You know I hate to rush these blogs but sometimes I get my fishing head on and need to be spending more time on the bank than bashing away on a keyboard so I’m sure you’ll understand.
Checking round the other bloggers doesn’t give me much inspiration, mind. They’re either all lazy or they’re catching nowt. Funny isn’t it how new bloggers burst onto the scene full of enthusiasm, posting several times a month and then they fizzle out like a spent firework. Perhaps they realise it’s hard work or that they’ve actually got very little to say.
It doesn’t help if their fishing, as is so often the case, is rather one dimensional, mostly based around one species caught on one method and more often than not from the same place.
And then there are those who see blogs as nothing more than weapons. A platform from which they can spout bile and abuse folk that they despise for no more logical reason than they happen to exist and appear to be happier than they are. And all their sad friends chip in with their mindless, ‘Yeah mate, you tell ’em!’ comments.
Anyway, this blog will be a barbel free zone. I’ve not caught one this past month, probably because I’ve been deliberately avoiding doing so. You’ll maybe recall I had two huge hits back in August when in the space of two day sessions I landed around 90 (yes, ninety) barbel. Afraid that filled up my tank for a while and I can’t muster any enthusiasm to do that again for a while so it was time to target other species.
Say Hello To Autumn
Summer will very soon seem like a distant memory. Last night the temperatures in these parts fell dramatically. It was easily the coldest night since last spring and there was talk of a ground frost in sheltered rural areas. As I looked out across the Dearne Valley at breakfast a sea of mist with grey, ghostly tree tops hovering above greeted me.
The hawthornes are laden with red berries, leaves are already taking on a yellow hue. Make hay while this mellow season lasts because a long winter lies ahead. When I did a proper job I quite looked forward to winter. It was fun to go fishing at weekends and if you missed a trip here and there due to Christmas shopping or snow, then the winter seemed to fly by. In retirement I’ve discovered that winter is a grim season that drags on endlessly. But there will be piking to be done, and chubbing. Sadly those big brassy roach of the tidal Trent that once filled my winter dreams are long gone, perhaps for ever.
The latest issue of Pikelines contains a lovely article by Alan Dudhill who has just been awarded the Barrie Rickards Pike Angler of the Year award by the PAC – well done Al! – which describes a trip we shared last year to a Trentside gravel pit. It fished absolutely rubbish (typical for me) but we salvaged the trip by targeting zander, on lures, from the river, in the dark. I had my first ever Trent zander on a little rubber shad bumped along the bottom in total darkness, an amazing experience.
The article fired up a bit of fresh enthusiasm in me and set me to thinking about catching a Zed off my own back so off I went to a stretch above Nottingham where I’d been having a few roach on hemp and tares. Unfortunately the river had switched right off and I struggled to even catch a few baits. The evening passed without incident other than the odd single blip of the alarm. Could have been liners, debris or anything.
It wasn’t until 3am that I had a slow, steady lift on the indicator. I pulled into whatever had picked up my bait and it felt heavy. It did little except shake it’s head until it came to the surface and wallowed there. I caught a flash of white belly and thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s a huge zander!’
And then it tail walked… Obviously it was no zander, just a pike doing an impression of one.
A bait cast on top of the margin shelf was picked up at dawn and that proved to be my only zander of the session. I tiny little thing of barely a pound, but it was a start. Enough to whet my appetite and get the old predator juices flowing. Another trip was definitely required but instead of battling the M1 traffic I decided to head for a stretch of the tidal river where I had never seen or even heard of a zander being caught before – probably because I’ve never seen anyone trying to catch anything other than barbel.
Once you’ve got the fishing head on you have to go, don’t you? It doesn’t matter that the tail end of Hurricane Katia was lashing the country, that roads and bridges were closed to high sided vehicles all over the place. No, me and my Infinity Oval were happy to brave the wildest storm because I’d got the zander bug. But by heck, it took some holding down!!!
Eventually I managed to get everything set up as secure as the circumstances would allow. I had the oval set so low it was more like a turtle than a shelter making it pretty tricky to get in and out of but my biggest problem was the bite alarms. They were going blippety-blip constantly even when set to zero sensitivity. I suspected a long night may lay ahead.
