Sunday, 3 April 2011

Fluff Chucking for Toothy Critters

Well the traditional Pike season has come to an end and to be honest its nice not to have hands that smell like the local fish mongers but with Pike still about a fly fishing approach is great sport and its great being able to travel so light and explore. I ventured down to my local canal to chuck a few tied patterns about hoping for a snatch or two..... didn't take long and a couple of greedy jacks had hit the fly, angry little buggers!
On moving some 50 yards down the bank a cast was hit by what i thought was a Pike only the fight seemed very jaggy and up from the depth's i saw a flash of stripes, a Perch and big bugger too, taking it easy hoping to stay attached she went into the net with the fly falling out once tension was released, a very close call. Well to get a correct weight on this fish it seemed silly to weigh it in the deep wet mesh of a giant Pike net so i emptied the contents of my lunch from a carrier bag gently slid the stripy sergeant into it and onto the scales..... 4lb on the nose! I quickly released her called it a day and strolled home a happy chappy.

Saturday, 6 November 2010


The Glorious river Culm in all its seasonable colours makes for a great peaceful escape, despite a passing angler trying to ruin it telling me id be wasting my time as the otters had eaten all the Chub and very little Dace were left. I am aware of the otters on the river and do see them often but still i would not be put off, i always find if your information isn't from a trusted source ignore them and try for yourself. I'm glad i did as the afternoon was full of hand size Chub, Roach and

lots and lots of Dace. The river was alive and thriving i can only think this chap has not been baiting his hook!

A move to a gentle glide produced some lovely roach.

Another watery escape comes to an end and its back to reality.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Challenge at Chew

All this serious Pike fishing can get a bit addictive and more often than not results don't reflect the intensity and effort done to search out the finer specimens. There comes a time when a relaxed approach is a breath of fresh air and certainly brings more enjoyment.

My first day on Chew Valley Reservoir this year was with my wife Lesley, the boat was actually booked in her name so any misbehaving and i wouldn't be going ( yeah right!). We decided before the off on a wager, whoever caught the most or biggest Pike wins and the loser pays out for a meal for two at Rendezvous in Exeter, not cheap but good grub.
Les was kitted up with an 8ft lure rod and chose some colourful shiny glittery rubber shads to start the day, myself well i had a selection of Rapala's and spoons with a bait rod as back up. As a rule you'd expect myself the angler to have the edge...not so, Les when she does wet a line can be quite useful with a lure rod so i was quite twitchy from the off. After breakfast and a "latte" ( wife's choice of beverage) at the lodge and the mundane wait for boat numbers was over we ventured down to the landing stages where a queue was forming due to the water police checking our bait bags for naughties in the form of banned baits. As I gazed across the vast water wondering what leviathans lurk beside me Les was getting chatted up."Hello do you catch Pike then? Never met a women pike angler before," said a rather curious pike angler, to his amazement Les explained she has caught Pike and she will today....... such confidence!
I certainly had my work cut out as captain having to man the engine and anchor, these are troubles you face when bringing a women aboard. Anchors away and off up to nunnery point just dropping the anchor and Les flips out her lure.... "got one! Eh already! Bloody anchor aint hit the deck yet!" A lively jack of about 4lb was brought to the boat making it 1-0 to the wife, before i even decided on my choice of lure....... "I've another one," a little voice said, and sure enough another Pike of equal size. She was slaughtering me, i 've not had a sniff ! It was around this time that the mickey taking started..... " so how many have you caught? i think I'm going to have that expensive Italian wine". In her head she'd already won but there was still a full day ahead.

Early action for the deck hand.

It was refreshing for me to hear a passing boat shout to his mate," whats that? fuckin Taliban innit"? They were referring to my wife and her choice of hat complete with shades, i could see where they were coming from, made me laugh and shut her up until she caught another Pike!
As lunchtime passed i had sneaked a couple jacks out and the current stats were 4-2 to my wife, all fighting fit fish around the 4lb mark. My dearest was now starting to look a little weathered and requested a retreat to a sheltered area, scouting around the armada in Villice bay had now vacated and looked wind free. Anchored up Les commented, "to have any chance now you'll have to catch one this big"!

As she proceeded to down tackle and spread out for a little rest thinking she'd clinched the win, i lobbed out a drifted herring and while she was resting.... away went the float!

A good strike met with a fair resistance and after a spirited fight I'd pulled one back with a fish of 10-12lb, result!

At the end of the day Les managed 6 to 4lb and i had 3 to 12lb so she wins on quantity and me on quality, making it even I'd say. Quality in my mind always wins, but Les is a little reluctant to except that, she still thinks she won, of course she did?

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Tidal Triumphs and Mishaps

I love rivers they feel so alive compared to the many commercial puddles. Fishing on the local tidal river Exe certainly always proves this, with Bream being the main target fish that never materialised, a couple of other welcome scaly characters graced my net instead.

