As the days lengthen and the thermometer rises I find I’m buzzing around like a blue a***d fly. There’s so much to do and I haven’t even renewed a single club ticket yet. Mustn’t make the same mistake as last year, eh? Lost out on a ticket I seldom used but it was nice to have if only for the stick float fishing it offered when the Trent was carrying a bit of a tinge in summer.
Improve Your Coarse Fishing ran a competition to win a day’s coaching with my good self and Brian Skoyles at Alderfen Fisheries We threw in Matt Brown as a bonus so the two winners were in very capable hands.
We turned up at 6am on a bleak May morning. The wind was coming out of the East, never a good omen at this time of year, and even Dave the fishery manager didn’t fancy our chances too highly. We chose to set up on the point mainlt because it allowed both guests to fish from the same swim and we could cover quite an area of water.
I rigged up a couple of rods with the new Drennan flat in-line feeders, short 10lb Sink Link hook links to a size 16 hook. Maggots would be the bait today. Blow me if I didn’t get a take within 10 minutes of casting out. Fully expecting a tench it was a pleasant surprice, make that a shock, to see it was a stillwater chub – and a right old clonker of one at that weighing over 6lb. Now that’s the way to begin a coaching feature.
The chub was quickly followed by a five and a half pound tench and then a lump of a perch pushing a couple of pounds.
When Brian Skoyles popped round to say he’d got some carp feeding in the margins and would one of our guests care to come and catch one, everyone was on cloud nine. By lunchtime, when we adjourned to the fishery hut for a feast of bacon sandwiches washed down with mugs of tea and coffee our competition winners had already racked up FOUR personal bests including a 6-9 tench.
Trust me when I say that features don’t really get much better than this. I’ll stick up a catch picture in a day or two when I can get hold of one.
Barbel Days And Ways Update
Work on the next Barbel Days And Ways DVD continues. The closed season is a great opportunity to shoot some of the underwater footage because the banks are quiet and you’re not disturbing anyone. Unfortunately the fish haven’t completely woken up yet and they’re not feeding quite as avidly as they will do in a few weeks time.
Underwater filming is affected by the weather in exactly the same way as fishing is. If the fish are sulking, they’re sulking, and there’s not much you can do about it.
The water quality isn’t as good in April and early May either and if you get dull, overcast days like we’ve had lately the results leave something to be desired which is a shame because this kind of work eats up a lot of time and effort.
On the positive side we’ve discovered a chub in a local river that’s a good 50% bigger than we had previously imagined the ceiling weight to be. We’re talking a monster fish but alas it is guarded by a bunch of sentinels, smaller and quicker than she is and getting a bait in front of her will be somewhat tricky.
The experiments we’ve done have been somewhat revealing as we gauge reactions to small pellets, big pellets, hemp, meat and so on. We’ve been deliberately stringing tight lines through baited areas to determine what exactly happens and that’s quite shocking. At one stage we had a group of control fish that we were using for each of the experiments. It was as near as we could get to a laboratory, if you like. The shoal included a couple of proper lumps, too.
Then Stu came across a kid with a fishing rod…
He left with a flea in his ear but the next time we returned to film it was clear that someone had been fishing our swim. The bankside vegetation was flattened down, piles of weed, no doubt that had strewn the fishing lines, lay piled up on the bank and the fish in the swim were decidedly spooked. Careful feeding revealed the two largest fish had disappeared.
Now I doubt the kids had caught them, the weed in the vicinity and the snags would make landing any fish without chest waders a trifle tricky. And chances are they’d hook the chub first and spook everything, but our carefully controlled experiment room had been compromised.
If two young boys go missing in North Nottinghamshire only to turn up some weeks later, floating in the Trent, you’ll know who to come looking for. 😉
Although the weather is about as hopeless as it gets for rudd fishing I still fancied a day on Mesters On arrival the North East wind was hacking down the lake at a rate of knots and white horses were breaking on the far-end shoreline. It took me about ten seconds to decide my day would best be spent on the ‘little’ lake at the far end. I say ‘little’ but it’s about 7 acres, surrounded by Norfolk reed and you can actually get in to fish in only four spots.
Dave was in the first of these when I arrived and he’d just started getting an odd bite on tares. I dropped in about a hundred yards away and spent the next hour blanking. I didn’t see a fish top or a bubble rise. My swim was dead.
