Monday, 29 February 2016

23lb River Roach Net...Just had to Go Back!!

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  Well after a long wet winter trying our best to make the best of the dire conditions low and behold the end of the pike and river season is knocking at the front door.  With only a matter of weeks left till the end of the season then its a case of making the most of the conditions you are given.

In this update i cover where i am at the moment with regards blogging and what is in the back log coming up and also a little bit on the rather predictable topic at this time of year, should we get rid of the Closed Season?  The fishing sees us back on the river chasing roach and a session that failed to let me down.

Little Update..

So from a blogging point of view i have two roach sessions saved up including the one you are about to read and also we are just at the start of  February so not too far behind on that one and as always when blogging it is never a bad thing to have a back log of trips where you have caught fish, so look out for them updates coming soon.

I have also been very fortunate in being asked to review a few products over the coming weeks and they are all really exciting products to be looking at and reviewing.  The one i am currently doing is a fantastic bait spray from Stinky Stuff, so far one trip out with the bait enhancer and its looking to be a great little product, check them out here:

Licences still are a hot topic for me at the moment as i still need to decide if i want to stay with the clubs i am in or if i want a new challenge.  Barbel are a species that i have never really targeted, more down to the rivers i fish not holding them in numbers than anything, but it would be good to have the option to sit and wait it out for a big fish on the river.  I guess in time i will make my decision on that one.

The blog still continues to be popular with plenty of traffic coming to the site and good reviews being received in email and social media, this is despite me having time to fish and produce a blog.  Many would say just get the blog out no matter what but my aims with this blog where to set it aside from all others out there by putting the extra effort in to talk about all manner of things as well as the actual fishing session and if it means taking longer to produce the blog but maintaining that quality then going forward that is what i will do.

Abolish the closed season?? 

You can tell the end of the season is nigh when this topic starts generating heated discussions on social media and it is funny how some people who have businesses that are designed around river fishing sales are really pushing the EA to remove this "outdated" and "From the Ark" rule.  It does always seem to generate a mixed and as i said sometimes heated discussion.  I agree the reasoning behind the closing of the season is complete nonsense on that some river and lake species will spawn before the close or still be spawning long after the rivers have reopened in June.  Common sense all points at the rivers following the canals and lakes and removing the closed season completely.

Where do i stand on it? Well as much as i really love the river fishing i also love the break from it and the freedom to then go and do other angling like fish for silvers on the local canal or go and spend a morning behind bite alarms for tench.  That is all well and good but above all that i just love the night before June 16th, your gear all set in the hall and that special feeling where you can not sleep through excitement.  Sometimes this is the start of a new adventure on a new river or waterway and a complete step into the unknown and others it can be a walk to a old peg as you trace the steps you made a few months earlier.  The feeling of the damp air as you approach the river at first light on that first session.  The banks you left all brown and lifeless in winter are now abundant in a sea of every shade of green imaginable, its magic, its everything i love about fishing.  For me, this is why i hope they keep the closed season.  The opening day of the season has already been booked off work ;-) .

23lb River Roach Net On The Stick....

So with the nice net of roach the previous week still keeping the blood flowing through my veins at a higher rate than normal i found myself again packing the car for another go at these bars of perfect silver.  Normally a week in work takes a lifetime to pass and the weekend to arrive.  This week was different work passed in a the blink of an eye and before i even felt like i had packed in the previous week i found myself back.  My feet fitting perfectly into the frozen boot steps i had left the previous week.

The banks where carrying a slippery sheet of white frost and the level had dropped a few feet.  I half expected to see another angler on the bank as it was only through us fishing a river in flood we fell on these fish, i felt sure the drop and the fact no rain was due would see more anglers on the popular river.

To show how truly mad this winter has been we are currently experiencing the first frosts of the year, i know we have had the odd frost along the way but this passed two weeks has been the first sustainable period of over night hard frosts, a sight we normally see around November in this country!  Most species don't really get to hung up with the frosts, chub, dace and grayling, the three that come to mind.  Roach can be an all together different animal and sometimes frosts can really hit these hard and put them off so i did  not really know what to expect.

