Wednesday 30 September 2020

What's in a snag?

Date fished 30/9/2020
7am until 1.30pm

"Its bloody cold up North!" That's what I was telling myself as I planned for today's trip. I know what I will do, I thought, I will check the weather.
I am off work Wed, Thurs and Fri so my plan is to fish Wed, have a home day Thurs, fish Friday and  fish one of the days at weekend. So the forecast says........


Rain Wed, Fri, Sat and Sunday
Perfect Thurs! - Typical.

I was however committed so I went to the Swale to brave the elements. I really wanted a Swale Barbel (as impossible as that sounds) before it got even colder, so I had to go back to where Ellis caught the Chap as that is my only confirmed spot, so it seemed like the logical place to start!
I set off early and was walking to the swim by 7am. I really just wanted to have a look, see if I could spot anything. Then I would be off towards another spot to sit it out for a bit, before trying a roving approach later in the day to avoid the blank. Do I sound optimistic??

I thought I would have a quick cast in a swim before I waded to the Barbel. Nothing happened in this swim, except I got snagged. First cast into open water and I was snagged. First snag. I pulled free and the hooklink broke. Not the best start.
I waded carefully over to the Island. The water was lower than before, my lunch remained dry! The river had taken a slightly different path and was lower but covering an area where Ellis and I previously stood. I looked around but saw no Barbel. I didn't fancy fishing here so moved on. It was going to be a Barbel free day me thinks!!

I ended up in an area I hadn't fished before, but I had info about it. I cast out and waited. Nothing in here either. The swim was quite snaggy and I had been warned about it. I wasn't going to fish in the snaggy bit, but I wanted to see the flow. I took off the weight and free lined my luncheon meat. I cast right in front of the bushes. A large Chub came out of the snag and swam straight at the slowly sinking bait. It got level with it, turned and retreated. No idea what it didn't like, vegetarian maybe? Spooked by the line? Anyway, it went straight back under the tree. I now knew what was in the snag. Fish! I just knew I wasn't able to catch them.

I baited a different area and cast into a deep hole. Nothing happened here either and as the wind was blowing a gale and the rain was sideways, I figured a walk would warm me up.
I set off down stream to look for other swims. I wanted snags and bushes on my side as casting to the far bank was proving difficult. I got to a likely spot and cast in. A small knock , which I missed but I knew fish were here. Next cast and it all came good. My first fish of the day. A 3lb 8oz Chub.

By now, the cows were eating breakfast, I decided I would head back to the previous swims to see if anything had moved onto the bait. On route, I waded across a sand bank to cast into a deep corner. Standing in the water, I looked down and noticed fishing line. It stood out so obviously against the gravel. No wonder the Chub turned it's nose up at the bait! I picked it all up and put in my pocket to chuck away at home. Another snag dealt with.

It is there, I promise.

Clue. Look for the bit of branch
Soon I had tried a few more swims with no more luck. The wind was even stronger now and I was really looking for swims out the wind. I walked further upstream and saw a fallen willow on my bank. This snag must hold fish.

I cast in front of the tree and let the flow take the bait to a natural stop. It was in the water a few minutes and my rod pulled round. I was into the fish, but it snagged me. I gave it some side but the hooklink snapped. I tried again, the same happened but this time the hook hold gave way.  The fish were so close to the snag, they were taking the bait whilst in the shelter of the roots. I got caught several more times on the sunken branches, even when I cast away from the area, my line naturally drifted to the snag. Eventually I felt the fish would always win this battle and I moved on.

I was now back in the first swim and the rain was getting heavier. I would try in here and then head home. I sat for 20 mins and the rod didn't even twitch. I was twitchy though, I felt beaten. It was no good, I would have to go back to the snag for one more chance.
I double backed and was soon crouched by the willow. I cast well away from the tree and waited. A few minutes passed and the rod twitched, immediately I put the rod under the water and steered the fish into open water. It was out, in a matter of seconds the fish was in the net. My second Chub at 4lb 6oz.

I checked around the mouth for any other tackle, there was none. I put the fish back and it slowly swam straight back down towards the snag. As the rain persisted, I thought I would head back to my snag too.

As I started the blog commenting on the weather, I think it's fair I end on that note too. The cap has gone and it's beanie weather now, the gloves and thermal were used for the first time too.

All together now....
"There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing".

