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Clint Walker - Pike fishing with Deeper Sonar
I went pike fishing again this week, and blanked. I missed a run within the first half an hour, but otherwise, my indicators stubbornly refused to move all day. All was not lost though, as I met two anglers, one of whom was also fishless in his pursuit of predators, and his son, an exceptionally polite and well mannered fourteen year old. After a quick chat with dad, I spent a few minutes with the younger angler, and watched as he flicked a lure up the side of some pontoons in search of perch. We discussed the merits of dropshot and jig fishing, and I was pleased to see him pick off a solitary perch, indicating that it may be an area worth further investigation, so with that in mind, I said my farewells, and resolved to return later in the week… I have only ever fished with bait at this venue but wanted to find out if perch were worth targeting on lures. Determined to kill two birds with one stone, a few days later I was back at the water with the brand new Deeper Sonar™ Christmas package to do some product photography for one of my sponsors, and put the kit to the test. I’ve been using Deeper for a while now, and the new Deeper Pro+ is a real upgrade on the previous incarnation, with connection issues resolved, more features, and a greater casting range achievable. I tend to use it solely to confirm or locate underwater features, rarely utilising the fish finder option, but I wanted to try both for the required images. Whilst deadbaiting the water for pike, I’ve suspected an area of weed amongst a relatively clear lake bed, and this was an ideal opportunity to prove that fish were indeed holed up in cover. The Deeper is so easy to use; simply install the app, drop the sonar into the water (water activated battery) and wait for it to connect. At this point, I should point out that turning off mobile data gives far better connectivity, and within a few seconds, an image will appear on your phone or tablet which clearly depicts the environment below. Once stabilised, the picture will scroll across the screen, so you can pick out features, fish, temperature, depth, and plenty of other variables; it certainly makes mapping a water a far less laborious evolution than constantly casting a marker float. You can also store the information in the form of a GPS accurate map, add your own notes, and even add a photograph of the exact spot where you stand! Brilliant! Camera tripod locked in place, remote control in hand, I set about getting the requisite amount of shots for social media and marketing, including screen shots of actual use, and after an hour of repositioning, deleting, retaking, and viewing of images, was happy I’d got enough to work with; it was time to map some spots. My Deeper is attached to 50lb braid and it was quickly hurled out as far as I could cast it. I’d be lying if I said I could it to the maximum stated range of one hundred metres, (although I have used it to map river swims as it trots downstream) but then I don’t tend to fish deadbaits at that range either, so knew I’d have my spots covered. I waited for the picture to clear, and slowly wound in, pausing every few seconds to let the Deeper hover over areas of interest. I picked out a known snag with ease (pesky thing) and marked it on the GPS, then continued to retrieve over the potential weed patch. It was vegetation, but I was surprised just how far off the lake bed it rose. What I thought was perhaps a thin sheen of silkweed turned out to be substantial growth and a good depth of silt beneath. My baits had perhaps been landing in the silt which spread some distance from the focus of the weed, but at least I could confirm that the obstruction was there; noted for future sessions! I did have the fish finder turned on too and wasn’t surprised to find a good number of fish within cover. Vast areas of the reservoir were completely devoid of fish, a change in the weather had certainly stirred them up and at the base of the shelf, where I’ve caught a good number of pike, there were none! The majority were either in the weed or patrolling in mid-water near a shoal of bait fish, identified as a scatter pattern which was studded with ‘proper’ fish reflections. I spent another hour mapping the whole bank, finding depths to almost thirty feet, the remains of an old dam, another snag, and more fish, before packing away and having a quick fling with the dropshot rod under the floating pontoons. It proved to be slow going, with only a handful of perch caught, but the chill wind put paid to any further fishing, it was just too cold! I moved off to a tiny local river, determined to bank something worthy of a photograph. I’d changed the dropshot set up for a 3g jighead, loaded it with a pink Spro lure, and slid into the cramped swim beneath the trees. I’d seen a fish rise whilst approaching, so was confident of a hit on the lure. The river contains chub, trout, pike and perch, so it’s a real ‘lucky dip’ which is part of the reason I enjoy it so much. I prepared my first cast, carefully checking that my braid wasn’t looped around the end of the rod, my bale arm was open, that the backcast was clear of obstructions, and that the spot I wanted to cast to was accessible. All clear, I fired the lure out and it went straight into a tree which had a single branch hanging down! With 6lb braid and 5lb fluorocarbon, snatching it back in isn’t an option, so by the time I’d gently pulled the branch towards me, I’d made far too much noise to have any chance of a fish from the tiny swim, so scrabbled back up the bank to try the next glide. A classic small river swim, with fast water running into a widening, deep pool, it’s one of two spots here that are ‘guaranteed’. I know every nook and cranny and can tell you at any time of the year where fish are to be found, I’m that confident! The pink shad was twitched across the bottom, repeated several times, but without success. A change to a similar pattern lure in a different colour bought an instant bite, a handsome perch of around half a pound the culprit, and this continued with a number of fish banked. As I watched the rod tip, I noted a splash against the far bank, just a few yards distant, and watched a long dark shape slip by beneath the water. The clear water gave me a good view of the intruder, and I quickly realised that it was a mink, which I watched surface and swim to its home within the roots of a tree. We watched each other for a while, the mink’s pale snout clearly visible in the dark confines beneath the tree, and I have to admit that I was enthralled to see an apex predator up close. I know they are killers, but what an impressive animal, and a real treat to witness! I didn’t want to risk conflict, hooking a fish to be snatched and fought over, so moved upstream to a steady, shallow glide. I could see the river bed clearly, patched with coloured autumn leaves and flicked the lure under the roots of a tree on the near side. I watched it skip across the debris, and then it disappeared. I couldn’t spot it, and then all went solid; snagged! A small amount of pressure was applied to free the hook and suddenly a huge bow wave erupted as a pike leapt clear of the water in a shower of spray! I hadn’t seen it, perfectly camouflaged as it shot out and whacked the lure, and although it was only a jack of about 4lb, it gave a superb account on ultralight tackle as it sped around the confines of the river, desperately trying to dislodge the hook. Safely netted, it was quickly returned sulkily to the river, and that ended my session. An hour on the river had resulted in a number of handsome perch, a close up encounter with a mink, and a finely conditioned pike to finish; it doesn’t get better than that does it? The new Deeper Sonar Christmas package is available from 1st November (rrp £209), and contains the Deeper sonar, spare night fishing cover, smartphone mount, neoprene carry pouch, charging lead, and a bonus Gerber™ multi-tool with twelve handy functions! Check it out!
