sam held up for the camera.

The afternoon remained dry and soon we were all feeding and clearly having interest. The area around us was dotted with silt clouds where fish were feeding on the bottom.  The sound of Uncle Dawson's drag soon interrupted us. A strong fish powering away from his swim. He played it skilfully and Sam soon netted another carp. At 5lb, and another pb, the boys were now in the lead! 

We continued to feed and after a few missed bites, Rupe finally connected.  This was clearly bigger again. The fish fought long and hard and again after playing it well, a great carp lay in the net. This weighed 8lb 8oz, Rupes first Carp. What a fish! Another pb. The third today. 

Rupe and Martha had given up on fishing now. They had caught "proper" fish and sat back to watch us try. I caught another small skimmer, would the carp evade me all day I thought? 
A cry from Dawson as Sam's rod shot forward into the lake as a proper fish used it for a water ski. We watched as the fish took the rod for a tour around the lake. It was a few minutes and the rod was close to the far bank, a quick jog around there and I managed to net the rod. With a broken handle and no ability to take up the line, I helped Sam and we soon netted the culprit. Sam's first carp, 6lb it went on the scales and a fourth pb! 

It was all getting a bit National Lampoon goes fishing, so when Dawson snapped the end of Davey's rod as he carried it back around the lake we all figured it was time to pack up.
We all had a great day, caught some cracking fish and had fun doing it. Not quite sure we are ready for "A passion for Angling" episode about us, but no one can deny who was top of the league today!