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Trout between the showers part 3

May 23, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Working in the garden between downpours had earned me a two hour fishing pass from my wife and I headed off toward the syndicate trout stream, hoping to find the mayfly in full hatch mode. Strewn around my kitchen were various fishing jackets drying over chairs, retrieved from the washing line too late to save them from another soaking. An old moth eaten gardening jacket had been pressed into service, pockets filled with a few essential accessories, along with the all important box of mayflies, before setting off, but whether it was still shower proof was soon to be tested.

Crossing the river in the van, the road was still running with water, but once parked up the worst of the shower was past. The sun was out and somewhere there would be a radiant rainbow, but with chest waders to wriggle into my mind was on the mayfly. Joining the river at the bridge, the jacket was doing an acceptable job of warding off the rain and I made my way upstream under the trees to where a feeder stream comes in, seeing that it was carrying at least 6 inches more flow, the gravel run on the main river, now a speeding glide. No mayfly were visible and and certainly no fish rising.

Carrying on upstream, gulls were sweeping low over the river at what I guessed were mayfly awakened by the sunshine, but the trout were not taking. With no time to waste, I pushed on until rounding a bend the tell tale ring of a rising fish was spreading across the surface. Here mayfly were landing and taking off, being harassed by at least two trout, getting down into the river well below to wade up toward them. The wind was sweeping in gusts across the river making long casts difficult, the only option was to keep low and cast a short line. Yesterday’s successful Bodied Mayfly was routinely ignored, while the real thing were slurped down with abandon. My next choice was also snubbed, and plumbed for a traditional Winged Mayfly.

The trout at the head of the pool broached a couple of times as if determined not to let any mayfly pass to the fish below. It was a broad fish and I edged closer to present the fly, the wind controlling the last foot of descent. Close to the bank it took, leaping clear when it felt the hook, then rushing upstream to the bend. Without giving line, I let the rod take the strain, walking five yards down to where I had left my landing net in the reeds, the trout swimming straight out again at my first attempt, regaining strength for another run.

This 16 inch stockie full of high protein mayfly needed no reviving, swimming off upstream the moment it was released. The fly was a bit bedraggled after the fight, but squeezing floatant grease into the wings and body, followed by a few false casts, had it ready for action again. There were now rises further up round the bend and I waded up spooking the other trout, that bow-waved into the upper pool. The fly dropped to the surface, drifted a foot, then disappeared with a wallop as it was engulfed by another good trout, that powered away round the bend. Keeping the rod high, I waded after the trout, leaving the landing net again, my hands too full to carry it. The line went solid and I rounded the bend to find the fly lodged in a clump of reeds. To get the fly back meant wading through the middle of the pool, so that was the end of that little pocket of feeding trout.

Time was now marching on, I’d been rewarded with some fish, but now it was time to go and I headed back to the van, stopping at the feeder stream to see a trout rising mid river in what would normally be an couple of inches of water over the gravel. Wading out to it, I kept the line tight again due to overhead trees. He was missing many of the mayfly probably due to the shallow water reducing it’s cone of vision, but for me it took after half a dozen offers for the take and I was soon playing a very silver wild brown trout.

The colouring of this trout is unique as far I am concerned, the pound fish an added bonus on such a brief visit.

Trout between the showers part 2

May 20, 2017 at 12:25 pm

A week after my last outing on the syndicate river, saw me checking the forecast and waiting for a prolonged downpour to finish before heading west into the promised three hours of sunshine. The black clouds were in retreat when I arrived, although the hoped for mayfly were absent. After a week of showers I had expected the river to be heavily coloured, but true to it’s chalkstream origins, it was pushing, but clear.

The unweighted Hares Ear nymph of last week was still attached to my made up rod, as I entered my first pool, managing to roll a nice trout casting along the edge. Moving downstream mayfly were suddenly breaking free of the surface and it wasn’t long before the sound of rising trout could be heard. Upstream I saw a nice fish rise and retraced my steps to the pool, getting down on my knees to approach the high bank. As if by magic the floating nymph sank into a ripple and I was playing a hard fighting trout that rushed round the pool. I had already extended my landing net, which was waiting for the fight to finish.

!8 inches of solid power, this overwintered stockie showed a few battle scars, but this river is fished from October on by coarse fishermen for chub, who complain about the trout getting in the way.

