Wednesday, 25 March 2015

New Go Outdoors Shrewsbury Announcement!! and Some Piking...

A warm welcome to this special midweek update to the blog i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  With plenty of fishing trips stacked up to blog about i have taken this opportunity since the River Seasons closed to take a few weeks off from angling.  It is the first break i have taken from going fishing every possible weekend i have been fit too in 4 years so it does feel strange.  There is a number of reasons for this break which include spending more time with the family as i have put everything into this pike season i really do feel drained from it all.  There is also another reason for me not going fishing this coming weekend and that is the fact i have been asked to appear at the opening of the new Go Outdoors Store in Shrewsbury.

I was approached a few weeks ago about being interested in appearing at the show on the day and doing a small talk on myself, my blog and my fishing and also answering a few questions and being there to give out advice in store!!  I have been excited about this day for the last few weeks also a little nervous but that's to be expected.  With this being a midweek update and me also devoting time to putting together the short talk it will only be a short introduction on the blog this week and straight into the fishing...

More details on the day are below....

Go Outdoors Shrewsbury Opening!


Shrewsbury, March 2015 - GO Outdoors, the UK’s largest network of outdoor superstores, will open the doors to its 51st store on Saturday March 28th in Shrewsbury. Over £1 million has been invested into the 32,000 square foot store, which will employ 40 outdoor enthusiasts from within the Shrewsbury community. The superstore will offer Shrewsbury locals the largest assortment of outdoor equipment in the UK as well as an expansive outdoor tent field featuring exclusive product ranges.
To mark the opening, survival expert, author and TV presenter Ray Mears will be on hand to welcome the Shrewsbury community into the GO Outdoors store. Ray will be joined by local Shrewsbury Scouts to cut the ribbon, signalling the official opening. Family friendly activities have also been planned from 9:00am, including a huge climbing wall, bouncy castle, food stalls and demonstrations by outdoors experts. A special discount of 15% off everything in store will be offered over the weekend as part of the opening celebrations.
GO Outdoors was founded in 1998 and has grown to become the UK’s largest retailer of outdoor equipment and clothing offering customers everything under one roof for enjoyment of the great outdoors. GO Outdoors Shrewsbury offers clothing and equipment for a range of activities including camping, walking, climbing, riding, fishing, skiing, running and cycling. The company employs over 1,800 outdoors enthusiasts who are responsible for safeguarding GO Outdoors’ core principle of helping as many people as possible to enjoy adventures in the outdoors.
Commenting on the Shrewsbury store opening, GO Outdoors CEO Chris Matthews explains, “we are looking forward to opening the doors of our 51st store in Shrewsbury. As the UK's largest outdoor goods retailer, we are thrilled to be able to offer the Shrewsbury community a one-stop superstore for all of their outdoor activity needs. The GO Outdoors Shrewsbury team are outdoor enthusiasts who will offer our customers a wealth of information and advice on all of the products we offer”
The GO Outdoors superstore is located on the site of a former Homebase store on Battlefield Road, Sundorne Retail Park, Shrewsbury.

And with that its onto this weeks fishing...

Grabbing Every Second...

These sessions in this blog where right at the beginning of march and my head was full of one word, PIKE.  I remember looking back and my whole world seemed to revolve around either fishing for pike or thinking about making time to fish for pike.  The trips out for these fish showed the pike where hard on the feed and i also knew the good times would not last.

Sunday morning and i awoke around 5am the house was quiet as you would expect at that time of morning and i knew first light was about a hour away.  I quickly grabbed the rods, my landing net and a few dead baits and headed off into the dark.  I knew i did not have long so it was only a short trip to a spot i thought might throw up the odd pike.

The water was like glass and for this spot it was a bit eerie fishing it with no wind as this place is really open and there is always a chop on it.  It was one of those mornings where everything seemed destined to come together to lead to a fish on the bank as walking out of the car i was met with the swirl of a feeding pike in the margin.  There was no guessing where the rod was going and as it was feeding on live fish i cast over the area and drew the bait back giving the impression of a dying fish.

This trick worked a treat and within  10 minutes of casting out i was setting up the front facing camera timer on my phone for a quick pic, only a jack but still welcome.

The bait back out i thought it would just be a case of seeing out the next hour and half before heading back but not long after  casting back in the float was off again.  In the clear water i peeped over the edge to see another small jack gnawing on my free offering so i waited what seemed an age for the pike to turn the bait it its mouth when i could see the bait just peeping out of its mouth i gave it a strike.  In the cold temperatures it was more a netting exercise than playing a fish but it was my second pike of the morning and i had been fishing less than a hour.

The next minute my mobile went off and it was time to beat a retreat.  Like a dog with its tail between its legs i had been rumbled and off home i headed...

Dead Baiting For Pike - Insane Piking

The next session out was another social with Ste and i have to say piking with the two of you is so much fun than the sessions where you go alone.  The gaps between bites are always filled with plenty of humour and banter and its great sharing fishing stories and comparing times we had fished the same venue.  I think there is only one or two more of these sessions for pike to blog about with ste but what sessions they have been, take the pike away the sessions where fantastic just for the banter.

Heading out on this session i have to say i had my doubts about catching as over night the temperature had bottomed out from around 8oc on the Friday to waking up to ice on the windscreen of the car.  The fish where there that was for sure there was no doubting that but if this season has taught me anything about pike its nothing is guaranteed.

We had big plans still for this session and unlike the previous sessions we actually had talked about a game plan before we arrived.  This can really be the kiss of death for some sessions, it really can.  We had a feeling that our arrival was coinciding with the end of the pikes feeding spell in the early morning so we decided to hit the bank in the dark and fish out float close in.

