Friday, 22 January 2021

Second Session of 2021

With the local rivers a tad overfull, one even above it's previous record height, the second session of the year had to be at a stillwater. I headed to the local gravel pit half expecting it to be full of anglers. I was surprised to find only one there. I was also surprised to see some ice still left as well. The other angler, pike fishing, reported one dropped run. After a bit of a natter I set up in the opposite corner, after a bit of umming and ahhing. A trout was flung out to the end of the gravel bar and a roach dropped into the little bay to my left. The water level had final risen, but not as high as I'd expected. Still, it was nice to see it at a reasonable level again. Several other anglers eventually arrived, either pike fishing or maggot drowning. One informed me a couple of anglers had had nine pike out earlier in the week. Today there was nothing  coming out. Apart from the dropped run the only other sign of fish was the ones the kingfisher caught. Everybody seemed to agree last night's frost hadn't helped. It wasn't a bad day though. there was a bit of warmth in the sun for a while and when the chill breeze dropped the big coat wasn't needed.

I think the stillwaters are going to get a bit of a bashing over the next few weeks as we wait for the rivers to drop, provided they don't freeze over again. Which, given the projected temperatures could well happen. As usual when nothing much is happening I didn't take mnay photos, despite my New Year's resolution to do so.

Friday, 1 January 2021

First Session Of 2021

The last few days of 2020 had been cold, hovering around zero, but sunny. The first day of 2021 was to be warmer, up to four degrees, but wet and windy. As I loaded up the car in the drizzle and breeze it felt a lot colder than previous days. I decided to head to the river as it was now only one metre up and I thought the still waters may well be still iced over. The carpark had turned into an ice rink and had yet to thaw. It did mean however that the muddy path down to the river was nice and solid. The ings was covered in a couple of foot of water that was steadily draining away into the beck. Although it looked to have thawed the gulls wandering about on it told a different story. I decided to stat at the bottom swim by the confluence of the beck.

I'd got set up and the brolly up before the drizzle turned to rain. A trout went out just beyond the shelf but still in the large slack. A sardine was placed on the top of the shelf by an upstream sunken willow. My intention had been to fish several swims for an hour or so each. The rain put pay to this idea. In a short gap in the rain I had a quick wander with the lure rod. The rain on top over the frozen mud meant a lot of swims were just far to dangerous to fish. I did fin=d a couple of swims with large slacks in front of them that I could move to. The rain stated gain and continued to lunch time. Apart from a sunken branch dislodging the float there was no sign of activity.

After lunch I moved to another swim. The sun came out for a couple of hours and the breeze dropped which made things a bit more pleasant. No action was to be had after a couple of house I moved to another swim opposite Bishopthorpe Palace. A nice backdrop, but it didn't influence the pike in any way. I was blessed with a short view of the local otter though. Frighteningly it disappeared underwater rather close to one of the baits. I don't know if otters take dead fish, but thankfully this one didn't. I also witnessed a cormorant crash land on the ice which was rather amusing. Rather than fish to dark in the hope of avoiding a blank I decided to navigate the icy path back to the car in daylight. Back at the carpark I talked to a chap that had fished here several times in the past couple of weeks. He too hadn't had a run an any of his trips, but had seen a pike taken on the opposite bank yesterday.

 Not the start I would have liked to 2021, but the action cam worked properly. It clearly doesn't like sub-zero temperatures. Back to work tomorrow, so it'll be next week before I get out again.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Do You Have A Licence For That Minky

Today, Wednesday, was definitely colder then the other day, Monday. This was confirmed when I got to the gravel pit. It was completely iced over. I believe the technical term is lidded. It wasn't the thin cat ice of Monday either. A three ounce lead was not going to smash a hole in it. I ummed and ahed over the next stop. The clay pit has a couple of feeder streams where a clear area normally remains. The estate lake can also have clear areas. I decide to head to the estate lake as it was nearer. Sure enough there was a large ice free area. I was also informed by somebody that had just come form the clay pit that, although there were clear areas. it was heavily coloured from the rubbish washed in by the streams.


I set up at the far end of the lake. Another pike angler was fishing further round. One bait was dropped next to the ice and the other straight out in front. Apart from the edge of the ice there are no obvious features to cast to, so I just moved them about occasionally. Nat that the pike were bothered. Unlike the other angler I didn't even manage a drop run. The sun came out though and raised the temperature to -1C , along with the complete lack of wind it wasn't a bad day out really. I was entertained by a mink marking it's territory on one of the trees next to me and a rather noisy biplane doing acrobatics.


Next time I go fishing it'll be next year. Lets hope the pike are a bit more cooperative then. The rivers may even be at a fishable level. 

