Monday 29 January 2018
We had yet another forty eight hours of rain this weekend... I'm beginning to ask myself, will I actually ever get to fish the river again this winter?! So with piking definitely off the cards I headed out to the Holiday Inn lake (I know, again...) to see if I could tempt a carp or two.
As the weather forecast for Monday was also looking pretty grim I had a feeling it was going to be a tough session. But as ever I was desperate to get out on the bank and determined to put my day off to good use, I arrived at the lake at 9:30am (after a detour home to pick up my forgotten brolly) to find it deserted. As with previous sessions, the wind was hacking down towards the far end so I decided to hedge my bets and start in trusty swim 25 which (so far) had been doing me loads of bites.
I stuck with the same tactics as before (helicopter rig with a yellow wafter dumbbell on one rod and a feeder rod with corn on the 2nd rod) and had a few early fish on the feeder before the bites dried up around 11ish.
Rather than move (it was raining hard by this point) I decided to ring the changes and try some different baits. Bread is a great winter bait and having saved some slices from the liquidised bag I'd made up for the feeder I decided to try popped up bread discs and bread boiles for a while. I sat on my hands allowing 20 minutes for each rod but after no signs, it was time for something else.
Zigs are excellent during winter so I decided to try a piece of yellow foam on a 1ft zig on the feeder rod, my thinking being that some of the liquidised bread would float up through the water column and a suspended bait may trigger a bite...
And it worked! After ten minutes the feeder rod roarded off with what felt like a decent fish. Sadly, I never got it to the bank suffering a hook pull at the net... But it was encouraging to get a bite on a new method.
By now time was marching on and with no indication that the pink popup on the helicopter rig was going to produce a bite I decided on a move to the next swim. It's only five metres down the bank but peg 1 gives you access to the bowl end of the lake and I could still fish the lily pads from another angle. It's a move that'd paid off in the past but with the weather steadily worsening I was beginning to wonder if the conditions were completely killing the fishing...
Twenty minutes later the helicopter rod ripped off followed by the zig/feeder rod as I was slipping the first fish back! So the move was definitely worth it and getting a 2nd run on the zig was a conference booster.
But the bites dried up again, so much so that I decided another move was the go and up sticks round to the other side to try peg 7. The weather had changed again with the wind and rain stopping and a bit of blue sky showing. I only came round with the bare essentials and got both rods out, the helicopter in the bowl but quite close in and the feeder on a longer chuck towards the Lilly's lilies. Sadly nothing happened, not a knock or a tap despite giving three different spots twenty minutes each. By now it was 2:30pm and I was beginning to get a bit desperate for a fish!
I gave it 20 minutes back in swim 1 and lost a run on the helicopter. Another move back to swim 25 where I started the day produced nothing so I moved yet again further up the lake settling in swim 2 where some died back rushes and lily pads to my left looked like they might hold fish. This is also the thinner end of the lake so there's less open water to go at but the right hand side moving down the lake was in the sunshine so with a bit of luck there may also be carp heading to the warming water.
The fact that I spooked one fish casting the feeder gave me hope that the carp had found the 3 bread and groundbait balls I'd chucked in to prime the swim 10 minutes before the move....
I didn't have to wait long to get a run, with both rods producing a couple of fish a piece in the space of 15 minutes. The runs kept coming as I packed down, and I foul hooked a fish while reeling in the feeder rod so the fish had definitely pushed further up to the thinner end during the day. So another good day on the bank, harder than the previous trips but it's still very rewarding to be getting bites in winter from a new venue. A lot of moves really took this session from a couple to lots of runs and fish on the bank!
I'm currently praying to the river gods for a decent week of weather so maybe, just maybe I can head out to the river on Friday...
Monday 22 January 2018
After 48 hours of solid rain over the weekend the river just wasn't an option and although I'd love a pike session it looked like hitting a lake would be the only option to get a bend in the rod... So another session at the Holiday Inn Lake? Oh go on then!
Although it'd been very wet over the weekend, today was looking clear and warm(ish) for the time of year with light cloud and virtually no wind predicted for the whole day. The banks were pretty muddy but far easier than over at the river and I must admit I was pretty excited to be back on the bank. I really felt like I'd 'cracked' it by the end of the last session and already knew the spots I'd like to target so there was no time wasted with both rods going out within 5 minutes of arriving. The tactics were what had proved to be the winning combo on previous sessions: a helicopter rig with a yellow pineapple dumbell on one rod to open water and a cage feeder filled with liquidised bread and sweetcorn on the hair fished right to the died back lily pads on the seconds rod.
