Session 13 – The Last Pike Session Until October

Thursday 29th March 2018 saw me heading out at 0720 for a last pike session of my current pike season – I only pike fish during the period October 1st to March 31st of the following year for two reasons (a) it gives the pike a rest (ha ha, not that I bother then during the season anyway!) and (b) there are many other species to be focussed on.

So, I arrived at my chosen venue (Pike Water 24) on a quite warm and pleasant morning and made my first cast with my float rod baited with maggot at around 0830 … as I wanted to catch some livebait prior to pike fishing. I’d decided to bait fish until 1130 or until I’d got 6 baits in the bucket whichever came first but the silvers weren’t very forthcoming and, as by 1100 I’d had only one roach of around 2-3oz to show for my troubles and then, after getting the line caught in a bush and despite freeing it without a break-off, I ended with a glorious end-tackle tangle so rather than re-tackle the bait rod I decide to switch to the pike rods. Also, over this time, the skies had clouded over and an easterly breeze had picked up making the thermometer stated 6’C feel more like -6’C with the wind chill factor – and I was facing directly into that breeze in a swim that was not brolly friendly.

So, I set up my two pike rods (actually, Ron Thompson ‘Desperado’ carp rods of 2.75lb TC). Both rods were tackled up identically – 40lb braid mainline to 30lb wire traces fitted with 2 x size 2 double hooks, small (10g) Fox floats weighted by Grey’s slotted/quick change leads and set to fish at around 8′ deep in 10′-12′ of water between 1-4 rod lengths out.

One rod was baited with the live roach (lower hook in lip, other at base of the dorsal fin to maintain horizontal presentation) and the other with one of the sardines (lower hook under dorsal fin, other in root of the tail to present in a head-down fashion) that I’d taken with me in case of failing to catch any small silvers – often when you do catch it tends to be bream of 2lb+ or chub of similar size if the silvers don’t play ball … but on the day not even those showed up.

And, despite the skies brightening a little, the wind chill started to increase further…. despite having risen from 6.8’C first thing in the morning to 7.2’C on leaving.

So I fished until 1430 before calling it a day and heading home to a hot bath… and in the intermittent time not a lot happened. The sardine was not touched at all… but I may have had one take on the roach, unless it suddenly found enough energy after an hour and a half to ‘zoom’ the until then stationary float (apart from minor drifting on the breeze) several feet across the water surface and then pull it under a couple of times. Whatever, a strike struck nothing and the roach showed no evidence of teeth marks or other damage. And at the end of the session the freed roach did swim off strongly…

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Session 12 With Prequel – Pain And Pleasure

This is a two day report of a day of pain followed by a day of pleasure…

PAIN… Sunday 25th March 2018

The first of the two days wasn’t really a ‘fishing’ day… it was a work party day spent at my club’s new crucian carp pool. Its a pool that the club took on a few years ago – and was totally fishless at the time being a new quarry excavation. However, a couple of years ago it was stocked with 100% pure bred crucian carp and tench. It is intended to maintain the population of pure crucian carp – a species that is becoming rarer than hen’s teeth these days due to them freely hybridising with common carp (the result being the ‘F1’ carp that are much beloved by commercial and match fisheries due to their willingness to feed all year round) – by ensuring that only species that will not interbreed will be introduced (if any at all) in the future. Personally, I feel that some sort of predator (eg perch or chub) will need to be introduced in the future in order to (a) deal with any sickly fish to control spread of disease and (b) to limit numbers once the fish get into breeding in numbers – obviously this may be a while as the introduced stock will need to start to settle and for proper breeding to get underway….

As can be seen from the pictures it is a wonderful looking pool and it will be opened to members to fish for the first mid-June this year – and I’m looking forward to getting on there, rod in hand, in the very near future…

And the pictures illustrate the work done on the pool over the day – previous to the photos being taken the pool was almost completely surrounded by small trees/bushes with a lot of them trailing over and into the water leaving very few spaces to actually fish from – so a lot of clearance of these was performed and also the water cleared with grapple irons to remove submerged loose branches, etc. My particular job was to strim, and rake the perimeter of the pool to create a clear 6′ path all round for ease of access – and as a sedentary person normally – the type who calls a taxi to get to the bus stop – it was hard work and I suffered bouts of acid reflux as well as an aching back which was only 80% cured by an hour of soaking in the bath when I got home… Well worth it though!!

