Thursday, 27 May 2010

Paying for Paradise

The Intrepid Piscator It's that time of year when we all have to start thinking about buying Club tickets and paying for syndicates.
I am fortunate enough to have access to enough waters to last my lifetime. I have however joined a new syndicate on the River Gt.Ouse, it's the same stretch that produced my pb of 14lb 15oz but I am told that few Barbel remain, most of the stock have unfortunately been predated by Otters. It is a nice place to be though and I am looking forward to revisiting.
A cheque has also been winging its way to the residence of one Les Bamford for my annual pilgrimage to the beautiful Redmire Pool.

I saw an interesting article in this weeks Carp Talk magazine reporting on the recent netting of the pool. Apparently around 30 Common Carp under 15lb have been removed as part of the management of the fishery. I have to admit that any one of those fish would've made my year..oh well, there's still plenty to go for...maybe this year will be the year I get to land one of these awesome fish.
I will also be dabbling around on the many waters I have locally hoping to get a few and eyeing up potential venues for the future. We are not far from the glorious 16th now and I love the buzz of this time of year.

Wherever you choose to cast a line this season, I wish you well and hope your angling dreams come true.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Spawning Glory

The Intrepid Piscator With nearly every Cyprinid in the lake well into their yearly courtship I decided to take Dan in search of Catfish. It always gives me a moral dilemma with regards to bait. I knew our best chance would be a livebait fished in the upper layers but instead opted for bottom baits this time. We arrived to find the lake quite busy with anglers, and the only "double swim" available was at the other end of the pit to where I really wanted to be.

Needless to say, we had no runs and the night was wholly uneventful, except for a rather angry Pike that somehow became attached to my line near the rod end as it cruised through the margins.

The bay in the pictures below was full of spawning Carp and we just spent the next morning watching the show.

I even managed to capture a passing Dragonfly in this photo...

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Things Are Hotting Up

The Intrepid Piscator With the recent warm spell a stroll out with the good Lady Sarah was in order. Cunningly we ended up walking hand in hand around the reservoir complex at Tring. These lakes are renowned in the angling world for producing massive specimens of all species. I believe that they have held British records for at least three species, and their banks are still home to a dedicated band of fishermen willing to brave the windswept and steep banks in search of that special fish.

I'm drawn to Startops Reservoir personally and will one day take on the challenge to bank it's marvellous booty of monstrous fish.
Strolling around this vast expanse it soon became clear that Lady Sarah and I were not the only ones coupling up. In the crystal clear water, large Carp could clearly be seen grouping up in anticipation of the yearly spawning ritual; Ducks chased Drakes, Dragon and Damselflies flew together and Swans cemented their lifetime relationship. It's that time of year.A time of courtship and joy. Something's definitely in the air down Tring way.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Opportunity Knocks

"Luck is being ready for the chance."

The Intrepid Piscator I have travelled many meandering pathways in this fishing life, some have lead to disaster and pain, but most have taken me to places and situations that will be forever etched in my memory as times of joy,elation...almost on a spiritual level. Only those of you that live this piscatorial life, will ever really understand this. Here follows a tale of chance & opportunism culminating in one of those truly sublime moments.

The weather has taken a turn for the better and on Saturday I'd offered to take the lad from the shop, Dan, to a local lake on Monday night. He would fish for Catfish, myself for Tench.

The couple of days rolled round quickly and on Monday morning I phoned a friend who was fishing the lake.."There's a few on here mate", he said. I thought for a while, then decided to switch to my regular (quieter) venue which also contains both species.

Having notified Dan of the change of plans I received a message saying he was unable to make it, apparently he had an exam the next morning, so a good nights sleep was in order. For a moment, with me being flu'ed up, I wondered wether to go anyway or stay in a warm bed.

Just an hour after leaving work I found myself by the lake in a swim that had been neglected for a while. I knew it had a marginal shelf and it was an area I'd been baiting since Winter time. "Ripe for a big Tench", I thought.

The only other fisher was one Carp angler who goes by the legendary name of "Shakey" Lee.

I set both my 1.75 test rods with method fished mini-boilies over a concoction of Green groundbait, red maggot, betaine pellet and various particles down the marginal shelf.

Sitting back, I enjoyed the entertainment of an Artic Tern dropping and re-catching a fish that was clearly too heavy to fly with.

I thought to myself that on Saturday I'd agreed to be sitting somewhere completely different at this time but felt happy with the choice; especially when across the lake a large Carp boshed clean out of the water.

The light faded and air became cool,quiet in that transient world between day and night, I zipped myself into my sleeping bag and soon drifted into sleep, peace...tranquility.

'Da dat daaa da dat', wide awake I stared at the bobbin of my left rod, bouncing, like a luminous yo-yo...I real resistance...7lb Bream. I rebaited, re-cast. An hour later 'Da dat daaaa da dat' from the other rod...I real resistance...7lb Bream. I decided to re-cast but not to introduce more free offerings. Sleep, peace...tranquility.

At about 4am...'Da dat daaa da dat' I struck...MASSIVE resistance...snap...see you later...Carp? I'd made the error of expecting the expected, that isn't what happens in angling though, I should've known better..However,this was a valuable lesson.

At about 6.30am in half slumber 'Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa' the proverbial single toner, left hand rod tip waving like a tank aerial. I'd re-set the clutches and struck very softly, this was returned with solid resistance and the clutch sang as line flew from the spool. The fish just tore into open water and I was happy to just let it carry on, very quickly I realised that this was no Bream or Tench and I feared for my relatively light Rods and line. Around ten minutes later , this unseen beasty kited left along the margins and I had to lean out over the waters edge with rod at arms length. I had to try to stop it. I winced as I tightened slightly and gave it a small amount of turned..and headed at full tilt straight towards me. Reeling in the slack as quickly as possible I gained line and the fish was in front about three rod lengths out. Great boils came to the surface as much water was displaced," Catfish?" I pondered.

