Saturday, 25 August 2012

Trolling with Woodchucker - Part 1

I received an invite to go fishing with a fellow pike angler. It was an offer that was never going to be refused. A chance to get out on a boat fishing, which I'd never done before. A chance to try my hand at trolling which I'd not done before. A chance to fish a new river, which I'd not fished before. It was also a chance to meet a top angler, yes you guessed it, who I'd never met before. Plenty of people in and around the predator community will know of or seen of Ade, a guy who goes by the name of Woodchucker on the forums.

He's managed to knock up a bit of a reputation, mostly good I think, of being a knowledgeable pike and predator angler. He's given myself and plenty of others advice through forums, talks at local PAC meetings, teach in days and even like today taking the odd lucky angler out on his own boat. He's one of many of his kind in our sport who go out of their way to help the inexperienced and even the most experienced of angler. Being a pike angler who was self taught as a kid, and pretty much learnt myself most of what I do and rarely if ever fished with any other pike anglers, getting out to see how someone else does it was an opportunity not to be missed.

We'd pencilled in Saturday as the day but as the weekend came closer the weather didn't look like it was going to do us any favours. Plenty of checking of river levels and weather reports gave us an idea of what we could expect and all though Ade felt there was a chance this weekend could be a wash out, Friday night we decided to go for it and we met up at 6am Saturday morning to see what was in store. On the way to the river we had a little chat and exchanged the joys of lure fishing and he also started giving me tips on what to expect while boat fishing, what we are trying to do, how to do it and also the safety aspects of boat fishing. Now you should always listen when someone is telling you about how to stay alive while fishing, but when someone is telling you how to catch fish then you should definitely listen, take on board and use the knowledge. Especially when you're getting the tips from a guy who catches plenty of fish. I've caught plenty of pike, but in my bits of water and using my methods. I'd be a fool to do anything but follow his instruction on his bit of water.

We arrived at the launch ramp and a quick look at the water gave Ade the impression it would be a little tough, the water was coloured and visibility was low. But you don't catch if you don't try and we didn't let it spoil our plans. Giving me plenty of pointers, we set off trolling with ultralites in the hope of some perch or small pike fun. The fish finder was showing the odd spot of bait fish and there was even a mysteriously large pike looking blob hovering over a drop off but the first half hour or so didn't produce anything. Ade had previously explained, that a fish in this first bit is often a sign of a decent day in store, but no fish here can often mean it's going to be a tough day.

Woody cranks one in
Moving up and down a short stretch of river we switched and changed between the ultralites and the heavier pike set ups we had. I managed to figure out what the bottom felt like and what a branch hooked was like, all I needed now was a knock from a fish and if I was lucky enough, one in the boat would be good. But Woody was first to score landing a small jack on his light set up. At least the boat hadn't blanked, that was one thing chalked off and pretty soon after he'd landed another two small jacks. Woody was in to the action and showing the way to go.

The going was a bit tough and the prospects of a bumper day looked slim, add to that the rain was coming down quite a bit it seemed as if the Gods might not be looking in our favour. But I was enjoying myself no matter what. I'd already extended my fishing knowledge and was learning some new skills so I was winning, and despite the rain it was still good fun. I'd seen some fish banked too which was only going to spur me on further. I'd also learnt one more valuable thing already. My waterproof trousers aren't that waterproof.

Bait fish on the screen
When you're fishing, it's good if you can find the fish or bring them to you. You can use bait to bring them to you or you can use water craft to find them. My own predator fishing relies on water craft, being able to read a bit of water and figure out where the bait fish are and hopefully a pike or two will be knocking about. One useful tool in the boat fisherman's armoury is the fish finder. It has three main uses. First is to check the depth, which will then help you decide which lure to put on. The general rule being, try to get a lure that will work the depth of water you are fishing. There's no point using a shallow runner in 25 feet of water and similarly using a deep runner in shallow water will have you losing lots of lures. Another great feature of the fish finders is that they can help you spot the under water features such as drop offs, sunken features and those dastardly snags. You can use these to your advantage because fish like to live around these kind of features, and you can also make sure you get your lure out of the way of a sunken lure eating willow tree. Finally, just like Ronseal, those fish finders do what they say, they enable you to spot the fish.Every now and again we'd spot a ball of fish and sometimes we spotted a mammoth sized shoal of fish. Unfortunately despite nipping back for a bit of jigging or further trolling we couldn't pick up a fish.

My first boat caught fish
Woody and Burt
We moved off in search of better water. The colour and cloudiness didn't seem to be helping us but Ade explained he knew a spot which might just hold a clearer bit of water, where a small river fed in. We arrived at a small bay, switched off the engine and proceeded to throw a few lures around. The water wasn't deep, just two to five feet in parts. It wasn't crystal clear, but there was much more visibility. This spot was much more suited to what I'd previously done in lure fishing, a shallower bit of water and me throwing some lures about. Apart from being stood on the front of the boat, the rest was all the same and so I stuck on my trusty rainbow lip lure in the hope of a fish while Woody put on a Squirrely Burt. Not too soon after I hooked a pike and as I started to bring it in, Woody hit in to one too. His fish managed to come loose but I managed to land my first boat caught fish.Not a monster by any means but an enjoyable fish. We kept at it and a few pike showed, one coming and grabbing Woodys lure and then letting go and I felt one but couldn't set the hooks before finally another pike was landed, this time to the Burt. We'd seen a few fish and caught a couple but Ade wasn't quite happy with today's catch and the prospects of maybe only few more fish in these conditions. Sometimes in fishing you need to make choices, sometimes those choices pay off and others they don't. You have to work out what is your best bet and go for it and that's what Ade decided. We were heading up river to a weir pool he knew. I was excited at that thought because I know what any weir pools is capable of.

We headed off, sometimes with a spot of trolling and sometimes we'd leave it and try to cover a bit of distance. It was a fare old trek to this weir pool so if it didn't seem like anything was happening we'd move on, stopping off when we felt there could be a chance of a fish.

I think I'll leave the story right here, saving the best bits for another day. Up to now we'd not managed anything of note-able size, and I've still got to break my trolling duck. Part 2 should be fun!

2012 pike tally 
Doubles 28
Total 170
Largest 22.5lb
Twenties - 2
Bonus Perch 8


  1. Nice one Paul, i've only been out on a boat a couple of times but it certainly makes a nice change. It also makes you see the potential of having a boat and all the water you can get acess to that you could'nt from the bank. Its also fun in itself being out on the water. Just make sure you have a bottle big enough to piss in!

  2. Great write up Paul, looking forward to part 2 !

  3. Matt. My eyes were on every feature. Every willow tree and every slack hole looked inviting. if I had a boat it would take me all day to move about 100 yards. Woody had everything covered I just had to fish, including the bottle!

    Marc, part 2 is even better!

  4. Must say you have set us up for something to look forward to in 'part 2' abit of a tease really lol look forward to it anyway