Back with the Hounds

First boat trip of the year out of Minehead and we were back into the Smoothhounds as hoped for… A spell of reasonable weather boded well for the trip and suitably armed with a bucket of fresh peeler crab between the 3 of us, we had high hopes for plenty of action with the hounds. The month of May always seems to be one of the very best for reliably catching smooth hounds in the Bristol Channel and this months trip bore that out.

The anchor hadn’t been out too long before we were into fish – not only landing good sized smoothhounds but also losing a good few along the way; Probably a few too many! This was pretty much the story of the day, with us losing just about as many as we eventually landed. Not sure why today we were losing so many fish but that’s the mystery of fishing I suppose.

My father started off with a couple of very nice fish, up at the 12lb mark just to “show us how’s it’s done”. Chris and I, did also boat our fair share of hounds, but they weren’t quite up to that size, (or at least the ones we landed weren’t….)

Along with the Smoothhounds, there was the obligatory dogfish as well as a couple of congers and some Thornbacks. I think we finished the trip with around 20 hounds and 4 thornbacks between us, along with the congers and doggies, so not a bad start to the year in my books.

Look forward to what the rest of the trips this year will bring!

 

 

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Double Figure Pike Delight.

Had a quick trip pike fishing to close out the river fishing season. Fished the River Yeo / Parrett in Somerset.

I used one rod on the bite alarm with a ledgered joey mackerel deadbait whilst I used a second rod with a selection of assorted lures. Didn’t have any interest on the lure rod but had a very tentative take on the deadbait which turned out to be a bit of a beast of a fish. To say my knees were shaking as I netted the fish would be an understatement. It really was a very long fish – sadly a very lean one too and I was truly stunned to see the scales only just nudge down to double figures. If I had been guessing the weight I would have gone a good few pounds higher. I reckon later in the year and better fed, that fish would put considerably more stain on the scales…

Flush with success I persevered a while longer without success before trying a few other spots upstream. I did have a further run, again on mackerel deadbait which I didn’t connect with but after that all was quiet. With my enthusiasm waning, I decided to call it a day handpicked up for the closed season.

 

 

 

Rediscovering my fishing Mojo.

This past year has been more than a little sparse on the fishing front. Trips have been few and far between – not through any reason other than a lack of enthusiasm on my part I have to admit. Two trips out pike fishing with the kids over the last couple of days have hopefully put pay to the fishing lethargy however. Yesterdays session with Izzy was pretty successful, seeing us catch a couple of fish each. On the flip side, a trip today with Rhianna, whilst not seeing any fish on the bank, was equally as fulfilling as the previous days. I suppose that’s the thing with fishing – good trips take many forms.

We returned to the River Parrett near Langport after yesterdays success to see if we could replicate it. While the weather seemed perfect and our anticipation was sky high, we just couldn’t get the bites we were hoping for. I persevered with lure fishing that the previous day had been so fruitful and Rhianna put in a pretty good effort as well. In the end, the highlight of the session was Rhianna hooking a solid double figure pike on deadbait. The fish only gave the smallest of bites and fought half heartedly to start with, but after a couple of minutes seemed to come alive and showed a proper turn of speed with a couple of full throttle runs culminating in a thrown hook. Rhianna, bless her took it well (certainly better than I would of for sure!).

We fished on after that but headed home empty handed despite our best efforts. On the drive home I contemplated what it is that makes for a good trip – sometimes it’s the successes I suppose and at others it’s the actual trying. Either way, before we’d even got home, I found myself planning the next trip and wracking my brains to see when I could next get back out on the river bank. Two very different fishing sessions over the course of two days and it seems I’ve managed to shake off the fishing funk. Brink on the new year!

Fishing and the Art of Unicorn Training.

Fishing can be many things: restful, therapeutic, exciting or sometimes just bemusing. Today was one of those red letter days which once we’d actually found the section of river we were looking for, was very successful, if odd at times. I had to chuckle to myself at the expression of a South African tourist who stumbled upon one of my daughters shrieking in delight, dressed in a unicorn onesie playing and then landing a nice sized pike on a tranquil stretch of river bank. As it happened this wasn’t the only fish of the day.

