Saturday, 31 October 2009

An 8 hour shift - will this ever be the new day job?

24 hours on from casting for 8 hours solid… my arm felt as if it was hanging off last night! But I felt really good… Smug? Very likely!

It has been half-term, the kids have been off and for a variety of reasons the week was a bit of a non-event… sadly boys like staring at screens like the one I’m looking at now, rather than taking fresh air into their lungs and doing something active… anyway the end of the week arrived and they were deposited at have gone to their dad’s for the weekend and we decided to go to my in-laws overnight so that my wife could spend some time with her folks. This is where I make all you folks out of their jealous… my wife asked if I wanted to fish for the day at a location near her parents. Happy as a pig in muck as the saying goes!

I was looking forward to trying out a variation on a theme I’d tied the day before. Many will know that I’m the fan of the bucktail deceiver and have tied many variations of it… I think I now have the mix right and am now playing with alternative colour ways and volumes of material… Black is the new orange. The perfect mix is… long cock saddle hackles, bucktail and flash material. I have had some of Toby Merigan’s Funky Flash for a while and incorporated it into the latest tying… all I can say is that it is fab stuff to tie with and highly mobile in the water.

So armed with two rods one with an intermediate line and the other with a floating line I set forth for the fishery… I was there early, early enough to start at 0730… sadly the bailiff wasn’t – hey ho I started at 0800hrs.

Primarily a trout fishery but with pike in as a bonus species to tidy up the sickly and not well handled trout, my personal view is that the trout are the “by” catch here!

I chose what the trouters feel is the best casting area and it didn’t disappoint with numerous trout of 1lb to 1.5lb following the pike flies in… so it was the right pattern for the day then!

I moved around the lake to see whether I could see any pike signs and with the prevailing wind to my back I decided to cast into the top corner… had a number of follows on the floating line but no takes. I decided to change tactics and go for the intermediate line spooled on the Abel reel on my favourite rod… “Caledfwlch” – the Harrison 9/10 weight medium/fast action rod. I cast to the corner then counted down allow the fly to hit the kill zone! I then retrieved with a reasonable speed and few pauses. My second cast and a long count followed by a swift retrieve gave me what I wanted… a hit. I new I was into a rainbow as I saw the red cheeks and pink flank glint in the watery autumnal sun. Frankly no match for the rod and the almost 3lb ‘bow was in photographed and put back.

Call this coincidence but just maybe the taking of a trout woke up the main characters in this blog… the pike. 3rd or 4th retrieve and the hit was a solid hard hit. Instantly recognisable as the strike of a pike and I was in! The pike gave a better than average account of itself and decided to go deep on a few occasions. I have so much confidence in the rod that I can bully a well hooked pike to coming in early to the net. At 6lbs I watched this pike recover in the salmon net and then gently slipped it back and with a whoosh of the tail it was gone…

All went quiet for a time and the wind picked up and it grew colder… getting bored with trying to get another trout in and having lost a bigger pike I decided to move on!

The opposite corner was challenging as it required casting into and across the wind… it was blowing a good 18mph at this stage… gusts probably more. I spotted some big trout in the shallows and decided that I cast a line to the far bank in the hope of a pike loitering with intent. My second cast was perfect – that doesn’t often happen! It was across the corner and I stripped back… half way back the fly was absolutely nailed by another rainbow. It was a lovely sight and the weight surprised me… a little over 4lb… I was chuffed.

I did give it all that I could and cast on until the light faded… we had a few more takes but they accounted for nothing.

A good day on a new fly that is equally at home with trout as well as pike!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Bait? Really!

Very unlike me having shunned bait for over twelve months now... BUT it is worth ringing the changes now and again!

I decided that pushing the trolley around the local supermarket that a tray of European Sprats had to be purchased... at 71p (probably about 50cents to those Stateside) they were worth a punt! I froze half the pack - individually wrapped in cling-film and placed the rest (about 9) in a plastic bag.

