Friday 26 August 2016

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Monday 23 March 2015

Back on the perch

It seemed to be over in a flash. The river season is well and truly closed now and it's time to look elsewhere. I've had a little dabble on the canal and already had some success. At first the pike seemed interested but the more I fished, it seemed it was follow after follow rather than takes. Most of the pike seemed to be eyeing up the lures as potential love interests rather than food. At one spot I had nine follows in half an hour. Time to go look somewhere else then.

So I knocked up a couple of light traces, pulled out my shiny new Gunki rucksack and off I went. It was nice to be out with the light lures again. Throwing big lures all day can be a bit tiring but the little stuff is just a flick of the wrist. I had a quick look at the usual locks and bridges but I just wanted to be off. Toddling off down the canal in search of the big old stripey. I wanted a fish but I also just wanted to be off. Somewhere different and a bit more chilled out. No pressure on myself to catch a pike, just go light lure fishing. Luckily I even managed to watch the eclipse through filtering clouds and watery reflections. I know eventually my perch fishing turns in to a hard slog, either when I go searching for a big lump or when the rivers feel like they have been shut forever. The canals get a bit boring for me by the time June comes along so for now I'm making the most of it all being a bit fresh.

First big perch of 2015 - Rapala jointed shad rap
My first session I didn't know where to start. Would the perch be in a tight spot somewhere or all spread out along the canal. I didn't really care, I fancied a walk anyway so off I went. Tough going to be honest but then eventually I got a thump and the rod bent round in familiar fashion and I felt the darting lunges of a decent perch. It was a good two pounder and first decent perch of the year. I decided to pop it back in the landing net and have a few more casts before weighing and photographing the fish. As most people know, it's always worth a few more chucks in the same spot any big perch comes from as they often hang about in groups. Bloody hell the rod smacked round again and I was in, but before I knew what had happened it was off. Damn, that could have been two lumps in the net at the same time. I lobbed the Rapala jointed shad rap back out and it was nailed again. After the first few seconds it went on a couple of lunges and I was thinking jack pike but then I wasn't so sure. No flash of a pike in shallow water and I was convinced I had a big perch on, even bigger than the one in the net and the one that got off. Bugger, the hooks pulled and this one was gone too. I reckon my drag wasn't loose enough. When a big perch goes on a run it should be pulling a bit of line off the reel, and this one couldn't. I reckon the hooks pulled because of that so keep that in mind perch lovers. A bit gutted I'd missed an opportunity of an even bigger perch and also the fact that I could have had three big perch in my net in less than five minutes. You win some you lose some. I managed to pick up another perch later, not quite big enough or fat enough to be a two. I've no idea what the first one weighed as I had a right mix up with my scales. I thought I had them in my bag, but they weren't there. I decided to peg the net and run 300m to the car for them. I did that, blowing out of my arse too having run that length in wellies. Upon checking the car the scales weren't there so I had to go all the way back. I had to put the fish back, knowing it was a big two but how big I wasn't sure. Never mind. May be it was a good thing that bigger perch got away. Later on, back at the car I found those scales and they were exactly where I was supposed to have looked.

A plan to go elsewhere was thwarted as upon arrival I was already beaten to the spot by three or four other anglers. So I upped sticks and carted myself off somewhere I'd fished earlier in the week. I'd seen some pike, caught one about eleven pound on a Buster Jerk and seen a few more. I thought I'd give them another go and see If I could get one of them to take this time. Sometimes that's what happens. One day they're a bit fussy, the next time you go they hammer the lure. Also as was the case this time, sometimes they're in the same bloody mood as last time your fished. With time running out before work and my Buster jerk darting left and right I caught a glimpse of something following. A few more taps of the rod and then a pause. I felt a pull so set the hooks and I was in. Panic, get the net! Jesus Christ it's a big fat perch. A big fat perch just came up and nailed my jerk bait. Awesome! Having searched all morning for a big perch, caught a decent one but lost a lump on the light gear I then go and bag the one I wanted on a proper pikers lure and at 3lb 6oz it was big enough to take it.