Bogged down with tackle i waded out through the sludge at low tide to greet the waters edge, this itself a challenge with every step sinking deeper and suction on with drawl threatening to strip me of my waders (not a pretty sight). All tackle on dry land a short distance away the plan was to start with trotting a float on the rising tide then at high tide to lob the feeders out with bread, maggots or corn the chosen hookbaits. The weather was overcast and the waters surface dimpling with little fish rising, i think a Dace fest was definitely on. A constant feed of maggots and the float was sent on its merry dance only to disappear in a flash as these bars of silver came thick and fast. There is certainly a different delightful eliment actually being in the water fishing with it running round your waist and drawing fish to hand and seeing mullet and even darker shapes pass your ankles as you stand there poised like a heron. I can watch fish for hours and having them pass you by so close is certainly a distraction.

High tide arrived and gradually forced me back pedalling to the bank, a quick slurp of tea was had and then feeders full of crumb launched into mid river. I was distracted by some over friendly swans that had clocked me loaf and so took my eye off the quiver tips for a moment, upon refocusing a tip was missing and the rods butt just and only just caught on the back rest, getting my hands on it the clutch went off screaming... an obvious tidal carp was on and was not hanging about. This fish was trucking but unfortunately as soon as pressure was added escape she did....... bugger! After a small time between watching a pair of cormorants devour the dace and glaring at the tips another superb bite was hit and again screaming reels only this fish liked to work its way back to me and pelt of with such power and speed this could only be a Mullet and not a bad one at that. Strange fish Mullet hours can be spent chasing these frustrating fish so i was well pleased with the one that just graced my net. She weighed 6lb 8oz.

Changing to corn on the hook brought some good sized Dace and then a bite of such ferocity had me leaping from my seat, a fish was definitely on, self hooked it took so violently, didn 't feel like a carp but was very lively, not like a Mullet either? A spiky fin broke the surface that puzzled me briefly....... it was a Bass, a sweet corn munching Bass, not huge but certainly a nice surprise, and no i didn 't eat it.

Still the Bream remained elusive and rumour was that most were likely up at Salmon Pool Weir
in the more well oxygenated water, unfortunately a private stretch that Salmon anglers control yet if your discreet you can grab an early session there. As the light began to fade a few small Chublets were added to the tally as the tide approached its lowest. My peace was interrupted by my mobile phone, the wife requesting if i could move my van, of course i can me being forever the peace keeper! The camera gear and my other quiver was packed away in a grump and on sealing the bait tubs i noticed my last rod was doing a very merry dance on the rests. Squelching through the mud almost going arse over tit to get to it i managed a hook hold on what could only be a Carp, a real tug of war began as the fish used the out going tide to its advantage, some superb runs with a little grating on the line too due no doubt a snag being out there. Wading out to try and get control of this fish i remembered the wife's call, shit! going to be a bit late, i scrambled for my phone somewhere under my waders whilst the left arm hung on to this frantic Carp. How my phone wasn't dropped i don't know, with the almighty informed time to get this fish to the net. On finally netting this fish i was a little disappointed as i thought it was much bigger but on examining it what a stunning looking Mirror Carp with these huge plated scales and crisp yellows and brown colouring, despite weighing 16lb still worthy of a shot i think.
The fish was sacked and staked out in the river as i re-rigged the camera gear i had only just packed up, all systems ready i waded out to collect the fish, on lifting the fish via the sack handles she was not happy thrashing around like bugger the reason for this was soon to be obvious.... she'd seen her escape route. When lifting the fish out it was like Houdini had escaped, one huge thrash and she was out kiting across the shallow mud covering me in the process...... i only bloody forgot to ensure the sack was zipped right up! one lift she was gone, what a muppet!
I was a bit gutted as it was a stunning looking fish but who knows perhaps she'll cross my line in the future and be a touch bigger?

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Glimmering Dace

The humble dwelling that is soon to be home is almost complete and leaves me with visions of all that extra time for waterside ventures, unfortunately there is still a bit to do so to stop myself going crazy i had to down tools and wet a line and what better way to do it than on glorious June 16th by the river. Love it or hate it the close season for me can only be good for our rivers, it will be a sad day should it ever be abolished.

A bright sunny evening session on the local river Exe was where i ended up with Dace in mind on trotted maggots controlled by a pin, very traditional indeed but great fun.

The session was pure delight! stacks of hand size Dace shimmering in the sunshine and loads and i mean loads of stunning greedy Brown Trout topped by a few that were certainly big enough for the table but that's not what its about for me so all were returned non the worse after capture. I did find it unusual not to have any Chub, they are normally very abundant here and certainly compete with the trout with their greed. I'm sure they are about somewhere?

