Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Ice fishing

Well now, Winter came on good and strong this year didn't it ? There can't be many lakes that don't have an icy lid on at the moment and my local one's are no exception. This has obviously scuppered any fishing lately, which only adds to the disappointing results I was experiencing before the freeze up. We did venture out and break the ice on one of the lakes this weekend, but all the effort was in vain. Mainly because the local match bandits had commandeered the lake we wanted to fish , for an un-scheduled match, so we had to fish another. If not for this, things might have been different.

So we have experienced one icy blast coupled with snow, a short interlude of slightly 'less cold' weather, and now the forecasters are promising more....
It's not that I am bothered by the current climatic conditions, in some ways I relish it, though it can be hard work, It's the prospect of how this will affect the Bass fishing next season, that is playing on my mind, especially early on. Prolonged cold conditions could have a severely detrimental effect on resident fish stocks, those that have not migrated to warmer climes, to over winter and prepare for spawning which I believe the juveniles don't do.
The fact that odd fish are caught throughout the winter seems to back this up.
A harsh winter like the one we experiencing so far would take it's toll and the mortality rate could be high for these hangers-on. It could also delay the start to the season.
There was speculation of this happening early this year due to the harsh conditions we endured late winter, and there was definitely a marked difference in the catches both early and mid season though I believe later on was slightly better for the bait anglers, how it would have been for us fluff flingers I'm not sure, but a couple of October sessions produced some good catches for me but it's inconclusive though I would say that there definitely didn't seem to be the numbers of fish around as the previous year at the same venues.
It is worrying though, if stocks were higher I would be less concerned. The fact is, really all we are fishing for are the left overs, and the few fish, ( relatively speaking ), that the trawlers cannot get to close to the coastline. It's not like places like the channel islands and Ireland where the stocks are protected. Those people lucky enough to live in these places are still taking Bass even now, during this extremely cold period.
All I can do is keep my fingers crossed and hope that my fears are unjustified, of course there will be fish about but will sport be as patchy as it was this year, or worse? I hope not.

As it's looking likely that this will be my last post before Christmas I wish all a happy one and a fish filled New year.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Winter of discontent

So far the intended Roach fishing has been...well frankly, pants!
Instead of fishing the known areas I have been experimenting in other swims, but so far to no avail. Plenty of roach, just no sizeable one's.
Time to buck up and sort it out and stop dreaming of the Salt and fly fishing. Focus on the now and not the then. Dropping water temps probably don't help, need them to stabilise and things should pick up.

It's Snow-joke!..
Snowed for the second time this year which is as rare as rocking horse droppings here, nice to see it though. Went out and took some pics, maybe I should have fished as well..

Friday, 5 November 2010

Changing of the Guard

November, the trees are almost bare now and the brisk winds that are prevalent at this time of year are finishing the job off. The summer birds have gone for the winter, to be replaced by the more familiar cold weather birds such as Pied Wagtails and Robins. No more evening sessions to look forward to so long nights in front of the Telly dreaming about it until the weekend comes round and I can get out for a few hours fishing. I'ts strange how the mind works, despite all the plans I have set up for the winter all I can think about is Fly fishing in the salt next year! Bonkers really, it's so far off. I think part of the problem is that I feel unsatisfied as far as the Swffing went this year. A great start showed great promise for the season ahead, but for some reason it just crash dived halfway through. A lot of it can be blamed on the weather, the wind has hardly dropped sufficiently to fling a fly line about for months. I keep thinking perhaps I should have persisted in the Salt but just with other methods, maybe some bait fishing? Maybe I should just have a bit more backbone and bite the bullet even when conditions are against me...
I have been looking into alternative methods for when the conditions aren't suitable for casting a fly line and I think I have have come up with something that will be as light and sporting as the fly outfit but still allow me to fish in slightly windier and rougher conditions, It's called LRF and it looks very interesting and I will be researching more into the technique for next year.

Back to now, which is where my mind really needs to be and It's onto Roach fishing for the forseeable future. I had a 'practise' session with the Pole on a local water last weekend, targeting Roach with Hemp and Maggot. I managed a decent bag of fish with samples to 12 ounces or so, but the water isn't renowned for producing big Roach so not too bad. I took my two boys along on that trip too and they had a great day bagging Perch to almost two pounds on their little whips using maggot!
It'll soon be time to move onto the target water that we hope contains that elusive two pound Roach, but another session or two just getting used to the Pole techniques will preceed that. 

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Lower Itchen Fishery

Saturday was our, now annual, trip to the Lower Itchen Fishery in Hampshire. This was our second trip and I was very much looking forward to trotting this fast flowing chalk stream for the Grayling. It would be an early start from our Island base as we have to catch the Ferry to the mainland but fortunately it is only a fifteen minute drive to the Fishery from the terminal at Southampton.
Unfortunately I had a bad nights rest on the friday and felt terrible when I got up to get ready for our trip. A couple of Coffees later and I began to feel halfway human though still fatigued.
The heavy overnight rain which had partly been responsible for My lack of sleep had cleared away, and as I riddled the Maggots for the final time I began to brighten at the prospect of what the day held in store.
Car loaded, I set off to collect My two companions for the days fishing and headed for the Ferry.
A large cooked breakfast on the Ferry and another cup of Coffee and we were set up and raring to go, as the Sun began to light up the morning sky.
Arrival at the Fishery showed that the overnight rain had swollen the river only slightly and had introduced a bit of colour, which was probably a good thing, but nothing compared to our previous years trip when it had been in flood, chocolate coloured and charging through like an express train!
We took this as a good sign and headed towards the upper reaches of the Coarse fishing beat.
Exitement was at fever pitch as we tackled up, and headed off in seperate directions to find our own little pieces of fishing heaven for the day, arranging to meet back by the car for lunch and compare notes.

I guess you could say that I chose to fish the Car park swim, as I found a nice looking run within sight of our base. A gravel shallow led into a deeper pool with fast water on the outside and slower water on the inside, a perfect spot for the fish to hang out and dart in and out to intercept food as it washed past in the faster current. I waited patiently for a while before fishing it though and just fed Maggots to build up the confidence of any fish that might be there.
First run through and the float buried immediately. On striking, I knew that my first fish of the day wasn't to be a Grayling, but a fiesty Trout! In fact, it turned out to be a Sea Trout and not a Brownie. ( Silvery and no red spots).

The next run through however provided My target fish and a small Grayling was brought to the net, good start! The sport continued alternating between Trout and Grayling, and I even caught My first Salmon, though only a Parr! In fact I had several.

Salmon Parr, Identified by several differing features over Trout. One red spot between each of the Parr fingers, longer Pectoral fin, sharper snout, and the gill cover not extending almost to the eye.

After maybe an hour or so I decided it was time to rest the pool as it had slowed down and a fellow Angler, who had observed the consistent action I was getting, was trying to edge as close upstream to me as he could.
Satisfied that I had achieved enough I decided to wander down to the lower reaches in search of a Chub or good Roach. Sadly despite trying several areas in the deeper slower stretches, all I could muster was  brown trout and so headed back upstream, observing a large Ghost Carp mooching about in the edge as I went. I didn't fancy trying for him on the ultralight tackle I was using though, the out come would be a foregone conclusion!