The mayfly were now coming thick and fast, encouraged by the warming sun on the river and the trout were mopping them up, seeing my next target rising under trees in fast water above a clump of roots. After a couple of sideways flicks of the line, the nymph dropped above it and vanished in a swirl. The shallows erupted with another good fish, that darted into the hole under the roots, then out again down into a run throwing up more spray. It was soon on it’s side in my net. Two good trout in ten minutes.

There were rises everywhere and a few measured casts to a fish rising at the tail of a pool saw a wild brownie in the net.

The wild trout in this river tend to be silvery on their flanks, this one of about ten inches was a welcome sight.

Continuing downstream a large trout was rising like clockwork and I circled round away from the bank to come up behind it. It was not interested in my floating nymph, chasing mayfly as they tried to take off. I tied on a tatty old Bodied Mayfly and cast it in with a plop. Gone. It went straight away. A zigzagging boil and the fish ran upstream, rolled and came off. Not to worry, I could hear more splashy rises behind me, seeing ripples spreading out among trees. Getting down behind a tree, the trout was just upstream of me and a short cast saw a vicious attack that hooked itself on the tight line. Boiling on the surface, the pound plus trout churned round in a circle and came off, my fly springing up into the tree. Using the landing net, I reached up and retrieved my old faithful mayfly.

It had started raining and looking back upstream, the sky was black with falling rain. Fish were still rising and on my way back to the van was tempted to try again for the fish that I had rolled at the start. Splashy rises were still coming up along the brambles and the old fly did it’s work, hooking, not the stockie that I’d lost earlier, but another silvery wild trout, netting it as the heavens opened.

Water on the lens blurred this pic, but it is good to see that the river is still capable of supporting these fish. With my top half soaked through, the van was waiting to give refuge from the storm, while I extracted myself from clinging chest waders. The session had lasted not much more than an hour. Must try to get out again before the mayfly finish.

Trout between the showers.

May 13, 2017 at 11:40 am

Rain at last. Rain at last. Like buses you pray for rain, then it all comes at once. That was the feeling this week as I waited for my Thursday to Saturday syndicate trout fishing days. Leaving home on Thursday afternoon in bright sunshine, I headed west toward an all encompassing black cloud, which by the time I reached the fishery, had begun dumping it’s contents over the countryside. I sat in the van and waited in vain for a break in the cloud. Unable to find a radio broadcast to my liking, I cut my loses and headed home to find that the clouds had passed us by, the lawns the burnt yellow of high summer.

A commitment in another town, to collect a couple of pairs of scales ordered on behalf of my fishing club did not go well, with only one set available after an extensive search. Yet another set was ordered and with brightening skies, hoped to recoup what was left of the Friday afternoon, trying for a trout on the syndicate river. Lunch over and gear in the van, I headed back to the river, the window wipers on full for the last half mile, deciding that the car park at the lower end of the fishery would save fuel, if Thursday’s aborted attempt was to be repeated.

I decided that I would fish whatever the weather and forced on my waders in the van, emerging fully kitted out into bright sunshine again, the warm southerly wind dispersing the clouds, as quickly as they had formed. Getting in the water above the bridge, the river looked perfect, with the occasional Mayfly blowing downstream, but my previously successful Black Devil failed to attract interest.

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Back over the bridge and into the meadow below, I followed the river down looking for rises, making blind casts to likely looking holding areas to no response. Mayfly were now skidding along the surface, driven by the downstream wind, before making their first awkward flights skyward, but the trout were not switched on to them yet.

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This pool on an S bend was as far as I was prepared to walk, the long wet grass of the meadow dragging at my waders. In past days, this time of year would see large trout, up from the depths, cruising around sucking in mayfly nymphs, but floods have washed away the gravel at it’s tail reducing the depth, while that gravel now lies in a fast shallow run only suitable for the tiniest of dace and juvenile trout.

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I worked the Black Devil nymph, up the pool without success and found myself distracted by a roe deer munching the fresh green leaves of an overhanging tree, taking out my camera in an attempt to get a closeup shot of this elegant animal. A step too far and the deer was gone in a series of dignified bounds, clearing a fence in Olympic style.

Returning to my rod, I was studying the Mayfly as they broke the surface film, black head out first, with wings outstretched behind, then bing, they were clear, the gossamer wings springing up to catch the breeze like a sail, before that scudding take off.

