Monday, 25 February 2013

I need a lay-in. Weekly report starting Feb 16th.

This weeks been manic made up off an after dark session, a full day’s perch fishing on a new venue, two days guiding for pike before finishing off with both days over the weekend spent on the Peg One Fish Frenzy stand at The Big One.
The after dark session was tough, when I left the lake at around 9pm I knew it was cold and the thermometer in the car confirmed this, as it was just 0.5 degrees. In the past I have fished in these, and worse conditions, and wondered how I managed this. The answer is simple; I was catching on a regular basis in the past. It’s amazing just how the elements are forgotten when fish are being caught and you’re working a swim. Unfortunately that’s not the case at the moment and the lake Im fishing, and many others, seem to be continuing in the poor, unpredictable form of last year.
The next day I was up early and heading south with my father and brother to a new venue with perch on our minds? The forecast was for a cloudy day with the chance of seeing the odd glimpse of the sun, yet we spent most of the day beneath a clear blue sky with not a cloud in sight. Not great for perch fishing, however we all caught a mixture of species including perch, quality roach and rudd, tench and pumpkinseeds, yet the monster perch failed to show.
At the end of the week I had a regular customer booked in for two days for an introduction on deadbaiting for pike. Big fish weren’t necessary, so on the first day we headed to Frensham Small Pond. The days had been rescheduled due to the lakes being iced over the previous week and on arrival we found cat ice in the margins. A very cold brisk easterly wind was forecasted lowering the temperature from just 2 degrees maximum to -3 in the wind. We opted not to go for the sensible potion with the wind behind and headed halfway up the beach side where the wind was right in our faces. Why? Well that’s where the fish seem to be this year. Two rods were cast out, one with a popped-up bait the other with a standard bottom bait and come an hour later we were wondering if things were going to happen, yet the alarm finally sounded and the first of eight runs developed of which five were converted. I cast out a heli-rig as a sleeper rod and two bites came to this. The first was an 8oz roach, the other a rare winter tench. After braving and beating the elements for nearly nine hours we finally called it a day and headed home with bigger fish on our minds for the following day.
Friday was another early start and this time we headed to Frensham Great Pond knowing that we wouldn’t see as much action, however if any fish did pick up our baits then it would probably beat Marks best that stood a shade over 10lb. Once again the margins were covered in cat ice, yet the cold wind was from behind, so once the first couple of hours had past it felt some what more comfortable. Unfortunately runs were slow in coming and again we were beginning to think that the weather was just to raw, however the pop-up was finally picked up and a firm strike saw Mark bent into a solid fish. Unfortunately the fight was short lived as the hooks pulled leaving Mark gutted. Quite a time past without anymore action, then along the marginal reeds a fish was spotted and Mark quickly wound in a float fished sardine so that it was right on the spot and instantly the float slipped away. The fight was short and unspectacular, yet the pike weighed 12lb 9oz, a new personal best, recognise her? Once again a couple of hours past and the rod that was covering ground to our left was repositioned further out and to our right. I don’t think it was out long before a steady run saw Mark bent into a slow moving fish and knowing these venues could and on the odd occasion throw up the odd big fish thought that something special might be on the cards, yet it wasn’t to be as another low double slipped into the net. After another nine hours bankside and with the light and temperature dropping sharply we called it a day, happy with our results and with Mark full of confidence that he can now return on his own and catch a few.
As mentioned earlier, the weekend was spent at The Big One; something that I will cover in my next blog as I want to promote a new innovative gadget from Nash called the Deliverance Ball Maker.    

