Sunday, 21 March 2010

On The Top Again!!

I wasn't going to go fishing today; I had been on-call for the last couple of nights and I just felt exhausted! Well, I found myself in the somewhat enviable position of being kicked out by my dear wife to go off fishing for a few hours and unwind. I grabbed some boilies from the freezer and some dog biscuits from the local shop and with a couple of outfits including my sons' 9 foot budget spinning rod. I seem to be getting a little predictable again with my choice of venues, and headed off to fish "Little Allers" again, especially as I had seen the first signs of a few dark shapes swimming around the island the last time I went.
The weather was first class today, warm, a light breeze and the sun was out, this was in complete contrast to yesterday when it was grey, wet and miserable. I had the lake to myself on arrival at about 10am which really surprised me considering what a fantastic day it was. as usual I set up a sleeper rod using a Dynamite baits peach and mango boilie. These smelt so nice I could have eaten one myself. I put out a few dog biscuits at the spot I was fishing but at that stage nothing was showing itself. I reeled in after about an hour and wandered around the lake with a bag of dog biscuits catapulting a few into likely looking spots. Well, to cut a long story short, the sleeper rod remained firmly in snooze mode despite my wonderful smelling boilies. I am beginning to think that maybe they are designed to catch anglers rather than Carp! At about 1pm I thought I caught a glimpse of a Carp roll on the surface right at the edge of the island. I put out a few dog biscuits and sure enough I heard the all to familiar slurp and I could see a couple of pairs of thick Carp lips taking a few off the top. I was cursing myself now, as although I had unpacked the little spinning rod I hadn't rigged it up. So with some haste on went a bubble float and a fluorocarbon trace that I had tied up the night before of about 6 feet long. I had tied this rig slightly differently with the hair coming off the strait shank part of a size 10 hook at right angles. I had seen this tied on the Korda volume 3 DVD and it leaves the hook hanging directly under the dog biscuit and out of site. Clever!. I tried to photograph it for this posting but alas it didn't come out to well. I will tie it on a larger hook from my sea fishing tackle and see if I can grab a picture that way.
Anyway, back to the fishing, in a window of about 90 minutes I landed six carp, five around the 5 to 6lb mark (didn't bother weighing these) and one that when weighed and adjustments made for the net came out bang on 12lbs. My sons little spinning rod and reel certainly worked overtime and the rod took on an interesting shape. I only had 6lb main line and the trace was around 5lbs so I had to be a bit careful and let the clutch do its job.
5lb Mirror Carp (approximately)

6lb Common Carp (approximately)

12lb Mirror Carp

The carp were staying within a few feet of the edge of the island so this called for some pretty accurate casting on my part, and I felt a bit rusty hitting only about 50% of casts in the zone where the fish were. The Carp turned off the feed as if someone had flicked a switch, the window of opportunity was that small. I persevered for about another hour before deciding to pack up. A very satisfying and productive session, and did I feel more relaxed.............definitely!!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Things Move Fast..........Sometimes!!

Well it has been a very fast moving few weeks for me and I am now faced with some new challenges in the form of new job!. Shortly after my last posting I received not one but two calls in the space of as many days offering me the opportunity to get back into to the managing aspect of care. I have been working at an EMI unit this last few months after having to job hunt twice in the space of last year, and this was a hands on job, returning to my roots in the business. I thoroughly enjoyed this, even though working nights is a bit of a killer, and I met some really nice career carers who despite their time in the job remained caring and conscientious. The biggest problem with the job I guess was the pay, not a problem while I can claim child tax credit (I have my own views about this keeping pay low) but this will change in a few years, and by then I will have been out of the loop for too long. Anyhow, I found an informal chat turn into a written offer of employment and started in my new job on the 8th March. Flattering.....yes, scary....definitely as I find myself struggling with new data bases. I hope I have made the best decision for me, I know it's the best decision for my family, but I can already feel the old anxieties and pressure returning. Only time will tell, and I guess that I should be grateful for such an opportunity in these difficult times.
I got out fishing yesterday, and what a beautiful day it was down here in Devon, warm and sunny in the calm wind. I didn't want to be adventurous so I went to my old favourite "Little Allers". I fished one sleeper rod for Carp, using a Dynamite fish and Robin Red boilie, and used soft-hook pellets and a feeder to have a go at the Bream and Roach in the lake. This worked well for the Roach, though I was plagued with more that my fair share of nuisance fish, I did manage a couple reaching the pound mark. The Bream were a no show, however, I did manage a couple of Roach/Bream hybrids which surprised another angler at the lake that had never seen them there. The Carp sleeper rod remained just that except for one Mirror Carp of about 5lbs which was very welcome. The good news is that I did see a few Carp, cruising in the upper water layers out by the island. My attempts to see if they would feed by catapulting out a few floating baits proved fruitless, but their presence was a good sign, and another few weeks should see me returning to stalking a few out off the top as the water temperature rises.
Forgot to say in the first paragraph that my new office is within strolling distance of two well stocked fishing tackle shops. Oh dear!!....................................