I need not have worried as minutes after casting in the dead bait rod of ste's was off...06.15am and first fish on the mat.

The pike returned back to chase the roach shoals we both got chatting about a good start and luckily one of us noticed stes other float was no where to be seen, "erm Ste you did cast in edge, yeah? well your floats not in the edge!!"  squinting in the light all you could see was this float cocked heading off proud along the water, i have to say we both had a little laugh before ste set the hooks straight away.

Stes second pike of the morning, well morning we had been fishing 20 mins i think.

Up too now all the bites had been evenly spread among the rods and on previous sessions we both had bites quite early on.  i must admit i was looking at my float willing it to go under, go on i would say.  Eventually i think the Pike gods had pity on me and my float went for a soaking.  I say eventually looking at my phone it was only 7 minutes after the pic of stes fish but it felt a hell of a lot longer. 20 or 30 minutes into the session and the 3rd pike was having its photo taken.  All the fish where high singles.

The plan to get their before first light was paying off big time for us both we had both had fish which is all i ever ask for in a social that we both get a fish each or a chance of a fish on some sessions where it is hard.  The pike though had not finished their morning binge as at 7am another pike sniffed out out smelly oil covered baits.

After this fish things really did slow right down and we could not buy a bite despite moving the rods around all over the swim.  A move was in order and its almost like you find pockets of pike of late as the move really paid off with a near double figure pike coming really quickly for Ste.  I said it last week and i will say it again there has been so many pike over 9lb.

That was it for the swim we moved into and it was proving to be a good session with 5 pike on the bank but it seemed like if you got a bait near them then they would have it but where not up for sniffing a bait out over a couple of hours.  Nearly all the bites had come minutes after casting in so we decided there and then to cover as much water as possible.

It took another 2 hours for us to find another fish and with only a hour of the session left it was more than welcome.  It was yet another 9lb plus pike but below a double and the second one of this size of the session.  It really does leaving you thinking a few more roach in the fish and it would take a good session into another bracket.

This fish coming to the bank saw us land on another group of pike willing to feed as again no sooner had my fish gone back than Stes rod was off in the same area.  Certainly it was feeling like the fish where in tight groups maybe following just off separate shoals of bait fish or maybe the warm weather in the week had pushed them into groups for spawning.  I dint have a picture of stes fish but it was a lovely marked fish with really vibrant yellows and greens a beauty of a pike.

We had planned to wrap in at noon on the session but like most anglers out there the final cast saw us still staring at our floats come 12.20 and it was just as we were about to call it a day my float showed a slight knock, almost too small to notice but i guess after a season watching the floats you get to know what a knock is compared to say the wind or tow, you certainly do get your eye in and in tune to the floats.

The bite eventually developed from a few tentative touches to a steady yet not convincing run, we both had this down as a jack for sure playing with the bait and not really taking it.   I struck expecting the bait to come back at me from a pike holding it in its mouth but what i was met with was the solid defiance of a pike that saw my float staying in the water and my rod bending into the fish.  The pike felt a nice fish and as soon as i felt it was a possible double i reduced the drag a little not wanting to pull the hooks.

It was as i remember quite a short but hard fight and again with two of you on the bank you can net the fish a lot sooner than if you where alone where you have to wait that little bit longer till you have control enough to bring the fish in.  The fish netted it felt a solid fish and a lot bigger than the 10.8lb it went on the scales.  On the mat it was clear it had been feeding well as it had a full stomach and fat as a barrel, then again all the pike have since Christmas..

Well that about summed up that session and as of writing this i have just submitted a blog to pondip and put together on paper a good deal of my talk for Saturday time to practise and get the order of it in my head.  If you are in the area it would be great to see some of the people that read my blog and exchange fishing stories.

Till next time I wish you all tight lines


Friday, 20 March 2015

Dead Bait Fishing For Pike: The Crazy Pike Fishing Continues....

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you well and your fishing nets wet.  Well what can i say the response to last weeks blog update has been immense, thank you to all the people who emailed me to say they enjoyed the read and for saying it really captured a true spirit of a fishing session with a friend.  I have to say it was pike fishing like i never ever thought it could be like, i have seen pike feed hard on the river before on live baits but this was something else all together as it was on dead baits.  All i can say is if you liked last weeks update then there is no holding back on this one as the action continues at a frantic pace, so much so i have just wrote a rough draft to write this update form of times pike where caught and weights and i have struggled to keep up with what was caught when, you will see what i mean on session two during a 15 minute period!.  I do feel however its going to be hard to put down in words again how the session was.

So in this update we also look at my Abu closed faced reel in the final part of the three part mini series on reels i use for stick float fishing, we take a look at a recent licence purchase and my plans for it in the closed season and then finally as the double figure pike go on the feed we look at some nice captures from the rest of the piking pirates on the challenge.  The sessions on the update are from the end of February so we are a little bit behind still.  The sessions include two pike sessions i fished with Ste where the pike continued where they left off from our previous trips with plenty of runs and the odd double thrown in for good measure.

Onto the Update....

New Licence Purchase...

This week as i write this marks the final week of the river season and with only one more session on running water to come this Saturday my mind has started to wander beyond the realms of flowing water.  After the rivers close i do intend on winding down a little with my fishing and spend some much needed time with the family.  This years piking has really took over with me and i have gone mad on it to the point its been close to an obsession.  With a number of trips saved up i can now take a few weeks break from any form of silver fishing with the hope that i can just nip out of a Saturday morning for a spot of piking for the next few weeks while the blog catches up.