With Christmas over and done with, and a few days of nice weather upon us, I had finally managed to raise the enthusiasm to wet a line again, after what had been quite a while. Izzy agreed to come along to keep an eye on me, so not wanting to have my fishing cut short with her moaning about being cold, I made sure she was well dressed in multiple layers which were topped off with her fluffy unicorn onesie and big coat. We decided to explore a couple of sections of the S.L.A.C. (Somerset Levels Association of Clubs) water that are covered by my Glaston Manor license. I’d not fished these SLAC water ear Langport before but decided that with a free day and nothing else to do I might as well drive around and see what potential they held.

The first section we stopped at showed a river in flood with many of the surrounding fields on the Somerset Levels flooded too. We moved on and drove around to another couple of stretches but had real difficulty in firstly finding them, and then finding somewhere safe to stop the car. Eventually having found a likely place we tackled up a float rod with a frozen joey mackerel and a lure rod too. The water was running through pretty quickly and after a few trots with the float I decided to switch to ledgering using a bite alarm.

I told Izzy to grab the rod if the bite alarm went off and commenced to lure fish either side of the deadbait. A switch from plug to soft lure brought a savage hit from something under my rod tip but nothing else for a while. It wasn’t long after the first bit of interest that the bite alarm signalled a bite and Izzy was into her first fish. Proved to be a small pike around 6lb that put up a very spirited fight that led to quite a bit of excitement from Izzy, and it was at this point that our South African visitor happened upon us, bless him. After being press ganged into playing photographer for us, he went on his way hopefully without the impression that us brits always dress up to go fishing.

Back on the lure rod I hooked, played and lost a small jack before hooking another carbon copy (or the same one more likely) a couple of casts later which was landed. I then managed a further jack slightly bigger not long after. Flushed with success I started packing up the deadbait rod and then gave Izzy a bit of a refresher on casting with the lure rod. She kind of got the hang of it, and made a couple of reasonable efforts but definitely needs to work on the timing to get the cast going in the right direction every time. Having said that, When I left her practicing her casting, to finish putting away that last bits and pieces, I saw her miscast out the corner of my eye, which landed just a few yards to her right and in the margins. Moments later she’s got another fish on, which proved again to be a lively little jack pike, bringing our total to 4 fish landed.

All the fish came from the same 20 yard length of bank. Makes me wonder if we got real lucky and just happened to pick the one spot where all the fish were congregated or if we could of explored further down the bank and had more…

As it was, we had a great day and Izzy was delighted to have out fished me as she loudly exclaimed when we passed some dog walkers on the return to the car. Apparently because she had the first, the last and the biggest fish she somehow did better than me…

Just need to teach Izzy to hold the pike now.

Upham Farm, Devon.

To me, fishing is all about getting away from it all and enjoying my surroundings (as well as catching a few fish). Whilst catching fish is obviously the main aim of the day, it doesn’t matter how many fish I can catch at a venue – if it isn’t a nice place to be I just don’t see the point of sitting there. To me fishing isn’t all about catching the fish – it’s more than that, and for my coarse fishing in particular, I want to be relaxing in picturesque, quiet surrounds, away from the crowds.

That said, I decided to fish Upham farm with the kids today. The reason for highlighting my wider reasons for fishing may be to do with my memories of this place. I haven’t fished at Upham farm for a long time! Last time I fished there I got the impression that it was a relatively new venue, quite open and barren with very little in the way of bankside vegetation or features. A bit like fishing in a field. I can’t recall what I caught and don’t remember much about the venue other than it was quite barren and uninviting. Suffice to say, despite being one of the nearest coarse fishing venues to me, I hadn’t returned…. until now, probably a gap of some 10 years. It’s not like I recall having a bad time, or that I’d forgotten it existed – I just always go elsewhere…. I think it must of been the sub-conscious thought of sitting in an open field, fishing that put me off.

Quite a few years have passed since that fist visit, and on our return to Upham we were greeted by the sight of several quite attractive and inviting ponds before us. Everything was well maintained, clean and just looked really fishy!. The banksides were practically manicured, and surrounded by mature trees with the ponds lined with reeds. All very nice looking and obviously cared for.

