Friday, 19 June 2015

The Glorious 16th - New River Season Arrives

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  Well its finally here! After 3 months of the closed season the rivers this week finally opened again.   I love my closed season as it gives me an opportunity to dedicate my efforts at campaigns away from flowing water.  In this weeks update we look back at the closed season and then forward to the rivers by looking at my preparations in build up to the season opening and we finish the introduction with a look at a special purchase i made recently.

Before we get into the update i would just like to say a huge thank you to all the people who week in week out share, like and favorite my posts on Facebook and Twitter and also the people who take the time to email me with questions and sharing their angling experiences that are similar to mine on the blog, thank you.  I would also like to say a huge Tight Lines and Good Luck to all the anglers heading off this week to fish the Rivers, Lakes and Canals that all adhere to the closed Season!!

With that it is on to the Update...

Looking Back At The Closed Season....

The closed season is always a time i look to try some different angling away from flowing water.  My uncle is a real lover of the river and during the closed season he always goes into a sort of fishing hibernation where he devotes time to getting big jobs done around the house.  I for the first time had a mini break after the rivers closed and the pike season came to an end and i did feel a lot better for that time.  Next year though i will be utilising this time by not fishing but pre baiting up some spots to fish when i do get back at it.  The break is certainly something i will be looking to continue and saving up some pike trips to cover the blog in this period.

During past closed season's i have set myself mini challenges, blogs on my first 10lb carp and last years where i aimed to beat it all where enjoyable but very pressured times.  As you go through life you also learn a lot about yourself and i know i am a very obsessive person and once i get my head onto a challenge it really does take over and with a little boy just arrived and another little girl i owed it to my family to be there a lot more this spring and summer and i knew targeting small trips on the local canal would fit in nicely.  A few hours in the morning before the boats started up and back home for dinner with the whole weekend ahead for family time.

So looking back the closed season was spent fishing the local canal.  After the first few trips i got into the swing and to keep the trips interesting for myself i set myself a target of working out how to fish the swims and what baits where best for getting the best out of the swim.  I feel the blogs are some of the best i have done as they chartered not only the fish caught but the thought processes behind why i made changes to the set up.

Canals are also venues i am very passionate about, having grown up on the banks of one its hard not too, and because of that i found it all the more upsetting when i returned to the banks that where once lined with anglers to find i was literally the only on on the banks.  It really saddened me that a venue that offered such good fishing was barren and devoid of anyone fishing.  Canal fishing can be really hard work and the rewards do not always mirror effort put in but his canal is fishing its head off and the fishing is far from  complicated, at least i thought.

Asking around on forums and receiving a number of emails and private messages around canals it was clear canals where being seen as hard places to fish and places that almost scared people off as they did not know how to approach them.  I decided then to change my philosophy with my blog and write in a style that showed people how i fish, regular readers will have realised telling people how to fish is not how i write my blog as i feel angling should be a voyage of discovery where challenges are solved by the individual by trial and error and that way the results are ever so sweeter.   The canals i made an exception and began a series of blogs breaking down how i view canal fishing from tackle to location it was all covered in the blogs below.

I do hope these blogs some people to think about trying our canals as they offer such a wide variety of fish and lets face it these blogs have only scratched the surface on canal fishing.  A lot of canals in the country now contain big heads of carp and tench that can be targeted via a pre baiting approach.  Some canals are also areas that are used for people to get rid of unwanted pets that have got to large for their tanks so they can hold some real surprises like catfish and goldfish that surprisingly do quite well in the quiet surroundings of the canal.

The Build Up To Opening Day.....

The weekend before the start of the season and i have to say i have never been so under prepared for the start of the season.  I had a reel needing new line on it, no hook lengths made up and my basket was a right mess and really unorganized.

We decided on a trip to the tackle shop on  Saturday to stock up on some line and also pick up some feeders and maggots for the trip on the opening day.  We decided to get there an hour early and spend some time walking the banks of the local river.  Armed with just a loaf of bread it was not long before chub where topping taking bread off the top.

The sight of chub after chub taking bread off the top was continued in most of the swims we stopped off at and boy did it raise the excitement levels.  It killed me to watch these fish going mad as i knew had i been there with rod in hand and a pint of maggots the fishing would have been exceptional, it had to have been, that bread was mullered 5-10 yards down the swim and in 3-5ft of water i reckon that's as far down as your float would have gone before it zipped under.  The river season was nearly here and i was raring to go after this.

Tackle shop visited i left a bit unhappy as i had only managed to pick up 6lb line instead of the 4lb i had hoped for.  The session we had planned was one for chub and big dace so i was hopefully i would get away with it, only time would tell i guess and i was sure this line would be too thick for the dace on the dee despite having a 2lb hook link.

