Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Post Script

As the sun sets on fishing opportunities in 2015 I decided to squeeze in a couple more short sessions...

I've got to admit, after publishing my review of the year, in spite of acknowledging 3 new PBs and plenty of good times on the bank, I still felt a little down about my angling this year. So I decided to get out and do a little bit more before the year is out...

Yesterday I headed down to Birch Lake, Littlebourne armed with a pint of maggots hoping for a tench or two. I figured this small pool would be the most likely candidate to have benefited from this warm spell and even if the carp were a little docile, a ball of wriggly red maggots are sure to wake up a tinca! Perhaps a stealthy approach on the float may have fared better but with a forecast of rain all day, I decided to present my offerings on a light ledger with a pva mesh stick of gentles.

It was a fairly slow day but a successful one as two beautiful tench graced my net. The first run of the day came an hour after setting up to the rod I had cast to a set of lilies near the middle of the lake. Unfortunately, as I picked up the rod there was no resistance. A moment later, the other rod, also positioned near lilies but in slightly shallower water, screamed off with a face-melting run!
This time I hit it no problem and retrieved the culprit - this feisty, dark 3lb 8oz tench!

A few blips at the end of the day were worth hitting!
The next run came soon after on the same rod but whilst a pound heavier, gave no where near as disproportionate an account of itself as its little buddy!

Although I accomplished my goal to catch some tench, I was a little disappointed that a carp didn't try to crash the party. So I began thinking about where I might fish tomorrow. There seemed little point going to Fordwich so decided to head over to Stonar for one last short day session for the year.

Stonar could not be more of a contrast from the tree lined pool of serenity I had fished the day before. A huge expanse of open water allowed the strong Westerly winds to kick up quite a choppy sea! I positioned myself in the wind nonetheless, in the hope it had brought some fish across with it, after I spoke to a friend tucked away out of the wind on the opposite bank who reported the fishing to be fairly slow.

Once again I missed my first run and the second brought me a bream. At this point I decided to switch all three rods over to a boilie approach and to quit trying to dutifully use up the remaining maggots from yesterday. Throughout the day I had several short takes, each soon after casting with a long pva stringer of VF boilies. Had I brought a spod rod with me I could perhaps have kept these bites coming but regrettably I had thought this unnecessary whilst taking my gear to the car.
However, one run was a good'n! A tackle tart would have hated my set up - I was fishing with three different rods in three different test curves, two with cork handles, two bait runners and one big pit. It was one of the lighter rods, a 1.75lb TC barbel rod which received this blistering take and I'm glad about it! What transpired to be a very angry common carp made many violent lunges which would have been somewhat lost on the 3lb TC carp rod which was adjacent on the pod.
Whilst this was to be the last fish of the session, I am very pleased with this little 15lb chunk and very glad to have again fulfilled my ambition for the day.

I have no further plans to fish in 2015 as I set off on Christmas Eve to visit family. That said, a lure rod will be packed as some great stretches of the Avon flow past relatives in both Gloucestershire and Somerset, so you never know...
Until next time my string is pulled, thanks for reading and have a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Looking back at 2015

Marking Year 7 Music books whilst blanking at Fordwich... The only way I could justify a number of trips this year!

2015 has in many ways been a difficult year as far as my fishing is concerned. Trips have been much less frequent due to mounting work pressures but also time spent on the bank has not exactly been easy fishing. That said, as ever, much has been learnt, good times had and a few PBs bettered.

In Fordwich Frustration I wrote about how I struggled on this lake when I first joined the Canterbury and District Angling Association. However, as I got to know the lake better and played to  my strengths as an angler I began to have some success which you can read about in Summer Carping on Fordwich Lake and More Fun at Fordwich. Part of this success was due to quietly targeting intimate and neglected swims. My first session this year with a good mate forced us to pick a big double swim facing out into open water. I had no prior knowledge of this swim and so was forced to explore with the marker rod. Features were found, rigs cast and bait spombed out pretty accurately but nothing more than a single bream graced my net with its presence. And slime.
On this session I spoke to another angler who is very successful on Fordwich. He advised me not to limit myself to the close range swims as I'd be missing out on so much good fishing elsewhere. I took this advice but alas it has not yet paid off. Every session bar one this year has been on an unfamiliar swim and whilst I have learnt a lot and might be more confident fishing these spots in future, I can't help but feel that with so little time available to me, it might have been better spent in familiar territory.

Personal Bests
What seems to be becoming an annual social trip to Charlie's Lake, Ashford in April produced several decent cats for me on a mixture of 30mm Bloodied Eel pellets by Dynamite baits and double 20mm Krustacean boilies by ID Bait Developments. My mates did equally well on big chunks of luncheon meat and halibut pellets. I had several bites which did not 'take off' in spite of fishing a very light lead on a running rig with a big plastic ring. Since then it has been suggested that freelancing baits will produce a greater frequency of confident takes and so I will be sure to try this next time. Nonetheless, I had a couple of cats above 20lb including this new PB of 22lb.

My first fishing trip in France at Le Val Dore proved more of a challenge than I anticipated. The problem was not getting bites as it was for others but converting the bites to carp on the bank. A combination of stepping up the tackle, heavier leads, sharper, bigger hooks and a little more muscle on the strike finally resulted in success. I know this is not a British fish but being the biggest fish I've caught and certainly not with greater ease due to my being abroad so I have no qualms about claiming this as a personal best carp at 31lb 6oz.

On my first trip to the river since the opening of the pike season I managed a few fish on mackerel presented on a float/ ledger paternoster and as luck would have it the first of which was a new PB at 17lb 4oz followed by a few [estimated to be] low doubles.
My pike fishing at Fordwich has thrown up a few reasonable fish this year but mostly very small jacks. For some reason the river always treats me well when it comes to pike. Perhaps one day I will achieve my ambition of a 20lb plus river pike.

This year I acquired a second hand DSLR from a good friend and have been putting my blank sessions to good use learning how to use it properly. I now have a decent comprehension of manual mode and can take a good shot however, my response time is still too slow to make this a consistently useful skill for catch portraits. Here are some pictures which have I feel have turned out well...

My Wife!
I have been very lucky that this year my wife signed up as a member of the CDAA and has come along with me on a number of trips. She is now pretty competent at float and feeder fishing and has caught some cracking roach, rudd, gudgeon and carp - the biggest of which at 9lbs was printed in the Anglers Mail back in June! I know that next season she is unlikely to renew her membership but this year we have shared some quality time together by the waterside and created memories which will stay with me forever.

Looking ahead...
As far as carp fishing goes I believe I need a change of scenery, not that I am discontent with the beauty of Fordwich but before I go out of my brain I need to take a break and go somewhere where I can get onto the fish within the confines of short-session angling, which is the bulk of my fishing these days. I am prepared to do a bit of work and don't want an easy runs water but a relatively low-stock big pit is probably not the most ideal location for someone with time constraints! I have my eye on a few lakes so hopefully a sabbatical will do me some good and perhaps allow me to return to Fordwich refreshed and ready to embrace its challenges once more.
Every year I regret not spending more time pursuing perch and I really haven't done much in the way of barbel fishing for a while and so these two quarries will inform next seasons targets.
In the mean time, thanks for reading and I look forward another year of blogging in 2016.
Merry Christmas!