The Upham Farm Website had, as is the norm with all venues nowadays majored on carp, however what caught my eye was that pond 3 was listed as containing tench and the website boasted of “some of the best Tench fishing around”. Now, I can go to any of the ponds or lakes in the south west and catch carp – The thought of catching tench however did wet my appetite. We therefore headed straight to Pond 3 – past all the other ponds that were to be fair, pretty busy with serious looking anglers either kitted out with full specimen carp hunting set ups or looking like they were ready to represent England on the match fishing circuit. Seemed odd that we had pond 3 to ourselves… perhaps no-one else likes tench and that carp really are the only fish that any self respecting anger should fish for? As if to ram home that thought, we saw a number of carp being landed as we walked past. Wow! we thought – this is looking very promising! Full of optimism, we started to set up our gear at pond 3, not quite believing our luck at having it to ourselves. upon plumbing the depth, I found that it was about 2 foot deep wherever I plumbed. Not very encouraging.

We float fished maggot then tried luncheon meat. No bites. the pond looked like it should be heaving with fish, and on top of that, everyone else on the other ponds were catching carp. We persevered, and loose fed regularly until we eventually started pulling out small carp each chuck on double maggot. These looked recently stocked, judging by their regularity of size and abundance. Fishing luncheon meat kept the little carp at bay, but on the flip side lead to no bites at all.. After chatting to the chap collecting the money, who mentioned that this pond “wasn’t fishing that well at the moment”, we moved up to try pond 1 at his suggestion.

Pond 1 is quite small, and again we had this place to ourselves – Maybe this should of raised my suspicions given that all the other ponds had a number of people fishing them.

Straight away we started to get bites. Bites that were really hard to hit…. I eventually hooked and landed a small carp that put up a spirited fight, before loosing a bigger one at the net. The girls than proceeded to catch a couple of skimmers before I finished of by taking more baby carp and some roach. Not an impressive haul by any means but ok for a couple of hours.

The above appraisal may sound negative, but we caught plenty of fish and had fun. Our failure to excel was probably more down to my own skill, luck, judgement, approach to the venue – call it what you will. The venue is certainly nowadays an attractive and welcoming place and I can see myself returning with more regularity to try to learn it’s nuances. My one big gripe however, as is the case with all the coarse fishing lakes in the South West is the over emphasis on carp. Why when there are 7 lakes like here at Upham Farm, do the people running the place feel the need to stock each and every lake with carp? Why not try something radical and have at least one lake, maybe more with no carp? No carp at all. I’m not against carp as such, as I like catching them when I fell like it. It’s just there seems to be no choice. Every pond has carp in in, and they seem to out-compete all other fish to get to the baits. It’s the lack of choice that feels somewhat frustrating. Anyway, that’s possibly a rant to be had in another blog someday. For now, I need a lie down as I feel all carped out…

 

 

Windy Fishing at the River Brue

Met up with Jason to fish the River Brue, but I arrived late due to the summer holiday traffic. Met Jason at the Cowbridge stretch of the river, where he’d been fishing for a little while by the time I eventually arrived. A pretty lively wind was blowing straight down the river making conditions not exactly idyllic. Jason had been catching roach and rudd for a while and drawn the attentions of one of the resident pike which was trying periodically to snatch fish as he brought them in. Fortune was smiling on him, as he managed to hook and land the marauding pike on his coarse gear before I’d even managed to wet a line. Nice angling! not that I was jealous, honestly….

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With this success recorded for posterity we decided to move on in search of some shelter from the wind. Given the rather exposed nature of the Somerset levels, we didn’t really manage to find much in the way of shelter from the wind so just had to persevere. One of our favoured spots was showing quite clearly the affects of our long hot summer with the weir running dry and actually leaving dry steps from which to fish.

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We both float fished maggot and had a steady stream of fish (chub, roach, gudgeon, perch and minnows) – although nothing big. Still – all good fun.

It was really strange because despite looking insanely fishy, the weir just didn’t produce the quality of fish it has done in the past for us. Maybe it was the low water levels, lack of flow or just “one of those days”.

As dusk approached the wind did finally drop to give us some nice fishing conditions and at this point I had a small chub decide to take a minnow – showing its not just the pike and perch that the little fish need to look out for!