The Forecast for the Day had specified isolated showers and by the time I got back to base for lunch the heavens had decided to open, and we had a mini typhoon with the wind gusting strongly and rain lashing down hard. I was soaked as were my companions who both arrived as
I did. Shelter was sought in the Car until it had passed and we tried to dry ourselves off with the Car heater. Some food and warm drinks were consumed and we compared notes. It seemed the fish were in feeding mood and we had all caught plenty but with the Trout being a strong feature in the catches.
After a while the rain and wind eased and the sun came back out, so, still damp though re fuelled, we resumed fishing, though a bit more socially for the afternoon stint, fishing within earshot of one another. Once again within sight of base, and on a bend in the river, I spotted what looked like a decent Grayling sitting on the river bed. My personal target for the trip was to catch one of over a pound in weight. There are a lot of Grayling in the Itchen but getting through to better fish is tricky as the little one's tend to jump on the bait first, or the Trout do!
Settling slightly upstream of the fish I began to feed maggots, from My angle I couldn't see if the fish was feeding but My first trot through produced a bite and I knew stright away that it was the same fish I had seen as it felt in a different class to the small fish I had been catching all morning. I was jubilant as the fish went into the net as I knew I had a new personal best Grayling. The fish weighed 1lb 4oz, not a monster but a fair Grayling and a lovely specimen.

A few more trots through the swim produced no more bites, and so a move was in order. Both My companions upstream of Me were catching some fish, so I decided to have a look on the next bend in the river above them. There were two areas here that looked interesting, one a deep pool next to a wooden saging in the river and the other being the run down from the bend where a tree was hanging in the water . First fish from this run was in the form of another species for the day, a small Chub of about a pound or so which was a nice bonus.


Alternating between the two spots in the swim I took a good number of Grayling, all of good average size as well as a fair number of Trout. It was while fishing this swim that disaster struck...

Swimming with the fishes........

By now I was beginning to feel the strain of having not slept all night and being continuously on the go and was feeling very tired and fatigued despite still enjoying myself, I stepped onto the wooden staging to have a few trots through the deep pool next to it and as I did I misplaced my foot, slipped, lost my balance and ended up in the water! Luckily for me, one of my companions had brought some spare clothes that he lent to me, if it wasn't for that my fishing would have been over there and then.

The swim, surprisingly continued to produce fish, despite the big hairy man trying to take a swim with them! I truthfully lost count of the number of fish I caught, but the tally for the day must have been around 30 or 40 Grayling and nearly as many Trout, Plus the Chub and several Parr. Between the three of us the count must have been well over a hundred Grayling and almost as many Trout, quite some fishing.

All in all a great day even with my little mishap! It's great to get the opportunity to practice the art of trotting as we don't have any trottable rivers on the Island. The Lower Itchen Fishery is a lovely spot, and very prolific, I look forward to hopefully returning the same time next year for some more Grayling, but hopefully not taking another dunk in the process! 

Next it's Roach time!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Four seasons

My friend remarked the other day about how we have had four very defined seasons this year. So many years go by when we seem to go from winter to summer in one bound, without anything resembling spring in between or from summer to winter with out experiencing a proper autumn. This has in some ways helped me to define my fishing better and make plans according to the season. Now Autumn is well underway I have a clear view of where the Fishing is going over the next few weeks and months, and there is much to look forward to! Roach, Perch and Grayling are the main targets, species that are epitomal Autumn and winter quarry for many anglers including myself. There are few better fish to try and catch than these during this period. How you go about catching them can be crucial to not only the enjoyment but also part of the reward. For instance I tried fishing for big Roach in several different ways over the years, but I have found that fishing for them on stillwaters using a Pole is hard to beat. Not everyone's first choice probably but it is surprisingly rewarding to play good Roach on a Pole, Moreover the presentation is far superior for Autumn and Winter Roach, and a good bag of decent specimens can be put together very efficiently. I think it's the finesse that I find so rewarding and I hope to demonstrate what I mean when I begin My Roach campaign, but the small floats, fine lines and soft stretchy elastic can give as much feedback from a relatively small fish like the Roach, as bigger fish give on heavier rods and lines.
Thats not to say I am adverse to catching them on other menthods when conditions negate the use of a Pole. I am happy to revert to feeder tactics when it isn't possible to fish with the Pole, but will use as light a rod and line as possible to try and maximise the enjoyment as much as possible. The same can be said of targetting Perch, and I may have a go at fishing for them with the Pole as well at some point during the Winter as an experiment just to see what transpires. The Grayling will be fished for with conventional trotted maggots with some change baits such as sweetcorn to try and single out a bigger fish, and whilst on the river I will try for some river Roach or Chub with bread. The first trip for Grayling is this coming weekend, the 23rd and myself and three companions are very much looking forward to our trip to the Lower Itchen Fishery in search of 'The lady of the stream'. Our trip last year was in late November and although we all caught fish, the conditions for it were horrendous to say the least! Hopefully things will be more conducive this year and a bit more relaxed. Target this time is a 1lb plus Grayling, not a huge specimen but a respectable one as there are a lot of Grayling in the stretch, but getting through to a bigger one can prove tricky. Watch this space!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Stark realities...

I have long been a fan of the Horizon science documentaries on the BBC, and a recent one entitled ' Death of the Oceans' focused on the efforts to census the planets Oceans, something never before done on the current scale. A fascinating insight and superbly put together programme, but as you can guess by the titles a very worrying, no..., frightening message about the future of not only our fisheries but of the Oceans eco systems as a whole. I have never wanted to use my Blog as a political soap box but I have to vent My feelings somewhere but if a few readers follow My lead then maybe I will have done some good by writing this piece.
The programme covered the various aspects of how we, Humans, are fundamentally damaging and altering the Heart and Lungs of our planet, which is what the Oceans are. Commercial fishing, and our output of Co2 emmissions into the atmosphere being the main focus. Commercial fishing's affect on the fish stocks and the Co2 acidifying the waters thus destroying the Coral reefs and habitats that generate the very beginnings of the food chains that sustain all life in the Seas. According to current studies, if we do not begin to manage our fisheries, in just a short 40 years there will be nothing left to fish for Globally. It almost makes me want to weep.
There are many other ways that we are having a destructive impact on the creatures of the Oceans and you really should watch the programme if you care in the slightest about the future of our beautiful but ruined planet. ( Available on the iplayer ).
So what can we do as Anglers? Recreational fishing takes it's toll along with commercial catches, which makes us as accountable, and the more we needlessly take, ( or waste as I see it ), the more of an impact we are having. There are many needless and wasteful and selfish practices going on in sea Angling, and still not enough Anglers practicing catch and release, preffering to keep all and any fish, wether for money, glory or 'just for the cat'.
I have stood on the shore and watched boat after boat hammer a shoal of Bass and not seen one fish returned, and it's made me want to sink to my knees and scream at them "what the Hell are you doing you morons???" can they not see and understand that every one they take is worth hundreds if not thousands less of the species in the future? Every fish is capable of spawning several hundred offspring, but not if they are not allowed to. If these practices continue year on year where are the next genrations coming from? I suppose it doesn't concern them, as long as they get their money, or fame or whatever,  it's irrelevant, and besides it's not as bad as every one makes it? Watch the programme and tell me what you think.
Simple practices such as crushing the barbs on hooks will make a huge difference to the " oh it had swallowed the hook so I had to take it anyway" scenario. Barbless or crushed barb hooks don't lose fish, and if the fish has been deep hooked, often  the situation can be salvaged, certainly more than if the hook was barbed at any rate. 
It's the little things that make the difference, but as Anglers collectively we have a huge voice, if we all begin altering our practices and leading by example then the powers that be cannot help but sit up and take notice. If we remain complacent then we can eventually give ourselves a pat on the back when the Oceans are finally empty, and say what a good job we did in our apathy. Remember this WILL happen in our lifetme and what then ? Perhaps we will start to consume our Coarse fish stocks then..."I'll have Carp and chips please mate"!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Cracking Common

