Thursday, 29 August 2013

Light Rock Fishing on the north east coast

Light rock fishing, referred to generally as LRF has really taken off over the last few years and its something that has always intrigued me. I don't live close enough to the coast to do it as much as I'd like so when a plan was hatched between myself and my mate Paul, I was really excited the week leading up to it. We did our homework and came up with a handful of areas we wanted to target that we thought gave us the best chance. Having not done allot of saltwater fishing other than on holiday abroad, I wasn't fully sure what the exact techniques were although really it was obvious to treat the environment as you would in freshwater and target places fish would feed or would hide etc. We hadn't given our parking much thought and we ended up wasting allot of time in the morning having to go back and keep adding more parking money to the car. In general we wasted allot of time in the morning moving about and sussing the area out and didn't actually do a great deal of fishing. having said that, it was our first venture into light rock fishing so we were expecting to spend allot of time experimenting and moving about. We saw quite a few little fish in the edges that kept flying up for our isome as we was about to lift out, they looked like tiny pollack but was too small to attempt to take the lures. Eventually Paul found an area that was giving him some interest and he kept getting what takes from what looked like a big sand eel, i knew this to be a Launce, every time he got one on it fell off when it was lifted out the water. Not long after a fish stuck and a nice little pollack was our first species of the day.

Paul followed up with a few more of the pollack before we had a move after putting more money in the car park! He hadn't been long at the new spot when Paul got a Launce and this time it stayed on, species number 2. We started to get abit of interest at this spot then a voice came from close by 'You can't fish there mate' there wasn't any signs saying so but we took his word for it and moved back to where we had started, luckily the few guys that were in the best spot with what could only be described as 'shark rods' had gone. There was quite a few more people fishing now, generally tourists lobbing out pop bottle sized floats or small ledger rigs, but they were catching the odd fish, all of which went in plastic bags smothered with flies.
First few casts and we both had fish, mine was my first of the day so i was happy to have caught. It wasn't actually until later in the day when i had a very small pollack that i started to wonder if most of these fish we were catching at the start of the day, were in fact Coal fish. The little pollack i had was an obvious golden brown colour where as the fish in the morning were mostly with a greenish tinged back. At the time we thought it was just a colour variation but when i got home at night i looked into it and there was many features pointing towards coal fish, the most obvious of which was the greenish back and the light coloured and straight lateral line, the pollack were golden brown backed and the lateral line was dark and curved. The snouts are also more distinctly pointed with a pollack. So that was 3 species!
After a few more small fish Paul got something better casting further out that gave him a good run around on his light Sakura rod. Its surprising just how well saltwater species go for there size. Paul was chuffed to bits with a batter stamp of coal fish.
 The small coal fish had dried up and we spent abit of time not getting much other than a missed take for both of us from what looked like a garfish, they were very green/blue backed and much bigger than a Launce. A shame not to get one but it was another species that we had a chance at.
For me the most frustrating and exciting time of the day came in the next moment. I had spent time previous to our day out looking at LRF blogs and although i had no idea what species were common or not on the east coast there was a few species i really wanted to catch, one of which i did and was pleasantly surprised. I tried something different and just started to let my isome rest on the bottom of a second or two and then jiggle the rod slightly and keep the isome in the same place for longer. I got a take and lifted out a Scorpion fish, I was chuffed to bits to get one of these as they look a really interesting fish and kind of Gremlin looking! Species number 4.
I carried on with the same technique and started to get more fish that sadly kept dropping off when i was lifting them out. I had another small coal fish doing the same. We didn't have any time left on the parking so we was abit disgruntled when we had found something that was really working but we had to leave.
So that was the morning gone and we discussed our time and thought we had done well despite spending far too long mooching about and walking to re-top the parking up. we didn't know what to expect of the day so to get 4 species already made up for feeling of wasted time and we knew that was to be expected as this was our first foray into LRF so we needed the time to experiment and find spots. At least we knew what worked now and what we needed to do more of.
A quick bite to eat and we headed off for a more rocky mark with hope of bigger pollack and maybe wrasse.

I took us some time to find a parking place at the next spot, with it being the last week of school holidays, every family and there dogs had descended on the coast!
The new mark was much shallower and we didn't have any deep water to carry on with the technique that was successful at the last spot so we spent allot of time again mooching about and looking for deeper water. A good while was spent clambering over quite dangerous ground and much care had to be taken, it was so easy to go over on your ankle or slip on this kind of ground not to mention how tiring it was, lure fishing certainly keeps you fit.

