Wednesday, 31 October 2007

They're out to get me!

It was so nice to be back in Holland to see our friends, have a few drinks, some nice food and then get up early to go fishing! The journey across the channel was tiring, too for some reason, and I had a nasty, niggling headache as I carried the gear along the bank before first light. However, last night was pleasant, staying with Renita and having a nice meal just opposite her apartment. Unfortunately Patrick has to work all weekend, so we’ll only be seeing him in the early morning or late night.

This morning was damp, from heavy dew, although the mist was soon wafted around by the slight breeze as I set up in the same swim as last year. There was a significant difference this year, though, in that the reeds that edge the side of the river as it opens into a larger pool of probably 4 or 5 acres haven’t been cut down yet, so I placed the rod rests in the water to the right of the wooden platform.

I don’t like platforms much; I feel as if they’re just waiting to crumble beneath your feet, trip you up or send sufficient vibration into the water to scare the fish for a reasonable distance into skulking on the bottom in a non-feeding torpor. I’m probably wrong, but I do think that platforms are out to get you.

The first of the two rods was cast, without float, along the reed beds ahead of me as the river opened up. The bait was half a herring. The other rod was fitted with a float and cast as close as possible to the reeds, to the right of the other rod, into the river proper, this with smelt on. There seemed to be some flow on the river this morning, culminating in me lifting this latter rod high to lift as much line off the water as possible. At seven thirty, though, just half an hour after setting up, the herring rod was away, but after a brief sensation of head shaking weight, it was off. I cast out again, replacing the herring half with another, and on setting the rod down, the float from the second rod began its dance.

With the mist still swirling around me, I managed to quickly chin lift the 4 pound (or so) jack, quickly unhooking it and returning it, barely lifting it from the water, when the alarm from the first rod sounded again. I lifted into the fish which instantly went into overdrive, tearing line off the clutch and taking the rod into a serious curve. It was a good fish, but how good? It certainly fought well, barely giving up as it was swept into the net. I was fairly non-plussed to see that it was about 8 or 9 pounds, although on weighing it became a fat 10 and a half pounder, it was such a good fight, I was convinced it was an upper double, but the scales or the tape measure don’t lie, and neither did my eyes. Weird!

I stayed busy though. I had cast out the second rod and started on a brew, nursing my worsening headache, when the mackerel on the ledger rod was taken, the alarm emitting a series of bleeps, rather than a continuous, full throttle run. Again I lifted into the fish, and again it felt heavy, but not as hard fighting as the last. It weighed almost sixteen pounds! Just goes to show that some instincts in fishing can’t be trusted.

I then had a hiatus for an hour or so, which gave me time to arrange the photographing of the larger fish, the chance to have a complete cup of tea and the opportunity to clear up the swim, before landing the final two jacks, the largest eight pounds or so.

Soon, the sun had risen high enough in the sky to cast its full warmth upon me, making my brain boil even more, so it was time to clear up and clear off for a well deserved catch up on sleep and a quiet afternoon reading a couple of good books.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

A Touch of Autumn

It was a chilly morning...
Another overnighter, with a few different approaches in an attempt to tune some of the rigs that I’ve been using. I’m afraid that the fishing this year has taken a back seat, with work being so busy – both mine and Franc’s. And if we’re not working, then we’re decorating the flats or trying to keep on top of the garden with all the rain we’ve been having. Later on in the year we have a trip to Holland and the States, so it’s not going to get better for a while.

I always get the rods out first, especially here, as three can be fished, but I usually only cast two, leaving the third to do some plumbing around. Then when the rods are out I’ll set up the Shelter and everything else, then when all is shipshape, I’ll make a brew. The weather was definitely heading towards autumn, with this being a Friday and the only day for about the last 10 that hasn’t seen rain, there was a distinct chill to the air.

My daughter, Laura-Anne turned up around mid-morning, bringing some ginger cake, shortbread, sausage rolls and scones – all home made of course. Harry turned up too, no doubt homing in on the smell of cake. We all had a nice long chat though, Harry staying longer than LA, and he seemed to be yearning to get beside some water himself – he’s been busy too.