Lovely looking Common Carp of 19lb 10oz's, caught yesterday evening.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Autumn Harvest

The Autumn Equinox fell on the 23rd September and beneath the brightness of the Harvest Moon we have banked a few fish this week. I managed a 26lb Mirror, which is the same fish I caught on float tackle earlier in the year when Tench fishing, and My friend also banked a nice 19lb common Carp that put up an awsome fight, almost as if it was being powered by the lunar light! We have also had numerous other double figure Carp one of which is pictured below.


Monday, 20 September 2010

Cruel nature

My friend and I were sitting fishing at our local lake yesterday evening, dusk was settling in and the Pipistrelle Bats were dive bombing the gnats and moths around our heads providing a little entertainment on an otherwise quiet evening session. All of a sudden there was a high pitched screeching and two objects shot past our line of vision. In that brief second as they passed we observed a Kingfisher being hunted at very high speed by a Sparrowhawk! We could hear the Sparrowhawk screeching as it sped after the poor little Kingfisher, who, despite being fast and agile, was obviously no match for the sheer startling pace of the Sparrowhawk who was no more than a foot behind, Seconds later they again blinked past our vision and if we had indeed blinked we would have missed them! Truly amazing to see these two locked in a fight to the death, whether the poor little Kingfisher got away I don't know, I hope so because they are truly beautiful birds and are the epitome of waterside birds for me. It's hard to hate the Sparrowhawk for hunting the Kingfisher, I love to see them flitting about when I'm fishing, but you cannot control nature, it is what it is, cruel, and at times brutal yet awe inspiring in it's raw beauty. A sight like that is reward enough for getting out and sitting for a few hours into darkness, despite the lack of fish. Angling isn't always about catching fish, it's often about the experience, the moment and feeling free to observe such wonders as this, something I would have missed if I had not been bothered and just stayed indoors.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Nice fish shame about the picture..

....Or lack of one! Had a beautiful 19lb fully scaled Mirror Carp yesterday evening, caught on the ever effective 6lb line, hooklinks and small hooks. The problem was I didn't have a camera to record it with as My eldest son had borrowed it for a school project!! Oh well, never mind there's always next time..!

I must stress here that while using the light lines and small hooks I ensure that I have plenty of room to play the fish and at no time do I fish near any snaggy areas with this tackle. It's also surprising just how much control you can have using 1.5 test curve rods. A fair amount of pressure can be applied if need be, and the small hooks penetrate well and generally give a firm hookhold without the danger of pulling when excercising control over the fish.
Obviously the right rod action is crucial for this type of fishing, a fairly soft action is needed but still with some balance of stiffness and flex in the lower sections to ensure the fish is not able to run a way with the battle.
I use a pair of the original Fox 1.5lb barbel special rods, which are incredbly versatile tools, from specimen Roach and Perch, to Bream and Tench to upper double figure Carp and possibly beyond, these rods seem to be able to cope with it all, and have done for me over the several years that I have had them, and they have even performed the task they were designed for and landed me double figure Barbel!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Autumn Approach

So here we are, almost the middle of September. I'm noticing a slight yellowing of the leaves on a few trees here and there, and those summer flowering waterside plants have gone to seed and are now beginning to wilt and die back. Heavy morning dew is becoming a regular feature, and My thoughts are turning increasingly towards My winter fishing that lies in the months ahead. I'm still hoping to get in at least another Saltwater fly session or two before the season is out and winter takes a firm grip. Once October is here I will begin My Autumn and winter Angling in earnest, Trying to track down a 2lb Roach, Exploring a water's Perch stocks, trotting for Grayling on the river Itchen, a trip or two to a gravel pit for big Bream, Roach and Carp, and hopefully a couple of foray's to the Throop fishery in Dorset for Chub and Roach. A few winter Carp from a local water and there's plenty coming up to challenge me and my Angling friends and keep us busy for the next few Months. I'm looking forward to some Fly tying during the long dark mid week evenings, some float making and perhaps a rod build to help pass the time between fishing trips too! I love being an Angler!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Bass on the Fly again at last!

I sat looking out of the kitchen window this morning while drinking my second coffee after the school run and suddenly realised there was barely any wind. A quick check of the weather and wind sites confirmed what I thought; that the wind had been light enough for the last couple of days for the possibility that the sea would be settled enough for some Fly fishing. A further check on the Tides and I hedged my bets towards a venue where I knew that it would settle fairly quickly. I set off this evening with just a couple of short hours in front of me to make it count.

Arriving at Low tide the water was settled but with a bit of stain to it still, that might prove a bit tricky with regard to fly choice and colour. I there were fish about I was expecting them to begin showing at a certain state of the incoming tide. That state of tide arrived about an hour later and no fish were forthcoming still, despite several changes of Fly. With the light now fading I selected what I hoped would be the right right pattern and colour...Bingo! The fish started to feed in the failing light of dusk, suddenly the water was alive with topping fish and I began to recieve hits on My Fly. I took around ten fish to just over Two pounds in a very short space of time, and it was almost dark by the time I had my last fish, it was only the fact that I was so tired that stopped me continuing into dark as the fish were clearly having it! I thoroughly enjoyed the short session after so long without being able to find a window in the weather, and to catch a bonus Two pounder was a nice little reward too. Good to be back!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Old red eyes is back!

Tench, synonymous with mist filled dawns and lilly studded estate lakes, over shadowed by their Carpy cousins in the species popularity stakes, though still a cult fish to some.
It's a bit late in the season to be waxing lyrical about the humble Tench, but I missed out on any early season sport with the Tinca's due to passionately pursuing the Bass on the coast.
Despite this I have still managed to catch up with a few this year, especially lately. The fish in my local waters seem to be on the feed big time, obviously they are sensing the Autumn just around the corner, followed closely of course, by winter. The odd thing is nearly all the fish that have been falling to my feeder mix in conjunction with an artificial corn hookbait, have been males. I wonder whether this is just a coincidence or wether there is a specific reason for this.
Tench do display varied feeding habits throughout the season, early doors they will take just about any type of bait, large small or otherwise, but as the season moves on they seem to become pre occupied with very tiny food items and can be frustratingly difficult to catch on anything other than maggot or small worms. At some point they seem to disappear, exactly when seems to vary from year to year, but again is this due to the exhaustion of a particular food source? triggering the Tench to begin hibernation? Very oddly we have caught occasional fish in the winter, sometimes when the lake has been partly frozen over!
I find Tench quite mysterious as well as enigmatic and very lovely, though strange in appearance when compared to other fish! There is certainly something about these green bodied, red eyed hard fighting beasts that I can't quite put my finger on. But one thing I do know is that I love catching them and always will, and if I have my Coarse fishing head on at the right time next year I will make an extra effort to target them specifically and maybe even from a mainland gravel pit if time and energy allow.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The month in summary: August, and whatever happened to..?

