Session 6 – 2018 – Weather Continues To Improve But Changed Plans

Friday 26th January and with the weather remaining on the ‘warmer’ (albeit still not ‘warm’) side of things albeit wet at times too I headed back out to the waterside. However, my planned canal zander hunting trip had to be changed … Friday’s I need to pick Liz up from work in the evening – which would have meant battling through Friday afternoon traffic on the M6 to get back home in time to unload the car, sort out tackle/bait, bath/shower, prep tea ready for Liz, etc – so not a good idea I thought. So that trip put off for a while until probably a Monday/Tuesday when there’s no rush to get home…

In the event I decided to go out to a local pool in search of pike with deadbaits…

So, I arrived at the pool at around 0800 … and amazed to see another car already there … I’m usually first by a long chalk … and then to add to my frustration the guy was setting up in the peg I’d intended to fish! A whole pool to choose from and it had to be mine. Think he was carp fishing though – he kept sending a bait boat out to the edge of the island in front of him anyway…. and the pool ended up quite busy by the end of my day with around 10 or so fishing  which is more than usual … quite often I’m there on my own all day.

With my first choice swim taken I decided to fish in a position actually between two pegs so that I could cast towards the near end of the island in the deeper water and the first thing I did was to get out my Deeper Sonar to check the contours of that area as its not an area I fish often and when I do its usually with a lure…. and I found that the best depth was around 15’ …. and there were a lot of bait fish hovering mid-water…

2018-01-26 Deeper Sounder

Sonar scan… those white streaks are fish

So, having determined where to place my baits I then spombed out some rubby-dubby in the form of breadcrumb into which was added fish oils and maggots plus an amount of chopped up fish – generally old baits.

I then tackled up my 2 pike ledger rods – both home-built in the 80’s – North Western blanks,11’, 2.75lb TC, no handles as such and the sliding Fufi reel fittings are fitted directly to the blank over a wrapping of insulation tape to protect/cushion the blank and held on with more wrappings of insulation tape … in fact, until recently, the rod rings were also attached with insulation tape but now they’re properly whipped on. Rods were then fitted with 5000 size reels loaded with 40lb braid and 30lb wire traces (with 2 x size 2 double hooks) and free running 3oz ledger leads.

Baits were two halves of a needlefish – tail end on one rod and the head end on the other – and balsa wood sticks added to both with the intention of popping up the baits, one at 2’ and the other at 3’. As I say, popping up was ‘intended’ as I discovered later that the belly of the tail end had burst open and the stick popped out and the head end was too heavy for the stick and sunk anyway.

These were cast out and left for around three hours with occasional tweaks of a yard or so to try to attract attention to no effect …. and then re-cast to a slightly different area for another 3 hours, again with no joy.

Meanwhile, I put out my WaterWolf underwater camera for a few hours but not yet looked at the results closely….

The ‘donkey dick’ rod has the WaterWolf attached.

Anyway, it was a nice day with blue skies, sunshine and little breeze for the main part although far from sunbathing temperatures…..

So, as it came up to 1415, having had no action at all, I decided to pack away the bait rods and have a few casts around my immediate area with my lure rod. Normally I’d have wandered around a bit but there were more people there than usual which limited the options of casting areas… and I know the bit of bank where I was can produce as I had my current PB pike (20-12) there along with several others since. So, with most of my gear packed down, I set up the lure rod with a slim blue/gold/silver, slightly banana shaped, sinking plug and about 6-7 casts later I set the hooks into a 4-04 pike…. It was landed and weighed and then, inside the weigh sling, slipped into the water whilst I set up my camera on a bankstick ready to take a self-timed photo. Camera setup, I lifted the weigh sling from the water and placed on to an area of flattened/decaying rushes that I’d focussed the camera on … went to camera and pressed the shutter button to start the 5-shot sequence I use for self timers … but as I got back to the fish, it flipped itself out of the sling and straight back to the water … and I ended with 5 pictures of my knees and none of the fish…

So at that point I reckoned it was time to go … and I went ….

If I fish next week it will be a single session on the Tuesday as on my usual days (Monday and Friday) I have places to be and people to see … specifically, Monday 29th, I’ve an appointment to have a tyre changed as the current one gets pumped up to its required 44psi but within a week its dropped to <20psi so has a slow puncture…. and Friday 2nd I need to bid place internet bids for a book I’m after and there are two copies in two separate lots coming up that day…. Anyway, if I go on Tuesday, I’ve still to decide on the what, how and where….

