Sunday, 8 March 2015

Dodging the Deluge

I'm blogging a month behind I'm afraid, and not just because I'm being lazy. It's very sad when others take your information and use it for their own gain, very sad indeed, but that's where we're up to and so I'll be delaying my reports for the foreseeable future.

Last month saw the river up and down a fair bit. In the past I wouldn't have bothered making the long journey there if I wasn't too sure how the level would be but these days I'm comfortable travelling whatever the weather. Two things have brought this about really, I've joined several clubs that have stretches of the river in different places and I've found that I can catch the pike even in coloured water on lures, more about that later.

I have a total of 40 miles of riverbank that I have access to now and the uppermost stretch is some 50 miles away from the lowest one so it's often the case that I can find a bit of river where the conditions are good, even though other parts of the river might be on the rise or heavily coloured. This hasn't been cheap, I'm paying many hundreds of pounds for my fishing now but I feel it's justified and after all, you can't take it with you. Several times this season I've fished one stretch of river one day and then driven for an hour or so to fish a different stretch the next, finding good conditions at both and catching more fish as a result.

One such trip brought some good fortune when I fished the lower river, picking up only one fish as the conditions there were deteriorating as the river started to rise and to colour up but then switched to the upper river next day where it was starting to fall. There, I had three nice doubles, all from the same swim. Both stretches of river were more coloured than I would normally like but this season I've been using spinnerbaits to great effect, catching even with visibility down to less than a foot.

The spinnerbaits I've been using are Northland's "Booty Call" baits. These have a high volume Flashabou skirt and spoon shaped colorado blades which have a real lumpy action to them. It's this lumpy action that makes the difference, the pike can't see the lures but they can feel the vibration they give off and so home in on them. Lure fishing in coloured water requires a different mindset too though, it isn't sufficient to fish a swim for a short time and then move on as I would with swimbaits, every inch of water has to be covered if you're going to catch.

Pike don't move around much in coloured water, they stay put and they stay in touch with the riverbed as this gives them a reference point. It must be a bit like venturing out on a lake in a boat in fog, you stay close to the shore so that you can tell where you are and where you're going, move away from the shore and you become lost very quickly. The pike can feel the vibration from the lures but they have trouble homing in on them so you have to get that lure close to the fish if they are going to take it. I think nothing of fishing a good swim for up to an hour in dirty water and every cast is fished as tight to the bottom as I can, searching out the two dimensions of the riverbed until the lure encounters a fish.

That trip produced my best fish of the winter (at the time), a 25lb 13oz beauty which took a firetiger spinnerbait virtually under the rod tip. I recognised the fish as one which I caught last winter at 20lb 15oz and you may think that's an exceptional weight gain in one year but it isn't really as the fish last season were in terrible condition due to the prolonged flooding we had had. I've put up two pictures of the pike, one from this year and one from last so that you can draw a comparison. I don't like getting repeat captures, I've already moved off one stretch because I was catching the same fish over and over and I think I'll have to move off this stretch as well now. Some people don't do that of course, they keep flogging away at the same swims and the same fish for years, building up a tally of twenties they can brag about - that's not for me!

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