...The Dog days of August??????

Didn't August used to be one of those hot still months, and because of this the fish would be lethargic and unwilling to feed? August was always a difficult month for tempting Coarse fish, and yet the last few weeks I can't seem to stop catching. It certainly hasn't been a classic August, the wind hasn't stopped blowing, the temperature has taken a nose dive and several bouts of heavy rain have caused localised flooding! Summer itself lasted about three or four weeks. Whether we will have a second, late summer remains to be seen.

I can't complain I suppose, like I said I have benefitted because I have had some fairly good fishing lateley, and have taken a very relaxed approach allowing me to enjoy it more than I have for a long time. From float fishing, to quiver tipping and some light line specialist tactics, It's been fun to experiment with some different methods and tactics, catching a range of different species along the way.

What's next? September, often a warmer month, may present the opportunity for a return to the Salt for some late Bass fishing, and if the wind drops then it will be on the Fly. If not then I shall continue with the Coarse fishing, maybe even a trip to the Throop fishery in Dorset to try for some Chub or Roach, that would be nice...

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Float on...

Not being able to pursue any Saltwater Fly fishing has forced me to spend a lot more time Coarse fishing this year, and, to be honest it's been a bit of a revelation. I re joined my local freshwater fishing club because day tickets were getting to be an expensive hobby, thus allowing me more frequent access to the lakes and to some I wasn't able to fish before. It's also enabled me to take my children fishing more often and they are beginning to accompany me more frequently and practice the gentle art, developing their skills as anglers.

Just lately I have been doing quite a lot of Float fishing for various species, and have enjoyed some success of varying degrees. For a long time I didn't really practice float fishing to any great extent, preferring to take a more 'specialist' approach of sitting behind bite alarms. Re learning the art of float fishing has reminded me that it can be just as effective a way to fish for Specimen fish as the ledgering approach. On many waters these days you find most specimen anglers sitting behind pairs of rods positioned on bite alarms, and I think it's fair to say, their rods, Lines and other tackle are usually geared towards the heavier end of the scale due to the nature of the way they are fishing. Whilst this can be an effective method, and I have frequently used it myself, sometimes a more pro active approach and with lighter tackle can prove winning ways. You only have to watch how match anglers work their swims, building them up and fishing through the small fish, eventually hooking into better specimens by drawing all fish into their swim, thus building the confidence of the fish and creating competition between them. Also the match angler often uses tackle balanced toward the finer end of the scale, and sometimes changing to one or two sizes smaller a hook or using a lower diameter line can make all the difference to their catch rate. I have frequently used a similar ethos myself when applying myself to trying to catch the larger specimens of a species, and float fishing has proved it's worth, over the usual static bottom bait fishing. Not to mention, and the point of this piece, enjoy the overall experience more by using lighter more balanced tackle rather than gear that really the fish, once securely hooked, doesn't really stand a chance on. Yes the object is to land the fish, but it's also about getting the bite and enjoying the fight. Skill, patience and thought are all attributes of a good angler.

So often lately I have been happily catching smaller Roach, Bream and Tench on the float, when I have suddenly connected with a larger specimen of one of those, or the culprit has been a Carp that has been drawn in by the feeding activity of the smaller fish! Due to the fact that my tackle has been balanced as well as being on the lighter side, every fish has been landed, of all sizes, moreover I have been able to enjoy an exhilarating fight from the bigger fish rather than just winding them in on traditional heavy Carp gear.

Shakespeare Mach 3 Lite Match Rod.

Yesterday I took delivery of another new Rod. This one aimed firmly at the Specimens of the Silver fish category. I intend to do some River fishing for Roach and Grayling this winter, so to be able to make the most of the experience I invested in Shakespeare Mach 3 Lite Match Rod.

This Rod's primary designation is as a Silver fish Rod, with a line rating of 12oz up to six pound though really I can't see any need to gear up that heavy. I tackled up with 4lb line (in case of a rogue Carp!) and took it to My local water to test it out on the small Bream and Roach stocks. It became immediately apparent that I had chosen the right tool for the job and this Rod will be a joy to use for My intended purpose of trotting for Grayling and Roach, even six ounce fish required netting such was the gentleness of the tip. Not sloppy, crisp on the strike with a soft progressive playing action yet still with enough in reserve in the lower sections to cope with bonus fish up to say 4lb. Although I did land a couple of Bream around the 7lb mark, they didn't put up much resistance thankfully and I honestly wouldn't want to hook anything that size that did, as you really would have a task on your hands on this beautifully light Rod. I can't wait to use it for the Grayling and Roach because I had rediscovered the thrill of playing small to medium sizes fish on ultra light tackle. Any Grayling or Roach of a pound or over will be superb on 3lb mainline and ultra light hooklinks coupled with tiny hooks. Roll on winter!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Shimano Purist Multi Light specialist Rod

I have a new aquisition in the the form of the Shimano purist multi light specialist Rod. It is aimed, as the name suggests, at the All round specialist Angler targeting specimens of the smaller species like Roach, Perch, Chub etc. However, I feel it is capable of heavier applications too. It is a multi piece rod and consists of two 'Avon' tops, one is three quarter pound test curve ( 12oz )and the other is one and a quarter pound ( 1.25lb ) There are two, slim butt sections, that allow the rod to be used at two different lengths, eleven feet and twelve foot six inches. To complete the package there is a seperate 'carrier' section that facilitates the use of three different weight Carbon quiver tips, 0.75 ounces, 1.0 ounces and 1.5 ounces, which are included, for feeder and plain ledger fishing.

The Rod is beautifully finished to Shimano's usual high standards in a satin olive green with translucent olive whippings over the double leg fuji rings, which are fitted throughout, no single legs here, giving the rod a 'traditional' look. The overall look of the rod is very understated with subtle graphics. The full cork handle is slim and comfortable and comes with a 'slightly used' finish, and a hint of a green marbled effect here and there which might sound strange but it adds something to the overall look of the rod. A black screw winch fitting for the reel, again compliments the understated aesthetics of the rod.

Also supplied is a case in which to carry the rod and all it's sections plus two neoprene Shimano rod bands which is a nice touch.

Now, the rod is designed to do several different jobs and as such is a bit of a compromise in action, this means the two butt sections are of a fairly stiff nature and with either of the two Avon tops fitted it is these that demonstrate most of the fish playing action, that doesn't mean the rod is a poker, as the overall action in this mode is progressive and you can detect some flexing in the butt sections when playing reasonable sized fish. Remember the rod is aimed at the smaller species, however it shows it has the backbone to cope with rogue larger specimens, while still allowing smaller fish to be enjoyed on lighter tackle.

With the carrier section fitted to accept the quiver tips. the rod becomes a much softer tool, but still with plenty of power in the butt sections, and I would say that it is in this configuration that catching the smaller specimens would be at it's most enjoyable.