Other than a pike that was 15lb long but only 6lb deep, no bites were forthcoming until just on dark when the left hand rod was away and I found myself playing a decent zander. Result!
Blow me, if the other rod didn’t ramp off while I was playing the first fish. Unfortunately I missed that take. And then the fun started. Run after run, after run. And could I hit any of them? Not a chance. And then I connected with an eel of about a pound. Then another. It appeared my swim was full of eels that were in a mean bait-robbing mood. By midnight I had to pack up because I was rapidly running out of bait so I grabbed 6 hours of rather uneasy kip. It’s not easy to sleep when your shelter is constantly threatening to take off.
Dawn came and I chucked the rods back out while I made some breakfast. There’s nothing like that first cup of coffee, is there? Delicious. But alas there was no activity on the rods. It was stone dead and remained that way until 10am when the left hand one was away again. Line was peeling off the spool when I set the hooks and at first I thought I was into a very big eel. Very heavy, no runs, just lots of violent head shaking, banging the rod over. I decided it mattered little if it came off and that I’d better keep it out of the rocks, so I played it very hard.
At least I did so until it surfaced and there before me was what I had barely dared wish for – a great big Trent zander.
I need to go back for another go. I’ve probably only just scratched the surface. But maybe I’ll wait until after the first frost when the eels should have calmed down a bit.
Knocked Off My Perch
I had a nice perch the other day, well, a rather decent one but my feeble attempts have been eclipsed by the efforts of Stu and James who have been out and caught some proper ones. As I’ve no intention of naming the venue, methods or anything at this present time, I’ll just leave you with a couple of images to drool over.
And yes, that perch of James’ does look over 4lb – probably because it is!
Meanwhile Stu actually managed to get in among these fish with the underwater camera and filmed them feeding. If we ever get around to finishing Caught In The Act it’s going to be one hell of a DVD!
The last time I looked at The Haven, a commercial water in Stainforth, it was a grubby looking hole in the ground. Mind you, that was about ten years ago. ‘You really ought to go and have another look.’ Said my old mate Trev Empson. ‘It’s changed.’ And blooming heck, so it has. But what the owners will never be able to change is its location, hemmed in between a dog track, a scrap yard and a caravan site, but the fishery is exactly what the name suggests, a haven.
It also contains some cracking fish and because it charges slightly over the going rate at £7 a day, it’s relatively lightly fished for a commecial. Saying that, to call it a commercial is to do it an injustice because it is far removed from your pastie filled muddy hole. Ithas done carp to 32lb this year, some massive perch, top quality roach and there are a few monstrous barbel and I mean monstrous – was that a siren I heard in the distance…?
But what attracted me to have a go was the ide it holds. It is stuffed with big ide. Fish to 6lb with loads in the 3-4lb class. Just my kind of fishing.
This is just a part of my catch. I filled my boots catching a good two dozen of the bigger ide, best 4-7, plus roach, rudd, perch and the odd bream for a net that would have pretty much weighed a hundred pounds. I had them all on ‘the blob’ fishing less than a foot deep and still managed to miss at least 5 times more bites than I hit.
The fishery is at Haggs Wood, Stainforth (post code for Sat Nav: DN7 5HT) or you can call 01302 842857 or 07903 153830 for more details.
The Kids Are Alright
The Stainforth area really is a hot-bed for angling. I sat in Stainforth Angling Centre the other day and could barely believe the number of kids coming through the door to buy bait and various bits and bobs. ‘It’s always like this!’ Said Mark Price, who runs the place.
If only that were the same across the whole country. You see so few kids on the riverbanks these days it’s a crime. Mamby pamby, nanny state fears have driven a whole generation indoors, afraid to go out, convinced there’s a paedophile around every corner. They’ll never know the thrill of slipping the latch and sneaking out before the world is awake. Roaming the fields looking for adventure, finding birds nests, damming streams, climbing trees, making swings, bows and arrows, catapults, marbles and a million other treats. I only ever came home on two accounts – if I was hungry or when it got dark.
