Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Searching those Stillwaters

The pursuit of 'summer fish' on stillwaters does not come naturally. In fact, apart perhaps from roach and tench, the pursuit of any fish on stillwaters does not come naturally.

The otherwise dormant inner matchman wants to burst out, grab the catapult, and feed, feed, feed.

Today it actually happened.

I had been warned. There was no excuse.

But first were the times, or the day at least, when it was a worthy approach.


In pursuit of 'those fish' the favoured method has been to fish whatever bait was the selection on the day over a bed of hemp.

This had brought forth a burst of p.b's set against the context of a canal angling background and the need for bloggers challenge points this season.

Almost all of this fishing had been with a static bait; employing feeders, alarms, rod pod, the works and prior to small fish becoming active in May. Yes, maggots have been off the agenda for a couple of weeks now.


It started with (a kiss) decent roach, rudd, tench and perch. Nothing outstanding but quality fish and solid points.

Tench over 6lbs, perch over two and roach close-on a pound and a half. The latter two could be followed-up on in autumn and winter but, unlike the 2015/16 challenge, those species that become tricky in winter needed to be dealt with now.

Leamington A A control a few stillwaters from which the majority of those fish might be taken.
Carp, certainly.
Rudd, within limits of size, yes.
Silver bream? Probably not.
Common or bronze bream, yes, and to, potentially at least, a good size.

The lakes also offer interesting wildlife. Birds, invertebrates...only today there were five marbled whites to be seen and small skippers at two different venues plus a good variety of dragon and damselflies


The past two weeks and half a dozen sessions on a variety of those venues have been fruitful and while these are not commercial fisheries they are well stocked and hold some nice specimens very much of the nature this particular angler likes to target - the bigger fish in the swim, regularly and by design.

Of course the list of p.b's remains paltry, being very much canal & stream orientated until now, but the opportunities, with ever-growing knowledge, are vast and consequently it is inevitable that with an inquiring mind and experience to call on those records are going to fall regularly until the target, maybe, becomes ever bigger specimens.


In this short fortnights' spell the bronze bream best has risen to 3.13, then 4.1 and, today, to 4.6.

King carp to 9.6, 12.12 and...

Most pleasing however was to catch a net of crucians topped by two over a pound and landing three or four p.b's in the one session which now stands at 1.2.6. I had not fished for this magically beautiful and powerful little fish since early in the 1980's and then in a local overstocked shallow farm pond where the stunted fish rarely exceeded eight ounces. Regular feeding worked with these excitable fellas.


One thing is certain. These are not newsworthy catches but the most important thing in angling is enjoyment and the pleasure is immeasurable when, firstly, the careful plan works and then it feels as though one has succeeded (even if in reality it was pure fluke or coincidence, but who are we to know that).

That is until today.

I planned to go to try to catch a decent rudd and, driving toward that crock of gold, developed an urge to go elsewhere, and followed it.

Bream became the momentary magnet.

It seemed incredible. After an ounce roach first cast I had a visitor, returning to angling from a decade break, seeking advice (from me, on a lake, I ask you!). As we talked, a 2lb bream came to the net and, as he got just four pegs away, another of 4.6, quickly followed, just as he disappeared out of sight, by a tearaway fish.

Now initially it didn't give much away, holding it's fins close to it's chest. Once it knew the game was on however I feared for my 16 hook and 3.5lb fluoro link.

The clutch shrieked...and shrieked...and shrieked.

The rod bent to that familiar complete curve

1 peg away, 2 pegs away, and into the third.

This fish was going to be lost. No doubt.

The hand-me-down, and excellent, 13' power match rod, the biggest fish it had previously landed being a tench of 4.7, expressed itself in a manner I could only have dreamt of, but the fish would be victorious.

Pump by pump, it started to come back my way. Over and over again it tore off and slowly, but somewhat increasingly surely, it was drawn back. I would come off the though.

It went round my second rod but I untangled it. There was no way this fish would be landed.

It tore right, then left again. Brushed the underwater roots to my left and shot forwards into the fed swim.

It would break the line. The hook would come off. A knot would give. Something.

I had it's head out. A mirror. Another surge. The clutch squealing again.

Again it surfaced but I couldn't quite net it and once more it drove maniacally, vertically, down into the deep water. For sure this fish would not be beaten on inadequate tackle.

Up and up it came, onto its side, gulping air.



No one else was there. It was ok to scream madly.

Exhausted from a good ten minute engagement, we regarded each other. The fish and I knew.

Thirteen  pounds seven ounces this beauty went.

Oh!...and a personal best too of course.


Henceforth he catapult became attached to my right hand. Feed, feed, feed.

I knew not why.

At this point I noted the jangling song of the corn bunting. Now a rare farm bird and a joy to hear after such a long period of famine extending to over a decade but today the other wildlife seemed not to be there, such was the thrall of the angle

35 to 40 roach and perch later, and not one over three ounces, this would be enough.