3 months ago
4
Clint Walker - Single Hook Pike Rigs
After targeting carp last week, I’ve done much the same this week, taking a total of ten double figure fish whilst fishing the ‘tip. Why? In truth, I spent plenty of time during the session taking photographs for clients prior to scheduling on social media, and to accompany other forthcoming copy. As a full time angler and writer, I often have to plan weeks (if not months) in advance, and having a library of relevant images is of vital importance. I fished in company with a mate and was pleased to have a proper ‘subject’ for the required images, rather than the usual ‘selfies’! We storyboarded and took a huge number of images, so the trip was an opportunity to get some ‘in the bag’ for when times are hard and I need a specific image! Having the opportunity to get the images was a great help (thanks Andy!) but I couldn’t help but keep an eye on the weather, looking forwards to a predator session just two days later… I think that pike angling has, over the last few years, definitely become my favourite facet of angling, and at this time of year, it’s just an absolute joy to be on the banks. I wanted to continue my exploration of my single hook theory, so was keen to hit the banks at my favourite Stoke-on-Trent Angling Society club water with a cool bag full of deadbaits, and a head full of ideas! I arrived bright and early, and it turned out to be one of those mornings that leaves you simply stunned… I’ve been trying the single hook rig for a number of reasons, the main one being to offer a way for relatively new pike anglers to safely handle and unhook these fine fish without the anxiety of dealing with a pair of trebles. I know that many anglers would like to catch pike, and although information is readily available, it still boils down the fact that some anglers are terrified of being unable to remove deeply embedded trebles, and as a result, sensibly, have never fished for pike. I want to try and remove that fear from the equation, by proving that a single hook can work, that it has the potential to cause less damage, and is much easier to remove. So far, my findings have been encouraging… My first trial run with Kato circle hooks, purchased in Australia on a whim saw me miss my first run through my own fault, but then hit both subsequent takes, bringing a brace of double figure pike to the bank. Both fish were firmly hooked in the scissors, and because the barb had been crushed with long nosed pliers, both were safely unhooked within seconds; a good start. I wondered whether crushing the barb was enough though, whether things could be made even safer and resolved to try a different, barbless hook pattern. I used the same 35lb PikePro wire, twizzled the trace exactly the same way, and used an identical lead arrangement. The hooks to be used however, were not circle hooks, and this had a huge effect! My first four runs with the new hooks all ended in disappointment, with not a single contact felt with any of the protagonists, and each time, the bait was lost. Not only was I missing bites, I was getting through bait at an alarming rate! I don’t expect to re-use baits, but I don’t want to lose them every cast either! I wondered whether the missed takes resulted from smaller fish picking up baits and dropping them, but my deadbaits were only small roach, so considered this unlikely. Reverting back to the circle pattern immediately saw a double figure fish banked which went some way to proving it was the hook, not the bait size at fault. More food for thought, so another session beckoned… The club venue is padlocked, with entry forbidden before 7am, so just after, I unlocked the gates, and drove up to the car park to unload. All was quiet, despite a breeze being forecast, and as I sorted my gear, I looked across the reservoir to see the breaking dawn mirrored in the still dark waters. Every second brought new colours to the tableau before me, and as the sky lightened, a hazy mist was unveiled on the fields and woodlands surrounding the lake. The fog rolled slowly down onto the water until the sky and water became one; it was hauntingly beautiful, and a sight I’m struggling to describe with mere words… I couldn’t concentrate on setting up as the minutes passed and the scene became even more alluring; rarely have I seen such a stunning morning unfold. As the sun rose, the mist became backlit, and everything was coated in a golden glow. I took some simply superb images, none of which required any filters or editing, and they are already in the printers to go up on the wall! Such beauty instantly put me in a wonderfully good mood, and I couldn’t wait to get started again! Within a few minutes, both rods were tackled up, baits mounted on the circle hooks, and deposited into around fourteen feet of still, dark water. My bobbins were set, alarms switched on, and I sat back to absorb the surroundings. I noted a flock of lapwings wheeling together over the far bank, and high above, a buzzard being harassed by crows which sought to protect their nest. Behind me, a Jay paraded on the high wall, cackling, and I watched rabbits disturb the mist as they warmed up in the weak sunlight. It was one of those perfect mornings, and everywhere I looked, I saw something to delight me… Bleep. A single note grabbed my attention and I watched the white head of the indicator twitch upwards as the rod tip shook. I removed the line from the clip, and as it continued to disappear, wound down and lifted the rod, hoping to connect. I’ve found that a ‘strike’ isn’t required with circle hooks, instead I prefer to just tighten up until I feel the fish, but on this occasion, I felt nothing; the bait came back unmarked too, so I was unsure whether the bait had been picked up, or if the pike had just brushed the line. The roach was recast to the same spot, and as I replaced it in the clip, it pinged out of my fingers as the bait was taken again. Once more, I wound down, and failed to engage with the bait stealer. Retrieving the bait, I inspected it for damage, and again could find none; now I was scratching my head! There was obviously a fish down in the depths, but why wasn’t the hook turning into its jaws, and why wasn’t the bait damaged? I discarded the roach, and threaded the hook into the tail of a new one, ensuring that the hook point was free of any scales, and was still sharp. It went back out into the same area, I felt it hit the lake bed, tightened up, and returned to my enjoyment of the morning. As I poured a mug of tea, another bleep preceded the red light of the alarm, and this time the indicator fell away as the fish moved off. Closing the bale arm, I let the fish run against the tension, then wound down to set the hook; fish on! I could feel instantly that it wasn’t a monster fish, but the pike gave a good account of itself before it slid into the net, the circle hook easily visible in the top jaw. The crushed barb had gone through, so rather than try to reverse the hook hold, it was simply exposed, then snipped off with sidecutters so that the hook fell out. Unhooked without getting my fingers anywhere near those teeth or gill rakers, and without causing any harm to the fish; easy! I missed the next couple of takes, then hit two more, leaving me with four missed, three hit which might not be seen by some as a good return. Personally, I’m not too disappointed. Since using circle hooks, in four sessions I’ve had six double figure fish from eleven runs with all of them safely and easily unhooked without damage, and in two of those instances, I’ve missed them through my own fault, so it could be scored as six from nine which is a better tally. The other hook pattern has so far failed miserably, missing four from four, but I’m considering using a hair rigged bait to see if completely barbless hooks offer even greater ease. I’ve suffered no net traumas either, no flying trebles catching in the mesh, and certainly no deep hooked fish nor awkwardly snared pike with a treble in each jaw. The circle HAVE made things much simpler, and in future, it will be only single hook rigs for me from now on. So, there you have it. My investigations thus far lead me to believe circle hooks are effective, are far easier to remove, and have less potential to cause harm to either me or the predators. If you have never tried pike angling because of a healthy disdain for trebles, then why not check out the Pike Anglers Club handling guidelines, find an experienced angler with whom to go, and try my single hook rig? You may be pleasantly surprised!
3 months ago
Clint Walker - Looking for dace on the River Trent
On my way back from a session elsewhere, I recently checked out a free stretch of the River Trent, hoping to be able to find some areas in which to cast a line, and absorb a little bit of information from any anglers who were there. The stretch in question isn’t that long, and my investigations revealed only a couple of fishable pegs, but it looked nice, so I decided to have a crack at it later in the week…after all, it looked absolutely perfect for dace on the stick float! A few days later, I returned, and was delighted to find that the peg I really fancied was vacant… in fact there were no other anglers to be seen anywhere, so I spent a good few minutes watching the water, spotting the flash of dace over the gravel, and the dark shadows of chub in the deeper water beneath an overhanging willow. I was itching to get started, having heard tales of gudgeon to 1lb 2oz (I know) and roach to 3lb 15oz (!) in addition to big chevins and other monsters! The reality I surmised would be somewhat different, but as I love small river fishing, I quickly got the float rod out and started to tackle up. As I threaded the line through the guides of my rod, I glanced down at my bag to see an empty space. It took me only a few seconds to realise that my session was about to change drastically; I’d forgotten my floats! Ahhhh! I really didn’t fancy fishing the ‘tip for lightening fast dace, but with no other option, I dragged out the leger rod, set up with a 2oz insert to counter the flow, and put out a bit of groundbait upstream to stir things up. A size 16 hook held a couple of maggots, and with the addition of a small bomb, it was gently lobbed out and left to settle. The tip curved around as the flow created resistance, then it pinged back as the lead moved… and moved again… and again. I’d obviously misjudged the current under the willow, so swapped to a gripper lead to give more surface area and greater friction. The rig went back out, and settled nicely… I always struggle to hit dace on the ‘tip, they are just so fast, finicky, and fleet, so it was a case of waiting for a definite pull before striking. I was so off the pace though and missed so many bites, that if I’d been in a gunfight at the OK corral, I’d have had six holes in me before I’d shot myself in the foot through my holster! Eventually, I got into the swing of it, and managed to hit perhaps two thirds of the dace, with a steady stream of nicely conditioned fish soon on the bank. I’d dropped down to a single maggot on a size 18 hook to get better indication, and for the next couple of hours, caught nothing but dace from the swim amassing a reasonable total of shimmering silvers. I continued to bait the swim every few minutes with a nugget of groundbait, and a pinch of maggots, and whilst expecting yet another dace, was surprised by the ferocity of a take which almost had the rod off the rest! Connecting with something much heavier, the rod hooped over as I tried to steer the fish away from a mid-stream snag. I didn’t get chance, the light hooklink parted within a few seconds, but not before I’d seen the golden flanks of a nice chub as it belted away from me, sadly for good! Although I hadn’t hooked any of the big gudgeon (!) a chub was a welcome distraction, and I have to admit I was less than pleased with the lost fish… With chub in the swim, I stepped up the tackle and put on a heavier link, and a bigger size 14 hook. The tail of a worm was added, and it was cast back out into the darkness beneath the tree. I had to wait almost fifteen minutes for the next bite, another lurching wrap around take, and was pleased with a perch in absolutely pristine condition. A few more followed, although sadly no chub which appeared to have been spooked downstream by my loss, and as I contemplated packing up, a flicker of the tip caught my eye, and I watched as it gently trembled… I lifted the rod and winched in a slender sliver of purple and gold… a gudgeon! Not the monster fish I’d had described to me by a fellow piscator (1lb 2oz indeed!) but nonetheless a joy to behold as it’s delicate cloak of colours glistened in the late afternoon sunlight. After a disastrous pollution incident in recent years, the humble gudgeon was a wonderful indicator of a river on the up, of clean water and good times to come. I had a very pleasant day by the riverside, and I’ll certainly visit again, but I’ll try to remember my floats next time… it’s easier to catch dace that way!
