During October 2002 I become eligible for my bus pass, something I don't think I will use often, perhaps I can trade it in for an airline pass. Now that would be a very useful thing to have.
Last May I was in Connecticut fishing with Ed Mitchell, author of Fly Rodding The Coast and Fly Fishing The Saltwater Shoreline, published by Stackpole books. As we fished from Dixon Merk's boat for stripers and bluefish, Dixon and Ed told me about the 'Albies' as the False Albacore is affectionately known. During the days spent together they both said on numerous occasions. "You must come back again in October Martin and fish for the Albies"
Wednesday will see me in Connecticut on the east coast of America fly fishing for the famed False Albacore, a member of the tuna family. It's a fish without a swim bladder that can reach speeds of 40 miles an hour. Unlike most fish it can raise its body temperature some 20 degrees farenheight above the surrounding ocean temperature. This fish is a fighter that might take some 200 yards of line from your reel, I will make sure there is plenty of backing on my reels!
I am taking my Thomas and Thomas nine and ten weight rods. My lines will be intermediate and Teeny 450 grain shooting lines. This fishing demands quick, accurate and spot on casting. You can read all about my adventures on my return.
Remember the item 'We Do Get Value For Money'? I paid a visit to the river Aire last week, it was nice to see the EA have made the Keighley golf course remove the dumped soil. It does pay to complain, remember calling the EA is very simple. It's a free phone number 0800-80-70-60. Last week Mike Osborne from Cumbria joined me for a days fishing on the river Aire, we chose the golf course length and despite the tough conditions Mike had chub to just over 5lbs fishing bread flake bait. David, the owner of KL Tackle in Keighley, tells me the Keighley A.C. stretch of water downstream of the golf course is fishing extremely well with some good bream being caught. If you're interested in catching some good sized pike, this stretch of river is certainly worth a visit. For the rest of the year Keighley A.C club cards are just £10-0 or day tickets at £2-00 Telephone David or Les at KL Tackle on 01535 667574
Talking with Dennis Freeman last week he told me "Keighley AC membership cards will cost just £20-00 in 2003, we have held this price for the past ten years". I have been a member for several years, it's certainly excellent value for money. Forget all those who say "Fishing on the river Aire isn't worth the effort" It offers good chub, bream and pike fishing with the chance (if you're lucky) of a good sized roach, perch or trout. I have taken many anglers to fish the Aire who have caught their personal best fish. This isn't a water where you go to catch a lot of small fish. I would rather catch a brace of four pound chub or a brace of five pound bream than twenty pound-sized fish, unless they are roach. I have no interest in catching the little fish. I want them to grow into big ones.
David Hallett has been catching some good fish this season from the river Kennet in Berkshire. He writes:
"I have got hair rigging maggots down to a fine art now and can usually get them to stick on the hair rather than my fingers! Yesterday I decided to bait with red maggots for a change, having received an E-mail from one of my syndicate members saying they were doing the business. I started fishing at 10.40 and within ten minutes had a nine pound barbel in my landing net. A lovely fish but it had me worried, usually when I get a fish that quickly that's my lot. But not yesterday. I lost an even better fish at the net about an hour later and then had a smaller fish, about five pounds, at about 12.30. At 1.40 I had my second double of the season at 10.11 followed by three more between five and eight pounds through the afternoon. At about 6.40 on my last cast of the day I had another double at 10lb 15ozs. It was a personal best from my fishery and in perfect condition. Total weight for seven fish was fifty-five pounds, average per fish just under eight. My best barbel fishing day ever!"
Well done David. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person and in the next year you collect your buss pass!
Be Prepared For Low Water Temperatures
A thermometer will help you catch more fish. When the water temperature goes below 39.9 degrees F everything in the aquatic environment changes. Insects move more slowly or not at all, fish seek the slower water and take longer to digest their food, also they don't chase baits. Fish are often a lot harder to catch when the temperature drops. Yes, fishing rivers in winter can be excellent, but you have to know where to put the bait. Remember, the water temperature in rivers doesn't change more than a degree. The current is always mixing the water six feet or sixteen the temperature is the same. On the river Aire there are many swim where you have a depth of fifteen to twenty feet and others of five feet. When I take the water temperature, I don't see a difference between the depths.
If the country is covered by a high pressure zone with frosts at night, followed by bright sunny days then your fishing is often going to be tough, even tougher if the rivers are low and gin clear. When I am faced with these conditions, my fishing takes place during the last couple of hours of daylight and then an hour into darkness. Often I don't get a fish until the last ten minutes of daylight. Tackle choice is simple; Avon action rod, fixed spool or centre pin reel with line breaking strain of three to six pounds depending on the fish I am seeking. For roach and similar size species I use three pound breaking strain line, but when seeking chub, my usual winter quarry, I use six pound line. If I have a rare winter barbel fishing session I choose ten pound line.
