Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Bishops Bowl 1.11.11

Another fishery, like Blenheim, which is about 30 mins away from me which I haven't fished in years. It's been in the press a bit lately as new owners took it over just under 2 years ago. I remembered it as an "alien planet" type of place with the steep-sided quarry cliffs and the clear blue water. This turned out to be the main lake, one of six, which I decided to fish. I think the others aren't quite so dramatic from what I saw.
I telephoned the owner and he suggested a bank where the pike have been coming out recently but when I arrived, the layout foxed me completely. I set up on the lake I wanted to but far from the area I should have been.
I had a sardine on one rod and a mackerel tail on the other. After a few hours all I had to show were 2 small jacks. The view from my peg was pretty nice and watching the long-tailed tits and the rest of the birdlife meant I wasn't overly bothered but I did want something a bit better to pull my string.
I wound in and had a walk around this half of what is quite a big lake and soon realised exactly where the owner meant when he described the pegs. So I upped sticks and drove around to the opposite bank.
Within exactly 5 minutes of casting out, I had a strong take,  In the deep water the fish gave a very good account for itself and managed to take me around some snag directly in front of me but attrition paid off and after a few worrying moments of the line grating it came free.
I was pleased to put the net under a good-looking fish of 14lbs 10oz.
A nice fish to christen my new unhooking mat! Unfortunately I forgot my camera so missed out on a cheesy shot of me cradling it. I had to make do with my phone camera.
Around 4 ish, the wind dropped and the last of the daylight became a lovely calm evening but one which I thought wouldn't offer more pike so I drove home.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Bury Hill, 25.10.11

Martin had arranged a trip down to Bury Hill in Dorking to have a crack at Zander. As I'd never caught one, much to my chagrin, I accepted his offer of a lift down there. We arrived about a quarter to seven - gates open at 7 - and were first in the queue. I was looking forward to an early bacon sarnie as eating at 5 in the morning, the time Martin picked me up, is far too early for my stomach. How disappointing therefore to find that the cafe would only be open from 1 until 1:30. However, the cafe was serving some match anglers who had booked a match and I persuaded the guy that putting a few extra pieces of bacon on wouldn't cause him mega problems. Still, I suppose WE were doing HIM a favour just by being there!

Having fished there earlier this year with Jeff, Martin decided that the high 30's were the pegs; this was the area where Jeff had his double in March. He suggested peg 37 which was nicely sheltered from the wind by a semi-submerged tree and had the island in front.

Using small, 1oz, leads on large running rings I put a small piece of roach on one rod and a strip of fresh mackerel on the other. At Martin's suggestion I placed one 2 rod lengths out and the other towards the island. The morning soon lost its clouds and we were faced with bright sunshine and fairly calm conditions. Not ideal for the zeds I was hoping for. However, I persisted, changing baits and positions. The chap in the tackle shop had reminded us that they were often to be found in the margins so I cast down to my left just in front of a platform 2 or 3 away. (We had most of this bank to ourselves so it wasn't inconveniencing anyone else.) At midday, while Martin and I were chatting we noticed the bobbin on this rod was jiggling up against the blank so it was fairly obvious that something had taken a fancy to the roach head. There was no need for any subtlety like paying out line from the baitrunner so I just tightened into the fish.

Result! My first zander; and at 4lbs 4oz not a bad one to start with. With the ban on trebles or barbed hooks, the size 4 came out easily, in fact it dropped out in the net.

Soon after we had enjoyed sausage and egg sandwiches around half one, Martin had a take which resulted in a small zander of around 1 - 1 1/2lbs.  It looked likely that my fish was going to be the only one but eventually Martin managed another nice fish of around 3lbs.
The action stopped with me hooking a pike around 6 - 8lbs which threw the hook before I could even draw it to the net.

Still, I was extremely pleased to have broken my zander duck and will definitely get down again this winter to try to find Jeff's double!