Having read much on Mike Ladle's site about circle hooks and that I had a pack of size 2 Owner Mutu lights I thought I'd give it a go! An 18 inch trace made of fairly stiff 15kg wire with a single circle hook attached and then shrink tubed with a swivel at the other end was attached to Powerpro braid on my Harrison 4Surespin rod...

I love travelling light - a few baits, rod, net and mat and away we go!

I'd had an attack on a fly on Friday in a bit of a slack water and failed on the hook set... this pikey area has had a bit of a mixed bag of attacks and few landings... so a change of tactics! This was a stolen hour or two at the end of the day which I find least successful in the numbers game but always sure to winkle one out. A chance meeting with a regular confirmed "NO fish out this afternoon!". Into the slack water... my that looks really shiny... as the bait wobbled toward me. Second cast and half way through the retrieve - bang - Fish on! I was caught half off guard as I'm not used to seeing a bait disappear as the fish fights on the line... only a jack BUT neatly lip hooked... easy to release and off to a few other marks.

Not a good time of day for this stretch of water - funny that! Never mind those in the freezer will do for an early stint later this week!

Friday, 16 October 2009

A great day to be out - and catching!

One day I will land my twenty... until then I'll be happy catching pike of all sizes!

Today was surprisingly slow with many commenting that a chill wind over the last few days had made the fishing harder. It was unseasonally pleasant - dare I say, warm away from the wind. I tackled up before dawn broke and had a session where nothing much moved until 1030 hrs. I lost one of my killer patterns to a snag... yah boo sucks and put on an Orvis pike fly... a non descript baitfish pattern which I felt was too long... after casting this fly and having a few takes/nips I decided that drastic action was required. Wielding a pair of braid scissors I reduced this fly by a 1/3 of its body size. The amputation/remodelling had the effect of turning this into a stubby baitfish... a skimmer rather than a herring!

Next mark along and 2 or 3 casts in I brought the fly to a pause opposite me... with a flash I saw the golden side of a pike turn on the fly and it was mine. A few aerial displays and a tug of war saw the well marked fish yield. Photographed and back in to grow and fight again!

The perch was a little later and caught by an old boy I see from time to time... lovely fish - second only to pike... only just though!

Friday, 9 October 2009

'bow tastic bonus!

The recent rains saw a favourite water of mine muddied up a touch and with a south east wind that cut through me I decided the pain wasn't going to be worth it... I still did my rounds but no takers.

I therefore decided to give it best and drive to another venue!
My investigations into this water told me that there were a head of pike at this venue and yes the wind was the same biting wind at the first but at least the water quality was better. My first few casts gave me a take and a miss on the floating line and nothing much else apart from a lost fly... as it happened it was my recent best catcher... doh, how I hate new venues! I decided to move to a mark that enabled me to cast out towards the corner of the water and into the margins as well. Having lost best fly I chose to fish a pink bucktail hollow tied fly... a few casts in I was getting a follow and then a hit... not from a pike but from this greedy 'bow! I didn't weigh him but guess he was the 3 -4lbs mark. I was taken aback by this capture... I will say that the fish gave up pretty quickly on the 9/10 weight rod!
A few casts later I decided to try a red and white marabou creation tied on a size 1 hook. This fly was rigged on my second rod loaded with the Guideline pike sink tip... three casts in a lovely take close in gave me this handsome specimen at 4 - 5lbs.
Now I guess I'll be hitting this venue again!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


A pal of mine suggested he'd like to try shrimp for the mullet he's spotted... so I decided to have a go... happy with the first one (main picture) not so happy with the second as I was disturbed when putting on the goo!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

At the end of the day...

Oh boy, a quick dive out in the car for the last gasp of the day... with the breeze dropping I brought the fly in across the shallows and I watched this pike follow and smash at my fly... he wouldn't give it back either! Nicely caught in the scissors - easy to unhook.

I looked at the sky, an almost full moon with the odd bat feeding on the bugs in the night air -what a magic evening!
As a post script, I'm amazed at where a pike puts an extra few pounds... look at the last fish... doesn't look that much bigger BUT the last September fish had a broader back and a fatter belly and was noticeably heavier than today's skinnier offering that made 5lbs...