Thursday, 27 March 2014

Early season trout

If I'm honest I was quite looking forward to the closed season as this more or less coincides with the beginning of the trout season which gives me a change in my fishing. I chop and change between fly and lure as personally i find enjoyment and advantages in both. Early season though i do much prefer the lures, the fish are less willing and I'm just keen to start catching so prefer the ease of lures too. A few of the venues i fish are so overgrown that fly can be a real struggle and more often than not you are spooking them by getting into position and lining yourself up with some casting space.

So for the purpose i built myself a new St Croix 5' 6" rod designed just for the job, you can read more about the rod build here

I had a couple of hours Tuesday as a planned session on  opening day fell through, but I met up with John today to spend abit more time and although Ive caught on the rod i wanted to test it out for what i had built it for. I was fishing with small soft plastics on a size 6 2g jig head and was able to cast an amazing distance with such a light weight.

This beauty was a nice way to test out the rod and it coped with it no problem, I wasn't expecting anything of a decent size so early on but it was more than welcome, even had the start of a small kype jaw which is i think the first Ive had that Ive noticed.

John wanted to give the fly rod a go so we had two approaches, we might have swapped about more if the fish had been coming thick and fast but it was quite slow really but to be expected early season and the water was still very cold to the touch.
A nice fish took a liking to Johns streamer which was a good moment when the line just pulled tight from the take.

Not a bagging up session at all but very nice to be back on the trout which were all in very good condition and went off fit and healthy. The fishing will only improve now as it slowly warms up and i look forward to a bit of dry fly fishing amongst the lures and streamer fishing.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Weedless Opportunities

My river season ended with a bit of a whimper really after doing quite well all winter. I had a few sessions towards the end of the season and am still kicking myself at a few big fish that i missed which would have ended the season in style. It wasn't to be though and despite nothing special i still caught most times out with only the one blank since September which is really good going.

The very last session of the season saw me visiting a small river I'd not fished for a long time, I was hoping to find it much clearer than it was so was disappointed when i saw the colour it was carrying. Ive prided myself all winter on the fact that Ive always got a result out of the worst conditions and sessions so this day was going to be the same hopefully. I wasn't getting any results at all so kind of had one of those 'what the hell, I'll give something different a bash' moments, funniy how they usually end up getting results!

I routed around in my bag for ideas and found a craw type bait which gave me the idea to fish really slowly along the bottom, i routed further and found an old jig head so snipped the hook off just leaving the ball weight and eye, i wanted to use this to make a jika rig.

The rig worked a treat and not long after i got a couple of takes which i missed as a combination of not being ready, not striking hard enough and the fact the rod i was using was a little too soft for this application.

I was quite intrigued by this action and it got me thinking into all the possibilities i had on venues that i had struggled on when the conditions were coloured and weedy bottom. I've never really fished weedless lures on account of not feeling confident enough I'd have a satisfactory hook up rate.

So over the past couple of weeks with the downtime of closed season i have been thinking more into weedless presentations and got some good ideas off the lads on the LAS. Today I had time for a few hours so decided to visit an old haunt of mine that has really gone downhill over the years due to pressure and poaching. I chose this venue because it was carrying colour and is always weedy with the worse types of weed going. I figured it would be perfect to try out some weedless lures and see how they fished.

It took some searching but eventually i got a good take and because of having the weedless lure constantly in my mind i stayed alert and ready for a take at all times so i could make sure i set the hook. I thumped into the fish and was pleased to meet resistance and eventually a jack was on the bank.

The lure and rig i was using can be seen below, the 13cm soft 4play i was using was not the best choice to give me the chance of maximum hook ups, they are abit thick and you would really have to hit any takes to get the hook through all that rubber. However i did a couple of things to improve my chances that i picked up off the LAS, firstly i cut the belly slot in the lure so that it was longer and deeper, this meant that any strike would collapse the rubber a little easier. The second tip i put into practise was to put some Vaseline on the hook, in this case i used a lip balm stick. This idea meant that the hook was lubed so that it would move through the rubber much more freely.

I ended the session with a couple of fish but more importantly i had quite abit of interest that i couldn't convert into fish. This was more down to the fish not taking properly, myself been a little slow on a couple of occasions and once i struck into a bush as i was in a tight swim so didn't get an effective strike.
Some takes i think i hesitated trying to feel for more resistance before hitting it, in these instances i think the fish let go as i struck hard only to find the lure come flying out of the water and having to duck!
Its all new to me though and its a case of getting used to the different way of fishing these types of presentation. I am quite excited though now for future sessions and even when the rivers open back up as this opens up more possibilities of getting results on those tough days and conditions.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Blank Saver

Finally things are falling into place with the rivers, shame its so close to them closing for the season! Yesterday the river i fished looked in excellent condition, very clear and lowest Ive seen it for some time, i thought i was going to have a brilliant day. I fished for a few miles fishing every bit of slack i could find and no fish were showing at all, not even a follow. I decided it was time to go and thought I'd fish the first few pegs i started on as a last chance thing. After walking all the way back and reaching the first swim i cast out and as i was retrieving a 10cm cannibal shad down the side of a bush a big fish ghosted into sight behind the lure right under my feet, it was moving reasonably slow but the last foot it accelerated and took the lure. It came straight to the surface and shook its head in what looked like slow motion which the bigger sized pike tend to do. It looked a big fish and was hard to call whether or not i was looking at a twenty, maybe not but i couldn't rule it out, sadly it spat the hooks with its last head shake! I was gutted after walking so far and not getting any other action what so ever.
I moved to the next swim hoping to rest the first and come back to it, after about three casts i was in again from another nice fish all be it allot smaller than the first but it was still a decent fish not to blank with. After returning that fish i had another few casts and had a follow from a slightly bigger fish which ended the action for the day.

