Sunday, November 09, 2014

Low water

Had a bash on the new banking they've put along one of the drains first thing. Glorious morning, despite the forecast, but the level's lower than I've ever seen it and the water's so clear I can see the lure a third of the way across.

I wonder how long the new banking's going to last - clay retained by fabric, in turn retained by stakes hammered in like the ones we use to build fences with on the allotments.

An hour of this and all I had were a couple of follows to show for it. That includes one which almost beached itself as it decided to lunge for the shad at the last moment but ran out of water before it turned away in a great V-wave.

Tried the big river, a smaller river and a couple of other places before I gave it best.

At least winter's on the way. Kind of.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Things can only get better

October dawns with distinctly un October-like weather, but hey ho - seemed rude not to. Twenty-two degrees by lunchtime, eaten alive by midges, one missed run. Things can only get better. Hopefully.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Let's twist again, like we did last summer

I was never 100pc happy with the crimped traces I made last winter. I didn't have one fail on me - possibly not surprising, bearing in mind my pitiful tally of bigger fish. I just couldn't find quite the right-sized crimps, it looked a mess passing the wire through three times, you need a sleeve, then you worry whether the wire's OK under the sleeve, etc.

Twisting had its drawbacks too. I know there are people in the Fens with 11 fingers, but most of us only have two pairs of hands.That means it's a faff trying to keep the turns neat as you twist and maintain the right tension in the wire to twist without unravelling or kinking it.

Easy answer..? Make a jig. I don't know why I didn't think of that years ago. It could be as simple as an anchorage point in a block of wood, which you clamp to a workbench or table top, or you could go for a full-on base, with different lengths marked on it.

The anchorage has to be secure. It also needs to turn under tension to get the twists right. Easy way of doing that..? Ball bearing swivel and an old coastlock. Screw it in as shown.

To start off, tie an overhand loop in the wire, cut to length and twist on the bottom hook. Do this by forming a lark's head hitch and heating the end of the wire to anneal (soften) it first.

Take the wire out of the coastlock, cut the loop off and tie the top hook in. Then stick the top hook in the coastlock, while you twist on the swivel at the other end.

Simple or what..?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Some walk

I'd forgotten just how long it takes to cover the couple of miles from the harbour along the floodbank, onto the boardwalk to the bird reserve, then along the tops of the dunes to the harbour mouth. Must have been getting on for an hour - talk about a walk.

Good job I only brought a rod and a few lures today - along with plenty of water. Incredibly, when I get to the spot there's another guy there with rod, sitting admiring the view across the fast-filling bay.

I give it half an hour, rapidly discovering it's a lot shallower than it use to be. It's only a small tide today, but there used to be more than a couple of feet of water out in the middle. I guess lack of feeding birds means if there's any action happening, it's out to sea.

Maybe one to try on a bigger tide.

Monday, August 04, 2014


Today saw just a 6m tide on Mussel Bay, barely enough to cover the rocks on the foreshore at high water. There's worse to come, with heights dropping to 5.6m on Wednesday, before the sea starts to build again towards the end of the the week.

Some reckon the big tides, the sevens and eights are the ones to fish, with fives and sixes not worth bothering with. Others follow the you won't catch them sitting at home school of thought, and fish regardless. I've got a week off, so I'm not really bothered.

I may head for another beach I've been meaning to check out tomorrow to see what's what. It was nice today casting a new lure to see what it does - the lemony sandeel spoony thing. I've binned the packet and I can't remember what it was called. It looks nice and flashy in the water, like the wedge above it, but no cigar.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Snap up some of these

I'd never quite found the right thing for attaching lures to my leaders until I stumbled on these Tronix snaps.

They're just that bit stronger than some of the other clips I've used and much better than a cross-lock type connector.

Changing lures is a breeze, just snick it on or off. The eye's also just the right size for the 15lbs fluorocarbon I tie up bass traces with. The ones I use are Size 2, they're 99p for 10.

You could use them for freshwater lure fishing - just stick a split ring through the eye of the jighead/lure and off you go.

Shortage of Silverheads

I feel a twinge of guilt when Matt rocks up with Leanne. It's blowing a gale and worse still, the sea's full of weed. Three blokes were setting up as I got to the spot. They all sacked it after a few casts.

The wind's blowing north-westerly, blowing the braid into a great bow as the lure flies. I can more or less get the distance with the biggest Dexy in my box, but I can't control it on the retrieve. Go fast enough to feel it bite and it comes to the top, skimming the waves. Go slower and it dings the rocks, covering the hook with wrack.