3 months ago
1
Clint Walker - Looking for Zander
Something different for me this week, and it’s in pursuit of something I’ve thought about getting around to for a while… I love my lure fishing, it’s quick, easy and fun, but despite catching chub, trout, pike and perch with some regularity, the zander has so far eluded me this year, so I was determined to find some! I set out fairly early, keen to miss the morning rush hour to head for a spot which needed a drive of at least an hour. I won’t divulge where, as I know that the zander is still misunderstood by some anglers, blamed (unfairly in my opinion) for a lack of silver fish in venues across the UK, and harvested by the Canal and River Trust for profit. Frankly, I, and many other anglers I know, are constantly appalled by the indiscriminate culling and removal of these fine fish from waterways by the so-called custodians of our sport, and I was even more astonished to find that if they cannot be rehomed, then they are sold for food to top restaurants; not much incentive to look very hard for a new home then is it? Not if there is money involved? What upsets me even more is the fact that these same authoritive bodies make little effort to rid our waters of a true parasite, the Signal Red Crayfish, (amongst others) and refuse to allow others to make inroads on their behalf to dispose of or make use of these voracious predators, but will willingly destroy a true asset to the angling scene…shocking! Anyway, I digress… I arrived at the waterside, had a quick cup of tea in the back of the van whilst I got my thoughts together, then broke out the tackle. I wasn’t sure if pike were present (I suspected they were) so a wire trace was joined to my braided mainline, and a mid-sized lure added. I intended to ‘sanitise’ the area for pike first, then switch to a fluorocarbon trace whilst fishing for zander. An hour of wandering the banks bought nothing from pike, so I returned to my starting point, and tackled up in the hope of a zander. My Sonik Magna rod, twinned with matching reel loaded with 8lb braid, was quickly pieced together, and I tied up a fluorocarbon trace, terminating in a 3g jig head. My contact, who had kindly given me details of the venue (it pays to keep things quiet sometimes, a bit of integrity can unlock some fine spots indeed!) had also advised that the margins were a likely spot to tempt a first zander of the year, so with a small rubber shad affixed, I began to explore the area in front of me. I’d seen some decent perch caught from the swims too, so twitched the lure around in the hope of either species. I’d chosen a white lure to start, hoping that it would show up well in coloured water, especially as I know the zander hunts predominantly by eyesight, but despite an hour of dropping the tempter into likely spots, hadn’t had so much as a follow by anything remotely fishy! Time to change. My next lure was a Fox Microfry; I love the thumping paddletail, and if the fish couldn’t see the bait, perhaps they would be able to feel it as it moved through the water? Another fruitless hour followed, I suspected that I’d missed perhaps a single tentative bite but had nothing solid to connect with… this was proving to be harder than I thought! One of the joys of lure fishing is the ability to travel light and cover a fair bit of distance. After two hours of casting though, I’d got a bit of back ache (arthritis), so retired once more to the van for more tea and to reconsider my options. I’ve done well for perch using the Ecogear Paramax lure in the past, particularly the 3” pink option, so decided to see if the swimming action would prove enough to provoke a reaction as I went back over the same areas. I locked up the van, and went back to work… The 3g jig head was easily heavy enough to reach about 35 yards, so I made a start in covering the water with a series of casts in a fan shape to try and hunt over as much as possible. Changes in retrieve rates, a change of depth, and even allowing the lure to rest on the bottom bought little more than an odd ‘nip’ so I began to cast along the bank, hoping that fish would be laying close in. Wham! Working the lure close in certainly gave a result when a fish slammed into it within a few feet of the bank, and after gently guiding it to the net, I was delighted to find a zander of a couple of pounds safely nestled within! Excellent! I took a few seconds to admire this beautiful creature, the large eye staring balefully back at me, greens and greys shimmering in the sun; how can you not appreciate the zander? It’s a stunning fish, and worthy quarry indeed. After a quick photograph, I moved to a different area and began the pattern again. Thump! A startling strike made me think I’d finally run into a pike, but no, it proved to be a smaller zander which went mad when it felt the hook…great sport. As I returned this fish however, I was shouted at by a gentleman who ponderously jogged towards me. “Zander mate?” I replied it was, and in fine condition too. “Can I have it? I eat every one I catch”. It took me a second or two to register what I was hearing. I had to ask him to repeat his remarks. “I eat them, I fish off my canal boat, and take them when I catch them”. The fish instantly splashed back into the water… He appeared incredulous. “What are you doing?!” I stood up and told him that I would never kill a zander (or any other fish for that matter) and he had no chance of getting one for the table off me. He then launched into a tirade about them being an invasive species (not true if considered established, which they are here) and I was wrong to return it, before describing me in less than complimentary terms. Hearing this from an Englishman of mature years, indeed a pensioner, I was sometime taken aback, so returned some compliments with equal friendliness as I attempted to advise him of his folly. He wouldn’t have it though and stormed off up the bank muttering further sweet nothings as I returned to my fishing. The attitude of some ‘anglers’ towards conservation, protection and indeed the fish they seek to catch astounds me sometimes… Not too disheartened by the encounter, I decided to have a final fling around before the long drive home. Again, the pink Paramax splashed into the margins, and once again a resounding whack saw me engaged in another fish. This one took a little longer to subdue, but eventually, a fine fish of around 4lbs was floundering on the surface ready for the net. Unhooked, it was gently paraded for the camera, admired, then rested until strong enough to slink back into the depths. I’d had three bites, and banked a trio of smashing zander, and aside from a briefly bruising brush with an idiot, I was happy with my tally. I believe that the zander offers real hope to waterways neglected by the authorities, encouraging lure anglers to join clubs in the hope of capturing these handsome fish. Indeed, I joined a club with the promise of such fish, only to find that within a month or two, the waterways had been electro-fished, and the zander removed. They were not rehomed, just left to suffocate in a bucket… do you remember when we used to do that with pike? Because they ate all the roach? Before we realised what an asset they were to keeping a healthy, clean, disease free fishery? Hopefully, attitudes will change, and the zander will be better thought of in years to come… after all they are here to stay! http://www.baitbox.com/Baitbox https://www.soniksports.com/
4 months ago
2
Clint Walker - Change of plans and somewhere new
I was going sea fishing this week… We had a trip booked, I’d bought new tackle, ordered the appropriate bait, and was all set for an early start to travel to Fleetwood in Lancashire to board the boat with some friends, and enjoy a day at sea; lovely. Then it was cancelled. The day before. I know a sea fishing trip is always at the mercy of the weather, but I was especially disappointed to miss out on this one, so disappointed in fact, I went fishing to get over it! In truth, the bad news arrived just as I pulled up at the lake in search of a few carp. I’d just got out of the van when the phone pinged, so was in a foul mood as I barrowed my stuff across to the waterside. In the holdall, I’d got a couple of rods which needed to be photographed, so silently set them up, mixed some groundbait, attached a method feeder and positioned the bait. Still feeling fed up, I set the camera on its tripod, then watched as the bobbin flew up, the alarm squealed, and the first carp of the day was hooked. Good. I could get some ‘rod bending’ shots, then pack up and go home to sulk… A double figure mirror hit the mat, which was quickly followed by a similarly sized common, then another mirror. I decided to stay until I’d used up my bowl of bait, so continued to drop the method feeder in, and pick off fish after fish. With the exception of a couple of bream, I landed nothing but double figure carp. It may be a little presumptuous to say so, but my life… it was boring fishing! I definitely felt as though I had returned to my recent rut, so the following day, I decided to try a completely new club lake. Black Lake is a small secluded pool set amongst farmland. Its quiet, tree lined, and looks ‘right’. I had little idea what may reside within, however I had noted a few bream pictured on social media, so set up a cage feeder, slipped on a pre-tied hooklink with a size 16 hook, and added a couple of maggots. My groundbait was Spotted Fin Carp Super Blend, a general purpose mix which is easy to get right, and to which I added a handful of Catalyst pellets (bream love pellets!) and a small amount of hemp to cover all bases. A few quick casts got some bait in, and I dropped a baited rig on the spot to see what would find it and sat back to enjoy a brew. After an hour, a barely perceptible quiver of my sensitive carbon tip alerted me to my first bite, which proved to be a roach of an ounce or so, not big, but at least it was progress. The weather soon turned from bright and sunny to much colder with a brisk wind rippling the lake, and after overnight rain, I wondered if I was going to catch much else. A second bite saw a perch of matching proportions to the roach, so that was two