Friday, 17 August 2012

The tip off in the pub, the tip off on the bank

On Monday I was given a tip off that a large pike was taking the roach and perch off the hooks of fisherman. A bloke talking to my old man in the pub told of a large pike terrorising them. Now I've not fished this spot but it is local to me, and I have fished a mile upstream with small success in the past. I have recently been thinking of fishing this spot, because my grandfather fishes here, and he told me about the time earlier this year when he was winding in a small perch when in an almighty explosion, a much larger perch two pound plus at least, took the small one off the hook. I've also heard stories of fishermen picking up the odd larger perch on maggot and worm. So with my recent enthusiasm for perch, the stories of monster perch and troublesome pike I got up early Tuesday morning (the same day I bagged the monster later in the evening elsewhere) to go see for myself.

I arrived at the river, locating the exact spot my dad had described to me. I could see people had fished from this spot so knew I was in the right place. The river was much more overgrown than when it was when I used to play here as a kid, and the far bank now overhung with willow trees. It certainly looks good for fish. I lobbed out the rainbow lip lure fan casting and working every feature I could, I could get to the trees on the far bank, I could work it along the near bank and there seemed to be a bit of a shelf a few feet out which I also targeted but in the first half hour or so nothing emerged.

four of the six cormorants, or four more?
Looking down river, about 150m away I could see something in the water but couldn't make out what it was, maybe a tree branch or two sticking out? But then I noticed it moved, but what was it? It wasn't an "it" at all, "it" was more than one. Six cormorants were ducking under to chase the fish, that's what the black thing in the distance was. They're a bit of a problem and rightly so most fisherman hate the things. One or two aren't so bad, but this amount in one spot can mean a disaster for the fish.



Mr Kingfisher
On the other hand, when fishing a new venue, this kind of thing can be a pointer for where the fish, and more importantly, where the predators are. As I made my way towards them, off they flew and every now and again one or two would come back to see if I had gone. Add to this while I was fishing, four herons also came over flying side by side, coming in low and then changing direction as they saw me. They were planning on coming here but I'd spoilt their plans. Another thing I spotted while fishing here, a family of kingfisher. Both male and female were busy feeding the young, and since they'd made a nest right next to this frenzy of fish activity they were having and easy job of it. Hop out from the nest to a branch, wait, dive in, feed the kids.

As I got to where the cormorants had been feeding, the next tell tale sign came blazing in to view. Now that the fish eaters had gone, the surface of the river came to life right before me. A hatch on the surface had triggered a mass feed. Hundreds and thousands of small fish in an 80m stretch of the river. There just has to be pike and perch here.

video



Streams, inlets and drains are a magnet for fish
I started off using the small soft 4play in roach, trying my best to imitate the fish that were everywhere. If I could make this one look injured and erratic, the perch and pike waiting near by would have it I'm sure. As I made my first cast I spotted one more give-away as to why this place was so alive with fish. On the far bank I could see water pouring in to the river, presumably from some drain from the fields or flood ponds opposite. There was plenty of water coming in and it was turning that side of the river chocolate in colour. Not a bad feature to target, the predators would be hanging about that cloud waiting for action.


I was using the ready to fish version of the soft 4 play, keeping the lure pretty high in the water where most of the fish activity was. As the lure came close I spotted a perch of around half a pound or more hot on its heels. As the lure went up in the water so did the perch, as the lure fell so the perch followed it, virtually nose to tail. Then in a flash and commotion, a pike came up from the depths and took the perch. What an amazing sight to see, had I not had the polarised sunglasses on I no doubt would not have seen any of this.

I picked up my larger lure rod, already set up with the rainbow on and cast back out in the area of the pike. A few turns of the handle and flicks of the rod and then bam, a pike took the lure. A good fight and then the first fish of the day was landed. No monster of the deep but certainly good fun and one which will no doubt have caused the local anglers grief in the past.


I made a choice then, I could stick with the rainbow or go back to trying for perch and perch it was to be. Picking up my lighter rod, I decided to switch to using a jig head on the roach 4 play and it wasn't long before I had more success. Alas, it wasn't to be a perch this time either but another pike. Great fun though on a smaller rod.

Well, why change this method? Fan casting and targeting any features I could see I was soon in to another pike, probably the largest of the session knocking on five and a half pound.






I was sure there were more perch in the area and that this method would pay off so I kept at it. That's one thing you can gaurantee when searching for perch, you will pick up a pike or two. Pike large and small will still take the smallest of lures and baits just as small pike will take huge lures and baits. Obviously a wire trace is a must when using lures and there's pike in the area as today has shown.

Finally I got a hit and this time I knew it was a perch. The fast head shaking plus it being much smaller was a give away. Since I was about three feet above the water level on the bank side I still netted the fish. You can lose fish lifting them out of the water and more importantly you can damage them, ripping their lips apart etc. As if hook damage isn't enough, at least we can minimise any more damage by using nets even on the smaller fish.




















I played around a bit after that, trying a few spinners and lures with no success, except one hit on a spinner which I didn't hook in to. The experiment paid off a bit later as I bagged another small perch, this time using a spinner AND a soft 4play. I hooked the 4play directly on to the spinner for added effect. The only thing I'd change next time is to remove the treble from the spinner to minimise tangles. You could also do this with an un weighted ready to fish version, which will add a little weight to a light lure and sparkle too. This perch had previously had a lucky escape, presumably from a pike attack a while ago.


Battle scarred perch



With three pike and two perch to show it was a success. No monster pike found or even monster perch yet, but it was a good mornings fishing and well worth getting up at 5am for. Fish on the bank are always pleasing and given the tip off I was confident I'd catch something. But the pleasing part is the use of the water craft to help me bag the fish. While glaringly obvious to some, many anglers miss these tell tale signs. If you can find the fish in the first place you give yourself a better chance of catching and with predators, where the small fish are, that's where they are lurking. I'll be back here again sometime soon to see what else lurks. Big thanks to the pub tip off of course, but the bit of water craft also comes in handy when you're out looking for predators.


2012 pike tally 
Doubles 28
Total 160
Largest 22.5lb
Twenties - 2
Bonus Perch 7



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