Saturday 19 September 2020

£30 = 1lb 6oz

Date fished 19/9/2020
9.30am until 3pm

A much more leisurely 7am alarm woke me this morning. I left the house by 7.30 and headed to Cleveland Angling Centre to buy maggots. I got there about 8.30 and was going to wait for its opening at 9am. I peered in the window and then a masked man exited the shop. Oh, it's open I thought as I went in. It's open from 8am even though website says 9am, a bit annoyed I was not here 30 mins earlier was soon eased by the thought of a more leisurely day.

I bought 2 pints of maggots, a tub of worms, 4 packets of drennan run rings so Ellis and I have plenty for the winter chub fishing and a new landing net handle. I had seen the one Keith had yesterday and he told me it was from this shop.
£30, just like that and I was soon on my way.

I was fishing a club section of the Tees that I have fished a few times. Always going in the same swim and really getting to know the run of the water and the lay of the land, or so I thought. It, of course changes every time and I am always trying new things and enjoying new difficulties. Today the water was up quite a bit than before and very clear. The wind was also quite troublesome when casting and trotting. I persevered though and caught some fish, but let's start at the beginning.

A few pouchfulls of maggots was fired in whilst I set up.

All laid out nicely

It's bad luck to put your net in before you catch a fish!! 
I opted for a chubber style float with 4SSG and a micro swivel as a dropper between the main line and the hook link. Size 16 hook to 3lb link coupled with 4lb line on the closed faced reel. All connected to a 13ft float rod and that is me, "specifications" over load!!

First cast and trot through, I got snagged on the snag that I know is there!! Hooklink snapped and quickly replaced. Second trot through and the float dipped. I missed the bite but at least they were still here. A few trots followed and eventually I was into a fish. It felt a good one and my new landing net pole was christened. A lovely perch the first fish of the day.

I was thinking of weighing this Perch so I slipped him into the keep net for later. I was soon back into the rhythm of feeding and casting, although the wind meant I was feeding alot of the river and occasionally the bank too!
I was soon catching small chublets regularly and getting alot of bites. As I played one to hand, I saw a splash in front of me. Thinking It was a fish, I was ready to cast to it next trot through. It was however an otter, great to see it swimming about, not so great in my swim. It swam to the far bank and disappeared into the bank side vegetation. I fed more and soon was catching again.

I was watching my float down the swim when suddenly about 25 fish erupted from the water in front of me. They all jumped clear of the water and fled the area I had been feeding. I assume a Pike had come to catch some fish too.
Next trot down out the corner of my eye, I saw a large white bird swooping across the river. A barn Owl, out and about at 11am, must have had a busy night! It flew up to a tree, hopped across some branches and was soon out of sight.

The sun shone and the river looked idealyic. I had seen wildlife and caught fish, I was happy.
I occassionaly swapped to worm on the hook and caught a greedy little chublet on a worm that was probably as long as it was!
As I sat and had my lunch, I kept firing maggots into the swim to keep the fish feeding. I thought it was only fair as I was also stuffing my face!!

A few trots later and I decide it was time to change to a worm. The float went under and I struck. Solid resistance. Using the back wind I was soon playing a much better fish. It was upstream, over the far bank. Everywhere I wasn't. It found a snag downstream and I could still feel the fish on even though the line was stuck on a snag. As I had chest waders on, I scurried down the edge of the river, over rocks and through the water. I went about 15 metres further down stream and was above the fish. The line angle now changed and the fish swam away from the snag. Again it was over at the far bank. I continued to play it carefully, back winding to allow it some space. Soon it surfaced and I saw the big mouth. I thought it was a chub. Then I saw it properly, it was a big Perch. It was now ready for the net and I slipped it easily into it. I whooped with joy.  I clambered back along the bank to my swim.
A quick weigh confirmed it as a new Pb at 1lb 6oz, a few pics and it was slipped into the keep net.

I carried on fishing but caught no more fish. It suddenly died, not a thing. I fed the same areas and trotted the float but no bites. Happy with my catch, I had one last look at the fish and released them back in the water. Two Perch and ten Chublets, I never did weigh the "small" Perch! I dried my keep net in the sun as I slowly packed everything away.

As I left, I noticed a fellow club member on the opposite bank. We had a great socially distanced (across a river) chat and I wished him well as I headed back to the car.

