Session 60 – Pike Fishing – First Session Of The 2016-2017 Season

It was at around 0700 on October 28th 2016 that I set off on my first serious pike session of the 2016-2017 season at Pike Pool 1 with high hopes in my heart … after all my bedtime reading for the previous couple of nights had been Bill Chillingworth’s ‘Tactics For Big Pike’ and I was feeling super-uber-confident.

I arrived at my chosen swim at around 0740 and immediately threw out my partially pre-prepped chum/rubby-dubby into my two chosen spots – at the edge of the overhanging bushes to my left and right, both about 2-rodlengths out in a water depth of approx 11’. The ‘chum’ consisted of various blitzed oily fish (sprats/sardines/etc), chunks of fish and a tin of tuna, doused with lamprey oil, cod liver oil, and fish sauce (anchovy) and bound together with breadcrumb.

Two rods (2.75lb TC) were tackled up to ledger baits using 40lb braid mainline to connected to 30lb wire traces each equipped with a size 2 double hook at the end and a size 4 double 3”-4” up the trace and weighted with 2oz running ‘leads’ on 4” weak links (8lb mono). Indication of bites was via weighted carp indicator arms on the back rests (to allow indication of ‘drop back’ bites) and my trusty 80’s Optonic Compact alarms on the front rests.

One rod was fished with an Indian mackerel in pop-up style (with a balsa rod pushed into the mouth of the bait fish to give the necessary buoyancy) and the other rod was fished in a straight ledger style with the (normal) mackerel section (4oz) bait held static on the bottom.

Now I wish I could say that I had run after run, landed a few pike including the *ONE* I’ve been after for the past 2-3 years (a VERY big lady!) … but the truth is I had not one run… although there was the usual ‘action’ that seems very peculiar to this water … the ‘twitching line’…. Yep, seems to happen quite often there … the line can be seen twitching but not enough usually to trigger the alarm. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeTswEnFfKI for some video of the effect that was taken a couple of years back. As I say, don’t recall the same thing happening elsewhere. AND when the bait is retrieved it is virtually intact even after being left out for several hours… and as I say this was happening mainly on this day to the large chunk of mackerel although there were a few ‘tweaks’ at the slightly smaller Indian mackerel. However, I do think this is due to chub sucking at the bait or at least trying to get at the bait’s stomach and innards – possibly could be crayfish BUT never seen a cray nor heard of one being seen/caught there so think they can be discounted… Liz has on occasion caught the culprit when she has had the twitches and they have always been chub too… and always caught with smelt as bait, never sprat or other bait as far as I am aware…

So due to the twitches I swapped the bait on the mackerel rod to 2 sprats (no smelt in the bag unfortunately) – same twitches but still no capture and sprats were still pristine when disposed of at the end of the session.

The ‘pop-up’ rod was varied in depth over the day from 12” to the surface… the ‘floating’ bait was tried in reaction to one re-cast I’d made that resulted in a fish ‘hitting’ the bait whilst it was still floating before I tightened the line to pull it under the surface… however, there was no further response so I’m thinking it was an inquisitive carp investigating.

So at 1515, I decided to pack down the bait tackle and have a go on lures for the last hour or so … and I fished back down to and around the corner of the pool by the car which is usually a good area for the lure but I had not one touch or follow. I’d only small Savage Gear (9.5cm) bodies with me and wished I’d taken some larger ones with me … thought there were some in the box but unfortunately not!

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Sessions 56 -59 – The Somerset Holiday

Friday 14th October saw Liz and I head off to Burnham-on-Sea on our annual Sun newspaper £9.50 break – well, was a bit more than that as (a) you have to pay for at least 4 places (so £39 it works out at in reality for the Monday to Friday break) plus (b) there is a service/entertainment charge of £6.25 a night to be added so making an additional £25 to be added which makes for a total of £64 – which is about the cost of a hotel double room for one night -and I’d much rather have a caravan than a hotel room even it it was £64 a night anyway! Plus we extend our stay by booking a tag-on weekend directly with the site itself which adds another reasonable £100 – for which we get a 6-berth static caravan (and this year’s appeared to be absolutely brand new), evening entertainment all week with a decent bar, and use  of the site’s own fishing lake that is only fishable by residents…. plus we usually get money back via the nightly bingo – last year, Liz’s brother accompanied us and between us (mainly Liz actually) the bingo winnings not only paid for an Italian 3-course meal each in a top of the range restaurant but also left us £60 each in our pockets… but this year Liz and I had to settle for a mere £115 in winnings… 🙂 We did well in the games/quizzes too – we ended up runners-up in the week long Quiz League after a poor first night left us in 4th place, and in 1st/2nd places in most of the other games although we didn’t manage to win any actual prizes…

