Friday, 24 January 2014

Dead Baiting For Pike: Make Mine A Double.....

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update.  It seems to have been an age now since we were last on a river trotting a float on a river with any conviction, we of course had the trips to the river dane but in reality the river was far from ideal and we did well to muster the results we did.  This flooding can see the rivers out of action for a few weeks and sometimes longer if it is the River Dee.  This is one of the reasons i am diversifying into different branches of our sport so i can try and match my location and quarry to the conditions i am faced with for example going out dead baiting for pike instead of fishing a river that is high and like chocolate, i think the past few weeks results piking compared to our trips to the rivers have gone to prove that in terms of fish on the bank this is the way to go and one positive that comes naturally from this is you become more accomplished as an all rounder.

There are many famous people that i follow in the angling world but one that i have to say i admire the most is Martin Bowler, he is an angler that if you follow him on facebook you can see he reads the conditions and then targets the species from there, pike in winter, tench in spring and carp in autumn you can see just what a quality all rounder he is, of course his motives are different than mine with him being a specimen hunter and myself just out to catch what comes along big or small, his way of fishing and being a good all rounder is a way i would like to look back on my fishing life in years to come.  There are of course many everyday anglers that i follow in the blog writing world that showcase these same attributes such as Stewart Bloor, again a specimen hunter but also a great all rounder who is a quality angler in many of the branches of this magnificent sport.

It really made me sick this  week to read on Franks Column about the fact that bailiffs checking on the local Sankey Canal in Widnes were met with the sight of numerous dead pike left on the bank.  This act of chucking pike up the bank was unfortunately common place many years ago where match men saw these pike as a nuisance fish, gladly things have moved on from there and drives to improve knowledge of clubs in this area has seen this practise all but abolished from out sport.  I do hope deep down that this is the reason these pike have been found as if it is just sick individuals catching and then throwing pike on the bank to die then society has hit a deeper low than i thought.  What exactly possess people to commit such a act? i do wonder sometimes what world our daughter will be growing up in, i really do.

 The past few weeks targeting pike using dead bait methods has seen me on a steep learning curve both with the tactics employed for this fishing and also the mental side of things, by this i mean how different it is from the float fishing and pole fishing i do most of the year for silvers in the fact it is a lot more relaxed.  There is no less thought that goes into my pike fishing compared to my float fishing but there is no doubt the actually fishing is a lot less active and mentally draining than the fishing for dace as that constant concentrating on presentation and feeding maggots in the right place time after time can leave you mentally fatigued at times.  I have to admit the pike fishing can play with you head in the sense you have too much time to think about what you are doing.  Patience is one thing the carp quest and this pike fishing of late has taught me as it is an aspect i struggled with at first as waiting hours for a bite was very hard to get my head round at first as i was expecting the float to sail off within seconds each time, the reality was far different but the challenge refreshing.

When on the bank pike fishing i like to be as alert and active as possible always on the look out for silver fish topping or pike striking to give me clues as to if i am in the right place but there are times when you know you are in the right place, your confident in your bait and method and presentation and you know if the fish are around you are in with a chance, i guess this came in the last week or so where i had the confidence from catching a few fish that what i was doing was right that i could relax and take in my surroundings.

The natural world around is is something i feel i have lost in my fishing in the last year or so, i remember when i first started writing this blog my updates used to involve as much wildlife as fishing and the past few weeks have gave me the opportunity to take my camera with me and capture on or two of the visitors to my peg.  I guess if all anglers could have one wish it would be that the fish found us as easily as the Robins do!

Finally on the subject of the piking it was great how well received last weeks blog was, which was great to see for myself as in my opinion there is a  very fine line between friendly advice and seeming like you are preaching.  Being a person who See's themselves as an average everyday angler i find it very hard to give advise on fishing and as such usually stray away from including advise and my way of doing things in my blog so it was quite relieving to receive positive feedback on that aspects of last weeks blog update and as such i was thinking of adding a extra page to the blog to include hints and tips for newcomers to angling with some ideas like how to cook hemp and basic rigs for pike fishing as things to include.

Before moving onto this weeks blog update i did mention in last weeks blog about the help i received from people who follow my blog via Social media and i have to say both Facebook and Twitter accounts are growing nicely, not in numbers as many judge their social media pages, but in general discussions and sharing of information and experiences which is great to see.  For those interested you can find the blogs social media links on the side bar of the blog or on the links below.

Blogs Facebook Page:
Blogs Twitter Page:

On both  pages i try and update at least once a day and if i can from the bank of a weekend, feel free to drop by and say hello and post any of your captures as they happen, its something that has developed as a product of this blog and has been a joy to see it grow and speak to so many anglers who willingly give their time, help and advice.

And with that its on to this weeks fishing:

Dead Baiting for pike: The learning continues - Sunday Session: 

A change in my partners work has seen her shift patterns change from a fish friendly Monday to Friday to a Tuesday to Saturday shift which for me means a big goodbye to my Saturday's fishing trips.  This will still see me having one day a week on the bank but will see me lose that luxury of having the option of a cheeky morning the following day if the previous days action has been poor, what it also means is i am going to have to be spot on with my picking of locations for the fishing to try and make the most of the available time.

For some weeks now i have been trying to pin point locations for the pike fishing and based on experiences during the summer where i experienced pike activity, help from friends on facebook and exploring places i thought pike would be i now have four locations that will be my targets for the next few weeks at least.  These four venues take in a variety of type of venue and pike stocks,one has a high population of small jack pike as a result of big pike being removed many years ago whilst the others may not produce the number of fish but it if i do catch it is almost guaranteed to be bigger than anything i will catch in the other venue, all have their plus points and come together to make the bigger picture and give me plenty to work on.