Hardly any fishing was done due to the shallow depths and the fact that the bottom was covered in washed up sea weed and kelp. frustratingly we made the decision to abandon this spot and head off for our last which we had high hopes for given it was one of the deepest rock marks on our coast line.
Our last mark of the day got off to a good start with a few missed nibbles and Paul getting another better stamp of Coal fish. Sadly not allot was happening and the spot was pretty well full of people coming and going fishing. had the spot been over fished, was it a case of trying something different or was it just the way it was on the day?

We thought a move was in order so went for another explore further round. We had to put the footwork in to explore the areas and more often than not we wasn't finding good areas to fish. After moving the ground again became littered with loose kelp and weed and was much shallower. After realising we would be better off on the deeper mark trying different things we headed back to give it another go.
On the way back i thought i would have a go in the deeper rock pools for blennies and gobies. Despite still being set up for the deeper water with a bigger jig head and extra shot, i jiggled the isome worm right next to rock, i didn't even see the fish just a dark coloured blur as it shot out grabbed the worm then shot back under. It was another scorpion fish, these fish are so cool!

I carried on the same and started to get interest from blennies but it was difficult to get them hooked so I scaled right down with a really small jig head and just a very short thin piece of isome. You also had to hide behind the rocks and just peer over the edge as the blennies were quite shy and would only inch out before having a go, if they saw you they would hide again. The scaled down tackle really started to work and we was picking up lots of blennies and scorpion fish from nearly every rock. It was great fun and the variety of colours were interesting too. I had a few that were verging on jet black and quite a size too, they were like big evil looking tadpoles. That brought us up to 5 species with the blennies.


It was nearly time to go and leave this stunning coastline, i could have stayed there forever in the rock pools but you can't have too much of a good thing.
I thought we had done well for our first venture and we had learnt allot that would save us allot of time next trip, this would mean more fishing time and less moving about.
The worse part of leaving this environment was the fact that to get there we had to come down..... and obviously to get back there was only one way....... UP!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Abit of a mixture

Through the week i got a phone call from Paul River Piker asking if i wanted to fish one of his spots that produces big fish. I had planned to go out straight from work, so thought id go fish a few spots then go over to meet Paul.

I started off on a small dyke chucking frogs for jack pike, Ive been really enjoying this recently and despite there not being much chance of a decent fish, the hits from the jacks are fun alone. Its like Large mouth bass fishing in the states, the jacks are so lively and hit the frogs hard then continue to jump and tail walk. I just love the noise they make when they hit the frogs its very audible as well as visual. I had about 5-6 altogether before time started to tick on and it was time to put plan B into effect.

I had my ultralight rod strapped to the side of my bag for when i reached a canal spot, so i switched over from my frogging outfit and had a go for some perch. The action was pretty steady and i was picking up plenty of small perch. I was running out of time so i didn't walk too far and just enjoyed the change in method.
At one point I was bringing in a 3oz perch when a big perch came rushing in after it and snapped it in, half of the perch was in the bigger perches mouth! It must have been around the 3lb mark, it let go of the perch straight away. I started to try and flick the small perch off the hook by letting the line go slack but it wouldn't come off, typical! then the big perch kept looking as if it was going to swim away only for it to turn and shoot at speed at the smaller perch, this time though it just kept whacking the kopyto in the smaller perch's mouth trying the steal it. I had to try and get the small perch out quickly and get the kopyto back in the water but as doing so the big perch swam away! brilliant to watch though and Ive never had a perch take another perch before.

In the evening I went over to fish with Paul, I went trying not to think too much about big pike but knowing the kind of fish Paul regularly pulls out it was hard not to. After a few follows and change of lures I got a take on a rainbow savage gear 4play. The fight started off very strange as the fish must have been swimming right towards me and i was having to reel to catch up with it so it felt really small. Then all of a sudden it got heavier so at first i wondered what i had on, not too long after it surfaced and it was neither a biggie or a tiny pike but a modest jack, a nice coloured pike though. I wasn't too bothered that it wasn't a big fish as I'm always happy to catch and not go home on a blank.
we carried on fishing the area and Paul gave me the guided tour, explaining where he had caught his big fish from and letting me know where all the snags were. a few times i snagged up as the river was very low and momentarily i clenched my ass cheeks thinking i was in!
Nothing more came of the session and it was clear that they were not really on it so we cut our losses and headed home. Thanks for the tour Paul...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Last cast syndrome...well second to last...

