Saturday, 29 September 2012

"Warts N All"

    Wart's n all

Reading some of the article's in the magazine's and book's etc, it seem's to be just me that disaster's befall, you know the type of writing i refer to , got to the swim at first light in time for the feeding spell that i had predicted would happen according to the moon, the pike god's and the way my shit curled to the right when i took a dump last night, had a couple of 20's then home in time for a full English breakfast and a romp round the bedroom with my Kylie Minouge lookalike missus, Yea right you did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A couple of recent event's have made me reconsider my position as king of the ball's up's and i no longer think that I'm on my own as the Frank Spencer of the piking world, it would be fair to say that I've had my fair share of misfortune , both fishing at home and abroad, let me try to enlighten you to the type of situation i get myself into, First trip to the Ebro in Spain and after a weeks fishing, my departure date was unexpectedly put back because of the ash cloud,and spent the next 30+ hours on Barcelona airport floor, now i know i can't do a lot about volcano's but the fact that, of only 2 flights that were allowed to leave , one of them was Webbo's flight to Doncaster, which was a kick in the plums, but c'mon Fekin Doncaster I didn't even know Donny had a bloody airport, another trip to meccy saw my passport going walkies and my flight home on the Sunday departed without me as the British embassy didn't open till Monday , the kick in the spud's this time coming from my missus for being a couple of days late ( i did get a 139lb fish on the sunday i was supposed to be home ,and the piss-up that night was a cracker, one of them piss-up's were you have a proper piss and sh*t in your under cracker's so all was not lost ) .

When I'm fishing away from home for some obscure reason my arsehole seems to go on strike for a few days and all the beer, kebab's and other stuff you consume when away with the lads, backs up like a blocked bog, now this particular morning I'd woke up ready for a bangin shit so bog-roll underarm off i went to release the bowel movement that was brewing , after finding a suitable tree to rest my back on away we went and as is custom it was thicker than a babies arm and i was soon in danger of a bit of backlash when i decided to nip it off and move to the next tree, anyway before this story gets anymore disgusting all i will say is a two foot turd and wearing crocs is not recommended, it took days to get it from under my toe nail's.

A lot of my misfortune of late seems to stem around boats, and i maybe started with a trip to one of the lakeland water's and involved my first boat a mayland 14ft with cuddy , the weekends fishing going rather slow which is nowt new with me and the early bath in mind, we headed home but a shortage of fuel had me pulling into the service's on the M6 only a few mile's from home , a few quid in the van and as we pulled away from the pump, a loud bang and the scraping of metal on concrete saw the brakes applied and a trailer wheel rolled past the van , bounced up the kerb and into the kiosk wall with no damage done as me and my mate watched opened mouthed, i suppose we counted ourselves lucky this didn't happen while we were doing 60mph.

It was this incident that saw me sick of make do and mend and from now on i was going to do it properly, and spent a gazillion quid on a brand new 16ft boat with matching 60hp 4 stroke Suzuki and brand new trailer, i then spent another wazillion quid kitting her out GPS, fishfinder, leccy engine the full monty, nice new shiny boat,nice new shiney mitsubishi warrior to tow her and i was the dog's danglies, up to the biggest loch i could find in SW Scotland only to be told to piss off back to England and come back next week as i'd forgotten to bring my proof of insurance ,i tried begging and pleading offering a few quid even offered him my arse but no way was he letting me fish, i think he thought i was the heathen bastard descendant of Edward Longshanks and he was William Wallace's brother, anyway back again  the following week for 3 days all was going to plan with a good few fish coming to the boat until day 3 and the rain started and the night to be spent on the bank being the easier option rather than sit out in the rain all night with the rods out, the boat was tied off to a convenient tree stump in over 2 feet of water, while we had a meal and slept blissfully on unaware of what was happening outside, when we awoke the drumming on the bivvy told us it was still raining and with thoughts of the boat being washed away with all the water we quickly got dressed and went to survey the damage, only to find the boat completely on dry land, some bright spark(told you that Bobby Davro lookalike bailiff didn't like me) had decided to open the sluice gates and reduce the water level by about 4 feet, last night she was sitting pretty now she looked like beached white whale,

What about the time a weeks fishing was booked on the Norfolk Broads, a couple of days into the trip all was going well until the temperature fell rapidly overnight and she was frozen solid in the boat dyke completely encased in ice.