PLEASURE… Monday 26th March 2018

Well, pleasure in as much as it was a pleasant day, warm in the sun but turned quite chilly really when the sun went behind the clouds especially as I’d shunned the last of my winter thermal layers when dressing. And the fact I was actually fishing – and the previous day’s aches had resolved themselves overnight.

I fished with Liz at one of the club’s pools – the smallest one actually, more ‘pond’ than ‘pool’, but has reasonable sized carp and other species and nice for a float fishing session.

We arrived around 0900 and were soon float fishing with maggot but sport was slow with just a few small perch and rudd between us although Liz lost a decent perch (probably would have been her PB) when it threw the hook close to the bank and rolled in front of us. I caught most of my fish – 9 or so small rudd and a small perch (3-4oz the biggest, most 1-2oz) in the last half hour of fishing by fishing around half depth close to a bush that overhung and trailed into the water… as in the 2nd picture below…

And highlight of the day was, after packing up at around 1630 and heading back to our local hostelry, that they had Titanic Plum Porter on tap!! A pint and a half of that, a bag of nuts and a bag of teeth smashing scratchings and you find all is well in the world!

So … tomorrow as I type this (ie Thursday 29th March) I’m off on a last pike fishing session of my season (October to March) – but the club, who’s water it is, has, from this year, introduced a pike fishing ban on all its waters from the beginning of April through to the end of September anyway in order to protect pike stocks. Last spring, the ‘monster’ of the <2 acre pool, caught last at 39lb, was found demised in the shallows presumed overcome by spawning rigours and the club is now keen to protect the rest of stock (which still includes at least 4 known 20+lb pike) as best as they can. So, I’m hoping to go out on a swansong… Fingers crossed!

WATER TEMPS:

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Session 11 – Back To The Shropshire Union

So, with the snow of last weekend having disappeared and with air temps bordering double figures I set off on Friday 23rd March 2018 back to a club stretch of the Shropshire Union canal with my lure rod and a few rubber bodies to attach to my newly created offset hook traces.

Although I’d made traces with 10lb and 30lb wire, both with hooks of sizes 1, 1/0 and 2/0, I only used the 1/0 hooks on 10lb wire as I was mainly hoping for perch and/or chub with a hope that a pike might show up too…. and these were used on an 2.4m lure rod (10g-40g rated) with 15lb braid main line.

So, I arrived at the water at around 0745 and set up a crayfish ‘creature’ lure to start the day with…

…. and I fished this with various rates and methods of sink’n’draw (draw/sink, twitch several times and rest, etc, etc) but nothing attracted the attention of a fish… and so after about an hour I switched the lure (using same trace) to a small (9.5cm) Savage Gear Soft 4Play body in ‘goldfish’ pattern and started to work my way back down the canal towards the car – I’d been fishing about an hour and a half by the time of the lure switch and my back was ‘feeling it’. These days a three hour lure session is about my ultimate limit before my back tells me its time to pack in and often its  two hours….

So, I fished my way back to the car, this time only fishing the more promising looking holes with overhanging brambles, tree roots out in the water, etc – what I call the ‘Mr Crabtree’ swims with reference to Bernard Venable’s fishing cartoon strips and books showing Mr Crabtree teaching Peter the art of angling and watercraft – ‘Peter, that is the perfect swim for a chub… cast your bait just upstream and let it drift under those branches’ … and invariably Peter always caught that chub! How to be so in real life … as Mr Crabtree’s swims for me were devoid of fish … or at least those that were interested in my lures…

This stretch of the canal is quite good fish wise – good sized chub, perch and pike and also has bream and carp along with the usual canal suspects of gudgeon, roach, etc. Probably tench too. BUT I’ve only ever bait fished once, that was in a match, apart from sardine/sprat for pike. I keep meaning to go there with the float rod/quiver tip rod and fish maggot/worm/bread/etc but have never got round to it so far so I’ll have to make an effort before the arrival of the early summer boat traffic.