A few more challenge points; the head cleared for Monday and a thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Worm has Turned

These past few weeks, trips to the Highlands notwithstanding, I have been trialling a new lob worm method to try to enable the use of whole large worms while attempting to eliminate, or at the very least reduce, the problem of missed bites either due to the hook being in one place on the worm and the fish being in another or indeed the problem of the worm simply tangling the rig up and leaving the hook central to a clump of earthworm flesh

Why it has taken quite this long to think of it I am not sure. Maybe because I have been preoccupied with bread for so long and worm/dead bait fishing has very much been the also-ran method, who knows

Anyway, as the impending summer started to dawn on me and the winter methods perhaps lost their gloss a little, with increased canal boat traffic, I wanted to make more of this simple but undoubtedly effective bait

I came to thinking about an old Tony Miles rig, akin to sea fishing, which uses hooks tied to the main line off bottom with the rod pointed at the sky and a lead on the deck. Helicopter rig style but without the hook links. It was pretty much the most crude rig I have ever used but it has helped in weedy situations where the lead could be cast into gaps and the rod held high allowing worms to dangle into those ‘mid’-water gaps for feeding fish to see their movement

I had tried a watered-down version on the canal but with little success and very little can be caught well off bottom on the canal when it comes to big fish at the best of times, so that clearly wasn’t the solution

Fiddling about tying short hook links for helicopter rigs for tench gave me the idea, I had an image of a great long ‘hair’ tail with another hook tied to it. Obviously I had to retie the bottom one first to then tie the top one but this gave me two hooks about 3 to 4 inches apart and I could hang the head of the lob on the top one and the tail on the end hook such that, if set correctly, it would appear that the worm was rising-up out of the silt head first and straining to get up into the water. I have been holding the lobs on crimped-barb hooks with dark red rubber maggots to enhance the appearance rather like the old red wool on the trebles of spinners

Of course as soon as I come-up with the idea I Google it to find that someone is already marketing them for trout fishing with worms in various patterns although the hook size is not stated

The original idea was to maximise the zander and perch pulling potential. Most of my larger canal perch have come either to a whole worm cut to leach the fluids on a size 6 to 10 hook or one a whole lob cut into two or three sections on a similar hook, the latter being a successful way of avoiding the issue raised above but not good at preventing the wrap over of the hook point we are all so familiar with

Following the theme, thus far I have generally used two size 8 specimen hooks and over three or four trips as yet the results have been, well, odd. Or maybe simply surprising.
Very few canal fish species outside the usual two predators have I taken on worms over the last couple of years and yet, presenting the bait in this way, that has all immediately changed, though admittedly I have been fishing the GUC rather than the NOXC I’ve frequented more in the past

Trip 1: Bronze bream 3lbs, 1.12. Perch 10ozs. Zander 5ozs.

Trip 2: Perch 1.6, 1lb. Zander 4ozs. 1 signal crayfish!

Trip 3: Silver bream 1.3, 1.7. Eel 9ozs.

The two silver bream one recent evening from close to a lock gate were completely unexpected as I don’t think I have taken one on anything other than bread…ever.

I am going to keep pursuing the method, trying finely snipping to release fluids and injecting air for more attraction to see what effect that might have.

The Stillwater interest has continued while also absorbing information on forthcoming river options nearby in the process.

The search took me to an unusual, small, deep venue this weekend that had a jumbled mix of species. In fact if The Fishing Race still existed in pursuit of ‘the golden maggot’ then this would surely be a good starter. First perch then roach, bronze bream, rudd, mirror carp, tench and common carp. All were susceptible to maggots and rubber baits over a carpet of hemp.

3.13 bream

First up the little roach and perch (too little!) were keen to intercept the double maggot hookbaits but, after heavier feeding, slowly they lost interest and the bites that ensued included a surprise 3.13 bronze bream and a 2lbs-odd mirror carp.

Next day the maggots remained in the fridge and a few fish were taken on rubber offerings of various shapes and sizes including a mirror of 9.6, a small common, a little tench and then there was  the one that got away...naturally, we all have to have one.
Once bites had subsided over the previous days' topped-up feed the worm rig sprang to mind

It has long fascinated me how an apparently dead swim can be brought back to life by something real; something, well, writhing (sorry mother)

Suddenly the dormant situation was transformed...immediately bites occurred and a ‘certain’ ten pounds-odd catch was boosted, first by a quality perch of 2.4 and then a bigger carp at 12.12. Other ‘tiddler’ bites occurred but it was enough to demonstrate, again, that a logical change away from contemporary thinking and back to the past should not be ignored. The humble, and whole, lobworm had turned the catch that would not be settled for into a twenty-eight pound catch. A p.b. carp (I’m not a carp angler), my biggest fish ever (I’m not that kind of big fish hunter) and a 2017-best perch. All by a simple change to a juicy natural active hookbait.

So, to add to the previous list:

[Trip 4 (stillwater): Perch 2.4 and 3ozs, Mirror carp 12.12].

The future is in the past.


Top 5 to Date:

George Burton 340
Brian Roberts 280
Daniel Everitt 274
James Denison 259
Russell Hilton 258

I thought I'd publish this while it lasts! No one has yet targeted small species though. That could radically change the situation