 

Masked by the ripple, a trout began rising silently on the outside of the bend close the bank. Mayfly were being taken with abandon above and below the surface and I edged upstream to get within casting range, aware that accuracy was impossible with the gusting wind. A dry fly would be dragged under with the combined force of the river and downstream wind, so the first option was the Black Devil, which was cast almost to the grass. A rise, and a missed strike by myself, or the trout, saw the nymph ignored from then on, while Mayfly continued to be plucked from safety.

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Option 2 was to tie on an unweighted Hares Ear Flashback nymph, which was rubbed in with floatant. The last 18 inches of leader was run through my lips to aid sinking, while the nymph would float in the surface tension like an emerging Mayfly. My first cast was too short, the second too far to the right, while the third dropped lightly close to the bank. A rise and I was in. A frantic, tumbling fight, gave way to a hard boring run into the depths of the pool, but this was not a big fish and a 10 inch wild brown trout was soon drifting back into my net.

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My first wild brown trout from the syndicate river this year, fighting fit and fat with a diet of Mayfly. It is still early days, but the season is already an improvement on this time last year. After letting the trout recover in my net before release, I made my way back to the van. I’d had a fish and dinner was waiting.

 

Big trout Spring surprise

May 7, 2017 at 7:25 pm

Following my success on the syndicate trout stream last week, I was keen to get back to fish, although a strong easterly wind and lack of water in the river dampened my enthusiasm. With no decent rainfall during April and none yet in May, this Hampshire chalk stream was now reduced to a series of pools connected by gravel runs of crystal clear water. Fish were rising, but close to the banks under cover, where they were safe from herons and also angler’s flies.

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Several casts to a trout beneath this bush were unsuccessful and I sat for a while watching it top and tail for nymphs. More water and flow would have seen it prepared to break cover to chase it’s food downstream.

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Where the flow came off a gravel run I saw a small ripple, then a bubble, ahead of a patch of scum collected by the branches of an overhanging bush. This was a sign of a fish and I crept along the bank to within ten yards of the spot to make a cast. The wind was swirling, picking up the line and opted for an over cast onto the shallow run, watching the Black Devil sweep toward the patch of scum. Before it got there, the leader dived to the right and I was boiling a good trout to the surface. It turned and ran downstream, as I stripped line back to stay in contact, the brown running past me, bolting to the safety of the bush. “That’s lost it” I thought and turned to face away from the river putting on side strain, only for it to come out stirring up the mud. Once in the open it was a case of hoping that the size 14 hook would keep hold, while it was netted.

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This was beautifully coloured overwintered stockie 17 inches long with a massive tail, that tested my little 7 ft No4 weight rod to the maximum. The Black Devil nymph was just in the nose of the trout and could easily have twisted out.

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Holding the brownie upstream in the shallows with fresh water passing over it’s gills for five minutes, restored it’s strength and it swam across the gravel to disappear among the shadows.

Walking downstream, bailiff Kevin was finishing off for the day, having caught another smaller stock fish, while his fellow bailiff Mick had found some wild fish that afternoon. With wild trout in mind, I continued down to where a long pool runs between tree roots to spill out over a gravel cattle drink. Keeping away from the bank, I circled round to enter the river on the shallows, slowly walking up the the pool. A good fish was rising above the tail, with another preoccupied further up between the trees.

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This was like old times, a hatch of olives was in progress and the fish in front of me was moving round the pool mopping them up. The wind had dropped and I considered tying on an emerger, but with the Black Devil still in place, why change a winning combination? Not wanting to disturb the pool, I stood in the shallows making casts to the right hand side, where the random rises were breaking the surface. With the nymph drifting back, I became aware of a shape slowly coming up toward it. The spots were visible, the leader gave a twitch and I struck into what briefly felt like an immovable log. A split second later, a broad back humped up in the water, the tail slapped the surface and it torpedoed off upstream stripping off line.  The line jammed in the reel and I followed deep into the pool, rod bent double, convinced it would break me. My largest trout from this tiny river had been over 3 lb and this was bigger and stronger.

It stayed on and I stripped line back, until it needed to run again, each time bring it closer, pulling it clear of the roots. My landing net was lying on the muddy shallows beside the pool behind me and I gave line to reach it. Suddenly the big stockie was wallowing on the gravel in front of me and I tried in vain to get my net under it, pushing the rod behind trying to drag it over the lip, while pushing the net with my left. Half way in, I lifted and the trout jumped out, leaving the hook in the net. It floundered in the shallows, as I tried the net again. Like a salmon it accelerated away back to the pool, then turned on it’s side swimming upstream, then faded back into the gloom. It was as knackered as I was!