And so the day passed, with nothing happening on the fishy front. I cast the rods out ready for the night: pineapple boilies, fake corn and special luncheon meat being the baits for the purpose of attracting the bream or tench. I am, of course after the female bream, but have so far only caught the males, identifiable by the tubercles that cover them and make them look so tatty. Tonight was to be no different, and, unfortunately, the tench failed to show again.

Kelly Kettle
At around 2.30 am, with the mist swirling and my breath a huge plume of vapour in the suffused moonlight, the first bream of six and a half pounds was brought into the net. I was shocked at how low the temperature had dropped. I was sleeping in a tee shirt and shorts and gasped as the cold wrapped around my naked legs as I weighed the fish.

At 5.30 am another bream of 6.10 was on the bank, this one having taken the meat, the first fish the boilies. It was still very misty, but gradually, the sun pushed it’s way through and the morning began to warm up as I packed away the gear, stowing it in the car, and leaving the rods until last.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Going back...

It’s been over six years since I fished this lovely looking pit in the heart of the Kent countryside. I had a short Bream campaign at that time, which culminated in some nice fish up to just short of the nine pounds mark. It’s a hard water, but it’s one of those lakes that always looks just the part. Lilies, lush overhanging trees, clear water and an abundance of wildlife make up the pretty, micro environment hidden away in a motorway junction. Of course, there is no escaping the traffic noise, even at night the motorway, just some 300 yards away over a small rise, can be heard droning away like a nest of angry wasps.

That aside though, there are some nice bream and tench in here but they are very hard to come by, so I’m not after expecting much. It will be nice to spend the odd night here despite the noise from the traffic. The carp in here grow very big too – into the thirties by all account, and there’s always the possibility of a chance encounter with them.

I arrived nice and early, hoping to get three feeding spells in and set up two rods while I did some plumbing around with the third. From the past campaign I knew that the prime feeding area for the bream was about 60 yards out in the middle of the lake where the bottom seemed a little harder and the water is about 16 feet deep. As for the tench – well I picked out some spots around the lilies and one spot under the tree away to the left.

I made up a dozen or so goody bags of pellets in PVA and fired a few out with the catapult. Two rods were semi fixed leads with hair rigged fake corn on a neutral buoyancy rig and pineapple boilie, the third rod was set up with an in line maggot feeder filled with red maggots and with two pop up hair rigged casters on the sharp end.

At seven fifteen, just after I arrived, this last rod was away with a very typical bream bite making the bobbin jump around like an epileptic flea. After a short and unconvincing fight a tatty looking male bream of 6 pounds ten ounces was in the landing net. It was still covered in spawning tubercles and was, unfortunately, well below the average size that the bream are reported to be. But these are, of course, male Fish and it’s the females we’re looking for.

I’m sorry to say that that was all that came along. Through the night I had a few jerky sort of bites that may have been line bites or maybe the feeder wasn’t heavy enough. There are a lot of eels in this water and, apparently, mitten crabs, but whether that latter rumour can be substantiated or not, remains to be seen. There are rig refinements I will need to look at next time, as well as researching some alternative baits. The other two rods with boilies and fake corn, remained completely untouched, so a rethink may be called for.

Saturday, 7 July 2007


I’ve never actually achieved a comfortable overnighter in all my years of fishing and so I’ve kept away from them to some extent. I don’t like bivvies per se, preferring open fronted shelters because I don’t like the seemingly total detachment from fishing that close fronted bivvies provide. I’ve never worked out how to sleep comfortably whilst fishing and get up the next morning without feeling like death warmed over.

Until now.

There’s a trick to it all you see and I’ve missed that trick right up until last night. You just need the right stuff but you need to use it the right way. For example: you don’t sleep in a sleeping bag, you sleep on it! That way a bed chair is infinitely more comfortable and with a Trakker Sleeping Bag cover over the top, there is absolutely no need to sleep in winter bib and brace and winter jacket. Therefore sleeping is easier. The other option previously was to try to sleep without wearing winter clothes but freeze to death; those days are over now. Last night I was snug and warm for the first time, and although the bream didn’t let me get much sleep, it was much much better than previously. The other plus, of course, is that if you sleep in a sleeping bag, the getting out of it can be a nightmare when you’re in a hurry. With the Trakker cover, you just shrug it aside and jump out. Well, perhaps not jump…