The stick float and my 13ft korum precision float rod would be my main form of attack in the session.  Stick float fishing is such a simple set up and really consists of a few cheap components,  hook length, weights, hooks and a float.  The real skill with stick float fishing comes from time on the bank and learning to fish a stick, it is not something that can be taught as such.  You learn it and get to a standard of fishing the stick through repetition.

A freezing cold morning without a breath of wind it was dream conditions for fishing the stick.  The float weighted down to the bristle i was then able to add another number 10 weight to bring the float down so it was a mere pin prick on the water.  I did think about starting off by hurling in a few hand fulls of maggot to get the fish in the swim but decided as it was so cold to ease myself into the peg, i didn't want to ruin the fishing before i started.  With rivers you never ever know whats in the swim of how they will feed.  Some sessions you get through pints of maggot for 20lb others you feed 5 maggots every other trot and still catch 20lb.  Feeding is all on the day and how the fish are feeding.

Drip feeding the swim i trotted through for a good half hour to and hour before right at the end of the trot i struck into a small roach.  I prayed this was not a straggler from the main shoal!  The next trot down i held the float back onto he same spot and upon releasing the line to float went again  with another roach coming.  Slowly but surely from nothing the bites where coming each trot down and as time went on they came further up the swim till i had the fish where i wanted them, right under my feet ad the end of the keep net.

For a while it really was a case of getting through the small roach as a ratio of one decent roach to ten smaller ones was being played out.  When the float is going under each cast right under your feet and at some points three roach a minute are going into the net you know you are on your way to a decent net, even if no better fish showed the sheer number of smaller ones would make a net.

Around midday i went for a walk and spoke to my uncle who was also going well on his peg for roach and a nice coffee and a chat later i returned to my peg.  The rest seemed to have allowed a better stamp of roach to move in as i put together a number of better stamp roach.  Of course this shoal was not going to be missed by predators and it was no surprise that the odd lull in action saw a nice perch being caught.

As the session wore in it did become noticeable that there was a shoal of better quality fish that would move in and you would pick up a few of them on the bounce before the smaller roach moved back in.  This continued until later on in the afternoon where the better roach took up residence.  None of the big pound plus roach showed on this session but i was not complaining, on a cold winters day it was a bite a chuck and fantastic fishing.  As i always say winter is the best time of year for sure, the fish are hungry and tightly shoaled.  

As the session drew to a close i had a feeling i had a good number of fish in the net but with no big fish like last week i had no idea on weight.  Lifting the keep net i was shocked as i struggled to lift it onto the bank.   There i knew i had some fish and knew the net was at least over 15lb so you can imagine my shock when the scales settled over 23lb!! I was over the moon!

Another nice day on the bank and it did leave us with an challenge, how just to get those better roach? A nice problem to have but with only a few weeks of the season left and a product review looming for chub finding time would be the one.

Till next time

tight lines


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

21lb Of River Roach on Stick Float...Dream Fishing Part 2

A warm welcome to the second blog covering a Dream week off work i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  In this second blog i will cover a weekend session fishing the river for roach and it really does go to prove the point i make time and time again on this blog and social media that the best fishing really does come in the deepest coldest days in winter.

So many times on Forums i see the comments "Was going to go today but being so cold i thought i was wasting my time"  This comment time and time again baffles me.  This time of year is by far the best time of year for fishing and it is certainly easier than in Summer.  How can it be easier than summer some would think? Well look at it this way and i use a canal for my example.  In summer you walk the canal and it is alive whith fish along its full length, fish of all species and sizes are spread far and wide along its full length.  Come winter and doing your homework you find that the fish are all packed into one area and the colder it gets the tighter they shoal in these areas.

The huge bonus here is that once you find the winter grounds, unless you get a huge change in temperature, then these fish will be here all winter.  The fish tightly shoaled and hungry due to the cold you can really bag up and when you take this idea and add it to a river scenario where the fish are even more on the feed as they are constantly swimming against the flow you will be amazed how ferocious these fish can come onto the feed.