I stood there surrounded by a tangle of fly line and retrieved the nymph, which was chewed to bits, coming unwound. The other trout was still rising, but I’d had enough for one evening and whatever the size it would have been an anticlimax. Last year there were few rising fish to be seen, this can only be a good sign for the future.

Trout stream brings early promise

May 5, 2017 at 2:27 pm

The last days of April sunshine had brought out terrestrial fly life when I made my second visit to the syndicate chalk stream. Passing through the roadside fishery gate, a large cobweb was crammed with small black flies and as I approached the river they were zooming about in the breeze. Having only made a very brief sighting visit before, I forced myself to ignore a rising fish in a position that required serious wading to manage a cast, intending to follow the river half way down the fishery before attempting a cast. More importantly, I had spent time the previous week applying a full tube of rubberised solution to my waders in an attempt to cure an untraceable leak and did not want to start the session with a squelchy boot.

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Crossing the bridge into the copse, the heady aroma of hawthorn, wild garlic and bluebells hit my senses as the sun warmed my back. All this and fishing too. What more could you ask for apart from maybe a trout in the net? I met bailiff Mick who had netted a wild brown, then just lost a much larger fish on a small klinkhammer. More rising fish, this was encouraging. Further down Kevin was mid river casting to another rising trout with a small Adams. Two bailiffs in one day, must be a good sign. Fancying the stretch upstream of Kevin, I asked if he minded me fishing 50 yards up and got the OK.

bramshill 094The river here carves out a deep channel as it rounds a bend creating a pool, where I have caught many trout in the past and the sight of small dimpling rises got my heart beating faster. My Black Devil nymph was still on the line from my previous outing, but this works well with a greased leader fished just below the surface, so gave it a go. The strong downstream wind made casting from range difficult and I worked my way slowly towards the pool making false casts to the right to judge the distance. I waited for the rises to start again, but cast short, waiting for the line to exit the pool, before recasting. This time the nymph dropped on target, but after the fish had risen again. On the third cast the wind caught the line carrying it over to the right away from the rise, but as the nymph drifted back to me, the surface bulged and the line zipped under. The trout took me by surprise when I struck, being much bigger than the rises had indicated. The shallow pool erupted as the trout responded to the hook, two minutes of madness being followed by powerful surges, before I could reign the brownie back toward my net.

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A 16 inch stock fish, this brown had been harpooned by a heron in the clear shallow river, but showed no sign of weakness in it’s fighting ability. Kevin was passing by on the bank only minutes after I had left him. Triumphantly I pointed to the trout saying “The Black Devil strikes again!” Allowed time to recover, the brownie was soon swimming strongly back to the pool.

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Wading up to the next pool, a single rise gave away another fish at it’s head, but a high bank and overhead branches made for an almost impossible cast. Another rise, saw me adjusting my position in the river to avoid getting snagged, managing to place the nymph at the tail of the fast water, where it could drift into yet another rise. The leader sank away and I lifted into resistance, that told me it was not a trout, the initial surge petering out as a small chub came to the surface.

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With no more signs of fish, I continued my way back up river, only to see the clear stream turn murky and realised that the farmer had moved his cattle into the top field, seeing them already wading in the cattle drink stirring up the bottom. My main task now was to get past these energetic young bovines without getting trampled and once through the gate made my way back to the van. It had been a short, but sweet afternoon, rising fish, spring blossoms, sunshine and a good trout in the the net. Even better, my feet were dry.

 

Braybrooke season closer beats the forecast

May 2, 2017 at 11:07 am

An invite to join friend John at Braybrooke Fishing Club’s Jean’s Pond, for an end of season roach and rudd catching session would not have happened, if we had believed the weather forecast. Strong north winds, driving sleet and thundery showers were promised by the TV weathermen, backed up by images of early morning snow falls in northern parts, but prepared for the worst we went anyway to be greeted by sunshine.

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In a dip, the north wind roared through the trees above us, passing overhead to leave the pond virtually untroubled, while we baked in the sunshine, only reminded of the forecast, when clouds passed over the sun to be replaced by an icy blast.

While John settled into peg 11, where he had netted 16 lb of roach and rudd on the waggler with maggot a fortnight before, I chose to set up in the unknown peg 10 to his left, which is set back in a bay. Having plumbed the depth and found it shallow out to 8 metres, I considered moving to the deeper pegs to John’s right, but decided to learn what I could for the future, while he wanted to top his previous best weight from 11.

