Monday, 23 September 2013

Rod refurbs...

This year I have been using an old butch light rod for my frogging and it has greatly improved my hook up rate, its quite a bit under rated and I used to chuck 100g on it despite being labelled as 16-50g. Despite this it isn't a heavy or thick blank. I toyed with the idea of buying a blank to build myself a dedicated frog rod then thought why not just strip this rod down and re-build it, there seemed no point buying something that I already had that did the job I wanted well.

The problem I have had with my limited experience in rod building is the fact that you cannot see what your buying so its difficult to gauge scale of anything. I waited up to nearly 4 weeks for my mudhole order to arrive only to find that some of the parts were not suitable. And other parts were different to what expected. The winding checks for example, they are much bigger than I expected and would have preferred something more under stated and subtle but never mind they don't spoil the rod at all but the rod has taken on a totally different path to what I first envisaged. The other problem I had was the butt end of the rod, again the parts ordered were not what I really wanted, I'd bought duplon that was too thin so when I turned it it would be even thinner. In the end I had to buy more parts from guides and blanks and again they were not really what I wanted. I'm happy with the result but there is always somethings I'm not so keen on and would have preferred differently but I'm an artist at heart and that's all part of it, criticising your work and never being 100% happy with it! Its what strives me on to do better next time. So the butt end ended up being as it is but preferably I'd have liked it abit thicker to balance out the proportions.

I've still not got round to making myself a rod turner yet so I'm still using 5min epoxy for my whippings and epoxied sections, it does the job but its not ideal and I know I can vastly improve the next rod if I get a turner made and use suitable epoxy.

I just love doing the whippings and its this part that was quite therapeutic, you can let your imagination go with what you do and even make just abit of string more creative and visual. I like whippings that are subtle on the rod overall but up close show enough to make them look interesting and detailed. I chose brown, black and silver for the the whippings to tie in the mixed handle colour of black duplon and brown composite cork with abit of green on the handle as an extra. Again the most bit I'm disappointed in is the trim cork bits that are a different shade to the handle colour because of the fact i wasn't going to order more from mudhole to finish the rod so had to buy another type from guides and blanks.

I've learnt things while building the rod though that will help improve the next, it is only the second thing Ive built so Ive got to be happy overall with what Ive done. Since i re-built the handle on my spro rod I've realised just how much the customisation effects the way i fish which you wouldn't expect. The very fact that the rods are customised means they are to 'my' taste, its now the first thing that i pick up and i love the way they look, this all makes me happy which in turn builds inner confidence and i think it improves the way i fish. It sounds daft but its true, if you enjoy your gear you enjoy your fishing more, relax, concentrate and fish better.

I hope the photos do it justice as its bloody difficult photographing rods!

I have another couple of rods in the pipeline too, one being a small stream trout rod and the other an ultralight baitcaster. The trout rod won't get done till after Christmas as i wont be needing it till next spring so no point spending funds on that now. I have another Spro pssion UL rod that is rated 2-14g, it has lost the top few inch's so I'm thinking of turning that into a baitcasting rod. I stuck a reel on it today to try it out and it works really well with 5-7g, i tried as light as 3g but it just wouldn't load with that light a weight. cast well though with the 7g and that was just as it was set up for a fixed spool outfit turned upside down. I just tried it to see if it would load.

On the fishing front, I shot out after work to grab an hour or o because my car is in for an MOT tomorrow and wont get it back till the weekend so had to grab my chance. I'm glad I did as it was a fish a chuck, literally! i had loads topped off with the fish below around the 2lb mark. just what I needed before loosing my car all week!
I also found another dead ruffe in the same spot i found another before. This gives me more thought about seriously trying for them on lures one day, they can be quite small so I'd imagine the best bet would be either tiny drop shotted lures or slowly jigged isome maybe? certainly something to give a try one day considering Ive found two dead ones in the same spot. Id love to see a live one in the flesh.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Through the week..

Only been out a couple of times this last week, still exploring the canals for the big perch. Ive also been building a rod out of an old rod that i used a bit this year for frogging and it really suits the purpose, my hookup conversion rate was pretty good since using it so i decided to customise it and make it better. I'll blog photos later when i get round to it.

So i went out twice this week and had some decent results, the perch are still there to be found with the odd bigger one showing. My first session produced more in the way of numbers with better sized perch, plenty up to and over a pound with the best around the 2lb mark.


 Later in the week I decided to try a spot further away, its nice catching fish where you know they will be but its just as nice to fish somewhere different and see what turns up. I started off with a bit of interest from small jacks and perch, the little pike below is a cracking little specimen i do love the micro pike!
The perch were getting abit frustrating because they were average at such a small scale they would not take the lures properly. So decided to walk on further, this proved to be a good decision as i was into a better fish from the far bank which turned out to be a nice chub. Within a few cats I had another of similar size but from abit further down so maybe it was the shoal that had moved on or just another.