This gap after the rivers close when the temperatures are still cold and the day to day temperatures can be a bit on and off its never really great fishing and its not till the warmth of spring arrives that the fishing picks up so in reality i am not missing much.   I have recently though bought a Lymm Anglers Card for the Bridgewater canal in Runcorn as its a canal i grew up fishing as a kid and its been many moons since i wet a line in her now clear but still snaggy depths.  It will be a change from dodging trees and snags on the river as i dodge wheelie bins and trolleys on the local cut but it will be a real trip down memory lane for me and should make for some interesting and nostalgic blogs and maybe the odd story of the old times.

I also intend to spend the odd session fishing areas of the canal that where out of our reach as a kid.  We walked the banks with our baskets and rods so the limits for me and my dad where as far as you could walk and with the bream shoals then on our doorstep we had no reason to venture too far.  My mate Garry does a fair bit on the other stretches so it will be interesting to explore new stretches with him.

Abu 706 Closed Face Reel

In the final part of the three part mini series on reels we take a look at the Abu Garcia 706 closed face reel.  I am going to go out on a limb here and say this is easily the most annoying reel i have ever used.  Why is it annoying? well at first its a beautiful reel to use and if ever a reel was made for trotting a float it is this reel as the line comes if the drum a dream and striking is as easy as trapping the line but i have now had two replacement reels sent to me in the two years i have used these reels through faults with the drag system.  Basically the reels are fantastic when fish for dace and roach and can even handle the odd chub and grayling but you have a pike take a fish on this reel and the pressure and drag just goes missing and the reel is never the same after it.

My uncle used some of the earlier models around int he 80's and 90's and swears by them but he hates using this new version we both bought at the same time to the point they rarely come out to be used.  The sessions i have used them they have been a dream to trot with though i will give them that but with two breakages already i use this reel sparingly should i say.

All in all i think its a mar-mite reel, you love it or hate it.  At the moment i fall on the don't like side of the scale.  Maybe in the future i might purchase the older models and see how i go but I'm yet to be convinced of their ability to land bigger fish.

Doubles are on the Feed.....

All through this pike season i have either been fishing with or been in regular contact with Garry and Ste and on the sessions they do with me i do show the fish they catch but they have also been out on sessions as well and i thought it good to share some of their recent captures on the bank.  Garry had a recent trip out where he caught this fantastic double figure pike.

Ste also took advantage of the end of season piking and caught this stunning upper double pike, fat as a barrel and so heavy he needed a knee to support its weight!

Both absolutely stunning pike and certainly the pike gods paying them back for their help this season.

on to this weeks fishing and its more pike pike pike!!

Dead Baiting For Pike -The Hunt Continues!!

The session before this i had been out with ste and experienced a pike fishing session like no other i had been part of.  Earlier on in the season we had been out on socials and had a few runs in a short space of time but the last session was something else as just under 50% of the pike where double figure pike, a session i will never forget and so many great memories on the bank with ste that day.

A link to that session is here:

Fast forward 8 days and the morning of the 22nd February and loading the car with my pike gear i was literally shaking with excitement.  I took a second to compose my thoughts and prepare myself that it might not be as good as the previous week and the not get too carried away.  Meeting up with ste we mulled over where to try and we decided to not try the same spot as last week but another area that would be more in fitting with the slightly warmer conditions.

The watery red sun was just peeping over the horizon as we prepared our baits to cast out into the swims and as we did a huge swirl appeared along the bank.  A pike striking and with the vortex of its swirls still turning Ste demanded i put a bait into its swirling vortex.   I don't know exactly how long it took for my dead bait rod to start marching off but it was not long as the red of the sun shows clearly on the picture of the pike below.  A pike around 7 or 8lb and at 7.01am when the rest of the world was fast asleep i got to work with taking a pic of our first pike.

In the next half hour we saw quite a few pike strike but little action on the dead baits and it wasn't until 7.45am that Ste connected with our second pike of the day.  The pike was around 6 or 7lb and we both knew the best time was still to come as last time a lot of the runs came after 8am.  With two pike under our belts and as always it was great ti get us both off the mark we decided to move on.

We set up in the next swim at 8am and it took all of 17 minutes for the pike to find our tasty fishy offerings.  The pike put up a great fight right under the rod tip and i remember us both being thank full it made it into the net!  The fish again was a upper single but we really did not care we where out to have fun and if the better fish came along then great.  On this session it was clear all the pike where eating well and piling on the pounds before spawning.

The bites the previous session came around 30 minutes of each other but when you are on the bank they seem a lot closer at times.  I guess it is by the time you have taken the pictures and released the pike and baited up your rod again it almost seems like a few minutes till another rod is going.  Ste was the next to get a run and this was proving to be a well timed move as we clocked up fish number 4 of the morning.

The expected bites after this one did not come and like the week before we decided on a move but with a bite always expected it was not until 10am we decided to move swims.  It was not until 10.42 that the first run came from the new spot and little did we know what was about to unfold in the next 30 minutes, pike fishing like i never ever thought it could be.

10.42 I get a run on my roach fished dead bait and leaving the run to develop i struck and into a hard fighting jack and boy did it fight taking line from the reel and great fun but in keeping with the cold conditions they have a hard few runs then seem to come up to the top.  The fish on the mat it was unhooked and quickly had its picture taken.