I'm still grabbing my chances where i can at the minute, with the kids being off school I have to fit fishing in whenever it suits, often i can't plan too far ahead. So today, I was supposed to be taking the kids out with my mother for the day as we usually do when my Mrs is working. We had just remembered last night that my daughter was at a birthday party middle of the day which meant we didn't have time to go anywhere. I had hatched a plan to get some fishing in, while my mother took her to the party!

So I only had a couple of hours to fish after dinner so my mother dropped me off while she went to the kids party, it was a cooler day today but it felt promising. I was going to fish one of my little rivers with weedless frogs, there was weed about but in places you could still fish subsurface lures. However its only a shallow depth and not very wide so frogs usually do well anyway and its great fun.

I got off to a good start with multiple takes and i was doing a good job of winding down and striking into the pike. In previous years i have preferred a fixed spool set-up for frogging but this year Ive been using a more powerful bait casting outfit and i have to say, now Ive got used to frogging with it i can really get a powerful strike and more often than not Ive been setting the hooks. I'd say out of all the takes Ive had this year I'm certainly up on my ratio on how many Ive actually hooked compared to previous years.
The trouble i had today was a result of a previous session, id hooked a pike awkwardly and was forced to crush the barbs on the frog to get the hooks out and cause less bother to the fish. I'd forgotten about this so today although i was hooking the fish they were coming off either when they tail walked or when they were going nuts in the margin as i was about to land them.
I changed to a black frog and continued to get takes but for some reason they were not swallowing the frog like they were with the lighter brown coloured frog. The takes were positive and i even saw a few that open there mouths onto the frog only to find they hadn't actually taken it in. It was very strange.
Just as i was settling into the action and thinking about the prospects of the session it was almost as if someone had flicked a switch and the whole atmosphere changed, the wind got up and then the rain came. The takes totally dried up so i reverted to trying subsurface lures. I walked a good stretch and nothing was happening at all since the weather change and I'd had an action packed start.

I was only travelling light so only had a few lures amongst the frogs so tried a few different things but nothing was working. Then i had one of those moments where you find a lure you bought but ended up not thinking much to it so it never got used again, it was one of those 'i'll try this as a last resort' kind of things. The lure was a red and white abu hairy killer, i remember trying it an could not get it to sink at all so never bothered with it again, but did remember that someone suggested that you need to really wet it and keep squeezing it to get the water into it. This worked and after a few casts it was really sodden and despite its light weight, it cast very well and quite a distance. In the water it didn't really do much other than pulse abit on the pause and run in a straight line so it was a case of mixing the speed up abit and giving it a jerk or two. I'd missed a take from a small fish early on. I then noticed i was out of time and i was supposed to be back at the car park to be picked up, so i had one, well 3 last casts. On the first last cast i had a pluck which didn't feel like weed or anything, thinking it was a small pike maybe i cast back out and drew the lure back through the area, nothing happened so i thought that was it and sped up to get the lure out and rush back. As i sped up a bow wave came behind the hairy killer to the point that the lure was on the surface about to be pulled out when the big shovel shaped head came out and grabbed it, i struck and could see it was hooked well in the scissors. A great fight ensued in the tiny river and even despite having my drag set mega tight to maximise the frogging hook up, the fish was pulling my rod down and stripping line. When they are fit, pike really do have some power! By now my phone was ringing and i was in a panic, i got the fish in, unhooked it then put it in the margin in the net while i phoned my mother to explain.

A really stocky fish was in the net and it looked a good fish, when i lifted it out I was amazed at how wide it was, it wasn't the fat kind of pike where you see the belly hanging down when you lift them up, this fish was solid as a rock and wide with it, an absolute power house. I'm presuming due to its small environment it had grown stocky and not developing into a lengthy fish, the head was a good size but the body didn't quite match. In the end I was a tad disappointed as i was in a right panic and rushed the whole thing, didn't get a weight and didn't really get a good enough photo, its OK but id have preferred a better one. I always catch my better sized fish when I'm alone so i never get a good enough photo doing self takes. It was never going to be a PB but its the biggest Ive had for awhile so i was chuffed to bits, especially on a bogey lure and on the second to last cast, i say that because obviously i had to have one more just in case there was a bigger fish sat waiting!!


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

An inspiring evening frogging on a dyke..

Disaster struck earlier in the week with my Mrs phoning to say her car had broke down, it was due an MOT but we knew it was going to be too much money to make it worth while. The head gasket had gone so it was good bye to that car. This meant we would be down to one car until we get her another, this in turn means with her using my car for work 6-7days of the week it would seriously hamper my fishing opportunities, add to that the fact its school holidays and the depression started to kick in.