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John started off with his 8 metre elasticated whip and long line, waggler combination, fished out over flouro maggots, while I as usual was set up for the pole and bread punch, feeding a couple of egg sized balls of liquidised bread out to the drop off in my swim. Both of us were into roach from the start, the punch out pacing the maggot in quantity and quality.

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Always competitive, John was getting worried that I was ahead, as I was netting all fish over 2 oz, due to them being lightly hooked and dropping off, when swung in, much to his amusement. I was experimenting with a much lighter elastic, which on the canal with size 20 hooks, set the hook easily, but now a larger size 16 was barely hanging onto the skin of the lip. My spare pole top with heavier elastic was in the van. I adjusted to the lighter elastic, which gave security, once the better sized rudd moved in over the feed.

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A pike took one of my roach as I was bringing it in. The swim went dead apart from tiny roach, which I threw back, not wanting to damage them in the net. Shortly after this John chuckled “Look at this clonker Kenny!” as he brought a 12 oz roach to his net. I responded with another small “clinker” roach as John swung in another “clonker”. His weight was beginning to outstrip mine, as I watched the pike flash over into yet another roach. This was a relatively small pike of about 3 lb, but it had a taste for larger fish, coming up to the surface to snap at the tail of a good rudd, just as I was about to net it.

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Finding deeper water closer in to my right, I decided to leave the pike to it’s slaughter and build a new swim and began to catch small roach, while John continued to swing in clonker roach and rudd, until the pike moved into his swim, chasing fish to the surface. He countered this by feeding further out to fish the waggler on rod and line, although these were smaller fish.

We had both been busy catching for over two hours, when we stopped fishing for a lunch break, while we guessed what weight we had. I had been counting my fish in and had over 60, while John had far fewer, but better average size. From my vantage point behind him, I could see all his landed fish, while he could only see mine from the corner of his eye. My fish were brought back with the pole tip sunk, letting the elastic do the work, breaking down to 3 metres of pole to net the fish at the last moment. He was convinced that I was ahead on weight, but I knew better. The pike had seen to that.

With an hour to go we started again, he going back to the whip, while I put another couple of balls into my original swim. The roach and rudd were coming steadily to both of us, one of mine spewing maggots, which proves how much these fish move about, as I hadn’t any to put into my swim.

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Bang on 2 pm we stopped fishing, John had been catching some real clonkers, while most of mine had been smaller clinkers but twice as many. I estimated I’d had two and a half pounds in that last hour, while John guessed he’d had four pounds.

I weighed my net in first, which topped 8 lbs, a good weight for the bread punch in four hours fishing.

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John then pulled out his net, the two of us tipping them into the weigh net, seeing the scales swing round to 12 lb.

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John had hoped for more from this swim, but he was happy to have beaten me into second place again, the wag and mag beating the punch on this occasion.

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As we packed up, we watched a 3 ft long pike cruise through John’s swim on the surface. Now that was a pike!

Shin Sung Career 707 .22 PCP rabbit control

April 30, 2017 at 12:03 pm

With the English cricket season and the clocks going forward for later sunsets, it was time to get down to the large recreational park to make another dent in the rabbit population. The council controlled cricket pitches and lawn tennis courts suffered damage last year from rabbits digging for roots among the manicured lawns and I was given permission to shoot the pests.

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Restricted to air rifles between sunset and dawn to avoid any danger to the general public, I had been able to cull about twenty before the worst of the winter set in.  Wooden pavilions provide perfect cover for the rabbits, and the rabbit hutch aroma is unmistakable once the warmer weather arrives.

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This site has been the most challenging, being used to private properties, paddocks and farms, while this park has floodlit activities and an adjacent car park used for railway and public car parking. Runners and dog walkers abound. Even at midnight there are people about, sometimes with lamps and dogs. This permission has given me the opportunity to bring my neglected Career 707 .22 carbine out of retirement, which is one small step down from a .22 rimfire rifle. Firing .22 Bisley Magnum 21 grain pellets, it is more accurate than the 40 grain subsonic bullet of the rimfire at 40 yards and just as effective with head and chest shots.

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The main advantage of the Career in this situation is the safety factor, the pellet losing velocity quickly and unlikely to ricochet and travel many yards beyond the target, while with four times the power and twice the weight, the rimfire bullet could cause serious injury in such a public place.