Monday, 28 December 2020

Ice, Ice Baby

With the local rivers high enough to flood pubs I headed to the gravel pit. As the temperature was struggling to get above freezing I wandered down to the pit from the parking spot All the club ponds and pits freeze rather easily especially if there is no wind, and today there wasn't  even a fart of a breeze. Another angler was already fishing and had had a jack around the 4-5lb mark. Part of the pit was frozen, but the swim opposite him looked clear, so I went back for the gear. As I empted the car I couldn't help noticing the bait bag hadn't found it's way in. I remember getting it out of the freezer, so what had I done with it. It's only 15 minutes home so back I went and there it was, on the drive. I must have put it down while nattering with the neighbour and not put it in the car before shutting the boot. Quite how I hadn't run it over I don't know. Back at the pond the angler I'd spoken to earlier was a bit puzzled until I explained.

I wandered round to the other side.  The swim wasn't as clear of ice as it appeared from the far bank. Thankfully it was very thin and after a bit of plumbing around had broken up. A float fished trout was dropped at the bottom of the ledge right and front. The other rod baited with a smelt was set so the bait was a few inches off the bottom and cast just over a ledge. Both spots have produced well in the past. I believe some of the pike patrol along these ledges as some days several can be caught from the same spot. 

These sort of conditions, when the temperature is hovering around freezing, I'd prefer mono rather than braid on the reels. As the braid tends to take on water and it freezes it does get rather stiff and awkward to manage. I recast every half hour to minimise the problem and stop any drifting ice sticking to the line. Around half eleven the smelt float bobbled about, disappeared then popped back up. I wound down and felt nothing, so gave the bait a twitch and left it. A few minutes later the trout float did the same thing, but this time I contacted with a something that gave a short but spirited fight, scattering ice about in the process. A rather portly pike of 9lb 14oz and 83cm. As the trout had come back intact I chucked it out again. I wound the smelt in, it showed no signs of pike attack. Injected with oil and it too went back out.


That was the only action of the day. A lure angler popped down but the was only one swim fishable. Later another dead bait angler popped in and went home fishless. After the sun disappeared and the light started to fade the temp drop a degree or two. This proved a bit a a problem when I went to pack up. The line was frozen to various bits of ice and took a bit of faffing to wind in. Not a bad day though. Any day's pike fishing and you catch a pike is not a bad day.


Don't know whether it was the cold, but the action cam wasn't keen on working. It kept shutting down without so much as a bleep. Now it's been in the house a while it appears OK.

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Eight Anglers, No Fish

I'd made plans for Thursday, beyond pike fishing, as I had no idea what state the rivers would be in after the heavy rain. As it was the rivers had come up at least a metre or more overnight and were still rising. I decided to head to the estate lake, despite the fact it had not fished well for pike in recent times. They're still in there, but just not been very cooperative. When I got there there was just one other angler, fishing waggler for whatever. I had a wander round with the lure rod, I had re-rigged several lure the night before so seemed a shame not to use them. This produced nothing. I settled in a swim by the island. As I set up an other couple of anglers arrived, one coarse fishing, one pike fishing. Having got the baits out I proceeded to gather up the litter from the undergrowth. Not a lot but still far too much.


One rod had a suspended roach on which I hoped would trundle about, but there was little on no wind initially so it sat remarkable still. The other had a popped up smelt on it. With an AA shot just below its head, hooked back to front. it looked like it was feeding sort of. This was eventually dropped into a gully near the island. Each year this gets harder as the branches grow further out. By now a lure angler had turned up along with another mag and wag man. I had brought with me some chunks of used baits soaked in winterised oil, so chucked a few of them about the general area. I'd also grabbed a small bag of frozen hemp, but this was still defrosting. It does take a log time to thaw does hemp. Mid morning a lure angler turned up and had a wander about. As I was partaking of elevenses, the sun had moved round enough to feel the a bit of heat. Also some baitfish scattered near the smelt. I gave the smelt a couple of twitches which resulted in nowt.



After elevenses I moved the smelt and allowed the roach to drift over the area a few times, as a breeze had got up.. before trying it sink and draw. This also resulted in nowt. The pike angler opposite, meanwhile, landed quite a sizeable branch, at least he'd had a bend in his rod. It later transpired he'd had a run, but the fish had come adrift when it had got under the sunken branch. By lunch the hemp had thawed, so I scattered some about in the hope of drawing in some bait fish. I also chucked a few more fish bits about. As the breeze was now quite strong I increased the depth so as to anchor the roach on the bottom on the bottom and put the popped up smelt back in the gully. Just after lunch the float above the roach bobbed away. Brief contact was made with something small which managed to steal the roach. I had a chuck round with the lure rod again with out so much as a follow. As that was my last roach I put on an eel section. and cast it to the same spot. Half an hour later the float trundled off again and again brief contact was made with something. I'm very reluctant to leave the strike two long. I hate dealing with deep hooked fish.


