Festive Times The Best Ever....
So its safe to say Christmas 2014 has been a Christmas like no other in our household as we welcomed our little man to the world on the 19th and eventually got out of hospital on the 22nd December right in time for manic preparations for Christmas (and a cheeky Christmas eve fishing trip ha-ha). The festive period being my little girls first where she knew about Father Christmas really brought the magic back to what had been quite a sad occasion since my mums passing and just seeing her face on Christmas Day really put a new light and brought the magic of Christmas back again for me and i cant wait for the years of Christmas days to come.
Speaking of our little girl she is really coming on now and shocking us all with her development and i certainly think a short trip to the canal or local pond to catch her fist ever fish might be on the cards this spring. A session i can not wait to get out and experience and then blog about as it will be such a special occasion for me. She will of course in time choose her own path and if angling is top be part of that then i will be happy to teach her the little i know but if not then i am surely going to enjoy the enforced fishing trips till she makes her mind up.
Christmas always gets you thinking about family and this year i am determined to get my dad out on the bank more with us again. I am hoping to do a few sessions on the canal we used to fish all those years ago to see how it has changed and see if those big bronze slabs are still around. Fishing is always a family affair with myself any how what with most of my trips being trips with my uncle its safe to say I'm hoping 2015 is going to be a year around family.
The Session Of 2014.....
I mentioned in a recent blog update that i had been asked about writing a recap of 2014 by a blog follower and that i was apprehensive to do so as i feel my year runs march to march with the closing of the river seasons. What i have decided to do is pick out one session that stood out for me in 2014.
The year of 2014 was really good to me and if it was a wine it would certainly be classed as a vintage year. It was a year where all our hard work paid off, all these trips to flooded rivers blanking and all those times travelling to a different area of a flooded river and catching all come good, all those hours searching on google earth for new areas of river and then walking farmers fields to wet a line in their unexplored depths. This year was certainly good to us and i do feel those trips put us in a situation where we could pick and choose each week from 4-5 areas on different rivers to trot a float through with confidence but it was a new exploration into the world of dead baiting for pike that bought about me session of 2014.
I had dipped my foot in the water of dead baiting for pike from January to February of 2014 and under the tuition of Garry learnt some of the fundamentals of dead baiting for pike. October and i was ready to cut my teeth and the early session in October saw me break my Pike Pb with a 15lb pike but it was the very next session that will live forever in my memory. Sat on the banks of the river i noticed my right hand float twitch and then again and then slowly move along the surface, i struck and the rest is in the following update if you want to read about the session.
link: My First 20lb Pike
Planning for January and February....
At the beginning of the pike season i set my self a target of catching 100 pike. This total seemed large at the time and knew it was going to be a huge achievement if i got there. With this total in mind and two serious fish under my belt in October my mindset since then has been more about numbers of fish than size of fish. That has meant me concentrating on one location on a consistent basis, a place that of course could throw up a big fish, but in reality i was settling for the fact most of the fish i was going to catch were going to be between 4lb-7lb with the odd rare upper single or double.
early season nice fishThis proved a very good tactic with at least one or two fish coming on most trips to this location. This of course led to the odd recapture but that's pike fishing and at the time of writing this (SPOILER ALERT) i am on a total of 56 fish caught. I will be returning to work next week so the chances of me getting close to 100 pike is very slim indeed. The whole challenge started of with plenty of momentum but in reality work and family commitments has seen fishing time for two of the people doing the challenge hard to come by and for myself and Ste changeable conditions has made the piking really difficult as the prey fish are not yet shoaled hard in their winter spots and as a consequence the pike are still quite spread out.
With this in mind i have made a conscious decision from now on to concentrate on areas that might produce less fish but the fish will be of better quality and also give me a serious chance of ending the session with a special capture. There will be a full round up of the challenge at the end of the season on how i feel it has gone and the pros and cons of chasing such a total. So to this point i feel i have done all i can to get to 56 pike, i have hit the bank every time i could and fished as good as my angling ability will let me i can honestly say i have not left the bank thinking i didn't do everything i could on the session.
So fingers crossed in the next one or two months we can put a few nice fish in the bank and also get some where near the total.
On to this weeks fishing....
Piking on the Off Chance of a Bite....
