Sunday, 31 May 2020

Tuesday 25th May Coaching Feeder Canal, Wednesday 26th May Fluff Chucking Chew Valley Lake, Sunday 30th May Glossy

Busy week just done on the angling front.

At the end of the pervious week Douglas my 87 year old next door neighbour who always takes an interest in my fishing tales divulged he had a fishing rod and had been out practicing his casting in the back garden! I was totally surprised. He then asked where would be a good place to go fishing?
I soon established that the last time he went fishing was when he was 14, I'll let you do the maths as to how long ago that was.

He went back in the house and brought out his rod which wasn't even new when he got it so goodness knows how old it is. Upon examination I saw that it was solid wood, some kind of dark wood. It was a 3 piece with screw in brass ferrels and weighed a ton. Can't remember the make of the reel, it wasn't too bad but the line was about 15lb test and way below the edge of the spool.
I was going to direct him towards a Commercial but thought the rod would cope with a carp.

I could see that he really wanted to go so suggested a few hours in the evening on the Feeder Canal. I got him a rod licence for the day and put one of my reels on his rod as he wanted to use it for sentimental reasons (think his mum bought it for him). I said I would sort everything else out.

Come the Tuesday he was raring to go and we went into Bristol in separate vehicles. I took my gear but in the end didn't use it as needed to keep an eye on Douglas.
We got to the Bristol Feeder Canal about 5 p.m. and settled down near Manor Scrap. Team mate Leigh Wakefield turned up unexpected and went in above us.

I set Douglas up with a small waggles and plumbed up for him as well as sorting out the rest of his rig. A few small balls of ground bait with dead reds and pinkies went in. I show him how to cast and after missing a few bites he had his first fish, a specimen bleak!

Once I got him to strike correctly i.e. not try to pull the fishes lips off he done OK catching 12 fish and 5 different species (bleak, ruff, perch, roach and dace).

I had to watch him as when he got up out of the chair he still kept going forward!

Well he's ''hooked'' and is going to join the Clevedon Club so looks like I'll be taking him again.

I was up early the following morning (04:45) in order to meet Dan from Cadbury Angling for a bit of Fly Fishing from the bank at Chew Valley Lake.
We met at just after 06:00 and were fishing by 06:30. Fishing Lodge Bank Dan had one about 3rd or 4th cast while I was setting up. 
I had one first cast on a Red Dawl Bach. We stayed on Lodge Bank all morning up until about 11:30 when it got too hot. The fish were just out of range but I managed 4 more as well as this perch up near the jetty.

The perch took a black buzzer

Saturday morning I was swim clearing with a few of the Clevedon Club Committee on the River Kenn and I have to say its looking pretty good.

Sunday I met up with Team mate Chris Hook up on the Glossy to fish Castle Down. We met at 07:00 due to the warm bright forecast. When I parked up DGL's Ruben Guerra had also just arrived.
As always the Canal looked great but a lot of debris on the surface. 

We walked down toward the semi sunken barge. Ruben went in on about peg 425, Chris went on 432 and I went in on 436.

Usual set up and usual baits as the previous 2 weeks. I could see an angler down on 441 where I had fished last week (must have read the blog lol).

It took 40 minutes or so to get the first bite and it was a small skimmer. A roach followed next cast and then another skimmer. Sun became brighter and it switched off.

Swans didn't mind tough and showed off their young, lovely

Feeding very little and sometimes only fishmeal I changed baits between a combination of red worm, fluro pinkie, dead reds and live reds to snare a few more skimmers, baby bream and a proper one.

The guy on 441 came down after packing up at 12:00 and said he only had a hybrid, Ruben came up and reported one bream and a couple of skimmers. Chris had one bream and a few bits.

I ended up best with a double figure bag so looks like the weather put them down or they are beginning to spread out after spawning.

Chris's catch

My bag, not bad given the conditions

Not sure what I am up to fishing wise this week and waiting on a decision as to wether or not the Canal Pairs Qualifiers is on next Sunday up on the Glossy.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Sunday 24th May - Gloucester Canal pleasure session

First of all......