I arrived shortly after sunset to see the tennis court floodlit with players still on the courts, while in the shadow of the pavilion, rabbits large and small were grazing undisturbed. Even when I pulled the van into a parking bay within yards of them, they they continued feeding. This all changed the second that I stepped into view. Pow! They scattered, climbing over each other to disappear down several of the openings beneath the wooden building.

I drove the van down to the far end of the car park, where there were no cars, or members of the public, to decide on my plan of attack. A circular route along the railway embankment, swinging right across an open archery range, then on to a copse, which housed the cricket pavilion, before returning across the park to the tennis pavilion, by which time it would be dark, but illuminated by the orange sodium lights of the car park.

It was still light enough to see as I set off along the embankment, spotting a pair of rabbits in the undergrowth, which melted back into the gloom before I could get in range. Passing through the copse to the cricket pitch, a pair of rabbits were busy munching their way through the green sward about 50 yards away and I ducked back into the cover of the trees, trying not to rustle through the dead horse chestnut leaves, getting down to belly crawl the last few yards. They were still unaware of me and rested the Career on my bag for a steady shot at the biggest now 35 yards away. The cross hairs settled behind the ear and I squeezed the trigger. The silencer barked and the rabbit toppled forward.

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Getting up to retrieve the rabbit, white tails flashed back into the safety offered beneath the pavilion and I crossed to the other side, where I had a view of the rear of the wooden building, while lying beneath low hanging branches.

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I only had to wait ten minutes before a smudge of grey appeared at the far end of the building. Through the scope, two rabbits had emerged from the gap looking out 25 yards away, a snap shot knocking the closest down. I stayed in cover and waited until my eyes picked up movement, again the scope proving better at receiving light than my eyes to reveal another rabbit beside the building. I fired and saw the rabbit leap with the impact of the pellet, but watched it scrabble back down the burrow. Getting up I saw no sign of the second rabbit and was surprised to see that the first shot had been a young kit. In the low light it had been hard to judge it’s size. I would have shot it regardless.

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It was now too dark to see and I have found that due to frequent lamping with dogs over this parkland, a light causes instant panic from this rabbit population, so that dawn and dusk are the most productive times to catch out my quarry.

Continuing my circle back to the tennis pavilion, rugby players were out noisily practicing under their floodlit pitch, as I reached the cover of the trees that line the car park, keeping in line with a tree 40 yards from the pavilion. From either side of the trunk I had a good view, aided by the sodium lights and watched as a pair of ears popped out of one of the holes. Using the tree for support, I was pleased to see the rabbit fall back into the opening. All that plinking at targets in my garden paying off. With the hole now blocked, I moved forward to find another young kit.

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Back to the tree, I edged forward keeping the tree trunk as a backdrop to my prone body and waited. Another pair of ears appeared out of the first hole, but retreated back inside and I focused my sights on it for a second chance. A movement to the left of it got my attention and I swung the rifle round to see a large buck hop out into view in the gloom. My latest target stopped for it’s last meal as I zeroed in for the shot, flipping it over.

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Drizzly rain had begun to fall and decided to call it a night, this haul would help toward a batch of bunny burgers now that BBQ season was on the horizon.

 

 

 

Sight/strike indicator nymph fishing review

April 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Having grown up fishing a heavily greased leader as an indicator while nymph fishing, I was impressed by a short fluorescent braided indicator, that a friend was using with great success while Czech nymph fishing. Finding a set of three for sale online, I ordered a pack and sat back and waited for them to arrive from South Africa. The day of delivery was bright and clear and decided that a visit to my urban trout river would be a good test of the product, setting off after my evening meal.

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The sun was already low when I arrived and a strong downstream east wind was chilling the air, a look downstream showing no rises and little fly life. Tying in the indicator to the end of the leader, I added two feet of 4 lb line to the bottom loop of the indicator and then tied on my Black Devil nymph.

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Heading upstream along the busy road, I reached the first fishable section where trees hang over the river.

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The river was crystal clear, but no fish were on view as I worked the nymph over the gravel runs, the indicator clearly visible as it drifted downstream. Being as light as the line, it allowed the nymph to drop quietly onto the water, while being greased it floated high in the surface film. Casting along the far bank, the indicator jerked under and I overstruck into a six inch brown that lifted clear of the water, before falling back. That take was instant and I’m not sure that it would have registered on the leader.