What about the time we had been tope fishing out from Fleetwood and recovering back onto the trailer only for the winch handle to shear off, with a 10mph wind going one way and a 5knot tide going the other things went from bad to worse rather sharpish the boat being tossed about like an empty crisp bag in a tornado the crunching sounds telling us the hull was coming into contact with the concrete slipway and barnacle covered mooring posts, she still bears the scar's

What about the time the locking catch on the winch failed while reversing down a shingle beach on a big lakeland water and the boat sliding off the trailer onto the gravel and another battle scar

What about the time the bonnet flew up on the car on our way fishing , that doesn't sound to bad until i tell you we were doing 75mph on the M61 ( though that wasn't my car)

And don't even mention camera's and batteries

What about the time !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God I'm an unlucky bastard, and i wouldn't change a second of it for all the tea in china

Tight line's and be lucky

Tony Pieman

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Weighing Game

Lee Corrigan

It was spring 2001,whilst fishing Lough Derg with my Old friend the late Dave Overy.  Dave told me that he was going to fish a lake in the Irish midlands the following day with Darryl Grimmason to Film an episode for the angling programme “Coast to Coast”, it was to be called “The Pot Lake”.

The Pot Lake is approx. 80 acres,  Gin Clear Water, 12 – 15 FT Avg Depths with a small area of 18 – 21 Ft with Roach, Perch, Tench,Eels, Pike and the odd wild brownie present.  The lake gets heavy weed growth which makes it very difficult to fish from June to  October.  Dave rang me the same evening to say that they had caught a few good doubles to 18 Lbs.  The Lake had been taken over recently by the local Trout Club and was being stocked with 1500 Brown Trout.  Dave reckoned I should keep an eye on it for the winter.  

Horton with a jack caught 22lb
Dave had fished The Pot Lake, 4 years previously with a couple of big fellas from Reading, one of whom  had a 25lbr.

Ade with a mid 20

 At this stage Dave had moved on, the Big Irish Loughs are where he wanted to be.   A few phone calls were made and I became a member of the Trout Club with use of the club boat and oars, as a no engine rule was in place.  It was mid -October, the trout boys were gone and I was on the Pot Lake.  The weed growth was unreal, 80 % of the lake was unfishable but I did manage a couple of low doubles on float trolled Roach from the 18-21 Ft area.  The Pike didn’t  look like they had been feeding on Trout, being very thin but in good condition.  Driving home that evening, I wasn’t convinced on catching big pike from there.  All that weed making fishing difficult, skinny pike and “Did they really put  1,500 Trout in there?”  I decided to go back maybe Mid November, when the weed should have died away with the wind and frost.

In the meantime, I was back on my old haunts, Derravaragh, Iron and Derg.  Derravaragh was particularly kind to me Nov, Dec and Jan. with fish to 26lbs.  It was Feb 8th 2002, I was back on the Pot Lake with my roach fishing buddy Neil, who would be my boat partner for the day.  It was mild, light south westerly and light rain.  The order of the day was to float troll 1lb bream under the oars set at 5Ft.  We headed down towards the deep water, it was Gin clear with weed still present 10 ft down in 15ft of water.  I have a take, it’s no Jack and it puts up a good account of itself.  It’s 16.8 pristine and fat. My hopes are high!  3 hrs later, not a touch until trolling out of the deeper water towards a point with 12ft of water.  Bang the bait runner screams off.  I’m using a 3 Hook Rig so after 10 secs I wind down.  I can feel the fish head shaking and I’m happy the hooks are set.  The Pike comes alongside the boat, 5 ft down I can see it.  It looks 25ish. Three powerful runs off the tightly set clutch and Neil does a good job with the net.  With the fish resting in a net over the side, she looks pristine, fat and similar in length to my PB of 29lbs from Lough Derg in 1999.  I’m confident that I have broken that elusive 30lb mark.  Neatly hooked in the scissors, the hooks are out and into the weigh bag she goes 29lb 2 oz.  I am elated at catching such a fish from a water of this size and so wanted it to be a 30!!.

Pot Lake 29.2

  I am already thinking ahead  about what size this fish can grow to feeding on the next stocking of Brownies.  Two more trips in Feb produces four doubles and two fat low 20,s.