Winter fishing is not for everyone and on the cold days i can understand how some just dont think about going fishing when they look out the window at a howling gale or a hard frost on the ground but if you are the type who thinks i dont want to go because i wont catch then just go out and try it.  You do need to do your homework to be on the fish but in most cases a walk on first light will give them away as the will always top as dawn breaks.  Winter really is the time of plenty for anglers and some amazing days fishing can be had for the price of a few pints of maggot and hemp seed.

On to one such session:

A Dream Winter Session For Roach.....

Waking up to the sound of rain tapping like an annoying alarm call on the window i knew we where in for a wet day on the bank.  A look at all the river levels and they looked to be OK but we both knew the rise was coming and would probably see the River rise during our session, not always a bad thing though as the fish can really come on the feed if they sense a rise coming.

The rain and the cloud cover that brought it had done little to increase the air temperature and it was a harsh cold that nipped at my nose as i loaded my fishing tackle into the car.  For the session i loaded my 13ft Korum Float Rod and my MAP125 Pole as i did not know what to expect when i arrived on the bank and if it was to be a session fishing a slack on a flooding river then the pole might come into play.  Walking the banks before the session the ground was saturated and slippy and the river up and slightly coloured, i was glad of my thermal boots for sure!

A good walk of the banks revealed two likely looking swims we had fished before, one with a slack on the far side and the other with a nearside slack, although at this point the main flow of the river was not too bad.   Plumbing up i found the bottom to be of an even depth but it was a deeper depression in the river bed i was trying to locate and eventually my float that was lying at dead depth sunk away revealing the line i wanted to fish.   Depth plummets are the most important piece of kit you can own for sure.

I started to run through the swim a few times before i committed to putting any bait in, looking for that snag free line, a clear trot found i began drip feeding 5-6 maggots every trot through and a few grains of hemp seed to coincide where i though my maggots where hitting the deck.  This way you feel your way into the swim, gaining an idea of how many fish are in the area.  you can then judge your feed based on what you catch and how fast.

Trickling maggots down the line and a few changes made to depth it was a good 45 minutes before my first bite and it was the tinniest of dips on the float but still a start and where there is one there is more.

I love river fishing for the mere fact you always feel like you can make something happen.  10 men round a lake and ones bagging how do you get the fish away or into your area but on a river you can slowly draw fish from no where up the river. Like a light switch going on the fish arrived and it was a bite a chuck with a bite coming every cast, only small at first but it was bites.

Not long after the bites coming on the rain arrived and it came on really heavy to the point the brolly went up.  The fishing went through the roof as the level began to go back up again.  The small fish at first although still showing where being mixed in with so solid size roach that had taken up residence right on my hemp.

It really was a bite a chuck fishing right through the session with small roach mixed in with the odd better one.  The key to bites was to hold back right on the hemp and as soon as the float righted itself again it would sail under.  Set in a rhythm of cast in, feed, hold back and then strike i almost was not even watching the float so loaded with fish was the swim.

Then came a run of bites i will never forget as a proper shoal of fish moved into the swim.  A hold back on the hemp and striking into something that felt a good stamp bigger.  Jagging from side to side in the current i knew it was a roach but i was not expecting it to be so big.  A huge slab of silver in my palm i quickly jumped of my seat box and raced to my uncles peg "jesus azz look at this!!" i shouted, it was easily a new pb roach for me.  What i did not expect was a few more to be down there and in the rest of the session i had 4 more special roach show.

The ones in the pic below went 1lb10z, 1lb8oz, 1lb,8oz and 1lb 4oz. Ant the mad thing was the fact that come the end these roach where the four biggest over a pound there was at least two more in that bracket.

As the session drew to an end i knew i had a decent net of fish.  I had been catching steady all session and some of the fish had been of a good size so i thought i had a few pound in the net.  My estimate was around the 12-15lb mark but when i come to pull my net in and lifting it i could feel the strain on my arms and net i knew i thought a little different.  On the scales the net went 21lb 11oz""

A 21lb 11oz mainly roach net i was over the moon.

