Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Lilian and I seem to have avoided Covid and have each had 5 jabs. Her Druce Roman Villa volume (450 pages) was published in November and has had rave reviews. Needless to say she is delighted to have finished.
All the family are more or less well. Paul and Kim are to get married in February. Marc and Linda are thinking about down-sizing and their son Ben and his girlfriend Alli are in process of buying a house. Richard and Ana and their family are again back in Brazil over Christmas, their girls are growing up fast. We visited them a couple of times in Portugal. Richard and I flogged away for the bass and caught a few but it isn't easy fishing. Dan, Deanne and their two children are still living in Perth, Australia and we're hoping to pay them a visit before long.
Despite Covid, and more recently my ‘lay-off’ due to an old man’s problem (not a disability so much as a nuisance) I still managed a (surprising to me) variety of fishing in 2022. Typically, I started off with a spot of grayling fishing with my good pal Nigel. We had a pleasant day on the river and landed one or two grayling on float gear. On the following day it warmed up nicely and I had a dabble for pike. As usual these days (because the dace have more-or-less disappeared) trying to catch a bait was futile, so I switched to the large, silver spoon which was my favourite many years ago. It worked and I landed a decent pike. In March, I had three more short afternoon sessions on the river. The first was a blank when a fish pinched my bait. on the second – nothing! On the third trip I managed to catch a bait and after swimming it round for a while - I was in. The fish turned out to be a worthwhile pike
My first grayling.
My nice, spoon-caught pike.
In my local rivers. We are allowed to spin for ‘game’ fish after mid-May so, when the due date arrived, I picked up my spinning rod, the bag of lures and the net and set off for an hour's dabbling for seatrout with my little jointed Rapala. On my first trip I hooked and played out a large, fresh run salmon. A hook snagged the net, the fish did a half twist, the hook-hold gave and away swam my (none) ‘catch’. Two days later I had another go for the seatrout. This time I landed and returned a beautiful salmon of about 7kg. The following day I went again and, blow me down, I had yet another salmon. A few of spots on the gill cover of this one suggested that it was not its first return trip to the river. A couple of days later I went again. This time I landed a modest pike.
A selfie as I prepare to put the first salmon back.
The second salmon.
The pike on my Rapala.
My next memorable session was to the river where I paternostered for perch with minnows. I used a size 6 circle hook on a short length of 20lb anti-pike-wire. The first six minnows each produced a perch within seconds of splashing down, but none of them topped a pound. Still, at least the tactics were working well. All the fish except one were nicely lip hooked and easy to return. There was no question that the wire trace deterred them from biting and the response to a fresh minnow was generally instantaneous
My first perch - and not a bad size .
A second ready to be lifted out.
Another, typically nicely-hooked in the scissors.
Following my catch of perch, I decided to try a different weir a bit further upstream. Standing on the concrete apron above the weir I began to lengthen and fan out my casts. On about the sixth or seventh chuck the lure was seized and a nice brown trout flung itself into the air - about 1kg in weight - swimming round my feet. Out went the plug again and as it dropped into the boiling foam just behind the sill where it was taken again and once more.
The first trout ready to be unhooked.
Not much heavier than the first but much better looking.
After the trout fishing session, I revisited the same stretch of river, a couple of times, to try and catch a chub. Again, I used the little Rapala – always a good bet. I simply dropped the little plug on the surface and allowed it to drift on down under the trees. after it had gone about ten metres or so I closed the bale and began a slow retrieve. Suddenly it stopped. My heart said "big chub" but within seconds line was ripped off the spool and it would have been a BIG chub if it hadn’t been a pike.
The pike which I hoped might be a chub. .
A closer view of the lure in the jaw of a pike..
Many years ago I worked with my good pal and colleague Stewart Welton. These days Stew fishes for carp and he invited me to join him on a trip to a local farm where there are a couple of lightly fished ponds which I had never seen before. I was armed only with a small bag of bread crusts, my spinning rod and a reel loaded with 30lb braid terminating in a strong, size 6 barbless hook. After a couple of nudgy no-bites, the bread-crust was sucked out of sight and the rod tip crashed round. After a while I landed a big, fat, beautiful common. I took a quick picture before returning the fish. Excellent! I fished for a while longer before leaving my pal to his fishing and going home for my lunch. Later that evening Stew rang to tell me that he'd stayed on all afternoon and in total caught ten carp, including his best so far - a twenty.
My carp wriggled out of the net and I quickly took its picture before putting it back.
When I could go sea fishing I tried the usual lure tactics – nowadays mostly with soft-baits but I can’t compete with my (much younger) pal Bill, who tries (and usually succeeds) to catch a bass in every month of the year. He even caught a decent fish on the first of January. We each had a few blanks of course but I managed one or two modest, early-season specimens on Evo-Redgills. However, I more or less had my share of lure-caught fish including a few in late March.
