Fishing wise after this update i will be two trips behind not including two short trips i went out for a few hours and blanked so we are getting there slowly but surely to being up to date. It is probably the best time ever to be following the blogs page on Facebook or Twitter as i have been blogging after each trip as they happen so most of the fish this blog is missing are on that page as we speak if you want to see what is coming up. There has just been a cracking session for pike where me and Ste have a dream social session with 9 pike including 4 doubles.
Check them out and give them a follow or like on the links below if you are interested.
So onto this update, in this update i review the first products sent to be by the new blogs supporter, Kitshack.com from their new angling range, we begin a three part series of updates in the introduction where i talk about the three different reels i use for my stick float fishing and then i talk a little about how i feel my pike fishing is going as we move into THE time for a special pike,
With that lets get into the update...
Kitshack Buff Review...
I was recently contacted by a representative from Kitshack with regards working together on a possible product review. I do receive quite a few emails from companies asking me to review all types of products both angling and non angling related and i always do some thorough research before i reply back to the company concerned to see if it is both a product and company i want to work with. Upon checking out Kitshack.com i was really excited to see they had a new range aimed directly for anglers see here: http://www.kitshack.com/new-angler-14-15-collection.
My expectation was to click the link and find one maybe two Buffs with a fishing related design but i have to admit i was blown away by the sheer variety of garments available and such a depth of designs,literally pages. I was instantly exited by their products and quickly agreed to do a product review for them, this product had already captured my imagination and you need that if you are going to write about a product i feel. I asked if i could review a Buff Neck warmer Buff and asked if they would send my uncle one out as well which they happily agreed too, we both put equal into the fishing for this blog and it was great that they agreed to send two out.
So on with the Review..
Kitshack BUFF Neck Warmer Buff Review
Pic of Buff
-Link To Buff: http://www.kitshack.com/blackblack-combi-buff-1
- Weigth 42g/1.5oz with drawstring.
- Made with Classic Polartec Fleece sewn Both ends
- Machine Washable, Colourfast and will not fade.
- Treated with Polygiene BUFF remains fresh as silver ions prevent build up of bacteria in fabric
- Certified to meet Oeko-Tex Standard 100
An evolution on Classic neck protection using BUFF quality, design and technology. Made with Classic Polartec fleece with printed trim on the ends. Its ideal for any outdoor activity, particularly in winter and also as fun street wear. The leather finish draw strings allow for a quick easy transition from neck to head wear. Neck warmer BUFF can be worn as a headband, scarf,mask or cap and ideal for skiing, snow boarding, climbing and skating.
My Review:First of all i would like to say how pleased i was with the professional nature of this company they replied within 24 hours to all my correspondence and where very well presented by their representative. Delivery of the BUFF was within 48 hours from the email and it was great to get home to the package sat waiting for me to check out when i was not expecting delivery till the Monday.
The BUFF was well presented on a cardboard holder and i liked the idea that had it been hanging up in a shop i could have felt the products material before purchasing rather than it being sold in a protective polythene bag which i thought was a nice touch. The packaging was both stylish and the information on the packaging was kept to a minimum with just the main facts about the product presented. It looked cool and well designed and i could see it appealing to a wide audience. Moving onto my first thoughts on the BUFF, it felt quite soft to the touch and thicker than i expected it to be for the price. Trying the item on for the first time it felt comfortable and felt snugly against my neck without being too tight if you get me. It was also a nice touch that the company included loads of little gifts in the box including BUFF sticker, phone cleaner and temporary tattoos which my daughter loved.
This company emailing me was really ironic as in past weeks out pike fishing in the howling wind i had suffered quite a bit with earache and my uncle who works outside a lot in Winter had suggested that i buy one of these items. I set off onto the bank and the temperature in the car read 2oc dropping to 1oc on arrival and on the day i was out trotting on the river i was grateful of this item as i had a upstream wind blowing right in my face.