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Moving up toward a long slack created by some flood debris, a cast between the branches saw the indicator dive to the left and on instinct lifted into a nice brown that rolled showing it’s white belly, before coming airborne in the shallow river. The 7ft No 4 rod kicked and bent as the trout headed straight for the snag, while I followed giving line. It rolled again, turning to zigzag past me, then settled down to swim up the middle, as I searched for my landing net, backtracking ten feet to pick it up and pull the brownie into the net.

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I had attracted a cyclist and a pair of dog walkers, while playing this beauty, the low light not capturing the full colours to do it justice. The bystanders were unaware that this urban river held such secrets. I sat and chatted as the trout recovered in my landing net, watching it swim slowly upstream to disappear against the gravel. Casting my way upstream, two more indications brought a pair of five inch parr, one swinging to hand, the other dropping off as I lifted it across the river. The light was golden with the sunset as I made my way back downstream, stopping at a man made feature to fish.

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Under the trees it was quite dark, but the indicator showed up well, when by now I would have been reduced to watching the bow in the line for movement, although the next take pulled hard upstream and I was soon playing a small but hard fighting brown.

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I missed a couple of short tugs from this pool, which with a longer rod would have given more control in the downstream wind and can see how this would mean more fish to the heavy Czech Nymph method. With an under body and rib of heavy copper wire, the Black Devil is a good early season nymph with just enough weight to fish off the bottom where fish are searching for caddis.

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The light was going fast and I walked to the lower end of this public water to see what changes had taken place since last season. Weed growth so far is minimal this year, which coupled with the lack of spring rainfall, has resulted in water so shallow that I saw the surface hump up, as a good trout turned to the nymph and struck too soon, pricking the fish, watching Vs and swirls, when it dashed off.

Windy conditions, coupled with shallow clear water on a hard fished public urban river proved to me, that this sight indicator will be a welcome addition to my tackle bag.

Trout stream season opens with optimism

April 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm

River trout fishing is very limited in my area and joining a syndicate fishery within 15 miles of my new home several years ago was a dream come true. The tiny chalk stream held a head of wild brown trout, backed up by a yearly stock of triploid infertile browns, while with other trout fisheries upstream, the occasional rainbow trout added spice to life. The wild brown trout population was so prolific, that a few years ago the bailiffs decided that the annual stocking of triploids was unnecessary and missed a year as an experiment. This was a costly mistake. An increase in pike, mink and fry eating Canadian signal crayfish resulted in the collapse of the wild fish stock. With no large stock fish available, the predators turned to the wild fish. That was the theory, backed up by some of the worst returns ever and members walking away with their cheque books. The 30 member limit with a waiting list, dropped to two thirds last season and judging by the sparse numbers on the working parties it could be lower this season.

Prepared to give the syndicate another chance, I arrived on a bright spring morning for a brief visit last week to see how the river had fared over the winter, finding it unseasonably low and crystal clear, barely rattling over the stones.

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I had taken my rod, but there was no time for a proper session, intending to cast my Black Devil nymph to test out some of the gravel runs that had been modified by the winter floods. Walking downstream my shadow fell across the shallows and a trout swirled, darting for the cover of a bush. This was encouraging, as were several bare patches of gravel, evidence of wild trout spawning redds.

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Continuing downstream I could see one of the bailiffs applying weedkiller to an area badly affected by Himalayan Balsam last year and watched while he continued his work, deciding to turn back, as I had little time to fish, let alone stand chatting.

Stopping for a few casts between bankside trees, an upstream stab of the leader was a definite take of the nymph, but I was too quick, or maybe too slow, whatever, I missed it. A heart quickener no less and again encouraging, although I failed to get another response from that pool.

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Within sight of the road, I paused for a few casts where the flow pushes into a deep pool, making a long cast upstream to allow the nymph to trundle along the gravel, before it sank into the deeper water, retrieving line as it came back to me, keeping sight of the greased leader for any movement.  With the end of the fly line approaching the top eye, I lifted the rod to recast and a big brown trout came up from the depths like a Polaris rocket and grabbed the nymph, diving away, pulling the rod down, while stripping line through my fingers. It flashed gold for a few seconds, black spots clearly visible, before the barbless hook lost its hold, leaving me stunned by the sudden activity and staring at a slack line.

Excitement over, each pool was search in the hope of a repeat, when this time I would be ready to respond in the manner of an experienced trout angler, rather than a star struck novice, but second chances are rarely offered on the little river.

Below the road bridge a fish was rising to small patches of surface scum, but could not see what it was, while illuminated by the bright sunlight, several 4 inch trout moved in and out of the shadows beneath the road. There is hope for this fishery yet.