And then nothing happened... And then I missed a run on the helicopter rod out to open water... And then I missed another take on the feeder rod...
What was going on?! So much for having cracked the lake, a couple of hours went by without anything to show for it. It was a bit of a relief when the feeder rod finally rattled off but with only a small common to show for my efforts and no signs of a shoal of fish in the area it was time for plan B.
I'd spotted a couple of fish on my walk around the lake up at the thinner end towards the hotel and having primed the area with corn and pellets at the beginning of the session I figured a move was in order. I stuck with the same tactics placing both rods very close to the lily pad storks and sat back to see what would happen. The feeder rod did nothing but the helicopter rod kept running and I kept missing the fish... Either the bait was too big, I was too close to the lily pads or my luck just wasn't in but today's session was not going to plan!
Having given it half an hour I decided another move was in order. Having had a lead around the lake was shallow still at the the thin end and with the hooklinks coming back covered in chod, I just just didn't feel that I was fishing as effectively as I could have. The 'bowl' end of the lake was much cleaner so I decided to hedge my bets and head down to that that end of the lake to a swim (I think it's number 1?) to try my luck.
As it turned out, this third move paid off as the helicopter rod produced two fish within 20 minutes of casting out! The feeder rod was also showing signs of fish in the area although it was still remaining strangely silent...
The feeding spell didn't last long though and the bites soon dried up. I repositioned the helicopter rod a couple of times creeping ever closer to the lily stems but after an hour of no action a fourth move was in the offing. The weather had changed slightly in that a pretty chilly wind was blowing down the lake into the far corner and with nothing else to go on, I decided the peg almost diagonally opposite me on the far bank was worth a go. It would mean I'd be fishing almost the same spots but from the otherside and I wondered if the fish had backed off the lines in the water and maybe I'd be able to find them again from another angle.
Having moved the gear, I quickly found out that the wind was far stronger on this side of the lake and the banks were really water logged. But the rods went out on their spots and I sat back to wait. Nothing much happened for twenty minutes or so and I was just contemplating yet another move when the feeder rod tip went round! Another small common came in and just as I was getting it into the net the helicopter rod went off! Unfortunately I lost the 2nd fish but it was great that the move had been worth the effort.
I gave it another twenty minutes but with no more sings of fish another move was on the cards. The fish seemed to be moving away from the lines in the water and getting a different angle on them appeared to be working so this time I upped sticks and went one swim to the left of where I'd started the day. With only an hour left on the clock, I was determined to get another fish in the net before home time!
With the lily pad storks being the biggest 'feature' I'd found I decided to concentrate all my efforts at getting as close to it as possible. It paid off as 10 minutes after casting out the helicopter rod that had been positioned to the left of the pads ripped off with a nice common on the end! The feeder rod also produced a couple of runs, one that I managed to miss and a second to a small common.
So a bit of a tougher day that previous sessions but none the less rewarding. I really enjoyed my time on the bank and it was fun chasing the fish around - if it was easy, it'd be boring right?!
I'd love to say that the next session would be on the rivers but a quick glance at the weather shows solid rain for the rest of the week... The chances of bagging a decent pike are slowly slipping away, maybe I need to find a lake with some crocodiles in it before the season closes?!
Friday 19 January 2018
Luckily for me the weather was completely different to the beginning of the week: a frosty start with blue skies and little or no wind - perfect for a winter bite! Having learnt quite a bit about the lake on the previous session I decided to fish the same methods (a helicopter rig on one rod and a cage feeder set up on the float rod) and use yellow baits from the off. I'd worked through all sorts of different colours last time and with sweetcorn outfishing anything else it made sense to stick with yellow only this time I was going to fish pineapple dumbbells on the helicopter rod in an attempt to pick out some bigger fish. With the sun already on the main body of water I fished with the sun on my back, putting the helicopter rod to open water and the feeder rod close to he died back lily pads.