It was a weird experience to wear this item i have to be honest as i am not a person who really wears scarfs or any neck items and i first it was noticeable but as the session wore on i got used to it and have to say i began to notice a few good features about this item. I loved the way i could wear it in different ways in i could pull it up right over half my face if i felt cold and when if i warmed up it was really simple to drop it down into a complete neck warmer. I am not the smallest of people and i was amazed how the BUFF went from being stretched over my faced to fitting back snug round my neck instantly and the final good point i noticed on the session was the fact i could breathe through the item quite easily with none of my warm breath making breathing uncomfortable and causing condensation, as my breath seemed to pass out through the material yet non of the cold wind came in the other way which i thought was really cool.
The next session i used the BUFF for was a pike session where the temperature was up round 10oc and i misjudged the conditions and found myself boiling hot in my thermals and the BUFF to the point i was sweating in it all. Taking the item off it was simple task of placing it in my pocket and forgetting about it so i guess on sessions you could literally carry it in your pants pocket and pull it out as and when its needed and it was light enough i forgot all about it. So far the BUFF has been out on 4 full day sessions with me and i have been thank full for it on most of them bar the hot one and although it has been too short a period to test the smell reduction qualities of this item so far its not got any smell to it at all.
In summary i was really pleased with the BUFF Neck wear and was really pleased to review their product which i am sure i will be grate full of next winter and for the remainder of this season.
What Reels I Use For Trotting....
I thought it would be fun to cover the different reels i use for my river fishing and go into a little bit of detail on each one in the introduction of a few updates. There are three main reels i use for my trotting, normal fixed spool reel, closed face reel and a centre pin and all three are shown below.
In this update i will be concentrating on the reel i use for 90% of mt trotting and that is my Fixed Spool reel.First of all i am not an angler that goes out and buys a top of the range reel for my fixed spool reel as the basic are of trotting involves a constant opening and flipping over of the bail arm on the reel and as such you are putting the reel mechanics under a lot of stress and in my experience ultimately breaking the reel. As such i find it much easier to make the most of the bottom end reels on the market that now can be picked up for around £20.00 if you shop around and i find fishing every week the rivers are open i normally get around 2 full river seasons from each reel. Of course a more expensive reel may last longer as its possibly more robust but i don't see how they can overcome the constant wear on the bail arm.
As above i use this reel for most of my fishing and that is basically down to comfort and ease of use. You can fish with the fixed spool in all conditions and cast with ease all day long without the need for any specialised casts as with the centre pin reel. You do have a lot of control of the fish with a fixed spool whether you use the drag or the back wind but compared to the control a centre pin offers you it is greatly reduced with the fixed spool. You do also eliminate problems like line bedding in and a lot of the mechanical issues you can have with the closed face and you certainly do not experience as many tangles as you can with the centre pin.
All in all the fixed spool reel is my go to reel and is the reel i would recommend anyone starting out river fishing to use to begin with and only moving on to the more specialised reels when they feel they have got to grips with the basics of trotting like feathering the line, holding back and locking the finger across the line to strike.
Time for a Lunker....
The updates being a few trips behind it seems weird to be talking about my fishing right now as the trips in the updates date back into January. I guess this is why it is important when writing a blog to keep up to date and try as much as possible to get that update out each week. February is now upon us and i am firmly now in pike mode hunting for that last capture of the season. I will be doing a complete blog based around my first full season pike fishing using dead baits when the season is over but it is safe to say this season has surpassed all my expectations. I have caught steady all through the season and had the odd red letter session along the way.
December and January saw me picking up the odd very rare double and catching mainly jacks so as i now move into the final chapter of the pike season i am firmly set on trying to catch one nice double figure fish before the end. At this stage i would be happy with one more double before the end of the pike season and they go off to spawn. I feel i have done my best with the challenge of catching 100 pike in a season, i feel i could have done no more, i got out on the bank as much as i could at every opportunity available to me and i guess i just didn't catch enough pike on them sessions.
The challenge is still there for me and if i get close i get close but i think a lot of our energy now as a group is aimed at getting those 30 doubles. If we could catch 30 doubles and at least 1 20lb pike in a season it will feel like we have achieved something great as a group of people. So for whatever is left of the season i will be trying to target areas where i have a good chance of a breeding female and hopefully get that last double to end the season on a high.