It hadn't dawned on me till later than I'd done a treble so took a photo of a typical perch of the day to complete the treble properly, lovely little fish they were just not the usual stamp I'm used to!! Its always great to do a treble just for the variety and interest.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Ci thi later summer...

The last week has really swung round to an autumnal feel and its the first time Ive had my coat on. the nights are drawing in, its getting cooler in a morning and evening and people are even starting to mention Christmas..NOOOO!

So what I consider to be the best time for perch is slowing ticking away and I'm not really getting out as much as I'd like due to work commitments. Hopefully next week will be a better one and work will settle down giving me abit more opportunity to get out.

Last night I took my chance and popped out for last light to see Neil and try another new spot, he got out an hour before me and text me not long after to say he had already had a 2.9lber but the sport from the small perch was really slow.

When i met him on the bank it was evident it was going to be more of a struggle than it had been the other day but that didn't phase us, to be honest you don't easy fishing all of the time. Yes it would be great to start with but it would soon leave you nothing to strive for or look forward to.
We bagged a fair few small perch but not massive numbers, then as we was nearly ready for going as it was too dark to see where your line was going on the cast i got a good take. Nothing huge but a nice perch and worthy of a photo for the blog.

So thoughts are now leaning towards what I'm going to do over the next months as winter comes into play. Still plenty of time for perch and pike on the canals, then it will be more focus on targeting big pike, and I'll also be hoping to do more nymphing for grayling this winter.
But for now, its Ci thi later summer!
Just thought I'd tag on the end of this post as I managed to wangle an hour this evening, I was sat watching the tv with the mrs and she seemed quite happy sat with her laplop playing candy crush saga. So i slipped in the question... might as well go fishing for an hour or so?
I sat thinking about where to go as i had to stay local as it was already six and starts to get dark at 7:30ish, I'd had a few perch recently so thought I'd just do something completely different. I grabbed my #9 fly rod and a box of pike flies and set off.
I was only there 10mins when i was getting swarmed by mosquitoes, it was getting to the point that if i stood still they would be all over my hands. I had a buff in my jacket pocket so put that on and pulled it over my face to try and protect it abit. It started to get really irritating as they were in my face and on my hands constantly, i was getting eaten alive and many times i would see them sucking me and they were already plump and full of blood so god knows who's or what they had been on before me. I would squash them and the blood would burst all over, id also flick them off and could see the feeding spike was still left in my hand! I was literally under attack so i ran to get away from them and back to the car, as i got there i took my buff off in the car and noticed a huge one stuck to my face, god knows how long it had been there but it was the size of a flying ant it was that full of my blood!
Sometimes the itching doesn't start straight away and often it can be up to a day later so I'm expecting the aftermath still to come.
Anyway i only managed one jack in the half hour i actually stopped for, a shame it got unbearable but at least i got a fish for the trouble. One thing about summer I will NOT miss!


Sunday, 8 September 2013

One to remember

Saturday was supposed to be a day on the boat with Neil but typically it rained heavily Friday and wasn't worth the risk transporting all the gear to find the river up and coloured. Instead we decided to play it safe and explore some canal spots.
Neil was in first cast and was off the mark with a small pike, he shouted over "I've got a warm pike" I said "Ya wa?" I went over to see what he was referring to and he told me to feel the pike, it really was a warm pike! just touching its skin you could feel as if it was burning up like when your ill and have a temperature, very strange.
We picked up a few small perch before moving about, I found a few small fish that were knocking my Kopyto as it was coming in, after a few casts without hooking one I was about to lift out when a big perch came flying up from the depths and hammered the kopyto. I didn't really even fight the fish as it was already thrashing about on the surface so in a hurry i bent down and netted it. A nice big framed 2.6lb perch glowing in the early morning sun rise.

We then went through abit of a quiet phase with not allot happening other than a few small perch and missed takes here and there. We walked a good length of canal before finding an area around structure where there was lots of small perch, we had a few of though before it dried up and again we had a walk to another area that had allot of structure.
On the way there was a little ditch that i had seen a few tiny pike in before, I joking said to Neil "watch this" and plopped my kopyto into the massive 3" depth that was actually the deepest part of the ditch! As soon as i moved it a tiny pike came shooting out of some weed and hammered it, unbelievable! Micro pike always have a little charm of there own, pike in miniature or in Neils words "Like a pike but smaller". Just to prove it wasn't a fluke i went and caught another too.