I didn't have to wait long... The helicopter rod had been in the water for about ten minutes when it ripped off! I really wasn't expecting action quite so quickly and the bite took me completely by surprise. First fish in the net, too good.
No sooner had I slipped that fish back and got the rod back out and the feeder rod went off and this seemed to trigger a bit of a feeding spell. Over the next twenty minutes I had four more fish to various sizes - the yellow dumbbells and trusty sweetcorn were really doing the business with no clear leader in terms of bites.
And then it went all quiet... I didn't get a knock or a tap for about an hour despite regular casting and baiting little and often baiting using pellets and sweetcorn. On the previous session a move made all the difference so I upped sticks and headed two swims to the my right...
...and it worked! Both rods began produced fish and I had loads of fun jumping between rods, baiting up, tieing PVA sticks and regularly casting to new spots in an effort to keep the bites coming.
3pm came around far to quickly... I could've quite happily kept fishing into dusk. As luck would have it, as I leant down to pick up the helicopter rod to begin packing down it suddenly leapt into life! On the last cast, I'd positioned it right on the edge of the lily pads (possibly right among the storks) and it seemed to have tempted a bigger stamp of fish as the rod was bent and line was stripping from the reel.
To end on the biggest fish of the session was a real buzz which made the final pack down a little easier. I've really enjoyed the last couple of sessions, it's been a refreshing change to the pike fishing and to get winter bites has been brilliant.
It might be pushing it, but I may have to do another session this coming Monday...
Monday 15 January 2018
I've not been carp fishing for ages now, the main winter focus being pike. But after my last incredibly muddy session on the Avon, I was craving something different... And as I've joined a new club with lakes closer to home the time was right for a water pig session!
Unfortunately, the weather man had other ideas with heavy rain being predicted all day on Monday... But what the hell, I was so desperate to get on the bank that I decided to dig out my elderly fishing umbrella from the shed and head out anyway.
As predicted it was raining heavily when I pulled into the carpark. Luckily the lake is only a short stomp away so after booking in at reception I headed down to the water and jumped into the first likely looking swim. I wasn't expecting to see much but swim 13 (lucky eh?!) on the ring road side of the lake gave me a good viewpoint to watch the water and plenty of interesting areas to put a rod to. With my back to the wind and the rain hammering down on the umbrella, I somehow managed to get both rods out, a choddy with a pink popup to open water a method feeder with sweetcorn in the margin to the left.
One thing that became quickly apparent was that the lake is a fairly uniform dept of around 4ft and is very, very silty. Not a massive problem for the chod rod but tricky for the feeder... Ah well, I figured leave the baits in place while the rain was coming down (in sheets...) and watch the water for any clues as to where the fish might be shoaled up. Apart from lots of liners and wind bites on the open water rod nothing much happened and as there was a break in the rain around 10.30am I decided to reel in and do a lap of the lake in an attempt to find another likely looking area.
As it turned out, the far side of the lake down towards the wider end was far more sheltered and out of the wind with relatively calm water. The other thing was a 'feature' in the form of a fairly big set of died back lily pads. After another hour of rain and nothing to show for it I decided to upsticks and head round to the other side casting the method rod as close to the lily pads as I dared and what was the choddy rod (now a helicopter rig with sweetcorn) to open water in the bowl.
I didn't have to wait long! Within 10 minutes the tip on the method rod swung round and I had my 1st run of the day. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to lose it... Damn, I am out of practice! Ah Well, it was as good a sign as any that there were fish in the area and it was worth another cast. The only change I made was switching the short hooklink I was using on the method to a much longer mono hooklink with a size 10 hook and a long hair, my thinking being that the method was more to get some bait in the water and that the fish wouldn't be attacking it as they would in the summer.
The good news was that the change seemed to make a difference as I hit a winter feeding spell and landed seven or so carp over the next couple of hours! Both rods produced fish with the method outfishing the helicopter setup. One thing that I did start to do is feed the swim using a catapult, firing small pouches of sweet corn and pellets little and often. And it did appear to work as I was now getting regular knocks and runs, with one fish coming 'on the drop' seconds after the method hit the water.
At one point, the action was so frantic that I ended up with a triple take, the last fish being the largest of the session - not bad at all!