March 1st, 1,200 Brownies averaging from 1lb -1.5lb are stocked.  The Trout boys are everywhere, the pike are well fed and I dread being seen catching a Big Pike, so I decide to throw in the towel until Oct.  All I have thought about that summer is getting back on there when the trout boys have gone and how much bigger the 29 has grown?  It was Late Oct, myself and Neil are back on the Pot Lake, its very weedy and flat calm.  We get a run to a float trolled Roach in the middle of the Lake.  The fish buries itself in the heavy weed. Neil eventually bullies the fish out, it is 23.14 and later turns out to be “the 25 “that the Reading boys had caught five years previous.  It was a big old brute with battle scars and was surely a bigger fish at one stage.   I had decided that I would concentrate all my efforts that winter on The Pot Lake and make the most of the fishing while it was there.

Working 9 – 5 meant that I had to fish Saturdays and the odd sickie off work during the week.  The odd club member would come onto the lake if the weather was settled but they usually did this on Sundays and packed up after a few hours when their hands got cold from spinning.  I fished hard through the winter, fishing mostly alone.  The odd  20 and a lot of doubles coming to float trolled baits.  But I really got amongst the better fish when I concentrated on the small area of 18-21ft with float ledgered dead baits.  Trout and Lamprey out scoring everything else.  Approaching Feb ’03, I had caught 11 20’s with two more good fish at 25 and 27 pounds. 
Recapture of 29……….at 24.8
February 3rd 2003 I was back. Where was the 29? Had she died after being captured? Or had a club member got lucky and maybe killed her? I really was enjoying the fishing but I wondered if I’d ever catch a 30 from there. Sitting there anchored up in the deep spot I had a run on static bait. The fish comes close to the boat, I can see it clearly it’s a mid-double. It makes for the anchor rope I turn the fish away when in the corner of my eye I see the float on my second rod is on the move so I engage the bait runner on the double and I wind down on the second rod, the fish feels heavy and immediately takes line from the clutch, after a few dives for the anchor rope I have the fish in the net it looks a mid-20. Secured over the side with a bungee around the seat, I then hand land the double, with both fish now in the net over the side, I lift them both in, the double goes 15.8 and the second fish goes 24.8 a quick photo was taken of both fish together on the unhooking mat. A few days later the photos are developed and as usual I check markings for recaptures. My suspicions are right the 24.8 is a recapture but not one of the low 20’s I thought it might have been, it’s the 29 from February 02. I was at a loss to explain how could it not be a 30 with all those trout going in as well as me throwing the left over baits in every time I packed up. I felt I’d been robbed. The following week 500 trout were stocked. That was the end of the pike fishing for me that season on the pot lake.
Over the next winter I fished it on and off when the weather was too bad to fish elsewhere. I brought good piking friends there who also had 20’s. over the few seasons I’d fished there I’d had 22 20’s with the best fish going 29, 27 and 25 with 12 of the 20’s being individual fish and the 27 being recaptured at 22lbs. The only thing I could think of was the pot lake pike hit a ceiling weight of high 20’s and then dropped back again. The trout boys were not getting the returns and they said the pike were to blame. They moved away to nearby trout clubs and the trout stopped going in.

Karl on a break from Float Watch
It’s a long time now since my times on the Pot Lake. Although  my dream of catching a 30 from there never materialized.  I really did enjoy it, even meeting a big English farmer minus his rabbit to photo a 23 on my last visit there!.

Lee Corrigan
I dedicate the pot lake story to David Overy as without the tips from him, I wouldn't have fished it

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Secret Mere - Danny Taylor

The Secret Mere.

I came across “the secret mere” a few years back whilst doing some woodland clearance and coppicing work for a customer. Whilst taking a break I had a walk around the estates grounds and stumbled upon paradise. On the edge of some woodland at the south of the grounds lay a small lake of a couple of acres, the water was gin clear with deep shelving margins. Sedges and wildflowers grew around the lakes banks and in the water aquatic plants thrived.  

Dragon flies hovered and hawked and the only sound which shattered the lakes spell was the mew of a hunting buzzard in the distance. The lake looked undisturbed, no trodden banks, no litter and no sign of another living person. 

 I searched the water and as I walked along the northern bank my pulse quickened and my eyes bulged when a group of three superb common carp ghosted into view. They were not fat, bloated specimens but long lean and powerful looking fish. Was this a dream? Had I fallen asleep on my break? This didn't seem like reality but if it was I had to make the most of it. An opportunity like this could only come once in a lifetime, if at all. 