The Clevedon Freshwater Angling Club (of which I am Secretary) managed to hold our first Committee Meeting for a few months via a Webex Call. Not perfect by any means but it was OK and we sorted quite a few things out. We are also on target to offer Club Permits and Day Tickets on line via our Website, should be ready to go within 10 days. We still are putting books in local Tackle Dealers and will be directing people there in the first instance. We are also going to purchase a couple of weighing net cradles as demonstrated by Clint Elliot at White Acres (the clip is on the Catch More Media facebook page. These will help with fish welfare, lifting and handling as well as social distancing.

I also made contact with a couple of Clubs who announced they were permitting the use of keep nets for pleasure fishing. Although it goes against Angling Trust guidance the Canal and River Trust have endorsed their use (not in matches). As a member of the Angling Trust myself I have written to them asking why both organisations are not singing from the same hymn sheet!

On to today........
Team mate Sam Johnson and I arranged a meet up on the Glossy again after having a good day last week. Sam was going up early again and taking Jack his son. He fancied a bit of short pole fishing for the bream.
I left home around 06:45 and got to the bridge on Castle Lane at approx 07:30. No parking places aside the Canal so had to go further up th road. Not much of a problem to be honest as its all flat and as I only had two feeder rods, landing net, feeder arm, plus box, bait bag, carryall and bucket.
As I walked down the Canal there were a number of anglers just past the boats 6 in total and all had keep nets in. I did inform a couple of them that as far as I was aware they were not allowed on the Glossy. Once responded ''I don't give a f**k and the other ''oh ok''. As I walked down further toward the 400's I came across Ruben Guerra a good angler from Diawa Gordon League Team. Ruben was just setting up at peg 400 ish and he confirmed keepnets were not allowed on the Glossy.

I walked on down where I knew Sam would be and soon found him the Gloucester side of the partially sunken barge. He was on the short pole about 9 metres out and said he'd had a couple of proper bream after cupping in 6 balls. He had caught on worm and also put a few bit feeder fulls across on his tip line.

I went the other side of the barge and set up on 441, this has got to be one of my favourite pegs on the canal.

I had already premixed most of a bag of green fishmeal so after adding a bit more water I was ready to go. Bait tray was just some red worms, live red and white maggot, dead reds and dead fluro pinkies. I had a kilo of worm and corn in the bag just in case.

My Feeder rig was the same as last week a B560 to 0.11 and a 25 gram grip mesh feeder. rod was my 12 foot acolyte and I had 0.10 braid.

I was about to start at around 08:45 when I looked down to see Sam with the pole up and bent over. I walked down to take a quick photo, a nice skimmer.

Jack took a photo earlier of one of his Dads bream.....

I went back to my peg to get started and it didn't take long for a bite, about 10 minutes and it was a hybrid of 8oz. Within the first hour I had 3 bream and the bites were not shy.

Sam came up while Jack had a go on his gear just as I netted a fish.

After 3 hours they were really lining up and I was getting loads of liners so stepped up to a 14 hook with double worm. As expected you had to wait a bit longer for a bite but the size of the fish improved and averaged 3 to 4 lbs. 

I didn't feed any worm at all just dead reds and dead pinkie, only about 10 particles per feeder full.

Sam's son Jack was drop shotting but never had anything but he did manage a few skimmers on the pole so well done to him.

Sam went around noon but I stayed on until 14:15 and ended up with 26 bream, 3 skimmers and 2 hybrids so if you average the bream out at 2.5 lbs each it was a decent day and I wasn't fishing hard. 

As I headed back to the van I saw that the other anglers had gone.

Spoke to Sam when got home and he said when he passed Ruben he informed him he had 18 bream.

Giving some coaching to my elderly neighbour down the Feeder Canal in Bristol on Tuesday evening, his rod and reel are 60 plus years old (we will be social distancing and travelling separately).

Wednesday afternoon up at Chew Valley Lake Fly Fishing with Dan from Cadbury Angling. Next weekend probably tench fishing with Sam down in Somerset on the Taunton / Bridgwater Canal for a change.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Wednesday 20th May - 1st Session Chew Valley Lake

Bristol Water opened up their waters the previous Friday. They changed the booking process a few days later to make it easier and simplify the process. It was bank fishing only, which I prefer anyway so booked a ticket for the Wednesday.

