I must first say a big thank you to the guys at KitShack as they have been so understanding this past week or so and have never pushed the review of their product to go live and have been understanding all throughout and backs up my initial thoughts about this being a good company to deal with in my review, thanks guys!
So whats is in store in this update? Well i cover the unveiling of the new EA licence design for both migratory and non migratory species, my centre pin reel comes under the spot light and we round up the introduction with a really bad bit of news around my favourite 17ft Float rod. The fishing See's the centre pin out on the bank for chub and a social pike session with Ste where its all action and a bit of a red letter day!
So with that its onto the update (boy it feels good to be back up writing again)
New EA Licence Design....
Its that time of the year again where you realise just how many angling clubs you have joined and it seems like they are all reminding you your fees are due at the same time. The most important of these licences is of course the Environment Agency licence as without it you can not fish at all. It still shocks me when i see the EA turn up on the banks asking for licences and you see a few anglers having to pack in as for the sake of £27.00 its got to be worth it just not to be watching your back every fishing session to see if you have been collared never mind the fine that comes along with not having one.
any how i do digress and here are the designs for this years licences..
A Broken Tip....
Sat on the banks of the river recently waiting for first light i decided to get out of my car and have a,quick look at the water levels for the session ahead. It was only a quick session so i literally threw the rods in the car and my gear i needed and set off and left my Korum rod holdall at home, big mistake. Anyhow i left the car running and quickly had a look at the river, pitch black not much to see i returned to my car to await more light.
Getting back in my car i had only sat down a second when i heard a bank in the back of the car and i quickly shot round thinking someone was in the back, area is known for a few drunks, upon swinging round my arm caught the rod and instantly i heard crack of something snapping. I knew instantly it was my float rod as it was the longest of the rods i had taken and at 17ft long split into 3 sections it was the only one that reached between the chairs. Looking in the back my landing net bag had fell but i had snapped around 10 inches of the top of my rod off.
I literally could have started crying there and then, some may laugh, but it was my favourite rod and i use it every time i go the river if i can and i was gutted. I got back in the car there and then and drove home even though i had my 13ft rod in the car. I thought things over and had a look on line and a guy said he could re tip the rod but i would only be able to put a tip on end of the broken bit where it had snapped. This rod is used mainly for dace fishing so it would turn a very light tip rod into a rod with a stiffer action and of course i would lose some length.
i decided to ring Preston's and i was prepared for quite a hefty price on getting a replacement top section considering the rod brand new costs upwards of £200. The price for a replacement is £60.00 and i can order it through the tackle shop on my doorstep so not great as i could buy a new rod for that but there is no escaping the quality you are getting with this top end float rod. It does mean the river Dee is off the radar for the rest of the season as the swims are 14-15ft deep most of the time and with the season closed for three months it gives me time to save for the replacement part. Think i have just come to terms with it after writing that lol.
To Pin or Not to Pin......
Last week i covered when and why i use my fixed spool reel for my trotting on rivers and this week the piece of kit i enjoy using the most but rarely do comes under the spot light in the humble and ever so simply designed centre pin.
The centre pin i own is a Okuma Sheffield Centre pin and it was bought for my as a surprise birthday present by my partner many moons ago. I must say of all the reels i use i enjoy using this one the most although it has to be in the right conditions to make the experience enjoyable. You can literally pay an arm and a leg for a good centre pin and the main thing you are paying for is the lightness of the spool and how little force it takes to get the pin to move, top end ones are as smooth as a baby's bum and a single shot can set the spool spinning. There are some very good reels at the budget end of the scale now made by Dragon carp and i have heard very good things about these reels.
My reel the Okuma sheffield is probably below mid range in the pricing structure but it does the job for me. There is no real scenario that i pick this reel over the others for other than if i want a bit of fun as in my opinion there is no beating the fight on a centre pin as you use your thumb to control the fish in the fight and it is down to your skill, judgement and touch how you play the fish and of course you cant beat the noise of the ratchet going off as the fish makes a hard run for cover.