I got home and spent the afternoon giving my fishing box a much needed clean, it was rammy, I normally give the box a spring clean after the river season ends to wash off all the mud that accumulates on it from a hard and rough season on the River banks.  This year i had not bothered at all and i was left with a box that looked, well quite frankly disowned.  A bucket or warm soapy water and a bunch of elbow grease late i had something that resembled a tackle box.

A quick glance inside the boxes trays revealed a mess that would rival Kevin's bedroom from Kevin and perry, it was shocking.  Floats all over the place, bits of ground bait that had dropped in after shipping the pole back in and all manner of castor shells and dead flies.  Lets just say it needed a clean and again a good sort out throwing away empty hook packets and weight tubs and then replacing them with new i was soon on my way to looking like i was remotely organised.

A hour later, who said men can not clean!!!

All that remained after that was to make up some hook lengths and boil some hemp but i left that task for the night before the session.

A special Purchase....

With Stick float fishing being my main branch of our sport where i use a normal open faced reel i do normally stray away from making an expensive purchase as i feel the very act of trotting where you constantly are turning over the bail arm an excessive amount of times during the session, that you are in fact just breaking the product as such.  With this mindset i normally buy a cheap reel in the 15-30 pound bracket and then used it for that following season.  I had been going through a reel prob every year and i was just taking the hit on the price.

Most of my fishing up to last year was mainly for dace and chublets so the reel was never really tested on better fish like chub in the 3lb plus bracket so i never really had any problems, this was until last season.  Last season regular blog readers will have noticed a step up in my river fishing and a lot of trips included big nets of chub, these fish certainly tested my tackle and all in all my knots and hook lengths stood up to the task but i lost a lot of fish due to a sudden surge for the snags by chub and the reel either sticking or not reacting quick enough or smoothly enough to prevent a hook pull.

With a recent voucher for some work i did around the blog i decided to treat myself to a decent reel for my trotting.  The reel i went with was a Shimano Tecnium reel which when it arrived i was instantly impressed with as you could just tell from the build quality and feel of the reel it was well made.  The front drag had numerous drag settings which i presume means you have a much finer drag and i can not wait to get out and try this reel on the 16th.  I will do a full review in the coming weeks but early impressions are good.

Lets get into the session and the first trip to the river....

The Ever So Glorious 16th June!!

The night of the 15th of June and i had just completed a long day in work, to say it dragged was an understatement as at times if felt like the clock was winding backwards.  Eventually evening came and with the house quiet i settled down to the tasks at hand that included boiling up a pint of hemp seed and making up a few hook lengths for the next mornings attack on the river.  The heady smell of hemp seed cooking in the air and with all the components needed to make my rigs set out on the table the excitement levels where high and that feeling that only comes with special events was in the air, it really is like having Christmas right in the middle of the year for me.

The walk along the river from a few days ago was still clear in my mind and although it was not this area we were heading to the next day that feeling of being by the river again made the wait even harder.  I had planned on a midnight attack on the river but looking at the money available at the moment then i could not justify the extra purchases to allow us to hit the river in the dark.  It was not until 3am that i packed the car and headed off into the dark to pick my uncle up.

In the early hours of the morning i had loaded all the gear into the hall and was set to go and put it all in the car around 3am but i made a decision at the last minute to change the swim i was planning to fish and i knew from experience it was no place for a big seat box so i quickly put together a box of essential buts and conveniently enough it all fit inside my new cool box.  It turned out to be a revelation as with no seat box so much weight was lost and all i had to carry was my holdall, net bag and a cool bag.  This might be the way forward for me in future, although it means having to stand up all day trotting, the lighter tackle was a real bonus.

The closed season is a time where my uncle relaxes and does not really go fishing so it was weird to find myself heading down his road again to pick him up, i guess year on year this will become part of the ritual of the 16th and part of what will make it stand out more as a special event on the calender, the build up the night before and then the feeling of travelling down an old path to pick my uncle up for the first session.

"I Walked Across An Empty Land
I Knew The Pathway Like The Back Of My Hand
I Felt The Earth, Beneath My Feet
Sat By The River And It Made Me Complete....."

For most people the verse above from Lily Allen's version of "somewhere only we know" conjures up nostalgic feelings of winter and Christmas time but for me this very first verse of the song always reminds me of that first walk along the river bank of the season.  The gear on your back and you walk over that final hill, below you the river, and that blast of freshness hits you and its almost as if the dirt and staleness from 3 months next to still and stagnant waters is washed away in that very moment.  You feel your body waken as you feel the freshness of a new season.
Approaching the river you begin to stop in swims you left 3 months earlier as brown, dead patches of earth that over the winter you had manicured and pruned to fit in with your task of fishing that are now hip high with nettles, thorn bushes and Himalayan balsam.  You just want to get set up and get a line in the water but you know housekeeping is needed before the task of fishing can even be considered, nature has awoken in your absence and defiantly claimed back their space.
A bit of flattening out here and a few overhanging trees teased back it was beginning to look like i could get a line in and have a comfortable days fishing.  Threading the line though my 13ft Trotting rod, my hands almost trembling as i rushed to do so, you always take longer when rushing but you can not help it, not today.  Eventually the rod was threaded and the 6 number 4 stick float was attached, a quick hook length attached and i began pluming the depth, bang on first time, it was like i had never left!!  A hand full of hemp down the swim and a sprinkling of maggots slightly upstream i was set for the first cast of the day and the season..............down the float trundled and BANG straight under it went, in all honestly i expected to be a bit rusty but the bit was unmissable and after a short fight a greedy chublet earned the crown of the first fish of the 2015/16 river season..

