Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Silver Tourists at Wareham!

For the first time since 1998 I was able to have a day off work on my birthday. The trip did not start well, due to heavy traffic I arrived in dorset a couple of hours later than expected, only to find that the tackle shop in Wareham had run out of maggots,  necessitating a trip to Poole to pick up some bait. To top it all a bitterly north east wind had caused temperatures to plummet.

It was two o'clock before I finally set up on Wareham Quay. I set up a couple of quivertip tip rods hoping to entice a specimen roach and hopefully bonus sea trout.

My feedered maggots soon attracted the attentions of series of salmon parr. These thumb print markings are also present on immature brown trout. Hopefully the presence of so many parr bodes well for the future of salmon on the Frome, in it's heyday fish in excess of forty pounds were recorded on this small river.

Eventually I hooked a better fish which turned out to be a small sea trout of perhaps three quarters of a pound. A trio of decent dace and a postage stamp sized flounder (literally) completed my catch. Due to the biting cold I packed up an hour after dusk.

My original plan was to spent a couple of days fishing the offshore banks out of Poole hoping for a Blonde Ray or spurdog, unfortunately because of the weather the trip had to be called off.

My plan B was to travel to Viaduct Fishery in Somerset in search of a motherless minnow or sun bleak as they are more properly known. These alien fish have colonised a number of the drains and stillwaters in Somerset. The fishery owner advised that if I fished here in August it would take seconds for me to catch one but that they didn't really show up much in winter. So not such a cunning plan, I only managed to catch a dozen or so small roach during the course of another freezing cold day. I will be back during the summer.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Dab Central

Folkestone pier is a strange place, it is a concrete pier, a breakwater really! I asked the car park attendant how to get to the pier and he responded go through the gap next to the cafe. How surreal, I went through the gap to find a disused railway station, complete with tracks and platform numbers, but with the victorian iron structure bereft of a roof. I walked along the platform and up some steps which led me out onto the pier, I settled on peg 30 which was on an elbow in the pier. Behind me were the rusted remains of the railway and other dereliction, this species hunt is taking me to some strange places.

I arrived a couple of hours before high tide and planned to fish through till after dark. My target was a three or five bearded rockling or slugs as sea anglers know them. I fished two or three hook flappers with size 6 aberdeens which would be baited with a section of black lugworm. I decided to fish both rods fairly close, one at thirty yards and the other at around fifty yards out.
 I soon discovered that the sea bed must have been carpeted with dabs as I caught most casts and occasionally two at a time. As the tide became stronger I realised that the sea bed was snaggy and proceeded to lose several sets of gear. I noticed the locals were using leads with fixed soft tail wires, whilst my breakaway lead wires were fatally ensnared the wires on the soft fixed leads would straighten and pull free (well usually). A spring tide merely exacerbated the problem and I spent a frustrating couple of hours before the tide eased off during the afternoon.
Whiting showed during the afternoon with four being keepers along with the smallest lesser spotted dogfish I have ever seen. The dab tally was growing and I lost count, I am sure I must have landed at least twenty. An angler nearby had a rockling and I maintained the attitude of a serious sea angler denigrating the fish as a slug whilst wanting one of my own.

Just on dusk a short cast of maybe ten yards saw me finally land one of my target species, a five bearded rockling. Apologies for the picture quality as light was fading fast.

The walk back to the car in the dark was a bit erie as I walked along the station platform, I thought to myself that it was the perfect place to mug someone. On the long drive back home I thought about why the station was build, was it to bring passengers to a long lost boarding point for shipping or was it Dab Central for anglers in search of a tasty dab or two for tea?

Saturday, 8 January 2011

A Personal Best Brown Trout

This year the Environment agency have abolished the closed season for brown trout in fully enclosed stillwaters. This is a change I fully support for the following reasons:
  • Wild brown trout in stillwaters spawn in feeder streams and thus retaining the closed season in stillwaters that are not fully enclosed protects this valuable resource.
  • Most stillwaters nowadays are artificially stocked with triploid trout (this is achieved by heat treating the eggs). Triploid fish look, swim, jump, and taste like normal fish, except for one important difference; they never develop normal eggs or sperm and are unable to reproduce (i.e. they are sterile and never lose condition).
  • The closed season for rainbow trout on stillwaters was removed some years ago and retaining one for brown trout was inconsistent.
Tim Small owner of Lechlade Trout Fishery has stocked a number of large brown trout this winter.I arrived to find Lechlade thankfully free of ice. With visibility poor I had little chance of stalking a brown trout so I decided to fish deep with lures that might be seen to imitate fish fry. After a couple of hours I was still fishless despite rods bending all around me. A brief spell with a "blinged out" terry's tadpole saw me land a six pound rainbow.

Walking round the lake I noticed that one lucky angler had caught a brace of large browns from under a tree by the island. When the spot became vacant I dropped in and spent the whole afternoon in this area resting the water regularly. I had two fish in quick succession on a white nomad; a rainbow trout of about seven pounds and a new personal best brown trout of 8lb 11oz.

Next cast a double figure brown followed the fly in and I saw the white of it's mouth open as I 'hung' the fly prior to recasting. Unfortunately it changed it's mind and despite changing flies regularly I could only provoke follows. With half an hour to go until dusk I finally had a solid take, unfortunately it was just an average rainbow which completed my limit.

Will we see large numbers of specimen brown trout being stocked into our trout fisheries as a result of this legislation? I suspect not as rainbows grow fast and are much easier, quicker and therefore cheaper to produce. Tim Small is an exception, he breeds his own fish and is keen to provide the trout angler with the chance to catch big browns through the winter.

Postscript: I returned to Lechlade the following Sunday and the browns were noticeable by their absence. I hard to work hard on a difficult day for my limit of four stockie rainbows. On Lechlade even the stockies are around six pounds!