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A consistent run at last... Weekly Report starting 9th Feb 2013

A quick look at the weather shows the start of the week to be very cold with snow forecasted on Monday and a chilly day Tuesday so both of these were spent producing yet more European predator articles, this time on critically, slow sinking and popped-up deadbaits.
The rain/sleet forecasted for Wednesday is forecasted to come in late afternoon so knowing that the river Wey was at the top of its banks on Monday and would now be fining down felt that I might just get conditions spot on. Arriving at 8am I found the river lower and clearer than what I would have liked, yet knowing the fish would be hungry headed for my favourite swim. Setting up with a 13ft float rod, 5lb mainline, a 2.8lb hooklink with double maggot on a Kamasan B525 under a 5x4 alloy stick I soon found myself having to scale up as the first three trots saw fish lost from hook pulls. The flow was certainly faster than first anticipated so a size 16 Drennan Super Specialist was tied on to the 5lb mainline. This did the job and although more fish than I would have liked were lost, mainly due to the unforgiving nature of my closed face reel, nineteen chub were landed ranging from 8oz to 3lb along with twenty-eight net dace to 10oz and three wild brown trout, Fifty-one fish from one swim on such a tiny river is amazing and just goes to prove the importance of getting the conditions and location spot on. It was one of my most memorable sessions on the float for many years, certainly not as easy as some may think with nearly all the chub coming first, then the minnows became a problem so I upped the feed and made sure that my hookbait headed downstream bang in the middle of these. Once this change was made the dace responded yet they were much further downstream in the shallows than the chub, probably due to them being spooked. I could have caught more, but I had only taken three-quarters of a pint of maggots with me and paid for three-hours parking, yet with a mixed catch of over 30lb in the net I left thinking that the barren spell might just be a thing of the past.
Thursday a warm weather front descended on the country bringing heavy rain overnight yet after dropping the lady of at work I found a few hours to cast out a couple of popped-up sardines in a local lake. I only fished three hours and should have recorded three pike, yet two runs were strangely missed, the other producing another good double. The reason for the short session was I had planned a whole days perch fishing with my father on Friday so had to get the tackle and bait sorted, yet during the hours of 4pm and 7pm I started to get a painful ear and having lost so many weeks last year with ear infections took no chances, cancelled the outing and headed to the doctors first thing Friday morning, returning with another dose of Penicillin! Fortunately the ear hasn’t got any worse so with the weather nice and mild I headed of to a local lake for what might be my first whole night in ages. Arriving at 4pm I managed to get both rods marked up at the same distance as the spod rod and after depositing some hemp and maggots dropped helicopter rigs over the top. Darkness arrived yet nothing happened, so instead of working the rods I decided to leave them out until some action came. At 8pm both rods are away, the first was a small fish that came adrift, the other a lovely winter tench. Four more fish followed, yet due to somebody creeping around behind me I felt unnerved and decided to call it a day at 10pm. To be honest I was happy to get home, but gutted to have to cut short what could have been a good session, yet with the ear still painful and the temperature dropping below freezing, I probably did the sensible thing.

Next weekend 23rd/24th February sees another major fishing show open its doors. This time it’s The Big One at Farnborough Airfield. I will be attending and working on the Nash Peg One stand where I will have a few signed copies of my book – Obsession of an Angler so if you haven’t bought one yet, then popped down for a chat.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Chasing Ghosts