A first test..

I took the rod to my local lake yesterday evening for a test run and set it up in the twelve foot six, one and a quarter pound mode, and the rod does actually feel quite powerful set up like this. Fishing with Pellet for loose feed and float fished paste as a hookbait, my sole intention was to hook a Carp and give the Rod a thorough work out to see what it would or wouldn't cope with, but also ascertaining whether it had the finesse to deal with float fishing tactics.

A few small Roach barely bothered the rod and I could see that it was going to take a good fish to test the rod properly. A while later I hooked my intended quarry, the fish imediately tried to bolt under the overhanging bush that I was fishing next to, I applied opposite strain and the Rod took on a pleasing curve, the top section being the workhorse but with some curve towards the butt. The fish was easily stopped in it's tracks and appeared to give up more or less straight away, but on being showed the net, it decided to wake up and a good fight ensued, giving a better idea of the Rod's qualities as a fish playing instrument. The one and a quarter pound tip seems to be beefed up with the use of a fairly fast taper which is what seems to give it the extra power, at no point during the fight with the 13lb (ish) Carp was I not in control, so the Rod certainly has some power in this guise.

After that I changed to the softer three quarter pound top to try and ascertain just where it would sit as far as catching smaller fish was concerned. Again a few small Roach came along before I hooked something a bit larger, I believe it was a good Roach, probably over a pound, possibly an upper one pound, sadly I lost it fairly quickly to a hook pull, but fitted with the softer tip it certainly bent well and gave me a good idea of what was on the end, but all too briefly the sensation was gone. All was not lost as a short time later I hooked a small stockie Carp of about one and a half to two pounds, an ideal size to demonstrate the capabilies of the tip.

This fish stayed on and I enjoyed a nice fight, again during which there was a slight flexing in the rod butt, the main playing action being in the tip through to the mid (ish) section of the rod. Definitely some good feedback and the fish wasn't overpowered by the rod, nor was there any danger of a hook pull as there was plenty of cushioning action throughout, despite the stiff butt.

I have not yet had a chance to use the feeder set up of this Rod, but when I do I will add it on here.

In summary..

This is a very nice, beautifully built and versatile Rod that Shimano have come up with, I can see it will be an extremely useful tool in My own fishing:

11ft 0.75 tip for float fishing and light feeder or ledger fishing for Roach and Perch, Tench, Bream and smaller Carp, plus Chub and smaller Barbel on the Rivers.

12ft 0.75 tip for floater fishing for sub double figure Carp

11ft 1.25lb tip for Stalking Carp on the bottom, or big Barbel on the Rivers.

12ft 1.25 tip for floater fishing for double figure Carp and upwards.

12ft 1.25lb for heavier float fishing or medium feeder or ledger fishing for double figure Carp and upwards, plus heavy Barbel Tactics.

Then there is the 11 and 12ft set up coupled with the quiver tips for fishing for anything from Roach, Perch, Bream and Tench to Chub and Barbel on the Rivers.

Which, apart from Pole fishing for Roach in winter, and some light Trotting for Grayling and Roach on the rivers, covers just about all my Coarse fishing needs..

If I had to buy all the rods seperately to perform those tasks, I'm sure it would cost Me considerably more than the cost of this one rod that has the capacity to do all the above and probably more besides. Coupled with the one obvious fact that I can carry just this one rod around with Me and cover ninety percent of My Coarse fishing, then you can see the advantages of owning such a versatile tool. It becomes especially useful on day trips away to the Mainland, fishing the Rivers and such. I only need to take this one rod and I should be able to cover just about any situation that arises.

Obviously the brief outing I have had so far with the rod isn't sufficient for me to give a really detailed account of it's capabilities, but having seen it in action and had a play around it's certainly got potential. Time will tell of course and I hope to put it through some more tests in the near future, and naturally record my findings here, but so far so good!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Moving on

Well, it's August already, doesn't time fly (!) when your having fun?!

Still no joy on the Saltwater fly fishing front, the weather has been atrocious lately, and the wind just won't settle long enough for the inshore waters to calm sufficently to do any meaningful fly fishing. And then to add insult to injury the Sun decides to let off a couple of explosions and send a 'Solar Tsunami', containing charged particles and Ions careering towards the Earth ,which must have had a major affect on the weather systems as they are very much governed by solar activity, particularly from the Sun! Maybe thats why we have had what seems a never ending Wind!

So regarding some fishing then..

We thought We had a window in the weather yesterday evening, but upon visiting the venue, it turned out that there was no window and the Sea was definitely not in the right state for some Fly fishing! A quick decision was made and instead We decided to do some freshwater fly fishing for Carp as most of the gear needed was already in the Car, just a couple of extra bits to grab with a short detour home before making our Way to the lake.
Finding the lake empty on our arrival was a bonus as the swims where there is sufficient room for the back cast are limited in number so we had pole position for the evening.
The lake is well stocked with Carp from singles to scraper doubles in weight so it wasn't long after starting to feed some floating dog biscuits that some fish were up and feeding on the surface. Hookbaits were artificial dog biscuit imitations made from spun Deer hair, which are very good.
It was a good evening with plenty of fun and banter and numerous fish between myself and My angling partner, very enjoyable indeed, although not as good as Bass fishing on the Fly!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The month in Summary: July

During July there has been little to no Saltwater Fly fishing, the couple of times We did get to to fling some fluff results were minimal with only one or two odd fish being caught.The reasons being the weather, the continued winds, and lack of decent Tides, as well as the lack of Fish. So I dabbled else where in the hope that things on the coast would pick up, which they didn't.

Thats not to say I haven't enjoyed what I have been doing, because I have, as I said, I have had the opportunity to take the children fishing and they have contracted the Angling bug big time! I think this could signal a slight change for Me, not only because they will want me to take them fishing more often, but also because it means there will be a bit less of the Saltwater fly fishing during the Summer, not that this presents any real problem to me, because I'm sure that I will still get to do plenty, but it will just mean more coarse fishing to do in general, when I would perhaps try and save the best until the cooler months normally, no big deal, I will just pick and choose the right conditions for the Saltwater fly fishing instead of being so single minded as I have been the last couple of years and mix the fishing up a bit more.
The other thing is the Kayak fishing, I'm not really sure it's something I can keep up for various reasons, and therefore I am pretty sure that it will become redundant in my Angling. Worth a try, and you don't know unless you do, but sadly it's not for me.

Moving on, there is still plenty of time to catch some Bass on the Fly, and if and when the opportunity does arise, which I reckon it will, I will be out like a shot, I love the Fly fishing and when it comes right there really is little to better it for something to do on a summers evening.

I mentioned that Mullet had caught My attention, and along with some friends, I have had a couple of dabbles after these elusive and frustrating fish, though without success as yet. Finding the right venue, along with the right tides and circumstances, as always, is crucial. We're a few steps closer now and I don't think it will be long before we succeed.

Plans for the Autumn and Winter are beginning to solidify, and I want to be organised to make the most of it, which is why I'm planning so far ahead, but it will soon come around and I need to be ready. Still plenty to do before then and still time to acieve certain targets for this year, so better crack on!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The most amazing sunset yet..