The pike resting in the landing net the next thing i hear is ste saying "your other floats going danny!!" with the fish in the landing net we decided to leave the pike as long as we could in the net to recover till the other pike was ready to be netted.  I struck into a solid fish that kept deep and had a healthy bend in my rod, Ste was right when he says "you can tell a double" and this was surely a double figure fish.

The fish up eventually on top Ste quickly let the first pike go and scooped up my pike.  She was a right fat pike and had, like the others, been eating well.  The fish on the unhooking mat we got the hooks out of her and she had made a right mess of the trace that was stuck in the mesh of my landing net.  With my landing net being rubber the hooks come out easily and we then set about getting a picture of my pike which went 10.8lb on the scales.

With the camera out and just about to take a picture we noticed stes float going and at this point we really worked fast and i quickly grabbed for my weigh sling/sack and placed my pike in the sling and put it in the edge to rest out of the way.

In this scenario the pike in your hands has no hooks in it so the fish on the other rod takes priority as all attention needs to be on that pike which will need to be hooked and unhooked in the next few seconds.  My pike resting in the margin quietly ste struck his fish and we both prayed it would stay on, of all the fish we wanted to stay on it was this one!  We where also very conscious when he was playing it that there was a very rare chance of a double hook up picture.

The fish played ball for us and with stes fish on the bank we made the decision to place this pike in the weight sling in the margins for a few seconds while we sorted our selves out.  It was 1 minutes of chaos with my fish then another on my rod then stes going straight away we were all over the place, hey who wouldn't be? how often does this happen on a pike session?  We got out gear sorted and the rods out again so they where out of the way and set about getting a few pictures.

A joint picture of mine and stes fishes and single shots of each fish, fantastic memories!

It was high fives all round and pats on the bank we both knew that was some special moments so you can imagine our faces when we turned round to see my float heading off like the titanic setting sail and just like the titanic the float also sunk into the depths although no icebergs where involved!  10.59 am and another pike lay before us on the already soaking unhooking mat and i must admit i was shattered my arm was killing me but boy was i buzzing it was out 8th pike of the morning, what a session.

This pike released the clock clicked over to 11.06am and with it stes margin rod that had sat motionless all morning twitched twice before slowly but very steadily moved off.  I don't know what made us both say it but we both thought this could be a decent fish just with the way the run was so different to all the other ones.  Ste as always was a figure of calm, i tried to be cool about it, on the inside my heart was pumping and it wasn't even my fish!  Ste then sparked into life and i knew the time to strike was near.

Reeling in and striking hard his float stayed in the water so i instantly knew it was a better fish and when his 3.5lb rods had a healthy curve in them i knew it was a better fish.  Long hard runs saw ste back winding but slowly the tide turned and the fish showed its green flanks and with one turn and a flip of its tail it was off again and at this point we both knew it was a better fish, not that any of us dared utter the words, jinxing this fish was not on the cards.

The fish came up and there was no messing it was a deep scoop and i knew this fish would go mad as soon as it was netted so there was no messing about it was straight out to the water and onto the mat.  She was fat as a barrel and "ruddock" of a pike.  At 12lb she was the cherry on the cake for a fantastic session.

The only thing that ruined this session was the fact we both had to get off at midday for work and family commitments.  We ended the session on 9 pike and two doubles.  The last 5 fish coming between 10.42 and 11.06 and included two doubles.  I got in my car and again i drove home on cloud nine astonished that pike fishing could be so manic and to think when i started dead baiting in  2014 i could not get it in my head about pike actually eating dead fish.....Jesus!

Surely it cant last.....

The 25th February and it was a noticeably warmer day all round and it was shown by the amount of activity on and around the water.  We knew it was going to be a busy one so we hit the water when it was still dark with only the faintest sign of light in the sky.  Confidence levels where high from the previous session as we cast out out smelly dead baits into the gloom, a prayer to the angling gods and we sat back and waited for the first run.

Well we sat and sat and after a hour without a touch we began to get a little worried that the fish where not in the area.  A quick recast around 8am brought no reward and we had just talked about packing up the rods and moving spots when my right hand rod finally trundled off, Thank god for that they are here and where obviously just having a lie in.

What is the saying about buses? well its the same as pike as in the space of 10 minutes these two pike hit the bank for myself, almost as if they had woken up and gone on the feed.

This was the start of a flurry of action with dropped takes for both of us over the next 30-40 minutes till eventually one developed into a solid run for ste.  All through the take we were convinced it was going to let go of the bait, it was a far from confident pike run with plenty of tugging on the float and a really ragged run.  Eventually the time came to strike and to our relief the pike stayed on and it judging by the gut on this 9.10oz pike it could have been the one messing us around as it thought can i fit another meal in my belly?

So many pike over 9lb.

After this fish even the dropped runs stopped and we decided on a move to another location.  On arrival the water looked mint with no wind and great clarity of around 3ft for dead baiting.  In went our rigs and within seconds of it hitting the water it was away with a confident take.  Striking it was a short but sweet fight that saw the fish come straight into the net.  On the matt for a picture and just as i went to click the fish flipped clear off the matt and bank into the drink,  Ste estimated it to be around 9lb so we settled on that for the fish, he is bang on with weights so i was happy with that estimation.

Ste was soon into a fish himself and there was no messing around with this one as it was straight up onto the bank and away from the waters edge.  Pics done it was stes second pike of the day and again a nice fish of 7lb10oz.

From this point the bites completely died and we spent the next few hour trying all manner of tricks and tricks to get a bite but it was like a light switch had been turned off.  The past few sessions had only been morning sessions and we made a point of putting a whole day into this one so it was sods law the pike would not keep their part of the bargain up.