Perch on Buster jerk - 3lb 6oz

Ady was in the mood for perch. Pike fishing was behind us and he was ready for a stripey, especially after getting phone calls from me about my nice fish. So the weekend meant we were on it and this time he was bringing a mate. One of his buddies Dan, who is more of a carper, fancied a go at this ultra light game just for a change. The chance of a big perch being the attraction as is the case with many this past twelve months as big perch fever has swept the nation. Dan had no gear and didn't really know what to do with the lures so it was starting from scratch. Not always easy when you are fishing with two perch hungry, hundred mile an hour well drilled lure boys. Me and Ady fish together loads and know what to do and even what each other are thinking when it comes to fishing. So it was as hard for Dan to try to keep up as it was for us to try and slow down. It wasn't the easiest day to learn the ropes in the end though. The smaller perch weren't anywhere to be seen, which we were hoping would help him get off the mark. It then turned out that the bigger perch weren't showing either and after a few hours we were fish less. I'd missed a near two, and had a couple of jack follows but that was it for our efforts. We headed back for the car but half way there we fancied a chuck again and within a few minutes Ady was shouting for the net. On his tarty new lure rod he was playing a big perch and the Christening of the rod was complete as the net slid under a super 3lb 6oz perch. The second 3lber to us this week, and we've only just got back in to this perch bashing, what a start.

3lb 6oz perch - Rapala X rap shad

The fishing continued to be tough and another long trek and loads of water covered with not much to show for it at all. But as is always the case, you have to keep going as it only takes one cast to land a fish and before long it was time for another. Again, the shout came from Ady and he was in to a good perch. This one went 2lb 10oz and was another good looking fish.

2lb 10oz perch - Rapala x rap shad

Lunch time came and went, stretch after stretch of canal was covered but we couldn't find any shoals of perch willing to give us some fun and more importantly get Dan his first ever proper perch. We ended up miles from our starting point and we finally got some smaller perch fun though it was slow paced compared to the usual summer time madness. It was getting late in the day and it was looking like we were going to fail with our attempt to get Dan a new pb. Then out of nowhere four or five half decent perch, pushing a pound or so came darting in at his shad rap lure. A quick pluck from a couple of perch but then it was over as the lure was lifted out of the water. I had on a tiny 2 inch curly tail Zman GrubZ lure so gave him my rod. He dropped the lure in the spot where the fish had gone back down and gave a few jigs of the lure and then thump, he was in. It was a tight spot but Ady was quick with the net and it was in. We'd done it. A new pb for Dan and a super one too. A right little fatty of a perch at 2lb 5oz and probably 2lb bigger than he'd ever had before. A great way to finish the session. Hopefully the start of a good bit of ultra light fun over the next few months.

Dan with a new pb perch at 2lb 5oz - Zman GrubZ

Sunday 1 March 2015

Two weeks left

Following on from my last blog entry, we're definitely on countdown now. It's March and those rivers will be out of bounds once again pretty shortly, for what always feels like an eternity. In my last entry I was in a bit of a panic but since then I've hardly done too much about it. No days booked off work to go fishing, but then that's something I hardly ever do anyway. However it dawned on me this morning, as I pulled out of the drive to go shopping at eleven, that I'd wasted a morning. Ok, I do remember waking up at 4am and hearing the wind and rain lashing the windows so it wasn't the best morning to be out early. But the thought had never even crossed my mind to get up in the first place. I'm on Facebook telling people to make the most of it and I'm not even doing that myself. The last few years I know the reasons I have often got that extra reward are because I've got up morning after morning, even if it's for just a quick hour before work, to get out and try and make it happen. Or at least be in the right place at the right time. Bloody hell what have I been doing?