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Wrasse fishing at East Prawle

A family camping trip down in the South Hams area and glorious weather meant it would have been rude to not at least try to get out for a spot of fishing at some stage over the weekend. Late one afternoon we managed to find a small window of fishing opportunity which Jason and I grabbed with enthusiasm. We had 2 hours of rock fishing down near East Prawle with conditions looking perfect for Wrasse – Calm…

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I Lure fished with a cone weight and soft lures on weedless set up. Just bumping the lures back slowly across the bottom. This was a spot I’ve caught numerous wrasse from in the past and I was anticipating great things! As it turned out, we weren’t destined to be pulling out fish after fish and were in danger of going back to the tents fishless!

I only had one definite bite that turned out to be from a small ballan wrasse. Not any size but very welcome all the same. It saved us from a blank at least.

We had to pack up in the end as it was getting dark and our presence was required back at camp.

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Uptiding for Small-eyed Ray

Uptiding in the Bristol Channel during summer almost always throws up some ray. This months trip from Minehead was no exception. We fished an 8 hour trip over the low tide. Weather was gloriously sunny, very hot and flat calm. Couldn’t ask for better weather!

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The fishing turned out to be as excellent as the weather with plenty of ray coming aboard – there were times when two of us were playing fish at the same time.

We started on the sand off Greenleigh with us all using two rods each. Dad had a thornback that took both his baits at the same time so when he lost the fish in the strong tide on one rod he picked up the other and landed it on that rod… I’ve not seen that before.

I had probably one of the smallest baby tope I’ve ever seen, before we moved offshore to the sandbanks where we fished for most of the day.

On the sandbanks, I caught 9 small-eyed ray, whilst my father had a thornback ray, and 2 blonde rays and Chris had a further 3 Small-eyed ray. All in all not a bad selection of fish on board – 3 different species of ray! Most of the rays took either sandeel or herring baits. There was a really strong tide running when we first anchored. So much so, that I had a ray snap me up where I just couldn’t shift it against the tidal run. Most of the rays arrived as the tide dropped off slightly and started to turn.

Once the tide had picked up enough to make fishing problematic, we moved back inshore to the rocky ground off the point where we all had hounds on crab, both Starry and Common variety. All this whilst trying to fend off the hordes of dogfish!

 

Summer time on the River Brue

What a summer! It’s been so hot for so long! Today’s trip was no different – very very hot and sunny although a bit breezy at times.

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I mainly concentrated on fly fishing although without massive amounts of enthusiasm. I think the heat installed a general malaise in me that sapped my willingness to perservere after the first few casts at each new place.

I did catch a couple of small chub on fly. Although it wasn’t until I switched to float fishing with maggot that I started to catch a little more regularly with gudgeon, perch and minnows.

Jason coarse fishing throughout and had a good variety of fish including: chub, rudd, roach, perch, gudgeon, minnow and hybrid.

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We started off at West Lydford in the hope of making use of the shade of the trees we knew were along that stretch, before ending up at the Cowbridge stretch. I had fun stalking large chub that could be seen on the surface basking in the sunshine, and managed to tempt one of the biggest to take a daddy-long legs fly, only for me to miss the take! If only!

 

Uptiding at Minehead

Our recent boat trip in the Bristol Channel at Minehead delivered slow but steady sport. We were fishing an 8 Hour trip over low water and were blessed with great conditions: Sunny and hot, starting off windy but with the wind dying away to leave us with flat calm conditions by the end. Time for the sun-screen then!

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Uptiding with two rods I had a steady stream of fish even if I wasn’t rushed off my feet: 1 small smoothhound a couple of nice sized small-eyed rays, a spotted ray, strap conger and numerous doggies.

In amongst all the dogfish, my father had 3 smoothhounds, and a small-eyed ray whilst my brother, not to be outdone also caught a smoothhound and finished off with 2 congers so generally we had a satisfyingly productive if not amazing session.

At the start the easterly wind meant we motored down to seek shelter in Porlock bay which fishwise wasn’t that productive a spot today. As the wind dropped off we moved back to Selworthy Sands and then the rough ground near Greenleigh Sands. Despite the slow fishing it proved enjoyable.