So great credit has to be given to Mark Price’s active role in getting those kids into fishing. Last week he ran a match for them at Pine Lakes. It cost them nothing to enter and so that he could give every singe one of the kids a goody bag with twenty quids worth of kit in it he badgered every business in the vicinity to contribute something. Pine Lakes provided the lakes for free and the result was a turn-out of 47 kids in four age categories.
Well done Mark! Makes the handing out of gongs to entertainers and footballers seem rather hollow, doesn’t it?
I doubt there is a serious angler out there who doesn’t own at least one pair of polarising glasses. They’re essential, not only for fish spotting but for reducing glare and eyestrain. The bottom line is they are safety equipment, there to protect your eyesight from harmful UV rays.
For years I’ve had mine made by Optilabs. They are high spec, top end optical quality, prescription lenses and they don’t come cheap. But when did the best anything ever come cheap? Fishing forums frequently host threads about best and cheapest ‘polaroids’ (a term that niggles me no end – Polaroid being a camera) and ask, ‘Are they worth it?
Well, I spotted a piece in the latest Which? magazine headlined: ‘High street sunglasses fail to meet British Standards’. 21 pairs were tested and no less than 15 pairs failed key lab tests. ‘You don’t expect them to last forever, but you wouldn’t expect them to worsen your eyesight’ It read.
These were glasses from leading chains like Tesco, M&S, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Primark. Do you really think those cheap fishing glasses made in some Chinese sweat shop really compare any more favourably? Dream on. I go to a dentist to have my teeth cared for and to an optician for my eyes, not a tackle shop.
Fins Ain’t What They Used To Be
Ron Clay came on the phone jabbering away all excited after catching a 3lb 2oz perch from the Trent. You have to give credit to the enthusiasm of a 70-odd year-old who’s fished all over the world and cut his teeth rubbing shoulders with the likes of Richard Walker and Peter Stone. He was equally excited about the capture of a 10oz dace and I wonder, will today’s generation of anglers, brought up on boilies, bolt rigs, carp and barbel have the same passion when they get older?
I hope I’m wrong but somehow I doubt it.
I will say this though. Anglers who were born around the end of the war through to about 1960 have had the best of it. They had the prime years of rivers before the cormorants arrived, they had the pre-barbel era, the barbel boom and the barbel decline due to predation. They had the Broads in their prime, the reservoirs and pits that gave us massive roach, created as the population and road network grew. They had the Fens before zander were introduced and afterwards when catching them has proved an interesting challenge. They had everything to go at before the immigrant population began to eat us out of house and home on the freshwater front and they saw carp go from being almost a novelty species to the point where they are practically an infestation. As for tackle developments – well! Sixty years of sensational change. Makes you wonder what the next 60 years might hold.
Ron also sent me a few other old images from way back when he was but a slip of a lad and catching fish in South Africa.
So Much For The Clean Up
So our rivers are cleaner than they’ve been in decades, eh? Pull the other one. After a decade of politicians and bureaucrats telling us our rivers are improving all the while it takes just one comedian to go for a swim in the Thames to bring home the reality. David Walliams was stricken with ‘Thames Tummy’, an upset stomach caused by intake of the murky water which harbours a cocktail of bacteria such as E.coli, salmonella and hepatitis during his Thames charity swim. That says it all really.
Perhaps News Thump has a better grasp of reality. Check out the link, it’ll make you smile.
Better Stick With PG Tips
Macca posted this clip to my Facebook page the other day. This shows why it’s not the brightest idea to hand over a loaded AK47 rifle to a chimpanzee…
Okay, that’s your lot for now. I really want to get back on the Don now the tides are less dramatic, I’m hankering to go chasing some huge bream and those Trent Zeds are demanding more of my attention. Trev says come and see this new method he’s got for catching carp on the splasher – and by the way you can catch 60lb of roach from the margins on 2 sections of pole. I’ve a jaunt down to the Fens looming and Alan is asking if I fancy a spot of piking. Plus there are those big perch waiting to be caught.
Who needs barbel?
And by the time I get around to thinking straight again it’ll be chub time. Bring it on!