Now is the time people to get out there and search for that special pike, tight lines and best of fishes.
Onto the update
River Dee Farndon Dace Fishing....
We had been travelling all over the north west of England and wales over the last few years with our river fishing and have some what neglected the place where we started river fishing, the river Dee. She is a fantastic river that demands you to respect her moody ways but when she is on form she can offer fishing that would challenge any river in the country.
We travelled to the banks of the dee hoping for a nice days dace fishing but arrived to find most of the pegs taken by pike anglers fishing through the night for their quarry, not against the rules but when these lads are occupying pegs for three or four nights at a time then i do feel it is not "right" and instance where these anglers are setting up in peg 3 for example with two rods and their bivvy and are then placing two more rods 20 yards upstream down to banking on a peg. With a pike who can quickly engulf a bait and the nature of the river being so snaggy with a sunken tree at the head of most swims i feel it is irresponsible angling in my opinion.
Anyhow moving on, on the day in question we arrived to find a number of pegs free from anglers but where certainly not the pegs you wanted to be on in the conditions. My uncle set up in a shallow glide and i set up on the inside of a slack where i hoped i could fish down the crease and pick up a few dace. It was great waiting for first light to be greeted by a few anglers who read my blog and it was great chewing the fat with them on the bank while we waited for the light levels to increase for us to see our floats.
I was in a swim i had fished a number of times in the past so i began feeding hemp as i rigged up and the off handful of maggots. The first cast on the dee at this time of year is full of expectation and when the float goes through a few times with no action you do start to worry. When that first few casts turns into 35 minutes to a hour you are really worrying. My uncle was a early visitor to my peg and he was also lost for bites with not a single bite in the first hour. I changed over to a 3 gram bolo float hoping the extra weight would keep my line in the gusting wind and first cast it worked and i landed the first dace of the day.
With a second dace in the next cast i thought i had nailed it but then as soon as the bites where there they were gone and what was worse half way down the trot i hot a snag, disaster. If i got a bite before the snag or my bait missed the snag the fish where there and it was a certain bite but it was high stakes fishing and not really enjoyable playing snag roulette. In the next few hours i did try an outside line but the fish just where not on the line and the inside snag line was the only area producing.
Slowly and surely through the day i put together a new of dace but it was hard work and in some stages it was really annoying when you lose two hook lengths on consecutive casts. I tried to feed my hemp up from the snag to draw the fish up and it did seem to work but not for a great deal of time. I did not have a pike strike but it screamed of a pike in the areas as you normally get this snag hugging and shoaling mentality when a pike is in the area.
The end of the session and i reckon i had about 10lb of dace in the net, not the best days fishing both in the net and for enjoyment and i was glad to be getting back in the car,
Piking in a Winter Wonderland....
The 31st of January and with snow on the ground i headed off to meet up with Ste for a social pike session. The weather was bitterly cold and there was a real nip in the air as we walked the bank to the swim. I was thankful for my thermal wellies and thermal under layer on the session and Ste with all his experience rightly said if we got one fish between us on the session we would be doing well as the fish would be lying low on the bottom.
Our baits where loaded up with oils and fished in places we had caught fish from before and we sat back to await some action. We both talked ourselves into expecting a blank but as all us anglers know fish don't keep to the rules and as much as we try to work these fish out as a species they come along and rip up what we know. Ste's float was the first to go and it was a solid run. Fishing with Ste i am always amazed by his calmness as he gets a take, he slowly walks up to the rod then gently feels the line in his fingers to judge the size of fish by the pulls on the line he almost assesses the size of the quarry that has his bait and as such can judge how long to leave the run before striking.
At first i was thinking about how soon i would have struck and if this method worked but i have now been out with Ste on quite a few social sessions both before and after this one and he is bang on with his technique with most of his fish either in the jaw of the pike or in the mouth of the pike. It has been a steep but fantastic learning curve this year with both Garry and Ste and just from watching how they go about their piking it has been fascinating.
