This week on my dinner hour this week i was just checking on the blog and i was really pleased to see in the "blogs i follow" widget that a certain Stuart Maddocks had updated his blog. Stuart Maddocks blog along with Stewart Bloors were the first blogs i read many years ago and i remember being inspired by the fantastic fish captures on Stuart Maddocks blogs and at the time i was relatively new to river fishing and i always remember being inspired by Stuarts blogs updates as they more often than not included fishing on the River Dee. Stuarts love and passion for his local River Dee was evident in the way he wrote about this river and his descriptions of the sights and sounds he witnessed while on her banks have stuck with me to this day. I was very fortunate to have been contacted by Stuart via email in those early days of my blog and his sound advice on blogging and piking etiquette are ones i still to this day try to stick too.
One night on Facebook i asked a question around line i should be using for my pike fishing and it was clear from the off I was under-gunned for piking on a river and it was Stuart who was straight in there helping me out along with a few of his piking friends and again there was no air of your doing this wrong, your doing that wrong it was plain and simple advice and educating a new angler to pike fishing on his part and you can tell how stuart is on his blog is how he is in real life whether that is being a gillie on the River Severn or helping out a fellow blogger on Facebook, a sound bloke and a man who's blog updates cannot help but motivate people to venture onto our local rivers. In recent times Stuart has moved away from angling and has pursued his love of photography and wildlife and it has been great seeing the fruits of his trips on the few updates on his blog over the past year but that need to go angling was only ever subdued flame waiting to be ignited again and how fitting this close to bonfire night that stuart chose to set that need to go fishing alight with this PB chub below from the River Severn, congratulations, is this the King returning back to his blogging throne?, i do hope so.
Link to Stuart Maddocks blog: http://gonnfishin.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/back-in-flow-for-big-chub.html
Next up is this week's Fish Fact of Fiction and as said earlier i was really pleased to see this new part of the blog get such positive feedback and a few anglers got in touch with their views on the matter but the one that stood out was JAYZS who posted in the comments about his thoughts on the factors that can effect the chances of a fishes survival but it was his final paragraph that captured me "I suspect that keep nets kill more fish than hooks, fish jostling around in close company, and against the mesh, must put their protective slime coats at serious risk. And I still see some anglers holding fish in a towel, whilst they unhook them!"
Being an angler that does use a keep net i am sure we have a future Fishy Fact or Fiction hidden in that comments there, maybe even two and i am sure we will have great fun in upcoming blogs with those questions but for now its onto this weeks and it is in keeping with the fishing in this update.
"boats on a Canal are a pain and Ruin anglers fishing"
So this weeks question is all around canal fishing and the effect boats have on an anglers fortunes. Many anglers who fish the canals are put off by the boats and curse as the boats begin to come through of a morning to the point some anglers only fish the morning sessions till the boats begin before packing up and heading home, so is that the best tactic and in my opinion do i think boats effect my fishing?
Firstly we have to take into account the different types of fishing you can do on the canal as each is definitely effected differently by boat traffic in my opinion. In my late teen years on the canal i spent many an hour on the canal chasing pike, to many in fact i should have been in college, i would nip up the road to the canal armed with a few plugs, landing net and tools to unhook the pike. It became apparent very early on that colour in the canal imparted by the boats was bad for the fishing and i got many more takes when the canal was clear as opposed to when it was coloured and it did get to the stage where i would only fish till the boats started. This season i have spent many hours in the early morning fishing and i have noticed that the pike are a lot more active in the morning before the boats start with plenty of splashing as the pike crash into the shoals of fish, do not get me wrong i am not saying you don't catch pike when the canal is coloured or saying pike don't eat during the daytime as there is no doubt they do but i certainly have seen more action from this in the mornings than when the boats get going, it does seem strange as you would think the pike would take full advantage of the disorientation caused by a boat going through to ambush unsuspecting prey, so for this aspect i would certainly say boats do effect pike fishing for the worse.
Moving onto pole fishing for silvers and i do think this part of it is where most of the frustration is caused with boat traffic. I fish mainly on the bridge water canal and the sankey canal and this puts me in a good place to comment as one has a height level of boat traffic and one has completely zero boat traffic as it is blocked at one end by silt and a bridge at the other. I often have anglers stop by my peg on the bridgewater and a lot of them say the same thing "too many boats on here for my liking" and "bloody boats ruin the fishing on here" and i honestly feel it is completely the opposite as long as you choose your area of the canal to fish carefully. I always choose a peg on the canal where i can put a line up out of the boat traffic, preferably up the side of a reed bed and this is purely to give me a line that i know is receiving little or disturbance from boats and i know my bait is there on the deck and not being spread far a wide but i also put another line just on the bottom of the far boat channel. Take this weeks swim for example:
I put one line up the side of the reed bed and another line to the right of me right in front of the reeds right in the boats line of path, i do this for one reason, i know the boats don't effect the fishing there and in fact the fishing gets better when the boats arrive and you can actually catch fish as a boat is approaching or straight after one has gone through, the fish are that used to it. There is of course tactics in baits and feeding that change with each swim and i will go into that in the actual update on this session but for this type of fishing i would certainly say that boats do not directly effect fishing on the canal, however, there is always an exception to every rule and this comes when in the depths on winter when bread fishing comes into its own and it is undoubtedly a fact that too much boat traffic in winter on your bread fishing can destroys your fishing as Alex Ferguson always says "No doubt about that".