Minutes turned into hours but with angling there is always something to talk about and it was great putting some plans together for getting out in summer after tench and on the rivers together.  We  moved spots a few times and apart from a dropped run on a mackerel nothing happened.

2pm and we were close to giving up when the right hand rod sparked into life, my usual excitement to get over to the rod had drained from me on this session with so many dropped runs, i almost dared not let myself think it would develop.  The short run developed into a full take as the float slid away and i was rewarded with a nice 8lb9oz pike.

This fish sparked a flurry of action for me and Ste as in the next 30 mins both our rods went and we both picked up a single pike each.  A nice way to end the session.

These two pike where a nice way to end the session, its always great when you both catch and on all our sessions we have been lucky that all our rods have gone with nearly equal amounts of fish during the day, sometimes ste would get more sometimes i would but in reality our sessions have never ever been about that.  We had a challenge at the start of the season to catch 400 pike and 30 doubles and a twenty and if we were to say we had goals lately it was to try and do the doubles challenge.

On our sessions it really has been the banter that's taken over the fishing, i have of course learnt a great deal about piking from ste, its impossible not to when you fish with someone who has caught so many pike, but it has been the great laughs, experiences like fishing in the rain and hail, experiencing the hard times with no bites and then the unbelievable times with double hook ups, rampant male ducks and bait hungry seagulls that has made the end of this pike season one to remember!

A few more sessions of this piking adventure remain to go down on paper and also there will be a midweek blog update next week on Tuesday with some really exciting news in it about myself so till then tight lines.


Monday, 9 March 2015

Chub On the Centrpin, New EA Licence and Piking Madness....

a warm welcome to this weeks blog update I hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  Well what can i say its being like having my arm cut off this past week and a half with the laptop being taken away for repairs.  It has meant I have been fishing and not had the resource to then write about the trips afterwards.  Luckily i have wrote down some notes on each of the trips so i can relate to these when it comes to capturing the session on paper but it means i at this moment in time have 5 very good fishing trips to blog and i guess like i said in the previous update its better to have fish sessions in the bag where i have caught than an up to date blog where i am struggling to catch.

I must first say a big thank you to the guys at KitShack as they have been so understanding this past week or so and have never pushed the review of their product to go live and have been understanding all throughout and backs up my initial thoughts about this being a good company to deal with in my review, thanks guys!

So whats is in store in this update? Well i cover the unveiling of the new EA licence design for both migratory and non migratory species, my centre pin reel comes under the spot light and we round up the introduction with a really bad bit of news around my favourite 17ft Float rod.  The fishing See's the centre pin out on the bank for chub and a social pike session with Ste where its all action and a bit of a red letter day!

So with that its onto the update (boy it feels good to be back up writing again)

New EA Licence Design....

Its that time of the year again where you realise just how many angling clubs you have joined and it seems like they are all reminding you your fees are due at the same time.  The most important of these licences is of course the Environment Agency licence as without it you can not fish at all.  It still shocks me when i see the EA turn up on the banks asking for licences and you see a few anglers having to pack in as for the sake of £27.00 its got to be worth it just not to be watching your back every fishing session to see if you have been collared never mind the fine that comes along with not having one.

any how i do digress and here are the designs for this years licences..

A Broken Tip....

Sat on the banks of the river recently waiting for first light i decided to get out of my car and have a,quick look at the water levels for the session ahead.  It was only a quick session so i literally threw the rods in the car and my gear i needed and set off and left my Korum rod holdall at home, big mistake.  Anyhow i left the car running and quickly had a look at the river, pitch black not much to see i returned to my car to await more light. 

Getting back in my car i had only sat down a second when i heard a bank in the back of the car and i quickly shot round thinking someone was in the back, area is known for a few drunks, upon swinging round my arm caught the rod and instantly i heard crack of something snapping.  I knew instantly it was my float rod as it was the longest of the rods i had taken and at 17ft long split into 3 sections it was the only one that reached between the chairs.   Looking in the back my landing net bag had fell but i had snapped around 10 inches of the top of my rod off. 

I literally could have started crying there and then, some may laugh, but it was my favourite rod and i use it every time i go the river if i can and i was gutted.  I got back in the car there and then and drove home even though i had my 13ft rod in the car.  I thought things over and had a look on line and a guy said he could re tip the rod but i would only be able to put a tip on end of the broken bit where it had snapped.  This rod is used mainly for dace fishing so it would turn a very light tip rod into a rod with a stiffer action and of course i would lose some length.

i decided to ring Preston's and i was prepared for quite a hefty price on getting a replacement top section considering the rod brand new costs upwards of £200.  The price for a replacement is £60.00 and i can order it through the tackle shop on my doorstep so not great as i could buy a new rod for that but there is no escaping the quality you are getting with this top end float rod.  It does mean the river Dee is off the radar for the rest of the season as the swims are 14-15ft deep most of the time and with the season closed for three months it gives me time to save for the replacement part.  Think i have just come to terms with it after writing that lol.

To Pin or Not to Pin......

Last week i covered when and why i use my fixed spool reel for my trotting on rivers and this week the piece of kit i enjoy using the most but rarely do comes under the spot light in the humble and ever so simply designed centre pin.

The centre pin i own is a Okuma Sheffield Centre pin and it was bought for my as a surprise birthday present by my partner many moons ago.  I must say of all the reels i use i enjoy using this one the most although it has to be in the right conditions to make the experience enjoyable.  You can literally pay an arm and a leg for a good centre pin and the main thing you are paying for is the lightness of the spool and how little force it takes to get the pin to move, top end ones are as smooth as a baby's bum and a single shot can set the spool spinning.  There are some very good reels at the budget end of the scale now made by Dragon carp and i have heard very good things about these reels.