Off it went again to the left and again I had to exert pressure. The fish turned and then something happened which both scared and excited me. The fish came rapidly along the clear margins and for the first time, I sighted her. "Bloody Hell, thats a 30+ Carp" chugging off now to the right. Around twenty minutes into the fight I finally began to think that 1) My size 10 hook wasn't coming out...and 2) I had a modicom of control and I might just land it.

I was worried that I may spook the fish with the net so got on my knees amongst the rushes. After a few more minutes of spirited scrapping she came around in an arc up the marginal shelf and swam straight into the waiting net..I fell in a heap on the floor trembling with adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Looking down at this majestic creature I saw something I recognised. This was a fish I knew well. It is unfortunately missing the lower lobe of its tail due to neglect from an idiot angler some five years ago (he is now banned for life from many of the countries top waters). It has been given the unoriginal name (I hate names for fish) of "Cut Tail" and is the biggest Carp in the lake. I phoned "Shakey" who arrived in my swim in double-quick time and duly took care of all weighing and photographic duties as I gazed in awe at the mass before me. A truly wonderful fish that despite its injury is thriving and healthy. It was an honour to hold her in my arms for a few fleeting seconds..It was an even greater feeling after resting her a while to see her swim strongly away, a bit wiser and forever to be there in my memory...The weight....40lb 3oz.

As I think back now about this capture two things strike me..The first is the chain of events, decisions and enthusiasm that lead me to be at the lake at that time. They were a mixture of chance and knowledge. The two things all anglers need.
The second thing that strikes me is just how responsible we all are for the welfare of these fantastic creatures that give us so much pleasure .

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Fishing with Man Flu

The Intrepid Piscator As I said in the last post, I have been savagely cut down this week with a bout of "man flu".
Obviously,this episode was so severe, that with a heavy heart I was unable to fish on Saturday....
However, a whole week without fishing is a ludicrous notion and last night saw me on the bank again with a "kill or cure mentality"..It turned out to be a rather fruitful decision resulting in a new personal best.
More of such things to follow....

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Treasure From the Coast & Presents by Post

This weekend saw me in the beautiful county of Norfolk,except it wasn't all that beautiful with high winds and rain scuppering any chance of my first attempt at beachcasting. Of course,Lady Sarah was happy with the extra quality time we enjoyed, as was I, but an intrepid piscator has to get his fix somehow. Next best to fishing, is fishing shops, and even though I am in one every day of my working life, that default setting we all have to potter around in them, still exists.

Off to potter then, in Lathams of Potter Higham (apparently pronounced Pot 'a' Ham)...I always look, never buy.

Having received my angling quota for the weekend we happened upon a sign directing us to an antique and bric-a-brac shop. Upon arrival, we were greeted by an eccentric looking gentleman, surrounded my countless loudly ticking and irregularly chiming clocks, the usual worthless ornaments and coastal ephemera.

However, in one corner lay various fly reels, centrepins and other fishy bits. Nothing really stood out as being worth procuring and I turned away. As I did, there, hanging above me was a cane rod, which looked to be in rather good nick."I know what that is", I thought. The label concurred with my thoughts and read 'Chapmans 500 Rod £85'......After much discussion and haggling from Lady Sarah who is much better than I at such things we left the shop with a perfectly useable Chapman 500 cane fishing rod for just £50, thus obviously leaving more money to buy Lady Sarah lunch!
The long weekend passed quickly and this mornings post revealed a packaged book,"Split-Cane and Sable" by Robin Armstrong..a gift from the good Lady and a fine tonic as I am currently suffering from the dreaded man-flu. On the face of it,it appears to be a good read; I will of course let you know how I get on with both items. Bless you Lady Sarah.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A Night in "Deadman's" and the Green Reward

The Intrepid Piscator I have written before about the tricks ones mind can play upon oneself when angling alone at night. Personally,it takes a lot to spook me and I generally enjoy nocturnal solitude. However,there is a pitch that I have avoided night fishing for many years. Let me set the scene...
I was fishing for Carp over ten years ago,when from a neighbouring lake a single gunshot rang out. Obviously,at the time I was oblivious, but that shot was a friend tragically ending his own life in his bivvy on a neighbouring lake. To this day,I am baffled by the incident and for many years I didn't fish the lake. When I finally did, I found that the pitch has been disrespectfully christened "Deadman's".
With trepidation I have fished in the said swim during daylight hours a couple of times but never at night,however, when I turned up at the lake on Monday evening to find it deserted, I dared myself to fish there.
The wind howled and the trees rustled (of course it rained a while..again) and with the thought of what had happened all those years ago fresh in my mind you may have excused me for being a tad unnerved. A visit from my old mate Brian and a couple of large Bream diverted my attention but Brian was soon gone and I was alone again as darkness fell.

Something strange happened...the wind dropped and the lake fell flat calm,stars appeared;animals,birds and even road traffic fell silent. Although the night air was cold I felt comfortable and at ease. This night session I'd put off in my mind through a mix of respect and dread had actually become a tranquil,enjoyable time....I soon drifted asleep.

No fish in the night meant I was awake with the dawn chorus.I reset my traps of method feeder with mini boilies, and rebaited the areas in the knowledge that the next couple of hours were primetime for my intended quarry..Tench.

Around an hour and a half later the bobbin of the right rod rose and my alarm sung,I struck and immediately knew that this was a tinca. What a clever fish it was,diving into every weedbed and set of lily pads it could, it was no match for my newly customised rod though. As it sat in the net,I looked down at this most beautiful of gifts, I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back...and not just for catching my first Tench of the year.

Dedicated to M.L...Rest In Peace my friend.