I was up early and on Lodge Bank by about 07:15. It was really misty and you couldn't see more than 50 meters out. Only two other anglers who arrived the same time as me.

I still had a few trout in the freezer so opted for barbless hooks and fish catch and release. A buzzer on the point and two Dawl Bachs as droppers, all size 12 hooks.

It took about 20 minutes to get my first fish which was a nice rainbow who took a red Dawl Bach a few meters from the bank. At around 2lbs he went back quickly.

Three more fish followed over the next 90 minutes, all went back.

The sun came out and it became harder. A few more anglers had arrived and there were now 6 of us. At approximately 10:45 I hit a really good fish and it too a while to land it. It measured 22 inches and must have been about 4lbs.

I kept this one as I wanted a whole fish for the BBQ.

Two more pulls and another fish smashed me up so I called it a day at 12:00.

Lovely session and my right arm was aching after that fist session.

Going up the Glossy again on Sunday for the bream.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th May - Bristol Feeder Canal and Gloucester Canal

With fishing being allowed from 13th May I was asked by Team mate Leigh Wakefield if I fancied going to the Bristol Feeder Canal. I did and I didn't ...1, I didn't have any bait and 2, thought it would be busy on the bank so declined. Leigh did go and had a nice day catching well into double figures of bream, skimmers, roach and dace.
I managed to get some maggot on the Friday along with some frozen pinkie so fished the Bristol Feeder Canal on the Saturday morning.

It felt strange to be out and at 06:30 there was only one other angler and his young son who turned up. Took me longer than normal to set up down by Manor Scrap as I went back to the van 3 times to get stuff I forgot. Keep net was left at home.

I was finally ready at 07:30. Usual set up which I have mentioned many times. Ground bait was a nice dark mix, Clive Bransons ''black bream'', gardons, noire and mole hill.
I did not have any caster so put in some micro pellet, dead pinkie and dead reds plus hemp.

After feeding 3 balls on 2 lines I was expecting to catch straight away, I didn't. It took about 30 mins for a bite and it was a small dace.

Long story short...ended up with just 20 fish after 5 hours, best fish was a 8 to 10 oz hybrid and a net roach.

Two anglers walked down from the top end and said it had fished hard all morning. Think it might have got hammered on the Wednesday and Thursday.

I planned to go up on the Gloucester Canal on the Sunday and arranged to meet up with Team mate Chris Hook at the Castle Section, my other Team mate Sam Johnson was also going but early, very early.
I met Chris just before 08:00 and we both walked down toward the 400 range of pegs, takes about 20 minutes tops. As we passed the first pegs past the boats 2 anglers were pole fishing. One had 4 bream, he said he fished the same peg the day before and had about 10lb of skimmers but threw all his leftover bait in before leaving. Both anglers had keep nets in. I did ask why and the replied like I thought they would i.e. what harm is it, it's not a match.

We walked on down toward the sunken barge and just beyond it saw a feeder being cast out. Chris decided to set up on about peg 435, Sam was already on 441 so I went in on 443. The pegs offer a good amount of room from the foot path behind you.
Sam said he cast his first line at around 06:30 and had 3 bream. He had some very small skimmers and roach initially after starting on the bread but switched to fishmeal and dead reds. As I was setting up he was into another bream.

I only set up my 12 foot acolyte rod with a 1.5oz tip, 25 gram cage feeder, B560 16 hook to 0.11.
Ground bait was my favourite green fishmeal.

With just a few dead reds and dead fluro pinkies in the feed and 2 dead reds on the hook I had 3 fish within the first 35 minutes.....

First skimmer

Third fish

As the session went on the fish got bigger...

I ended up with 15 proper bream, 3 skimmers and 2 hybrids for around 40lbs would have been nice to use a keep net but playing by the rules at the moment.

Sam had around 7 or 8 bream, Chris had around 3 proper bream and 10 big skimmers so all in all a good day.

Might go fluff chucking on Wednesday up Chew Valley Lake as it is open now.