fish for two ounces… match winner! I kept plugging away, casting every ten minutes to keep the bait going in, and eventually I got a much better bite; the slow pull of a bream, and a fish of around two pounds came to the net. The next cast bought the same result, as did the next half a dozen, as bream after bream tripped up over the hook bait. It was soon time for another brew, and as I reached down to top up my mug, out of the corner of my eye, I noted the ‘tip fly around and the rod was wrenched off the rest! Kicking my tea everywhere, I grabbed the rod, and felt a much better fish. My light 3lb hook link was going to be well stretched during this fight, but luckily, my clutch was set to slip early…just in case! I gently played the carp to the net, and was delighted to find a beautifully dark, plump fish of around six pounds on the mat which had fought far harder than its modest weight might suggest! I sat for about four hours, slowly getting colder as the autumn weather blew wind and rain at me, before a phone call suggested a visit to McDonalds with my grandsons; an infinitely more attractive proposition… I loaded the van, happy with a few nice fish from an unknown water, especially after witnessing another angler turn up, fish for less than an hour without a bite and pack up again, so I gathered I must have been doing something right. I’ll return again I think, as I’ve also heard rumours of pike, but for now, I’m looking forward to a trip abroad again, though without a fishing rod unfortunately, but I need something to cheer me after a cancelled sea fishing trip! I’ll be back soon, so tight lines until then…
4 months ago
Clint Walker: Tench and Bream at Rode Pool
The weather conditions continue to upset my fishing plans, I’m itching to get back onto the river banks, but can’t justify barbel fishing when the water is so low. As a result, I headed back to one of my favourite waters, Rode Pool, on the Stoke-on-Trent Angling Society card in search of tench and bream, but with an eye out for an opportunity to bag my first carp from this very tricky water… I arrived just as the sun started to fleck the horizon with pinks but was dismayed to find that I’d already been beaten to my intended spot! One other angler on the lake, and he was sitting where I wanted to be; typical! We had a brief chat, before I retired to the other end of the lake, choosing peg 1, one of my least favourite areas, but the wind was pushing hard into the other end of the lake, and taking a huge amount of algal bloom with it, coating the water is a paint-like green slick which I didn’t fancy cleaning off my gear later! It’s a two-rod only water, so I set up a pair of 3lb test curve rods, twinned them with the huge spools of my trusty Sonik Tournos 10000’s, and prepared myself to launch a cast about 140 yards to where I could see carp cruising. I won’t lie, my cast fell about 35 yards short, a mix of average casting technique and a crosswind, and I felt the lead plug solidly into silt; not ideal. I tightened up, and pulled to release the lead, before winding in to try again. Again, I fell way short, but this time the lead seemed to settle on good ground, so I left it in situ as I realised I was never going to get near the intended spot. Baited with a Spotted Fin Smokey Jack bottom bait, and tipped with a small yellow wafter, I was confident that if carp were hungry, they would find it. A few freebies were sticked out over the top, and I went about my second rod. I know The Method works extremely well here, so the usual tri-lobe feeder was slid up the line, wrapped in Spotted Fin Classic Corn groundbait, studded with 2mm pellets, and an 8mm wafter banded onto the hook. This went out into open water near a submerged bar, and I sat back to wait. On the hour, every hour, the method feeder was retrieved and reloaded, but after 5 hours, I hadn’t had a single indication on either rod! Earlier activity had quietened down, with fish no longer to be seen rolling on the surface, and it appeared that they had indeed followed the wind. Eventually, a bleep and a typically stuttering run saw a bream of around 4lb banked, then another, and then I lost a slightly bigger fish, and that was it; nothing further all day, still no carp, and it was soon time to pack up. I found out subsequently that despite my misgivings, I was the only angler of six to have caught… scant consolation for such a poor day, but at least it wasn’t a blank! I returned a couple of days later, determined to fish better and catch more. Both rods were set up with a method feeder, but this time crammed with Spotted Fin Super Sweet Blend groundbait, one with a tiny wafter hook bait, the other with two grains of corn on the hair. Both were lobbed out quickly and left to settle. Once more, I intended to recast every hour, but I didn’t really get chance. After a quiet first hour, in which I identified another bar to the right hand side of the swim, I moved the rods slightly left, and started to get interest straight away in an area devoid of silt or leaf debris. My first fish tripped up over the corn, as did my second, then the third picked up the wafter to give me a total of 3 big bream on the bank. A fourth fish fell to the corn, so I swapped the other rod over to yellow grains, and from then on rarely had them out together for more than 20 minutes! It went a bit mad, and by mid-afternoon, I’d tallied 16 bream and a trio chubby tench, as well as losing 3 more due to having (unheard of on this water) double takes! Usually, the wafters out perform any other bait on this particular lake, but just for once, after ringing the changes, I opted to fish the humble grain and it paid off. I’ve got absolute belief in the groundbait too, the sweetness proving a definite attractor for the hefty bream which reside within, and flecked through with 2mm Smokey Jack pellets, it makes an irresistible mix which seems to work consistently. Once more, I caught more than anyone else on the lake, and I think I know why; confidence in your bait is much of the battle on tricky waters, and I’ve got complete confidence in mine! Get on the Fin!
5 months ago
Clint Walker - Trying Out The Sonik SKSC Range
I’ve taken delivery of some of the brand new SKSC commercial fishery range from Sonik Sports recently, so decided to take the 11’ feeder rod and 5000 series reel out for a session to see how it performed. It’s realistically priced to provide a viable option for those anglers who hate to part with big money for kit, with rods and reels coming in at under £40 each. There is a good selection to choose from too, with a trio of both float and feeder rods at 9’, 10’ and 11’, three reels, and a couple of landing nets too; there are even barbel rods to be had, so the new range is certainly worth checking out… I arrived at my local club venue, and despite seeing a few carp on the top, opted to use a small flatbed method feeder, which I intended to fish close in at the base of the marginal shelf. I know that carp congregate in this area as I’ve run my Deeper ™ sonar over it, so was confident of a bite or two to put some pressure on the rod and reel. I usually fish a 12’ rod, so was looking forward to trying something different to see if had much effect on the way I played the fish or affected my casting. The feeder was quickly loaded with Spotted Fin Classic Corn feeder mix (try it, you won’t be disappointed!) an 8mm matching wafter banded on, and the rig gently cast out around twenty yards. I fired a few sinking pellets over the top hoping to sound the ‘dinner bell’, then tightened the line to put a gentle curve in the 2oz tip and sat back to wait. The rod is supplied with both a 1oz and 2oz push in tip, and I’d chosen the stiffer tip purely as I was using the method feeder… there is not much subtlety required when fishing the method, so I didn’t expect to have to decipher the delicate trembles and flickers associated with ‘normal’ feeder fishing, instead waiting for the rod to hoop around when a fish picked up the bait. I love to watch the bites develop on the method as fish demolish the bait ball before finding the target bait within, and so the session started; a minute of gentle pulls as the fish moved in, then WHAM! The tip shot around as my first carp of the day was hooked! I’d set the clutch so I didn’t get smashed up immediately, and was pleased to see the SKSC reel spool off line steadily as the clutch gently tempered the first angry run. The carp moved out into open water where I was happy to let the rod do all of the work as the fish charged around trying to shed the hook. The 11’ rod is ringed very well, and fighting pressure put a pleasing curve in the rod as the carp fought on. Obviously, I couldn’t put as much pressure on my opponent as I would have been able to with a 2.75lb test curve rod, but lighter tackle always makes the battle more fun, and eventually, my first carp tired and slid over the waiting net. At around 12lb, it wasn’t a huge fish, but not unexpected on a commercial fishery, and the new tackle performed admirably! I’d already noticed that the titanium oxide rod rings on the SKSC feeder rod were easy to thread. All too often, I find that guides are so small at the tip that it often difficult to thread the line through (especially once your eyesight starts to ‘age’) but the SKSC was easy to tackle up and get to work with reel lines in the 5-8lb bracket. It also features a screw down reel seat, and EVA/cork handle which always looks great, is easy to handle when wet and cold, and features muted graphics which appeal to many anglers. The reel is supplied with both deep and shallow aluminium spools, and I was happy to note great line lay without having to mess about with washers or similar; for the money, both products offer great value! Throughout the day, I landed a total of thirteen carp to about 14lb, and twenty one bream, all around 3-4lb, then added a dozen small barbel, with the new SKSC kit taming them all with ease. I’ve yet to try the pellet waggler rod, but if it performs as well as the feeder kit (and I fully expect it too) then Sonik have a very popular, affordable range of quality coarse fishing kit, ideal for both the match and pleasure angler, who wants good kit at great prices which will do ‘exactly what it says on the tin’. Check out the full range at www.soniksports.com [https://www.soniksports.com/]