I know now that come two weeks time, I'll be gutted I can't fish the rivers and I'll be looking back at lost opportunities to grab an hour or two. But right now I'm happy enough that I didn't do just that. There's working your socks off to make something happen but I also try to balance that with going fishing when you want to go, and if you don't then don't. That might sound like I don't want to fish any more, but it's nothing like that at all so don't worry about me packing up all this social media and fishing. It's not because I've bagged a dozen twenty pounders already or I'm already in Nev's list of top pikers, I'm lucky that I'm still not worried about chasing targets so when that day comes and my serious piking is pretty much over for a while I'll not be too fussed. I catch plenty of fish and have loads of fun with it on the way. One of my highlights was a recent four pound jack that followed my lure and finally plucked it out of the air as I lifted it out. Of course I love a big ol' girl but that's not all I'm in it for. Pike is pike.

We've not done too bad though in the last month or so between me and Ady. Loads of pike with a few decent fish in amongst them all. We've caught on lures, trolling lures, baits, live baits and trolled baits. We've caught in rivers, flooded rivers, canals, boat and bank and even the odd still water, the pike just keep on coming. We've had some real tough days but at the end of each one, we've actually done all right in the end. Hard work, a bit of knowledge and mixing it up have been the key together with a bit of drive from each to help the other when things weren't going to plan. If you've got a fishing buddy, you've probably been a part of similar but I know from the past when you are alone, those tough times aren't always easy to get out of but if you don't put in the effort to change your own luck, no one else will. If you're a loner, keep at it and it will happen at some point. If you're one of a few buddies, help your mate and enjoy their catches as much as your own.

I reckon there will be one last mad scramble form me now to fish though in this last few days of the season. I might just give myself a push as that could help me bag a few more nice pike before we turn to other things. If a river monster turns up I'll be over the moon, whether it's me, Woody or one of the local lads that go through similar struggles to us. Someone has got their name on a big fish already, they just need to go out and make it happen, together with a bit of luck from the weather Gods as they always seem to play a major part in this river fishing malarkey. No doubt they rivers will be up and down a few more times yet before this season is out. Ah well, not much anyone can do about that anyway. If I can fish, I will and If I can't then so be it.

Unfortunately what ever we do this next two weeks and beyond, it will be without our good old mate Tyke. Adys little terrier is no longer part of the team, our lucky mascot for so long is no longer with us. A popular little character, well known among the pikers of Britain and even more so now as he gathered a little cult following among the Youtube viewers. Always happy at the front of the boat, eating my pasty and licking a fish or two.

Little Tykey boy, what a cracking little dog.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

It's coming.

Savage Gear 3D hard eel
I've started to panic a little. The river closed season seems to be closing in on me really fast and I can't do anything to slow it down. When the river looks good, I'm at work and worse still I'm on a crap shift that means I can't get out to fish. When the weekend comes it's rained a day or two earlier and the rivers are usually a no go zone or at best, somewhere to go but you know it's going to be a struggle. Looking forward to this weekend we're tipping another write off as storm in a tea cup Juno heads our way. We might not get anything spectacular storm wise, but you can guarantee Wednesday and Thursday it'll piss it down that much the rivers are ruined for another weekend. Honestly, I feel like I'm just reposting an old blog entry here, it's every weekend that it is ruined. I'm running for Prime Minister in the next election and the first thing I'll be changing is the working week. Tuesday and Wednesday are the days off and we will work the rest of the days. Vote RiverPiker for Prime Minister.