It was a case of having to take any opportunity to get out whether it meant getting into a row or not, so yesterday i cooked her tea for when she came home and tidied up around the house.... not daft us blokes! It worked anyway as i finished my tea i let out a big sigh.... and told her as it was.

I don't often get to fish evening as other times of the day are better suited to fit in with my lifestyle so it was going to be a pleasant change. I thought I'd use the opportunity to fish a small dyke that i knew held a few small jacks, its only one foot deep in most places and never deeper than two feet so i wasn't expecting much just wanted abit of fun.

At one end of the dyke was a large patch of duckweed, perfect for frogging so i cast out and drew the frog back through the weed, it wasn't long till it was taken in a very subtle way which is odd for a frog take. The result was the smallest pike Ive ever caught on a frog!
I walked along the ditch and picked up a few more fish and was really enjoying being out fishing in the evening, I even saw a couple of Egrets which are quite rare. I think I had six pike altogether from eight takes which is also a good return for fishing weedless frogs which do not hold the best for take/fish landed ratio. I was quite surprised when i got a half decent fish of upper single size in such a small water, this is by far the smallest water I've fished before at probably less than 8 feet wide and such shallow depths as mentioned previously.

Theres something about the evening light that changes the way everything looks and i started to get inspired and couldn't stop taking photos, even the long grasses looked really interesting. I like the thought of photos telling the story so besides giving a brief account of my evenings fishing already, I'll let the photos tell the complete story.



Sunday, 11 August 2013

4 men in two boats...

Yesterday Saw Neil and myself, Woody and Marshman join together for a two boat exploration of a new bit of river.
We couldn't have a really early start because the slipway that Woody needed to use for his boat wasn't open till 9:00. We decided to go earlier than that anyway in case someone was about and opened earlier. It was really going to be a trial on this bit of river so the later start didn't matter too much.
The night before I looked on google earth and thought knowing the area abit from previous visits I thought we had a chance of getting Neils portebote in from another location close by that would mean we could use the extra time to get set-up before Woody and Paul got there boat in the water. Porteboats have to be built of course so if it worked out right we would all be in the water and ready to fish at around the same time.
As look would have it, Woody and Paul got onto the slipway allot earlier as we was half way through building the bote so they came over to see us and we were all just about ready to troll off up the river. While crossing the river to see us they had already picked up a fish so that was a good sign.
So we were off! Just as we got going we could see that Paul was into a fish already and then not too long after Neil was in on our bote, was this going to be a great day? Its become abit of a ritual to take a photo of our first fish (just in case its the only one we get i think!) so here's the first fish of the day, a nice bristling perch giving a good pose for the camera.

 On we trolled again and within a short time i was in and our first pike of the day was on the boat

Things started to go pretty well and we kept picking up fish, mainly pike, then trolling abit and picking up another, good steady sport. We was pretty pleased with how it was going, and we started to build a tally. We like to try and keep count of how we are doing just so we can get a picture of how the day has been and also a little bit of a personal target to aim for, in the past we have got close to targets and gone on to beat them by trying a little harder so it helps us in a way.
The second half of the stretch wasn't as productive for us and we put that down to the shallower depths. Eventually we caught up with Woody and Paul and had a quick natter about how we had got on, strangely they had caught mostly perch up to that point while we had mostly pike.
The day got abit slower as it went on and we continued to troll up and down the stretch passing woody and Paul from time to time who were going the other way. We were all doing well and the new bit of river was proving to be a good spot.
One of our best spells came from a short burst of perch, we were casting to a tree and every cast getting a perch on over a lb each time, with Neil getting the best at around 2lb

This was the first time we had stopped to cast around features, with it going really well we kept stopping here and there to drift and cast to more fishy looking features, in hindsight we probably wasted far too much time casting that just wasn't producing. You have to try it though and I'm sure from time to time it would prove more productive but yesterday it just didn't. It was evident that trolling was the way to go as every time we caught up with Woody and Paul they had been doing better than us and had spent more time trolling.
Apart from a few stops here and there for a quick cast we pretty much stuck to trolling for the last third of the day, the casting did produce the best perch of the day for us though with Neil taking 3 to 2lb with this fish being the best.