The Swim was a short 30 yard deep run coming off a shallow bend that started to shallow up again towards the tail of the run is a classic spot for trotting a float.  Its uniform depths and bank side cover mean it can hold some nice chub in winter and to be honest fishing it this time of year i did not not know what to expect.  Winter had brought chub only nets to 27lb so this chublet had me thinking "where have you been all winter".  I get many questions about my chub fishing and asking where i go and the sort answer to it is that it is private fishing.  My uncle, a builder by trade, did some work for a farmer who owns the land with the river on it and during the work he noticed my uncle would walk to the river to see the chub, he never allowed anyone to fish it but did give my uncle and myself permission for us two to wet a line when we wanted.  Its a privilege that might not last forever but for the moment we are two lucky anglers.

The next trot down the swim and again the float went under, again not a massive fish but it was pulling a bit in the flow, i thought chublet, yet i was amazed when i saw a flash of silver jagging through the swim and the silvery flanks of a dace slapping its tail defiantly on the surface as it came to the net.

The next 3 trots down brought instant bites and it was a hectic start to the session and the season for myself.  The average size of the dace shocked me if i was honest.  They must have been over 8oz maybe up to 10oz in size and did not look out of place with the chublets.  Again from a swim where big chub had been the order of the day in winter so it posed more questions than answers as to where these fish where in winter as species like chublets and dace generally can be caught all through the year in the coldest if conditions, this season is going to be so interesting.

Not long after the swim went a bit quiet and i thought the chub might have arrived but not come right onto the bait yet, they can sometimes hand right back in the swim, so you can imagine my excitement when i thought my hunch had been proven right when the float sailed under and something with a bit more fight was on the other end of the line.

The fish came upstream right in front of me before moving down stream in one long strong run and i knew there it was not a chub.  My theory was confirmed when a flash of brown and yellow leaped clear of the water, a trout.  Trout are great when you are not getting a bite and can save a blank on some sessions but right when the swim is building a trout bombing through the swim and splashing all over the place is a real nightmare, it can really put you back to square one. Lovely fish though.

After this trout had done its worst to ruin the fishing the swim predictably went quiet and sat among the undergrowth i wound the rod in and fed the swim with no lines in the water.  Sat flicking the odd maggot and grains of hemp in the swim was a killer trick i learnt in winter and it was great just sitting back and watching the wildlife go bye, first a king fisher then a swallow bladed low through the swim and it was great to be back on the river.

The time felt right for another trot through and there is no better feeling than when you get it right, although only the first session it makes you feel like you really are almost at one with the river you are fishing and you have learnt something from the previous sessions.

A plump fat dace was my reward and i was over the moon.

This resting of the swim proved to be a master stroke as the fish came heavy back on the feed, i was getting bites most trots down, missing a few, but also connecting with the odd fish including some more chublets and dace.  I was working for them but when i got the presentation right i got some form of a result.  A rogue trout again saw me resting the swim for another 15 minutes but i knew by then the plan would work a treat.

A good rest and feeding and i was again ready to run through, right at the end of the trot the float buried and i struck to set the hook.  The strike was met with a stubborn solid and defiant thud as a chub held its ground.  It is almost like they are working out if they can do you right away and working out how strong your set up is from the off as this chub held firm the all of a sudden bolted for the roots.  Lurching over the river i strained to keep the line from the sharp roots.  The shimano reel ticked over a dream and i did notice on a number of occasions the hard runs that had seen hook pulls last season where not present, yet.

When the chub move in they move in and it was no surprise the first chub was followed by 3 more all coming in successive casts.

The time was 8.30am and i ad caught steady during the morning, arriving at the bank at 4am in the morning i had been fishing for a good 4 hours and the sun was just coming onto the river.  At this point i could see my bait going straight through the swim and down stream untouched and it was clear the chub and dace had returned back to their snaggy homes.  I also had work the next day so i trotted a float through for another hour before calling it a day.

The final net went 10.5lb and i was more than made up with the mornings efforts.

The rest of the week ahead me in work i knew it would not be long before i was sat waiting again for that clock to come round to 3am and the start of another adventure on the bank.

till next time i wish you all tight lines


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