Sunday was my first trip out but before that i needed to stock up on some bait, my aim this year to reduce my weekly spending on angling so it was great news when a trip to my local supermarket saw me purchase 20 fat sprats for the tidy sum of £1.36, you cant even buy a packet of hooks for that these days.  When i get my baits home i separate them into smaller bags ready for trips to the bank so i am not taking all of them at once.  Sprats are a fantastic bait and especially good on waters with numbers of jacks where anything bigger could result in dropped runs, that is not to say these are the only bait i use and a great part of this winter piking has been seeing which baits are good with certain venues.

The rivers flooded sunday saw me hitting the bank with a game plan, 3 hours working a swim that contained quite a large feature, 40 minutes in each sport around it being enough before trying the next.  The baits out all that was left was to see if any pike where on the look out for a free breakfast.  This venue i know contains some really big pike and could see me actually breaking my overall pike personal best of 14lb if i got lucky and that being the case i am always excited and full of anticipation when fishing these places.

There is something about a pike float that is, well perfect, it sits so elegantly out of the water held in place by a small lead on the bottom it holds station, motionless with only the gentle lapping of the waves form a side breeze causing it to move with any vigour.  How you set you floats up is personal to each angler and every angler has their own preference, mine is to have the float anywhere from cocked in this picture to semi cocked.  I never like to leave the float lying flat on the surface as my biggest fear with this dead baiting is a deep hooked pike so i want to know instantly when a fish touches the bait so i can judge what the pike is doing and you will see me talk more about this later on on this piece where i talk about how important it is to be getting in the mindset of a pike, again i stress how you have yours is entirely up to your own preference.

Sunday mornings are a great time to be out on the bank, all the idiots are either in bed or just cooking their morning fry up and at this time of year the freezing cold mornings means you normally have the bank to yourself, makes me sound right anti social ha-ha but in reality with the work i do and the hustle and bustle peace and quite is what i seek out if i am out early on a Sunday.  It really is amazing what you see when your quiet on the bank what with the bird life and the occasional late night stop out fox scampering home it can be a magical time and a time of the week so many people just dont see.

The rods out it was a waiting began and unfortunately nothing much really happened as the float remained defiantly motionless and the three hours passed in no time at all.  I had decided early on that i was only giving this venue 3 hours and then moving onto the more prolific area with the jack.  The baits out it was no time at all before i got my first run of the day as the float sailed away and diserpeared, a strong stike was met with thin air, how it goes sometimes with this game i have found.  I was not long before the float was away again with another run and this time i know the pike had the bait good a proper as the float sunk confidently into the depths.  Fish on, only a jack, but boy did it scrap for a little guy you really have got to love the tenacity of these fish, so defiant, if perch are the bullies of the school yard then the pike if the hardest lad in the school.

Even at such a small age these jack pike are well equipped for their purpose.

Unfortunately not long after releasing this fish i received some bad news that saw me pack in and head home immediately, i wont go into detail on here as its not the place.

I have said it a number of times on this blog over the years but fishing offers so much more than catching fish, it gives its participants a outlet to relax and be at one with their thoughts and at times like this the bank offers me that solitude to be alone with my thoughts and think things over, almost getting things in order in my head and on Tuesday i just had to get out on the bank and away from it all for a hour or so.  Pike fishing was the gear i grabbed and headed off for a local canal.

Arriving on the bank with the rods already set up i mounted up a mackerel tail on the first rod and began to plum the depths to get the float set just right, all set it was time to grab the second rod and as i turned to grab it i was sure i saw the float in the water dip, the second rod was slowly learnt on a nearby bush as the float again dipped, interest already i waited with baited breath for the run to develop but unfortunately it didn't and the float lay still.  I returned the rod to the floor and set about unravelling my second rod from the bush, not an easy job with a thorn bush.

Given the early interest i was really confident of the float sliding away but after 40 long minutes it still remained still so i brought the bait in and sure enough it was pin pricked with tiny holes from a pikes mouth.  The bait returned to the spot i then set about recasting the second rod, solid and snagged like a good one it was, DAM i thought all i needed, anyway llong story short i ended up pulling for a break which resulted in me getting the bait back but the hooks being left ruined and bent, setting up fresh was the only thing to do, a set up thats not right is no good at all with piking you need your hooks to be sharp and as strong as can be to penetrate the pikes bony mouths.

This is where i was saying about pike fishing not being just chucking it in and forgetting it you need to be switched on at all times and vigilant as it would have been so easy for me to turn my back and set up another rod forgetting about the one still in.  Your mind is on setting up but your eyes are on that float which to my amazement bobbed again signalling more interest.  I placed the gear down and grabbed the other rod and this is exactly what happened.

The float bobbed once and again and then moved around 3ft to the left slowly, enough for you to miss and then stopped.  Now this is where you need to be thinking about things as there is two scenarios that may have happened here 1) the pike has moved and felt resistance and dropped the bait 2) the fish has got the bait in its mouth has stopped to turn it and eat the bait.  When this happens you have to be thinking option 2 all the time and you have to chance your luck and strike as leaving this fish any longer could see the hooks deep inside the pike and you are in real trouble, remembering its best to lose a pike than risk a deep hooked one.

Striking hard i was met with solid resistance and a pike that most certainly was not happy in being disturbed eating his mackerel breakfast, a hard battle began with the pike taking line on a number of occasions as it made for the far bank shaking its head hard in defiance as it did so.  Some pike are quite timid in their fight but others are all aggression and power and this was certainly the latter, i knew it was a decent fish from the runs and power but it was not till she came up to the surface a slowly drifted into the edge i saw what a nice fish she was in the clearing water the net slid under her i let her rest in the margin while i recovered.

The unhooking mat, scales and unhooking tools were already laid out in preparation of a capture again when dealing with pike it pays to be organised.  On the bank i could see one of the hooks was in her scissors, maybe i was wrong and have been lucky, but opening her mouth i could see the second trebles where right in the top of her mouth level with the gills, my gut instinct was right and any longer it could have been a different matter.  The fish unhooked on the scales she went and i was really happy to see them sneak over the 10lb mark at 10lb 3oz, my first double on a dead bait.

As always with my fishing its all about getting close enough to nature you can touch it, admire it in all its beauty and then see them go back strong.

