Friday, 11 October 2013

Winter Looms and Paternoster Booms...

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update and first of all I want to cover what there was no update on the blog last week.  I was asked at the start of September if i would like to feature as a guest blog on the Angling Gazettes website and after thinking about it for around 2 seconds i said yes, of course i said yes and i was over the moon to have been asked to write a piece for a website i think so highly of.   September was always going to be a hectic month for me when with going on holiday at the start of it and having the Minke fishing tool review to write as soon as i got off holiday i knew time would be tight so i agreed with the Angling Gazette that i would get the blog over to them towards the end of September beginning of October.  Last weeks blog update was that guest blog and I sent the blog over to them on Friday morning and it is currently being edited by their team so i will post a new blog on here when it goes live on their page in the near future with the link on it, so watch out for that one.

So moving on to this weeks update and its been a really good week for me as I have had a few people get in touch with me on the blogs email address and as you all know i love it when readers of the blog get in touch, some just want to say hi and say how much they enjoy reading the blog, some get in touch with pointers and tips for myself and others get in touch looking for help on venues i have fished or on writing a blog, all of these emails i love receiving and i hope all the people who have ever got in touch with me would go away and say that i have always done my best to help them and been honest in my emails to them if i cant.  There are some times that you just cant help people and some aspects of my angling that i do not divulge in private emails and these normally circle around piking spots which is down to protecting this species that does not really take well to angling pressure.

If the email is not your thing the blog does have a Twitter page and a Facebook page, both of which are regularly updated and a great place to keep up with the blog and pictures that do not make it into the weekly blog and unlike some Facebook pages out there feel free to post your catches on the page its there for everyone to interact on and not just for me to post on so why not join others on there and let me know how you are getting on with your fishing.

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 The trees are starting to loose their leaves and coating the ground with natures carpet, trips to the river from now on will be met with a steady stream of browns, oranges and yellows fluttering through the swims. The silver fish will be starting to shoal up and begin to think about migrating to their winter haunts and behind them dressed in a full dinner suit of speckled green will be the hungry pike lurking in the shadows, chub will be feeling the pinch as the natural larder runs dry and the grayling well the grayling will still think its summer and behave accordingly and carry on as if nothing has changed ........winter is just around the corner and as i write this blog on a dark Wednesday night its safe to say the weather has taken a turn for the worse.  There is a draft coming in from the open window to my left and  there is certainly a nip in the air tonight and for the first time this year i think it may be time for the heating to get put on, roll out the extra blankets and on with the slippers.  In fishing terms it means it is time to brush down the thermal pants and bob hat in preparation for the colder sessions ahead and i always like to be prepared for my sessions and in winter this certainly means being warm. This year we will also have the luxury of warm food on the bank as we make the most of the Calor Grill to Go I reviewed in the summer and i said back then i would get my use out of it in the colder months and i am sure sessions like this freezing cold session where the landing net froze upside down and i had icicles in my keep net will be so much easier with a hot meal inside me.

freezing nets blog:

In terms of actual fishing it normally starts the feeling inside of freezing cold trips on the River trotting for dace and grayling but this year i am going to try and go down a different line with my fishing.  There will of course be trips trotting for Dace and chub on the blog but i am going to try and add some variety to my fishing with sessions specifically targeting Pike and i am setting myself a target of a 15lb plus pike for this winter, a target i feel is achievable and a target i almost hit in the guest blog i wrote for the Angling Gazette.  It would be so easy for me here to come out and say, right my target is the stereotypical 20lb pike but when i set these targets they are more there for me to keep myself on track and although i ultimately want to beat the target i do not see it as a do or die target as in reality i am happy with whatever i catch on the day whether that be a 3lb or a 10lb pike as i just love admiring the personality of each individual pike and how beautiful their markings are when they come from our rivers.

The one hope i have this year is just to spend some more time on the river bank as last year was a complete washout with the heavy rain, snow and subsequent floods it seemed the river was never really right and was not on proper form till February or march time.  One thing that is going to be hard for us if we get another winter like that is finding somewhere on the river to fish as we used to head to a inlet on the river where the fish used to back into in floods but that is no longer available so we will have to look into alternatives and that may well mean trips to the canal or purchasing a different card with a river that drops quicker than the river dee, one thing that is guaranteed is it will be a cracking adventure finding out what the next few months have in store as we move onto what i regard as the best time of the year....

and with that its on to this weeks fishing...