Hit the Jackpot last night while out on a Mullet recce with this superb sky. No fancy Camera settings or photo-shopping techniques, just picking the right moment and the correct angle and let the Camera do the rest. Lovely!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

When you are an All rounder like me, your fishing can, and invariably does, take you down many different paths, even though you might not have planned your season like that. My season hasn't quite worked out to plan, and to be honest I'm quite glad in some ways that it hasn't. I's easy to get stuck in a rut with your fishing, the same as it is with so many other things, and having a break, forced or otherwise can be a blessing in disguise. The weather the last few weeks really hasn't been in favour of the Saltwater Fly fishing side of things as I have mentioned previously, so I have had to look else where, in order to continue fishing in some way. I don't really mind, because I'm normally happy as long as I am fishing, and even happier if that Fishing is something of a challenge or requires working out the best way to approach it, and if I end up being rewarded for My hard work with a special capture or a red letter day in terms of numbers then thats even better. I'm guilty of taking My fishing too seriously sometimes, as I'm sure we all are, which doesn't help when things aren't going right. Often I will take a step back and either take a break and re assess, as I said, or, as at the moment, change tack completely and do something totally different. I've been doing just that lately, both taking a break and doing something completely different. First of all I spent a few days with the children and took them fishing, which not only did they thoroughly enjoy, but I did too. It gives me enormous pleasure to see their reactions to whats going on, and I see reflections of a much younger Me and the emotions I went through when learning to fish, though I had no one to teach Me like they do, so they already have a head start in that respect. The thing that has impressed Me is the way that they naturally treat each and every fish they catch with utmost wonder and respect, It brings a tear to My eye and a lump to My throat and I'm so proud of them for this, because it means that they understand the fundamental reasons why they are fishing, not for sport or food, but to be a guardian of the water and the creatures within it, the Fish, the insects, and the plants within and around it, for it is us Anglers that are the protectors of this watery world, if it wasn't for that fact there would definitely not be the number of waters or the number of fish around that there is, even in Saltwater many Anglers are beginning to realise the importance of conserving fish stocks and returning their catches, and joining organisations that fight to preserve the fisheries. Hopefully My children and other's joining the ranks of Angling will ensure the preservation of our sport and continue to be guardians of the waterways, as an Angler and a Father I could not ask for anything more.

As well as taking my children fishing I have had a little dabble Myself of course, and found an interesting little bit of water that I can't really say too much about, but We caught some lovely Roach and Rudd, as well as Perch and a few other species, definitely somewhere to have a little go at now and again when the mood takes me.

I have some plans for the coming week, which, if things go right should provide an interesting and different experience fishing wise, a type of fishing I haven't done for a few years, and hopefully I'll be able to write about it in a week or so when We've finished. As to where the Fly fishing side of things will go for the rest of the season I have no idea, it depends a lot on the weather, Tides and of course the Fish. There are a few months left yet in which to find the right conditions so hopefully things will come good again at some point!

It may seem a little early to be thinking about winter, it is still July after all! But so as to be able to enjoy a full itinerary within My Winter Fishing I like to make some plans, because I've found in previous winters it's all too easy to sit around during those long dark nights wondering what to do whilst waiting for the weekends to come round when I can go fishing, and if I don't have something to aim at and a plan to work to then the Winter would pass without much at all happening, and then after sitting around watching Top Gear repeats and driving round Silverstone on the X Box for hours and hours, I'd finally go mad! Another Trip to the Lower Itchen Fishery where I caught My first Grayling last year has been booked and of Course there will be some specimen Roach fishing, hopefully from a river, along with trying to better My Perch best, Possibly some Pike and most likely some Carp. I would also like to try for some Chub which will entail a few day trips to 'England' to fish the river Stour at Throop. How much of that will come to fruition I don't know, hopefully all of it, maybe only some of it, but whatever happens I hope to keep busy and keep enjoying it and of course writing about it here.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Mid season Blues

I suppose it couldn't last, after the great start to the season, We have really been struggling to find any consisitent fishing lately. Why this is, I have no idea. It could be the Hot stale weather that has been around for the last few weeks, combined with the strong (for Fly and Lure fishing), Winds that won't stop blowing, or More worryingly, the Trawlers that have been seen ploughing up and down the Solent have had a severe and detrimental impact...
What Fish we have caught have been just odd loners which is very unusual at the venues We Fish, and there doesn't even seem to be any Mackerel shoals of any size around at the moment which, again is very strange. Only time will tell what gives, but let's hope that it is just down to the weather conditions and not commercial Fishing.

In the meantime as the week ahead is forecast to be more of the same wind wise, plus with a bit of rain mixed in, there is nothing really to be done in the Salt unless the forecasters are completely wrong! so as My Son has been driving Me mad asking me to take him fishing I will switch to some Coarse fishing for the next few days. Much of what I do Saltwater wise isn't really suitable for me to take My children fishing at the moment and so it's a good idea for me to revert to Coarse fishing to be able to teach them to fish, plus it's probably more enjoyable for them as it's a lot more comfortable way of learning to fish and a lot more productive fish wise! One might say it's a 'gentler' introduction to the sport, and teaches them to be more refined in their approach, which I feel is crucial to enjoyment when fishing. As well as understanding the finer points of the Tackle and choosing the right equipment for the right job.

I have often observed Anglers making the transition from one area of the sport to another, and, particularly with Sea Anglers that move over to try Coarse fishing, there seems to be a certain difficulty with getting to grips with the finer overall approach needed, and naturally this leads to a lack of success if not overall enjoyment. The transition the opposite way doesn't seem quite so bad if you have the fundamentals, but getting used to the heavier style of fishing may be just as difficult for some. In My view Coarse fishing allows beginners and youngsters to get to grips with these basics as well as being able to catch plenty of fish and learn their craft, before progressing on to other branches of Angling, I guess you would call it 'earning your stripes'.

So back to this week, I'm looking forward to taking the children fishing, I love seeing the concentration on their faces while waiting for the next bite, and then the delight and exitement of catching their prize,, and the sighs of disappointment when I say it's time to go home! It also gives Dad a chance to go back to his childhood as I will fish the same way as them to make it fun, it's also a good chance to chill away from My normal 'serious' fishing. It's great knowing that I am giving them something they will hopefully carry with them all their lives, one way or another, even if they don't continue fishing, no child ever forgets that thrill of revealing the secrets that lie beneath the surface of the water, something too few experience, an appreciation that there is a whole other world apart from the day to day one that we all live in...

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Month in summary : June, and a New Target..

June was a month of two halves, the first half was very productive despite having to fish Ebb Tides, Temperatures were creeping up nicely into the upper teens and the odd twenty plus day. The second half was a lot less prolific, sudden rises in pressure, and a jump in temperatures gave way to stronger winds making things very tricky for Fly casting. A slight detour saw me having a dabble into some coarse Fishing which went quite well, but the return to the Salt hasn't been as kind and We have in truth struggled a bit lately to find the right venue for the conditions on the given evening. ( still learning and evolving the process ! ).Hopefully July will provide us with a few Fish, and some better Tides to try catching them on. Who knows maybe even the wind might be kind as well!

A new Target..