I of course use my other fixed spool reel away form the river on still waters for fishing a waggler but i must say in summer i love visiting my local commercial fishery armed with only my centre pin 13ft rod and a simple pole float fished in the margins for the hungry carp, the float zooms under and you strike into a solid hard fighting carp which turns peeling reel from the pin and that unmistakable noise of the ratchet turning over, it takes some beating.
There are of course limitations to using the pin in the fact if can suffer in high winds and leave you in more of a birds nest than anything else and also you have the limitations of how far out you can cast with it, e.g you are not going to be able to run a float down the middle of the Trent or dee with it comfortably but for small intimate rivers and streams its a dream to use and i would recommend anyone to buy one, great fun on both rivers, lakes and ponds.
With that its onto the fishing....
Chub on the Pin'
Friday night and sat in the house making up a few hook lengths for a sesison on the river the next day i decided to give my gear a good sort out and whilst searching through the contents of my holdall i came across my centre pin that i must have stashed in my holdall after a session for safe keeping across the farmers fields a while ago. The river we were heading to the next day does have a bit of pace to it so i decided to dust the old cobwebs off the centre pin and give it a run out the next day.
I have been fishing quite a light stick float on the river of late around 8 number 4 and have been reaping the rewards with the chub on this set up but i knew with this centre pin i would have to up the weight just to give me some extra pull to help the line of the pin. As mentioned above its not the worlds greatest pin so it does need some encouragement.
Arriving at the river we decided to fish new swims and i decided to drop in the swim i dug in a week or so earlier which was covered in last weeks blog update. The difference today was i had a whole day at the swim although i knew the fish would spook so i did not have huge expectations of the monster nets of chub we have been getting in the other swims but a change is as good as a rest they say and even though there was a empty swim full of chub 5 mins away you do need a change of swim.
Feeding the swim with the bait dropper i gave it a good half and hour before making my first cast into the swim and like the session previous the bite was instant, only this time it wasn't a chub. They are funny fish trout and can be quite deceiving if they don't jump early on in the fight but there is no mistaking the species once there slimy spotty flanks feel the coolness of the fresh air as they twist, flip, jump and flap all over the perfectly prepared swim. A beautiful fish to look at but boy i wished it was a chub..
There is no doubting the chub and trout are very similar in one way.....EATING....boy can these fish guzzle down maggots and you only have to look down the throat of the fish to see the ball of crushed maggots and hemp to realise just how much of your bait this one fish has devoured. The disturbance i knew would have spooked the fish so in went a few bait droppers of hemp and maggot and i sat back to see how the ranch was doing.
The time came for another cast, i hoped i had rested the swim long enough, i don't think i did if I'm honest, i think excitement took over in the end. Casting into the murky depths the pin was spinning a dream and right on the point i was expecting a bite i just feathered my thumb onto the spinning pin to slow the float down and make the bait flutter up in the water, upon releasing the pressure the bite was instant and with the strike the 13ft rod hooped over and there was no disputing what fish was on the other end this time. A defiant stand up and fight resistance was felt before a bolt for the roots and i knew i was in a battle with a chevin. On the pin you always feel in control of the battle as you don't have to reply on a preset drag and lets be honest there is no man made device that can react to the dart of a chub as quick as a thumb on the drum of the pin. A battle i thoroughly enjoyed and was glad i won!
I have found with this river that if you get the chub out with little surface disturbance then you do not really spook the shoal. i guess in reality it must look to the other fish like one of the fish is just moving up out of the swim initially and as the fish in the shoal when you have them feeding are constantly competing with each other for the foot and moving up and down through the water layers then you can get away with getting a fish out and then expecting a fish soon after. Losing a fish is of course a different matter.
With my dace fishing on the Dee you do feel like you have to be quick in the process of unhooking the fish and getting a line back in as you with dace when you have the shoal there in your swim you feel you really do need to maximise time in the water. With my chub fishing that whole process is a little more relaxed and while unhooking the chub and taking pictures i just drip deep food into the swim by hand. The fish in the keep net i then put another dropper of maggot and hemp in but not in the quantity of the initial feeding.