WATER TEMPS:

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Session 5 – 2018 – An Upturn In The Weather And A Canal Trip

With an improvement in the weather – and the improvement is forecast to last at least another week with air temperatures at a minimum daytime reading of 8’C – I decided to take my lure rods for a jigging session on the local Staffs-Worcs canal (KF-SW/SP) in search of pike and perch – zander not having reached this neck of the woods yet … but they are getting closer…

So, I set off out of the house at 0930, arriving at the canal at 1000 with my 2 pre-setup rods. Both were 9’ lure rods rated 10g-40g with 30lb Dyneema braid main lines. One was set up with a 3”-4” fire-tiger pattern paddle tail jelly on a jighead and the other had a Shakespeare Midi-S plug, perch pattern.

Anyway, I walked about 1400 yards down the banks casting in all the likely looking spots and others too fishing just the jig rod but without a single response. And I had the misfortune to encounter groups of my three most despised members of the human race on that walk – ramblers (a group of about 20 passed by), cyclists (again a group of about 20 passed by) and Canals & River Trust workers with chain saws…  even now I shudder at the thought!! Oh, to be in the USA and have the right to bear arms!

So, at that point I had a stop for a cuppa and changed the jig to a small red bladed bar spoon – but it felt ‘less right’ than even the jig … with the jig the 9’ rod was the wrong option and I’d have been happier with my 8’ rod – trying to give small jerks the rod was too long and making the jig ‘jump’ too far as a consequence for what I wanted … and with the blade spinner the braid was far too heavy for purpose, 15lb would have been far better.

With the time now around 1200 I decided to turn back and head to the car casting out the Midi-S from time to time but again with no response …..

So I think the problems were due, apart from my natural ineptness, to the snows of last week having thawed out … and entering the canal they have cooled the waters and the higher air temps haven’t been high enough to counteract this in the time. Plus the melting snow has washed probably a bit too much colour into the waters plus a dual carriageway runs along the canal at the top of a high bank and possibly the salt from the road grittings of the past few weeks has also been washed down and ‘sickened’ the water to a degree….

And so that was my day…..

The Worcester Stour that runs alongside the canal:

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PLANS:

At the minute I’m thinking of visiting the Fazeley Canal at Drayton Bassett (by Drayton Manor Park), a stretch under the control of the BAA (Birmingham Anglers Association), on Friday 26th in search of pike, perch … and zander as the canal holds a reasonable head of them – unless the C&RT have been netting recently that is…

I’m intending on taking my 8’ jig rod, one of my 9’ lure rods of today and my 12’ 3lb TC bass rod which is my ‘canal pike bait’ rod along with some deadbaits so that I can sit it out in good looking areas and/or rest with a coffee and chocolate when desired…. It will mean an early start though to try to beat the M6 going-to-work traffic but no problem once I’m there as I can sit out the darkness out in the car….

Session 4 – 2018 – A Hard Water Session

On Friday 19th January I decided to return to the venue of the previous outing (KF-VV) albeit by myself.

A heavy overnight frost led to me having my breakfast sat in the car on the car on the driveway at home whilst I ran the engine and tried to defrost the windows at 0645 in an attempt to get them clear for a 0730 set off for the pool … and that worked out fine and I set off at the intended time.

Air temperature on the drive was showing as +1.5’C …. and on arrival at the pool itself as +1.0 … but during the trip the temps varied from a low of  -2.5’C up to a high of +1.5’C.

Water temps measured at the pool ranged from a low of 2.8’C on arrival and had risen to 3.2’C when I left at 1200.

OK now … the ‘hard’ bit of the title doesn’t refer to the ‘catchability’ factor of the pool itself, in fact the pool is very ‘commercial’ in nature and usually its harder to not catch there than it is to actually catch. The ‘hard’ bit actually refers to the physical state of the water on arrival – ie it was 95%, at least, iced over with a few pockets of clear water over on the east bank.

So, I had intended to fish the west bank, that’s the one with the line of conifers that you can see in the first picture, as the wind of the day was forecast to come in from that direction and the trees would have formed a bit of a windbreak … but it was not to be as, as I said, the only clear water was on the east side and thus I was forced to that bank – the third picture is the actual swim I sat in with a clear area in front of me of around 8-10 yards.

So, before prepping tackle, etc I catapulted out a couple of pouches of dead maggots and a few small prawns as I was hoping for perch to make an appearance. I also cast out my FishSpy underwater camera in the hope of catching a view of some fish but with a quick preliminary glance at the captured footage I’ve not seen anything but perhaps on a more prolonged and closer examination….