My uncle had also had a fantastic day on the float with a net of 10lb of pristine roach and  nice chub

All in all a session to remember and as a stick float man it does not really get much better than this!!

A 17lb pike and a 20lb plus roach net from a river.....A truly dream weeks fishing


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A Dream Week Off Work.......New Still Water Pike PB!!!

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  With the weather being so bad i have been out fishing quite a bit of late but i am aware the main blog has been quite sparsely updated.  The main reason for this is the fact that the rivers have been a complete mess! And as such my fishing has been mainly concentrated for pike. 

My idea at the start of the year was to separate my main fishing from my piking and write a pike diary.  As such it has meant that this has been updated more than my main blog but the downside of it being a, page within a blog, is that no updates are published on blogger to say an update on that page has gone live.  In reality it means that unless you follow the blog on Facebook, Twitter or Maggot Drowners website then you will not even know an update has gone live.

You can keep up with my pike fishing here:

As with buses you dont get any for ages then they all come at once and this is going to be the case with the blog over the next week as last week i decided to take a week off work to go fishing and spend some time with the family.  As such it means i have a few trips saved up and my plan is to split these into two updates.

So Why Take a Week off Work?

Well in short i needed a break, its been a long few months in work with more responsibility and pressure and with my new leave year coming round i decided to take a week off.  It was not all about being away form work though i timed the week off to hopefully coincide with my best chances of catching an upper double pike. 

Before Dave and Ste had both caught nice fish i had already spoken and mentioned to my mate Ste that i would love a nice pike to round the season off.  To this point in the season i had probably caught around 50-60 pike, at a guess, so i had done ok by my standards,  added in with that was 9 low doubles.

I booked a week of with the intention of putting as much time as i could into catching a nice upper double.  I have always said in my fishing i would never fail in anything in angling through lack of effort or time put in and if i got to the end of the week and i hadn't caught one then i could sit back and think " i did all i could" and sometimes that is the case.

So with a week off work I started my hunt for a upper double....

Sunday Morning Social...

Sunday morning and three of us hit the bank in search of pike.  I had been out with Azzer the previous day on a perfect river Dane and not had so much as a stretched maggot so i was eager to get a bend in the rod.

We walked the path to the water and i think we all felt an air of deflation as the over night heavy rain had left the water looking like thick brown chocolate milkshake.  A bit of colour is good but this was beyond what i had seen in the past.  We spread out our rods over a big distance and hoped for the best.

To my shock it didnt take 10 minutes for my float to move off,  we all wiped out eyes in astonishment i think.  Sure enough the float sunk away and a bit of me did think is this the one?  A hard strike and straight up came a small jack pike wrestling with my dead bait.  A battle it won a few feet from the net as its constant thrashing saw the hooks pull.

A hour or so passed with nothing on all our rods to suggest another chance was coming and we did all talk about calling it a day.  A quick glance and my float was away again and this time i made no mistake, a small jack of around 3-4lb was on the mat.  We did all call it a day not long after this fish as conditions deteriorated.  Not a great start to the quest for a upper double pike at all.

Monday Morning Session.....

Waking up really early on Monday morning i wandered down stairs to make a brew, a trip that on a Monday See's me dragging my feet before work.  Today was different.  The first day of a week of work and i was feeling refreshed and ready for the challenge ahead.  Loading the gear into the car i was not confident at all for some reason.

I could not put my hand on the reason why, was it the colour of the water the previous day? or was it the fact i didn't think that despite my efforts this week that i might get one? I will never know but loading the car there was a feeling that i was wasting my time even going today, it all felt so wrong.  I pondered unloading the car and creeping back into bed but decided against such a foolish act.

Travelling along the back roads i noticed the rain that had belted down all weekend had given up the ghost overnight and the roads where bone dry, probably down to the blustery winds that where already blowing.  Sometimes you really can drive on autopilot and the actual driving, although your brain must still process the mechanisms needed to drive, my whole trip there was full of thoughts of apprehension and a sense of pending failure.