There is a reason for this, i feel the initial heavy feed is there to draw the fish in and onto your line. when you arrive the chub could be spread along the length, under trees and generally dispersed through the swim. The initial heavy feeding with the bait dropper serves to draw the fish into the middle of the river and onto your line. The feeding after this is much reduced and this is where the skill in all fishing is in My opinion, the feeding of the swim. The fish are on your line now from the initial heavy feed you need to then remember you are not here to feed the fish but catch them so you need to feed enough to keep them in the swim but not too much that you don't have them competing for the bait.
Chub can be quite a wary species and hard to catch but fed right their greed and hunger is the key to their downfall. Once you have the whole shoal competing for a small amount of bait then they don't think twice about taking your double maggot on a size 18 hook, they just want that in their gobs before the next chub takes it from them. And it proved to work a treat with this next chub coming soon after.
This tactic continued to work a treat as fish kept coming every 15 minutes or so for the next hour before the departing of the chub shoal was confirmed by the ever willing trout moving back in on the scene. When the big boys like chub move out of the swim you can instantly tell as smaller species like gudgeon and dace start to pop up in the chubs place and it was great that on this day two very plump dace kept the keep net ticking over after the trout had finally had enough.
With these swims you never know how long the session will last and how many chub you will get out before the shoal either completely spooks pr eventually get to the point where they have had their fill. I decided to pack the gear back in the car and have a mooch in some other swims for the rest of the day taking the off trout and chub but this following picture was the result of the initial swim plus around 6 trout.
What a Fantastic Session Dead Baiting for Pike!!!
The next session out was a days pike fishing with Ste. We arranged mid week on meeting up for a sesison in hope we would find the pike hungry and willing to take our baits. Previous sesisons we had picked up the odd fish but we had left feeling we did not get the best from the swim as although our dead baits where taken by some fish the activity of pike swirling in the swim showed there where bigger specimens to be had.
The night before the session we set out our plans for attacking this swim with dead baits and decided to hit the bank before first light to give ourselves the best chance of picking up a pike that was feeding at first light. As normal it was two rods each fished on dead baits spread evenly along the swim in a variety of depths so we had all bases covered. 6.30am and the ripples of our baits hitting the water where lapping in the edges.
No sooner had we got the second baits in position than Ste called out "My floats gone Dan" a nice early bite and in true Ste fashion he calmly left the run to develop before using all his knowledge built up over the years he set the hooks. His 3lb+ test curve rod is normally not challenged by the jacks we have been picking up so when the fish didn't come up in the water straight away i knew it was a better than normal fish. Having two of you on the bank doesn't half help as you can really take advantage of that first roll on top to net the fish early and with that we had a cracking start to the session with a fantastic double figure pike of 10lb 5oz in the net.
With the dawn breaking and the birds just beginning to sing the light levels where not great for getting a picture so i made use of my weigh sling/sack i bought for my summer carp fishing and after weighing unhooking the pike and weighing it i left it to rest for a few minutes till the light was there for a photo. Making sure the fish was calm in the sling i left it along to rest and it was then i noticed my float twitching, "got a run on mine Ste" i said and in normal Danny fashion i briskly walked to the rod and full of excitement i stood their rod in hand waiting for the bite to develop. A nice strong run followed by the fish moving into the deeper water taking the float under with it as it did so it just felt like a solid take. I struck expecting a jack and with it my 2.5lb soft action carp rod hooped over and there was healthy bend in the rod, in truth i am terrible at guessing and judging the size of pike during the fight but this fish was from the outset a decent fish as it kept deep.
With one fish in the net waiting i knew their was a fantastic opportunity for a nice photo with us holding two pike so the pressure was on. The fish came up and that dreaded feeling when you can see the bait in the pikes mouth went through my body and i prayed it would not come off or shake its head. Up the fish came again and reaching at full stretch Ste scooped up the pike, "Got yourself a double there Danny" and it was solid hand shakes and pats on the back all round to celebrate a solid start to the session, 30 minutes in and two doubles.