After releasing this pike i quickly packed away as i had arranged to meet up with a mate from work on another venue and with only a hour to spend i was confident of picking up at least one jack pike.  The end result was two runs and one pike on the bank, as expected only a jack and might well have been the same one from Sunday.

That is it for this weeks update, i hope next weekend gives us a chance to get back on a river

but till then its tight lines from me


Saturday, 18 January 2014

Dead Baiting For Pike: Effort Equals Success

A welcome to this weeks blog update and i hope i find you all well.  I start this weeks blog update on a sad note i am afraid but rest assured it ends on a good note fishing wise and the sad news is the fact that i read a story this week on the Internet that shocked me and really made me sit and think if going fishing in this country is really worth it.

 Many people in this country have to make decisions about the sport they participate in and whether it is safe for them to participate both physically and financially,  in my experience a common one was during my rugby playing days when any of my mates that where self employed had to make a decision whether to play or not as injury could put them out of work and not able to provide for their families but a story i read this week around a Bailiff being attacked with a knife for asking for a licence made me ask myself the unthinkable question of, "is it safe to go out on the bank alone any more?"

For people who are unaware of the story i will write a short summary of the events.  John Anderson, a member and bailiff of Burton Mutual Angling Association arrived at a local venue of his called Branston Water Park where he caught sight of two men described as Eastern European Appearance and aged 25-35 years old fishing and as he approached further he noticed they also had a carrier bag full of fish he then simply said "you are not allowed to take fish away from the water park" and proceeded to ask them is they where members.  In Mr Andersons words he then said one of the men walked off behind him while the other went into his pocket for what he thought was to get his ticket to which he pulled out a Stanley knife and starting swiping at his face while the other man kicked him in the back so hard it knocked him to the ground and required him to be taken to hospital on a spinal board.  After kicking him in the back the two men ran away leaving Mr anderson to be found by a passer by who called for an ambulance.

The subject of eastern Europeans taking fish had been done to death on nearly every forum out there and the normal justification for the taking of the fish is that its a different culture they come from where this is the norm but this is just taken the whole debate to another level and its totally unacceptable.  Fishing is not a sport where we should have to watch our backs or be on the constant look out for fish being taken illegally from our waters and a normal everyday man volunteering to take time from his own fishing towards the upkeep of a fishery should only have to worry about falling into the water as a reason he may lose his life, not being stabbed!!.

Now after reading this i am sure you will all agree its not acceptable and some of you may say well Danny you are not a Bailiff so it wont effect you but many of the people in Warrington Anglers will tell you that the messages coming from the chairman of this club are that us as members are responsible for protecting the waters on the card ans should be approaching people asking if they have licences.  Many people on the Warrington Facebook page stated they did not think this was acceptable and thought their money should be spent on a full bailiff team who bailiff waters in a group and not down to the anglers who it could put in danger, well here is the proof, in this day and age it is not safe!

Moving on i would like to talk for a second about pike fishing and a bit of information about people that are new to angling or this branch of the sport.  Firstly, although dead baiting for pike is rather new to me the actual fishing for pike is not and as such i am quite confident both handling and being equipped with the right gear to deal with a pike on the bank.  If you are new to the sport there are a few areas you may want to look at first and i have done my best to break them down.

looking to take up pike fishing or interested in just interested in trying to go for a pike:
There are plenty of great articles out there on the Internet that will teach you pretty much everything about rigs, baits and in some cases even locations this is all well and good but if possible you should try and go out for a few sessions with someone who knows what they are doing, this will teach you far more than any article will and you will find most of serious articles will advise you to go with someone who is experienced.  No matter how much you read it will do nothing to prepare you for that unhooking that first pike.

Of course there are times when this just is not possible and in these cases i would advise attending one of the many evens the PAC run.  I am in Warrington Anglers and at least once a year they advertise that the PAC are running events locally.  A link to there website is here:

Being properly equipped to unhook a pike:
The saying in pike fishing that "the easy part of pike fishing is catching the fish the real skill starts when there on the bank" is so true, as i have said nothing will prepare you for that first pike and when it comes we have to be prepared.  Firstly lets look at hard ware, before you even buy a wire trace your first purchases should be a decent set of forceps, i use the Greys Prowla ones as they lock once close giving you greater grip on the trebles, secondly is a set of good strong pliers the ones you get in tool shops will do and i use these for when the hook is in the outside of the pikes mouth or in the scissors as i feel they give me better manoeuvrability than the forceps, next is the some wire cutters, often only reserved for last resort but do come in handy when a pike is hooked awkwardly to get the wire out of the way to get a clean grip on the hooks and finally is an unhooking mat, i have a few pictures on here of pike with no matt and i have to hold my hands up and say i should have known better and now always carry an unhooking matt when pike fishing.

The next thing when unhooking a pike you need is confidence, you need to work quick and be firm and solid with your handling everything you do has to have a purpose and be done with confidence.  Pike being such aggressive fish and having teeth have this name for being strong but in fact are one of the most fragile fish you will fish for.   When unhooking a pike you may well have to go in or hold the pike around the gill cover, remember there is no other fish we fish for where we come into such close contact with a fishes gills, remember they are the equivalent to our lungs so be careful and work as quickly and calmly as possible.

Being properly equipped for piking Tackle wise: 
I am not going to even mention wire traces as i would have thought that would go without needing an explanation but be prepared there are good and bad wire traces out there some will kink after one fish others will not.  Good strong line is a must remember pike is like carp fishing you never know what size pike is taking the bait could be a 2lb jack but could be that 20lb fish of a lifetime and you need to be gunned for the 20lb possibility at all times i use braid for my fishing and of course a rod that's up to the job is a must as well i currently use two 2.5lb test curve rods.

