Monday, 12 August 2013

The Fishing Quartet

What's up with me? I went out on Saturday and have only just got around to writing out my blog. I must be slacking. Saturday was another boat day with Woody though this time we had some company. Neil had his boat out and was partnered up with Matt. So four of us out in two boats which surely meant a few fish to be had between us. However in the week running up to Saturday there was a bit of rain and so the stretch we normally fish might still be a bit coloured. Without me knowing, (I tend to just agree as I'll ride on a shovel,) the lads had an idea and thought we might be better going further upstream. They knew of a marina to launch Woodys boat in and so made a few phone calls, and then tight arses Neil and Matt found somewhere to chuck in the portabote without having to pay, and we were all set.

Neil and Matt get ready for launch
It was a later start than normal as we'd been told that the marina didn't open until 9am, though we were all there an hour earlier just in case and we were in luck. Neil and Matt had already got their boat in the water and were just sorting the last few things out when we pulled up. It takes Woody and myself no time at all now to get the boat sorted and we were in the water within five minutes of pulling up. The fish finder was beeping away telling us that the water was only two and a half to three feet deep in the marina. I shoved the boat out and jumped on and Woody slowly turned the boat around. As he did I quickly whipped out a lure to put on. Usually it's something like a Rapala jointed shad rap to start off but I had an idea. Instead I grabbed my small copper Vibrax spinner, clipped it on and then cast out. We'd probably moved just ten feet and were still in the marina over less than three feet of water. My spinner hit the surface, I let it sink a tiny bit and then started to wind and within less than two feet of retrieve there was a commotion and I was in. Fish on and we were off the mark with a nice small pike of a couple of pounds. We got out in to the river and spotted the other two just fifty yard or so away and so we made our way to them on the troll. Woody then picked up a perch before we pulled up alongside.

Wait a minute, stop press. This has nothing to do with the story but I feel the need to share. As I type this I do so with a beaming smile. The missus has just plonked plate of burger and chips in front of me and I've just won a bid on eBay for a Cobbs lure for just over a tenner. Little things please me, I know.

Back to Saturday, Neil had a slight problem with a fuel line from his back up tank which he couldn't fix there and then so instead would have to just top up the tank when he had a chance as and when needed. More of an annoyance than a major concern. He sparked up the engine and that was it, we were off along a new stretch of river that to us, was pretty much uncharted by boat. We picked up a couple of fish which strangely to start with saw me catching pike and Woody catching perch. A theme that was to be later repeated a little as once I started to pick up perch it was clear that this was the main fish to be had today by us. Though when we bumped in to the other two a little later it seemed they were catching mainly pike between them.I wonder if there was something in that, something we were doing different. Woody likes to keep a nice pace to the boat and maybe Neil is a little slower, that could be it. Either way it meant that our boat by now was a couple hundred yards in front. We kept bumping in to the boats lucky mascot, a heron, which is also the name of Woodys boat. Every time we got up close it would take flight and fly off fifty yards or a hundred yards up river. I took the opportunity to take some wildlife photos for the blog in the hope of a decent heron shot, either stood or in flight. You dingbat! I forgot to charge the camera battery up! This is all I managed  to get before it packed in. At least Woody had his camera in case we caught anything decent.

It seems the lads had made a good call to fish up river. The water was dark, kind of stained but it wasn't too bad. The picture to the left kind of gives you an idea of what it looked like. It wasn't full of muddy silt and still had a decent amount of visibility so when we'd caught fish down at around twelve foot depth we were confident that the fish could see the lure and we'd keep on catching. If you've never fished from a boat the tactics are trolling, jigging and casting and you choose the technique to suit. It's up to you how you go about it and getting the choice right can prove a winner or a major loser. For the most part, we tend to mainly do trolling as you cover loads of water and if conditions are right you will pick up fish constantly. Basically trolling is dragging a lure behind the boat, as simple as that. However there are a few things that will help. Get the speed of the boat right to suit your lure. Too slow and your lure does naff all and doesn't dive. Too fast and the lure might spin out of control and come to the surface. So choice of lure to suit the depths and the speed of the boat will get your lure down to the bottom where often, most takes occur we find. As I said at the start, a Rapala Shad rap is a good choice. If you get one around 5-7cm size they can easily get down to depths of twelve foot or so. The Rapalas are also good because they are a very stable lure and even with a bit of pace to the boat they will still run straight. If you wish, you can add the odd jerk to the lure making it even more erratic and hopefully enticing the fish even more. Back to trolling speed, if you find that you are getting "plucks" which are probably perch you can speed up the boat which means those "plucks" turn in to hook ups. As said before, maybe that's why we were getting mostly perch? Trolling might look easy, or steady and boring to some but you still have lots to think about and work on. If you don't think about it and work the lure and choose the lure to suit, you will sit beside Woody all day watching him catch fish after fish while you blank. You'll think you are doing everything right but you are not.