Matt gets out his rod, Leanne gets out her Kindle. We know we're not going to catch, as we strip the lures of weed and cast into the teeth of it. I change to a Silverhead and lose it on a rock first cast. I'm down to three of the favoured 45g size which seem the best on the coast.

After adjourning for a latte at a cafe terrace, I head for the tackle shops. One has just one selection pack of Silvers - three I don't want, one of the size I do for £6.99. Mick doesn't have any in the last of his closing down sale stock.

Everyone's been buying them, both shops say. People swear by them. I'm going every day next week and I have just four of the go-to lures left. This doesn't bode well, bearing in mind you lose or damage at least one most trips.


Saturday, August 02, 2014

Back with a bang

There's a swirl over the rocks and a grey fin scythes through the sea. They're here.

I saw one five minutes after I got down to the beach, scrambling over the rocks until I hit the hotspot. There's a gap in the boulders big enough to drive a van through and today I'm right - it's where the bass are.

I see a few more swirls and a tail break surface. I'm not sure what they're after, as there are no birds diving which usually pinpoints a shoal of sandeel or some other fodder fish. The sea's flat calm as well, the same grey colour as the gathering storm overhead.

I can easily poke a lure out where the action is, whatever they're up to out there and jink it back through the gully.

The first one hammers into the spoon so hard I nearly jump out of my skin before it dives for the rocks. Nice fish, couple of pounds maybe. Pound for pound, these things scrap as hard as anything. Then again, I haven't caught one for so long I can't remember what the last one fought like.

Snick the hook out, three or four casts later I nail a smaller one. Two in a morning's not to be sneezed at, but 10 minutes later I make it three. Three bass - what a result.

Another angler appears as I'm beaching the fat keeper. Out comes the camera and the hook, back goes the bass.

"Don't you eat them?" asks the other guy. As I watch it recover its balance and shoot back out to sea, I wonder if I'm missing a trick here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Summer time blues

I didn't hold out much hope today, with a middling high tide near noon. I was right on that score. There were half a dozen of us on the beach as the flat calm sea lapped lazily around the rocks and decided it couldn't be arsed to come in as far as the cliffs. Not one of us had so much as a sniff.

I tried dinging the lure off the top of the rocks for a bit, having worked out they're so covered in wrack they're almost impossible to snag up on. Lovely day, beats being at work even if all you end up with is soggy trainers, sore arms and sunburn.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Bass 3, NFG 0

There's a westerly blowing up the bay and the sea's a seething cauldron around the rocky headland. Half an hour's enough to convince me this is a waste of time. The gale blows the braid into a huge bow by the time the lure lands and I can't really feel what it's doing in the surf. Every third or fourth cast, the wedge dings a rock and comes back festooned in wrack.

Regulars reckon the harder tides throw up the occasional big bass, but if there were any out in the tea-coloured waves, they weren't playing ball. If you fish the same beach regularly, you soon learn the sea has so many moods it's different nearly every time you go.

It's colour changes too. Today the water looked dirty, suspended silt the waves scoured off the banks lending a grey-brown tinge to the waves.

The summer's still young and there are some better-looking tides on the way.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The cruel sea

Jagged lumps of chalk and carr stone emerge as the tide retreats. The sea didn't fill me with confidence as I tabbed down the cliff path,  an umber-coloured band of water stretching out into the lazy swell.

But a few casts into the ebb and I start getting cocky, pushing the rod hard for maximum distance with the biggest wedge in my box, launching it out into clear water. This feels good for some reason, freshly-oiled reel spinning effortlessly on the retrieve.

The rod kicks violently as a fish smashes into the lure and I'm a happy bunny. I start gaining line on what feels like a sizeable fish. Then it swirls on the top, I see its big grey tail and it's gone. The hook I honed last night's still sharp,  it hit the spoon so hard I can't understand why the metal didn't stay put in its gob.

I give it a tickle with the sharpening stone just in case and carry on casting like I mean it, but the magic's gone. I replay the 30 seconds or so I had that fish on over and over again as I head back up the cliffs for home.

Monday, April 21, 2014

They orter be about by now

Foam fizzes in the sand as the waves break around the rocks. Gulls scream overhead as I launch the lure and watch it fly out to sea. It feels a little strange to start with but I soon get into a rythym, pausing every few casts to retreat a pace or two ahead of the incoming tide.