Striking into the fish with a homage to Azzer zorro strike he bent into a fish that in the cold conditions didn't put up a huge fight and i have to say since messing up netting the fist fish i ever netted for Ste by getting the hooks on the outside of the net i have come a long way. A nice upper single pike on the bank it was a solid start in the snow.
We waited another half hour before the place erupted with striking fish as they chased the shoals of fish and the pike had certainly gone into feeding mode. Wobbling baits through the water the pike where just not after our sized baits and seemed set on battering the fry shoals. I cast out my roach dead bait to the area they where feeding and i had one big tug on the bait almost as if the pike had picked up the bait and dropped it, something was around the bait, i watched hoping for something to develop. Half a hour later the float cocked and dropped again as the fish again dropped the bait, it obviously was hungry but didn't want the roach so i quickly changed over to a sardine bait and within a minute the float sailed away and i was into a pike.
This is the first time ever pike fishing i have questioned my bait choice and seen first hand how picky a pike can be. It left me asking myself do i change bait enough during a session? I had approached this pike fishing thinking a pike was this opportunistic feeder and would take advantage of any free meal no matter what size or shape and it also saw me questioning how many times my bait gets looked at and the fish doesn't take the bait for me to know it has dropped it. This year has certainly taught me a lot of lessons about pike and also left me with a few more questions than when i set out on new years day 2014.
Most of my pike sessions have been very short half day affairs and this one was no different and we left at midday happy we had done really all we could to get a bite and had both succeeded in catching a fish each on a day where cold conditions and the pike when they did feed being occupied on fry so it was a bit pat on the back as we headed back to the cars.
Bait Droppin' Trotting
The last trip in this update takes us to the banks of the river in search of chub. I set up in swim miles off the beaten track and down a steep bank that for all intents and purposes looked unfishable and down right dangerous but what I could see was a flat bit of banking hidden beneath the leaf litter. It was a swim I noticed on a previous trip and on this trip I went fully prepared with the spade to cut myself in a swim.
I must say when I first started river fishing the idea of cutting in steps and a peg was madness and being a young office nine to five worker I was far from cut out for such manual work and would be the first to admit I am not the most artistic of people so it has taken time for me to dig out something that remotely resembles a swim. I knew the swim below me would contain some fish so I was in no hurry and took my time cutting in a few footings and flattened out the bottom with enough space for the essentials and my baits as always where simplicity itself with maggots and hemp.
The swim was a fast run along a tree line and I could see the run did shallow up towards the tail of the pool so I knew I didn't have enough river for my bait to get to the bottom before It reached the end of the run if I fed by hand so while setting up my gear I fed the swim with my bait dropper.
Four bait droppers of maggot and hemp and I left the swim to rest for a good ten to fifteen minutes. I already knew before my first trot through that a bite was going to be instant. These fish seem like they have never seen a hook in their lives and from my understanding no one else is fishing this beat so the maggots and hemp soon get the fish hard on the feed.
As predicted the float buried as soon as the last shot dotted the float down and a chub was my reward.
These chub don't mess around and I knew getting the fish out of the swim and not losing them was the key to keeping them coming, lose one and the shoal does spook. I managed two more chub in quick succession and I was really pleased my hunch on this swim had shown some results. Three chub in the first hour and I was already getting close to 10lb in the net. I then suffered the dreaded hook pull in two certain chub and as predicted this killed the swim dead for a good hour or so despite me pushing the fish to overcome their fear with a few large bait droppers of hemp.
As with a lot of my sessions of late I only had the morning so I always had in the back of my mind that time was ticking and I knew this swim had so much more to offer me. I decided to add one more dropper of maggot and hemp and then completely reset the swim for a hour. I knew doing this it would only leave me the last hour to fish the swim but I hoped no pressure would see me get more bites in the last hour of the session.
The plan worked a treat as the last hour saw me putting a number of trout on the bank but also two more chub in the onion sack. The final net went just over 10lb but with 5 chub in the net and plenty of rod bending action from the trout I left the banks a happy angler, although I still thought there was more to come from this swim.
Well that sums up anther chapter of my angling world,
till next time I wish you all