Stay safe all.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Lock Down - Salmon and Trout adventures

Well it looks like angling could be allowed all be it on a restricted basis to start with thanks to the efforts of the Angling Trust Team. As part of their campaign they encouraged anglers to write to their MP and made it very easy to do so. I wrote to mine and had a receipt back from his Secretary within a day.  If the Angling Trusts Phase 1 plan is accepted then it's a bit of Fly Fishing for me up on the brilliant Chew Valley Lake which is 20 minutes drive from home.

So with that in mind I thought I would Blog a few of my Game Fishing experiences.........

Apart from my early fishing days as a child in N. Ireland I only took up Fly Fishing about 10 years ago. I bought a rod and reel plus fly line from Cadbury Angling for £135. The line has been replaced but I still use the rod and reel and it is well travelled, more on that later.

First a little bit of Canada....
My wife has family in British Columbia and we have been over there a good number of times. Two of her cousins are mad keen anglers and I have been out with them a few times.
Graham her oldest cousin used to have a Gas Station and Grocery Store with Motor Home hook up's and a Boat Ramp at a place called ''Campbell River'' on Vancouver Island. Graham also had his own boat.

They go out into the sea to fish for salmon but there are also plenty of cod about. The first trip I experienced was something really special. Once in the boat we headed over to an island inhabited by native Indian's who caught and sold small live herrings for fish bait.
Using down riggers we put 2 rods over the side with herrings and fished them about 30 turns deep. No weight on the line, just lightly clipped on the down rigger. This was a whole new experience for me and I was told down hit the first knock as the salmon comes up to the bait, stuns it with it's tail and then turns to take only hit the second bite.

We cruised along close to islands and it was soon pointed out to me a couple of American Bald Headed Eagles were following us along the top of the tree line, what a sight. They follow the fishing boats waiting for anglers to through any unwanted fish back and the swoop down and grab them before the fish fully recover.

The fishing was quite hard that day but we managed two nice Coho Salmon shallowish and then a few cod when we went deeper.

mine went 16lb

cuz Clives was about the same size

We did throw a few small Cod back and sure enough the eagles came down, pics aren't that great but you get the idea....

Another trip out of Campbell River but a different location saw us bag up, the fish were smaller but gave good sport.

I have been back a couple of times with the last 8 years and caught a few more but that first trip with the herrings was the most memorable one.

Getting back to trout on the fly...... It took me a while to get the hang of it as I am self taught. I only Fly Fish about 20 times a year and started off on the Barrow Tanks just outside Bristol. A nice old guy must have took pity on me and gave me a few tips which saw me catch a few rainbows.

I progressed on to Chew Valley Lake also run by Bristol Water, it's huge at 1,200 acres but has an average depth of about 15 foot. I mainly fish from the bank using chest waders but have taken the odd trip out in a boat. It really is a lovely venue with lots of other wild life to be seen. I have had red deer walk behind me, otters swimming close by and seen huge pike cruise in front of me, so close you could almost touch them. There is plenty of bank access and its not expensive.

Chew is a big expanse of water

It can get a bit choppy out in the boat but on this day the fish were ravenous. Loads caught up in the water

If I'm lucky I do get the odd limit bag but to be honest I am the only one who eats them so do a lot of catch and release now.

Another venue I enjoy is Hawkridge Reservoir just outside Bridgwater. Its a lot smaller than Chew at only 32 acres but is very intimate and on a weekday not busy at all. It also offers good bank fishing but you wouldn't want to wade as it's very deep close in. Run by Wessex Water they stock double figure fish and a number of different varieties.

Bottom end of Hawkridge

I have also done a bit of brook trout fishing down in Devon and grayling fishing on the River Ithon in Mid Wales.

And original Fly Rod and Reel travelled to New Zealand in December last year. I went wild brown trout fishing a few times but if I went again I would hire a guide as its very different. I had some success and the best fish was a wild brownie of around 5lbs.

Me with my friends wife Lyn who live in NZ

So... lets see what Boris has to say on Sunday.

Stay safe all.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Lock Down - One of my favourite venues

Well, how's it going everyone .... running out of jobs yet? Personally up until now I have kept fairly active doing my voluntary job, Clevedon Angling Club admin and projects, odd DIY jobs, oh and the wife's green house has arrived ..... a nice challenge from a flat pack kit, but it's raining today so a blog it is.