Another useful bit of tackle in the boat owners armoury is the fish finder. Woody has a couple of units, one being his old Lowrance unit and he also recently got hold of a Lowrance DSI unit which is a good step up. Firstly the unit will tell you things like water temperature but most importantly the depth. So by monitoring the river depth and choosing your lure to suit you will get better results than just blindly trolling along. Once you get to know a bit of river you can quickly switch from a ten feet diving lure to a twenty footer and keep on catching. I've stuck with my ten footer while we've covered the deep water and watched as Woody kept catching fish while I blanked. Once we got back to ten foot of water I started to catch again. I now have lures in my collection to help me cover the depths, it's no fun watching your buddy catch all day. The fish finders are also useful for other things. You can actually see a shoal of fish on the river bed. Sometimes you're toddling along when there's a big ball of shadow on your screen and sometimes you pick up fish straight away. If they're perch you'll catch and if they're balls of bait fish you'll catch. Failing that, if it's a shoal of bream, Woody will catch a bream! lol. The units show you all sorts and it's a great bit of information to use to your advantage. The image below will show you the kind of things you can see. When you see this, you change course and get your expensive Rapalas out of the way before you lose them to a giant submerged tree.

So that's a brief intro to trolling for anyone who hadn't a clue before. Jigging might be more familiar to most without a boat as you can do this from the side of the canal or wherever. If we see a particularly fishy looking spot such as some lock gates, a water outlet, a deep hole or anything we might decide to anchor up and have a jig. Usually just using kopytos lures is all that's needed. Cast out, let them sink and then give them a little jig, twitch or whatever and if there are perch about you'll get one. Well we spotted a likely looking spot as we were trolling along. There was an outlet of some type. Water wasn't gushing in at pace or anything, there was just a small cloud of muddy water roughly ten feet square which gave it's location away. As we came up both Woody and I were looking at it as a potential fishy spot, when all of a sudden the surface erupted and fry went flying everywhere. Too good an invite to refuse we slowed up and pulled alongside. I had a couple of fish earlier at another spot when instead of jigging I'd opted for my copper Vibrax spinner. We had all been hopeful of a chub on this stretch and I felt I had a chance casting under tree branches, keeping my lure in the top two foot of water. I wasn't thinking chub this time however, it was perch I expected and felt I had a good chance. Woody though stuck to his usual technique and lobbed a kopyto into the thick cloudy water. A few flicks and as the lure came out of the murk something hit it. It was one of those, "I hope this isn't a small pike" moments and for the first few seconds you haven't a clue. You can sometimes tell by the fight, the pike lunging with strong burst where the perch tends to be more erratic often banging it's head side to side. I'm not sure at what point Woody realised it was a perch but I was getting the net ready just in case and as it came up Woody confirmed it with cries of "get the net mate." I don't think there's many things as knee trembling as a decent perch on the end of the line. As soon as it came up I scooped it in to the net, this one could be pushing three. I guessed poorly at two six but Woody guessed it spot on, 2lb 15oz. A cracker of a fish!

Woody picked up two more perch from this spot including another at around a pound or more but my spinner blanked. When no more fish showed we continued trolling and stopping anywhere we took a shine to. To say we were on a new bit of river we were still catching plenty and the sport was spot on. In total the stretch wasn't anything massive and we covered it there and back twice comfortably in a shorter time than we would usually be out. We knocked up nearly seventy fish to the boat and it turns out our fishing buddies had matched that too so to get knocking on a hundred a forty predators between us we were more than pleased. With Matt and Neil catching a few decent fish two including a few two pound perch, we can conclude that this new "back up" stretch has great potential.

Now get yourself over to Matt's page and check out his and Neil's version of the day.

My best perch from the day

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