Regularly readers may remember I had a 2020 Target of a 1lb 8oz Perch. I have caught 2 perch this year which were new personal bests at 1lb 2oz and now 1lb 6oz. I am so close to ticking that target off. But, do you know what? I am not going to!  I am going to carry on trying for a larger Perch.
I had alot of fun today and hopefully I will be able to share a larger Perch with you soon. If I don't manage it, know that I will still be here, I will have enjoyed trying and I will still be blogging!

Friday 18 September 2020

Bitten off by non bite pike!!

Date fished 18/9/2020
6.30am until 2.30pm

With a day off work and my original plans cancelled I decided to make hay whilst the sun shone and hit the bank. I had some unfinished business with some fish below the bridge and I hoped I would be able to fool them this time. Well, I fooled them enough last time, I just didn't land them ( I say them, really it was "it", as it was only one and its still playing on my mind now!).

Armed with meat, pellets and 3 slices of bread I was heading to the Swale at Morton. I parked at the copse down the lane and wanted to fish the swim where I lost the Charble or was it a Barub? Whatever, I hate losing something I have not seen. The Pike on cheese paste is testament to that, if I had not landed it, I would of assumed I lost a Chub, I never would have guessed Pike. I don't mind ( well, you know what I mean) loosing a fish if I have seen it, but I hate loosing a fish and never seeing it. The 2 from June 22nd are also still on my mind!! Right, lets move on with the blog before I really loose my marbles!!

As the mist started to rise off the river and the banks were slippery from the night dew, I gingerly crept towards the river. I had a quick cast in the first swim ( I caught from here last time) , but no fish so I walked on down stream.
I arrived at my chosen swim, rigged up a simple link ledger with meat on the hair and cast in to the danger zone! Holding the rod on the rest, I waited for the tell tale interest and pull. I decided to fish pegs from here back upstream to where I parked. The river was quite a bit lower than last time. Nothing happened, so I used my loaf and changed bait.

Nothing on the bread either, so I left the fish to eat the sandwich I had given them and I walked back up stream.
I got to a peg that had a slack on the far bank just before a bush. I wanted to cast just off the slack and near the Bush. I cast and my weight landed on the far bank! A quick tug and it dropped gently into the slack. I left it there a few minutes. As I started to reel in, I felt resistance and then a pull. I had a fish on but I had no bite indication. I played the fish into the flow and saw it, it was a long lean fish and was spirraling around the line. Now remembering what I said above, I did get a good look and I am 99.99% sure it was a Pike. As it thrashed it's tail, the line in its mouth broke, completely bitten through. It must have been sat in the slack and just gobbled up the chunk of meat falling right in front of it, but did not even move or feel the small link ledger.

I fished several more swims and finally came to one I could sit down in. I had brought my bucket seat and all the other bits of bank had been too steep. I decided to cast mid river and sit down for a cup of coffee and a biscuit. As I finished up, I could hear the RAF practising their moves. Suddenly my rod was doing the loop de loop and a fish was on. I played it quickly to the net. A nice Chub, un weighed but about 3lb I would think.

I fished a few more swims but had no more fish. I saw the kingfisher and a white egret type bird and a mink swam right through my swim, only splashing under when it looked up and saw me watching it!
As I walked back towards the car I had a large crayfish again. It hung on till I just about got the net under it, but it plopped back into the water. I then saw another angler. As is becoming more regular now, I "knew" this angler from the fishing groups I am in on Facebook. It has to be said, there are some benefits to all this social media!! We chatted all things fishing and it was great to have a natter. Keith gave me some of his bait to use, and although it stank like vomit (sorry Keith) apparently the fish were all over it. I used it in the next few swims but I am afraid to say Keith, no fish on it for me!!

As The afternoon got warmer it was soon time to head home. I am thinking of trying the Tees tomorrow but with no maggots yet, it will be a 9am start at the tackle shop and then on to the bank. A bit more civilised than my 0430am alarm this morning. It was great to catch in another different area today and really good to meet some other anglers. It is a solitary hobby most of the time, but it's nice to share. What was rewarding was Keith saying he enjoyed reading the blogs and it helped him get back into coarse fishing. Well done Keith! I am pleased, we do need to talk about your bait choice though!!