I contacted the owner to enquire about the lake. I was told that the place had not been fished for years. He was unsure about fish stocks but was more than happy for me to fish there providing I returned all the fish I caught and left no litter.
That very evening I returned, so keen was i to discover more about this hidden gem, armed with a rod, net, rucksack and a tin of the yellow peril. I felt like a child at Christmas; it was like being part of an angling adventure written by the likes of Yates, Hearn or B.B.
The evening was overcast yet with a sultry heat. I stashed the tackle in the long grass and took a bucket of corn for company, searching along the margins looking for tell-tale signs where fish could have fed. A handful of corn here, a handful there. I made my way around the water. On returning to my tackle, I sat down in the grass and pouring a drink from my flask, I took in the atmosphere of the place. The lake was still and all around hung the smells of summer.
After a welcome brew I made my way back around the water rod in hand, checking if any "visitors" had taken up the offer to dine on the golden kernels. The first few spots lay undisturbed but on checking the next baited area I froze stiff as a small common was feeding confidently. Not the hoped-for monster but the first fish from a new water is always memorable. I began to bait the hook. A movement in the water caught my attention, the grey green shape of a Tench moved into view. Now this was no ordinary Tench, this was simply breathtaking. Words like enormous and monstrous ran through my mind. I was aware of nothing else, only that this Tench (a male) was bigger than the carp!
The Tench moved around the bait and then dropped down, tail-up, feeding on the corn. The water began to cloud as the fish competed. I snapped out of my trance, this was my chance. The float was cast beyond them and drawn back. Time stood still until the inevitable happened and the float jagged under, the Tench bolted to the right but the common remained writhing and battling, attached to the hook. DAMN!
After a spirited scrap in the deep margins the common slid over the net. I wouldn't usually weigh such a fish but i had to get an idea what the Tench could have weighed. On the scales the fish weighed 10lb and ounces. Things had now turned very serious - I was fishing on a lake I had to myself which contained a double figure male tench! 

I couldn’t get the image of the Tench out of my mind. A truly awesome creature. All I could think about was the mere and its inhabitants. Time dragged on and the real world and work got in the way. Finally I managed a trip to the water it had only been a couple of days but it felt like a lifetime. As I made my way through the woodland and stepped out onto the banks of the mere, all thoughts of work, relationships and commitments drifted from my mind, it was good to be back.
Nothing had changed, it was as if I had never left. The day had been hot and sunny. I did a few laps of the mere searching the margins but there were no signs of the Tench or for that matter any carp. I baited a couple of margin spots then sat and scanned the water. Out towards the middle of the mere a thick weedbed grew. It was here that i noticed the dark blue shapes of basking carp. Lazily they enjoyed the last of the evening sunlight. There were some good carp present, some looked over the 20lb mark - no monsters by today's standards but to me these were special carp. Had they ever felt the sting of metal or the touch of human hands? Unspoilt golden-scaled commons, they cruised in and around the weed sucking at the foliage.
I made up a PVA bag containing floating dog biscuits and a small stone to give it some weight. I catapulted this upwind and let the mixers drift down towards the carp. They never so much as flinched as the biscuits passed over them. I've notice this before with wild carp that are seldom fished for; it's as if they do not recognise floating baits as food and therefore ignore them.
All very frustrating, the evening wore on and all too soon the dark fingers of twilight stretched over the landscape and it was time to call it a day. I checked the baited margin spots but they remained untouched. There was no sign of the big Tench.
That week the weather turned for the worse and some big south-westerlies swept across the country bringing with them wind and rain. There had been substantial rainfall and when I returned to the mere the usual clear water had been coloured by the rain. Stalking wouldn't be an option. I opted to use some watercraft and headed for the windward shore; there had to be fish here, the wind was hacking into a corner and it was here that I baited with a good helping of hemp and corn.
I set up an Avon rod with a float, fished lift-method, and baited a size 10 hook with three grains of corn. Settling down, it wasn't long before tell-tale bubbles began to break around the float on the water's surface. The float bobbed and swayed as fish began to rip up the bottom. The already coloured water began to turn a darker shade around the float as the fish really got on the bait. My heart pounded with anticipation, any minute now, any minute now I said over and over to myself. In the blink of an eye the float lifted half its length and then buried. The rod hooped over and the reel yielded line as the fish went on a turbo-charged run.
The fight was long and dogged which is often the case in deep water, my arm began to ache which is always a sign of a good scrap. With some relief the fish was netted and peering into the mesh there lay a magnificent common carp; long, powerful and lean. I set up the camera and took some self-takes amongst the buttercups. 