As one of the maggot drowners left with so much as a chewed maggot a another lure angler arrived for a short while before, like the previous one, leaving fishless. A carp swirled under the overhanging tree at the end of the island at which point a kingfisher turned up on the other side of the tree. It appeared to be the only one having any success as I watched it through the leafless branches. Three more time bait fish scattered above the gully and one time the float was knocked by a pikes tail. I tried, at various times, wobbled baits, sink and draw, and various lures, but nothing made any attempt to grab them. The pike were clearly taunting me. As the wind dropped again fish started to dimple the surface a round the lake. There's a good head of blood worm in here and there must have been a hatch of midge. Slowly everybody disappear as another pike angler set up stall. He too, like the rest of use would end the day fishless.


I had, at one point, considered going barbel/chub fishing, but as the gear and bait had been packed away I thought it would have taken too long to get ready and no doubt I'd have forgotten something vital. This may have been a mistake as the rivers started to drop after lunch and from reports one two barbel were taken in the afternoon. Oh well, you can't be everywhere. I just find it hard to believe how badly the estate lake is fishing. On the pike front only the very occasional jack is appearing. The roach which can provide some reasonable sport seem to have gone off the feed. Back to work until Christmas then a few days off. can the rain just stop and  the rivers settle to a reasonable level. I have unused grayling gear setup and ready.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Pike Anglers Nil - Perch Anglers Loads

Tuesday's fishing trip had been carefully planned Monday night. I was going to run an errand, call in the tackle shop, then meat a friend at a club lake I'd never fished before. The first two went off reasonably well. The tackle shop didn't have everything I wanted, despite which I still managed to spend a small fortune. Things then started to fall apart. I arrived at the lake, which required a key to get through the gate. I don't have one, but I'd arranged to give him a ring when I got there. I could see the car park and there was no sign of his car. I gave him a ring to see what was happening only to be informed he had to do a spot of babysitting, due to an emergency. He offered to pop down with the key, but I told him to deal with the family, I'd go elsewhere.  Thus I found my self on the Aire & Calder Navigation. The next, slight,  problem was of my own making. I'd brought lure rods for both pike and perch, but no lures! Somehow the lure boxes had failed to transport themselves from the garage to the back of my car. Oh well, I had the bait rods with me so all was not lost.

 By the time I got to a swim and had got set up it was time for elevenses. I put a dead trout out just over an inside ledge. I thought the trout might be something they hadn't seen before. A sardine went out about a third of the way across on what was the pole line for maggot drowners, hoping the bait fish may be used to food been there and be swimming up and down looking for it. The first angler I spoke to was a pike angler who'd had nowt. As we had both seen, there appeared to be a bit of pike activity with them swirling at the surface. With increased activity near the boats I moved the sardine into a gap between them. Moving it a metre closer to me every twenty minutes or so. I had a go at wobbling a roach. Drifted a bait in the tow at various depths, but the pike rally didn't want to know. In the mean time the three perch anglers were having quite a good day of it, once they found them. I tried a variety of baits for not even a dropped run.


 Despite the obvious pike activity the perch anglers and me were never bothered by pike at all. Don't know if I'd have caught a pike even if I'd had my lure with me, but I could have entertained myself with some perch. Even though I had very little to do I only took two photos. I don't know why, but the less I have to do while fishing the less photos I take. I don't even have anything from the action cam either, as I appear to have corrupted the memory card. Things are not brilliant on the pike front, I'm currently averaging less the one pike per trip. This is actually quite normal for me over a season though.
The good news, though, is that my friends family emergency ended with everybody being well.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Return To The Gravel Pit

With the rivers still playing silly beggars, up and down like yo-yos I decide to return to the gravel pit. I opted for a swim on the sunny side of the pit as the breeze was lowering the temperature to unpleasant. Again I choose a corner swim. Normally I'd only fish this swim when the water level is a bit higher as the inside spot seems to only produce then. The spot directly in front has proved to be good in the past, though dropped runs can be a problem as there are times when there only seems to be small jacks in the area.

A smelt was thrown out to the shelf in front and a roach dropped in the little hole on the inside. Just after eleven, as I was cleaning my clip-ons I lost sight of the float in the sunshine only to see it trundling along to my right by the time I struck the fish had dropped it. Losing sight of my float wasn't helped by the fact that there was another pike float drifting about. We did try to retrieve it, but it never got close enough to the shore and casting around it there didn't seem to be any line trailing from it. It was interesting to watch this weighted pencil float drift about as it didn't go where you'd expect it to. It wasn't until the gloaming and after a short natter with River Foss Fishing that I got my next run. Much to my surprise it was on the inside rod. After a brief thrash about a nice pike of 9¾lb and 87cm was landed. That was it. I would have stayed a little bit longer, but the floats had become invisible in the dark.

Given the amount of pike activity during the day I would have expect more runs, but I didn't blank and it was a nice day so I'm quite happy. The action cam isn't too clever in low light so they video is not great, even after a bit of twiddling with the brightness and contrast, and for some reason there's a bit of a glitch in the middle as if a bit of video is missing.