The catching of pike as such was not my worry here, the location had produced loads of fish and i knew that catching would not be the problem, the key here was catching the size of pike i was targeting.  This is so far away from my "happy to catch what comes along mentality"  this was almost as close to specimen fishing as i could get.  My thoughts where though that it would be a case of time on the bank and a numbers game.

Out of the car and my confidence instantly boosted,  all the chocolate colour from the previous day had dropped over night and although not gin clear the water was a dark black in colour and looked perfect.  A spring in my step i walked to my peg in the morning sun light.  My first rod cast in on a smelt and i turned to set up the other rod and get it out in the swim.

A quick glance at the float and she was on her way out and in a second she disappeared into the depths, a early run and giving it a quick countdown i struck only for the hooks and no bait to come back at me, disaster!  The only consolation was the fish felt no resistance of a hook.  I quickly re baited the rod i was setting up and then repositioned the rod i had just lost a fish on.

I sat back and poured my first brew of the  morning, a cold drop in temperature saw blooms of steam rising from my position, like Indian smoke signals giving away my position to all around.  A few sips of the coffee and i noticed my right hand float twitch, very naturally but unnaturally if you get my drift? Something was about, a tug and then another and then a slow move away with the bait.  The float slid away beneath the oily morning surface.  Any who fish with me know i get over excited and dropping my brew i skipped to the rod.  Line was moving steady of the reel at this point and a quick countdown i checked the drag, wound down and hit the run.....

My 2.75lb Prologic Carp rod hooped over and stayed bent as the fish kept deep and hugged the bottom and i knew straight away i was connected to a double figure fish.  The fish held station with the drag on my Shimano reel ticking over as it did so just waiting to absorb and lunges.  A bit of pressure applied the fish came up slightly in the water and as it moved off a huge boil was left swirling in its wake.

Judging by the size of the boil i began to think more and more this was a fish i did not want to lose, but still only thinking it was a low double.  The fish then came into the margin right under the rod tip, the water clarity as such i could still not see the fish despite being only a trace depth deep below the surface.  It was then she gave a little and up she came, head first she broke the surface like a crocodile she kept coming up form the depths as the true length and depth of her body was revealed, right there was my prize and i considered dropping the rod, jumping on her back and wrestling her to the bank haha.

Then came the dreaded moment of any big fish fight, you know whats on the other end, what there is to lose and at this point she had gone on another long run with another huge boil coming up around 15 yards out.  The long the battle went on the more the odds moved to the pike.   With a light drag i coaxed her to the margin and i decided the time had come as she come up i took my chance and slip the Fox Rubber mesh under her prehistoric olive and gold flanks, he flanks in the net i knew i had nailed it for sure.  She would have to be made of balsa wood to not be a upper double.

I quickly unhooked the pike, and quickly got some mat shots before popping her in the weigh sling and weighing her. 17lb 11oz and a new still water Pb!!.  I quickly rang my mate Ste and what a great mate he is as without hesitation he said he would drop everything and make the long journey from where he was working, true gent!

The fish in a meshed sling and in the large landing net i kneeled at the side of the water for the full time it took him to arrive ensuring the fish was upright and holding the mesh away from the fish to ensure her gills could work.  I got a few soakings as she regained her strength but it was well worth it,  Ste arrived and in now time we had some nice shots, so good when the other person knows how to take a nice photo.  Thanks again mucka for taking the time to do it and the cracking pics. ;-)

 It was back into the net this time with no net to recover fully before being released.

Well what can i say i guess its a lesson in no matter how much you doubt the conditions, bait or magnitude of the challenge ahead it always pays to make the effort to go any way.  How many times do we formulate a plan, sort our gear and hit the bank ultra prepared yet it does seem the sessions where you feel its a waste of time that produce the best results!

I was all set for a long week on the bank and as such i nailed the fish on my second cast within probably 20 Min's of setting up.  I had two more takes that morning that where dropped but on the day i was blissed out looking through the pictures and called it a day around 11am and enjoyed an afternoon with the wife and kids.
pic of kids

 Oh What a Perfect Day!

Till the next instalment where we head out for a special days roach fishing i wish you all,

tight lines