After reaching our next spot we soon realised the perch were not on it here and decisions were made to go fish another canal and try some new spots out, on the way we had a quick hour on a small river, and the first thirty minutes was abit action packed, we had follows and a few missed takes all in one small area. I managed three pike in total that were stunningly marked and coloured, they gave a really good account of themselves too on the ultralight gear and at time just wouldn't give in stripping lots of line. The water was slightly colour tinged so i opted for a black spinnerbait which they seemed to like.

We fished one last spot on the first canal before moving to 'plan B' I was stood next to Neil and we was both grumbling abit about a cruiser that had just been through at ridiculous speed, we nick named the captain 'Turbo Tom'
Neil was working his kopyto down the side of a wall when a small perch came flying up as he was about to lift out, it just about jumped out trying to get the kopyto, as it went back in in made a splash and as it did so we both spotted a big perch come up from the depths to investigate the commotion, Neil quickly lowered his Kopyto back in and both the small perch and the big one went for it, they both moved so fast it was hard to see what happened but we both thought the small perch got there first. The hoop in Neils rod suggested it didn't and after a battle he had a lovely 2lber and we were both chuffed to have got a decent perch each before moving onto our next canal spot.

On the next canal we had abit of a tour stopping off at various bridges and features, some of which we hadn't fished before. It was evident that the perch on this canal were well and truly up for it. Each time we moved area we found more and more fish and it wasn't too uncommon for us to get around 20 small perch in consecutive casts. Not only were they really going for the lures but they were really aggressive and fighting way beyond there size, they were even pulling the kopyto's off the jigheads and a few times we were getting fish hardly hooked just hanging on by the kopyto's tail it was that far down the throat.
We had a couple of odd fish, one of Neils had an almost red dorsal fin which doesn't actually show up well in the photo below but it was quite strange and a nice fish too. Not long after i had a perch that had a really strong pink colouration to it.

After the hectic action form the smaller perch we had another move and hit abit of a quiet patch, not many takes just the odd one here and there. All of a sudden everything locked up and i had that brief 'oh a snag' moment until i realised it was a fish. Another big perch and I was positive this one could have been close to three pound, it was a long and deep fish. We weighed it and it only went 2.6lb, it was certainly a 3lb fish frame wise it just hadn't packed on the bulk yet.

We moved again and had a good flurry of small perch before we decided to move to the last spot of the day, before we went we thought we'd have the usual 'one more cast' what happened next will be something to remember as we laughed so much.
Neil had his last cast and got a small perch, I was stood right next to him and thought i'd have one last cast to get one last fish, Neil also had yet another last cast and we drew the kopytos back through the shoal within a foot of each other, I purposefully tried to match Neils retrieve speed to see if we could get a double hook up at the same time from the same shoal. Neil hooked up then shortly after I did too, we laughed about it and tried to do the same again casting out and running the lines only a foot apart. Neil was in again, but this time i didn't get one, right at the end of the retrieve Neil was about to lift his fish out when we spotted a few big perch chasing in, Neil shouted "quick chuck you lure back in" In doing so, it was hammered straight away by one of the big perch, Neil quickly unhooked his tiddler and as i was netting my perch he chucked his kopyto into the melay. Straight away he was in and another big perch on! It all happened so fast and i netted both fish in the same net! What a brilliant result and we couldn't stop laughing about how it had happened, we made sure we got a photo together with our fish as its not often that kind of thing happens although saying that we have discussed it many times about the fact that the rest of a shoal follows the hooked fish and we should try and cast close to a decent fish to pick off a sibling, somehow it just never times right and until now we haven't had the chance properly to put the theory into action.

Onto the last spot of the day and we were both grinning and going over the double hook up thing, its something we will both not forget.
The last spot was pretty much the same with hectic action from smaller perch, by the end of the day we must have been close to 200 fish between us due to the fact it was like shelling peas fishing into the vast shoals of small perch we had found. The day wasn't over yet though and we had one flurry of excitement to come.
I flicked my Kopyto out along the margin and near to a boat, i felt a few good tugs as a perch was chasing and hitting my kopyto, it didn't hook up but i knew it was a good one by the feel of the powerful tugs. I cast back out and sure enough Another big perch was on.

Knowing they can be in shoals of same size i told Neil to have a chuck and sure enough another good perch took the kopyto.
We stood side by side casting into the area when Neil got one hell of a take that ripped his rod round, it was definitely the best fight of the day as it held low and we didn't see it for a bit. I wondered at first if it was a pike but Neil knew it was a perch by the feel of the head shakes. It surfaced and we knew it was the best of the day. Although we catch plenty of 2's and some 3's they still always look and feel like really huge fish, its true what they say about perch 'A big perch is the biggest fish of all'
The scales went round to 3.1lb which really made Neils day.