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Best Laid Plans and Pride Before a Fall!

I finished another long run at work on Friday and was sorely looking forwards to my six days off before going back on shift again. The last month at work had been particularly difficult due to many of the patients on the unit along with some staff had contracted the dreaded Norovirus, commonly known as the "winter sickness bug". Believe me it's been messy at times. I was priding myself on managing to miss the "sickness" myself, putting this down to good infection control practices!. I had great plans to go fishing at my local lake (Little Allers) on Sunday, and was all set to go up and fish the Exeter Ship Canal on the following Tuesday to attempt to catch my first Pike. I had been put in contact with a retired gentleman from the Exeter area who knew the canal well, and was a keen Pike angler who supplemented his pension through what I can only describe as very reasonable charges for four hours guiding. This was going to be a short cut to success for me hopefully, and I felt confident I had made the right choice. I spent Saturday visiting my local tackle shop where I bought some terminal tackle suitable for the job and some frozen baits, these being Mackerel, and Lamprey, I was going to get anything else I needed on the day.
I got up to "Little Allers" on Sunday, which was a beautiful sunny day though a bit cool in the brisk wind. I set up a strawberry boilie on a hair leger rig as a sleeper rod, and set about catching the resident Roach population using red and white maggots, and very obliging they were too, keeping me busy at a fish a cast when I got them on the feed. The only problem was they were averaging around eight to the pound with the occasional 5oz - 8oz specimen (and I use that word very lightly) thrown in. I couldn't help thinking that even a "Jack" would probably turn their nose up at such small fry. It was good fun, and brought out the little boy in me as I tried to build a weight. The lake had some new residents in the form of Canada Geese, and what noisy devils they were too, and inquisitive with it, coming over to see what I was loose feeding. I took the opportunity to photograph the goose below.

"Canada Goose"

I only had two runs on the "sleeper" rod, one of which was a really blistering run which I managed to miss somehow, and at the very end of my session, a couple of clicks of my reel resulted in the fin perfect Carp below, that put up a very determined effort which belied the fact he or she was only about nine pounds. I particularly like the redness of the fins, and the perfect scale pattern, a fine example of a common.

"Fin Perfect Common Carp"

I thoroughly enjoyed my session at the lake, and was now well and truly excited about the prospect of Pike fishing on Tuesday. I always wash my rods, reels and sort all my tackle out on return from fishing, and this trip was no exception, in fact if anything I was even more thorough than usual. My wife says I spend more time washing my fishing tackle than I do the car, and I am slightly ashamed to admit this is the case. It's just another symptom of my fishing addiction. Yesterday was spent browsing blogs (fishing of course or fishing porn as my wife calls it!), washing the cars (I had been shamed into it) and I spooled my Shimano Twin Power XT-RB reel with fresh line. This reel has a fantastic line-lay and drag system, it's the best reel I have and would be more than suitable for Pike. Everything was set for my adventure!. I called Bob to see if everything was still alright his end, and double checked the directions to where we would meet up. The fall was only five hours away at this point, with the first signs of nausea coming before I even ate my evening meal. I tried to dismiss the nausea at first but it continued to build over the next few hours, and I am sure you can guess the rest. Suffice to say I didn't stray far from the bathroom. At 4am this morning I was still kidding myself that I would still make it to Exeter for 10am. At eight this morning I surrendered to the fact I had contracted Norovirus and contacted Bob to make my apologies. He was really understanding, saying he would no doubt go fishing anyway with nothing else planned. All I could think was aargh!!. I guess I tempted fate and suffered a bad case of a fall following pride, and what do they say about the best laid plans again. There is always another day I guess, but it will be some time before Bob is available again as he going to visit his daughter in sunny California next week for two months. Oh well, I will just have to give it a go myself when I am next off. Could be exciting!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Fresh Venue - New Experience

I am settling in to my new job now, and although working six consecutive 12 hour nights takes it toll, the benefit is that I have 6 days off before returning to work. I decided to make the most of my down time to try a few new coarse fishing venues.

