Saturday, 22 February 2014

Deadbaiting For Pike: 3 Years Blogging and Missed Chances

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update. We are fast approaching the end of the river season and this time of year is normally a time where my type of fishing, dace fishing, is at its best but this constant rain keeps presenting a wall of brown water between myself and my quarry.  I guess dace fishing is one branch of river angling that suffers most with the floods as chub and barbel anglers always have the option to use a bigger lead and a smelly bait to attract their quarry but dace being such a delicate fish in my mind it takes a lot longer for it to be right and i guess this has been shown by how quiet the dace pages on facebook have been this past week compared to the chub and barbel ones where some nice specimens have been coming out and in good numbers.

This time of year for myself is also synonymous with the anniversary of me starting my blog and this week my blog passed the 3 year mark.  This blog has been pretty much a weekly account of my angling life and baring life getting in the way and of course illness from time to time i would say its a regularly updated blog.  There are many blogs out there and many contain much better specimens than mine but i don't think there are many out there that are updated with up and above 3000 words a week.  I must admit writing this blog is one of the proudest things i have done and i look forward each week to putting it together piece by piece during my dinner hours in work and sometimes late into Friday evening.  It is a blog that has also sprouted many benefits and some would look at the few product reviews i did in the past year but myself i look to people i have met through writing it over the past 3 years, i love seeing emails dropping into my in box letting me know how they have gone on or on Facebook seeing that people are out on the bank and what they are catching.

Looking back over this last year preparing this update it made me realise just how many great memories and achievements fishing has presented me with this year but i would have to say the biggest achievement this year for myself came away from the bank and it was when i decided in September to start on probably the biggest life changing journey of recent times in losing weight, so far i have lost between 3.5 and 4 stones and although the past month has seen it plateau both in loss and effort to lose more on my part i plan on building on this further this year.

The beginning of this blogging year started with some really nice nets of dace from the river dee which culminated in a really good session just before the season ended, March also saw a major milestone for the blog in that it got featured in the Angling Gazettes Top 10 blogs for February 2013.  During this period i was heavily dedicated to catching a double figure carp to round of the carp quest and i was over the moon when i accomplished this in May. June and July saw us moving onto the Bridgewater and Sankey canal and we had some really good success on them both with some nice nets of bream and some really nice perch,  July also saw the blog featured for the second time in the Top Ten  Blogs on the Angling Gazette an achievement i was immensely proud of.  Moving into September we continued to explore the local canals and the odd foray to the rivers and it was around this time i started fishing a local river and connected with a few chub and my scary first night session.

October saw us on a voyage of discovery along the river dee as we tried new and old spots in the hope of discovering some more dace holding areas and we succeeded and of course where the dace are so are the pike and i managed to get a few of these beautiful pike on the bank.   Little did we know fishing the river dee in November that it would be our last session on this river for 3 months! A Saturday dace fishing for me followed by a hungover session chubbing was one of the most memorable weekends of the year. December was a complete washout in reality and it was during this month i knew i had to make a decision and move into another branch of our sport if i was to still get out on the bank and with that i started to look into dead baiting for pike and i have to say new years day to now has been one of the steepest learning curves i have ever been on and i don't think anyone can doubt the effort i put in and that was rewarded with a new personal best still water pike last week of 13lb 8oz, my own personal best moment of this last year.

Thank you to everyone who has visited and lived every session with me through this blog over the past year and to all the people who have helped me out with my angling, you will all know who you are because i have thanked you all personally,  special thanks go of course to my dad who joins me on the bank in all weathers and of course to my uncle who i am fortunate to have shared so many of these amazing sessions with, he has been missed the passed few weeks that is for sure!!  Here is to another year on the bank and the adventures that come with them.

below are the links to the posts mentioned above:

River Dee Dace Session Feb:
Quest to catch a 10lb carp:
 Sankey Canal Bream session:
First night session:
River Dee pike :
Hungover chubbin':
New pike Pb:

And with that its onto this weeks fishing:

Saturday Morning:  Pike, Pike Pike Everywhere But Not A Sniff

One of the major plus points i have found with piking is how mobile you can be on the bank, it is a point i have mentioned a few times before this winter but time and time again i find myself looking at the back of my car and remembering days travelling to the River with my seat box, 3 rod holdall, net bag, pike rods and on the odd occasion a Grill ha-ha, so this lightweight approach i am finding to be a major benefit and it also i feel is essential to any type of success as when you have too much gear you can have a tendency to not want to move and stick to one spot.  This past week i have to admit though that a brolly and my chair have crept into my car boot and this is plainly just because i was planning on spending all day on the bank and lets face it there are no prizes for catching fish because you have stood in the freezing cold wind and rain for 8 hours.