My fish went 12lb 8oz on the scales and we quickly unhooked her and grabbed the other pike out of the sack to get out shots. Lying on the matt you can see these pike have been feeding well.
The two pike held together in what was nearly a double hook up, looking at this pick brings back happy memories of a great session, suffering the hard sessions before we had earned this!.
Releasing the pike we had a quick glance at the time and it was 07.30am. We both got baits back out and sat back to a well earned brew. It was a good job we did as little did we know what was about to come our way in the next three hours, these two pike where just the start.....
8.06am and my right hand rod began to move off, another solid run and i remember Ste remarking how we could be in for a good day as the pike are not messing around with the takes they are coming across the food and instantly having it, proper on the feed. Giving the pike the time it needed my head was running with thoughts of what size the fish could be and if there where more doubles in the area. The fish turned out to be a nice solid jack of 8lb and although short in length was as fat as a barrel, a razor ruddock pike as Ste calls them.
Another half hour passed by and almost by the clock the same float was off again, 08.37 in fact as i check time on phone picture. Again the thoughts of what if where brainwashing my mind and with four runs between including this one it was already a pike sesison like i had never experience i never knew dead baiting could be so action packed.
Striking into the fish it went absolutely mad during the fish almost as if it was life and death, not a solid fight from a double but complete mayhem and all out power from an 8lb 3oz pike. The fish shocked us both and it was only when we got it on the unhooking mat we realised why. I opened the pikes mouth and the first thing i saw was wire coming straight out of the pike gut and my heart sank, i had given the pike too long before striking. It was then i noticed the red of my treble sleeves in the roof of the pikes mouth and my set of trebles and my eyes then fished on the almighty tangle of link around my trebles.
coming to my senses i then realised that some of the line was not mine and in fact this pike had line running out of its mouth and into the water. I looked closely and it all clicked someone using really light line had been pike fishing recently, this pike had taken their bait and when they have struck the light 7lb, yes 7lb line, had snapped and the pike had continued to eat its free meal as such this pike was in a really bad scenario where it had a set of trebles well within its gut! only the wire coming out was visible!
This pike right now owes its life to one person, Ste, he took control of the situation and while i was holding the pikes mouth open he got to work. Like a surgeon he knew every inch of a pikes anatomy, how far he could pull its stomach towards him without damaging the pike more and within no time he had gone in and released two trebles from this pikes gut. I quickly put the pike in the net to rest in the edge till it had fully recovered and was kicking hard to get out. A quick pic before its release and it left us certainly in a better condition than it arrived.
So sad to see people fishing for pike with light tackle, the trace was a really cheap one and 7lb line is not acceptable but i guess if people are not as lucky as to have pikers who will help them then they will never know the rights and wrongs of what to do. It was a sad sight to see but it was something that has aided my development as a pike angler to see how Ste worked with the pike and a scenario where honestly i would have not known what to do, if it arises again and i am on my own then now i know a little but more about helping the pike out.
This pike obviously took a little longer than most to process on the bank and it seemed we had only just released the pike and turned round when Ste was quietly walking over to his pike rod which was now heading off across the water at some speed. The pike was another 8lb plus fish and on the scales it went a tad under 9lb and easily recognisable by a distinct yellow blemish on its skin.
No sooner had Ste returned this fish than his margin fished trout was off again, as i said it was pike fishing like i had never known it could be! The time of this pike getting on the bank was 8.50am and it was the 6th pike of the morning between us with 2 of them doubles!. This fish was far form a double and was certainly the run down battered small male pike of the area that looked like it had experienced more than one run in with some of the females in the area as it was covered in deep lacerations and bites and looked really battered. Especially when you compare it to the other pike that where well fed and very healthy.