The passion is back with force and i am chomping at the bit to do battle by the waterside again soon, role on that house completion date!!!!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Chew From The Bank

Another assault on Chew Valley Reservoir was done only this time it was to be from the bank, with some ten miles of bank to choose from it was some what a little daunting. Only having previously fished from the bank once with little to show for it my confidence was low. To make things even more difficult the weather forecast was to be dreadful, sleet and lots and lots of rain, what joy!
In the early part of the week a monster Pike of 40lb was taken from the bank at an area with deep water close in, it was reported in all the angling weeklys and the bank from which it was caught was also published. This being an area i fancied i just had to review it as such publicity would see that bank shoulder to shoulder with anglers, one to avoid i think. My companion for the day was to be Paul but as he was off gallivanting up the Amazon on a 15 day cruise his stand in was to be the lovely Lesley, my wife, and believe it or not she actually volunteered. I did try to put her off due to her dislike of all things cold and believe me it was to be bloody freezing!

Leaving home at 4.30am did not fair well with my wife yet the deal was if she was to leave at this time then I'd take my bivvy, bed chair, plenty of water and my stove all for her comfort of course. We arrived at 6.ooam and sneakily entered the car park through a no entry where a van had just opened the gates. Early arrival bank anglers will know that it can be tricky to park as the bailiffs don't like to get up early to open all the gates. I dashed to the waters edge with all the creature comforts for Lesley, bivvy being of importance as dark clouds were looming. Bivvy up and back to the van to grab the gear and a very unimpressed bleary eyed wife! Rods were baited with popped up herrings, chest waders were donned as i waded into the margins to punch the baits out to shelf around 8 to 10ft deep. All traps laid i retreated to shelter as the temperature plummeted and the hail started to fall. Time to warm the wife with a cuppa, well that's as close I'll get after handling smelly herrings believe me! Looking out from the shelter distant lights of blue, red and white seemed to dance on the water, these were actually other anglers sending out their armada of toy boats to drop baits some 150 yards plus. Not only can i warrant the cost of such equipment but have always believed the bankside shelves to be the best features and most are within casting distance, anyway who wants to lumber all that extra gear about.
The day dragged on as did the sleet and rain and all that food and hot drinks that my wife insisted i take were a god send, their always right you know, then around 3.30pm the alarm sounded and the indicator rose to a taking fish...... finally action stations. Allowing a few feet of line to be taken i wound down and struck into what felt a reasonable fish, some good head shaking and a couple of hard surges really started to raise the estimated size of the fish. Once in the shallows some good hard lunges were stopped and some fellow anglers from Essex came down to net her for me. What a stunning looking fish and definitely over 20lb, quickly unhooked in the cradle onto the scales she went, the needle read 26lb 4oz! Even Lesley ventured out of her home for the day to have a look even if she did look unimpressed, deep down i knew she was? So a long day, bad weather and only one fish, was it worth it? You bet it was, only takes one good fish to change the day.

And back she goes.................

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Chew Valley Reservoir

As Xmas and new year festivities seem long in the distant past and the days keep rolling into the new year, time doesn't half fly by these days.
I finally received my dates for Chew and was lucky enough to have the opening day. I was optimistic but reserved because despite all the press coverage about big Pike left right and center Chew can be a tough nut to crack, i have seen many a disappointed face leaving the boat stations due to high expectations.

A plan was made as to where and how to fish, due to the current cold weather i reckoned the Pike would be deep and lethargic and lures would be a waste of time. I chose an area over some old dwellings and river beds some 26feet deep where i had seen good fish taken previously.
My boat partner was my old fishing companion Paul, it was good to have him back on the banks after absence due to sad circumstances. There s no one that can spin a yarn quite like Paul.
After breakfast at the lodge and boats issued it was a mad dash to claim positions wish was easy enough as every bugger went the other way to us! To say our decision was right would be an understatement, a fish was on within 15 min of casting out a herring a nice double around 13lb that fought superbly and was in mint condition, then Paul took a nice one around 11lb. I had to chuckle as he remounted what can only be described as the oldest manky herring of enormous proportions one could ever imagine upon his trebles, obviously big bait big Pike mentality. I soon had egg on my face as this bait was picked up pretty sharpish and a tussle ensued but we won, a lovely fish of 16lb (pictured below)

The day continued like this with fish lost too, some felt quite hefty, but for me the highlight was watching a low twenty get the better of Paul, i swear there was about 3 times that fish lunged deep and fast nearly taking Paul with it.... thank god for the clutch!

The culprit below nearly had him paddling!!

Towards the days end it went really quiet then at last knockings my float went, but it was brief as the fish escaped the hooks. In total we had 11 pike 9 of which were double figure fish and cream being a twenty one pounder to Paul. No obscene sized Pike Chew is noted for but who cares when sports as good as this! There was one thing that was noticeable, all our fish were covered in leeches suggesting they were holed up hard on the the bottom so our choice of tactics was spot on.
The approach to the jetty was quite amusing, it looked absolute chaos. The bailiff was having a fit boats approaching all angles bumping and banging, i avoided this lot on approach but got yelled at to dock back round the other side, this was only possible if captain pugwash and his crew of idiots weren't causing a "mucking fuddle". Finally docked and unloaded we escaped the madness quite content on our fruits of the day.