I think another reason we wanted to try casting to features was because the area looked so good for chub and we knew they were abundant on this stretch. Funnily enough when we lost all hope of finding a chub I caught one trolling, not realising it was a chub until it surfaced it gave us our first 'get the net' moment of the session as we really didn't want to lose our one and only chub. It was a nice specimen too

Throughout the afternoon we kept getting closer to our best total fish tally together on Neils boat which was 52 we knew we would probably beat that today so kept counting the fish down and then when we did eventually beat it it was then a case of 'we need to get to 60 next'
We got a call from Paul to say they had got there boat off and had decided to head home, we were still 20mins up river so we thought we would also head home. Woody and Paul had also had a good day with 68 fish and that prompted us to try and get abit closer to there tally so we could feel we had done ourselves justice. Its never about trying to beat the others tally, for myself and Neil we just like to think we are holding our own and never like to think we are doing something wrong if we have a much lower tally.
Through out the day we was enjoying it so much we kept saying things to each other like 'what would really top it off would be a nice perch' then we would get a 2lb perch, then it would be 'we've had perch and pike, a chub would really cap it off' then we got a chub. Towards the end it was 'it would be great to beat our best tally' and yes we did that.... then as we headed back to our launch site we kept saying 'A nice pike would really top things off and give us a good fish of all three species' ....... Neil was in and the fish held low for awhile, we did it again, a scraper double for Neil see us top of our day and we were both chuffed to bits.

The final spurt of excitement (ooer) came in the form of our tally getting ever so close to the 68 mark, so much so we were only about 100m from the launch site and 65 when Neil lost a fish. We really didn't want to beat there 68 as they'd never have believed us anyway!  but it became another target and it would have been a great ending to the day for both boats to finish on the same and a great prospect for the future on that stretch, that would be nearly 140 fish altogether!
So it was now about 50m left and i get a perch, two more to go.... 30m and Neil got a perch, at this point we was swinging them in like they they do in the Bass comps in the states, not wanting to lose them they were in the boat asap! we then had a torturous last 30m hoping for a last fish and expecting a take at any given moment, it didn't come so we went another 10m past the other way just to give us one last chance and when Neil got the last perch literally of the surface as it came up and took as he was about to lift out, we had a right chuckle and couldn't believe both boats had managed the exact same total.
A fantastic day I won't forget too soon, thanks To Neil for a great day afloat.

You can read Pauls blog about how there day went on the other boat here RIVER PIKER a cracking read...

Thursday, 8 August 2013

A lure and fly day..

Yesterday saw me mixing it up with lures and flies again looking for a multi species day.

 I started on a canal with bother the ultralight lure gear and a fly rod to cover any bait fish i might find. It started off well picking up lots of small perch, I thought about just enjoying a bag up day and seeing what kind of tally I could get too. The trouble was i kept seeing fish rising and switching between the fly rod and lure gear. This started to get abit frustrating if I'm honest.
It was nice to mix it up though and pick up a few roach on the dry fly to add to the perch on kopyto's

A bit later on I managed a bleak, they are quite sizable bleak at this venue and Ive had some really big ones in the past.... big for bleak anyway! there actually a nice little fish and take flies really well, last year as i was walking the towpath i could spot them swimming and rising in front of me and put a dry fly about 2 foot in front of the direction they were swimming, it was great to watch when they responded and came up for the well placed fly.

I'd started fishing after work at about 1:30 and knew i still had into the evening to fish, so had planned to move on from my first venue at some point. My phone went and it was the Mr's saying she was going out so if i wanted, i could stop out as long as i wanted. As if i needed permission! With a couple of drinks and a pile of crackers with me to keep me going I headed off for a small river to try and add some different species to my tally. I was thinking about starting on small cranks for the trout, chub and pike, then in the evening i would switch to dry fly and enjoy some proper trout fishing.
Its amazing sometimes how venues change so much in so little time, last time i was here, which would have been a matter of weeks not months, there was none of this weed growth. Some sections were really thick with it.

I had some good days on this stream in late spring and its slowly got quieter and quieter, I was primarily catching trout but did see quite a few chub. My only thoughts are that the trout were more hungry and aggressive earlier in the year, feeding up after the winter. It could be that they have just moved up river as i didn't see a great deal either, the thing with wading small streams is that even if your not catching your getting a sense of what is about as your right there in the water with the fish. The stream was crystal clear today and really low which also didn't help. As it turned out i fished quite allot of the river before i finally got a fish, a smaller one than i am used to here but they are all welcome and each one is individually marked and has its own character.

After missing a few bigger fish when they just snapped at my bean lures and then were never seen again, I made the choice to move further upstream to see if there was more fishing located there. By now it was getting into the evening and the whole place took on a totally different atmosphere in the bright lowering sunlight. In places it was nearly pitch black under the tree canopy.

As it turned out my last fish of the session was to be my biggest, still only average for the venue but after a lot of disappointing hours wading I was pleased with that fish. A shame i didn't get some of the big fish i saw along with a pike that i landed but dropped back in while getting my camera out.