Unwritten rules and Piking etiquette 
There are a few rules in pike fishing that you wont see on any website or in any book and its good to be aware of them when going into this area of fishing.  Number one it is not the done thing to ask people where they are pike fishing, many pikers put a lot of hours into their fishing and also respect the fact that pike don't take well to angling pressure, it is no coincidence massive pike that are caught from waters that are then caught a lot in a short period of time and are never seen again, this is because of angling pressure and they do not take well to it.  This is not to say do not ask for help on pike fishing as most anglers will gladly help you with tactics and little hints and tips i asked a lad for help the other week but itis what you ask thats the key, a question like "hey mate nice pike what swim and venue did you catch it from" is not right but a question like "hi mate, i am new to pike fishing and i think i am fishing the same areas as yourself but struggling can you give me some tips on a good bait to start on"
the second is nothing to do with location but a genuine ask for a little help from which you can put in the hours to find the fish.

The second links into the topic above about the taking of pike from waters by Eastern Europeans.  We can not tar all with the same brush as there are many from this country who legally take pike for the pot but it seems the area where there is confusion is in the number and size of pike taken, taking 5-6 pike a trip is not right and all the evidence points to these being from the eastern European backgrounds.  We as anglers need to be aware that these people are just as savvy on the Internet side of things as anyone else and as such we need to protect fish as much as possible this includes not mentioning waters on posts, taking pictures that don't give locations away and also reporting any unlawful taking of fish the the EA straight away.   I catch 6 pike in this update and i know them 6 pike went back alive had the locations been public knowledge and that was someone else catching those fish we could now be sat here with all 6 no longer alive, that is how drastic it can be and we need to do all we can.

I hope any people looking to start pike fishing find that useful and with that i would like to say tight lines for your fishing and move onto this weeks fishing.

Friday 10th - Pike fishing: Effort equals success

Before going any further on this i first have to thank all the people who have helped me over the past weeks, I wont go into mentioning names as i have already thanked these people in the conversations on or the threads they put comments on but again a big thank you, you all know who you are and the help is really appreciated and every bit of help you all gave all come together and helped me to enjoy these two sessions as much as i did.

Friday morning and a days leave booked, it was the fourth anniversary of my mums passing and getting away for a mornings fishing with my dad was the order of the day, away from it all and a chance to go fishing and talk over happy memories of mum.  Approaching the venue their was a cold crisp chill in the air that saw the water still as a mill pond with the only ripple coming from a grebe working the far bank a sure sign there was bait fish in the area and a good place to start looking for a pike.  Water craft is one part of angling you cant be taught and its noticing things like grebes and the fact the water is clear so to choose a bait that's appropriate for the conditions that can determine whether we succeed or fail as is normally the case with most venues whether they be rivers, lakes or canals there is a lot of water the fish can be in so we need to be in the best place we can possibly be.

A dead weed bed proved to be the swim and two dead baits where to be presented at either end hoping to entice a hungry pike to dine.  The sun just peeping over the horizon, a flash of electric blue whizzing past the swim from a kingfisher and two red pike floats sitting lazily semi cocked there was no finer place to be right at that moment in time, we poured the first brew and settled in.

The coffee had only just been poured when the left hand float began to cock and bob and slowly move away in a scene reminiscent to the yellow buoy's in the Jaws film, i gave the bite time to develop as the float slip under and when it felt right i struck only for the rig to come back at me, not again i thought but unlike last time i felt no resistance so i knew i was still in with a chance so the bait went straight back out.  It did not take long before the float was again on the move and i have to say the excitement of pike fishing is unmatched in any angling i have done as no other angling we do allows you that time between knowing you have a bite and striking to think i wonder how big this will be, such a rush and so addictive!  The float submerged again and in the back of my head i head Mr Maddocks saying "you need to strike hard to set the hooks" well its safe to say this one did not evade capture.  My first pike dead baiting was well and truly on, not a big fish by any means but put up a good account for itself, only a small jack of around 4lb which probably explained the problems hooking it first time if it was the same one.

The pike on the bank and unhooked i was just about to take the pictures when the second float slid away, it never rains but it pours i thought.  I quickly put the pike in the landing net and put it resting in the edge while i played the second fish which was a proper feisty little guy that thankfully calmed down in the margin allowing me to chin the fish out, both fish unhooked it was time for a double fish photo, a dream start.

Both fish returned safely there watery home i could have quite easily left there and then a happy angler but the reality was i still had just over three and half hours of the morning session to go.  The next fish came quite quickly and unlike the first two sail aways this bite was far more tentative with just a slow cocking of the float and the faintest of movement laterally giving it away, i was sure the fish was eating the bait on spot so rather than risk a deep hooked pike i struck and was met with a reassuring resistance and this fish felt better than the previous two weight wise but it lacked the fight of its smaller brothers.  This calm fight allowed my dad to capture some shots as the fish was coming in for me to chin out.

To help us gauge weight we popped this one on the scales and he went 5lb 8oz

The pictures taken the pike was released back in and for me this is the best part of fishing, getting to see nature up and close, touch it and then see it swim away safe and well.

If you listen closely in this video you can hear my dad saying, going, going......gone this is in fact him talking about the other float still out so after this video was taken i literally stood up and struck into another pike, hectic fishing to say the least.

I was certainly in the right spot at the right time and this is where i say all those blanks are worthwhile as the hours spent blanking and trying different areas now come together to make the bigger picture and make these moments even sweeter.  This next pike proved to be the biggest of the session at just over 7lb and it was actually this fishes lucky day as my capture led to the removal of a very poorly constructed wire trace from the inside of this fishes mouth.  It was impossible to tell if the trace had snapped or if someone had caught the pike and cut their line but the trace was in pretty poor condition, either way my trace and this trace removed saw the pike going back strong and better for our chance meeting.

The final run of the session came after around a hour and half after returning the pike above and i think the commotion of so many pike being caught in a short space of time did not help but it did give us chance to have a good chat and catch up.

The session died from there and despite changing location a few times no more bites came.  6 runs and 5 fish i headed back to the car ready for an afternoons shopping floating on air, as the carp catcher so rightly says on his videos EFFORT EQUALS SUCCESS.