With a number of jobs completed in the morning and my partners mother coming round for a few hours i jumped at the opportunity of a few hours on the bank. It was already gone 1pm when i loaded the car and left for the bank I was a little unsure as to whether it was worth going after a sharp overnight frost but i knew the spot i was going to there was always a chance of a bite. My confidence was hit a little as i received a phone call on the way from Ste saying he had struggled on the same waterway with his mate and not had a touch all morning.
I cast in a Herring tail on one rod and a smelt on the other, both loaded with oil, and hoped for the best. It was early on during my vigil waiting for one of the floats to go that i got speaking to another angler lure fishing. I did not get his name but we spent a good hour chatting about angling and some of the perils on being in Warrington Anglers and it seemed we shared the same view on a number of subject around silver fishing and the excessive amount being ploughed into carp.
I was quite honest with the man about the location and what to expect from fishing the stretch and i remember saying that most fish will be small singles with the outside chance of a double. No sooner had the words left my mouth than he said "your floats moving there" a sharp glance round and the tentative bobs had turned into a solid run and the float slowly began to move off as i picked up the rod. A few seconds as it was a nice piece of herring as bait and i struck into the fish. The rod hooped over and stayed over as the fish kept deep and i instantly knew i was into a nice fish.
Eventually the fish came up to the surface and the good gentleman netted the fish for me. Its sods law that fish come along that make a liar out of you as this was comfortably a double figure pike. It went 13lb on the scales and i again thank the guy for taking the time to take a picture.
This was it for fish for this short session and i left around 3.45pm happy with the result of the session and another double added to the list. Pike fishing can be a funny old game some days you spend all day without a sniff and other a hour or so produces a decent fish.
Stick Float Fishing For Chub...
The stick float rod had been a rare addition to the boot of my car before this session with its space taken firmly by two pike dead bait rods. The ease of these pike sessions just fitting in perfectly with my the arrival of our second child but there certainly was an itch that needed scratching and it was with great excitement we headed out for a days stick float fishing on the river.
The river does contain a mixed selection of species including dace, gudgeon, roach, perch, trout and chub and it was really exiting setting up on the peg not knowing what lay i your swim. The set up for the session was my 17ft trotting rod and a reel loaded with 4,4oz line down to a 6 number 4 float a hook length of 2lb line down to a tiny size 18 hook. Situated in a swim i had fished before and with a river fining off after recent rain i was confident of a fish or two it all depended on whether the fish had migrated away from this area.
I had been feeding the swim from the off with maggot and hemp so it came as no surprise that the float buried on the first trot down and at first i thought i was into a small chub but as the fish hit the surface it soon became clear as the fish jumped and flapped about that it was a brown trout. i was not surprised by this as these fish are hungry and greedy fish at the best of times never mind in winter when competition for food is high and these fish with their extra size will easily muscle out dace and roach. I carried on trotting the float through with no activity more often than not and i remember getting a hour and a half into to session with 3 trout under my belt thinking maybe its time to get mobile and find some fish.
It was just as this thought was in my mind i struck into an altogether different animal that held station in the current in a defiant stand as only chub do and i knew there and then that i had a chub on the other end. The fish fought well in the current and it was a struggle to land it with the flow in front of my peg but i did manage in the end to slide the net under the brassy flanks of a chub.
The swim i was fishing was shallow in front of me, probably only two feet, but it then fell into a deeper hole and then below that lies a big fish holding feature so in my mind i had eventually drawn one chub up from the feature into my trot. As soon as this chub was in the keep net my confidence rocketed as where there was one chub there was certainly more in this swim so i almost began to concentrate more and of course upped the feed slightly and also experimented with hook baits.
This chub came at 10.17am and it was another half an hour of trotting the float through before the next fish came at 10.37 and again another chub. What was noticeable with these fish was the fact the trout completely where removed from the equation in the periods between the chub almost as if the chub where there and it was a case of getting presentation right to catch them. The theme of fish every 20-30 minutes kept true with more fish coming at 10.50, 11.27 and when my uncle visited i had four chub in the onion sack, my uncle had also done well with 6 chub to show for his mornings efforts.
My uncle left to return to his peg and as he did my peg took off as i landed 10 chub in the next two hours to 2pm, i can only guess the steady feeding of hemp and maggot mixed with the colder conditions brought a shoal of the chub up the swim and they got their heads down. The crazy thing about this period was i lost just as many fish in this period which showed just how hard they were on the feed.