After a dismal week I was hoping to get off to a good start this week and although the session on Saturday morning did produce a fish, it wasn’t a monster, yet I have to be glad of every one that graces my net at the moment. Arriving before dawn once more I soon had two deadbaits positioned. A cold northerly was cutting across the lake and the chilling 3 degrees registered on the cars dashboard was dropped a few degrees due to the chill factor. It didn’t take long for a bite to materialise and if this pike was lost I would have sworn it was twice the size it turned out to be, 10lb! Two more runs came over the next couple of hours, yet both were annoyingly missed which is frustrating considering the lack of action that I have seen of late.
Sunday I was once again pike fishing, this time though I was guiding and hoping to demonstrate using a drifter float, yet on arriving at Frensham Small Pond I was confronted with a packed car park. I think I counted ten other anglers, some carp fishing but mostly pikers and with limited areas to fish we set up on the main beach, yet with a carper to our left the chance of drifting a bait wasn’t an option. Two runs came during our short four hour stay which produced one small pike and looking around I think we did well as I didn’t see another pike landed.
Monday morning I was back pike fishing. After dropping the girlfriend off I was casting out around 7.45am and with a warm south westerly blowing thought that action wouldn’t be long in coming, and I was right, however it was the same double that I caught last week that intercepted my popped up sardine. Come 9.30am, and with no further action I called it a day as I needed to check out a fishery for a perch guiding trip on Wednesday as well as sorting out some paperwork and organising the tackle for a return to the lake I’ve been prebaiting. Once again the after dark session produced absolutely nothing. I am beginning to think I’m chasing ghosts at the moment so its time to knock it on the head for a couple of weeks, but I will be back.
Tuesday was my first day without a few hours fishing for a while, a day of recuperating as I was feeling knackered, yet I still completed some photos for a predator article along with organising the perch kit for a day’s guiding at The Royal Berkshire Fishery the following day.
Wednesday dawned raw with a chilling north wind and temperatures of 3 degrees. Arriving well before my client I spent time building a swim next to some snags with chopped worm, prawn and red maggots as well as casting a sleeper rod out with a juicy worm on it. This rod took just two minutes to spring into life from a double figured common, so not wanting to ruin the chance of another decided not to recast. Ron arrived and we settled down for some close in float fishing, yet every time the float sailed away it was from a quality roach, not the desired perch, yet Ron was happy with roach to 1lb 3oz. The sleeper rod saw two bites coming to it, both were missed, yet one was due to the line catching on one of the cushioning pads in the recess that takes the rod on my KXi alarms. Bite alarms are meant to catch the angler fish, not loose them fish and as this isn’t the first time these alarms have cost me a fish they have now found the bottom of my dustbin! A few bites were missed later in the day, yet we were up against the elements and I will be trying my best to get Ron out before the end of the season during one of my perch sessions.
Thursday I wanted to see if the swim I've been catching pike from would produce during the afternoon. I teamed up with brother Kevin and set of arriving at the lake around 2.30pm. The only run came to one of my brothers rods and once in the net I instantly recognised the pike as the same one that I've caught twice before. To say this ones friendly is an understatement.
Friday I decided to try a different swim on the lake as id seen a few fish moving as we packed up at dusk the evening before. One rod was out with a deadbait, the other on a helicopter rig and maggot. The first and only bite came on the deadbait and after a spirited fight another low double was landed. This rod was swapped over at dusk to a helicopter rig and fished at range yet come 8pm and with hail stones falling I called it a day.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A very special day.

I never thought that one day I would write a book covering my life as an angler, let alone dedicating one to my father, my Mr Crabtree! Yet due to constant requests from angling acquaintances that day arrived and back in October 2011 I finally put pen to paper, or should I say finger to keyboard. Almost a year to the day, the final paragraph was completed and I jetted of to the Caribbean for a well needed holiday. Late last year the book was ready for launch at The Carp Societies Show at Sandown where it went down really well and since then sales have exceeded my expectations. It seems that every angler I speak to has bought a copy, one even approached me at Gold Valley last month saying that I had upset him. When I asked why he said it was because I had kept in up till 2am, the reason being, he started reading the chapter on fishing for carp on the Thames and couldn’t put the book down! Numerous emails have been coming through with moving words, especially the ones that mention my angling relationship with my father. Sadly this winter has been so bad, getting dad out on the bank has been difficult, so it was a very special day when a knock on the door saw the delivery of the first three leather bound copies delivered.
Finished in brown Old English leather and coming with its own protective sleeve and signed certificate I was overwhelmed with emotion as I set of to hand dad with leather bound copy number one. Although dad knew the book was out and had seen briefly seen a copy before Christmas I had purposely held back as this was to be one of my proudest days in angling and one I will cherish forever. Dad shows little emotion at the best of times, yet I could see that he was overjoyed with the present and was soon flicking through the pages, eager to relive numerous memorable times we have spent together and to see if Id mentioned that it was he who caught the first carp from the Thames!
It wasn’t just my father that I felt deserved a leather bound copy, as my girlfriend’s dad is also a keen angler and ever since knowing him he has sparked a special friendship with my father. Their has been many a day when all I can hear is the two of them chatting a way in the distance, catching the odd fish but generally enjoying getting out and casting a line. Handing a copy to him felt good and I could tell from his reaction that he wasn’t expecting it. Let’s face it; it’s him who I have to thank for teaching his daughter to put up with an angler.
So nearly eighteen months on from when the urge to write a book first became reality I have achieved what I set out to do, thank my dad in my own special way.