6 months ago
Clint Walker - Carp in the Park
A blistering weekend of sunshine blessed the crowds at the annual Carp in the Park show at Billing Aquadrome in Northamptonshire, and I was lucky enough to enjoy the whole weekend working on the RAD Angling stand! I mean lucky too, it’s always a privilege to be asked to help showcase such top quality carbon bankware, and as part of a fine team of consultants, we always look forward to getting together to discuss all things fishing whilst checking out the latest production prototypes and launching new kit into the market. It’s always fun, (if tiring) and this show is unusual because everyone bivvies up, enjoys a few beers and a barbeque together, whilst listening to some live music! How can it not be enjoyable? I drove down on Saturday morning, bright and early, to find the stand (a purpose built trailer) ready to go, the kettle on, and the bacon grilling, as the team started to get ready for the forthcoming day. The RAD trailer is the envy of many within the ‘paddock’ and allows us to get set up within minutes, and pack away even faster, whilst others struggle with building gazebo type stands which are in no way as sturdy as the trailer. Once opened, our carbon fibre products can be set up on the front stage, the television set to loop the promotional video, and that’s about it; simple, visually effective, and easy to use. Even before the gates officially opened, we had visitors from other companies as they came to check out what was on offer before the rush, and also to cast a shady eye over our trailer; I don’t think it will be long before similar others start to appear! By 10am, the sun was already high in the sky, and as the gates opened, the paying public started the quick first loop of the assembled trade stands before deciding where to spend their hard-earned cash. It’s something that you get used to at the shows, the initial rush, a quieter period, then mid-morning, the action starts to hot up as decisions are made and customers return to the trailer. I love it! The products are so good, that no ‘hard sell’ is required, but it’s always good fun bantering with customers as each option is explained before cash changes hands and the buyer departs happy with their purchase. Throughout the day, a number of talks and demonstrations took place on the ‘stage’ with big name anglers spilling the beans to show their secrets, edges and tips, and a bankside cookery showcase saw volunteers learn new skills under the tutelage of top chef Simon Bishop who then presented them with a bag full of goodies too! There was huge a beer tent, casting instruction, rig and bait demos, and all sorts of other things which kept the crowds entertained. The first day went well, lots of carbon fibre bankware went home with happy customers, and when it was time to shut down for the day, we simply dropped the trailer door; brilliant! I didn’t realise how tiring it had been though. Fully intent on bivvying up, I didn’t bother, instead unfolding my bed in the shadow of the trailer, unfurling my duvet, and that’s the last I remember until the boss woke me an hour later with a bottle of beer in hand! The evening was spent listening to the live band, sharing a few cold beers, and eating platefuls of steak, sausages, chicken and burgers as the sun went down…perfect! I slipped back under the duvet and awoke 8 hours later as the sun rose over the trees, my Minions duvet cover adorned with a thin sheen of early morning dew, before going for a freezing cold shower ready to start day two. Sunday followed in much the same way as the previous day, a plateful of bacon sandwiches getting things off to a super start, before mugs of tea washed it all down and the trailer was opened up. Again, enthusiastic punters lined up ready to buy new carbon, and before long, we were forced to take orders as so much stock had been sold! The sun still shone, the weather was superb, and every single person I spoke to had thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn’t wait for the next one… the mark of a good show. Carp in the Park turned out to be a fantastic way for the angling trade to engage directly with customers, answer queries, and sell product. More importantly, the whole event was fun, with something for all, and I noted far fewer bored looking partners as the angler in their life browsed the kit on offer…not like many of the other shows where it ALL about fishing! Overall, it was a fun way to spend a weekend, I can hardly call it ‘work’, and it was great to meet so many anglers with whom I’ve only conversed via email or social media who popped in to see us. Thank you, it was very much appreciated, and I hope I’ll see you at the next one! https://www.radangling.co.uk/#/
7 months ago
Clint Walker - Back at Home
I've returned from Australia, and for the first time in a month, I'm currently sitting on the bank back home in the UK. In truth, I’ve been looking forward to returning to what I know, Australia has some fabulous fish to target, but some are also deadly, so to the uneducated (me!) I’m now far safer! This time of year is also one of my favourite periods to target tench, so with that in mind, I packed my van, set the alarm, and groggily got up at 3.30am to drive to my preferred tinca water... Rode Pool, on the Stoke-on-Trent Angling Society card is a simply gorgeous estate lake, shallow, silty, and with some superb tench to target. I parked up to find that I was the first angler of the day to arrive, and quickly barrowed my kit through the gate, pushed through the undergrowth, and settled down to watch the water for a while. I wasn’t too pleased to find the wind pushing down the lake away from my usual peg as I seem to do better when it pushes into the shallows, but with the whole lake to choose from, it wasn’t going to cause an issue. After thirty minutes, I hadn’t seen much aside from hordes of insects flitting over the rippled surface, but was delighted to watch bats hunting them in the morning gloom as the sky lightened. I walked the banks hoping to spot fish, and finally, just off the peg I like, I saw a dark back roll; it looked like a tench, and was all the encouragement I needed to drop my kit, mix my groundbait, and start to set up. I’ve ‘upscaled' my rods on here this season, moving to the 2.75lb test curve Sonik Vader X just to allow me to cast a little bit further as a lot of fish tend to patrol the far bank reed line, and I’ve been dropping short. The Vader X is still soft enough to enjoy a scrap with feisty tench, and if one of the resident carp interrupts, I’ll have a chance of landing that too. Twinned with the matching Vader X reel, it’s a great set up for general fishing, and won’t break the bank either! I love to fish The Method here, so a sticky mix of Spotted Fin Betafin pellets and Super Sweet groundbait was wetted with lake water and left to stew. I know it will cling to a method feeder and withstand an 80 yard cast, and it’s always a great attack on what is renowned as a tricky water. On the hook, a Catalyst 8mm dumbbell from the same company was banded on and pushed into the method ball...perfect! Both feeders splashed down about 25 yards apart, a rod length off the inaccessible far bank and I sank both lines before adding a backlead. As I’ve mentioned, it’s a shallow venue, with a lot of backside vegetation, so I didn't want to risk crossing the lines with a fish! Bobbins set, it was time to relax and absorb the English countryside. I’ve enjoyed my time in Australia, but the greenery of England is always missed, and I love to sit beneath the established oaks and sycamore which border the lake. Nestled away from the rest of the lake, my first brew was interrupted by a rattling take which saw the first dark green tench of the day safely netted. At about 4lb, it wasn't the biggest in the lake, but just 5 minutes into my session, it was a good start! Quickly returned, it was followed a few minutes later by another of similar proportions on the other rod as the Catalyst bait lived up to its name and started a feeding spell! After recasting, I pinched the line to hook up the back lead, and was amazed to feel resistance on the other end! The ripples hadn't subsided before I was into another fish! I lifted into the third fish and started to move it away from the distant cover, before easing it into the waiting net. As it was enveloped in the mesh, astonishingly, my other alarm sounded, and I quickly swept that one aloft too to connect with a fourth tench! Madness! Less than an hour in, and four glistening tincas had seen the bank! My brew was going cold... The fifth fish was a slab sided bream, a chunky fish of around 6lb, then more tench, then another bream; by 9am, after fishing for about 3 hours, I’d landed 10 tench, and 4 good bream, all of them tempted by the Spotted Fin baits during a bumper morning session. I do know that things usually slow around 10am, and so prepared a carp rig; I still haven't caught a carp here yet, so one rod has now been swapped to pop up boilies whilst on the other, the method feeder continues to pick off fish with frightening regularity every half an hour! So, this week for a change, I’m writing from the bank, and as I sit and wait for the next fish, I’m already planning to visit a carp water later in the week to try and rack up some images for sponsors and clients as part of my freelance writing employ. Although I’m enjoying myself today, I’m conscious that one of my clients, Carp-talk magazine, have decided to close down after 24 years, of which I’ve been part of the team for the last 9 seasons, leaving me with a gap in my schedule when it ceases the final print run at the end of June. As a result, I’m hoping to pick up another slot somewhere else (get in touch if you need a copywriter!) but if not, then I may just have to do a bit more fishing, and see what turns up... Either way, when I'm lucky enough to be sitting here, shaded by woodland, watching the waterfowl and waiting for the alarm to go again, I can’t really complain can I, even I have just missed another run! Ahhh!
