Friday, 29 August 2014

Targets, milestones and a deformed carp

Last season (2013-14) was a good season for me, I reached some targets I had been aiming for, caught fish from new venues and generally enjoyed the winter campaign.

My season though did start off slowly, October was the hardest fishing I had experienced that time of year with just four fish coming my way, a poor return for the effort put in. 
I had become jaded with fishing my same old venues and new ones had to be sought out, and this is where I owe a huge amount of gratitude to both Denis Moules and Jonno Myles let me explain. I had my eye on a drain out in the middle of nowhere for a while, but apart from the odd chuck with a lure I hadn't really fished it, and on the odd occasion I had looked at it, it looked uninspiring with no signs of life. However, after talking to both Den and Jonno, it transpired it was worth fishing, so mid November saw me making my way over for my first proper go on the place.
I had planned to only fish the morning and then go else where in the afternoon. Upon arrival the sun was just starting to creep up and the sky was fire red, it really did look like a scene from lord of the rings. There was a nice breeze blowing down the drain putting a nice ripple on the slightly coloured water, but the drain had been pumped off, still my hopes where high, a quick cast around found 3-4 foot of water, so out went three baits; a sardine, a bluey and a herring.
The first action arrived after about 15 minutes, a bloody swan giving me nice clip out take, after recasting I sat back down only for the recast bait to be on the move again and a low double was the culprit, a good start I thought. Things went quiet then after, so I then slowly moved down the drain, and not long after moving my half bluey was off and a nice, immaculate mid double was landed.

A quick picture was fired off and back she went and I recast, not long after recasting the bluey was away again and upon striking I knew it was a better fish, the fight though was unspectacular and soon a large framed pike was in the net, scrambling up the bank I had a feeling the fish was going to be close to twenty, luckily the scales confirmed she was well over twenty coming in at a shade under 23lbs, pictures done and she was released (more of this fish later), another mid double completed my morning on the drain and |I left knowing I would be back. The afternoon was much quieter but right on darkness a brace of mid doubles completed a fantastic day.

November was a turning point in my season where fish started to come with some regularity and it was nice to get back into catching pike after a summer of carp and bass fishing.

As we edged into December I had a look back through my fishing records, though I only record pike over 10lbs and I noticed that I was getting ever closer to one hundred doubles in 2013 so decided for the rest of the month to push myself to try and achieve this, though numbers are not important to me it is nice to hit little milestones like this. Anyway despite a lot of effort put in, I finished up just short on ninety seven, not that I was complaining, it had been a fantastic year.
At the turn of the year another milestone crept into view, one which I was desperate to reach, as it stood I was on seventeen, twenty pound plus pike and I was thinking that maybe making it to twenty, twenties was a realistic target for the remaining part of the season.
January started off well with a few nice doubles coming my way, including a couple from a new estate lake I tried, I also managed to add another twenty to my list, so it was a case of one down, two more required to reach my goal.
February started off much the same as January, plenty of doubles coming to my rods up to 19lbs, so bloody close I thought but not quite close enough. It was the end of February and I hadn't managed to add another twenty to my list and was starting to think it would be next season that my target was reached, but on my last trip of the month the only run of the day turned out to be my nineteenth twenty, its back on I thought.

March I have always found to be a strange month for piking, sometimes it was be fantastic and at other times it can be dam infuriating, specially if you can see the pike and they steadfastly refuse the bait. Anyway March found me back down the drain where I visited in November, it was bloody cold, the drain was very, very low, my baits sitting in about 2 and a half feet of water, today I had bought a bucket of lives with me and I'm glad I did as the float on my ledgered live bait rod indicated the tell tale sign of a take, line out the clip and a swift strike and I knew it was a big fish, after a lot of plodding up and down the drain the fish was soon beaten and into the net she went, I instantly recognized the fish, it was my twenty from back in November, and it had been only a couple of weeks since I had last seen her on the bank, that time to someone else. I therefore knew she was still over twenty so didn't bother putting her through the stress of weighing or photographing, I unhooked her in the net in the water and then let her go. It then dawned on me I had reached my target, it had been a truly brilliant season.