Sunday 12th January - Deadbaiting for Pike the hunt Continues. 

Rising from my bed on a Sunday morning to go fishing will soon become the norm for me as a change of shift pattern for my partner means a change of fishing day for me, even to go fishing i find it hard getting out of bed on a Sunday so its going to be tough.  The sleep cleared from my eyes and a good splash of cold water around my chops i was ready for a morning targeting Esox Lucius.  The venue on the friday being free fishing is well fished so stocks of pike are known to be high for jack pike with a double figure fish being a rarity, a prime example of what the removal of large pike from a venue does.

 For those who are not aware pike control their own numbers with the bigger pike eating the small jacks especially around mating season which see the big females often being unable to resist eating one of the smaller male admirers.  Put this into numbers say a water can sustain 30lb of pike, one 20lb pike and say 2 5lb pike the bigger pike will control any more smaller ones coming through, you take that 20lb pike away and over the next years you will see on average 6 5lb pike that really cannot grow much bigger given the food available and you end up with a river, lake or canal full of jacks.

The sun rising over the horizon illuminating the sky with a deep red that only come with winter, my breath preceded my feet as i walked the bank to my swim with the sound of frozen grass crunching under my thermal wellingtons this is how i imagined winter piking to be and there was not another person in sight to disturb this most beautiful of mornings.  I knew setting out that the venue i was heading to today would be a lot more challenging than Friday but i also knew that if i did get a run i was almost certain it would be bigger than any of the five from Friday, full of confidence i set my traps.

Again water craft would be key and it would have been easy to think the bait i used on Friday would score well but i knew that the conditions and probable size of pike would call for something more substantial and appetising and of course location would pay a big part.

The bait had not been in the water longer than 15 minutes and just as i was about to message a mate back and update the blogs facebook page the float twitched, i froze and slid the phone back into the warmth of my pocket.  The fish on Friday had also gave me a sense of calm about this run, i guess it was the fact i had put my first dead bait caught fish on the bank that helped as i quickly reeled in my other rod, being alone and the chances that this pike could be any size i didn't want to the distraction of another run or worrying about getting tangled.  The twitches developed into severe dips on the float as the pike picked up the bait and began moving away, taking the bait to its lair to digest in peace.

The rod in hand i willed the float to go under and away she went, a quick finger across the line to make sure it was still moving away and the time had come i reeled in till i felt resistance and struck hard.  This time i knew i was into a decent pike as the fish took line from the spool and stayed deep hugging the bottom, as predicted certainly better than any of Fridays fish.  The whole fight i was praying the hooks would hold and my first glance of the fish showed her to be a magnificent colour with deep green makings speckled with gold spots she oozed defiance as she used all that power and surface area of her fins to make hard lunges for the safety of the bottom, eventually her anger waved and she allowed me to slide her into the net and get a glimpse at her majestic beauty, 8lb 12oz i was one happy angler and well worth the early alarm clock wake up.

This proved to be the only action of the morning and despite a few venue changes the floats remained still and i left the bank around dinner time with a smile from ear to ear, what a weekends fishing, it was like someone was watching down on me........thank you mum :-)

till next time

tight lines


Monday, 13 January 2014

Putting the Hours Deadbaiting for Pike

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update.  I normally release the weekly blog update on a Friday night but i decided this week to book Friday off work to have three days fishing so today is the first chance i have really had to get the update out.

This time of the year is always a difficult time of year for myself as its when my mum sadly passed away and this year marks the fourth anniversary of her passing away, not a nice time of year and its mad how time flies bye.  The Friday booked off i just wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and be beside a water where i could just take in natures beauty and chew the fat with my old man.  Many people deal with grief in different ways mine is to get away from things.  I have said it before and i will say it again fishing offers the lucky few who enjoy this fantastic past time so much more than trying to catch a fish.

I would say i am a regular reader of the Anglers Mail and this weeks i read with great interest their piece on an indoor commercial fishery.  The introduction of a fishery like this was always only a matter of time away as the competitive market that is commercial fishery's seek ever elaborate ways to keep the money coming in all year round in this case providing warm, dry and clean fishing indoors,  another example of this was the introduction of flood lights to a fishery to allow evening matches during the week to continue to take place as the nights draw in.

I actually thought the incentive for the first fishery of this type would be as i mentioned above, money, but it was great to read that the thought behind this was to help develop the anglers of the future by giving them access to quality fishing that not only allows them to fish all year round but also stay safe and warm and i really do believe this can only be good for angling and its a big hats off to the developer of this idea as i do believe the way this has been done will develop the anglers of tomorrow as one of the hardest things in angling in winter is catching and we all know when kids are not catching they soon lose interest and can often drift away from the sport.

The flip side of this is also the fact we are all part of a sport where new ideas and ways of doing things soon become the norm across the board and its when this idea is developed on a larger scale it may prove to be less appealing i mean like where does it stop a warehouse with a lake in side it? how long will it be before pulling up to go fishing resembles the pulling up to a go cart indoor track or a large angling centre.  I just worry that we risk tarnishing how our sport appears to the public looking into our sport as a major selling point for me of our sport to the outside world is the fact  it gets you outside in the great outdoors amongst the fantastic British wildlife, fishing inside a warm warehouse in a lake overstocked with fish so we can be guaranteed of a catch does make our sport seem a little silly i mean like how far along the line is a conveyor belt system in front of each peg taking food to each peg in a yo sushi'esque fashion, i jest of course but its the way i feel our sport is going.

