Sunday, 19 June 2011

Ever had one of those days!

Ever had one of those days when nothing goes to plan! Well this was one of those weekends. I went to the garage Friday evening only to find the front offside tyre as flat as a pancake. I returned to the garage in my scruffs only to find the nut holding the spare in place was locked solid. A liberal application of WD40 and an hours wait freed it enough to get the job done.

The forecast for the weekend was wet and windy which meant that  Saturday's boat trip was blown off. Shore fishing would be difficult as the wind would mean weed problems.

Plan B was to fish for mullet. Thin- lipped mullet travel further up river than the larger thick lipped mullet. My choosen venue was the Sussex Ouse at Southease. My plan was to fish the tide up from low. Six hours and several hundred casts later my baited spinner had failed to elicit even a follow and I left Sussex deflated and tired.

So tired infact, that I had to pull into a service station for an hours nap. After dosing myself up with caffeine I returned to the car to find that I had a flat battery, I had left the lights on! A friendly RAC man gave me a jump start, even though I am member of Green Flag!

As usual I spotted the pub I was staying at too late, so I turned round and pulled into the car park. I went into the pub and introduced myself and was shown to my room. What a farce, I was in the wrong pub and they thought I had booked the function room! If you ever go to Whiteparish please note that there are two pubs right next to each other in this little village.

Whiteparish doesn't have a mobile phone signal, so I had a six mile drive before making the courtesy call to find out that Sunday's boat trip was also blown off.

Sunday I woke up more optimistic. Wrong, on going to pay my bill my credit card was declined. Luckily I had enough cash on me. I then had to drive the by now familiar six miles to find a signal, whilst all the time assuming my card had been cloned. My bank's computer system was down hence the problem.

Rather than return to the Sussex Ouse I decided to travel over to Wareham to fish the tidal Frome for the large thin lipped mullet that hunt these lower reaches. I arrived a couple of hours or so before high tide. After trying several swims I saw a mullet follow my bait in. Every couple of casts from then on, a mullet or two would follow the spinner in and I even had a couple of taps on the end of the ragworm.

Eventually right at my feet I had a take. On such a short line the mullet couldn't get up a head of speed, but could only thrash around on the surface and consequently was quickly bundled into the landing net. Lucky as there were a lot of mooring ropes around and mullet are fast fish and can change direction in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately sport was short lived and as the tide turned the mullet disappeared back into the sea.

At 3lb 13oz this was a big fish, thin-lipped mullet do not grow to the size of their thick-lipped cousins. The trials and tribulations of the weekend were put behind me and it was one happy angler that drove back up the M27 towards Peterborough.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Search for a Sole!

The Thames estuary is the largest breeding ground in Britain for the common sole, often incorrectly known as the dover sole. Sole are a nocturnal flatfish but can be caught by day in the murky waters of the Thames. My venue was Grays Wharf in Essex, the home of the World Sole Championship. For once my other half Jacky came with me, not for the fishing but the shopping at Bluewater.

As planned we arrived just after low water and I walked the promenade looking for the soft mud  that these fish inhabit and any gulleys that might act as a food trap as the tide flooded.  Despite the industrial landscape of the area, the local council had done a good job on the promenade. However the local scum had already started to undo their good work, the base of the promenmade wall was littered with block paving and bits of railing that had been vandalised! These sub human scum must have been armed with an oxyacetylene torch!

Sole are bottom feeders so I made up some two hook flapper rigs with a difference. A small lead was placed at the top of the trace and the usual plastic rig beads were replaced by lead beads from my fly tying kit.

The snoods consisted of ten inches of twelve pound flurocarbon to a size six aberdeen hook baited with ragworm. A bb shot was used on each snood as a bait stop with a couple  of red attractor beds.

One rod was cast into a gulley behind a sandbar and the other onto a muddy bottom. As both rods were fished at a maximum range of forty yards, I needed to slacken off slightly to pin my rigs to the bottom.

One of the great things about fishing is the brotherhood of the angle. Total strangers can talk fishing for hours and I enjoyed a conversation with Bob, a local angler which stretched from the Royalty Pub to Mahseer fishing in India.

The first fish was a flounder which was soon followed by a bootlace eel. I must admit I absolutely hate catching small eels, but with their numbers having reduced by over 90 percent over the last decade it was nice to see that this little eel was lip hooked and would hopefully someday return to the Sargasso Sea to breed. With less than an hour to go before being picked up I was relieved when the next bite produced a slip, the term for an undersized sole. My final bite of the evening produced a decent sole

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Grass is greener the other side of Northampton!

Brickhill Farm in Northamptonshire contains a viable stock of grass carp to target. The smaller lake contains six and the larger lake around thirty. Even so they are vastly outnumbered by the king carp varieties. With the weatherman forecasting that Saturday would be a warm sunny day, I knew that the time had come to target a Brickhill grass carp off the surface.

There was a gusty breeze and as I wanted to visually select the grassies I set up on the shallow more sheltered end of the larger lake where the water's surface was calm.

As nothing was showing I set up one rod on a method feeder with artificial corn and the other float fishing either corn or meat in the margins. The morning was uneventful apart from a string of small crucians and a few bits.

After lunch I followed the advice of Brian the fishery owner and moved to the smaller pool, where grass carp were spotted a few days earlier under some overhanging vegetation. As the wind was behind me I fed half a dozen pellets every couple of minutes for around half an hour after which time I had a number of fish competing for the freebies.

Over the next couple of hours I tempted four carp before the swim died. I hadn't spotted any of the six grassies present despite regular circuits of the lake. I then saw an angler on the larger lake land a grass carp on floating crust. It was an easy decision to return to my original swim where over the next few hours Fred (the grassie expert, it was his second of the day) and I landed a string of king carp up to just shy of thirteen pounds on floating crust. The ripple made it difficult to select individual fish but as the evening wore on conditions improved.

I enjoyed the banter with Fred and was genuinely sorry to see him leave. The first cast after Fred's departure saw a grass carp nose the crust without taking. I was beginning to think that time was running out when once again the crust disppeared in a swirl and the controller float zipped accross the surface. Like every other grass carp I have ever hooked it came quietly to the net before going beserk on the bank, hence my pained expression in the photo. At 7lb 2oz it was less than a third of the size of my biggest grassie, but I was over the moon to catch my first from British waters.

I had enjoyed a lovely day, catching around fifteen carp off the surface. True, most were small but on my barbel rod and ten pound line it was first class sport in lovely surroundings with not a baitboat or bivvy in sight!

The grass truly is greener the other side of Northampton and unlike Elphicks, the grass was real not made out of astroturf!