As well as the usual birdlife on and around the lake, we heard a most peculiar sound and Martin soon spotted a bright green parrot (or parakeet) in a tree overhead. I was aware that they had become extremely common in the south but hadn't actually seen on until now. Wild Parrots Settle in Suburbs

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A Potpourri

Since the end of August my visits to the bank have been somewhat limited for various reasons so I decided to bring together 3 adventures, two where I got soundly kicked in the bum and one where a complete change of scenery and location brought some relief.
Firstly, as has been well documented on other Blogs, 6 of us got together to celebrate someones birthday (60th or something?) at the impressive venue, Blenheim Palace lake. Despite the fact that it's only 20 minutes down the road for me I'd never fished there before. So, along with everyone else, I was excited about this trip. So much so that aiming for a 6am meet at the gates, I found myself walking the streets of Woodstock at 5:25am! It was a magical half hour with the orange glow of the street lamps lighting up the interesting, but expensive, shops and restaurants of this VERY touristy town.
I had an interesting conversation with a Gentleman of the Road while drinking my coffee and when I returned to the gates found them open so I drove in (and around!) the Estate before meeting up with the rest of the crew.
Here's the Birthday Boy (boy?) choosing his craft.
The three boats set off at 2 or 3 minute intervals depending upon a) the dexterity of the oarsman and b) the amount of gear we loaded.
I was with Martin, who despite bringing along not only the kitchen sink but also the bathroom and downstairs loo's sinks, rowed us manfully and successfully down the lake. The mist was still hanging about and this made for some nice sights of our compatriots appearing out of the gloom.
I'll gloss over the results of the Good Ship Sod All and just confirm that the other 4 had some very fine results.
The well-known problem of getting rid of the coffee/tea/orange juice etc while in the middle of a small sea was quickly overcome by my compatriot thus:
Keith kindly presented us not only with a piece of his Birthday cake, home-made by himself he assured us, but also a lovely hand-made quill float, here beautifully demonstrated by Martin.

A couple of pints in the town at the close of play brought an end to the adventure and the only comfort I could take from the day was that I'd be back home in 20 or so minutes.

Next came my attempts at a catfish. I'd had on good authority that a small lake in Pitsford - about 40 minutes drive - held them up to 60lbs. Certainly pictures of 40lbs plus specimens confirmed their existence. Armed with some gob stopper halibut pellets and a box of California's finest calamari, I arrived to find I was the only angler. It was smaller than I imagined but a chat with a couple of guys who turned up while I was having a walk around gave me an idea of location.

Result, zilch. Move on.

Finally it was time for our week in Southwold. We returned to a flat we have rented on a number of occasions. The beauty of it is that it overlooks the beach and when I'm fishing, a quick attempt at tic tac (learned from my mis-spent youth at Birmingham Racecourse) brings my wife down with a cup of coffee. Perfect!
I fished about every other day, catching the high tide and staying for an hour or two through the ebb. I had bass, both takeable and small schoolies, as well as an eel. This was the first one I'd caught either from fresh or salt water for more than 10 years so I very carefully - no that doesn't go with the word "eel" - with GREAT difficulty unhooked and released it back into the surf. I was fishing 2 rods, 1 with lug tipped with a sliver of squid just lobbed into the third breaker, the other with a whole squid cast to the horizon (in my dreams). This second rod remained untouched as I think it was too early for the codling. All my fish came to the first rod.

So five or six weeks with only three sorties. All enjoyable even though only one saw fish on the bank. Now we're into proper Autumn weather with frosty mornings forecast maybe I'll have better luck with the predators.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

College Pool 31.8.11

Having had to put off my catfish expedition for a number of reasons, I needed a fishing fix so I went to College yesterday. Had the pool to myself for the first few hours which was a surprise as the cold winds we've been having lately had subsided to be replaced with warmer weather. It was a little too sunny to begin with but the extreme depths of the pool, despite the drop which appears to be 3 - 4 feet, should have persuaded the fish to feed fairly comfortably.

I started off fishing a Polaris float with a small maggot feeder stopped 8" above a size 10 baited with prawn. I was hoping that the nice Mr Perch I had earlier in the year might have been feeding himself up for winter - possibly a 4lber? Well, the perch were certainly having it big time. Often before the float rose up the line I was getting pulls on the rod tip. Unfortunately they were from the grandchildren, or great grandchildren of my earlier one. They ranged from real tiddlers to max 3/4lb.  This one couldn't even manage to get himself properly hooked, the size of the prawn being almost too big for his mouth - greedy bugger.