A grainy, gloomy picture of one of my early season bass.
a better one near the end of March.
In May we had a trip to stay with our son Richard and his family in Portugal. The most notable event for me was probably when I caught a spotted bass.
A plugged Portuguese fish of over 6lb.
Richard playing a bass in the typical Portuguese surf..
One of my spotted bass.
A better picture of the spots.
Richard with a small one.
In Dorset the sea fishing in June was quiet and apart from the salmon, pike and perch that I caught from the rivers there wasn't much to shout about. Of course, I couldn’t resist trying free-lined baits again for the bass. I can’t decide whether it is more enjoyable than spinning or whether it's just because I’m getting old and lazy – probably a bit of both. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that, on average, bait catches the better fish. I had a few fish from a local tide race but they were mostly on the small side.
The tide race.
One of the better bass from the race.
...and a typical smaller one.
My bait fishing was kicked off when Bill told me he had seen bass tailing on some flat rocks. He pin-pointed the spot and the next morning I was there and caught a bass on my freelined sardine. The fish didn't run with the bait and I never felt a bite as it picked up the bait. A few days later I went again to 'Bill's Spot' and repeated the exercise. What it is to have good pals.
Bill's first tip off.
He even told me the time to try for this one.
Again beautifully hooked.
Another bait-caught bass from a quite different spot.
Hooked just inside the mouth.
This year I caught a few reasonable bass from a variety of places by free-lining with my baits and large circle hooks.Only one of these was hooked deeply and I was unaware that, the best was yet to come. In November Bill had caught one or two good fish on his lures - which encouraged me to have (probably) a final go with my bait again. I've told what happened already on my Saltwater webpage, but it's worth retelling. The weather wasn't too windy and a quick look at the surfer's website showed that the sea was still pretty warm and low water of the big spring-tide would be late afternoon - still in the hours of daylight. Could be OK? Lilian decided that she fancied a drive down to the coast (probably to keep an eye on my welfare, with my continuing 'old man's urinary problem'?). We arrived at the coast just as the tide was starting to come in.
As usual I had brought one of my small, pre-thawed, poly bags of frozen mackerel. A glance showed that the bag held two fillets, one good-sized, whole flank and the other not much more than a sliver. The large fillet was hooked onto the big, circle hook, twice through the thin (tail) end leaving almost all of the hook exposed. I left Lil reading her booik in the car and said - "I won't be more than an hour or so." - before taking my short walk down to the sea.
The first thing I saw was that the edge of the sea at my selected, sheltered spot was decorated with a broad band of loose kelp, and the water was a bit coloured. However, although there was a slight swell, the surface of the sea was pretty flat and it looked easily fishable - provided there was not too much submerged weed swirling around to catch up on the gear. I stood behind the kelpy-barrier and swung the large fillet out a short distance. The weight of the hook quickly took the bait to the bottom in the shallow water. After taking up a bit of slack braid I opened the bale, took the line in my left hand and waited, hopefully. Using these tactics it can sometimes be half-an-hour or more before there is any action (a bite or me reeling in to examine the bait). This time however it was only minutes before I felt the line twitch. Now that first twitch can be deceptive but I was was in no doubt that something had disturbed the bait. Sure enough, there it was again and the line began to run out steadily. After a few metres it stopped and my heart sank a little, but I very-slowly tightened the line and could still feel movement. The fish began to move off again, this time against the closed bale and the resistance of the bending rod, the clutch zuzzed and it was on. I played it in and decided that the only way to land it was by lifting its head and sliding it over the wet kelp. It worked. Fantastic, I'd caught one within minutes of starting. The bait had gone but as I slipped the fish back I thought, 'it's worth another go'.
I returned to the bag and picked out the spare piece of bait - it looked a bit pathetic against the big hook but it was all I had so on it went. I cast again to the spot where I'd had the first bite. Almost at once I could feel a slight tension on the line as though water movement was dragging a bit of weed on it. I reeled in and removed the offending piece of kelp. Out went the bait again, this time a couple of metres to the right of the first place. As the bait touched down I felt a tug and the line began to move slowly. I decided that a fish (of any size) MUST already have that tiny piece of bait (and the hook) inside its mouth - so I tightened. The clutch screeched and the fish tore away, it was much more powerful than my first one and took me some time to land. this time I knew exactly what to do and as it slid ashore a family with kids walked by along the shore path and stopped to admire my catch. I should have asked them to take a picture as I put it back - but I was too excited and had to make do with my shot of it laying on the ground. My best bass of the year.
The two places where I had takes - I stood just behind the weed pile.
The smaller (but very welcome) bass.
My biggest this year.
ANYWAY, HAVE A GOOD CHRISTMAS AND SOME DECENT FISHING IN 2023. ALL THE BEST, MIKE
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HOOKED ON BASS
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