The first venue I tried was called Town Parks Fishing which is situated about 20 miles from me between Totnes and Paignton. It consists of two lakes, with a third under construction. There is a 16 peg specimen lake which has the usual Roach, Bream, Tench and Perch all to larger sizes and Carp to 30lbs plus. The exciting aspect of this lake is the addition of Catfish which I believe are reaching the high twenties.
Specimen Lake

The specimen lake is very popular with experienced anglers, and as a result to guarantee a peg you normally need to book in advance, even at this time of year. On phoning the fishery I was informed that there was some maintenance being completed to some of the specimen lake pegs and staging, and after discussion with the very friendly owner reserved a ticket for the 20 peg match lake which is well stocked with Rudd, Roach, Bream, Perch, Chub and Carp but the sizes of these tend to be around a maximum of 5lbs with plenty of "pasties". On arrival at the lake and with the formalities of paying out the way I was given some sound advice and purchased some red maggot which I have to say were excellent quality and at the same price as local tackle shops.

Match Lake

I initially found the fishing a bit on the tough side, and I am sure that this was partly due to me not knowing the venue, but also down to the strong easterly wind that blew up causing a significant and rapid drop in temperature. All this aside, I followed the advice given to me and fished one rod on a feeder set up and float fished with the other. After a slow start where for the first 2 hours I blanked rather spectacularly, I managed to get the small Roach on the feed, and following this the Perch kicked in along with a steady flow of very small Carp of less than a pound. Not spectacular fishing but it kept the chill at bay. I recast the feeder rod to the same spot around every 10 - 15 minutes and eventually after a few more small pastie carp, and one of about 6lbs that spit the hook at the net, I managed to add two new species to my coarse fishing list, these being Bream and Chub, again small, around the 1lb mark. I will definitely be going back to this fishery; really wanting to try the specimen lake, and would dearly like to add Catfish to my species list if at all possible. Full details of this fishery can be found at

The following day was much sunnier, though the temperature seemed a lot lower in the wind chill of a fresh north-easterly wind. Anyway, with my wife planning to go out to lunch with her sister and the kids at school, I grabbed the opportunity to fish another new venue, this being Filham Park Lake. This lake along with others is owned and managed by the Plymouth and District Coarse Angling Club, though on this particular water the non-club angler is able to purchase a day ticket for the very reasonable sum of £6.50. This lake was opened in 2005 having around 20 pegs and is stocked with Bream, Tench, Roach, Rudd, Carp, both mirror and common, a few Koi-Carp, and I am told, one Grass Carp. There was no other anglers on the lake when I arrived at about 9.30am, so I was unable to get any information on how best to fish it. I fished at peg 17 around the middle of the lake and set up the same outfits as at Town Parks. I quickly discovered that the bottom seemed to be a bit weedy, but with a bit of searching around I found a bit clearer area and managed a few very small Bream about the size of my hand. On the float rod I was kept busy with almost suicidal small Roach about the size of my palm, and the odd "pastie" Carp of around 12oz to 1lb. I briefly hooked into something considerably more powerful, which eventually snapped the very light 2lb hook-link I was using. Following this the sport returned to building a bag of Roach, Bream and small Carp, and the bonus of two small Tench of about 1/2lb which were taken on the float rod. At about 1pm a club member turned up and I got some very useful information about how well the lake fishes through the spring and summer. The gentleman, George said the lake had been stocked with varying sizes of Bream, and Tench with the biggest around the 3 - 4 lb mark, but these seemed to be off the feed in this cold snap. I was surprised to see George fishing with bread-flake especially as the small Roach seemed to descend on it almost as soon as it hit the water. I was packing up when I saw George strike into a fish and after a short fight he landed a Carp which when weighed came in at 13lb 4oz, a PB for George.