 Cradling the carp in the net I carried it away from the swim and released it. Returning to my pitch I baited again with a good dose of hemp, then poured myself a brew and let the swim rest.
I flicked out the float and soon the odd bubble broke the water's surface. The feeding did not seem as frenzied as earlier but without any warning the float just disappeared. If the last fight was good then this was in a different league, as the unseen adversary was relentless in its struggle to evade capture. I failed to stand my ground and ended up grabbing the net following (or is that being dragged) down the bank. After some time the fish tired, wallowing on the surface coughing water. Into the net went the carp, 22lb of power, a memorable fish.
Tired but happy I did the self-takes more than content with my evenings sport. The weather remained settled and after banking the two commons I was gagging to get back and try for the monster tinca.

  I had to come up with a game plan. I decided that I would continue to target the margins and only fish when I could find and encourage the Tench to feed on its own. Two weeks passed by without a sighting of the Tench. I was averaging three trips a week to the “mere”. On most occasions I could get one or two of the resident commons to feed but they where mainly small and I refrained from catching them in fear of alerting the Tench to the possible danger of my carefully cultivated margin traps.
Had I dreamt that I had seen the Tench? Was it merely a figment of my imagination? No! I had seen this fish clearly feed alongside a carp which was caught and weighed. This beast was fact, not fiction, and I vowed that it would be mine. The one thing that did perplex me is that no other Tench seemed to be present in the Mere. Was this the reason why this Tench had attained such an impressive size? I could only second guess as to the reasons for this and it only helped to fuel the mystery that surrounded the Mere.
It was dark as I picked my way through the wood, eerily quiet, not a sound. I emerged by the banks of the Mere as the faint light of dawn crept in from the east. It wasn't a classic angler's sunrise, no mist-clad lake, steaming and glowing in the rising sun. Instead the lake was calm, slate grey in colour and the sky was laden with cloud. However the air was warm and the atmosphere was expectant.
With the settled conditions the water clarity had returned. Five margin spots were primed with a liberal helping of hemp and a pinch of corn. I set up a base camp where I would keep my tackle and every 40mins I would do a circuit of the Mere and check my baited spots. The trip would last from dawn until dusk. I began my lonely vigil in the only way possible and fired up my stove for the first brew of the day. Morning turned to afternoon and the light values had changed little, almost like a perpetual dawn. Afternoon slowly melted into the grey of the evening, the sky changing little. The Mere and surrounding woodland and pasture had remained unnaturally quiet. Not a bird nor animal stirred, no fish rolled or jumped, not a breath of wind ruffled the surface of the water. The atmosphere was oppressive, electric like when a storm is building; it was as if the place was holding its breath.
I set off on what seemed like the hundredth circuit of the Mere, now more in hope than expectation. The first spot I had baited was just off the edge of a small shrub growing in the margins. As I approached the spot I dropped to my knees and inched closer, peering into the waters edge - and there it was, the Tench! It's huge paddle-tail tilted up, wafting and furling, it's mouth buried to the gills as it searched and sifted through the silt for the shiny black seeds. Classic pin-prick bubbles slowly rose from its gills and burst on the calm water's surface. This was it. My hands trembled and my temples pounded with the beating of my heart.
Baiting the hook I made an extra long cast beyond the fish and drew back the small crystal float. I watched as the corn sank agonisingly slowly towards the feeding fish. The Tench carried on busily feeding, unaware of my presence. The first battle was won.
The fish righted itself, it's beady red eye focussed on the corn, and in one movement tilted down and sucked in the hookbait. I struck but instead of the expected power-driving run, the Tench turned on its side and wallowed up to the surface. In one swift movement it was engulfed in the net! The fight was an anti-climax but the sight that greeted me when I peered into the net took my breath away.
No words could ever do this creature justice or convey to the reader how immense this tinca was. Its flanks were unblemished, fin perfect, never before touched by the hands of man. It's huge stone protruded from its belly, a male! On the scales it weighed in at eleven and a half pounds. A PB never likely to be bettered. I took the pictures and at that moment I felt like the proudest angler on the planet.
With respect, I released the creature, packed up and left the Mere, never to return. 

Danny Taylor