Summer's just around the corner. So hopefully are the bass, although this morning's high tide passed by without a hit for me and one of last summer's regulars, who beat me to the spot I fancied. The sea was slightly coloured, but I could see the lure flashing as I jinked it back over the tops of the boulders.

"Been a few out already," said the old boy up the beach as he folded down his rod and joined me for a smoke. "It was this week last year they started catching so they orter be about by now."

Wherever they are, I don't think they're where we are, I told him. But I've got a good feeling about this summer, me old podna.

Monday, March 24, 2014

An interesting walk, for shore

Brent geese caw in  flocks off-shore, as I hit the sand with furry chops. It's barely five minutes' walk from my house, but the beach is like another world as the tide ebbs and reveals its surreal rock-scape.

Winter storms have taken a big bite out of the cliffs, strewing shed-sized boulders at their feet. What strikes me is how much sand has gone, meaning bits which were barely three or four feet deep at high tide last summer must now be twice that.

The old wreck's still there, but the tides have moved her keel and popped the rivets from  her plates in places. I wonder how many winters she'll survive. I also wonder what fishing my usual pike fishing haunts would be like if they emptied the water out twice a day - more or less, depending on the moon phase, earth's rotation etc - and you could have a good old wander about on the bottom without getting your feet wet.

Then I spot something even more interesting than smashed razor shells and lugworm casts. As in a bit where the winter storms have gounged an even deeper bit, a perfect avenue between the rocks to work a lure through in a month or two's time. Bass alley..?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Season's end and pastures new

One thing after another ate into my time, as the last week of the season arrived. I managed just one more trip, a few hours on some pits with Matt where we were sure we'd get a few.

After several hours trying - and failing - to catch a pike, I changed down to the lighter lures I'd brought to see if I can catch a perch. Two pits later, the rod slams round and probably the only pike on the whole complex which isn't off somewhere else getting ready to spawn necks a three-inch Hammer shad.

This probably sums up my season. Couldn't get out as often as I wanted, caught jacks when I did catch anything, while a big fish popped up under everyone's noses from a water hardly anyone rates as worth fishing these days.

Sum total of things learned is probably small pike love the smaller shads which seem to be in vogue in the Fens these days, judging by what other people I've seen out and about are using. Next season seems a long way off right now, but I'll probably try a few new waters to see if I can get my head around catching perch.

There's a summer to be savoured before I get the pike rods out again. My plan for that is explore a few new bits of the coastline, which has been re-shaped by the winter storm tides, which have scoured several interesting new features for when the bass return.

Last summer's total of one shouldn't that hard to beat. Then again, it will be me on the other end of the rod so who knows.

As I watched the last of the tide ebb down the tidal river today, another thought sprang to mind. I'm sure I saw a fish swirl in the channel, flattening the ripple. Maybe it was a mullet. I found a few of those last summer, but never quite managed to catch one.

Mullet in the Fens - now there's a totally off-the-wall target, a mad idea I'd get a real buzz from if I ever managed to stick my hook into one. To be continued. Soon.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

What a grey day

I flirt with two drains, neither of which look in any danger of throwing a fish up, before I try a new bit on the river. New, as in you can now get to a bit of it you couldn't before the EA removed a couple of trees and a tangle of reeds and undergrowth on a slight kink, meaning you can now fish along the drop-off, where the depth drops away to 20ft or more.

I'm not overly optimistic, on a grey old day with a downstream gale gathering pace beneath the clouds. After a few changes of lure, I can use the flow to push a Hammer shad into the bit where I think the fish might be, but it soon dawns on me they're not.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Peachy perch sings winter's swan song

After catching a couple of jacks and losing what felt like a bit bigger one, I paused to take a lung-full of spring. Winter's well and truly on the retreat, as buzzards wheel over the woods behind the pit and a woodpecker rattles out a drum solo on a birch tree.

Maybe this'll be the last time I go pike fishing for a few months, I tell myself now the sun's well and truly up in a cloud-less sky that rings with bird song. The gorse bushes are alight with the first yellow sparks of flower as I crash through the undergrowth back to the car.

I pitch up on another pit and lose a pike first cast in a shady corner, that comes off as I bend into it. It didn't feel that big, I  console myself. A few chucks later, I feel a succession of stacatto raps on the rod before it kicks round into a fish.