 

Bread punch retaliation at Braybrooke pond

March 24, 2017 at 10:57 pm

A few weeks ago one of my old match teammates invited me down to fish the prolific Jeanes pond in Braybrooke recreation ground close to my home. We had not fished together since our competitive days, but I knew that he would be out to give me a thrashing on what is now his weekly fishing venue. Arriving at the agreed time, I had found John already set up with rod in hand waiting for the off. After 4 hours fishing our weights had been close, the waggler float and maggot technique of John netting 8 lb 12 oz to my 8 lb 4 oz on the pole and bread punch.

Fishing my swim for the first time, I felt that I had not got the best out of it, despite a very respectable weight, so when an email arrived inviting me to join John and another ex-teammate Frank at the pond, I was happy to oblige. Again with the intention of only fishing the bread punch, I arrived to find them already fishing!

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A chill east wind was blowing the length of the pond causing a drift from right to left, not too much of a problem for me being able to sink the tip of my pole, but the two waggler anglers were at a disadvantage. John was still casting and feeding maggots toward the middle, where he had found a better stamp of fish before, but Frank had come in closer, having seven roach to John’s one as I began to tackle up. Plumbing my swim, it dropped away rapidly from two metres deep at three metres, to three metres at four metres and opted to fish with three metres of pole just off bottom, burying the size 16 hook in a 6 mm bread pellet. A pigeon egg sized ball of liquidised bread brought a bite immediately, but missed the first few sailaways, before the first of many roach came to hand.

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Reducing the depth on the float brought more positive bites, although many fish were under an ounce, over forty fish in the first hour putting only a couple of pounds in the net, enough to match my previous weight, but not enough to reach my expected target of 10 lbs in four hours. Eighty fish had scaled over 8 lbs previously. Better fish were there, but few and far between as the quantity climbed.

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Frank was finding some nice roach and rudd close in and it wasn’t long before John moved his float in close to that of his old rival Frank. The banter between these two is better than any Morcambe  and Wise comedy sketch, with Frank calling me over to referee where John’s swim ended and Frank’s started. I was now hooking a better class of fish myself, but with most barely hooked in the skin of the lip, I was netting them all, to a chorus of “Swing it in!”

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A half time tea break was called just as I hooked a nice golden rudd and by this time felt that the deficit with Frank had been made up, while John was slipping behind both of us.

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Taking time out for a sandwich, I could see that spring was coming to this shady spot, wild flowers growing on the far bank. The three metre line was slowing and put a couple of balls of feed in at five metres, adding another joint to the pole, while increasing the depth on the float.

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The float sank away and I was playing a better roach, that suddenly jumped clear of the water with a pike chasing it, unceremoniously swinging it in away from the green spotted monster.

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The pike moved away, surfacing next to John’s float, 7 to 8 lb he estimated, killing their swim, so they decided to pack up early. Lifting into a bite before going down to weigh their fish, the elastic came out on my pole with a very good roach or rudd thumping slowly deep in the pond. Waiting to see the fish to net it, the hook came out. Probably tried to rush it?

John had some good fish in his net, the scales measuring just over 7 lbs, while Frank’s weight had been swelled by some clonking rudd.

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Frank was pleased to have easily surpassed John’s weight with 8 lb taken on the waggler and maggot only ten yards from the bank.

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With still 30 minutes to make up on the other two, I wanted to fish on, but we pulled my net out to weigh the haul of around 130 roach and rudd, which pushed the scales to 8 lb 8oz. I had beaten them both, the better sized fish swinging it. We had all caught well on a cold windy day, different baits and methods being rewarded.

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While John and Frank packed up, the last of my bread feed was scraped together in the tray to form two small balls, which were plopped in on a 4 to 5 metre line, followed by my float rig, which was allowed to drift down through the cloud. More bites followed, most two to three ounce silvers, with a few larger specimens.

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This roach had part of a gill cover missing, but was otherwise in perfect condition and fought well. I stopped short of the 30 minutes, as I had used up my punch bread, roach number 140 being my last of the day.

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 Once more the bread punch had more than held it’s own against skilled anglers on the maggot and pinkie.

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Weighing up my final catch I had missed my target  four hour 10 lb weight by a mere 4oz, but feel that the surface of this pond has just been scratched and look forward to the warmer months, when tench, crucians and the mythical koi carp show up.

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