These again are just my thoughts on the matter and born through my experiences on the canals, maybe your thoughts on it differ, if so why not get involved with the discussion on the blogs Twitter account or Facebook page or in the comments section of this post. I post this question on each page during the week for people to discuss so why not come and put your two cents into the debate.
Storming Fishing on The Bridgewater Canal
This week and i guess it will be forever remembered as a week the country stood in wait for the storm of all storms to hit the UK. The sad thing about these times is there are always those people in the wrong place at the wrong time and late on Saturday night word was spreading on Facebook that an angler on the River kennet had not returned home from the previous nights session, as of writing this blog he is still missing and i do hope that this story has a happy ending for this anglers family and my best wishes go out to the family and all concerned, fingers crossed for a positive outcome. This picture i captured after work on Thursday perfectly sums up the weather the week leading up to the weekend, heavy showers followed by bright warm gaps in the cloud.
The weather was due to hit late on Sunday evening but as i finished work on Friday it was plain to see the tone the weather was going to take the next day on the bank. The one thing this weather did guarantee was the fact there would be no trip to the river to trot a float through the next day, a session on a still water was going to be the destination.
I knew from early on in that week that it would be a solitary vigil for me on the the canal as my uncle had a chance of overtime in work and at this time of the year especially work does come first and that may well prove to be the case for me in the coming weeks if some overtime comes up. With first light not arriving till well come 7am and being only a 10 minute drive from my chosen swim it was gone 7.15am before i even loaded the car up for the trip and as predicted it was already raining quite heavy. I am not an angler that is too bothered by the weather, 15 years of playing Rugby League saw to that but i must admit i never look forward to setting up in the rain as it just makes life that little bit more difficult.
The area of canal i had in mind, as mentioned earlier on, was an area of canal that contained a reed bed on the far bank. I am a firm believer that you get out what you put in and this is also the case with my preparation and research as if myself and my uncle are looking to fish a new venue or stretch or river i will spend every dinner hour that week in work looking at the stretch on google earth just scouting out those areas on the stretch that are deep along with any obvious features i can see. This coming weekend is a great example of this as we are looking at fishing a canal and i have spent all this week just looking for a new area for us to fish and i already cant wait to fish there, all you can do is your best, if the fish don't oblige then at least i know i could have done t no more in preparation. It is a sound philosophy to live by and will day dividends in the long run i have lost count on how many times looking on google earth has saw us walk that little but further on a stretch but found a gem of a swim at the end of it.
The swim as shown above was opposite a reed bed and even before i arrived at the swim i had a plan in my head to how i wanted to fish this peg. The plan was to feed a swim in around 3ft of water up the side of the reeds straight out in front of me with three balls of Dynamite Baits Silver X ground bait laced with pinkie and as i was setting up my top kits i fed my second line right of the reeds to my right with the catapult but i only fed loose maggot on this line. It was important on the day to get my elastic choice right so i went with my preston number 4 solid elastic on the far line and fished my blue hydro elastic against the reeds the reason for this being i was expecting to catch small silvers over the groundbait line but i expected to hut nice perch and roach off the reeds so my thinking was the extra power would be needed there to get the fish away from the sanctuary of the reed bed. The thinking behind not feeding groundbait on the reed line was the fact i knew boats would be coming through there so any groundbait would be all over the place but by feeding just a few maggots i was expecting all them to be eaten by the fish each put in thus leaving little to be spread by the boats, that was the thinking and the logic behind it.
I started off on the line in front of the reeds whilst feeding the far line every now and again with pinkie, it did not take long for the first fish of the day and if i had to put my money on one fish to be the first fish of the day on a canal it would be a gudgeon and today was no different. The canal is normally a place where your swim builds up over time and so do the size of the fish so i am never disheartened to see gudgeon as i know that the other fish like roach and perch will come later on. The first sign of these better fish getting on the feed and pushing the gudgeon out was when i started connecting with some skimmer bream, only small mind but their a fish that is never alone.