Sorry for the quality of the pic, the autofocus failed to pick up that macro was needed!  Here's a better view, clamping his jaws on the prawn made it possible for me to swing him in.

After running out of a 1lb bag of Sainsburys best and landing over 30 of the little blighters I switched to a small flat method feeder and pellet approach for the bream. They too were happy to munch. As I hadn't introduced groundbait in any quantity - following Leamington's rules - and the only feed they could get was that around the feeder, I had to intercept them as they patrolled the middle channel. I was feeling confident as on most trips here the bream have always seemed on the feed.

My first was the biggest at 6lbs 12oz.

and the other 7 ranged between 5 and 6.5 lbs.

Again, not the best photo but I didn't want to keep them out of the water for longer than necessary. The last one I had looked particularly sad.

I don't know if it's the depth they live at or if they are a particular strain, but all the bream were very light in colour.  I lost 2 fish which I think were carp as they steamed off down the pool rather that nodding and dour fight we get from bream.

A good day.  I'm now re-planning the trip to Pitsford for those cats, the squid in the freezer is calling me!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Odds & Sods

I've been very active on the car boot front lately. Bought a lovely 15' trotting rod, hand built by Kevin Blaynes at Anglers Workshop in Staffordshire, a bargain at only £20 and almost new.
2 evening trips to Wasperton with a centre pin, stick float and a couple of pints of maggots saw me have nice mixed bags. I hope I don't have the same bad luck (or bad angling!) I had with my last rod purchase, that 16' float rod.
On the same weekend I picked up 2 books, both really enjoyable reads I can recommend thoroughly: "Fisherman's Valley" by John Bailey and "River Carping" by Neil Wayte. At 50p each, a couple of bargains.

Finally, not a car boot related item, I'm planning a trip for catfish this week, probably Friday to Pitsford Lakes. I wanted some frozen squid - rather than pay high prices for the fresh to Messers Sainsbury, Morrison etc. Neither of my local tackle shops stock it and to buy online means the postage costs meant that I'd have to buy quite a few boxes. Luckily, I had to go up to Brum yesterday so, brainwave, a visit to Wing Yip supermarket. I'd forgotton just how huge it is. Anyway, a 1 lb box of Calamari Squid all the way from sunny California is just £1.34p. At that price I decided to splash out and buy TWO boxes.

Although not yet thawed out, it looks like 6 - 8 squid per box and at a nice length about 4 - 5". The fresh ones I looked at are much bigger and I want to mount them whole rather than chopped up. If the moggies aren't tempted I'll still have one box in the freezer fot ME!
I've respooled some Shimano Baitrunners with 25lb Berkley Big Game and have some ready-made traces of Kevlar wire. The only thing needed now is a cat!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Jolly Boys Outing, Anchor Meadows

So the weekend was here.  I left Banbury just on 6am and pulled up on the island at a quarter to seven. As expected most of the swims below the weir were taken, one by Martin who had been there a couple of hours already! He confirmed that the "Barrels" swim at the top of the island was one of his choices and, as I'd fished there previously, I decided to give it a go.
The river was very low and clear but I still hoped that the fish could be tempted from beneath the streamer weed and put one rod alongside the edge of the scum that had collected downstream of the barrels and the other on a nice long clear run between the weed. As soon as I'd got most of my stuff sorted, the most important act of the morning was started.
A scrumptious bacon sarnie!  No barbel, or the carp I hoped to be lurking under that scummy cover, showed any interest but I started picking up small chub on elipse pellets on my downstream rod. I spent some amusing minutes watching the moorhen family tempting the chicks from the nest trying to show them how to peck through the detritus for food.
Gradually the others decided to drag themselves from their pits at home and turned up. Jeff was the first to put up his home from home and Lee and I joined him in this mensa-like activity. (Well, for me at least, Lee had a brand new "pop-up" version. From the left, Chez Lee, Chez David and Chez Jeff.
The afternoon was blooming hot and we all struggled to catch. Danny and Andy, fishing the point just above me had success with deadbaits and pulled in some pike but I couldn't add to the small chub from earlier in the day.
Here's quiz question. Whose bike rack is this?

Only joking Danny.