I think part of the panic has come from being a little sidetracked messing around with my Youtube videos, the warm weather that seemed to go well in to October and then pretty much one of my first proper piking sessions I went and had a bumper day. Just after that I'm in chill out mood. Just go fishing and catch a fish or two. I'm not driven by big fish after big fish so not on a constant hunt for the big girls. Then there's a few half arsed weekends, a few tough ones and before I know it I'm now looking at that bloody deadline and fearing not catching another good fish. Is that lesson learned? May be I should be one of the lads who is on a constant chase for the big ones, keep at it full throttle and make it happen again and again. Maybe I should, but for now I still don't see that as being my aim. I'll settle for just getting a few fish and enjoying my time out on the river for now. Still, it's panic mode so I'm starting to get that drive to make the most of every opportunity, no matter how small. Hour before work, hour after work whatever I can

I'm not friggin stupid though. I finished work today and I'd figured out that I could grab a whole half an hour with the lures before dark, and before I was doing my evening job of dads taxi. Walking to the car after work I was met with bright blue sky, a hell of a wind but the sky was bright. If it stayed like that, last light comes a little later and I can squeeze out a bit extra fishing. But upon arriving at the car, in the distance all I can see is dark grey skies. Not clouds, just one dark grey wall. I started the engine while I pondered and while I pondered that bright blue sky was quickly getting eaten up by that big dark grey wall. I plonked my arse on the seat and headed for home. Yes you need to put the effort in, you need to be a bit daft, brave it plenty and you need to grab every little chance you can. But stuff that, I'm not friggin stupid.

Savage Gear 3D hard eel
I've not done bad though over recent weeks. I've had a few fish with the best being mostly low doubles. I'm not at the point in my piking where I turn my nose up at a low double and a hard fighting fat river pike like that is a great reward for braving the crap weather. I know I'm getting a bit of a name for the Squirrelly Burt lure, even being nick named "Team Burt" as often both Woody and I are catching many of our fish on them. But another lure that is doing the business for me has been the Savage Gear 3D hard eel. I think I'm liking it better than the original real eels at the moment, though I think that is because I'm able to fish it ultra slow in shallow water. Yeah I said shallow water. Who was it that told you all the pike are in the deep waters in winter? Well we've hardly had any proper cold weather so it may be that would be the case if it were cold, but I'm finding the pike are often in six foot of water and less. So if you are out and about make sure you are fishing the usual Autumn river spots and not just plugging for the deep waters.

Savage Gear 3D hard eel
Make the most of it boys and girls. Get yourself out whenever you can. I know some flooded rivers are not that great, and when it's cold, wet and windy it's not really enjoyable if the pike aren't playing ball. but we've not got too much longer left so go make something happen. I don't mean blindly just going on the river no matter what, if you reckon it's not right, ten foot up and colour of mud then yes sack it off and go to a still water somewhere. But if like me you love your rivers, get out and have a look as you never know. I've found that looking at the river levels on the web often tells me plenty but it doesn't tell me enough. Sometimes, that extra water that is in isn't actually that bad. It's not the colour of mud, it's not full of crap and sometimes, if those fishing Gods have been kind it's actually not too bad at all. Worth a look at least because if that extra water is in, and the clarity isn't too bad at all. Those bait fish will be shoaled up tighter than ever and those pike will be right on their arse and they will be on the munch. Have your plan B ready but at least have a look and see if plan A is worth a go. Personally I'd much prefer a steady day with a slight chance on the river than a perfect day on a boring canal. Pike is pike and catching them is what we love, but I love all the rest that goes with it. I'll be out this weekend on an up and coloured river giving it a go with most probably not much hope of anything at all. But I'm making the most of the time I have and I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to enjoy the struggle, the hard work, the birds, the sunrise and the sunset because that's what I do.

If you haven't noticed, I've not posted all my recent videos on here so go check out my Youtube channel to catch up, there's plenty to watch. If you are struggling for a bit of motivation though I'd suggest you watch these two videos to help you get your arse in gear. This first one is me out on the river with my pike lures trying to find where the Esox are hiding. Just a few lures and my walking boots and off I go. All hard graft and I bag a few fish and even teach myself a few lessons along the way.

This next video is me making the most of the little time I have. Dashing out after work and getting to the river and I go right at it. Hitting a peg with all I have then running off down stream to find more pike. Hard work, yes it is but If I can get up at the crack of dawn for a shift I can put in that bit more effort for a pike or two, and it pays off.