8 months ago
Clint Walker - Fishing in Australia
After a week of champing at the bit, waiting to get out fishing in Australia between family engagements, I finally managed to get my feet wet with a boat trip with my brother-in-law, who fortuitously owns his own boat! It’s a cracker of a vessel too, well equipped, with a powerful 115hp Evinrude motor which propels the hull nicely at over 35 knots, which meant that we got to our intended spot quickly and safely, dropped anchor, and prepared to fish… but what would we catch? In truth, neither Mick nor I had much idea what might lurk beneath us (except Great White Sharks obviously) and we went with light tackle intending to have some fun. I took a Sonik Sports Magna 4 piece travel rod, designed to be used with small lures, and Mick tackled up with slightly heavier gear, just in case! My AVX reel was loaded with 30b braid, a 10lb fluorocarbon leader added, and I flung lures for a while whilst my compatriot offered slivers of fish and shrimp hook baits to see what happened. In my ignorance, I’d selected lures which I just couldn’t fish effectively in over 40 feet of water, and as Mick had detected bites on ‘proper’ bait, I opted to switch tactics. Although designed primarily as a lure rod, needs must, and I swapped the lure for a simple paternoster rig, slipped on a sinker, and baited the hook with a shrimp. It was easy to drop over the side of the boat, control the braid with my thumb as the lead descended, then carefully feel for any piscine attention. I didn’t have to wait long before I felt something nibbling at the other end, and as the rod tip bounced downwards, I struck into a tiddler which was quickly hoisted aboard. Even though we were both unsure about what we might catch, I’d done enough reading prior to travelling, and easily recognised the intruder as a small reef fish similar in body shape to the black bream found in UK waters, but much more brightly attired in a coat of bold stripes, yellows, and blues which shone beautifully in the early morning sun. I’d caught my first Australian fish! Mick then caught a Spanish Mackerel, bigger than my bream, but equally feisty, providing great sport as it fought from the depths. I could feel huge fronds of kelp wafting across the braid, and as the tip flexed, I quickly settled into a rhythm of spotting the long, slow pulls of kelp, and the much faster yank of an actual bite; great fun! I caught a Tailor fish, so did Mick, and we matched each other fish for fish as the morning progressed. On leaving the harbour, we’d already spotted dolphins cavorting across the surface of the ocean, but the next thing I witnessed was a much bigger surprise. My hearing isn’t too good, but I distinctly heard a whooshing noise behind us, and Mick pointed out a huge swirl around 30 yards from the boat as something slipped away; “whale” he exclaimed! I couldn’t believe this, I’m around a mile out at sea, in Australia, we’re catching fish, the sun was shining, and now we had a humpback whale for company! Brilliant! It was indeed a humpback, on her way to breeding grounds further north, and she offered one more glimpse of her huge back, shining black and barnacle clad, as she slowly moved away from us. I have to say that as fishing trips go, this was getting better and better! Both Mick and I continued catching a myriad of (mostly unidentified) species, all of which were safely returned, before I felt a surprising wrench on the rod tip which saw the rod hoop right over as a fish felt the hook. This one stayed deep, straining against my rod as it fought to reach the safety of the kelp below. I held the pressure, and as I pumped the fish upwards, saw a flash of brilliant red as the first of a trio of Eastern Red Scorpion fish broke the surface. Clad in fearsome red armour, and protected with an array of venomous spines, we both knew this was a fish not to be trifled with, so it was netted, rested on the mat, and the hook removed with long nosed pliers before it was hoisted aloft still in the net for a picture, then lowered back into the sea; another species to add to the tally. The action slowed, so we decided to move, and jetted off to find another spot. We noted that most boats had moved further away but opted to give the new mark an hour to see what would happen. Nothing did. We enjoyed the sun and the gentle ocean, but couldn’t get a bite, and soon moved again to a third mark, dropped the anchor, and spooled the lines into the depths. For the next 15 minutes, things were quiet, but then a series of brightly coloured wrasse were boated, Morwongs followed, juvenile snappers were caught, more tailors, more mackerel, and more fish we couldn’t identify all came to the surface in a steady stream of bites which saw us both having fun. As an added bonus, we also enjoyed a few minutes watching a huge seal playfully tossing some flotsam on the surface of the waves in the sun. We probably caught around 80 odd fish between us before deciding to head back and trailer the boat, so enjoyed a fast ride back to the harbour as the sun started to set. We’d both had a fantastic day, and as the sun started to sink, and the smooth ride back was a blissful way to finish things off. At the jetty, I got out to fetch the pickup and back the trailer down the ramp into the sea so that Mick could drive the boat aboard. As I crossed the gunwale, leaping to the jetty, I glanced down to see a huge ray glide beneath us! It was massive, and a wonderful way to finish the day…yet another treat to see in Australian waters! We’ve made a decision to go again soon, but this time we may have a crack at bigger fish; I’ll let you know how we get on…
8 months ago
Clint Walker - Deeper Sonar Fishing
I’ve been out using my Deeper ™ sonar this week. “Real anglers don’t need it, it’s just cheating!” I hear you say? Really? It’s certainly got a place in my fishing, and here’s why. I’m time limited, I don’t get to camp out for days at a time, watching the water, or studying Facebook to see who is on the same lake and catching so I can poach their swim, nor do I fish the same water every time I go out. I hate the thought of thrashing the water to a foam with a marker float and lead, and more’s the point, I don’t have hours to do it either, preferring a quick chuck about with Deeper™ to find exactly what I’m fishing over, and then let the swim settle. Ten minutes with a Deeper™ rather than hours with a lead and marker, can save valuable fishing time, so I’m all for it, especially when I’m on a job for a client! Don’t take it the wrong way though, I’m not saying I’m right and you’re wrong, (angling shouldn’t be like that) I’m just saying that I’ve got another tool in the box when it comes to a tough session, and if you haven’t used one yet, then you may be pleasantly surprised when you do. I get that it might not be your cup of tea, and I fully respect that, but if you’re ‘on the fence’, then maybe I can sway your thoughts… Technology needn’t take the fun out of fishing; we all (the vast majority) use bite alarms at some point during our fishing, some use bait boats, underwater cameras, others use drones, and my point is, that things move on, technology and advancement can help us get more enjoyment from our fishing, and like you, I go fishing to catch fish, not try and appear ‘carpy’ by spending hours sitting by the lake catching nothing whilst telling all on social media that “…it’s a proper tough nut”. Well, make it easier then! No-one likes blanking, admittedly some can use it as a learning experience, but a pound to a penny, most anglers would much rather catch something, and Deeper™ can make all the difference on those really tricky sessions. It’s not bias, it’s fact, and I really believe that…Although I use it predominantly to feature find, on occasions, when times are tough, I’ll use it to locate fish too, and recently, I had cause to do just that. This week. I’ve been back on the banks at a local club water, one which I would describe as ‘fish soup’ and one I return to when I need images for whichever client needs them at short notice… it’s a ‘banker’ water! On arriving at the car park, I found one of the bailiffs, Mick, unloading his car too. I like Mick, he’s a good chap, with a finger on the pulse at the fishery, and when he told me that it had been “…fishing c**p” then I knew I was on for a long day... We both left the car park together, walking down the path and watching the water; nothing showed. Normally, it’s like a jacuzzi, especially early in the morning, but not today, not a thing! Both perplexed, we settled into swims a few yards apart, and tackled up. I usually fish close in, under the rod tips, with either a method feeder packed with goodies, or a straight lead with a small wafter and tiny pva bag of boilies on the hook. Choosing the wafter option, I lowered the rig, shovelled in a load of Spotted Fin particle, and sat back to wait for the inevitable run. It came within five minutes, a chunky scraper double hitting the net, and then the rig was reset for the next unlucky carp. Bang! The bobbin flew up and smashed against the rod blank, and another double figure fish soon lay on the mat; easy! Mick seemed less confident however; his rod tip