My reel the Okuma sheffield is probably below mid range in the pricing structure but it does the job for me.  There is no real scenario that i pick this reel over the others for other than if i want a bit of fun as in my opinion there is no beating the fight on a centre pin as you use your thumb to control the fish in the fight and it is down to your skill, judgement and touch how you play the fish and of course you cant beat the noise of the ratchet going off as the fish makes a hard run for cover.

I of course use my other fixed spool reel away form the river on still waters for fishing a waggler but i must say in summer i love visiting my local commercial fishery armed with only my centre pin 13ft rod and a simple pole float fished in the margins for the hungry carp, the float zooms under and you strike into a solid hard fighting carp which turns peeling reel from the pin and that unmistakable noise of the ratchet turning over, it takes some beating.  

There are of course limitations to using the pin in the fact if can suffer in high winds and leave you in more of a birds nest than anything else and also you have the limitations of how far out you can cast with it, e.g you are not going to be able to run a float down the middle of the Trent or dee with it comfortably but for small intimate rivers and streams its a dream to use and i would recommend anyone to buy one, great fun on both rivers, lakes and ponds.

With that its onto the fishing....

Chub on the Pin'

Friday night and sat in the house making up a few hook lengths for a sesison on the river the next day i decided to give my gear a good sort out and whilst searching through the contents of my holdall i came across my centre pin that i must have stashed in my holdall after a session for safe keeping across the farmers fields a while ago.  The river we were heading to the next day does have a bit of pace to it so i decided to dust the old cobwebs off the centre pin and give it a run out the next day.

I have been fishing quite a light stick float on the river of late around 8 number 4 and have been reaping the rewards with the chub on this set up but i knew with this centre pin i would have to up the weight just to give me some extra pull to help the line of the pin.  As mentioned above its not the worlds greatest pin so it does need some encouragement.

Arriving at the river we decided to fish new swims and i decided to drop in the swim i dug in a week or so earlier which was covered in last weeks blog update.  The difference today was i had a whole day at the swim although i knew the fish would spook so i did not have huge expectations of the monster nets of chub we have been getting in the other swims but a change is as good as a rest they say and even though there was a empty swim full of chub 5 mins away you do need a change of swim.

Feeding the swim with the bait dropper i gave it a good half and hour before making my first cast into the swim and like the session previous the bite was instant, only this time it wasn't a chub.  They are funny fish trout and can be quite deceiving if they don't jump early on in the fight but there is no mistaking the species once there slimy spotty flanks feel the coolness of the fresh air as they twist, flip, jump and flap all over the perfectly prepared swim.  A beautiful fish to look at but boy i wished it was a chub..

There is no doubting the chub and trout are very similar in one way.....EATING....boy can these fish guzzle down maggots and you only have to look down the throat of the fish to see the ball of crushed maggots and hemp to realise just how much of your bait this one fish has devoured.  The disturbance i knew would have spooked the fish so in went a few bait droppers of hemp and maggot and i sat back to see how the ranch was doing.

The time came for another cast, i hoped i had rested the swim long enough, i don't think i did if I'm honest, i think excitement took over in the end.  Casting into the murky depths the pin was spinning a dream and right on the point i was expecting a bite i just feathered my thumb onto the spinning pin to slow the float down and make the bait flutter up in the water, upon releasing the pressure the bite was instant and with the strike the 13ft rod hooped over and there was no disputing what fish was on the other end this time.  A defiant stand up and fight resistance was felt before a bolt for the roots and i knew i was in a battle with a chevin.  On the pin you always feel in control of the battle as you don't have to reply on a preset drag and lets be honest there is no man made device that can react to the dart of a chub as quick as a thumb on the drum of the pin.  A battle i thoroughly enjoyed and was glad i won!

I have found with this river that if you get the chub out with little surface disturbance then you do not really spook the shoal.  i guess in reality it must look to the other fish like one of the fish is just moving up out of the swim initially and as the fish in the shoal when you have them feeding are constantly competing with each other for the foot and moving up and down through the water layers then you can get away with getting a fish out and then expecting a fish soon after.  Losing a fish is of course a different matter.

With my dace fishing on the Dee you do feel like you have to be quick in the process of unhooking the fish and getting a line back in as you with dace when you have the shoal there in your swim you feel you really do need to maximise time in the water.  With my chub fishing that whole process is a little more relaxed and while unhooking the chub and taking pictures i just drip deep food into the swim by hand.  The fish in the keep net i then put another dropper of maggot and hemp in but not in the quantity of the initial feeding.

There is a reason for this, i feel the initial heavy feed is there to draw the fish in and onto your line.  when you arrive the chub could be spread along the length, under trees and generally dispersed through the swim.   The initial heavy feeding with the bait dropper serves to draw the fish into the middle of the river and onto your line.   The feeding after this is much reduced and this is where the skill in all fishing is in My opinion, the feeding of the swim.  The fish are on your line now from the initial heavy feed you need to then remember you are not here to feed the fish but catch them so you need to feed enough to keep them in the swim but not too much that you don't have them competing for the bait. 

Chub can be quite a wary species and hard to catch but fed right their greed and hunger is the key to their downfall.  Once you have the whole shoal competing for a small amount of bait then they don't think twice about taking your double maggot on a size 18 hook, they just want that in their gobs before the next chub takes it from them.  And it proved to work a treat with this  next chub coming soon after.