At exactly 9am my margin fished smelt dead bait which had been quietly fishing away with no action at all suddenly showed some movement, at first it was just a small shake on the float and then the bait was taken so confidently my float fished slightly over depth so it lay flat on the surface cocked and slowly but confidently moved off and as it moved into the deeper water a swirl from a tail pattern caused a vortex on the waters surface. Both me and Ste noticed it and said in that depth if water its either a small pike swimming off with the bait nose down or its a better fish.
The time came to set the hooks, 3,2,1 strike and upon striking the rod hooped over and you can always tell a better fish as your float remains in the water as the fish does not move off the bottom like a jack does on the strike. The fish kept deep and its sheer power saw me reducing the drag on my reel as i let it take control of the battle. The last thing i wanted was a hook pull through bullying the fish. The fish eventually came up and we both saw it was a nice fish although I'm sure i said it was "just a jack" what do i know, i really am awful at judging fish.
One man that can judge a fish is Ste, caught so many i guess you know, he saw one glimpse of the fish and was like its a nice double Dan take it easy. Like an hunting heron he stood with landing net in hand waiting for a chance to net the fish for me, just a half chance and he was onto it scooping down at full stretch and like Excalibur's sword coming out of the stone up came a net bulging with a big fat pike!. "Well in Dan that is a clonker" and a firm hand shake a sign of a good angler who is happy to see an angler who he has helped out so much, along with Garry, this year getting rewarded with a nice fish, 9am and we had both absolutely battered it.
The fish went 14lb 10oz on the scales and as you can see from the pics i was over the moon!
After this fish the swim did die a little and as i have said before, one lesson i have learnt about pike this year, is how they have short but definite feeding periods where they all come onto the feed almost as if all the pike in the area go on a mass feed and just switch on. Looking back some would say we should have moved swims but when you have had so much activity from one area you give it at least another hour before you even think something is not right and the fish have turned off a bit.
Sat chewing the fat with 7 fish caught and 3 doubles to nearly 15lb we had plenty to be happy about. We sat in a swim we had fished once or twice and saw pike feeding behind out dead bait floats just ignoring our baits and suffered howling rain and hail and snow for single fish or one fish between us, we had bloody deserved that action and if ever effort equalled success than it was that morning.
Whilst talking about all things pike we lost track of time and it was close to 11am when the next run came and it came to Ste's secret bait that should not be named but boy it works. Again it was a another solid fish. The fish came at a good time as the unhooking mat was at risk of drying out and at 10.5lb it filled it well. Another ruddock of a pike and another double to add to the total. You can see on one of the pictures the damage cormorants do to fish they cant capture with a deep cut on its flank caused by the hook of a cormorants gill. The birds must attack any fishing hoping to injure it enough for it to become a meal they can take on.
The pike released we sat back and played the waiting game, funny how 8 pike do that and you do relax and nit fish as hard. At 12.30 Ste had to nip to the van make a call and he said for me keep an eye on rods and if one goes just strike it and don't come get him, he knows me well and i would have hunted him down rather than strike another persons rod. Any how long story short his rod did go and the result was a 9.5lb pike below, a fish that should really go against his total for the year in my opinion.
We fished the day out and on 9 pike we got out acts together trying for pike number 10 to round the day off nicely. In the afternoon i think it was 4 dropped runs and two fish spat the hooks between us in out hunt for number 10. The fish never came and we fished into dark. We left the bank and i know i put my music on full blast in the car on the way home, i was buzzing!!.
When i started dead baiting for pike on the first of January 2014 i never ever thought dead baiting for pike could be so frantic and all action, it was a real eye opening experience. It shocked me how many pike could be in one area and how many of quality there could be. Nine pike in one session on dead baits with 4 of them double figure fish and only one of the others below 8lb. A session i will never ever forget in a pike season full of memorable experiences. The session left us both with plenty of banter to look back on and it was great sharing such a session with another angler.
That is if for this update i hope i captured a little of how the emotion of the session was.
till net time i leave you with a video of my 14lb pike being released and i think Ste sums up how nice a fish it was. "what a fish!"
till next time