hadn’t quivered, and within an hour, he moved swims, hoping to find the elusive fish… After an early hit, things went quiet in my swim too, with only odd fish slipping up over the next few hours. Normally, I expect a fish (or at least a run) every thirty minutes or so, with the culprit usually a carp of between 10-20lb, but for some reason, it just wasn’t happening. Mick walked back towards me, crestfallen as he explained that he hadn’t had a bite, never mind a fish, and he was going home. Another angler took his place nearby, and I watched as he scored with a quick hit of five fish, then his swim too went very quiet. Where were all the fish? It’s usual to catch close in during the early part of the day, with fish moving out into deeper water as the hours progressed, before returning to mop up match anglers cast off bait in the margins at around 4pm. I’d followed that pattern, chasing the chunks into open water at range, but aside from losing two fish, I hadn’t caught any more. Time for action! I rigged another rod, twinned with a big fixed spool reel loaded with 50lb braid, and tied on my Deeper ™ Pro+ before lowering it into the water to initiate the battery and connect the Deeper ™ to the app on my smartphone. Within seconds, the devices paired, and I cast out the sonar to about seventy yards. With the early Deeper ™ some anglers had perhaps suspected connectivity issues at long range, but with the Pro+; the team have really got the technology right now, and this model is effective to over one hundred metres, giving accurate real-time information to the angler instantly, and it’s so simple to use! I let the sonar stabilise and waited for the colourful screen to light up and show me exactly where the fish were… It didn’t… the area I’d been fishing was flat, and almost completely devoid of fish, which was unexpected to say the least, and I wasn’t sure why… The water level was down considerably, and the wind was coming from the north which is not ideal on this lake, but it didn’t usually have such an adverse effect on the inhabitants. The other angler wandered over to me to say that he too was struggling in his usual spots, so we both watched the screen as the sonar was slowly retrieved (every angler is interested!) and we watched the lake bed begin to climb up as the Deeper™ passed over the marginal shelf, and there they were! A series of fish icons pinged into view as we noted the fish stacked up along the base of the shelf, and it became apparent that for some reason, whether shadow, water temperature, or undertow, they were hovering close in, not at range as expected! One or two casts with the device, and the secret was revealed! Changing tactics, we both caught fish almost immediately. Careful feeding kept fish in the swim, and by the end of the day, I’d picked off more than a dozen carp, almost all in double figures, to post a respectable tally, whilst my compatriot had equalled my score, and added a bonus barbel too. Did the Deeper™ make a difference? Of course it did, we found fish within a minute, and dropped baits on them immediately to resume catching. One thing that Deeper™ can’t do is make the fish take the bait; that bit is still down to you, but if you can’t find them, then you can’t catch them can you? https://deepersonar.com/uk/en_gb
8 months ago
Clint Walker - Carp-talk and Australia
Well, since getting on the plane at Manchester, I’ve had an unpleasant surprise. Carp-Talk magazine, a staple of many carp anglers for the last 24 years, and a publication I’ve written for for over 9 years, is to close. After initially sending a cheeky email to Editor Simon Crow which basically stated ‘gissa job’ and subsequently being given the opportunity of a 3 month temporary slot, I’ve gone on to write not just the northwest column, but after a reshuffle, the north and west area catches which covered around two thirds of the UK. In total, I reckon I’ve written about 650 weekly reports, each of at least 750 words, sometimes double that, so at a conservative estimate, I’d guess close to 700,000 words over the years! Almost all have come from my readers, sharing their reports, and all I’ve really had to do is edit into readable format, add the picture, and submit for deadline. As a result, I’d like to thank each and every angler who has submitted catch reports and read my columns, I couldn’t have done it without you! Rising print costs and an increase in spending on online advertising have no doubt contributed to a difficult decision for the owners, but I’d also like to place on record my gratitude to them, for giving me a chance to write in the first place… I’ll miss it! Having covered that, I mentioned recently that I’m currently in Australia, and well, things are a little bit different here! I haven’t had time to go fishing yet, but I have had the chance to visit a couple of tackle shops to see how things vary from back home. I wandered into popular chain store BCF to be met with a vast array of tackle, much of it similar to UK stock, but with the addition of plenty of other things too. Lure fishing is huge in Australia, and the shops are really geared up to offer the imitation angler an overwhelming amount of choice, but bait fishing is also catered for too… I haven’t seen a boilie yet though, and when I explained what they were, I’m sure the staff thought I was quite mad! In truth, carp are viewed as little more than a pest in Australian waters, and I’ve already spoken to anglers who thought nothing of throwing a 20lb fish ‘up the bank’! When I revealed that in the UK, a specially reared carp of particular strain could fetch large sums of money if you wanted to buy it, I wasn’t too surprised when Australian anglers offered to post some over for free! There are even plans in place by Government to introduce KHV to supress the amount of ‘invaders’ in local waters it’s got that bad! Imagine not being able to catch your target fish without hooking carp? I know some UK anglers who can only dream of such things! Back in the tackle shop though, it’s easy to recognise many of the brands on show, with Savage Gear, Rapala, ZMan, Ecogear and many others represented, but also dozens of smaller lines I’ve never heard of. I was surprised at the pricing of many ‘known’ brands, most coming in at around half of UK prices. I’ve never seen so many varieties of lure either, whether soft or hard body, there were aisles stacked floor to ceiling with thousands of tempters, and I did struggle to keep my wallet in my pocket! Rod and reel combinations were superbly priced too, with a Shimano beach rod and matching fixed spool reel available for as little as £50, and hooks were a real bargain. I picked up 60 Gamatsu circle hooks to allow me to present pike deadbaits later in the year for just a few dollars… Some of the reels would not have looked amiss on a crane, with big game fishing, although expensive, a real attraction for many anglers, who could also pick up foot long marlin lures, spearguns, and shark hooks off the shelf! It’s not often I can use the phrase ‘like a kid in a sweet shop’ but I was. It was astonishing! The staff were on the ball too; I visited a shop around 10 miles from where I’m staying (which is classed as ‘close’ over here) and they were able to tell me what I could expect to catch in the tiny local creek, and how best to do it, right down to the best time of day… I know shops in the UK where I wouldn’t get that kind of information. Eventually, I had a day to myself, so struck out for the town beach and harbour to see what the locals were catching. I spoke to a beach angler, casting small fish tails for bream, whiting and flatheads (no, I don’t know either) who described dislocating his shoulder whilst returning a shark he had caught which flipped and caught him by surprise. I asked what kind of shark, and he just winked at me, and said “…what sort do you think?” Apparently, the Great White can be caught just a few metres from shore, so I’ll have to ask the wife to check… I then moved on to the harbour and chatted with a trio of locals who were targeting similar species, again with small baited hooks and tiny leads but unfortunately without much success. I stared deep into the clear blue waters, and spied some big bream, hordes of tiny fish in midwater, but then glimpsed a dark shadow glide across the ocean floor… It took a second or two to realise that I was staring at a stingray, and a big one too. It was at least four feet across, and it stopped directly below to inhale the remains of the filleted fish in use by the anglers next to me. I was less than a rod length away from it and hadn’t bought one with me! There was no point in the Australian anglers having a go either, as their 15lb braid and tiny hooks would have been no match for it, but what a treat to see! After having a beer, comparing notes with my Aussie compatriots, and sharing catch pictures, I’ve now found a few spots to fish; I’ll have to return to the tackle shop just to pick up a few extra bits, but then I’m good to go. I have no idea what I’ll catch, but then I’m in Australia, so who really cares? For the angler, this country is perfect… unless you’re a carper, then I probably wouldn’t recommend it! Tight lines!