Miracuously the rain then stopped and the sun came out! Amazing. Unfortunately though, this seemed to kill thinks off and the swim went quiet... I've had this before, especially in winter where the fish seem to back off an area and the solution seems to be to either cast a couple of metres either side of where you've been having bites or move one swim to the left or right. As it turns out, moving swims did the trick as a move to the left and casting 3 or so metres away from the previous area produced several more fish in quick succession.
All in all I had nine carp out and two missed runs - not bad at all considering the conditions! It was also great to be out on the bank despite the weather (although the sun in the afternoon was splendid!) and I really enjoyed the challenge of fishing a new water. Don't get me wrong, I've really enjoyed my pike fishing over the last couple of months but it's hard work, especially with the recent weather. The banksides are incredibly treacherous, the water fast and coloured and the pike less than up for a bite...
But today it was all about a pleasure session in relative (if soggy!) comfort and I had a blast. I'm already looking forward to my next session.
Friday 12 January 2018
Good golly it's been a grim end and start to the year... Snow, rain, a continuously flooded or muddy river and illness has all meant I've not been out fishing since mid December... But today the conditions actually looked pretty good so I headed out to the River Avon at Keynsham to see if the pike were in a hungry mood.
Although we've had a break in the weather for a couple of days one thing became quickly apparent as I made my way along the river bank: it was gonna be very, very muddy! The 1st swim I tried was sticky mess of slit and mud and it was obvious the banks had been underwater for quite some time over the last weeks. But the water level was back to normal and the clarity and flow wasn't too bad so you never know, maybe the fish would be on the feed?
The 1st swim I tried produced a savage knock and then two snagged rods. I've a feeling that a lot of debris has been washed downstream (I witnessed whole tree trunks floating by during the session!) and it didn't seem to matter where I cast, the trebles would lodge on something. Luckily I got all the tackle back on both occasions but after having spent a frustrating 30 minutes sliding around in the mud it was time to up sticks and head to the next swim.
The 'tree swim' on the 1st bend is always worth a cast and I decided to fish both sides today, starting on the right. The left hand rod went out towards the tree and the right went along the margin where I've had fish from in the past. To get the fish in the feeding mood, I mixed a loaf of liquidized brown bread with a tin of mackerel fillets in oil along with a good splash of thai fish sauce and put 3 or so good size balls over each rod. It's a stinky groundbait which has worked wonders in the past.
After 10 minutes I was just beginning to toy with the idea of prebaiting the left hand side of the tree when the alarm on the left rod sounded! The rod tip was bouncing around and I struck into a solid resistance - fish on! Unfortunately, after a frantic minute the fish managed to throw the hooks and a mangled whole sardine came in with some pretty healthy tooth marks along it's flank...
My mantra when I loose a pike is to get the bait back in the water as quick as possible as the fish quite often doesn't go far and will sometimes have another go. This time was no exception: the bait went back out and as I was setting the bobbin, the braid jumped in my hands! This time I gave the fish a little while longer, feeling the line to make sure it was still on and when I struck, the pike bolted off to my right - fish on for the 2nd time!
But still no joy... This time I managed to get him/her nearly to the landing net before a violet shake of head saw the hooks thrown... Damnit, very frustrating but exciting at the same time!
The rod went out a 3rd time to the same spot and although I received a couple of violent rod taps and the bobbin climbed to the blank, it all went quiet.
Whilst this was going on another angler arrived in my swim and we began to chat - and the chat went on for quite a while, in fact nearly an hour! All the while the rod was still out with it's now fairly mangled sardine and as we were just wrapping up our conversation, the alarm sounded and it looked like I was in with another chance.
This time I gave the fish a bit more time and after a solid strike and a good run around the swim a jack pike slipped into the net - by no means a monster but it meant the first session of 2018 wasn't to be a blank! Happy days.
The rest of the session past without so much as a knock. Having seen four more pike anglers heading upstream I decided that heading back towards the marina was the best bet and although I tried every likely looking spot, there were no more takers.
But a good session! I learnt about a fair few new venues to try from the chap I got chatting to and it was a pleasure to be out on the bank. Although I promised myself it'd be pike all the way until spring I'm beginning to fancy a carp session and having just joined a new club called Crosshands Angling I'm toying with trying a new water next week in an attempt to bag some mud pigs! As it happens, they have a venue about 5 minutes from school which would mean a much longer session... Handy that!