Euro Fishing: Clint Walker - A Tough Day and New Toys
A tricky report to write this week, especially after just getting in from a resounding blank! As usual, I’ve been out a couple of times this week, my first session in search of pike, my second hope of a carp, but both were tough… I arrived at a Staffordshire reservoir, on the Stoke-on-Trent Angling Society card, bright and early, hoping to get onto a peg I’d never fished before at the deeper end of the lake. Typically, one other angler was on the water, arriving just minutes before me, and you can guess where he set up! It turns out that the angler in question was Nigel Williams, a respected catcher of pike, former columnist in most of the angling press, and someone from whom I could no doubt learn a lot when it comes to fishing for predators. We had a brief chat, and then I moved about forty yards away to set up, a position from which I could still see Nigel, (watch and learn) but we wouldn’t get in each other’s way!
I pieced together a couple of 3lb test curve Sonik SK3 rods, twinned with the usual Tournos 10000 reels, and clipped on simple deadbait rigs, each anchored with a 3oz lead, which slid up the line on a wide bore run ring to reduce resistance. On one rod, my favourite bait, a humble roach, was nicked onto the trebles, and on the other, a bright yellow smelt. Both were flung out into open water at the base of a shelf, the lines tightened, indicators clipped, and I sat back to wait… I’d noted dozens of smaller fish rippling the surface as I chatted to Nigel, so the prey fish were definitely in the area; surely it followed that the pike would be too?
An hour passed, and I heard an alarm sound as a predator picked up a bait. Sadly, it wasn’t mine, and as I watched, Nigel landed, and quickly returned a chubby pike before recasting his bait. I wound in both of my baits to check them, and also recast, this time to different areas, hoping to intercept a passing fish. I try to move my baits every hour or so if I’m fishing a new area, hoping to cover as much water as possible looking for contact, and if I do hit the right spot, then I make a note for next time. Although pike are still reasonably active, there are times when they just aren’t in the mood for chasing, but if you drop a bait on their nose, then there is always a chance they will grab it!
Five hours in, I was starting to think that the session may end without success. The pike that Nigel had caught was his only one, although he lost another which grabbed his bait as he retrieved it, but he hadn’t landed any more, and if he couldn’t catch with vastly more experience, what chance had I got? Suddenly, a quick twitch of the indicator had my attention, and I watched the rod tip quiver… I unclipped the indicator, and watched the line slide off the spool once… and then stop. Seconds later, a second coil unwound, so I lifted the rod, turned the reel handle, and contacted the fish! I will not leave the bite ‘to develop’, as I know that pike can easily pick up and devour a bait without too much indication, so the second I get a bleep, I’m on it. I’d rather miss a bite, or lose a fish, than deep hook one and cause avoidable damage… it’s responsible angling.
Sadly, my prize, another low double, was somewhat battered, with an old, sore looking flank wound which required treatment. I carry carp care cream for just this reason, so a liberal dose was slathered on the wound, and it was gently returned, hopefully to regain full fitness. I know it works, after catching the same fish three days apart earlier in the season, on which I’d treated a smaller scrape, and the second time saw a marked improvement; if carp anglers can care for their captures, why can’t pike anglers too? Unfortunately, neither Nigel nor I had any further action, but at least the solitary predator had kept my run of good fortune going…
A bitterly cold night, during which temperatures dropped to -3, threatened to ruin my intended carp session, but as I had a new toy to play with, I was determined to go! I suspected a tough session might be forthcoming, as the venue in question reacts very badly to abrupt changes of weather, so I wasn’t confident; on arrival, I found I was the only angler, which didn’t bode well!
I set up my usual heavy method feeder, added a short hook link, and slid a piece of corn onto the hair stop. I’d packed the feeder with Spotted Fin groundbait, so if anything was going to get a bite, this was! I’d spotted a few carp rising in the early morning sun, so cast out as far as I could in the hope of picking one off in the deeper water. Once settled, I got out my new plaything… It’s a Bell Ballcutter; although it sounds uncomfortable, it’s actually a handy little implement which does exactly what it says… cuts balls! Available in a variety of sizes, the ballcutter is pressed in to the soft flesh of a tin of meat, a Pepperami stick, or cheese, potato, or whatever else you fancy, the handle is turned, and a perfectly round ball of bait is produced! It’s a great way to make a well formed hook bait, ideal for hair rigs, with the minimum of effort. It can also be used in catering or baking, but it’s found a niche in my tackle box, just so I can use it when I need something different.
I did need a couple of attempts to get it right, but once mastered, it’s a handy bit of kit and can turn out uniformly sized baits, quickly, and with minimum effort. I tried all sorts of hook baits throughout the day; meat, pepperami (although I ate most of that!) cheese, (I ate most of that too!) and even reverted to 8mm wafters, but aside from a couple of bleeps, I had no interest all day… a resounding blank! I wasn’t alone though, one other angler ventured onto a nearby peg, and after an hour of freezing in a bitter wind, he too gave up, biteless, and retired to the warmth of his car. By the time I’d sat for seven hours, I’d had enough too, so packed up and went home… there is always next week!
Find the Bell Ball Cutter at www.bellballcutter.com