As always with these sessions the end comes too quick although i have to admit for the last hour the bites tailed off completely and the odd trout moved into the swim again almost as if the absence of the chub allowed them to feed and goes to show in the feeding order the chub is king.
With me doing a lot of piking of late i had been taking my weigh scales in my pike box so unfortunately on this session i could not put a weight to the net but with around 12-16 chub and chublets in the net all between i would say 1/2 a pound and probably 3lb i must have been over the 20lb mark.
my final net
My uncle had also got into a good number of chub on his peg.
All in all it was a session like i had never experienced before with chub. I had done well before for chub with my best net of proper chub containing around 6 fish but this was a net like i had only seen my uncle catch in recent weeks. A few years ago when me and my uncle started going fishing he used to tell me stories of chub nets from years ago where he would struggle to lift the net and that we would find them and one day i would see. Well Azza we found them mate and i was over the moon.
Piking on Ice....
The temperature read a bone chilling -1 as i left my house and started the car and this temperature only plummeted further as i left the confines of my town. I had set up to fish the local waterway and as i drove to the first venue i walked along the track to find it covered in a thick layer of ice all the way across the water and the full length of the stretch, there was no way i was wetting a line here today.
I got back in the car and drove around for what seemed an age as i searched out areas that might not had frozen overnight and i eventually did find what was a little short bit of ice free water. I say ice free water it literally was a short 10 yard bit of water blocked either end by ice and my rubbish first cast showed just how thick the ice was either side of me.
The baits in position i had to constantly edge the flows of ice back and i have to say it was the first time i have ever been happy to see ducks in the area as their gentle milling on the far bank certainly helped my cause.
Some say anglers are mad to even go fishing in the first place to out wit a fish and then you get the ones who say to go out in such conditions fishing you must be puddled and i must say on this session i was beginning to see their point. Although the cold and wind is never ever something that decides if i go fishing or not as in my opinion you never know what fishing is like in certain conditions unless you go and sometimes you can be surprised.
I must say a quick word at this point for anyone reading this thinking about going fishing in these conditions you do need to be prepared clothes wise ideally with thermal boots and a thermal under layer at the bare minimum and of course a flask of something hot. This session i was only out for the morning and after all the driving round it was gone 9am by the time i cast in.
After a hour of inactivity i was beginning to wonder if i was wasting my time and my mind wandered to those chub on the river and maybe i should have gone for another dabble at those. Fishing the gaps in the ice meant the water i was fishing was like a mill pond and flat calm and it meant the slight flicks of the float as a pike showed interest where picked up straight away. I quickly marched to the rod full of excitement as the float gently cocked and moved along the water towards the ice before in true jaws style it hit the corned and submerged below the ice flow.
It was a hard one to balance as i knew i didn't have much of a run for the fish to take the bait but i also had to leave it long enough for the bait to be taken as on a day like this it was a fish i didn't want to lose. A short hard side strike saw the fish come straight back at me from under the ice flow as a small jack came up to the top. The rod i was using made little of the fight but i was happy for it on the fish as i might have been in trouble had it been a double.
The next activity did not come round till almost packing in time and this time some of the ice had moved on and i could tell from the run that this was a solid take as the float moved solidly through the water and under the float went. Sometimes you know its a small 2-3lb jack just by the jagged float pulls as the fish tries to eat the bait. I will always remember this fish as it put up one hell of a scrap and i mist say as i slid it under the net i thought it was a better fish as it was so long.
The fish on the mat was as skinny a pike as i have ever seen it has loads of length and a big head but it looked like it needed a good meal. The pike went 6lb on the scales and marked an end to the session for me. A freezing cold day and two fish on the bank i was a happy camper as i have been on days where conditions have looked better and not had a sniff. Two fish well earned and shows if you get past the mindset of the weather is bad and get a bait in the water you never know, not massive fish but certainly better than being at home tuning into Discovery Shed seeing Matt hayes circa 1990 repeats.
All in all the session proved to be a success, i head out to the bank piking hoping for one chance of a fish and if i take it then great and anything more is a bonus.
Thank you for checking out my angling blog and i hope you have enjoyed following my fishing in this weeks update. I am still quite a bit behind on the blogs so there is plenty more fishing still to see the open pages of this blog.
Till next time i wish you tight lines