I floatfished, lift method, with a 3AAA driftbeater float on 6lb mainline with a size 12 hook, making the first cast around 0830, and tried both worm and prawn baits with no joy whatsoever until I packed in at 1200. At that time although air temps in general were rising, the temp on the east bank was dropping as the air passed over the icy surface, and as the ice was gradually thawing it was drawing warmth from the air to do so (latent heat)… and at 1200, even though I was wearing fleecey fingerless gloves that have a pullover full mitt I could no longer feel my fingers – and that meant it was time to leave….

 

WATER TEMPS:

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Session 3 – 2018 – A General Session

On Friday 12th January 2018 Liz and I set off for a day of general coarse fishing at one of club pools (KF-VV), leaving the house at 0815 with the car thermometer indicating an air temp of 5.0’C although as we passed through the countryside it did drop to 4.0’C, and we arrived at the pool’s car parking around 0900.

I was a bit concerned on arrival that the water might have been frozen, looking from the car it looked very ‘glassy … but a quick walk showed it to be merely millpond still with not a ripple (apart from those caused by some ducks on the far side) showing.

The weather forecast had shown that any expected winds/breezes to come from the south-westerly or westerly directions – both good on the fishermen’s expectations ie ‘when the wind is in the south it blows the bait into the fishes’ mouth’ and ‘when the wind is in the west the fish bite the best’… both far better then ‘when the wind’s in the north, the angler goes not forth’ or ‘when  the wind is in the east, the fish bite the least’ …. Anyway, the expected wind direction and the fact that the west bank of the pool has a backdrop of shielding conifers to keep the breezes down and thus lessen any wind-chill effects determined our position to fish from … the west bank. And this bank also gives access to a few features as there are two islands and the end of a spit to fish across to given where you actually locate … and on this occasion Liz chose a swim so that she could fish a channel between the two islands and I fished the next swim along directly facing an island.

Anyway, the forecast was slightly out – the breezes, when they existed as quite often the pool was back to its glass-like state, tended to be southerly to slightly south-easterly if anything.

Water temps were measured at 3.3’C at around 1000 rising to 3.5/3.6’C at midday and remained steady at that until we packed up at 1515.

So, Liz elected to fish two ledger rods, as I say positioned in the channel between the two islands. One with a maggot feeder and maggot on the hook, the other an open end feeder with luncheon meat on the hook. This gained her a few bites, but they mainly resulted in dropped baits – or were line bites possibly – but she did capture a nice 6lb 8oz mirror carp taken on the meat…

2018-01-12 Liz - 6lb 8oz Mirror Carp 01

Liz – 6lb 8oz Mirror Carp

Myself, I floatfished up to the island using a 4AAA bodied waggler, 6lb main line with a 6lb braid hooklength terminated in a size 16 hook baited with 2 or 3 red maggots fished over catapulted mixed dead maggots and although I only had one bite all day long (despite later changing the hook to a size 12 baited with worm), it did result in a nice 1lb 10oz perch…

2018-01-12 Steve - 1lb 10oz Perch 01

Steve – 1lb 10oz Perch

And so, at 1515, with a slight chill creeping into the bones, we packed up and headed home – via the local hostelry as per usual for beer and scratchings – for a warming bath followed by a lamb stew that had been cooking in the slow cooker ….

PLANS:

Not really sure as I’d been planning a ‘pole on the canal’ day for Monday or Tuesday but with high winds on both days and rain on Monday forecast I’ve abandoned those ideas… probably be out on Friday 19th Jan though…

WATER TEMPS:

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Session 2 – 2018 – Debut Of The Pole – And Piking.

Tuesday 9th January 2018 I set off from home at 0830 heading for Pike Water 5 – a mistake as I know I should either leave home by 0800 or after 0900 otherwise, as I did, I get caught in the get-to-work traffic which adds 30 minutes to the trip.

The day was a bit warmer than the previous day which started with a very thick and heavy frost but Tuesday was more of a fine misty drizzle day – you could feel fine droplets brushing your cheek all day but there was no dampness created – and the air temperature hung around 5’C all day long with the actual water temperature measured at a steady 2.8’C at the water’s edge in a depth of 3’.

The intention of the day was to fish in 2 halves – the pre-midday session was to utilise my new 8 metre pole and to learn the vagaries of pole fishing – having never even held a pole before in my life – whilst attempting to furnish myself with some livebaits for the second half of the day which was to be pike fishing….