A new species has caught My attention for targeting on the Fly,..Mullet. An obvious objective to some maybe, but not for Me, captivated by the sporting prowess of the Bass, I had largely ignored the Mullet and filed them to the back of My mind to investigate 'later on'. It seems later has become sooner, because lately We have been noticing the Mullet more and more on our travels, as the venues we have been fishing seem to hold vast numbers and it's very hard to walk past them without stopping for a look!
As I mentioned in the summary above, the second half of June has been tough for Me on the Bass front and despite the elusiveness of the Bass, the Mullet were ever present regardless of Wind or Tidal state. The more We talked about the idea of attempting to catch one of the 'Grey Ghosts' as they are known, the more We liked the idea, and many hours have now been spent accumulating as much information as is possible about the Feeding and behaviour of the various species of Mullet and methods that have been used to catch them. Obviously the main aim is to catch them on the Fly rod as this lends itself nicely to a stealthy approach around these ultra spooky fish. Also many Trout Fly's imitate some of the tiny invertabrates, Weed, and Seaweed Maggots that the Mullet include in their diet. Sounds simple doesn't it? Unfortunately it isn't, as they are renowned for their finicky tastes and refusal to take a particular bait one day and then seemingly can't get enough the next, which is one of the the main reasons many Anglers don't bother fishing for them, because they are a difficult species to catch, this gives the Mullet an almost supernatural status as a sportfish, and indeed those that have been successful at catching them report that they do indeed have incredible fighting qualities, akin to the legendary Bonefish of the Florida Flats and are occasionally referred to as the 'British Bonefish'.

Despite the reputed difficulties associated with trying to get these elusive fish to take a bait, I am always up for a challenge, and as usual have immersed myself in the task at hand, fully and completely. I am still in the process of collating the intel as regards suitable patterns of Fly but feel I am beginning narrow it down from the vast array of possibles to a particular few that will mimick some of the dietary delights that the Mullet may regularly feed on. Once armed with these samples I will begin presenting them to the Fish and see just how they react to the offerings and take it from there. Another evolution has begun towards hopefully successfully realising the challenge of banking a new species, as it has so many times before with all the other
specimens I have aquired over the years, each requires a basic approach to start with, and as I inch forward in my quest, certain aspects will be adjusted and tweaked until the ambition is achieved, then once that happens, some more refinements will take place until I am satisfied that I have got the best and most solid approach I can get.

Mullet Territory

Monday, 28 June 2010

Forum Get Together Report

I've just enjoyed a nice weekend in the company of some friends from the Sea Saltwater fly fishing forum. These boys have been having regular meetings or get togethers for some time now and we all agreed it was time for them to come over to the Island for one.
I must say what a nice bunch of chaps they are and how smashing it is that we can all get along so well due to sharing the common interest of Saltwater fly fishing, even though we are all very different people. I was their guide for the weekend and hoped to provide them with a memorable time. The weather was superb, the hottest days of the year so far, and almost mediterranean conditions for their visit, I managed to find a few fish for them here and there, but really the fishing was fairly difficult I feel due to the bright sunny conditions. A little cooler with some cloud would have been better probably to give them more of a chance of getting on some numbers of fish, but I think they enjoyed the experience regardless and were impressed by the Island's scenery and coastline. A full detailed report can be found on the Forum here , .

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Ups and Downs

It wouldn't be right for me to just document My successful sessions, without reporting the less fruitful or more difficult ones and of course, the Blanks. Firstly, I dont want to kid anyone, I am just as prone to getting it wrong as anyone else and secondly there is nothing to learn from just writing about the good times without balancing the books by logging the bad ones.

As Anglers We are always on the lookout for patterns or indicators that will enable us to be repeatedly successful in our efforts to catch fish. The problem with this is, there are a huge amount of variables to contend with, whatever your type of fishing. It is up to us to study these variables as much as possible, and try to make reasonably accurate assessments of a given situation and decide when and how to best approach it. The only way to do this is through spending as much time as We can being involved in the pursuit of catching fish. Nothing beats experience, and the more experience you can get, the better you can become at what you do, and therefore make better decisions based on the information that has been gathered over time.
How the information is recorded is down to the individual, many Anglers keep Diaries or Logs( Blogs! ) of their sessions so they can look back and use what they have written to try and spot the afore mentioned patterns or key factors that will enable them to be consistently prolific at putting fish on the bank, hopefully! But as I said at the beginning there are no hard and fast rules in fishing, only sets of circumstances where all we can do is give it our best guess, how right We get it is down to Fate, the Fish, and a huge amount of Luck! Getting it wrong can be frustrating, and soul destroying, especially if you seem to be on a consistent run of bad luck and enduring blank after blank. But there is always something to be learned, not just from the good sessions but the bad ones too, it gives us something to gauge how successful we really are when things seem to be going right. It also teaches us when to expect things to be difficult, because no matter what, personally I need to fish, even when things are likely to be adverse. If I didn't fish when things didn't look right then I would end up hardly fishing at all probably! This is even more of an issue where Sea Angling is concerned, and having the right conditions for Fly fishing in the Salt is even more crucial, and sometimes so that we can continue to fish in this manner we have to push the boundaries of what can be done with the tackle and conditions, which are hardly ever perfect, certainly not in this country anyway!

So it has been this week as far as fishing the Fly for Bass has been concerned, the Wind is playing havoc with the Sea conditions around the Island the early part of this week and despite our best efforts not a thing has been caught. We stayed positive and fished well, despite the niggling thought at the back of our minds that really chances were pretty slim given the conditions. As always though there was something to take home from the sessions, to chew over and to file away for use another time. It may not always be very evident at the time what it is you have learnt from the session, but believe me there is always something....

The pressure is on over the weekend! I am hosting a 'Get Together' for some of My friends from the Sea Forum, and I hope to provide them with an enjoyable two days and a few Fish! I just hope the Wind behaves itself and doesn't make things as difficult as they have been the first part of the week. The venue I have chosen for them is, normally, (!) a very prolific one, and whilst bigger fish are harder to come by here there are usually good numbers of Fish around, whatever the weather...
Hopefully we should have good time, chatting and swapping fishy stories and banter, and enjoying each others company, regardless of the fish catching side of things. It should be good to get together with like minded people and exchange ideas and experiences, again there is always something to be learned. So I look forward to seeing them and hopefully there will be a good report to put up both here and on the Forum!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

And now for something completely different....!

The forecast wasn't good. Brisk Easterly winds were set to make things difficult yet again...

Rather than sit indoors waiting for the winds to abate, and not fish, I formulated another plan.
Being the allrounder that I am, I had a hankering to do some Coarse fishing for Tench, which is almost as nice a way to while away a summer evening as Fly fishing for Bass. So snatching the opportunity I purchased a ticket for My local lake, which is only a few hundred yards away from My front door.
The Plan was to Float fish for the Tench on reasonably light balanced tackle, but with the chance of the odd bigger Carp putting in an appearance I couldn't go ultra light.
I settled on using a 13ft stepped-up Match Rod, 6lb mainline to a 5.2lb flourocarbon hooklink and size 12 hook. This would hopefully be a versatile enough set up to provide reasonable sport with smaller species but give me a fighting chance should something bigger come along!
I have fished this venue for many years and know it quite intimately, so locating where the target fish where was quite easy, but avoiding the Carp in the lake proved to be a bit more tricky!