Winter Looms and Paternoster Booms 

After last weeks trip to the river where we landed a few pike we decided to venture to the same stretch again but this time i set my stall out for just pike.  On the previous trip we had both trotted for a few hours in the morning but we both came to the conclusion that we were fighting for the same fish as one person would be catching solid and the other would be struggling and then vice versa throughout the day so with this in mind i made the decision to go all out for a predatory pike.

It really amazes me when i go out dace fishing just how many times i am approached by anglers fishing for a pike who ask you if you can catch them a dace or a roach and as a rule i generally say no as surely to be able to catch a pike you first have to have the ability to catch the bait? surely catching the bait is part of the whole process, at least it is in my eyes.  With this in mind i spent around a hour or so in the morning catching a few baits for my pike fishing session ahead, only a few and i always make a point of not using baits that are too big although after getting some advice from pike anglers this week this could be one reason i cant get over the 14lb mark and i suppose the theory of big bait big fish can be logical in pike fishing. 

The bait safe and sound in the keep net it was away with the float gear and out with the pike rod and for sessions where i am going to target pike direct on the river i always go with a paternoster rig.  They are fool proof really in their design and i go with the Greys Prowla 360 degree pike boom as this also comes with a up trace and the system is really simple you attach a weak link on the bottom with a lead on the end and set the depth with a slip knot so the bait is held in position at the depth you want.  The trace is attached via a snap link to the boom so its really easy to change trace should a pike make a mess of your trace.  

I only started using these last year and honestly can say i would not be without it now it completely takes away the moving of a bait all the time when it heads for snags like all baits invariably do and on occasions last year i have put a bait in on a short line below a float and not got a bite and then changed over to this and its gone instantly and i am sure this is down to the face this paternoster puts the bait further down in the water column and given sometimes i am fishing in 10ft plus of water it can make the difference. The rig as it would sit in theory is shown below:

My uncle was further upstream and he set out his stall for dace and roach using maggot and hemp tactics and was having a steady session with bites coming steady for longer periods since i stopped feeding my trotting line.  All set up and ready for action i slid down the bank and into my first swim of the afternoon armed with the minimal of tackle i tested the depth to make sure that if a pike did take it did not have enough slack to swallow the bait without me knowing as the last thing we want is a deeply hooked pike and with the depth set it was a case of adding the bait before lowering the it in position.

There is one thing that you can almost guarantee with pike and its if you drop a bait in the right place and there is a pike about they normally do not mess around and today was no different as the float had only settled for a minute or so before it slid away and i always think its almost a sinister look as the float submerges and you loose sight of the bright red top of the pike bung.  I never leave it too long before striking preferring to lose the fish than risk deep hooking one so i gave it a second before striking and setting the hooks and one of the best feelings for me with pike fishing is that feeling of solid resistance on that first strike, whether the pike is big or small that original contact gives nothing away of the fishes size, although i may have to retract that comment if i ever connect with one of the big girls. 

The fish made a hard run for the middle of the river and pulled some line from the spool but at this point i felt the fish did not really know it was hooked as its run was halted it seemed to hold for a second in the fast flow before showing its self just below the surface as it eased back into the slack its tail just caressing the water before with one rapid flick of its tail it flared its anal fins and tail and made a hard run for the submerged tree to my left, this esox certainly knew where home was as it made for this snag twice more during the fight but each subsequent time i was one step ahead and quickly applied the brakes giving no quarter and it was not long after that the fish rolled on the top and i took my opportunity to slide the net under the fish. On the scales it went exactly 8lb and i was over the moon as it was only early on in the session and this fish was a solid start.

The fish rested in the margins upstream of our position till it regained its strength in the landing net before being released it was time for me to rest the pike swim for 15 minutes while i chatted away with my uncle and spent a few minutes watching how my uncle goes about trotting his swim all the time learning little hints and tricks and not only watching what he does but asking why and that is the important part about it i find knowing why he makes a change and what he hopes to achieve from it.  These little bits of information hopefully will all come together to improve my river float fishing when the winter comes and we start to target the big shoals of dace. 

