Friday, 20 December 2013

Getting the drop shot bug...

I kept thinking it was Christmas eve today as it felt like my last day at work even though it isn't, this lead me to rushing my work and i ended up getting home a half hour earlier than I usually would. So on the way home the first thing that crossed my Yorkshire mans mind was 'mek the most of't opportunity before Christmas and get ya sen aart fishing'

I grabbed my gear and shot off in the car, it would still only leave me with about 2 hours before having to pick the kids up but that would be fine in the cold weather. As i got out the car and walked to where i wanted to fish i felt the cold straight away and with the wind it felt really biting. I thought i was going to struggle as I'd gone for perch. Then 'drop shotting' crossed my mind after a few discussions just recently and convincing myself that with such cold temperatures the method would work better than just jigging giving the fish more time to move to the bait.
I scratched around in my waistcoat for suitable bits to make a rig, it wasn't perfect but i had enough bits to get me going, i had fluro (no pike water) A reasonable sized hook, a bullet weight and a few lunker city fin's lures. I'd forgotten how to do the knot that enables the hook to sit horizontal off the line so had to kind of bodge a knot which left the hook sitting 'sort of' horizontal. I then just simply tied the bullet weight onto the bottom of the line about a foot from the hook as i wanted to fish close to the bottom.
It wasn't long before i started getting a few knocks and managed to hit one eventually which was a small perch, it felt really small as i was winding in from a deep spot and i kind of hoped it was a ruffe that i know are here  :roll:  i think to really have a chance at one of those i need to scale down much more.
anyway the fishing went from good to great as i started to get more interest and i was really getting into the method, in the past i was unsure whether i would have the patience for it but with this much interest and the excitement of watching the tip rattle or even thump round kept me busy. I was getting some really stunning perch with really bold black bars, not sure if the cold weather contributes to that but there not usually like that here.

I caught this perch that had an interesting mark on it, nothing that hasn't been seen before but thought it looked like a peacock bass 'false eye' so took a quick snap

I must have had about 20 fish and also picked up a a few better fish with one pushing if not 2lb, its a funny year as the perch fishing is still quite reasonable oop north when they usually disappear and can be hard to find, the pike fishing has also been rubbish!

I've now got the bug  :D  and want to do it abit more properly, i also have the excuse to build myself a dedicated rod now. I was using my 5'6" st croix rod that i had recently built and despite not being the best for the job it has a really sensitive tip so it was easy to fish with and did the job quite reasonably.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Organic matter

Sometimes you really notice the great outdoors when your fishing, today was one of those days when the fishing wasn't really happening. The recent rain had left the rivers in a pretty flooded state but i thought I'd go try my luck anyway, better being outdoors sometimes than in.
I got side tracked with the fishing not being very good and started to notice the colours and textures of the decaying matter in the margins. Thought I'd try to capture it in photos, i enjoy taking interesting photos and getting an impression of the little things i see when I'm at one with the wild.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Chasing a result.

Sometimes i think fishing is a bit like gambling, when your winning everything is fine, but when your losing you have to keep at it to get your fix, like chasing your money when your losing it!
I've had some shocking sessions over the last few months and really only had a couple of half decent results, its now at the point that I'm reluctant to go try as things just don't seem to improve, or I'm not sure i can take being defeated again. Bloody winter!!
It should be a good time of year for pike but when I'm targeting pike I'm struggling, yet seem to do better with the perch which is odd as they have usually disappeared by now.

Coming back to the gambling analogy, today i had to get out fishing again to make amends for yesterdays disaster! I had gone to a small river to target pike and on arrival found it very coloured. Come to think of it this was my second session in a week Ive targeted pike on little rivers and struggled. I decided to have a bash anyway and it wasn't long before i got a follow on a savagear real eel which perked me up and made me feel like i had a chance. It didn't improve and i only had two takes in total, one from a 2-3lb perch which surprised me when it took the spinnerbait right at my feet, it was only lightly hooked and after thrashing about it came off!! That's the first perch I'd seen on that river so was more than a bit gutted. I fished on and got a pike on a spinnerbait, it was just about to come into view so i could get a good look at it, but my spinnerbait came flying out the boil as the fish tore off. I went home in a bit of a bad mood and felt the need to get out today to try and just get my fix, basically i just wanted to catch!

I took my converted baitcaster out for a test targeting the perch this time. It was shockingly cold and actually very uncomfortable so i only managed a couple of hours before taking my crippled hands home. In short, i got my fix managing around 20-25 perch which was great fun on the little baitcaster, i even had a few good sized fish to test it out properly.
It was a case of inching soft plastics along the bottom to get a take which is actually quite good fun as its very much visual watching the rod tip and seeing it tapping when a fish had picked up the bait. The rod showed this indication very well along with being about to feel the slightest knock quite easily too.