OK … my pole. As I said it’s an 8 metre ‘Grandeslam’ glass pole for which I’ve obtained 2 new universal top kits for. The original ‘top 2’ are set up currently with the solid ‘8’ elastic that it came set up with at purchase but I’ve obtained, and intend to replace it shortly, with hollow an ‘8-12’ rated elastic – and this is my ‘small’ fish set up. The other two top kits are both ‘top 3s’ and of carbon fibre – one, an ‘Oakwood’ brand has been set up with a ’12-16’ rated hollow elastic for larger tench and perch and the other is a ‘Grandeslam’ one and has been set up with a ‘20+’ rated hollow elastic intended to deal with exceptional tench and carp into double figures.

So today I used my ‘small’ fish set up – as I was after small livebait sized fish – but also because I’ve not yet set up end rigs for the two heavier pole tips. The water I was fishing is about 10’ deep 4 metres out so I’d pre-made up some suitable rigs with a main line of 3.5 metre 4lb BS (using the standard formula that ‘line BS = 1/2 of elastic rating’ ie line BS = 8/2 = 4) with a 1/2 metre 3lb hook length connected to a size 16 hook. Thus total line length was 4 metres which allowed the bait to touch bottom if required plus about 1 metre to play with between pole tip and float. So, with such a long main line I used the pole in a ‘whip’ mode using a 5 metre pole length to fish and discarding one section to allow any fish to swing to hand (or be drawn to the net depending on size). For bait I used double red maggot. Any road up, as they say, the first hour was really spent getting acquainted with the pole, flicking the rig out decently, etc and at that time I wasn’t impressed with pole fishing at all … but then cometh the moment, cometh the man and I started to get into the swing of things (pardon pun!) and it became more comfortable, etc. Anyway, by noon I’d had one small (1-2oz) roach in the livebait bucket and missed about another 4-5 bites including one drop-off.

So, noon – the pole was dismantled and a pike rod set up….

Yep, just the one rod – as only one live bait! Usual 40lb braid with 30lb wire trace with a size 2 single hook mid-trace and terminated with a 12/2 double hook suspended below a small pencil float. This was fished initially over the area that had been fished for the bait on the grounds that the free fed maggots would attract bait fish which in turn attract the pike but after 30 mins or so I decide to fish out in the deeper water as the lower water levels in theory should be warmer… however, after another 30 minutes, with the bait drifting around, no action had been encountered and then on a re-cast the bait went adrift …. and so for the next hour a ‘bluey’ (Pacific Maury) deadbait was used but again with no interest shown and at 1430 I decided to call it a day.

So, technically not a blank – and feel quite confident on the pole now ….

PLANS:

Next trip is planned to be a session out with Liz doing some general coarse fishing with the destination not yet decided. And possibly on Monday or Tuesday of next week I might take the pole down to the canal.

WATER TEMPS:

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Session 1 – 2018 – A Lure Of The Canal

Friday 5th January 2018 saw me leave the house at around 0745 to fish a club stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal arriving at around 0815 in light drizzle but it looked as if brighter weather was looming out to my left…

… and on this session I elected to fish at the bottom end of the club’s 1.2 mile which I’ve only managed to reach before on one occasion – and that was probably 5 years or more ago. As I say, it’s 1.2 miles from the usual parking for our stretch and when out roving with lures and wobbled deadbaits it takes about 4 hours to reach this end and then 3 hours to get back (as you tend to be more selective of casting areas on the way back) … and thus it would take 6-8 hours fishing if I’d started at the usual end and fished up … and I’d only 3-4 hours maximum to spare as Liz needed the car later for work. So, in this situation I’d used Google Earth to locate some parking at the far end before setting out (well, a few days ago in actual fact), and then put the co-ords into the Sat Nav and … bingo, arrived without problem. The parking was at an entrance to the canal in a place where another club holds the fishing rights but it was only a 250 yard walk down  the canal to reach our area… far better than the walk from the other end as it left me time for 3 hours of fishing although I probably only fished for 2 of them.

Anyway, as can be gathered from the title, I intended a lure and wobbling session for pike, and set up 2 rods for this. Both rods had 30lb braid terminated with wire spinning traces – and one rod was initially fitted with a black’n’luminous rubber shad and jig head and the other with a Shakespeare Midi S plug…

… and I fished these for about an hour without any joy … and then swapped the shad for a black’n’red caterpillar type body on the same jig head …. and fished down the canal another half hour before deciding to stop for a cuppa … and before having a sup I set up a sprat on a wobble rig but at that time added a couple of swan shot up the trace and cast the sprat to the far bank as a static ledgered bait whilst I had that cup of coffee….

IMG_0367

Caterpillar Body

Anyway, whilst having that coffee the skies had re-darkened and the wind picked up slightly – and in the distance, down the canal, I could see a canal boat working it’s way up towards me – and with a lot of decaying leaves still on the bottom of the canal the passage of that boat would create problems with those leaves being churned up and then entangling on the line and on the lures….  so I decided to work my way back to the car and possibly stop off at a pool that was almost en-route home for an hour or so… but whilst driving back the rain increased and I decided to call it a day.