This tactic continued to work a treat as fish kept coming every 15 minutes or so for the next hour before the departing of the chub shoal was confirmed by the ever willing trout moving back in on the scene.  When the big boys like chub move out of the swim you can instantly tell as smaller species like gudgeon and dace start to pop up in the chubs place and it was great that on this day two very plump dace kept the keep net ticking over after the trout had finally had enough.

With these swims you never know how long the session will last and how many chub you will get out before the shoal either completely spooks pr eventually get to the point where they have had their fill.  I decided to pack the gear back in the car and have a mooch in some other swims for the rest of the day taking the off trout and chub but this following picture was the result of the initial swim plus around 6 trout.

What a Fantastic Session Dead Baiting for Pike!!!

The next session out was a days pike fishing with Ste.  We arranged mid week on meeting up for a sesison in hope we would find the pike hungry and willing to take our baits.  Previous sesisons we had picked up the odd fish but we had left feeling we did not get the best from the swim as although our dead baits where taken by some fish the activity of pike swirling in the swim showed there where bigger specimens to be had.

The night before the session we set out our plans for attacking this swim with dead baits and decided to hit the bank before first light to give ourselves the best chance of picking up a pike that was feeding at first light.  As normal it was two rods each fished on dead baits spread evenly along the swim in a variety of depths so we had all bases covered.  6.30am and the ripples of our baits hitting the water where lapping in the edges.

No sooner had we got the second baits in position than Ste called out "My floats gone Dan" a nice early bite and in true Ste fashion he calmly left the run to develop before using all his knowledge built up over the years he set the hooks.  His 3lb+ test curve rod is normally not challenged by the jacks we have been picking up so when the fish didn't come up in the water straight away i knew it was a better than normal fish.  Having two of you on the bank doesn't half help as you can really take advantage of that first roll on top to net the fish early and with that we had a cracking start to the session with a fantastic double figure pike of 10lb 5oz in the net.

With the dawn breaking and the birds just beginning to sing the light levels where not great for getting a picture so i made use of my weigh sling/sack i bought for my summer carp fishing and after weighing unhooking the pike and weighing it i left it to rest for a few minutes till the light was there for a photo.  Making sure the fish was calm in the sling i left it along to rest and it was then i noticed my float twitching, "got a run on mine Ste" i said and in normal Danny fashion i briskly walked to the rod and full of excitement i stood their rod in hand waiting for the bite to develop.  A nice strong run followed by the fish moving into the deeper water taking the float under with it as it did so it just felt like a solid take.  I struck expecting a jack and with it my 2.5lb soft action carp rod hooped over and there was healthy bend in the rod, in truth i am terrible at guessing and judging the size of pike during the fight but this fish was from the outset a decent fish as it kept deep.

With one fish in the net waiting i knew their was a fantastic opportunity for a nice photo with us holding two pike so the pressure was on.  The fish came up and that dreaded feeling when you can see the bait in the pikes mouth went through my body and i prayed it would not come off or shake its head.  Up the fish came again and reaching at full stretch Ste scooped up the pike, "Got yourself a double there Danny" and it was solid hand shakes and pats on the back all round to celebrate a solid start to the session, 30 minutes in and two doubles.

My fish went 12lb 8oz on the scales and we quickly unhooked her and grabbed the other pike out of the sack to get out shots.  Lying on the matt you can see these pike have been feeding well.

The two pike held together in what was nearly a double hook up, looking at this pick brings back happy memories of a great session, suffering the hard sessions before we had earned this!.


Releasing the pike we had a quick glance at the time and it was 07.30am.  We both got baits back out and sat back to a well earned brew.  It was a good job we did as little did we know what was about to come our way in the next three hours, these two pike where just the start.....

8.06am and my right hand rod began to move off, another solid run and i remember Ste remarking how we could be in for a good day as the pike are not messing around with the takes they are coming across the food and instantly having it, proper on the feed.  Giving the pike the time it needed my head was running with thoughts of what size the fish could be and if there where more doubles in the area.  The fish turned out to be a nice solid jack of 8lb and although short in length was as fat as a barrel, a razor ruddock pike as Ste calls them.

Another half hour passed by and almost by the clock the same float was off again, 08.37 in fact as i check time on phone picture.  Again the thoughts of what if where brainwashing my mind and with four runs between including this one it was already a pike sesison like i had never experience i never knew dead baiting could be so action packed.

Striking into the fish it went absolutely mad during the fish almost as if it was life and death, not a solid fight from a double but complete mayhem and all out power from an 8lb 3oz pike.  The fish shocked us both and it was only when we got it on the unhooking mat we realised why.  I opened the pikes mouth and the first thing i saw was wire coming straight out of the pike gut and my heart sank, i had given the pike too long before striking.  It was then i noticed the red of my treble sleeves in the roof of the pikes mouth and my set of trebles and my eyes then fished on the almighty tangle of link around my trebles. 

coming to my senses i then realised that some of the line was not mine and in fact this pike had line running out of its mouth and into the water.  I looked closely and it all clicked someone using really light line had been pike fishing recently, this pike had taken their bait and when they have struck the light 7lb, yes 7lb line, had snapped and the pike had continued to eat its free meal as such this pike was in a really bad scenario where it had a set of trebles well within its gut! only the wire coming out was visible!