Walking the bank to my peg i was again greeted with the local crows clearing their throats and the neighbourhood it seemed as they mobbed a Buzzard scouring the fields for any dead carrion.  I have settled into quite a routine with my pike fishing now when i get to the bank and the first action for me is always to get the baits i am planning to fish with out of my bag and thawing in the margins, next is setting up my chair, brolly, unhooking Matt and tools and then finally the rods are prepared.  It may seem a little presumptuous to set up the unhooking Matt and tools at the start of the session but not only am i a very confident person when i go fishing in i expect to catch as my thoughts are if i don't have that mentality then what is the point? Secondly i also feel it is very important with pike fishing to be prepared for a fish on the bank there is no point getting a fish in the net then rummaging around trying to find your Matt and forceps as it is a thing i have done in the past and only leads to a build up of stress and anxiety and you rushing around which is not good for the pikes welfare, yourself and even your rods lying on the bank.  The scene set i cast out my two rods and with them went a prayer to the angling gods.

Good planning i feel is key in all aspects of life but with my fishing i try to be as far planning as possible, normally by Tuesday or Wednesday i know what times i will be going fishing that weekend and with the rivers we then normally leave it till a Friday evening to settle on our final destination.  The piking this winter has been a different challenge all together as although i know in advance what times i will be out on the bank picking the destination has provided me with a very welcome headache.  I don't really like moving from one venue to another with my piking as i have learnt very quickly that pike have feeding periods and they can switch on at any time,  some people doubt this mass feeding ability but as you will read further on in this blog the evidence of it is there in almost all the sessions i have been on with numerous takes. 

Since starting dead baiting for pike i have had a few requests and emails for more information on the locations and my tactics i am using and although i do welcome people to contact me and ask me questions on all parts of my angling I do adopt a rule of not divulging any location information on any parts of my pike fishing whether that be on flowing or still waters and there are a few reasons for this, 1) we now live in a age where anyone can see posts we publish on facebook and although the person asking the initial question might use that information with the best of intentions there is always a chance that people scouring the Internet for information to catch fish for the pot will see it and i don't want to ever think that this chain of a fish being taken started from myself in any way 2) I have been lucky enough to have been given advice and met some quality pike anglers and been taught many new techniques from them, all have their different ways of doing it, but they all have the same stance on reporting pike locations, don't do it, pike are a fish that don't take well to angling pressure anyway but all will tell stories of times they have told locations only for it to be completely ruined a year or so later by angling pressure.  Just look at how long it is after these monster pike you see in the Angler Mail and Time before they are reporting the record breaker has been found dead in the margin.

I find it slightly embarrassing when asked about rigs to be honest as i really am at the most basic end of the scale.  I use two rods that are identical in every way apart from the amount of lead i use on them.  My rig consists of a heavy duty wire trace double treble with size 6 hooks above that is a free running lead up to a pike float and a stop knot to control the depth.  The difference in weight is only there so i can have one of my rods fished off the bottom without the float being pulled under while the other has a heavier weight to fish it hard on the bottom.  Baits, Sardine, Mackerel and Sprats, again something i am no expert on as i really did just go the supermarket and have a look at what i liked and fortunately i have had my confidence boosted on all these baits as i have landed a fish on all of them over the past weeks.  I never really like going into tactics and rigs too much on my blog or how i do it as i never want to come across as a know it all or my way is the way type person as i feel angling should be a personal journey of exploration and success where you develop knowledge over time, of course take on advice from other more experienced anglers as that is invaluable when first starting out in a new part of our sport but angling i feel is best done where you learn as you go along, it makes the captures so much sweeter, for example Garry started off buying shop bought pike rigs like i do now, he now makes his own from scratch i can only imagine how good that feels to catch a fish on a trace you have made yourself a feeling i hope i get next winter.

For this session i arrived at the water around 7am and had to be in the car by the latest at 12.15am so i had a good chunk of time.  I always have one particular part of the venue i feel is the best area and i like to devote at least the first hour or so to this unless that is i see any signs of predator activity elsewhere and after this time i then search for the fish by leapfrogging around the places i fish.   Saturday was no different and by 11.30am i had covered a fair bit of water hunting out feeding fish with no success i was sat alone with my thoughst considering another move and where i was going to fish the next day when right between my two rods there was an explosion of activity as pike attacked some bait fish sending them scattering out of the water.  This commotion instantly saw my interest pricked and i quickly presented a dead bait shallow in the area hoping that the pike where feeding in the upper layers and would see my fish as a wounded fish from their marauding attacks.