SO… it was a first session blank for 2018.

PLANS:

Well, the club has put a call out for members to attend one of our waters on Sunday 7th to have a clear up of stray loose and lost lines after a complaint has been made by the landowner. The water is on an equestrian centre and so loose line not only creates danger for the wildlife but also for the horses and dogs….. so I’ll be doing my duty there…,

Monday/Tuesday (8th or 9th) – which one depends on whether I can my tackle sorted for the Monday or not over the weekend – is intended to be a pike bait fishing day with the added excitement of also being a possible first day with the new pole in action as I use it to catch live baits…

Friday 12th – possibly a day with Liz. I’m not sure if she’ll come out but even if she does it will be her choice of venue as she doesn’t get out too often. I’m easier on being retired but one of the cons of having a 25 year age difference is that she’s still working. And her free time has to be shared with other activities too… so when she gets to actually get out fishing the choice of when/where/how is basically hers.

The New Year Is Here…. So Looking Ahead….

Happy New Year to all!

Well, the 2018 New Year has arrived and I’m looking forward to the year ahead…

Although not the best start as a ‘hiccup’ has arisen with my start of year plans – a planned piking cum first pole fishing trip for tomorrow (Tuesday 2nd) has been put aside due to bad weather forecast so first outing likely to be the canal luring/wobbling session I’d planned as a follow-up.

So what do I plan for the New Year fishing…

  1. I took out club cards to fish a local reservoir for bream mainly in May 2017 – I took 2 cards as each card only allows the use of one rod at a time – and they run May 1st to the following April 31st. As I’ve only been to the reservoir twice, and I blanked both times, I’ve decided that I’ll not be renewing when they expire. It’s not so much the blanks but that I’m a member of two other clubs, both of whom have exceptional waters, and I find I tend to get pulled towards fishing their waters and so the new cards are not cost effective for me. However, as I say, the cards don’t expire until the end of April so I may get out on some of the other waters available before then, one of them is a pike pool that I’ve been meaning to try.
  2. I had intended to not renew my Birmingham AA (BAA) card for 2018 and instead to get a Wolverhampton AA (WAA) one. The main point of the BAA card was to access the local canals in the summer for early morning sessions (0300-0900) before the boat traffic kicked off for the day. And a BAA card (senior) is £30, whereas the WAA (senior) one is £10 and the WAA water adjoins the BAA one. However, I’d forgotten I paid my BAA by Direct Debit – and their renewal, 2018, card arrived in the post just after Christmas. So, sticking with the BAA card, for at least 2018, now. But then again the WAA only have ‘local’ canal water holdings whilst the BAA offer more, and varied types of, waters over a wider area eg, pools, rivers (large eg Severn – and small  eg Sow – and intermediate eg Teme) as well as the canal waters…
  3. Leading on from (2) above … I’m looking forward to trying some of the different waters available from both my two main club’s memberships that I’ve not yet explored plus some available waters via the BAA card – mainly a large reservoir, some upper and lower reaches of the Severn….
  4. In the near future I’m intending a canal session lure fishing for zander – a species I’ve not yet caught – plus some river zander trips.
  5. Trips to the Warks Avon – my favourite flowing water currently – in search of pike and zander over the rest of the winter and into spring and then for bream in the spring/summer/autumn….
  6. Setting a few new Personal Bests… especially a 5lb+ tench, a 7lb+ bream, a 3lb+ perch, a 5lb+ chub, a 25lb+ pike and a 7lb+ barbel. I’m not really a ‘carp’ person but if a 20lb+ wanted to take my bait, well then, who am I to argue? J But, of those listed, the barbel, although it looks the easiest on paper (esp as I live close to the Severn), is probably the one least likely to happen as I don’t tend to visit the Severn that often – probably 4-5 times a year – as I prefer stillwaters and if I do fish a river its generally the Warks Avon which is really more like a canal than the fast running Severn in nature…
  7. Enjoying my days at the waterside – whether they be mega-catch or mega-blank ones… there’s nothing quite  compares to a single tap on the rod tip, a dip of the float, a single beep of the bite alarm … all boost the adrenaline levels for the next few days. Whoever says that climbing 1000’ cliffs unaided, driving F1 cars at full speed, bungie jumping, riding a roller coaster without being strapped/locked in, etc are the most exciting things in life – well, it’s obvious they’ve never been fishing – and you just have to feel sorry for them don’t you!!!??