Saturday 5 September 2020

Ronnie and Reggie

Date fished 5/9/2020
06.30 until 16.00

September means, back up North, back to work and back to school. The kids were away this weekend so fortunately it was also back to fishing! I thought about the Tees or the Swale for todays trip and am still thinking of going out tomorrow too, but I will have to wait and see. For today though,  I headed to the Swale at Morton.

I decided to fish an area I had not fished in a while. I was going to fish there on my last trip but the river levels rubbished that idea, so with a slightly better level, I was fishing well downstream of the bridge! I used to fish all the time down here when the parking was someone else, but we don't mention that (Fred!).
I did some research and found where I could park and I could fish downstream to the lower limit and maybe upstream a bit too to where it all started for me on the Swale on this amazing stretch, way back in 2014.

Parking at the side of the road, I made my way down to the river. It looked in good shape, if carrying a little extra water. I fished in the first swim I came too and thought I had a tap, but it was just as I was picking up the rod, so I couldn't be sure. Anyway, after no action I walked upstream. I was going to walk to the first swim I used to always fish. I was always Pike fishing there, but caught my first Swale fish, a 4lb 8oz Chub on Lamprey whilst after Pike.  Seems like a long time ago.

4lb 8oz 29/11/2014

I fished a few swims and needed to add extra weight to the link ledger and on occasion actually use a bomb. The river was going through and with the wind picking up, I thought I might need some luck. I fished on and carried on walking.

Soon, I was in my first Swale swim. It looked alot different to six years ago. It would be rude not to give it a little try. I cast the meat into the side of the flow and waited. A few taps on the rod, nothing there so I reeled in.

I have seen all the films, read all the books and even heard stories from other anglers about the notorious gangsters, but I have never experienced them in all my years of fishing. Even with meat, dead baits. Nothing, ever.
I reeled in and saw something on my bait. Holding on and with two pincers snapping open and shut. I lifted the bait out the water and sadly he fell off. I wanted to show you, maybe another time. For those still confused, it was of course a Crayfish (Kray)!!
I cast in a different area and the tip was constantly being pulled gently. I assumed both twins were now at it, I changed to pellet. Still no bites so I picked up my kit and walked downstream. I was going to walk all the way to the lower limit, and fish some of the way too.

I fished some different areas behind and in front of bushes but no fish. I saw two kingfishers, I assume racing each other as they whizzed past. It was not too long a walk and I was back to the swim nearest the car. I would try once more in here before venturing on virgin territory.

It was 11.40 am, I cast to a fallen tree and waited. The rod soon hooped over and fish on. In the fast current it was a spirited fight. Hanging on to rod and net, I was soon winning and the fish lay safely in the net. A hard won Chub at 4lb 5oz and I was happy.

In every swim where I had little knocks, I was thinking of the Krays, the fish not the twins! I wonder why I have never been pestered before? I assume the fish eat them, so I will be using the crayfish lures I have quite soon!

I was putting the miles in. The terrain was not always flat, and some swims were down steep banks. It was great to fish new areas. I thought I had walked this years go, but on reflection I had not. This was all new water for me.

Some swims were like jungles and some were more open. I tried them all. 10 to 15 mins in each. Giving the Chub a large meat bait in the hope they would be on it quickly.

A new swim and I had a change of method. I cast the bait in and then threw two pieces of meat next to it. I sat and waited. The rod twitched a little, then slammed over. I was not fishing far out, so when I connected the fish was already right in front of me. The water here was deep and it stayed low. I did not see it at all. The fish went from left to right, staying deep and headed for the bushes. I was not playing the fish properly, I was fighting with it. It was pulling down and I was pulling up. Big mistake, I was not doing it right and the hooklink snapped. I was gutted, but knew what I had done wrong. I didn't have space to play it, so tried to bully it. I assume it was a good sized Chub, and will be back to that swim another time.

As I walked to the lower limit, the rain started. First a drizzle and soon alot heavier.

I made it to the end and after a walk through the fields and past the farmhouse, I was back at my car. A bit like the twins, today ended caught one and lost one. Although it was not just about fishing today, it was also about looking for new areas to fish at a later date. Now I genuinely feel I have 4 miles of Swale to target. Next time though I will be less 'The Firm' with any fish I hook. Although a day loosing a fish is better than not fishing at all. Don't you agree Reg??

" I did not regret it at the time and I don't regret it now. I have never felt a moment's regret."

Reginald Kray,