And what a fish it turns out to be. As in not a pike, but a peach of a perch that bristles and flares its gills as I slip the net under it. How big..? Don't ask me, I didn't weigh it. I grab a quick picture on the mat, alongside the four-inch Kopyto it engulfed, before I drop it back.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Strong stream advice

There's a new red flag flapping in the breeze as I pull over to check out the big drain, to see if it's fishable. Strong Stream Advice Issued, it says. There's a maelstrom boiling under the bridge, with all three of the big steel sluice gates open. The drain's brim-full and boiling.

I head inland for another drain, which is pulling off but looks worth an hour with the lure rods. Shads, grubs, curly-tailed wotcher-call'ems all come back festooned with debris every other chuck, whether I try hopping them along the deck or  pulling them through mid-water.

I know, they've got it a lot worse elsewhere, with the Somerset Levels, Midlands and Thames Valley flooded out. Another week or so - provided we don't get any more rain - and things might start looking a bit more hopeful. Then again, with three weeks of the season left, it could turn out to be a write-off.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Back out soon

Getting my appetite for fishing back now I seem to be on the mend. In response to a few comments from people I've lost touch with over the years, I've now added a contact form.

Andy, where've you been..?

Matt, definitely - e-mail me.

KinkyKev77, don't worry - the doctor will be here soon.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Fishing through the pain barrier

There's another reason I haven't been out much lately. Pain as in sciatica, as in it hurts to drive, walk, bend down, cough or even fart. I didn't feel too bad last night as I checked over the bait rods and got the gear together.

This morning was so-so, as in might get better by the time I get there, might wish I'd stayed at home. But on the one decent day of the week, wind dropping round to south-westerly and no rain, I had to risk it. Let's face it, you would have.

I'm stiff as a board by the time I get to the pits and it seems to take an age to get the rods arranged in a reasonably accessible swim, with unhooking gear, net and everything on the mat. I reckon if I hook one I can net it without having to bend down too much, drop to my knees, get it on the mat and sort it without too much grief.

I get the odd twinge but it doesn't feel too bad standing there after the strongest non-prescription painkillers I could get my hands on kick in. The sun's up. The birds are singing. I sit down awkwardly on my cool box and let the day wash over me.

One of the blobs I've managed to get 30 yards out near an island keels over. I struggle onto my toes, grab the rod and ow, ow, ow, ow; why did I have to swivel around when I bent into it. It hurts even more by the time I've pumped the lanky-looking jack over the net.

No pain, no gain. At least I've caught one. I've beaten back the pain and decide another painkiller and a dose of deep and meaningful progressive rock track on Spotify's next on the agenda. Out come the hooks, back it goes. As I'm re-baiting the rod, a blob I've tucked under a marginal bush goes.

Back out comes the same lanky jack. I get a picture this time before I drop it back into the lake. I don't feel too bad now I've caught something. Even if it was the same one times two. I cast the rods back out, plug my 'phones in and scroll through 'Spotty until I find what I'm looking for. Comfortably Numb. That'll do.

OK, OK, I need some information. Just nod if you can hear me, sings Roger Waters. One of the floats nods and slides off. I think it's the same jack at first, but it's a different, tatty three-pounder. Time for a move - maybe to the swim where a decent fish came unstuck not long after I hooked it a few weeks back.

Out go the rods, big baits this time. The afternoon drifts past without another pull but I get quite into just sitting there, glad I've forced myself to come out and proved I can more or less beat the pain that comes back almost every time I shift position or get up to do something.

As the sun sets, I can hear curlews punctuating the raucous skeins of greylag geese that loft up from neighbouring pits. I remember I lost a big fish at last knockings here. One of the baits is in more or less the same place, where a shallow bar drops into 12ft of water.

From where I'm sitting, I can get a lovely HDR picture across the water on my phone. While I'm doing this, the blob waddling in the breeze over the end of the bar where I briefly hooked into a big fish falls flat and slides away.

It hurts all the way down one side as I lurch to my feet and grab the rod. I let the line tighten and sweep it back, connecting with fresh air. It hurts even more when I sit back down again.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Water under the bridge

Plenty of water's gone under the bridge since I last went fishing - literally. The low, clear drains and rivers have turned torrent after all the recent rain. I didn't fancy my chances watching the Ouse gushing into the Relief Channel when I went out for a recce a couple of afternoons back.

With the Little Eyes - as the wooden gates which normally allow water out into the tidal river are called - shored up with boards, the whole of the river's flow is going to be diverted down the channel for the forseeable. A bit of water coming in can be a good thing, but once it starts going up and down like a yo-yo between tides I always seem to struggle.

The rain's forecast to stop tomorrow. And the wind's going around a few degrees to a south-westerly. That spells gravel pit to me.