My trotting lesson and two brews later i returned to my pike swim and after no initial take i relaxed into my peg and took in my wonderful surroundings and fully enjoyed being beside the river.  When you are trotting a float you are constantly concentrating and focused on presenting the float right and sometimes this does mean you miss some of the sights and sounds of the river but Saturday, for me, was different i was well and truly spoilt by the nature that resides on the banks of the river dee.  On the day i enjoyed watching a kingfisher work the river upstream form his tiny perch while breaking through the background noise of the river flowing over the shallows upstream was the faintest tap tap tap of a woodpecker searching the bark for grubs.  Later on in the day the warmer air thermals saw a pair of buzzards riding high above much to the annoyance of the local crows who hounded them ferociously causing them to move on out of sight while my session from a nature point of view was topped of with this lovely butterfly that behaved so well letting me have its picture taken. 

Judging by the striking upstream my uncle was still getting a few fish and upon checking my watch it had been a good two hours since my last fish so i upped sticks and dropped in another swim i had my eye on looking to give it half an hour or so.  In total i tried 2 more swims before returning back to my original swim for the rest of the session and after getting to that point you think its not going to happen the float dipped a few times but unlike the normal ebbing and flowing of the float that goes with the occasional swirl of water through the swim these dips where more purposeful and direct and a few seconds later the float skulked away towards the middle of the river.  

This fish felt bigger than the first one during the fight and like the first it knew all about that snag to my left  but unlike the first one i was all onto that tactic from the off and was waiting for it to make for it.  Last year i got some great advice on the blogs Facebook page about line for pike and took their advice and moved over to a strong braided line and i am so glad i did it puts you right in touch with the fish and gives you so much control and this extra confidence in your tackle really puts you in the driving seat when trying to land pike that can be really strong with their runs.  The fish on the bank it had a strange deformation on its back which was well healed and at first i thought it was a cormorant bite but upon checking further along the pikes back there where further marks and it looked like it had been grabbed by a much bigger pike, these wounds were old and healed but proves there are bigger pike in this area. 

During the unhooking i caught my knuckle on the the hook in the pikes mouth as i chinned the fish out of the net which was a shock to say the least and this is the slight bit of blood you can see on the pikes gill plate.  After resting the pike in the margin till it was fully recovered it was time to see it swim away back into its watery home a practise that should be part of any anglers day, that is putting the pike back and not taking them home as unfortunately there are still people on the bank in the early hours looking to catch pike and take them for the table no matter what the size.

pike going back

After this pike i gave the swim another 20 mins while my uncles keep net dried out but no more pike where forthcoming.  My uncle had a good day for the time of year when the dace can be quite dispersed still putting together a 8lb net of dace and i think the odd roach.

the best fish on the day was this fin perfect dace which looked great with a few other decent fish form the session.

All in all i was well pleased with the session, two more pike to add to the pike form last week and with one pike into double figures and a number of separate pike all just under the 10lb mark i feel i have made a steady start to my piking campaign.  With regards the targeting of bigger size pike i think i am going to keep on the way i am at the moment as i am obviously naturally picking the right areas and pike are coming to the bank so i will continue with how i am doing it before i look at making changes. 

A silver itch to scratch - Sunday 6th October

Although i thoroughly enjoyed my pike fishing on Saturday it still left me with a silver fishing itch to scratch so early on Sunday morning i set out for a local pond hoping to put together a nice net of silvers.  Driving along the road to the pond the sky i front was a real picture and i just had to take a detour to capture a picture of such a glorious morning, to all those people who think there is only one 6 o'clock in the day you are missing out big time.

sunrise over the river Mersey. 

The session was one where i got plenty of bites and had a very enjoyable morning on the bank as predicted the carp moved in as the weather warmed and on a number 5 elastic i was not offering up much resistance to these small carp.  I looked back thinking should i have gone heavier and all out for the carp given how close to winter we are but thinking about it in the afternoon after the session i went for roach and rudd and set my stall out for them and i caught my target for the session so looking back on the session i was happy with the result and the carp can wait for another day.

The final net was testament to a steady mornings fishing and although the better roach failed to show i couldn't think of a better way to pass a few hours. 

This weekend we are hoping to get on one of the canals but with the weather turning cold we may end up on the river.

till next week

tight lines 


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