8 months ago
October Dovetail Fishing League Tournaments
The October Dovetail Fishing League has now started. Each series will have a tournament per week. Below you will find details of the events that will be taking place. Remember that it is your best score from your attempts that is counted, it isn't a cumulative total across your 3 attempts. Big Bass Tour In the Big Bass Tour the events will be as follows: * Week 1 - Lake Boulder at sunrise * Week 2 - Lake Johnson in the afternoon * Week 3 - Lake Boulder in the morning * Week 4 - Lake Johnson at sunset In Big Bass Tour events your score will be the total weight of your top 5 catches that are counted towards your total score. Carp Championship The October Carp Championship will take place at the following venues: * Week 1 - Grand Union Canal at sunrise * Week 2 - Bergsee at sunset * Week 3 - Manor Farm at night * Week 4 - Gigantica at sunrise In the Carp Championship tournaments your score will be the total weight of all carp caught. Predator Challenge Here are the tournaments in the Predator Challenge for October: * Week 1 - Lake Johnson in the morning * Week 2 - Waldsee at sunrise * Week 3 - Grand Union Canal at sunset * Week 4 - Lake Boulder in the afternoon Predator Series events count the total length of predatory species caught. Match Series In the Match Series the tournaments taking place will be: * Week 1 - Manor Farm at sunset * Week 2 - Gigantica in the morning * Week 3 - Bergsee in the afternoon * Week 4 - Waldsee at night In the Match Series you are trying to catch the highest total number of fish. [https://forums.dovetailgames.com/threads/october-dovetail-fishing-league-tournaments.13191/]
9 months ago
2
Clint Walker - A Wander Up The Canal
This week, I fully intended to have one last carp session before jumping on an aeroplane to travel across to the other side of the world, but wouldn’t you know it, a short spell of hot weather, and love takes over! On most of the waters I fish, the carp are either fully engaged in spawning, or very close to it, so I’ll have to wait as I don’t believe in fishing for them at this time. Hopefully, by the time I get back, it will all be over and done with, and I can get the boilies out to try and bag a whacker! In light of events, and with extremely limited time, I grabbed the lure rod, and set off for a wander up the canal… A stretch of water that I love, and fish regularly, has recently been taken over by a club… bad news. Previously, it was free to fish (subject to waterways wanderer permit which covers all unmanaged canals where fishing is permissible, but unadopted) and I enjoyed many hours flicking lures around in pursuit of perch and pike. It’s not all bad news though, as the club which has taken it on, well, I’m already a member! Excellent! I was keen to enjoy an hour in the sunshine, so took my new Sonik Magna dropshot rod, a handful of tiny lures, and marched across the field to the water’s edge to try and catch something worth photographing. Although marketed as a dropshot rod, it’s obviously easy to rig up a light jighead too, and as my jig was firmly nestled in the retaining eye after my last session, I started off by twitching a tiny shad along the nearside of the canal in likely spots beneath a bridge, and in the shadow of overhanging trees. Not a tap. Not a flicker of interest… I spent the best part of twenty minutes slowly flicking the lure up in the water and allowing it settle before I felt a tentative pluck, and although I left the bait for a second or two, nothing happened, so decided to change to dropshot… A size 10 Fox dropshot hook was quickly threaded up the line and secured, with a Dinsmores bulb weight added below, and I selected my first lure. I have a dwindling stock of tiny orange imitation fish, in fact after desperately searching through my tackle bag, I found I was down to my last one! The water was coloured, the result of a couple of narrowboats passing through, and I think an orange lure stands out really well in murky water, although many other anglers will also have their favourites, so I carefully slid it around the point of the hook, and swung it out to the base of the nearside shelf. As I delicately tapped my rod butt to impart movement, I noted a scattering of fry to my right as a predator struck from below; a good sign. I moved position, dropping the lure in the midst of the expanding ripples, and continued to watch the braid hoping for a quick strike. It wasn’t to be… I stayed for around fifteen minutes, constantly moving the lure, but couldn’t entice a bite. I tried changing the lure, and the depth at which it ‘swam’, but to no avail. I had also spotted carp rooting up the reeds, and was confident that I wouldn’t hook one using a lure, so opted to cross the bridge, and move to the other side of the waterway to search for a predator. Pushing carefully through the undergrowth, I spied fish moving along the edge of the weedy margin so plinked my lure in carefully and left it flutter in the shallow water. I lost a perch. A small fish, but at least it was interest, so I spent the next five minutes carefully lowering the orange tempter between reed stems and overhanging twigs trying to find a ‘nest’ of perch. As I moved the lure towards me I hooked the bottom… A fraction of a second trying to release the lure, and both the pike and I realised what had happened! The predator had obviously turned on the lure, and sat there chewing, and when I moved it, the hook point pricked in, and the pike exploded out of the shallows and steamed out into the canal! Yes!
9 months ago
Clint Walker - Rainy Day of Fishing
I’ve been back to Rode Pool again this week, a jewel on the card of Stoke-on-Trent Angling Society, to continue my pursuit of carp from this tricky mere. A cold wind had sprung up overnight, a chill breeze from the east, whipping across the lake in the opposite direction to the usual prevailing winds, and I opted to set up on the back of it, hoping that the fish would be huddled in slightly warmer, calmer water at the top of the lake. Once again, I chose to fish with tiny pva bags and popped up baits, but instead of the boilies I’d used last week, this time I tied up walnut sized bags of Spotted Fin particle mix, added my hook baits, and fired both out to the edge of marginal reed cover on the far bank. On the first, an 8mm wafter was pinched into a bait band against the hook, on the other, a 15mm Smokey Jack pop up was attached to the rig ring, and both were quickly settled, lines sunk, and rods placed gently on the rests as I sat back to listen to the woods wake up… I enjoy sitting in the woods at Rode Pool. Cushioned from any traffic noise by ancient oak trees which provide a shady canopy, the bankside cover always has something to see, and the water is home to a multitude of waterfowl. I love to watch flitting visitors that I rarely see elsewhere, little egret and oystercatchers amongst them, and it really is a place to just sink in, relax, and enjoy fishing purely for its own sake. Even with other anglers on the bank, I can still find solitude amongst beautiful surroundings, and despite it’s tricky reputation, I still keep coming back! For the first time this year, I noted swifts and swallows skipping across the surface, snatching midges, indicating a possible recent bloodworm hatch. Rode has vast beds of bloodworm, on which I suspect that resident fish can become preoccupied, so I made sure my baits were in the midst of them! Despite my considerations and deductions, nothing happened all day. I had no indications, no bites, and saw no fish. I’d obviously got my tactics completely wrong, and having heard that at least four tench had been caught in the teeth of the wind much further down the lake, I can only write it up my notes, learn from it, and try not to make the same mistake again… A day later, and I sat in the car park at a different club lake, and watched the rain hammer the windscreen as I sat huddled over the heater. It was cold again, a sudden downturn in overnight temperatures had seen another weather system passing over the UK, and I really gave serious thought to turning around, going home, and climbing back into bed! Rain was forecast for much of the day, meaning I’d have to set up, and pack away in it… not something I ever enjoy. My phone bleeped. A message from fishing chum Andy confirming that he was still on his way. That decided it, I was going to have to get out into the rain and get sorted. At the back of the van, I stepped out of my trainers, slid my leg into my salopettes, and reached for my boots. I stumbled (I’ve never been very well balanced) and my besocked foot landed squarely in a large, muddy puddle. A great start which certainly didn’t improve my mood! However, barrow loaded, I squelched off to find my peg, and after walking a few hundred yards in the teeming downpour, pitched up beside an area of bushes which would at least give some modicum of shelter. Only one rod is allowed here, so it was quickly pieced together, the same rig left on from the previous day, which was rebaited with a fresh Smokey Jack pop up, re-armed with a tiny bag of matching pellets, and fired out to where I’d seen fish rising. The brolly was up and pegged down, and I sat miserably beneath it as the rain dripped onto my boots, and I waited for the first action of the day. I was the only angler on the bank, and I watched carp sipping at midges on the surface, smashed out of the air by raindrops, as yet more swifts and swallows darted speedily over the water enjoying a feast of flies. Andy arrived with his young son Liam, and they set up in their favourite peg next to me, quickly hiding under a canopy of nylon as the rain continued. Other anglers ventured onto the far bank, which made seven of us on the water, then another further up ‘our’ bank, and a further hardy soul in the distance made nine; all looking dejected, and after a few hours, all of us biteless. I’d had a single line bite, but nothing else, Andy and Liam’s alarms were silent, and we hadn’t seen anyone catch on the far side either, so it became obvious that it was going to be a struggle all day… Eventually, a twitchy run had me by the rod, and although the alarm had stopped, the rod tip continued to flex, so I picked it up and connected with the first fish of the day. After a few minutes, a lean double figure common lay in the folds of the net. It was quickly unhooked, treated, photographed and returned, and then the bait repositioned, before I sent the picture to the swim next door to gloat… Hours passed, and nothing else had happened until I noted a gracefully curving rod tip over the brambles between us; Liam was into a fish, and as my bait was currently on the bank being changed, I wandered over to see him land a beautifully dark mirror well into double figures. Elsewhere, no-one else had caught anything… Through the binoculars, I saw a bream netted on the far bank as others continued to struggle for bites. I had another tentative run, missed it and recast. A third run saw a low double figure mirror quickly released, a fourth saw me lose a fish, and a fifth resulted in another common on the mat. Andy and Liam hadn’t had anything else, so it looked like I was the only one seeing any results. Earlier, I’d changed my bait, moving from the red of the Smokey Jack to the yellow of the Classic Corn pop up, twinned it with a bag of Catalyst pellets, sprayed it with pineapple and N-Butyric booster, and also increased the length of my fluorocarbon hook link to move things away from the lead, which I was convinced they could see in the clear water. It looked like it was paying off… Andy and Liam departed, as did all but one angler on the far bank. My chums had seen no more fish, and I was just having ‘one last cast’ before disappearing myself. As Andy opened the gate to the car park, I had a further fish, another double figure mirror bringing my tally to four and two missed, before I too packed up in the rain and set off for the warmth of the van. Only two other carp came out, both after I’d gone home, so overall, I was pleased with my haul during miserable conditions. Little changes had made a big difference; both Andy and I know the water well, and often fish similar tactics, but on the day, it just wasn’t working, so I’m glad I tweaked things to keep the fish guessing. Next week, the forecast promises Mediterranean sunshine, so no doubt the behaviour of the fish will change again, but I know that at some point, I’ll be stealthily ensconced beneath those ancient oaks, hoping for an elusive Rode Pool carp, and I’ll have another session too somewhere else, just to keep me interested. Hopefully, summer is now well on the way, and before long, the floater kit can come out, but until then, I’ll dry off my sodden socks, shake out the brolly, and keep plugging away whatever the weather! [https://forums.dovetailgames.com/threads/clint-walker-rainy-day-of-fishing.11746/]
a year ago
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