The interesting thing was I'd fished all these swims when i started, and I'd tried a few different lures but when i returned i had a cannibal shad on. These lures are catching me so many fish, i know its a confidence thing and most likely coincidence but Ive purposefully avoided using them the last two sessions and then giving in and clipping one on for it to catch straight away. Whatever the reason I'm not complaining!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

A change of plan ends being a great day with a new PB

Myself and Neil had a day planned on the boats with Pete and Andy for awhile, the plan was to fish a river myself and Neil had not fished by boat before, things didn't go to plan for various reasons so Pete came up with another plan at the last minute. We were happy to go along with Pete's idea as it was a day on the boat and a day to meet up with Pete whom I'd not seen for some time so it would be a good day out.
It was to be my last booked day off work of the year and i didn't even benefit from a sleep in as i was up ten minutes before I usually get up for work at 4:10am I drove over to Neils and we were on our way to meet Pete and Andy. On the way we discussed our chances as through out the week temperatures had been rising then overnight dropped right down and there was a hard frost, hopefully his wouldn't put the fish off too much.
The boats were in the water and ready to go for around about 7:00am, there was already some guys fishing from the bank and they were landing a few pike on live baits which got us thinking of the day ahead. After a short while Neil was into our first fish of the day, an angry little perch that was sticking its fins and gill covers out in disgust at being caught. Its tradition now to take a photo of the first fish on the boat and despite neither of being superstitious we didn't want to risk any bad luck by breaking our trend. Neil followed this perch with a jack that was hooked in the tail which meant it fought like a twenty!
The pike were like rockets, hitting the surface straight away at 100mph after being hooked, Andy caught a few for there boat before Neil added another to ours which went like stink. At this point I was still fish less and was chopping and changing between drop shot and jigging kopytos, then finally got a fish in the shape of a 2oz perch! 
No sooner was i putting my magnificent 2oz perch back than Pete was into a good fish on the drop shot, a cracking perch that went 2.6lb, Pete was very pleased with that as it was a new method he was trying out and was allready really enjoying the change. I still saw allot of fluff whizzing about all over the place though!

I then heard over my shoulder 'im in' and turned to see Neils rod bent over again, Neil then casually said "It must be a pike" followed shortly after by "No its a bloody big perch, get the net!" Only a big perch gives you that excited panicky feeling and the need to swear profusely about the net.
I didn't really get a proper look until we had it in the net in the boat but my reaction was 'Whoa' I've been fortunate enough to have a bit of experience with 3lb perch and even more fortunate to have had a 4lber, despite this being a few years ago now I instantly thought Neils fish was going to be close to that exclusive weight, and this was confirmed when the scales went round to 4lb 1oz
What a fantastic fish and i was chuffed to bits for Neil and it was about time we got to share a PB together. Congratulations Mate! A stunning fish.
It was game on now and I switched over to jigging kopytos more as this was producing more for Neil, that's the good thing about having two on a boat, you can fish different styles and see what is producing then switch over to the most productive method on the day. It was evident this was the right decision as eventually i joined the party with a fish that actually pulled back. They were in super condition and most had very vivid colours and strong contrasted bars. We were catching a few by now and they were all mostly over a 1lb which was a great average.
The next bit of action came from Neil again who was on fire today, firstly he lost a fish which he thought felt like a good pike, we didn't want to think about the prospects of it being an even bigger perch but after a few more casts he was in again in the same area and had this bulky 3lb 8oz perch. What a day Neil was having!
I took my time putting in an appearance put slowly through out the day i was going from strength to strength building up a good tally of fish with my best being a couple of 2lbers, the biggest being 2.10lb. I switched later in the day to drop shotting again and found a few shoals that produced a little flurry of fish.
As the day went on we were getting colder and colder and even putting my savagear coat on over my other jacket wasn't keeping me warm enough, i don't think i could get anymore layers on. It didn't help that for most of the day we were sat in the shade and wishing for the sun to make an appearance.
Pete and Andy had gone for a sleep midday and left us 'young uns' to it. We met up with them later on and it was evident things had really slowed down so we made the decision to pack up and go fish a big slack on a river that we had received a tip off about allot of good fish being caught. We all fancied this so that was the plan for the last hour. Before we left Neil added another fine fish to our tally.
The plan didn't really go to plan so to speak and nothing much was caught on the big slack, in fact we didn't catch allot at all between all four of us, other than 'golden balls for the day' Neil getting a small pike and perch. Pete had a nice pike on which sadly came off close in and he was disappointed to have lost that one.
On reflection the pike didn't really make an appearance at all with just 3 to our boat and i think a similar number to Pete and Andy. We couldn't help but feel the sudden drop in temperature had slowed things down but we still wasn't disappointed with how the day had gone. It was a perch day more than anything with some cracking fish caught and a New PB for Neil so we couldn't have asked for much more. Thanks again to Pete, Andy and Neil for the day out and good laughs and Congratulations to Neil for the fantastic 4lb perch.

Short sessions

Through this last week i had a couple of short sessions. Nothing special but i explored a bit more river and found some good potential for another time. I like to keep a record of my sessions on my blog so i can look back and see what i was doing through the year and what the results were, but as mentioned other than a few fish nothing special really happened so i'll finnish with a few photos that i was playing about with being bored the other day.