Around 6ish Keith came calling and he suggested we walk on water to the inviting-looking pub on the far bank for a pint or five. Looking across the river it didn't seem open, which was strange as it was early evening on a scorching July day with the kids on holiday. Surely any self-respecting boozer would be full of families and anglers enjoying the day? Anyway, Jeff and I voted Keith the scout and sent him across to suss it all out. "It doesn't open 'till 7" he told us when he had braved the torrent for the second time, so we waited another hour and crossed. Lee and Martin followed a couple of minutes later. (Can't post the vid, too big?)
Lee had asked about waterproof cameras knowing that both Jeff and I had one, so I took the opportunity of demonstrating to him the benefits. My foot and his feet at 6".

At last we were in sight of some nice ale and a welcoming mine host.
Well, the first bit was right but while waiting for the foaming stuff to be pulled, we were frostily told "we only serve NON DINERS (yes he did say it with that inflection) drinks up until 8 o'clock".
Mnnnn, not the welcoming mine host we'd hoped for then. As we were the dregs of society we went out back into the garden, after all, we wouldn't want the sensitive souls inside to faint at the sight of us!
Then, to add insult to injury, when Jeff and Martin (?) went inside just after 7:30 for refills, they were told that "this will be the last order sir, won't it". FFS, don't ever, ever venture into this pub run by he-who-has-his-head-up-his-arse.

So we crossed back over to our bank and after my second BBQ of the day, chili ribs for lunch and chicken pieces for supper, a group of us gathered on the point watching D and A try for more predators while we sipped a beer or two. Joe Chatterton turned up unexpectedly and it was nice to put a face to the name. Luckily he hadn't brought his rods so he couldn't shame us by sorting out a double or two.
Midnight came and as a few of us were flagging, I decided it was time to retire for the night.
I woke about 5:30 the next morning and after 10 minutes or so went down to the bank where Danny, Andy and Keith were already up.
Despite fishing all night Danny had a couple of bits of interest but nothing to show for them. I did notice Keith doing something strange, it looked as if he was scanning the water for fish,
but on closer inspection he seemed to be having trouble with his trousers.
After a couple of fruitless hours in my swim I decided to move downstream where Jeff had pointed out a depression in the river bed.
Note: Friendly Swim but NOT Friendly Pub.

Fairly soon I was into a species we all expected to catch on this weekend. A barbel. Not the biggest ever caught but at least it was one, and my first of the season. I'm almost embarrassed to show it here.
Still, it's points on the board. (The red face wasn't the result of too many beers the night before, just too much sun).
Eventually everyone had left by midday except Jeff, who's staying for a few more days and will, no doubt, catch a nice double at night rolling his meat down the faster water. After getting a jump start from Andy - cheers mate - due to a flat battery, I too packed up and was home around 2ish, knackered and sun burnt but I had a most enjoyable time with the rest of the bunch. Next time a catfish challenge!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Manor Farm, Wasperton

A last minute arrangement saw me join a couple of mates for the afternoon on the BAA stretch. I only took one rod, a Fox quiver tip, a chair and some bits and bobs. We met up at the bottom of the meadow next to Leamington's main stretch. I'd fished near the propeller on several occasions and liked the look of the water lower down.
The other two were already tackling up in the shade of some trees so I dropped in almost next to the hedge separating the two Clubs' waters.

As expected, the Avon was clear and slow here. I spread some elipse pellets just over the nearmost weedbeds - almost mid river - and fired a few 10mm boilies and halibut pellets downstream just shy of the far bank for a later chuck. A 1.5oz cage feeder was all that was needed (indeed I imagine I could have got away with a smaller one) which I filled with some smaller pellets and plugged with Hemp & Halli mix. After some interest from small chub the sun got serious and I envied my mates sitting under the trees! I changed the length of the tail and the number of pellets on the hair but it wasn't until 4 ish that I started to see some movement on the tip.
Instead of chub it was bream that had taken a liking to the pellets. I ended up with 5 nice-looking fish to 4.5lbs, all of which were a lovely dark colour and were in really good condition.
As the sun finally went over the far bank and as I had to get home earlier than usual, I tried the "boilie line" in case some of the larger chub or barbel had decided upon an early tea. No such luck.
While I was packing up, I trod on something which I'd mistaken for nettles which surrounded the platform, but then got a strong smell of mint - reminding me of this weekend's BBQ - and I realised that there was a huge bed of the wild stuff going right into the river at my feet.
So a nice little expedition prior to the weekend at Anchor Meadows.  Look forward to seeing you all then!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Catfish Question

The last time I managed to get out was 7th of this month. The reason for lack of activity is that upon finishing that session I loaded all my gear on to my shoulders and, when I was climbing the relatively easy bank, I managed to tear my calf muscle. Ouch and double ouch. It was like a bolt of electricity had shot through my leg. Luckily the car was at the top of the bank so I didn't have far to walk.