I decided on the F*x Evolution Brollie X with groundsheet and winter wrap. Lumby had mentioned the Aqua Brollie System, but I think I wanted something a little more substantial and something that could be used for a couple of nights, if necessary. I also wanted some thing that was quick to erect, and a brollie would have achieved that, but the Evo is pretty fast when you get the hang of it. It’s light to carry and open fronted. I haven’t tried the wrap for it yet, and there was no need for it last night. The temperature dropped after dark, as the sky cleared after a grey, windy day, but I was warm under the Trakker. All I could catch over the twenty-seven or so hours I fished were bream. Most were around the three pound mark, with the biggest at about 4 and a half. I caught them on boilies, pellets and plastic corn (a first), but of the Tench, nothing was seen. If I tried maggots, I couldn’t get away from the small rudd. I used my usual simple rig – through bomb and short kryston hair rig – as casting is only short distance here, and put one in the middle near the pads and one fairly close-in to the margins. I used goodie bags filled with pellets and boilies and fired a few freebie bags to the longer-range rig and threw in a few handfuls for the nearer rig.

The average size of the bream in the past has been around five pounds, but these larger fish didn’t show at all. Just the small ones – at ten to two in the morning and a rude awakening at quarter to five, as well as at all other times!

Friday, 2 February 2007

Pixie Dust

It's been a dour start to the year, especially after the wonderful catch on Boxing Day. I'd had a couple of morning sessions in January with nothing to show at all and I was conscious that the season was running out. As it turned out, we had some pretty extreme weather leading up to the end of the Season during which the rivers were totally unfishable, and to cap it all, the EA in their supreme incompetence emptied the river for the last two weeks of the Season as well.

However, this morning dawned grey, but exceptionally mild yet again, with air temperatures up to 12c, but with water temperatures around 7 1/2c. It was a still day without a breath of a breeze and a little drizzle later in the morning did nothing to dampen the softness of the day. I walked the long walk to my favorite spot, armed with rods and deadbaits not knowing that this was to be my penultimate morning on the river before seasons end.
I started at the far end again planning to walk back towards the car, and put one bait out amongst the overhanging trees, the other on the far bank. Within minutes the float in the trees was dancing it's dance and I immediately lifted into the fish, even before the float moved off. I like to strike as quickly as possible in every case. If I miss the fish, then fine - it was a small one anyway! But I hate having to deal with deeply hooked pike, not because it's difficult, it actually isn't very often, but because it's unnecessary. That's also one reason I like to fish with floats where practical, it's much easier to see what's going on.

Anyway, I didn't miss the fish - it was nicely hooked in the front of the mouth. It weighed fifteen pounds on the button and as I finished weighing it and was ready to put it back, the alarm on the other rod blipped and the float fell flat on the water - I was in again! I quicly put the fifteen pounder in the weigh sling and lowered it into the water whilst picking up the rod and lifting into the fish. The first fish fell to smelt, probably my most used and therefore most effective deadbait. But this fish had taken sardine. I like sardine. They are cheap, easily obtainable and smelly. But I've not caught much on them. Strange but no matter how much I use them, other baits like mackerel and smelt seem to be more efficient at putting fish on the bank. I have loads of confidence in them though, I just know they've got to work!

This one did!
The fish put up a powerful fight, using its' weight against the rod. This was Lumby's other rod the P1, and its 2 3/4 test curve coped really well with the weight of the fish and the powerful surges it displayed. But it slipped into the net eventually - the biggest fish I have ever landed for myself. I couldn't lift it easily either, so I didn't. Instead I left it in the net, in the water, leaned over the bank and unhooked the fish in the water. The capaciousness of the net allowed it to fold over the fish's head which kept it quiet. meanwhile, I phoned Franc and asked her very nicely to walk down to take the photographs. She very kindly did so and I have my first brace picture after 19 years.

Oh, the weight? Well, the fish took the scales to 26.04 and I was very happy with that. Another personal best. I praised Lumby's rod on the P & P Forum as the first fish on the P1 was a twenty and the third fish on the BB350 was a twenty. In fact, so far I have only caught doubles on both of them. they do seem to have turned my fortunes around. I received many nice comments about the fish and a bit of mickey taking about the fact that it's twice thirteen pounds.

Dave Lumb reckons he sprinkles his rods with pixie dust.
I believe him!