Leather copies are now available from Calm Productions

I will also have a few signed hard back copies with me at The Big One at Farnborough Airfield on Saturday February 23rd and Sunday 24th. I will be on the Nash Peg One stand and look forward to seeing you there.    

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Beyond a joke now...

I was surprised to see that the ice covering the lakes defrosted Saturday night and knowing that the fishing can be brilliant as soon as this disappears couldn’t help but wonder if my decision to fish on Monday night was slightly too late. Sunday evening would have been best yet every other weekend I don’t fish as it’s the ladies weekend off and by doing this it creates a good balance in the relationship.
A brief look at the weather forecast though showed a band of wet and windy weather approaching, however rarely beaten; I headed for the lake I’ve been pre-baiting late afternoon. The rain had started and the wind was gaining in strength, yet amazingly the spod flew out nice an easily, even against the strong side wind. Come an hour later though I was back in the car cursing a number of things. I could have blamed the crap maggots that I bought from the local tackle shop, the annoying road works in Aldershot making any journey made around the kids school run extremely frustrating, even the strap of my Petzl head torch that after years of trusted service has now become loose and hangs of the end of my nose, or the oversized hood to my waterproof that hangs in front of my face obscuring my vision, yet all these things are normally taken in my stride. What’s annoying me and basically causing me to become what can only be described as depressed is this f*****g weather! Sorry for swearing, but its now beyond a joke! Last week we saw temperatures dropping to a chilling -6 some nights, yet today it’s a Caribbean 11 degrees. With the temperature up and down like a whores draws us anglers stand little chance of putting a consistent run of form together. In fact we stand little chance of putting a fish on the bank. To be honest I sometimes wish I was an angler that was happy to chuck out a deadbait in the most comfy swim on the lake or a boilie with a PVA bag of pellets attached, yet I’m not. I’m the sort of angler that has to work a swim, casting repeatedly and watching the water, and when this isn’t possible due to a mixture of heavy rain and gale force winds, well there’s little point me being there as its only going to stress me out!
Fortunately the girlfriend sensed my frustration and knowing that the wet and windy weather was to continue through Tuesday evening decided to change our seeing night to Tuesday, freeing up the best fishing conditions of the week, Wednesday. This is great as I can stay in doors whilst the rain falls and create a predator article of a European magazine that’s been requested. Maybe it’s all falling into place, yet the way my luck is running, come Wednesday a freak tornado’s likely to hit the venue I’m fishing!
After dropping the girlfriend of I headed to a local lake with a couple of new pike rigs. I had written an article for a European magazine of popping baits up for pike and whist doing so it got the brain going. I needed to test out what I thought would work and less than an hour after casting a sardine popped up six inches of the bottom received a screamer from a good double. I was hoping for more, yet the clouds dispersed and the sun came out probably killing any further action so by late morning I was home once more and organising a late afternoon evening trip to the lake I have been pre-baiting. Unfortunately the fish were once again being elusive and apart from two definite enquiries the evening past uneventful.
Although I was up early on Thursday, I didn’t cast out till around 9am. The session was more to take a look at a venue that has produced the odd big pike over the last few months as well as catching up with my brother. My efforts went unrewarded, yet Kevin took a couple of pike to 12lb which was encouraging. The lake has a very choddy bottom and presenting rigs effectively over the top is difficult, so later that day I tied up a couple of rigs that offer slow sinking herrings. Arriving at the lake on Friday well before dawn I fishing four three hours yet once again my efforts went unrewarded. Friday evening I was once again fishing the pre-baited lake after depositing a good helping of hemp and dead maggots within. The wind was finally easing and with a couple of fish showing as dusk fell my confidence rose, yet apart from two slight tremors the fish once again got the better of me. I have to say that although I’m not catching a great deal, I feel that I’m fishing well and more to the point I’m enjoying getting back into the big fish scene again. A few more fish would be appreciated though, yet when targeting tough venues and big fish, things don’t always go to plan, however I know that one day, hopefully soon, the right bite will come along and my run of poor form will be forgotten.