My bait choice in cold water conditions is quite simple, its bread crust or flake or perhaps sweet corn or cheese. The first two baits have accounted for a lot of big chub, roach and bream. Without a shadow of a doubt, crust fished on a short two inch link is my number one choice, which has accounted for many big fish. I started using crust on the Medway, Beult, Thames, Stour and Kennet many years ago because it was so successful. When I started using crust, in the days of bamboo rods, I used a bored bullet as the weight, stopped four to fifteen inches from the hook by a split shot. The distance between weight and hook depended on the water temperature. Today I usually just pinch on an LG two inches from the hook.
You will no doubt have read many articles in the angling press, where the writer tells you, the reader, "You will only get tiny movements on the rod tip in cold water conditions". It's not true of all bites or waters. Even when the temperature has been down to 34 degrees farenheight, I've usually had good bite indication, as many of my listeners and readers can testify. If I find the bites difficult to hit I switch to a dough bobbin indicator. Fishing bread flake, cheese or sweetcorn, I use a hook link of about six inches. In cold weather conditions, don't chuck in lots of ground bait - all I use are two or three hook size bits of bait. My advice is, don't use any ground bait unless the water temperature has been very low for several days then only if your feel it will help.
At The Waters Edge programme on BBC Radio Lancashire Thursday at 7-30pm Saturday at 6-00 am was recorded in northern Alberta during a fishing trip to Colin Lake with Mikisew Sports fishing. You can also listen to my programme on the Internet: www.bbc.co.uk/lancashire then click on sport. On the right hand side of the screen there is a drop down menu, click on fishing then click on GO.
Bank High Rivers
According to the long range weather forecast on Sunday, a lot of rain was forecast this week, something our rivers desperately need. Today Monday the rain has come, the gauge on the bridge at Grindleton around 12 noon was giving a reading for the river Ribble of 5'8". The rivers Hodder, Calder, Lune, Wyre, Aire and Wharfe all have extra water. If the wind goes to the south or Southwest you can expect a rise in the water temperature with some great fishing on our rivers, stillwaters and canals countrywide. Let's hope we get lots of rain this autumn and winter to keep our rivers and streams flowing, which will help dilute all the rubbish that gets into our river and streams from the surrounding fields and roads.
It Was Great On The River
Tuesday 22nd October was perfect for chub and barbel fishing on the river Ribble, in fact conditions couldn't have been better.
The river had dropped overnight but it still had 3 feet on the gauge at Grindleton, Lancashire. The water temperature was 51 degrees F. I decided to grab a few hours fishing further downriver despite having gear to pack for my trip to Connecticut tomorrow.
I made up 2 identical rods, both Avon action with Mitchell 300 reels, 8lb line with size 4 barbless hooks, my baits were bread crust, flake and cheese paste. I had a good selection of swims to choose from with only one other angler who was fishing the bottom of the beat.
I chose a 3 foot deep swim close to the bank a few yards downstream of an old tree trunk. The water was flowing quite steady. I baited with a large piece of cheese paste which I dropped some ten feet downstream of the rod tip.
Within seconds the tip pulled round and the strike connected with a good fish which used the current to it's advantage. It was some 4 or 5 minutes before I pulled the fish over the landing net. A super chub which weighed 5-2-0.
Rebaiting with another chunk of cheese paste, I dropped it into roughly the same spot. Immediately the tip was pulled round rather savagely, the answering strike connected with a good fish which powered off into the fast flow. The Avon rod was really hooped over. The fish stayed deep and I had visions of a huge chub, then I thought, No. It's probably a barbel. After many minutes I dragged a good size barbel into the landing net. Then punched the air saying "Yes"! The fish weighed 8-10-0 I was a happy angler. Two bites and 2 good fish.
My next 2 casts accounted for two more chub, 4-14-0 and 5-4-0. I then had a quieter spell and decided to move swims. I fished for half an hour with no bites, then moved back to the first swim. Immediately I had a good pull, another barbel 5-0-0 which was quickly followed by yet another barbel of 5-6-0. I decided it was time to use my second rod. Pinching on 2 LG shot some six inches from the hook I baited with a chunk of breadcrust. Casting out to the edge of the faster water, the rod tip pulled round. As the bait was washed in toward the bank, the tip slackened off, there was just a slight pressure showing on the tip.
I sat beside one of my favourite rivers feeling quite relaxed, knowing tomorrow I would be heading off for another fly fishing adventure. The crust baited rod tip pulled around. I connected with a nice fish, a chub which gave a good scrap and weighed in at 5-7-0.
In the next two hours with the water dropping and clearing slightly I had 7 more chub which included another five pounder 5-1-0.
If you have some spare time this week, get out on your local river and enjoy some good fishing. Stillwaters and canals countrywide should all provide good sport with the higher water temperatures.