At this time of the year I am normally fishing the Bristol Feeder Canal which I re-discovered 4 years ago when I took early retirement.

It's not everyones cup of tea due to .....location, surrounding environment and parking (Mon - Fri),
but it offers great fishing in the Spring with roach, bream, skimmers, perch and dace in abundance.

The Feeder Canal is not controlled by any Club, all that's needed is an EA Rod Licence. It's approximately 1 mile long running from Totterdown Basin at one end of Feeder Rd up to Netham Lock at the other end where it meets the tidal Bristol Avon. Due to it being a Canal there is no ''Close Season'' restrictions.

Map showing location of the Canal

The Canal runs alongside Feeder Rd so it's a case of parking on Feeder Rd, over the railing or down a slipway onto a decent width grass towpath. Not all of it is fishable from the road side but in terms of parking and fishing I would suggest the following locations ......
Brandon Tool Hire 72 - 75 Feeder Rd. BS2 0TQ
Manor Scrap 59 - 61 Feeder Rd. BS2 0SH
Kellys Cafe 31 Feeder Rd. BS2 0SE

Netham Lock where the Canal joins the tidal Avon

Middle of the Canal from the Foot Bridge near Brandon Tool Hire down to Totterdown Basin at the end

End of the Canal at Totterdown Basin

Parking during the week is tricky due to the various industries in the area plus some people park on Feeder Rd and walk to Temple Meads Rail Station to avoid parking charges but if you get there by 06:45 it's fine. After 17:00 in the evening is fine as is Saturday and Sunday.
Under normal circumstances Kelly's Cafe opens at 07:00 during the week and does a great breakfast.

The Canal width is on average 14 metres but can be as narrow as 11 metres in places, average depth is 5 foot. The depth is fairly even all the way across. There is a nice bit of flow most of the time but it can vary due to activity down in Bristol Harbour and the Lock at Netham. I believe an ''operation known as scouring'' which is carried out once a month were by the flow is allowed to increase at a fast pace in order to flush away silt and it lasts about 2 hours.

Boat traffic is generally low with just the odd rower, canal barge or pleasure craft. It is regularly patrolled by the Bristol Harbour Master.

There are vast shoals of roach and bream in Bristol Docks, during the spring they move up into the Canal to spawn probably due to more weed and less salt content in the water. Some will move back into the Docks but you can still catch them up until September. Dace seem to be prominent all year round.

My preferred method on the Canal is the pole. It's not complicated and a 1 gram to 1.5 gram float will cover most situations. A number 3 or 4 solid elastic is ideal, main rig line of 0.11 and a hook length of 0.09 or 0.08 to a wide gape 20 or 18 completes the set up. There are very few snags in the Canal.

I normally set up 2 lines, 6 metre and 11 metres. Cupping in at the start with a couple of balls dark ground bait laced with dead reds, dead pinkie and caster is what I usually and then topping up depending on how the session goes. Sometimes you need to feed hard balls to get through the dace. 

Allowing the rig to run through if the flow is slow works fine but holding it still or back is better. When the bream and skimmers are in the peg then a small piece of worm gets the better fish.

Here are some photo's from sessions last year.......

Keep your gear parallel to the bank as there is the odd dog walker

Lovely days skimmer fishing

Angling friend Geoff Mortimer from Gloucester

Team mate Mike Martin


Team mate Leigh Wakefield

Full details of my sessions on the Canal are on this Blog. I bumped into an angler from Castle Carey last year who came up to fish it after reading about it here.

I hope I can get on the Canal in the not to distant future, decision on allowing pleasure fishing coming soon following the Angling Trust submitting a plan to the Government.

In the meantime stay safe all.

Friday, 17 April 2020

Lock Down - My First Angling Club

Well with another 3 weeks of lock down announced yesterday and I fear there's more to come its going to be a while before we get back out fishing so here's another blog.......

I have been fishing for over 50 years now and if you count my membership of Sensas Nomads Match Group as a Club then I have only been a member of 4. I have very recently written blogs about Bristol P O and Clevedon Clubs so this one is about my first one, Gilford Angling Club.

Gilford in Co. Down Northern Ireland is where I grew up. It's a small village and at that time had a population of about 2000. There was a huge Spinning Mill which employed hundreds of people from a wide area making quality linen.