So for now I'm happy again and feel i don't need to rush out and fish as Ive just caught, once that wears off though I'll probably be back to square one and chasing a result! Roll on spring already....

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Rod builds compleat

Another reason i have not been blogging so much lately is because Ive been busy building things, two rods in particular.

I had great fun early this year chasing trout on the small jungle streams, i used a couple of rods, a small daiwa spinmatic 5'6" and a spro passion UL over 6'. Some of the swims are that overgrown its requires quite a skillful little flick rather than a cast so the 6'+ rods were not really suitable and it was harder work. The spinmatic is a great little rod and bullet proof but its just a bit too soft for trout fishing, you end up missing more takes than hooking up due to the through action cushioning the take.

I decided I would use the winter time at home to build myself a perfect little rod for this kind of fishing, it had to be 5'6" and fast actioned. I chose a St Croix 3S56ULF2 blank that fitted the bill perfectly. After placing my order for the blank, along with all the bits and pieces to build this rod and another rod which I'll mention later. I chose Fuji K series micro guides with SIC rings, not really needed for this application but i also might use the rod for perch occasionally on none pike waters so the extra spend was worth it.

Another thing i wanted to do with my stream rod was to hide the thread of the reel seat which i think sometimes spoils the aesthetics and its also not nice to hold. I also wanted to incorporate some wood to make it have a slightly traditional feel and also have that 'trouty' kind of touch to it, like a fly rod reel seat incorporates wood. I really love mixed materials on rod handles and mixing the corks adds a nice 'custom' look to it. Primarily rods are functional things but that's not to say we can't make them look nice too.

Something else i wanted to make sure i did with this rod was to make myself a rod turner and use proper epoxy suited for the job, with my last build i used 5 minute epoxy which did the job but it wasn't good enough. I was spending more money on this rod so i wanted it to be as good as i could get it. the results are far better.

My favourite part of rod building by a mile is turning the cork/eva, i love it. All my turning is done with a drill and a mandrel i made. You can basically shape it anyway you want easily with different grades of sandpaper.

So here it is ready for spring, I'm really pleased with it and I'm chuffed to bits on the quality of the build, i was abit worried at first spending so much that i wasn't quite up to scratch with building rods and might spoil it.
I still struggle to take photos of rods, so the photos don't really show the scale of the rod and what a delicate tool it actually looks/is.

As you know over the last few months I've taken an interest to building my own rods, this can get quite addictive and I'm always looking for excuses to start another project.
I had a Spro passion UL spinning rod that had lost 2 inch off the top and was sat doing nothing so i wondered if i could make use of the blank. I thought it might make a good baitcast rod with it being slightly shorter so turned it upside down and stuck a baitcast reel on it to try it out for loading and to see if it would be worth while. I was quite surprised how well it cast even as it was set up in its spinning rod state. That was enough for me to want to start another rod build. It was going to be a short handled UL/light baitcast rod for using light soft plastics for perch primarily. I wanted the short handle to make it very 'wristy' I always think a longer handle hinders you when your imparting action with your wrist.

I stripped the rod back to its blank and ordered some parts along with my gear for my small stream trout rod, I didn't want to go overboard as i might as well have just bought a much better blank. I already had the reel seat when i accidentally ordered two in a previous order, so all that was needed really was the guides and some bits of eva and cork for the handle. A big thanks again to Rob for helping me decide on the right guides and correct sizes, the guides are alconite micro guides for anyone interested. I was just going to make this rod simple and practical as it was on a budget....ok that was the plan but when have i ever done anything simple! Not needing to buy anything else to build the rod i could still let my artistic flare go and make it look nice and more 'expensive' or should that be 'mega tarty' 

Again, i just love turning the materials, and for this rod i turned all cork, eva and aluminium trim parts myself. The trim parts were made from scraps of aluminium sheet i salvaged some time ago, its amazing what i have lying around in 'shed 2' that comes in handy from time to time. I just basically cut out a circle with a hole in the centre and popped it on my mandrel in the drill, then simple sand and grind it until you get to the right diameter then drop down grades of wet and dry until its smooth and shiny

like the trout rod I'm very pleased with this one and can't wait to try it out, in the hand it feels brilliant and you really get that 'wristy' feel with it that i wanted.

I'll try to get some photos of my recent rods when I'm out fishing with them so you can get some perspective, as again the baitcaster handle doesn't come across as it is in reality you don't get an idea of the small scale and shortness of the handle, hopefully you get an idea from the bottom photo though.