Session 56 – Friday 14th – Luring

Anyway, as usual we set off from home early so that I’d get a few hours on the lake with the lures before the caravan became available and we arrived at around noon with the caravan becoming available at 1500 … so we popped into Reception to announce our arrival and to show our Environment Agency rod licences which is necessary to be able to fish the lake. Following that we headed to the lake and after a short spell Liz adjourned to the bar whilst I carried on for an hour or so… not a touch so I joined Liz in the bar for a beer.

Session 57 – Saturday 15th – Short Ledger Session

I headed down to the pool with the ledger rods/pods and buzzers at 0630, fishing with frame feeders and maggot/worm/meat and paste baits. Packed in around 11115 without a single bite. The depth/fish sounder couldn’t find anything in the 5′ of water either! Water temp was a reasonable 17.5C

Session 58 – Monday 17th – Another Short Ledger Session

In the same swim as Saturday as I’d put out a fair bit of bait then and hoping it had attracted some fish into the area. Fished from 0700 again and ledgered the same as Saturday. Things looked promising when within 5 mins of the first cast the bobbin on one rod twitched and rose with the buzzer emitting 3 beeps – however, nothing further ensued for the next 4 hours or so. So at that point I decided to start tidying up ready to tackle down, head to the caravan and get ready to go out for the afternoon… and I was in the process of rinsing out the groundbait bowl when the buzzer of the worm baited rod sounded and the bobbin started rising steadily… a strike met resistance and FISH ON! The fish was played ready to net- surfacing a few times in the meantime and was seen to be a pike of around 5-6lb – but, as I reached for the net, the line gave a few inches from the hook and the fish was gone. Water temp had dropped around 4-5C since the Saturday visit and was around 13.5C.

Session 59 – Wednesday 19th – Day Session

Headed out, this time with Liz for a longer session, arriving at the water at around 0730. The swim I’d intended to fish (ie the same as the previous 2 sessions) was already occupied so we set up on ‘the point’ – the swims that are usually first occupied – both of us fishing ledger style in 7′-8′ of water – me with the usual frame feeders, Liz with an open end cage feeder. Anyway, not a lot of action – zilch in fact – until 1430 when Liz decided to pack in and headed back to the caravan to nurse the severe cough/cold that she had – and in fact still does. I decided to stay on until 1600 – and managed one 4oz’ish bream. However, Liz’s vacated swim was taken up by another angler who within the next hour or so landed around 6 x 4lb+ bream 🙂 However, he was using a method feeder/small hook with sweetcorn/quiver tip and a hooklength of around 3″ and casting over to the far bank which is not my style of fishing so don’t really think I/we missed out on much – and was perfectly happy with my 4oz jobbie! :). Water temp had dropped another degree down to 12.5C.

Anyway, back home now and looking forward to the next trip out – which was hoped/planned to be to the Warks Avon on Tuesday 25th but due to car problems (brake warning – check pads – light came on as we left the house to travel down to Somerset – and we’ve done probably 500 miles with it showing since) I’ve had to book it into the garage to get checked over that day. So now, it seems that next session will be to a pool with the pike gear on Friday 28th and the Warks Avon visit the following Tuesday…

Session 55 – Canal Luring

Friday 7th October 2016 … and it was a visit to a club stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal (WA) … the first end-of-this-year visit … with the 6′ mini-jig rod (rated 2g-10g) and the 8′ canal spinning rod (10g-30g).