A lot of my family worked in the Mill before it closed. You didn't need a watch in them days as the Mill Horn was sounded at 07:30 calling the workers for an 08:00 start, then again when it was 13:00 informing them it was lunch time, 13:30 to let them know they had 30 minutes left and then again at 17:00 as it was home time.  My mother won a holiday to Spain for good time keeping around 1970. 

On the edge of the village there was the remains of a World War 2 German Prisoner of War camp which housed about 1,800.

If memory serves me right there were 5 places of worship, 2 Primary Schools, a Post Office, Hardware Store, Garage, Bookies, Funeral Directors, 2 Chemists, Police Station, Doctors, Blacksmiths and a few small Grocery Shops plus 6 pubs. It was located more or less halfway between Banbridge and Portadown and the Upper River Bann ran through it.

I started fishing around 10 years old with my younger brother and we progressed from a bamboo pole's to 6 foot fibre glass rods with a proper reels but still quite crude. As Dad had to take us he got into the sport as well.

The village had an Angling Club which had the fishing rights to about no more than 3 miles of the Upper Bann and also owned the rights to Kernan Lough which was trout only.
The Upper Bann in those days was primarily a game fishery, wild brown trout, salmon and dollagan (which are a variety of trout only found in Lough Neagh) had runs up the river to spawn at certain times of the year. Although there were lots of pools and rapids there were deep glides as well and you could catch perch, odd bream and pike, this was before the roach explosion on the Bann.

The bridge going over the Upper Bann in the village

We joined the Club, it was free for under 15's and didn't cost Dad that much, probably a £1 in those days. Most of the members Fly Fished with great skill and you would often see men at the weekend or after work in the summer walking through the village with a ready made up Fly Rod, Landing Net and a Canvas Bag over their shoulder.
Paddy Owens was the man in them days, great angler using a 10 foot split cane rod, walked everywhere.

My brother Leslie and I with a pike

The Club held a few competitions between 1st March and 31st October as that was the fishing season on their waters. It was a pretty informal affair. The Club nominated a "Captain of the Day" who would take charge of proceedings etc. We would meet at Fox's Pub near the town bridge to register and then off you would go, anywhere you wanted on the river. Prize's were for heaviest trout, heaviest bag of trout and heaviest pike. There was also the same prizes for the juniors and Dad donated one of his old Dart Cups as an annual junior prize.

I mentioned that it was pretty informal, well it was. Dad took us home for dinner during the competition and then back out again in the afternoon!

We just had the spinning rods so ended up using mepps, a gold one with black spots seemed to work well or just ledgering some worms.
I do remember one year I caught a lovely brown trout of around 2lbs in the morning and Dad having to drag me back home for dinner, didn't want to leave the bank and must have ate my dinner in record time. I did win a prize that day which got me well and truly hooked.

Unfortunately you had to kill your catch and bring it back to Fox's Pub for weighing at the end of the day. The adults would have a beer and we would have the bottle of lemonade and bag of crisps, lovely days.

The Club also held a few competitions on Kernan Lough which was stocked with rainbow and brown trout. It was an any method lake except no live bait e.g. worms. We used spinners or bubble floats with a string of flies on droppers which were quite successful much to the annoyance of the true Fly Fisherman.

Kernan Lough was about 3 miles outside the village so one of Dad's friends who had an old mini made 2 trips to take us up there. I remember one completion when I caught 2 rainbow trout within a few casts of each other on a mepp and never had another fish all day. To my surprise it was enough to come 2nd overall but 1st in the juniors.

My brother and I swimming in Kernan Lough

Once we both learned to swim we were allowed to go fishing on our own. I fondly remember long summer days when we would go out in the morning with nothing but a jam jar full of worms and Mum wouldn't see us until we were hungry.

Our dog "Lucky' was always with us

The Club also went down to Lough Muckno in Castleblaney which is over the border in Co. Monaghan for a few pike fishing competitions. I ended up in the local Doctors once when my foot went under a tractor wheel . The tractor was blocking our way out and a few of us were trying to push it to one side, luckily no broken bones. 

I loved that Club and it brought the community together even if it was only on the bank.

Stay safe all.