Looking forward towards the end of the month i will certainly be purchasing a Northwich Anglers Assosiation card for the upcoming season reasons behind this are quite simple and they are money and flooding.  The cost of going fishing each week as we do is not cheap on the old petrol tank and this year i am making a conscious effort to reduce the money i spend on my fishing, both on bait and on travel and with most of the Northwich card being local its the ideal option, flooding is another major issue with our fishing as our main location, the river dee, seems to flood each season and as it has such a large area it stays in flood conditions for at least a week after the rains stop and we hope to still be able to still get on a river when this is the case and bar travelling to the river ribble which drops quickly as it is a spate river the river weaver is the next best option. I must say i am looking forward to targeting the silvers in this river and the carp and pike it also holds in good numbers over the coming year.

on to this weeks fishing:

Saturday - Putting in the Hours deadbaiting for pike

Saturday saw me rising at the crack of dawn with my pike head well and truly on and it is when you load the car for this type of fishing you get an idea of why i love this type of fishing so much as you can literally take two rods setup as shown below, a landing net, unhooking mat and a bag pack containing  deadbaits, terminal tackle and of course the most important items of tackle in a pair of decent forceps and bolt cutters.

This staying light approach i feel will become vital in the colder months as the fact you are not sat hunched up on a chair with loads of gear to cart round means you are more inclined to keep mobile and work not only an area but also to pack up and move to a different location, this mobile approach i think is the way to go with pike fishing where in the colder months i feel you may have to find the fish that in my eyes may be lying hard on the bottom and not moving very much.

There is no getting away from the fact that i am quite inexperienced when it comes to winter dead baiting and it is going to take time to get to know the good locations, methods and of course baits that are going to be my go to bait for these varying locations.  This is of course going to take more that just one season to achieve and my goals at the moment are to put the hours in and get one fish on the bank and then from their try to build on that and increase my knowledge in the areas above, one thing is for sure if i dont catch it wont be through lack of effort and i am not being big headed here or blowing my own trumpet but i dont think i will ever fail at anything in my fishing life through lack of putting the time in, in all conditions.

The first swim i tried was just off a set of reeds that had completely died off from my trips walking the bank in summer and this is where time on the bank pays dividends as anyone just going out to chuck it and chance it without doing their homework would not know this weed bed even existed.  I fished two rods in this location with different baits utilising both the the conditions and the contours of the bottom to place baits where i thought the pike would be holding up.

The baits introduced we sat back and poured the first brew of the morning and myself and my dad chewed the fat on what we hoped to achieve in the coming year with our angling and i cant wait for march to come for my dad to get his Ea licence and start getting back out on the bank with us.

I was just recasting the second rod when my dad said  he thought he had just seen the other float move and with that my attention was locked on the float and within seconds it came alive and like the shudders on the float the excitement fizzed through my veins as the float started to slowly move across the surface, MY FIRST TAKE!!  I let the run develop to the point the float went under and i knew from my river piking that the moment had come to strike so i wound down and struck hard and felt the fish on the end and no sooner had i felt the fish did the bait come straight back at me, i am not going to beat around the bush or lie here i was slightly upset that i had missed my first big chance and i knew inside that that particular fish was probably well gone given the fact i connected with it momentarily.

The bait was straight back out in the same location but as i thought my chance had gone and after a hour i decided to move to my second swim of the day but this again failed to produce any bites at all and this was the same for the final location of the day as well which was disappointing.  Looking back after the session i drew positives from my third session on the bank and it was around the run as it gave me great confidence that what i was doing worked and i was targeting areas where pike where holding out, granted no one likes to blank but with winter piking i think these will go hand in hand with the success that i am sure is just around the corner.

Sunday - Lets just catch some fish

Sunday saw myself and my uncle faced with rivers that where in their surrounding fields and an overnight frost that killed any chances of us targeting the local canals or stillwaters, we were left with only one option and that was to target a local fishery in flushing meadows in Acton Bridge.  The sheer numbers of fish in the waters in this fishery means it does not fish like natural venues as the volume of fish in these waters mean that the fish feed in the coldest of conditions so we left confident of a bite or two.

As predicted the bites where not long in coming to maggot and bread tactics and we both enjoyed plenty of bites from perfectly formed roach and skimmer bream.  Over the next few hours we lost count at how many fish we caught but left the fishery having scratched an that itch of seeing the float go under time and time again.  The over night frost put pay to our chances of a rogue carp or barbel but it was a session that as anglers we all need from time to time and gives you that boost to go again and take on hard sessions on the rivers when they are at a reasonable level again.

That is it for this week, with a three day weekend booked now and hopefully three sessions out on the bank, at least two for pike i hope i will be able to put my first pike caught dead baiting on the bank.

till next time its tight lines


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Chub Fishing and the Dead baiting for Pike begins

A warm welcome to this weeks update and i hope i find you all well and healthy after the two weeks of festivities that have just passed, Happy new year and the tightest of lines for 2014.  The festive period was always going to be a tough time for myself as being around 3-4 months into a drastic change of lifestyle and way of eating a two week period of cupboards full of sugary delights and family obligations to attend at least two sit down meals as well as our little families Christmas Day meal was always going to be a challenging period for even people with the strongest of will power.  A weight gain was almost a fore gone conclusion but it was managing that to a reasonable standard that was my aim, enjoy the festivities and tastes of Christmas but do not over do it and i am pleased to say i have come through the other side with a small weight gain of 3lbs which i am over the moon with and to put in perspective its set me back a week as i have been losing around 3lb a week on average.  The day of writing this blog marks the first day back on the sensible eating routine and i have to see it has been a challenging day but baring me raiding willy wonkers chocolate factory in the next few hours i am a step in the right direction.

Still on the subject of Christmas, a pet hate of mine at Christmas time is the annoyingly over priced cracker, call me scrooge but its the whole crap joke and silly hat that does it and the prize inside is never really that great or to put it frank worth having, well that all changed this year after winning a cracker battle i was rewarded with a mini cheese grater!  When they say fishing is never really far from an obsessed anglers mind Christmas has had my brain working overtime with ideas of ledgered sprouts for chub to stuffing as a ground bait, come to think of it as i write this right now the thought is "could you actually catch a chub on a Christmas dinner?"  A swim feeder packed with mash and vegetables coated put in a open feeder and plugged with sage and onion stuffing down to a ledgered piece of turkey on the hook (glugged in gravy of course) with a pop up sprout as a change bait! Tell you what with the amount of different flavours and concoctions out there i better copyright that idea before it ends up in a boilie! come to think of it another one just came to me crimbo pudding used on the old type method feeder for carp! All 100 percent natural ingredients haha.