During the long lure session of 4 hours – usually 2-3 hours is my limit but eeked out this session a little longer by having a few breaks along the way – I fished up to about halfway along the 1.2 mile stretch with the jig rod in action mainly although the heavier rod came into action during the breaks by baiting with sprats on a wobble trace/rig and adding a small ‘Gazette’ type float and letting the bait drift along the far bank…. and then I fished back to the car with the heavier rod with a medium sized blade spinner as the attractor.

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And it was this spinner that took the only fish of the day – almost last cast of the day and in the first swim that had been fished at the start of the session too – a superb (LOL!) perch that approached possibly all of 2oz…

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Anyway, it was an enjoyable session – a good walk in calm and temperate air with the water a good colour and light boat traffic (possibly 5-6 boats + 1 canoe passed). There were the usual autumn leaves on the water’s surface but due to the lack of wind and only light falls so far they weren’t too much of a problem with attaching to the line, etc. However, there are willow bushes along the stretch and there were willow leaves on the water which may explain the less than expected results… willow leaves contain a natural form of ‘aspirin’ and to my thinking this seems to ‘sicken’ the water a bit as I’ve never had good results when they are around (all waters) and by choice I try to stay clear of such bushes at this time of the year… but with the natural flow of canal waters the leaves naturally spread all over. Don’t know if this is fact but I do feel that if its leaves other than willow on the water then there seems to be no deterioration in the fishing but as soon as any willow  ones appear then…

So….. next session was intended to be the Warks Avon on Tuesday but I have now changed my mind …. filled the car with fuel today so I’m wanting to conserve as much as possible ready for our holiday in Somerset that starts next Friday so I’ve decided to visit a local club pool instead. Also visiting the river would require a changeover of tackle in the bags to the river kit, and as the site on which we stay on holiday has a pool to fish and the tackle is being taken there then a swap-back to pool gear would be needed … so fishing a pool on Tuesday means the right tackle is already in the bags and negates that need.

Session 54 – Family Day At The Pool (Includes “Trounced By The Parents” And “A New Personal Best”)

Friday 30th September, Liz and I headed off to a club pool (VV) along with Liz’s parents who are midway through a visit to us from Cyprus – making sure we were also accompanied by the relevant club guest tickets and EA rod licences for the ‘visitors’ 🙂

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The Family – Liz, Mum (Marje) and Dad (Phil)

We arrived at the pool around 0815 having set off from home at 0730, and Liz and I promptly sorted out the swims with Phil and Mum sharing a swim and Liz and I sharing the next swim along. Tackle and bait requirements for the visitors were sorted and then Liz and I started to sort out our own tackle … and whilst doing so Liz’s Mum had already started pulling ’em in!! With Phil not far behind… LOL! Small fish but they were at least catching!

Anyway, it was a good day – until around 1530 when a black cloud with rain visible below that we’d been debating whether or not was coming our way or was going to bypass DID arrive at us – and provided a heavy rain shower which necessitated a fast tackle down to escape BUT as always (and happens much to much for coincidence) happens, as soon as we’re loading the car up the skies clear and blue skies and sun ensue but we’re soaking and dripping wet… in fact, too wet to call at the pub on the way home and necessitated a home stop to dry and change…

Results of the day were not brilliant for the water – usually its a baggin’ water with carp, roach, rudd, chub, barbel and other species and its often quoted that a bare hook will catch but not on this occasion with the best fish of the day falling to me – a common carp of 2lb 11oz – although Phil did lose a large fish when it gained sanctuary in some tree roots and was unable to be extracted … and I had a hook pull on a good fish within 10 seconds of hooking it… Mum and Phil had a fair few <40z fish (roach, bream, gudgeon, perch), Mum had a bream of about 1lb 4oz and I had a couple of small silvers, plus Liz had a nice crucian carp and a bream of 1lb 12oz … so the parents reckoned they’d had more fish and trounced us but Liz and I said we were after quality rather than quantity and although quality was actually low, on the day it was the best… 🙂

And, as I said above, Liz had a nice crucian carp… and, in fact, it was a new PB for her weighing in at 1lb 12oz….

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…. and also bigger than my own PB….. 😦  LOL!