Saturday, 23 August 2008

Old man river...

Alarm went at 4am yesterday... well I stopped it going off 2 minutes before to ensure I remained high in the popularity stakes! A couple of pieces of toast into the car and off to the river.
I had deliberated long and hard as to stillwater or river fishing and decided on the latter! I knew that there had been a high tide and that would hold up the water BUT what I hadn't banked on was the reduction in clarity due to the run off high in the mountains of North Wales.
The colour was a passable tea colour at 6am but by early afternoon it was like fishing in chocolate! It was a nice day for a walk but it left me thinking maybe that stillwater would have been better! The ultimate poke in the eye was a cormorant taking a perch in front of me... c'est la vie.
Courtesy of a couple of old chaps, one fishing and one yabbering, a pole and a maggot... here is the only fish of the day... apologies for the quality of the photo, it was taken with my phone. But it did have me thinking of livebaiting for the pike!
Talking of photos... doesn't the river look invitingly blue? The wonders of photoshop!
Isaac Walton wrote the Compleat Angler... I feel somewhat the Incompleat Fisherman... I really need to catch!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Luck of the draw... on the fly!

Back from the river... almost gin clear, just a touch of colour. I was there at 6am and there was already one other lure fishing. We introduced ourselves and we then set about covering the water, leap frogging the swims. I had taken two rods... both spinning and fly. Peter, the other piker had a 7ft spinning rod and what would turn out to be the catching combination of the day, a Mepps Aglia in yellow/red combination, amongst others.

The leap frogging resulted in a bit of a blank day for me but yielded 3 jacks for Peter... I was close having a take on the fly BUT I'm yet to perfect setting the hook! Interestingly Peter has also had trouble catching on this stretch of river and had blanked since September... I'd blanked from September to June so I was about 6 weeks ahead of him.

The fly casting is coming on a treat though... so by the time the autumn comes and the pike start really going on the feed I should be able to cast reasonably well.

One of the pleasures of fishing the river is the frequent sightings of the kingfishers, the electric blue flashes zipping about the river. One even took a half glance at my fly!!

The photo is from mid November last year...

Monday, 4 August 2008

Water, water everywhere and not a drop... to fish in!

Locating pike waters in the UK is interesting to say the least... It isn't unusual for folk to be possesive about their best fishing hole or any fishing hole for that matter! I suspect as there are perhaps more anglers per square mile than other countries the fish get pressured unless the location is kept secret.

I can understand it to a point but as a reborn fisherman and tyro piker it is difficult to see why, especially when you want to target the species with a degree of success. Just about a year on I have gathered little gems along the way as to where the pike may lie... I've also gone back to using my hunting skills to seek out the "water wolf" and tempt them from their watery lair.

One source of useful information has been Malcolm my barber... it brings a whole new meaning to the old stock in trade saying of "and something for the weekend sir?". I know when the ladies go to the hair dresser it is all talk about Posh'n'Becks, the Colleen and Wayne wedding and Jordan's reductions (she does look better for it mind!). In comparison my chats have been about a local water attached to a minor stately home that I knew when I used to hunt. Very often hounds would tear through his Lordship's garden and "Lordy" would be on the terrace cheering us on. Twice around the lake and back across the fields was the usual run. I'd often stop and pass the time of day with the anglers and then be on my way.

"Lordy" passed away and the house and grounds changed hands a couple of times. An opportunity presented itself at the beginning of the year to fish the lake, I had hoped for it to be more than it was BUT all it ever was going to be was a once in a lifetime shot. I visited the lake one lunchtime just to have a look over it. I was taken aback somewhat, the neatly manicured lawn on one section of the lake had been lost to suckers and saplings, the boat house had been torn down and the plunge pool full of weed. Nevertheless I was going to fish it!

It was either the end of January or early February that Malcolm and I met to fish the lake. We armed ourselves with lures and one deadbait rod. Malcolm had the advantage that he'd fished the lake in "Lordy's" time and a couple of marks later he hit into the first pike of the day. My error that day was fishing lures that were perhaps too big for the venue... or were they? I perhaps wasn't thinking "pike like" enough... who knows BUT Malcolm had four fish and had bid me goodbye before I struck on my pike of the day. A lightly hooked jack of 2 or 3lbs only to see it roll off the hook as I brought it across a narrow channel in the lake system.

Try as I might I cannot get the owner of the lake to allow me to fish it further. We didn't impact on the lake, I even offered to tidy elements of it up in exchange for the ability to fish it. Sadly the lake is suffering from silting and encroaching reeds and I guess that with a few warm summers the lake will be a puddle and the fish no more. Sad to think that 100 years ago the lake was dug by the estate under the watchful eye of the philanthropic owner for the benefit of all. Another bit of heritage potentially lost.

Perhaps it and many other waters will be lost because they are kept secret?

My new water is not a secret in the true sense of the word but pike aren't the main target species so I won't be enlightening readers of the blog as to its whereabouts just yet!

A cast of thousands... the deerhunter

My fishing forays have been reduced recently due to other calls on my time... work is the usual one but a more than worthwhile visit to the Royal Horticultural Society show at Tatton Park was the other. The visit, just over a week ago had me girding my loins and getting on with terracing the bottom of the garden with the old railway sleepers bought a few months ago. Two days of non stop work has finally finished off that part of the garden. Now to plant it up!

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as they say... so back to fishing!

A few trials and tribulations to start the week. My wallet went through the washer... the £20 note survived but all my fishing licences ended up as a soggy mass. Like a forensic scientist each piece of paper was carefully pulled away from the next and dried... I've applied for a replacement rod licence but the remains of this one has been put in a laminator so that the evidence is there for the Environment Agency folks if they should ask for it in the interim!

The week had been busy and I decided to take a couple of hours out on Thursday evening to fly fish on my new water. I noticed that the water had coloured up over the last few weeks and the sinkers weren't quite as visible. Not deterred I used a combination of black and white Zonker, orange and chartreuse Zonker style and an Eric Hope magic fly in a perch pattern... someone was in my favourite mark BUT I was to worried as the wind was blowing up to the top end of the lake. A quick wander up to the top mark and "blast" spooked a jack! Plenty of swirls but no takers. A quick phone call home to say I'd be back soon(ish) then I saw a very large pike exit the water and crash down on her side. Quickly up to a snaggy mark and fluffed the cast. I snagged the bottom and lost a magic fly.

Went home with a bitter sweet taste in my mouth!

Nothing until last night... too much other stuff! Taking the eldest to get a new BMX bike tore up Saturday but I enjoyed it as well as having a ride on his new machine... I could never understand the desire to ride a bike with knees under the chin!

Anyway last night's fly fishing... no fish, no follows and no takers. BUT I have to say I was extremely pleased with my casting ability... practice makes perfect! I must have cast well over a thousand times now!

Just got to join up the fish and the casting!

A post script to the blog is thanks again to Eric Hope who has (unwittingly) become my long distance piking mentor... Everyone should go and fish with Eric... fantastic chap. Can't wait for the magic fly supply to arrive!