No action was forthcoming so as a last gasp attempt i decided to start twitching the bait back with almost instant results as the float slid away confidently, i gave the fish enough time to turn the bait before striking hard and instantly the fish came to the top, a jack of around 3lbs came to the bank.  In the edge i could see a hook flying loose so being ultra careful i grabbed for the landing net and scooped the fish up, result i thought.  Then in one move the fishsflipped up and pulled the mesh with its mouth and the fish was on the outside of the net, a quick scoop saw the hooks pull and the fish was gone and i was left with a right mess to sort out.

The loss of the fish would have probably gutted me previously but i was still riding high on last weeks 13lb personal best so i must admit it cushioned the blow.  The birds nest untangled i tried my arm again and in two casts had another fish on, again a jack but unfortunately this fish spat the hooks during the fight.  There are always lessons to be learnt from session like this and the biggest eye opener on this was the fact you can have fish all over you but if your presentation is  not right you wont get a take it seems finding the fish is only half the challenge.

Sunday - The Reality Of A Days Piking

Sunday morning and it was an unusually late start for myself as i did not arrive in the swim till gone 8.30am.  I don't know about other anglers but i always feel like i have missed half a days fishing if i miss the first hour of day light as it in my eyes holds that much promise and even more so i feel when hunting a predator as in my mind i imagine those fresh water sharks lurking amongst the dead reeds cloaked from their prey by a blanket of dimpled light.  The baits cast out and i knew i was taking a big risk in fishing this location as i was yet to see any action from a pike in 3 previous trips.  Garry was soon on the phone asking if i was out and about and no sooner had i sent him a tantalising picture of my swim he sent me no end of moral boosting pike he had caught from this very location, a much needed morale boost indeed and i must admit got the blood pumping.  The first location spot failed to produce and action so it was time to up sticks and try the next spot.

The next spot looked very pikey indeed as a depression in the bottom and a cut back in the far bank made it look ideal place for a pike and i was also informed that it also holds a rather large tree to one side of it that holds some pike.  The suspended dead bait was cast as close as i dared and i turned to reach for my second rod, a quick turn to pick it up was halted as out of the corner of my eye i saw my float already in the swim dip twice and sail away confidently, a sure sign the fish has taken the bait well.  I waited for the float to submerge for a few seconds then hit the run and was pleased to be met with a good solid and defiant pike on the other end.  The fish put up a great account of itself leading me to believe it was bigger than it later turned out to be and i was actually relieved when the fish coasted in to the side, no messing around here with the net this fish was getting chinned out if it was the last thing i did.  The fish on the bank it weighed 5lb 7oz so only a jack, i say only i was over the moon!.

Inspecting the fish after unhooking it i noticed it had some markings across its back, these can be from all manner of things from cormorant or heron stabs, damage during spawning or damage from a previous capture with another angler if it got into a snag but it also could have a more sinister origin from another larger pike seeing this small, almost certainly male pike, as breakfast.

You will notice that the title for this days fishing is the reality of pike fishing and it comes around from the fact that i was the only angler on this location and i tried every inch of it during the day but did not have any other action between this fish capture at 9.30am and 2.45pm.  At 2.45 pm i had a run on the left hand rod which took the bait around 3ft before stopping and the float just tremored, not wanting to risk a deep hooked pike i struck as i thought the pike was eating the bait on the spot only for the me to feel the gutting sensation of the bait being pulled form the pikes grasp.  I returned to re bait the rod and as i did the other rod zoomed off straight into the reeds, i must admit it took me by surprise and i should have struck sooner than i did but again the fish came off.  Now this is not the first time in this dead baiting i have experienced such feeding periods where the fish just turn on as when all three of us had those 7 fish last week all the action was done and dusted before 10.30am and on the location where i had my first double this winter i have also noticed a distinct feeding period of the day where all the runs have come.

I guess the difference comes in the fact you have to take these chances and on Sunday i just didn't i put the hours in and when the bites came i messed up or didn't take the opportunity as i could now be writing this blog having caught 5 pike this weekend instead of one, my conversion rate of bites is an area i need to look at it more detail.

Whilst on the bank on Sunday you could see all around that nature was telling me time is running out for this years dead baiting, snowdrops shooting up into flower, green daffodil shoots bursting form the ground, female ducks now seem to be the centre of all the local drakes attention again, robins and blue tits collecting nesting material and a quick look at my ruck sack to see a pair of ladybirds warming in the midday suns glow revealed spring is just around the corner.

Till next time i wish you all tight lines


1 comment:

  1. Three year's blogging is an achievement. I know from my own blog how hard it is to keep things fresh and different. Nicely done.