Within a few more casts yet again I was into a fish and again it looked a better one, at first I thought it was in the same league as Neils last fish but after picking it out of the net I could see it wasn't quite as big. Still at 2.7lb it was my biggest of the day, and what a day it had been, certainly one to remember for some time!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Fry feeders

I consider now leading up to November to be the best time for perch on lures. The fry have grown on enough for them to be a good meal for the predators and it is now they will be making the most of this and feeding up ready for winter.
I popped out for a few hours last night to try a new spot for perch, well i say new, i have been before but not for a couple of years. The action was pretty hectic from the start with not many retrieves ending with out either a fish on or a take, all small perch to start with but great fun seeing them following in the hooked fish in huge shoals! I could have fished all day in one spot and i soon stopped counting how many i had caught because it was getting irritating remembering what number i was on, it was that good. On the other hand, as good as it is when the fishing is like that you are soon wanting more when it starts to feel a little easy.

I decided to move about more and see if i could find a shoal of better sized fish or just pick the odd bigger one up, moving away from the hectic action was difficult to do though as i started to fish areas with no activity. Eventually I found a few better fish, but it was a case of fishing through the shoals of smaller fish and getting the bigger ones worked up so they bully there way in front.

Absolutely awesome fun on the light tackle, the perch really seemed to be fighting well too. Looking forward to the next few months now with hopefully some really big fish to follow.

Monday, 2 September 2013

A day afloat

Ive not being doing a great deal of fishing at the minute and it always feel strange when i haven't. A week can soon feel like a month! The kids are just about to go back to school so i should be able to find more time again hopefully.

On Friday I had another day on Neils Bote trolling and casting for pike and perch. We both had a trick up our sleeves that we thought might add a different dimension to our day.
To be fair the river had still not fully got over the rain from the week previous and although the levels were fine the colour was still running through and it wasn't ideal. We started to pick up a few fish here and there which was actually a surprise as we thought it would be more of a struggle.

Neil with the first of the day, a trend that is becoming so familiar, I'm sure he brings the same fish along and clips it on when I'm not looking!

We carried on heading up river and on the way we both lost off what felt like better sized fish with only seeing a glimpse of them before coming off. We had built a tally of around about the early teens when we reached a spot we knew always held fish and this is where we intended to bring out our secret weapons!
Neil wanted to give live baiting a shot in this spot as we generally pick up better pike and good sized perch here. We saved a few ideal sized perch from earlier to use as bait, as soon as Neil cast one out it was snapped up in seconds, after a good fight and nearing the boat it then came off. Another bait when out in a similar area and again with seconds it was gone, sadly the same happened again and the fish was lost. Neil really wanted to land one of these fish as he was using a really old set up he had from younger days and wanted to land a fish on it for nostalgia. While he was casting into a few different areas, i was running my soft shads through the swim and had two pike, one on a 3" yellow dragon phantom shad and the other on a 4" savagear cannibal shad. Not massive pike but great fighters on the light gear.

A little later as my takes had dried up, Neil put another livo into the hot area and once again in was sailing away in seconds, hopefully this was going to be third time lucky and it turned out it was as the fish stayed on. We got a photo with the rod and reel in view for memory sake.

My plan was to give drop shot a go in this particular area as usually we do really well for perch here and often get a few big ones, we always notice that the takes come on the drop too so i wondered if drop shotting would find us more fish. there was no perch showing an appearance to normal tactics so i thought I'd leave it till on the way back to have a go hoping the perch would have moved in.
The day got slower and slower and we really struggled at times to find fish on the troll, we had a few little spells of catching small perch and a few pike by casting lures to walls and other features but in general it wasn't proving to be a good day after the promising start we had in the morning.
On the way back I got my chance to try drop shotting in the hot spot, and despite there still being no action on the kopyto's i had to have a go with the drop shot. The thing about drop shot is that it needs a proper set up and lots of patience. I only have the latter in very minimal amounts and i didn't want to keep changing set ups or take another rod for it. The night before I came up with the idea of making a hook rig that i could just clip on and off if i wanted to change to drop show quickly. This was basically just a hook with wire passed through the eye and then twisted to form an eye at both ends of the hook eye. This enabled me to clip mu lure off my trace and clip the trace onto the dropshot hook making an 'up trace' as protection from pike. On the bottom eye i then had mono tied to a weight.
I worked this in the hot spot for a few minutes before eventually i saw the rod tip bouncing away so gave a brief pause before striking into the fish. I was chuffed to get a perch and on the right day i think it would really hammer some fish.

Neil then thought he would catch the smallest fish of the day on a kopyto!

That was pretty much it for the day, we had a tally into the mid 30's so we did ok to be fair, sometimes I think you just want more when your used to catching more. We both always enjoy it no matter what and this time was all about trying a couple of different things that might really make another good day an even better day if it is more successful.