I caught some very nice Tench to over 5lb, Roach to well over 1.5lb, and had 'nuisance' Carp to 24.14lb (a float- caught personal best),that really tested the tackle I can tell you!! But it just goes to show what can be done with carefully balanced tackle.
Whilst it has been an interesting and fruitful diversion, of course I really want to be out on the coast chasing Bass on the Fly, and save the best of the Coarse fishing for the Winter months, so as soon as possible I'll be back out there making the most of it and hopefully catching plenty of
Bass and other species.

A lovely Summer Tench (Above)

The 'Nuisance' 24.14lb Carp!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Flies of the moment and other observations.

From time to time, as the season progresses, I will take a look specifically at what Flies and methods are working at certain stages and see how things are progressing, and if there are any noticeable changes or patterns or preferences on the Fishes part, and try and make observations based on what is happening at that time. I'm sure there will be some interesting and notable changes as the season progresses, it may be that any trends will be time of year based, or venue based, or a combination of both. I already know that the Fish can show a preference for a certain Fly, or colour combination at different venues, particularly if they are not preoccupied with chasing whitebait, and are making use of whatever resident food sources there are at that particular venue. So i'm sure it will be fascinating actually documenting these observations over the season, not to mention useful for future seasons, as it will allow me, hopefully to spot any patterns and use them to full advantage in the coming years. Fish, like most other animals driven by their survival instincts, are creatures of habit, and will follow the same behaviour patterns year on year, which, for the observant Angler, can be very useful if you can spot these habits! For example the most obvious is Spawning behaviour, and Fish will turn up in their favoutite spot at the same time each year almost to the day and tide. This also extends beyond spawning time when fish can be found in certain spots for only short periods, probably capitalising on a matured food source, never to return again until the following year when that food source is again ripe for harvesting. So with careful observation it is possible to give yourself a pretty good idea of when fish are likely to turn up in any given spot, and what type of imitation or bait to present them with.
This of course, all takes time to learn, and whilst I have quite a few years of general Sea Angling experience to help me in My quest to catch Bass, Fishing for them on the Fly is a bit different to Fishing for them with bait, and it goes without saying the more you can learn the better, no matter how much you think you already know, they will still confound you at times and leave you scratching your head! So the more observations you can make, the more tiny pieces you can slot into the puzzle to help make the bigger picture...

On to what Flies have been doing the business so far then..

I think I am right in saying that the Clouser Minnow is probably the most widely used and abused fly pattern among Saltwater Fly Fishermen, why? because, in My view, it is actually an incredibly versatile pattern, one might not think so at first glance, but a deeper understanding of Fly materials can transform the way that this famous fly works. The standard model as tied by Mr Clouser himself revolves around the use of Bucktail, and rightly so, because Bucktail is an excellent material for tying Flies. As a product of nature it has certain inherent qualities that make it excel for use as a Fly material. It is hollow, durable, it sheds water very well, produces a very life like movement in the water, and is very easy to work with as a tying material. It is also very dense, despite being hollow, and this produces a fast sinking Fly when coupled with the Tungsten barrel eyes that help to make this pattern what it is, and great for fishing a bit deeper, but other materials can alter the way that the fly behaves in the water, and I am a great fan of synthetic materials as well as natural, because each has its own unique qualities that can be tailored to suit a variety of different presentations and Angling situations. These can be used individually or combined to achieve the desired results depending on how we want the Fly to behave in the water.
Having played around with a few different materials for the Clouser, and not wanting to fish the Fly too deep at the venues we have been targeting, I have found that SF flash blend suits my needs very well, it isn't as dense a material as Bucktail and fishes a little hgher in the water. More importantly as well as having flash blended in with the material already, it also posesses a lovely translucent quality even if tied on the bulky side, so it is hard to over do it. The translucensy of the material also very nicely replicates the nature of the baitfish that the Bass are preying on at this time of year. We have been tying on size six hooks, keeping the material fairly short and tight and the resulting pattern seems to work very well. I also think tying them a little on the 'bulky' side has helped pick up the odd better fish as it looks more of a meal than a sparse tied version. Colour combinations have been the usual White and Charteruese, though I think there is room for other Colour combinations, Pink has worked well in the Glass minnow patterns and I think it may well prove the same here.

Alternative Stripping techniques..

I have been playing around with different stripping techniques this year, and I would say it has definitely made a difference to My catch rate and has also contributed to My catching a few better fish as well. Firstly I have slowed the retrieval rate of the Fly down, whereas last year I would retrieve, more or less in a mechanical fashion, at a reasonable pace, believing the faster strip would make the Bass want to grab the fly for fear of losing a meal, however it became apparent that they could keep up even if I were to attach My line to a high speed drill and retrieve it! Also when retrieved like this I would get a lot of hits but no too many actual hook ups. After some clear water observations I noticed they were just nipping the 'tail' of the Fly and not actually engulfing it instantly resulting in the missed 'hits'. After some thought I deduced that what they were doing was trying to 'disable' the fly by nipping at the tail, something many predators do to prevent their prey from escaping. I also deduced that by keeping up the retrieval rate even after getting a hit, that I was causing the Fly to possibly behave in an unnatural manner, and that by stopping the retrieve after recieveing a hit, pausing the fly for a moment and then resuming the strip, I could make the Fly behave more like a wounded prey fish. Slowing the retrieve would also make the Fly act more like a wounded fish, and by adding an element of erraticness to the retrieve it would resemble an injured prey fish even more, making it an even more attractive potential meal for the Bass. Coincidentally there was a brief discussion about varying types of strip on the Forum I mentioned, which served to reinforce My conclusions, along with the results I have been getting lately. There is no doubt in My mind that I am getting more hook up's as a result of concentrating more on what is going on at the end of the line, and by conciously making an effort to ensure the Fly behaves as a bait fish would, rather than just mechanically stripping the fly back towards me without trying to impart some 'life' into it.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

A cracking Three Pounder

A window in the weather presented itself yesterday evening, after a couple of days of quite windy and showery conditions, things settled enough for us to get a few hours in on the Kayaks again. The evening was overcast, quite humid, and almost no wind at all. I suggested that We try a spot that We would normally fish by wadeing, but using the Yaks would allow us to remain in place during the whole flood Tide, instead of having to retreat like We normally would due to the deepening water. Choosing to anchor up around 100yds from shore and sitting sideways on the Kayaks with our feet hanging over the side, It wasn't long before We were into the first fish of the evening, What was immediately apparent was that there was a better average stamp of fish around this evening, most of the Bass were in the pound to pound and a half bracket and gave superb accounts of themselves on Fly tackle, in the clear water beneath the boats, a wonderful sight, I can tell you! About an hour into the session I struck into what was obviously a better fish, that fought really hard for a few minutes, and gave Me a thrilling few moments before revealing itself on the surface to be a fish of around Three pounds! After a few quick pictures the fish was returned and swam away strongly. I ended up with around a dozen fish for the evening, all over a pound and up to the three pound mark, and my friend also took several fish to around two pounds, so all in all a good evening and well worth launching the Kayaks for.