This pike right now owes its life to one person, Ste, he took control of the situation and while i was holding the pikes mouth open he got to work.  Like a surgeon he knew every inch of a pikes anatomy, how far he could pull its stomach towards him without damaging the pike more and within no time he had gone in and released two trebles from this pikes gut.  I quickly put the pike in the net to rest in the edge till it had fully recovered and was kicking hard to get out.  A quick pic before its release and it left us certainly in a better condition than it arrived. 

So sad to see people fishing for pike with light tackle, the trace was a really cheap one and 7lb line is not acceptable but i guess if people are not as lucky as to have pikers who will help them then they will never know the rights and wrongs of what to do.  It was a sad sight to see but it was something that has aided my development as a pike angler to see how Ste worked with the pike and a scenario where honestly i would have not known what to do, if it arises again and i am on my own then now i know a little but more about helping the pike out.

This pike obviously took a little longer than most to process on the bank and it seemed we had only just released the pike and turned round when Ste was quietly walking over to his pike rod which was now heading off across the water at some speed.  The pike was another 8lb plus fish and on the scales it went a tad under 9lb and easily recognisable by a distinct yellow blemish on its skin.

No sooner had Ste returned this fish than his margin fished trout was off again, as i said it was pike fishing like i had never known it could be!  The time of this pike getting on the bank was 8.50am and it was the 6th pike of the morning between us with 2 of them doubles!.  This fish was far form a double and was certainly the run down battered small male pike of the area that looked like it had experienced more than one run in with some of the females in the area as it was covered in deep lacerations and bites and looked really battered.  Especially when you compare it to the other pike that where well fed and very healthy.

At exactly 9am my margin fished smelt dead bait which had been quietly fishing away with no action at all suddenly showed some movement, at first it was just a small shake on the float and then the bait was taken so confidently my float fished slightly over depth so it lay flat on the surface cocked and slowly but confidently moved off and as it moved into the deeper water a swirl from a tail pattern caused a vortex on the waters surface.  Both me and Ste noticed it and said in that depth if water its either a small pike swimming off with the bait nose down or its a better fish.

The time came to set the hooks, 3,2,1 strike and upon striking the rod hooped over and you can always tell a better fish as your float remains in the water as the fish does not move off the bottom like a jack does on the strike.  The fish kept deep and its sheer power saw me reducing the drag on my reel as i let it take control of the battle.  The last thing i wanted was a hook pull through bullying the fish.  The fish eventually came up and we both saw it was a nice fish although I'm sure i said it was "just a jack" what do i know, i really am awful at judging fish.

One man that can judge a fish is Ste, caught so many i guess you know, he saw one glimpse of the fish and was like its a nice double Dan take it easy.  Like an hunting heron he stood with landing net in hand waiting for a chance to net the fish for me, just a half chance and he was onto it scooping down at full stretch and like Excalibur's sword coming out of the stone up came a net bulging with a big fat pike!.  "Well in Dan that is a clonker" and a firm hand shake a sign of a good angler who is happy to see an angler who he has helped out so much, along with Garry, this year getting rewarded with a nice fish, 9am and we had both absolutely battered it.

The fish went 14lb 10oz on the scales and as you can see from the pics i was over the moon!

After this fish the swim did die a little and as i have said before, one lesson i have learnt about pike this year, is how they have short but definite feeding periods where they all come onto the feed almost as if all the pike in the area go on a mass feed and just switch on.  Looking back some would say we should have moved swims but when you have had so much activity from one area you give it at least another hour before you even think something is not right and the fish have turned off a bit.

Sat chewing the fat with 7 fish caught and 3 doubles to nearly 15lb we had plenty to be happy about.  We sat in a swim we had fished once or twice and saw pike feeding behind out dead bait floats just ignoring our baits and suffered howling rain and hail and snow for single fish or one fish between us, we had bloody deserved that action and if ever effort equalled success than it was that morning.

Whilst talking about all things pike we lost track of time and it was close to 11am when the next run came and it came to Ste's secret bait that should not be named but boy it works.  Again it was a another solid fish.  The fish came at a good time as the unhooking mat was at risk of drying out and at 10.5lb it filled it well.  Another ruddock of a pike and another double to add to the total.  You can see on one of the pictures the damage cormorants do to fish they cant capture with a deep cut on its flank caused by the hook of a cormorants gill.  The birds must attack any fishing hoping to injure it enough for it to become a meal they can take on.

The pike released we sat back and played the waiting game, funny how 8 pike do that and you do relax and nit fish as hard.  At 12.30 Ste had to nip to the van make a call and he said for me keep an eye on rods and if one goes just strike it and don't come get him, he knows me well and i would have hunted him down rather than strike another persons rod. Any how long story short his rod did go and the result was a 9.5lb pike below, a fish that should really go against his total for the year in my opinion.

We fished the day out and on 9 pike we got out acts together trying for pike number 10  to round the day off nicely.  In the afternoon i think it was 4 dropped runs and two fish spat the hooks between us in out hunt for number 10.  The fish never came and we fished into dark.  We left the bank and i know i put my music on full blast in the car on the way home, i was buzzing!!.

When i started dead baiting for pike on the first of January 2014 i never ever thought dead baiting for pike could be so frantic and all action, it was a real eye opening experience.  It shocked me how many pike could be in one area and how many of quality there could be.  Nine pike in one session on dead baits with 4 of them double figure fish and only one of the others below 8lb.    A session i will never ever forget in a pike season full of memorable experiences.  The session left us both with plenty of banter to look back on and it was great sharing such a session with another angler.

That is if for this update i hope i captured a little of how the emotion of the session was.

till net time i leave you with a video of my 14lb pike being released and i think Ste sums up how nice a fish it was.  "what a fish!"

till next time

tight lines