Driving was a doddle but when I got back home I hobbled the few yards to the front door. The doc said all I could do was rest it. A tubi-grip bandage and some Aloe Vera heat cream was all I've been doing since. (OK, I did venture out to Wasperton for a couple of hours one evening but managed to pull the damn thing again on a relatively straight forward swim so I learned my lesson! If I want to enjoy the weekend at Anchor Meadows I'll have to be sensible.)

The point of this post isn't to evince sympathy (!) but to ask if anyone has any tips on a catfish venue within 30 or so miles from Banbury. Catfish are a species I've never fished for and never caught and recently during this enforced inactivity I've been trawling the net for all things angling and fell upon quite a few catfish sites. (Makes a change for the usual Google searches!!!!!!!)

I've seen the Pitsford Lakes site, near Pitsford Res. and it seems a likely spot.
Anyone fished there? Or anywhere else they can recommend?  Claydon isn't TOO far for me but the walk from the layby from what I've read puts me off in my invalid condition.

I'm enjoying all the Blogs and am envious of your time on the water as well as your successes.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Avon at Harvington 5.7.11

I couldn't get on the river for an overnighter at Barford as the farmer had a big herd of frisky bullocks in the fields and my mate (who knows the farmer) is rather suspicious of things bovine. Wuss! So I met him at Harvington for a pint and some grub. Only problem, both pubs in the village don't open for lunch on Tuesdays! The landlady of the first needs people-facing skills as, when I knocked on the door, she looked blank and said "What d'ya want?" I thought it was pretty obvious. Still we found a more welcoming hostelry - The Bell at Salford Priors - a mile away and had a great hot steak sarnie and chips.

We had planned to fish the island at Anchor Meadows (to do a crafty recce before the BIG weekend) but all the pegs were taken, and not only by fishermen. Some had chairs and rod pods set up, obviously fishing themselves - spooky! Maybe the people on the other side of the lock who were sitting around having BBQs and beer owned these set-ups? Heaven forbid that they had merely put their gear there ready for the evening! Germans and towels spring to mind.

So we drove downstream, along the golf course, to what I think is part of Manor Farm's fishing. My mate had fished matches along here several years ago and assured me it was stuffed with chub.

We set up about 3 ish and struggled, like the other four anglers nearby, to get a bite. I went from 4 ft long mono hooklengths with size 14s to short braided hooklengths . I tried pellets glued to long hairs, boiles and meat, all to no avail. The strange thing was, on a couple of occasions, a large drilled pellet and a chunk of meat had disappeared when I wound in. No indication of a bite and the bait stops were of a size to ensure that the pellet etc stayed on. Not sure if there are any crays on this stretch?

I noticed that there were hundreds of minnows at my feet so I decided to feed them a little Hemp & Halli mix to build them up a bit. Then I remembered my nice new Fuji was made for such underwater magic so I screwed the camera adaptor on to a spare bank stick and, having set the self timer, gently lowered it into the river.  Here's just one of the great pictures I took.

Of course, having a monstrously huge black space ship descend into their world, just a few inches above their heads, made them do the most sensible thing. They instantly buggered off!

By about 6 I started to pick up chub like peas in a pod. All around the 1.5 - 2lb mark.

My mate packed up around 7 having blanked but I stayed on til dark. I started to get more confident bites (to be expected as the light levels dropped) and finished just before 10 with a nice healthy looking fish of 4lb 7oz

It fought more like a barbel than a chub so I was slightly disappointed but it was in nice chunky condition so I can't complain. Also, while relaxing during the fishless afternoon, I watched families of long tailed tits and some reed warblers (?) messing about in the reeds each side of me as well as several fly pasts by the resident kingfisher. All in all a most enjoyable trip.