The hunch they were not alone was correct as a few more of his friends joined him in the keep net and as expected a few of the better size skimmers showed up early on too. Where you find skimmers and roach you will almost certainly find hybrids between the two and i am finding i am connecting with these fish quite a lot on this stretch of the canal which is great as they don't half out up a fight. It was not long after this hybrid i had a very early visit from the first barge of the day a quick smile through the rain and a comment of "you must be as mad as me" was a exchange that brought a smile to my face.
The swim in front of the reeds was fishing steady with small roach and perch coming with great regularity and i was well on my way to putting together a nice net of canal fish and the swim was building nicely. I have to say now that although swims on a canal generally build through the day very rarely do they build as well as they did on this day, the fish where having it and the main swim in front of the reeds went into overdrive. It started with the swim going quiet for around five minutes before the float slid away and a lifted into solid resistance and nothing really prepared you for that feeling of striking into a fish and you're elastic shooting out but the float stays set in the water almost like you have stuck on bottom but there is a fish on the other end.
This spilt second where you lift and the float remains in the water always gives the identity of the fish away as a perch on this section of canal as their defiant nature is to stand its ground and fight and its that stance that lets you know its a perch, any other big fish just shoots off for the nearest cover and the only fish i encounter that does anything similar to a perch is a chub on the river as they have this stand and fight stance for a split second before heading for cover. The fish fought all the way in and when it ran it was well in the reeds when it did decide to flight instead of fight, it was a battle of wills and eventually the blur hydro elastic came through an the fish came into the middle and eventually into the net.
I was lucky to get this fish in, i should have lost it. I learnt my lesson with that fish and for the rest of the session i was shipping back before the fish even knew it was hooked and it worked. The day seemed to take an age to get light although it was 9.30-10am it was still really dark and grim but i had no complaints as it was keeping people off the tow path so shipping back, re-baiting and feeding the far line was done at leisure in my own time without a jogger huffing waiting for me to move my fishing pole from across the path. Saturday morning taught me one thing in that there are not only fair weather anglers out there, there is fair weather boaters, fair weather dog walkers, fair weather bikers and even fair weather joggers as no sooner had that rain stopped and the clouds broke and the sun came out the place was alive with all of the above you had to see it to believe it.
The perch in the net i filled the cad pot and shipped out again, only a sprinkling of maggots and a pinch of pinkie went over to the swim up the side of the reeds by this stage i was thinking i could be on for a good session especially as i hadn't touched that line yet and i imagined that would be gathering a fair few fish. The line in front of the reeds then got into a steady rhythm of bites from smaller roach and perched followed by a lull and then a better fish and i was amazed at the quality of the fish coming out of this one line, firstly a nice fin perfect roach and then another big perch, by this time i had the striking and shipping straight back down to a fine art.
The swim did dry up around 11am and all of a sudden the bites that were roach and perch were replaced with gudgeon. This is just how it is on a canal i find, you rarely catch all day form the same swim so that's why i always have at least two swims. I had fed the swim up the side of the reeds steady all morning and introduced one or two more balls of groundbait in that time, it was time to see what it had attracted. I went over on a single white maggot and i full expected the float to go under, but, it didn't, why was this the case? I tried all manor of things from fining down to a single pinkie and a size 20 hook to messing around with depth and even tried fishing beyond my baited line to see if the fish had backed off. I had to pack in around 1pm as i had jobs to do later on in the day and i have to say i messed around with this line for far too long as it was gone 12 by the time i admitted defeat on this line and with my tail between my legs went back onto the line in front of the reeds.
What could have been the reasons for this? was the question going over in my head and i think now looking back the two swims might have been too close together either this or as the temperature had dropped slightly the fish where in the slightly deeper water now rather than up on the shelf. I aim to learn from each session i go on and this was a lesson in both feeding and bait placement for the time of year.
I went back over the reed line for the rest of the session and it seemed that resting this swim had seen some more decent fish move in and another nice perch and the best bream of the day came to the net in the early stages of the last hour.
The best fish of the session was reserved for the last fish that came during the session as just as i was about to pack ship back and start wrapping in the float slid away and this beautiful redfin came to the net, as it broke the surface i was taken back by its shimmering flanks in the midday sun and it felt like the right moment to end the session on.
The final net went 10.5lb and was a net i was over the moon with as it contained no big bronze bream to bump the weight up, it was a net of pure silver fish and shows how well the canal is fishing this year and fingers crossed it continues to be a safe haven for our fish for many years to come.
The one thing the day did show me is just how the seasons have changed since my last visit to the swim a few weeks ago as the sight of the family of buzzards soaring on the midday thermals was replaced with a solitary Robin looking to steal a meal from my maggot tray. The leaves of the trees around me, now either being relieved of their brown leaves or still clinging onto the last of their green ones gave all the trees around me a diverse mix on autumnal colours with dark greens mixed with browns and yellow ochres.
That is it for this week i hope you all enjoy my weekly blog and till next time its tight lines from me,