I Got out yesterday to test my small stream trout rod on the perch, and christened it very early on with a handful of small perch. I was amazed with it on the first few casts, I was only giving it a light flick and had to stop the line as it was shooting the kopyto right across and beyond the far bank. I'm not sure if its the SIC rings, the layout, the rod loading or what but it sure does cast a long way with ease. I dare say it will cast beyond what i would probably ever need.

I didn't get the 2lb perch i was after to test it properly in a fight but did manage 20-25 perch up to about a lb so really enjoyed fishing with it for its first outing, its a joy to fish with and my build quality looks eve better out in the natural light where the whippings and everything show up better. I'm chuffed to bits with it, oh and I've thought of another rod i want/need to build now, didn't think it would be that quick!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Last day on the boat

Things have been very hit and miss lately and Ive also been very busy with other things so my fishing has kind of been on the back burner which explains why my blog has been quiet. I have been out fishing now and then but the results have been shocking and nothing really to shout about. I have been doing allot of building and rod building though so I'll try and find some time to update my blog with all that stuff too.

So at the weekend I got out with Neil for what would probably be the last day on his boat together this year. I was really keen to get out with him at this time of year as I've only been out in summer when its mainly trolling ultralight lures. In winter things really slow down and its not a case of numbers of fish anymore, but hopefully a few bigger ones.
The plan was to troll big lures and stop whenever we found good spots and chuck some dead baits out. This approach is brilliant because your fishing all the time and giving yourself lots of different chances to catch. while looking for good dead bait spots your trolling baits.

I've never actually done any dead baiting so i was keen to see how that went down, i could imagine the excitement actually sat watching a float and waiting for it to disappear, not knowing if it was a 3lb jack or a thirty pound monster!

So we met up and got the boat in the water pretty early as the sun was just making it light enough to see what was going on. When finally in the river it wasn't actually too long before Neil had a fish trolling which was great as we had a good chance of catching more. We always take a photo of our first fish no matter what the size, its now tradition so it now feels abit like superstition if we don't!

We picked up a few fish trolling throughout the day, in fact i think most of our fish came to trolling. I also managed to get my biggest trolled fish so far with this really good conditioned fish, it was proper stocky and look at the size of its fins!

We found a good spot to try abit of casting and for the first few casts we both picked up a fish and missed a few takes. That was fish to both trolling and casting, the day was going great and we still hadn't sat it out for abit and chucked baits out yet.
We found our spot early in the morning but decided to pass it and come back to it later. that time finally came and i think at that point we was pushing double figures of fish which was a good result in the freezing conditions of winter.
It was a great change of pace anchoring up and chucking the baits out, we had a rod each and cast a bait both to the back and front of the boat, the plan was to sit and wait for 30mins before trying another spot. I soon got itchy feet and decided to throw lures around while the baits were sat doing nothing. It was bound to happen, and i managed to tangle my dead bait with a lure DOH! i reeled it all in and as i was untangling my lure from the line on the dead bait rod, the float started to bob about right at the side of the boat! fantastic..... then from the side of me Neil says his float is going too! I wind down and strike and a fish is on! Neil does the same and its double hook up time. Nothing huge for either of us but great to both catch and at the same time, how strange. That was fish to all three methods now and we were really enjoying the day out in the cold.
My first dead bait caught pike

We set up the baits and cast them out again, while they were in station we both cast lures off the side of the boat, as there was always a chance and it kept us feeling like we was doing something. Neil was drawing up from over twenty foot of water when a pike flashed at his lure as it hit it right at the side of the boat under the surface. It was a big fish and all hell broke loose, this was a net job and after hearing Neil say it was only just lightly hooked i netted it first chance i could, i looked across at my float as i netted Neils pike and it was sailing under the surface! Then Neil informs me his float is away as well, now were in a pickle, a big fish in the net and two more on the deads. I strike my fish but it comes off pretty much straight away, Neil does the same and his also comes off. Its all abit manic now and we still have a fish in the net that is potentially a really big fish, we still hadn't fully seen it. Now being in a position to deal with it, i lift it out into the boat, on the mat it looks huge and we think somewhere between 16-18lb it was really fat so we thought it would go to the latter end of that guesstimate. Lifting the scales it sails round to 17lb really quickly then just stops dead, minus the net that would make it about 15lb, neither of us think that's right so we try to zero the scales and try again but the scales have now frozen and wont zero or anything. We didn't get a proper weight in the end because we couldn't trust that the scales were working before they locked up. The fish doesn't even look what size we suspected in the photo, but never mind it was a fantastic fish and really topped our day off brilliantly.

We trolled our way back to the launch picking up a few more pike to take us to 13 for the day. It was a day of a mixture of things so it felt pretty much action packed and we were both really happy going home with what we had caught on the day, can't ask for much more than that.