So, what next? Well, Liz says she’ll fish on Monday (26th), so we’ll be off to a club pool with the float ledger rods for the day. Weather is promising. And then Friday (30th) I’ll be having my last pike session of my season – as I’ve said before, I only pike fish October 1st through to the following 31st March and then the pike rods are placed in storage until the following October. And so, from April 1st my fishing will be focussed on tench, bream, and perch primarily but with one of my clubs opening a new crucian carp pool to fishing I may be found there quite often too. Possible barbel and chub will figure in the catches too although more likely to be stillwater based than river as I don’t do much river fishing despite my clubs having excellent waters on the Severn, etc.

AND I know where my first session of the new season (ie the traditional June 16th – March 14th) will be … at a private pool that is allowed to be fished only a 4 weekends a year when the owner grants my club access for 6 people per day for a £10 per head donation to the local church. Liz and I have fished there for 5 years now with varying results – we go for the tench but on the last few years the carp have been more dominant so we’re hoping we can find those tench this time round.

RECOVERY!!! But Waiting On The Weather Now!

At the end of the last episode I reported the loss of my £200 Deeper Sonic Pro+ fish/depth finder with attempts at recovery on the day abandoned due to lack of wind or water motion – in an hour and a half it was still sitting pretty, on the centre line between the side banks of the elongated pool, about 10 feet from where it landed on the cast – and any motion was towards the end banks (a bit 5’ one way, 3’ the other sort of oscillation) and as the nearest of the banks in the direction of whatever little travel there was, was 200+ yards away then with those conditions the ETA was more to be determined in terms of days and weeks rather than hours and minutes … and hence I left…

However, the following day a fellow member was heading to the same pool and had seen the post I’d made on the club’s FB page about the loss and messaged me to say he’d have a look whilst down there fishing the next day – and the wind had picked up a bit overnight and blowing in a favourable direction towards the clearest bank of the pool so I was a little hopeful of an outcome. Anyway, on the day I received a message to say he’d had a look around but there was nothing to be seen …. but 10-15 minutes later I received a FB message containing a picture of a hand holding the sounder and a message ‘Is this any good?’ J

Thirty minutes later I was en route to a local pub car park to meet up – and the hand over was made… and not only that but I’d been using a Shakespeare Mega S lure to try and snag it … which also snapped off. Never thought to mention the loss of that BUT the lure was also returned to me!! BRILLIANT!!

So… the Deeper has now been re-charged (battery only lasts 5-6 hours and so had been used up overnight) and tested in a bucket of water in the back garden and all seems well with it. I’ve also ordered some 40lb mono and 60lb braid now for its use. I’m thinking of using two lengths of mono as a ‘shock leader’, one length being slightly overlength so that in normal use just the shorter piece takes the full force of casting but on the event it snaps then hopefully the ‘sting’ of the snatch will have been absorbed by the snapping and that the 2nd length will cope will the lower force and hold the sonar…. and the main line will be of 60lb braid as heavy mono tends to be stiff and thus limit casting distance – so I’ll be using a 10’-12’mono absorber connected to the braid main line on the 9’ 80g+ rated lure rod I use as my general spod/spomb/camera/sonar rod.

NOW … just need to get out and use it ..,. sub-zero temps and snow has put paid to any outing in the first half of this week but hopefully it might clear up later and make for a possible trip out on Friday 23rd…. but if that does happen then most likely I’ll head to a local stretch of the Shropshire Union canal with the lure rods … I made up a few 10lb wire lure traces for perch/chub – wire not necessary for perch/chub per se but the waters also contain pike and so I err to the side of caution – with light jig heads and offset hooks (1, 1/0 and 2/0) and also received the crayfish ‘creature’ baits I ordered during last week. And today I made up similar wire trace set ups with 30lb wire specifically for targeting pike. So, I’m interested in seeing how both lures and traces perform – and the stretch contains decent sized perch (3lb+), chub (5-6lb), and double figure pike so hopefully will have some good sport.

On the subject of weather … it could do with warming up a bit! We’re due a week’s camping holiday in Yorkshire in a few weeks time! And over the last 10 years or so, at this time of the year, usually this week or the one previous or later, we’ve usually been camping on the edge of the cliffs on the Gower … and when I say edge, I mean edge … the sea at high tide being only about 200 yards away but also 200’ below us… Had a few tents destroyed over the years by the winds up there!! But I think sense certainly would have prevailed over valour this year!!!