Soooo after that slight diversion i will get back to the topic i was getting around to talking about which was the fact i got a cheese grater in a cracker and was given a small food processor before Christmas made me think about knocking up some cheese paste for an upcoming river trip so with that idea a block and blue Stilton cheese went missing from the cheese board and even  better was the fact that i got away with it as no one missed it, a few mystery ingredients later and i had something that smelt of cheese and had the consistency of paste not a bad first attempt.

As many of you who follow this blog regular will know both myself and my uncle are people who are out on the bank pretty much every weekend and in all conditions and it was great this week when i posted a thank you and happy new message on a popular forum for me to receive such positive comments as this one below:

"Keep the blogs coming, they're always a good read and often inspire me to get down the local rivers"

I never really think of my fishing adventures and blog as something that inspires people to get out on the bank and i think it is a good time to go over the importance of being well prepared when on the bank in winter.  It is all well and good having the dedication and will to get out on the bank in all conditions but you do need to be prepared not only tackle wise but clothing and taking other steps towards staying safe.

I never forget turning up  to the river dee early one morning and as normal we plonked our gear down on our pegs and walked the bank to chat to any anglers out of their cars.  To set the scene it was the depths of winter and the air temperature was well below freezing and was not due to get above that mark till at least a hour or so after sunrise if at all, regular readers of the blog may remember the update where the net froze solid upside down and the keep net had icicles in it, anyhow we approached this lad and he was really up for the session ahead, he had heard of good fishing and was asking us about techniques as it wash his first ever time river  fishing.  I admired his enthusiasm and that is when i noticed his hands shaking and my uncle asked if he had any other gear to wear to which he replied no.  He was wearing tracksuit bottoms, trainers and a hoodie and needless to say he lasted less than 2 hours before packing in and getting off.

His dedication had to be admired and in my eyes he was lucky to have been on such a area where he was close to his car had he been a good walk from the car down a few farmers fields he might not have been so lucky as the cold can really creep up on you.

I always subscribe to the theory you can take it off if your too warm but you cant get warm if you haven't got the clothes with you and that said on all my winter session i go geared up with Skee Tex thermal boots, Sundridge thermal trousers, jeans,  two T-shirts, a sundridge thermal hoodie, my maggot drowners hoodie and then a Berghaus geotex coat and of course a trusty thermal bob hat.  This set up will only change if i feel where i am going i may get dirty and then i replace the jeans with a sundridge thermal bib and brace.   One lesson i learnt the hard way was the fact some thermal gear can be really good at insulating but rubbish as a defence against the wind and rain and believe me all that thermal gear without the wind shield and waterproof coat is pointless as the wind can cut through it.

With this set up you can be assured that you wont be leaving the bank for any other reason than its time to pack up of the fishing is rubbish i wore this exact set up on a few piking sessions recently and although you get the comments from dog walkers and joggers that you must be mad fishing in such condition i knew i was as snug as i could be and that is so important when fishing in winter.  Other tips i can give about fishing in winter on rivers is around the importance of placing a stick in the margin at the exact level of the river, this is even more important if you are fishing rivers that rise quickly with rain as an early indication of the river rising can give you time to get off the low lying ground and to safety, this is a tactic i use a lot on the tiny river dane and did so only this weekend passed.

My last bit of advice and my uncle will tell you that i am not the greatest at taking this advice as i rarely eat or drink on the bank as i am that focused on the fishing is to always take a hot drink with you it will keep  your warm and also gives you a great excuse to pick some tips of your fellow fishing companions if their catching haha and it does not have to be as taxing as making a coffee or taking hot water and all the condaments with you it can be like mine and as simple as a hot vimto.

In the last blog update i talked about making the most of this time i had off work over the festive period and although i hoped to get out fishing more i also said i would like to spend time updating the blogs layout and during a wet and windy day last week i took the opportunity with both hands and set about making some of the changes i mentioned.  You will notice down the sidebars of the blog that i have added a Twitter feed widget, incorporated a Most popular blog post over the past 30 days widget and also removed a good number of blogs from the blogs i follow list that had not been updated in some time.  This action of removing dead links really surprised me as there was so many blogs that people had started and posted once or twice on and not carried on with them.  Writing a blog myself i have the up most respect for anyone who puts together a blog with any regularity over a 6 month period, it sounds really easy in theory but just try it for yourselves, you dont even have to publish it and you will realise just how time consuming and thought provoking it can be, great fun but you certainly have times where its hard going but it is such a rewarding thing to do and over time the blog becomes a part of you as a person and personal to yourself. I guess it was the number of these blogs that where on that list that shocked me.   I also added another widget that lets you easily select blog posts based on the labels i put on them so if you select say Dace fishing it will bring up every post that has contained the label dace fishing for you to read and so on and so on.

In this day and age where the Internet rules all and many threads on local forums talk of the decline in the numbers of tackle shops in their areas i feel really privileged to not only have four tackle shops in my borough but also to find out on a recent trip to the town centre that we know have a fifth in the Halton Carp Cabin,  Situated on Albert road in the town centre it certainly has a stellar location within the town and having so many tackle shops locally the extra competition can only be good for us anglers the consumers.   Gazing through the windows the shop looked quite well stocked and although it was a day when the shop was closed when i passed by over the festive period it certainly looked inviting inside.

This coming week i am hoping to release another update after this one, only a short update just recapping over the highs of 2013 and some of the sessions in there on the shortlist i have wrote we will do well to beat in 2014.  So keep an eye out for that one in the coming week, fingers crossed i can find time.

Catch  up time on the fishing:

As i have said a number of times on this blog angling is a journey and when you are on the bank as much as me and my uncle are you obviously improve as an angler through repetition and practise which can effect your results on sessions but you also see the peaks and troughs in your angling and at the moment i am almost certainly stuck in a tough period in my angling.  this is not through any lack of dedication of will power just things are not really happening for me at the moment.