Meantime Dave was catching steadily and Brian Hankin had muscled in alongside him to share the fun. It was tight but I reckoned that I could squeeze in next to Brian without too much difficulty, so there we were, like three little kids, fishing with floats barely a yard apart, betting on who would get the next bite. It took me back 40 years or more to the days when I fished Tilts Pond with me school mates.
Ain’t this the real joy of fishing – the kind of thing Robson Green could never portray in a million years, that it’s not where you fish or what you catch but about the sheer escapism it offers?
Dave and Brian packed up at lunchtime leaving me alone in the swim and I took full advantage. Fishing caster on the drop at about 20 metres I bagged up, taking well over a hundred roach in the three to eight ounce or so bracket. No monsters, just quality redfins with a bite coming practically every cast until I packed up in good time to drive home for tea.
Ethical Double Standards?
The closed season is a great time for taking a foreign trip if you are happy with the moral and ethical conundrum that we feel it’s wrong to fish our own waters yet are quite happy to fish those of others.
I personally have spent many a week fishing in France at this time of year for carp although that has been in stillwaters. Other go to Ireland where it’s still possible to take good bags of bream and roach on the rivers despite what the doom merchants will have you believe. The Low countries are good, too, especially Holland where you’ll find the rivers are still open to angling. Which brings me to a salient point.
I know folk go over to Spain at this time of year to target the comizo barbel (barbus comizo) but how would you feel about catching ‘our‘ barbel (barbus barbus), deliberately, in Holland during the English closed season?
We’re talking about going over there, in the key time when barbel are getting ready to spawn, and fishing for them with pods, bite alarms and bolt rigs, with feeders and pellets…
I wonder how this sits with the Barbel Society members who are so keen to retain a closed season in the UK? Surely not even ONE of their members would commit such an act of hypocrisy, would they? And surely not a high profile one…
I hear the River Waal is on fire at the moment if that’s your kind of thing!
Bloody Minded Waggler Fishing
A trip back to Alderfen seemed a good idea after the weekend’s success but I really didn’t fancy fishing too seriously so I opted to fish the Match Lake. It’s far from a typical match lake in that while there are carp to be caught, the predominant species are probably bream and tench.
Now I’m pretty certain I could have caught all afternoon had I chucked out a feeder. There were plenty of fish showing at about 40 yards in the lee of an island but I’d come to fish a waggler into the teeth of the wind which was still blowing out of the east. Will it ever end I wonder?
I chose to fish maybe 10 yards out, well down the shelf in about 8 feet of water, on the basis that the fish were hardly likely to be tight up against the margin rushes in this weather. Keeping the float still was practically impossible and even swapping the crystal waggler for a 3 and a half swan driftbeater with a swan shot four inches from the hook failed to stop the drifting.
It didn’t take me long to catch a carp, then a bream of about 3lb but a foul hooked tench put an end to the initial flurry. Bites were hard to tempt and I quite like this kind of fishing but I was able to add a few more fish to my net, ending up with three good bream, a nice tench, a good roach and a hybrid. I missed a few bites and came off a couple of foul hooked fish, all on soft pellets over groundbait.
It’s a water I’ll certainly return to when the weather warms up. I’m assured that one hundred pound bags of bream and tench are on the cards and if I can do that on the waggler then I’ll be a happy bunny.
Out of the blue I received an invite to appear at the Peterborough Tacklefest which I’ve duly agreed to. I was there a couple of seasons ago and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It’s a great day out, or two if you go for the whole weekend, and it coincides with the Angling Times Winter League final on the river Nene which runs conveniently alongside the showground. If you’re around feel free to drop by and say hello.
So What’s Next?
Over the coming week or so I’m hoping to get down to a local canal where some rather large silver bream have a habit of turning up at this time of year. In fact I had planned to go there tomorrow but with so much rain in the past 24 hours it’ll probably be knocked off as the River Don water runs into it. And another forcasted deluge is on its way but at least that means the wind is turning round to the South West. Good times ahead, I’m gambling.
If we get a bit of sunshine then my attention might switch to crucian carp. They don’t run massive around here but they’re fun to catch all the same and the hair-tearing bites are no different. Just have to see how things go, eh?
Sunday also sees the grand final of my Climax Tackle sponsored Club Match Angler Championship which will be held at Wold View Fisheries. We’re hosting it on the silver lake this year for a change and I’m really looking forward to seing what comes out. Word is there might be a few clonking roach caught among the bream and carp. I’ll let you know how we get on in a week or two.
For now then,