The river season ended and my mind instantly turned to some gravel pit piking while it was still cold enough, however I only had until the end of March to fish the pit, the wildlife trust where now enforcing the rule that the lake closed to anglers on the last day of March to allow the birds to nest in peace, though they still allowed jet and water skiers on, with the huge wake the create washing away many nests was quite frankly ludicrous, but that was out of my hands.
A few fish came my way upto 17lbs which seems to be about the ceiling weight for the fish in the venue, I was hoping to snare a bigger fish before they spawned, but alas that didn't happen. The end of March came and that was it, a fence was erected to stop anglers accessing the lake and we could only watch on as the jet skiers caused havoc on the place.
April was spent mostly on the north Norfolk coast bass fishing, something that I have started to enjoy, there where a few trips to an estate lake thrown in after the pike but all was quiet on the front and only a low double was caught.

Into May the bass fishing finally started to pick up and a few decent fish started to come my way, fish upto 3lb where caught and though not big by national standards it was a new PB for me, and then a new species of sea fish appeared for me in the shape on both common smoothhound and starry smoothhound, these fish certainly give a good bite, the rod literally folding in half as they move of with the bait and then, once you get them close in really go for it in the breaking waves, you really do have to be aware and I was pulled off balance by them during the fight such is the power they have.

Into June and carp started to occupy my mind so I decided to use my redundancy money to join a new lake just down the road from me in which I had seen some big carp when I had walked around it only a few days before. The first day was roasting hot, I didn't have a lot of confidence, not being a carp angler, not knowing a lot about the lake, and having as it transpired shit bait meant that the odds where firmly stacked against me. Around early afternoon I was thinking of packing in, I hadn't caught, I was getting severely sunburnt and I wasn't enjoying it to much, at that moment my micron screamed off and a carp had been daft enough to hang itself on the end of my rig, due to the weed I had to fish a fairly tight clutch to try and stop the burying itself in the weed, as it happens with the fish that I was attached to it was necessary to fish tight as rather predictably my carp had to be deformed to such an extent I was surprised it could even swim! That explained the lack of fight, I'm sure it spun in the water when I was reeling it in. Still a carp was a carp and at about 16lb it wasn't a bad first fish, later in the day I added another of a similar size, though at least the second one resembled a carp! A few more carp came along over the next few visits, including my bloody deformed one again, but it was starting to get a bit to predictable for my liking, and with the river season just starting my minds was turning to a zed or two.

I hadn't caught a zander off the fens since August 2012, despite putting many hours in for them during the summer and autumn of 2013, runless blank followed runless blank that season and I could work it out, but I started the new season with optimism, the first trip though ended in a blank, as did the second and the third and I was starting to get the feeling of deja vu. On the fourth trip things got off to a bad start, we couldn't catch any bait, and then it tipped it down and we where soaked through immediately, bloody summer showers. We managed to somehow fluke a few skimmers and rudd so off we went, half way to our intended spot I changed my mind, I had a feeling about another spot and after a quick detour and neatly having a head on with a tractor with arrived to find it deserted, good we thought. Out went the baits and that's when it started, beep.....beep.beep....beeeeeeeep.....strike.....fucking eels! Over and over again this happened and my 11.30pm I was sick of it a ready to go home......Beep......Beeep...Beeeeep...fuck sake I thought I was so annoyed I wandered to the rod, line was out of the clip, baitrunner was going in fits and bursts, another bloody bootlace...pick up the rod and start reeling in, I just winched in whatever was on the end, I didn't know what it was until in the glow of the headlight when a large looking zander appeared next to me fe'et, I went into panic mode, the fish was just on one treble right on the end of the mouth, my mate wasn't ready with the net and I was sure it was going to come off, it looked big in the water and I had already accepted its escape. God smiled on me though and the treble somehow stayed in and a quick scoop with the net and she was ours. We gave her a breather in the net and then weighed a photographed her, she came in at just under 9lb but looked all the world like she was bigger, though she was quite empty. We slipped her back and job was done, nearly two years since my last fen zander and I was over the moon.

The last few weeks have been quiet on the fishing front for me, a few more carp have been caught but the zander are playing their usual hard to catch selves, though I didn't fish for them during the really hot spell so trips have been very limited.

Now its just time to start preparing for my winter pike campaign, bait has started to trickle into the freezer, new waters have been marked on maps for exploration and already one new drain has been lure fished and confirmed pike are present, new job started, car bought so now its just waiting for the weather to turn.

Tight lines all for this winter.

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