The first trip of the festive period saw us travelling to a local river with the target of us catching a chub and ifg we were lucky a winter barbel, these where our dreams and full of determination and excitement we walked the banks to our chosen swims hoping for the fish to play ball.  The bait for the session was to be a few pints of maggot and hemp with a bigger bait of bread flake for an odd trot through if the fish where having it.

We set up further apart than we ever have before on this river hoping this would give us a decent stretch of water each to draw the fish from.  We trotted all day with not so much as a sniff, even the minnows on summer had evacuated the area and it was heading towards darkness before one of us connected with a fish, not the target chub, but a greedy trout that was fat on the fruits of this rivers winter larder. It was not till the last knockings of light that my uncle connected with a fish and again it was another trout.  We left the river feeling we had not learnt much more about this new river and like most of the trips here we left unsure about this most mysterious of rivers, sometimes she is amazing and others can be soul destroying, one thing was for sure after a whole days trotting for little reward i slept like a log that night.

uncle trout

my trout.

The next trip to the bank was after Christmas as we went in search of chub again, this time on the River Dane.  Walking to bank in the dark we peeked over the fence to see the river was running through at quite some speed after the recent rain fall and we knew that these conditions would make the fishing challenging and to connect with any fish in these conditions was going to be a challenge.  Many of our trips we have a back up plan if we arrive at a destination and its not up to scratch but this river is one that is such a distance away that it leaves us little if no waters to really drop onto in close proximity so it was stick or bust for this session.

Walking the bank checking out potential swims we disturbed a cock pheasant from the undergrowth, i tried to capture a decent photo but rather than disturb this beautiful bird we let him go about his morning routine in peace as being a pheasant in such a busy area for shoots it could well be his last before ending up on the table.  Creeping down to the bank we checked out a sweeping bend and it was apparent from the prints in the bank side silt we were not the first to be stalking the bank that morning.

I set up on a sweeping bend with a lovely slack on the far side of the current and my uncle set up along a straight where the current slowed enough for a float to be trotted down with vigour. I was armed with a few baits for the session in half half a bread cob for flake and crust, some liquidised bread for the feeder, my festive cheese paste and as a final back up i had half a pint of maggots from a previous session that in fact where mostly castors.

My tactic in this swim was to introduce a few tight balls of liquidised bread in the far side slack and i left it to settle while i set about preparing my rod for the session. My tackle for the session was my Shimano Purist 1.75tc rod teamed with a reel loaded with 8lb line and at the business end was a simple running lead and a hooklength down to a size 10 hook.  The bait, a decent piece of cheese paste was introduced to the swim and the rod kept high to reduce the chance of the fast flow moving the lead around.  The trap set i lay the line across my finger and sat back and waited for the tell tale pluck of a bite.

Sat in the Dane valley you are always treated to a magnitude of fascinating British wildlife as a flash of electric blue skimming silently above the water surface as a kingfisher set about finding a early breakfast while high above a group of four buzzards seemed to quarrel over air space with the local bullies in a group of crows.  when all this commotion calmed down i was treated to a flock of small birds that filled the trees on the far bank it was literally like being sat in a aviary and i just had to take a video.

Lost in a British paradise i almost missed the tip flicking round and had it not been for the pull on the line alerting me i would have certainly missed the bite but thankfully i struck into solid resistance and i was into my first fish of the session, it felt solid like a chub but there was something not right as i could feel a tell tale thudding of a tail which you do not really get with a chub.  The fish stayed deep for the initial part of the fight before taking to the air to show itself as a nice trout.  What ensued was one of the weirdest fights i have ever had with me having the power with the heavy line but the fish jumping time after time after time meant i had little control of the fish or my laughing, i couldn't help myself as there is something about trout jumping that brings out the john wilson in me.

This proved to be the only fish of the session for me and boy did i try moving from swim to swim during the course of the day with zero else to show for my efforts.  My uncle had fared better than me with four trout and a chub which judging by the size of its head could go a lot bigger than the 4lb it weighed on the scales.

The next time i got out on the bank was the very next day and it marked the start of my pike fishing season on the local bridgewater canal.  it has been a number of years since i have deadbaited for pike but i was keen to get back at it and i kept it as simple as possible with a simple float ledger set up shown below.

This gives me a perfect excuse to use my new carp rods and on the first session i set up in a spot i had seen pike striking in summer whilst walking my dog.  My plan for the session was to spend two hours fishing three spots i had marked for me to try but very early on in this session i saw pike striking at fry a few yards from the float.  This really put pay to me moving swims and i worked the whole of this area during the next few hours without so much as a touch on the float, looking back at the session it is easy to say i did the wrong thing staying in the one swim but the other way of thinking is the theory that when you look at the total length of the canal its hard enough to locate fish and i knew in this swim i had fish feeding i could have moved to an area with no pike in it at all, so i feel i did the right thing in staying put.

The next session was new years day and in horrendous conditions i headed off to the the swim i had tried last time but this time i was better prepared as i had two rods set up to try different areas on search the areas more thoroughly and i also set a plan of spending an hour in each of the three swims before moving to the next with a plan to be home for the delicious duck roast my fiance was cooking.

The only thing that stayed dry on this session was the top of my pike floats as they stood proud above the waters surface.  In reflection i am again trying a different arm of this wonderful sport but i am going straight in at the deep end in starting on a canal as there is so much water to cover and the fish could be anywhere as opposed to searching out a small lake where you know there are only so many places the fish can be and its easier to find the spots.

Its been a tough few weeks for me on the bank, probably the hardest since i started writing the blog but as i always promised when writing this blog i would show the true sport of angling in this country and it isnt all big fish and wide smiles its a journey of highs and lows and the fact this update is possibly one of the longest ones i have wrote is testament to the promise.  Tomorrow is another day, another opportunity and another adventure and i will be out again chasing esox lucious.

till next time tight lines