Filham Park Lake

Full details of the Plymouth and District Coarse Angling Club and information about Filham Park and the clubs other waters can be found at

I felt challenged by going to two different venues on consecutive days, but reassured that I still managed to catch in difficult conditions. As a result of the change I caught different species to add to my list, and this was a welcome change, and in a strange way I enjoyed scratching out small fish, and I have always said "you can only catch what is in front of you". Filham is another water I will definitely go back to along with Town Parks and I would like to catch bigger Bream, and Tench which are very beautiful fish. I intend to visit the Exeter Shipping Canal area during my next off-rota period to have a crack at another form of fishing. This will be even more daunting due to the depth of the canal, something I am not used to in coarse fishing. Exeter Canal has a good head of Pike and these will be my target species when I visit the area. I spoke to a very helpful gentleman at Exeter Angling Centre today who suggested a few popular and productive marks. I will visit the shop prior to fishing as they also sell the day permits, giving me the opportunity to get more information and ensure I have the right terminal tackle to do the job. I will keep you posted about that next adventure.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Friendly Competition and Tackle Envy!

I arrived at my local lake today to find that members of an angling club were already in the car park prior to their first competition of 2010. I have to say that being fairly new to coarse fishing I initially found this a bit daunting as I gazed around at the fishing trolleys/seats, poles and endless different types of baits and ground baits brought.
So it was with more than a little apprehension that I unloaded my gear, said my hello's and made my way down to the lake to get set up ahead of the other anglers. I use my Shimano 15-45gm spinning rod currently for my carp fishing and when needing to go lighter again I use my purpose made Imax Mullet rod which has a second top section for quiver tips, and these two rods have served me well so far as I build my skills levels. When I feel the time is right I will get some proper advice and buy some reasonable quality coarse/carp fishing gear.

On getting down to the lake, quite rightly some of the bank had been pegged out for the competition but I was able to fit in on the end to the left corner of the island. I was already set up and fishing by the time the club anglers came down after making their draw for pegs. I was fishing a simple running ledger rig using a fluorocarbon hook link on a hair-rigged size 10 Kamasan hook and using my home-made boilies. Making my own boilies is new to me as well, and I found the methods for doing this simply from base ingredients on the internet. This aspect of my new style of fishing has real appeal, as I can be preparing for fishing when I can't get out and also the thrill of catching on a non shop bought bait. I will write a short blog on methods of boilie making, the equipment I use and flavours in the near future. Today I was armed with pale red strawberry, red tutti-frutti and natural coloured liquid brasem flavour which actually smells like caramel.

All but one of the club anglers were using poles, and the angler to the right of me had what looked like some very expensive kit. As he was fishing on the float, out of consideration I asked if my legering would interfere with his fishing, and got the chance to have a close up look at the pole and rigs. Although just a different form of fishing, the pole has little appeal to me as I just prefer using a rod and reel. I have to say that my initial apprehension quickly disappeared, as the anglers were a friendly bunch, inviting me to join in their competition (which I declined) and the banter up and down line could only be described as hilarious. The guy to my right called Ian got in amongst the Roach and Rudd from the off, and although they were very small fish around a few ounces he was hoping to build a bag and looked like he would as he was catching fairly steadily. No one in his club were trying for carp as it was felt that they wouldn't be feeding well if at all.

I persevered with legering and after about an hour or so I had a run and hooked a small carp of around 5 pounds, which had the line around its fin, and as I tried to net it, the line "pinged" off and promptly unhooked itself, so carp 1 and me 0. This happened at around 10.30am, and after re-baiting and casting to the same spot I settled down to wait again. It was around 12.30 that I had another run, and hooked and landed a lovely common carp that was a bit on the lean side; about the length of 7 pounder but no more than about 5 1/2lb. I guess the cold winter had taken it's toll on this particular common. The next hour and a half saw five more runs and another five carp, all mirrors successfully come to the bank ranging from 5lb to the best at around the 7 1/2 lb plus mark in the picture below.
My last fish of the day coincided with the end of the competition and I was intrigued to find out the result. I have to say I was pretty impressed with the weights that had been made from catching small roach and rudd. Top weight was 16lb 5oz and my neighbour who had kept at it managed a respectable second place weight of 14lb 12oz. It suddenly dawned on me that had I accepted the invitation to join in, I would have had the top weight. Will this experience turn me into a match angler?...........I doubt it, I wouldn't like the pressure to catch, but today taught me a few things, that match anglers are a friendly bunch willing to share information, and maybe my years as a sea-angler served me well and enabled me to transfer those skills and adapt to a new form of fishing; and after all fishing is fishing and should be enjoyed!