Session 10 – 2018 – A Big Loss

After an enforced long break of around 4 weeks due to weather (heavy snow, wind, rain and freezing conditions) and other considerations I finally got back to the water for what I thought when heading out was the final day of the ‘season’ (March 14th) but I’d got dates wrong and it was actually March 13th. 13th?? Should have stayed at home – although, other than for ‘the calamity’, it was quite a pleasant day weatherwise after earlier light drizzle which was minimal anyway, and a nice bright sunny wind free (although could have done with the breeze as I’ll explain in due course).

So, I’d decided to head off to one of my clubs’ pools (KF-BP) for a final session pre-close of water lure session. The pool is owned by the National Trust and, although there is no longer a legal close season on stillwaters – with a few exceptions, the Trust, as owners, implement their own annual ‘close season’ of March 15th to June 15th on this pool and the others on the estate.

So, I arrived at the car park at probably 0830 to find another car parked up and my heart sank a little as possibly the owner thereof had stolen a lead on me to the ‘hotspot’ – but as it happened I found myself alone on the 19 acre pool as that angler was actually carp fishing on one of the other pools.

By 0900 I’d walked around the pool to my desired start location next to the pool’s boathouse… and all was looking extremely good…

 

I tackled up my two lure rods – both with 30lb braid and 30lb wire lure traces – and one rod was ‘baited’ with a 16g blade spinner (Zebco luminous twin bladed) with which I’d had reasonable success at this venue and the other with a 5” sinking single bodied plug. And then I spent 30-45 mins casting these around but to no effect. So, as not used to the exercise, my back felt in need of a rest and I decided to set up my Deeper Sonar Pro Plus fishfinder on the 3rd rod I’d taken specifically for the purpose and have a cast about to (a) test it as I’d had trouble with my original and I’d sent it back to be checked and although no problem was found they sent me a brand new one and (b) to try to build a contour mapping of that part of the pool which this particular fish/depth finder has a facility to do.

So… all was going well… the device was working correctly, the mapping was taking shape, etc … when disaster struck! I cast out the device which was attached to 25lb mono line – I’d used 30-40 braid for this before with the fishfinder and with my spod/spombs but after the loss of spombs when the line snagged on the cast and the stretch free braid gave way under the shock I switched to the use of mono whereby the stretch was meant to act as a shock absorber – but again the line snagged somehow – and the line parted with a crack – and the fishfinder sailed out to the centre of the pool where it sat virtually unmovingly for the next hour and a half due to lack of breeze or any water movement – it probably moved 10-15 feet one way then about 10 feet back towards where it started and then started again the other direction and when I gave up the ghost it was about 4-5 feet from where it had landed in the water originally – and about 200 yards to the nearest land in the direction of travel. I even tried casting out a big heavy floating plug beyond and behind it and then walking along the bank so that the line looped around the finder and slowly retrieving to try to drag it towards me but only managed to get the looping right once and then once I’d got the loop to the finder the lure just slid around it with hardly any movement (1-2” at most) of the finder at all…

So come 1130 I decided I wasn’t going to get it back on the day and set off for home … but leaving £200 worth of fish finder just sitting out there is not good so I’m hoping overnight it’ll have drifted to shore and someone having a last day at the pool will find it … or tomorrow I’ll pop over with my landing net and have a walk around and see if I can spot it washed up anywhere… Not easy to spot though as it’s black and sits low in the water and looks like a small bubble from even a short distance – and the battery will have died by now so use of it’s mapping app on the mobile phone won’t locate it either. Bit of a needle in haystack situation.

 

And in all the time (2 hours+) the finder was in use and then sat out in the water lost it registered just 4 fish in total …..

Anyway, next fishing trip? Not sure, weather is supposedly turning back to snow and sub-zero temps again next week so I’ll have to see. Not good either as Liz and I are due a week’s holiday in Yorkshire in 3 weeks time – camping! Come on, warm up!!

On the agenda, I want to get a couple pike fishing sessions in on my other clubs’ waters – they recently introduced a ‘no pike fishing from 1st April to 30th September’ rule on all their waters – not that it affects me really as I self impose that rule on myself anyway. Also to visit another couple of pools and have a couple of canal sessions, one bait fishing and the other lure fishing, for perch and chub.