Friday, 7 December 2012

All over now....

That’s it, I’m done now….my 4th blank in succession last weekend and with no more free weekends between now and Christmas I think that is my season effectively over!
I was sure I was going to catch on Saturday to, I wasn’t too optimistic when I headed down to Dorset on Saturday morning but when I arrived at the mark I saw an unexpectedly large swell rolling in (the costal report said <1m but this was nearer 2m), creating lots of fizz and white water and with the perfect “tinge” to the sea. That coupled with the perfect state of tide had me full of confidence but after three hours of flogging the water for only one touch, no other signs of fish and the best of the tide gone I gave up.

I’m a bit disappointed not to have managed a single fish in November and now it’s looking like a December blank as well, that’s bought a flat and early end to what has otherwise been a pretty decent season for me.
Overall though, I can’t complain too much, I beat my target of 50 fish, caught more fish on surface and soft plastic lures than previous years and had a couple of 5lb + fish so met most of my objectives… my complaint about myself this year is that I wasn’t adventurous enough with my marks and didn’t really fish anywhere new…. So that will be my objective for next year…find and fish at least 5 new spots (or at least put some time into learning spots I have only tried once to twice before). The other negative of the season has been the weather…. Quite simply it has been crap all year and I have never known so much rain and shitty winds…I can’t do anything about that though except keep my fingers crossed for better next summer.

There not much other fishing to look forward now either, the local cod fishing is hard work with very few 3-6lb class fish around, some bigger fish are being caught but naturally those are fairly hard to come by so are going to the dedicated few who really put the hours in. Still, maybe I’ll have a crack for one over xmas.
So that’s it…game over and time to get on out on the Mountain Bike again, I need to regain the fitness I have lost over the last 6 months and shed a couple of pounds to!

End of year stats below….

Saturday, 24 November 2012

November update

Been a little while since my last update and I’ve had mixed success since my last report. First up though is a new rod. Having broken two Megabass rods in the last month, I decided not to risk it for a third time so as a replacement I sourced instead this Graphite Leader beauty from the Art of Fishing….an Angento Nouvo 932m.
I won’t bother writing a full review on it as Henry Gilbey has done a far better job of this than I ever could HERE. Suffice to say the rod is a completely different feel to the Megabass it replaces, it has much faster action and is more steely and robust.  More like a Tenryu than a JDM style but does not feel over-gunned for my fishing like some of the longer Tenryu’s.  Still if you like the Tenryu feel but want something 9ft + and a little lighter than say a Rodbar 270 or Ultimate One then I can highly recommend this baby. One word of warning though, the butt it quite short and some people will not like this so definitely try and pick one up for a waggle first.

On to the recent fishing then, I followed up on the last session in Dorset with another productive one, bagging up on 11 fish again, I tried to add a bit of variety to the lures but ended up with this year’s tops lures doing the damage still and the fish being shared across my Shoreliner Shiner R50+, Savagear Sandeels and the Sammy (now officially my best top water lure).
Since then I’ve struggled with time but managed two short trips to an estuary system which have both resulted in blanks, I wouldn’t mind but my mate has been hammering this mark with up to 15 fish a session, on the last one we stood two yards apart up to our waists in water in he caught 5 whilst I remained fishless…frustrating!!!

Then finally, another trip to Dorset this weekend resulted in a further blank, despite being there for daybreak and perfect conditions I did not see a sign of any fish activity. So that’s three blanks in a row now, never a good sign as the season draws to close, I think it will be very hard going from now on.
Another frustration is a guided boat trip I have had booked since the summer was cancelled (due to bad weather) for the 2nd time last weekend, hopefully I’ll get this in before the end of the year but water temps are dropping fast now unlike this time last year and the end of the season is looming!

Monday, 22 October 2012

22nd October - Breaking rods, losing fish and a decent session…

Well September/early October has turned into a dire period, through a combination of work/weather/a nasty infection and having a new kitchen and bathroom installed at home I have only managed two sessions in the last 6 weeks. On the first I landed one schooly before losing two decent fish, the first of which was an absolute cracker. This fish hit my lure on the surface before I started retrieving so I got a good look at it as it smashed into my lure before it dived and took me to ground.  
The second trip was total disaster, as having driven for 70 miles and walked another 30 minutes to the mark on the first cast there was a gunshot like crack and the tip of my Megabass exploded into 4 sections! I’ve never seen a break like this with the rod breaking at multiple points simultaneously...bizarre
I then walked 30 minutes back to the car and drove the 70 miles home pretty pissed off!

Still to be fair to the retailer, they refunded my money with no quibbles (they did not have a replacement in stock) and I managed to secure a replacement from an alternative source.

So onto this Saturday morning and with a window of weather and family opportunity and armed with a new replacement Megabass XO Shadow 96ML I headed down to Dorset. Unusually there was someone on my chosen spot but I started of further into the bay and 1st cast…fish on, nailing my Sammy. This was the start of my best session of the year, as over the next two hours I landed a further 10 bass + numerous mackerel, most of which came on my new favourite lure, the Shoreline Shiner R50+.

No great size with the average fish being around 1.5lb and the biggest around 2.5lbs but still good fun with all the fish in fat fighting condition and stuffed to the gills with small sprats which they were feeding on.
With still plenty of time before I needed to leave, and the best part of the tide still to come I was looking forward to having a real red-letter day as they were still feeding hard when I heard another gunshot like crack. This time the rod seemed to be OK but on closer inspection I saw the blank had cracked about 6 inches up from the spigot on the tip section….so that was that, game over.  I packed up and headed home. I suppose I should be pleased as I managed a few fish before the rod went but I have to say I’m distinctly unimpressed having this model of rod break on me twice now, when casting lures not particularly hard and well under the stated 35g max weight.

So another rod to go through the hassle of returning, I shan’t be getting another one of these though. This time I will take a refund and look for another brand/model as, much as I liked the Megabass, I have now lost total confidence in the quality of them.


Monday, 3 September 2012

1st September - Some days they just don't want it...

I fished Dorset on Saturday afternoon, and endured what must have been my most frustrating lure session ever. Conditions were nice with an overcast sky, lightish winds and a small clean swell rolling in. I arrived pretty much on low water and fished the tide up for 5 hours.
During the first four hours I had countless fish follow my lure, including a couple of really decent ones but whatever I did I could not induce a take. I went through my entire soft and hard lure collection, fished at all speeds from just drifting in the current to cranked in at warp speed but they just wouldn’t take it.

As it went into evening I started to get the odd gently pluck, but still nothing too firm before I finally snagged one on a Savagear Sandeel. Even this fish had about 4 attempts before it was eventually hooked.
Then that was it, it may have improved had I stayed into darkness but I was fished out by this point so headed home to think about what I’d done wrong.

I’ve still not figured this out though, I saw more fish and bait activity today than I had ever seen previously here but I guess they just weren’t that switched on.
I’m one fish short of last year’s total now…so hopefully I’ll beat it soon. The forecast is set fair for a week or so now so I should get down to my “big fish” mark over the weekend….hopefully it will live up to my billing!

Oh yeah, I also managed to catch a Pollack that was quite honestly, smaller than the lure it took…what was it thinking??!!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

15th August - Update and a nice fish

I've had several trips in the last few weeks, fishing has been fairly slow, with just one or two small fish after dark so nothing really to shout (or write) about.

Still, catching is better than blanking so I won't complain and things picked up a little last Friday evening as the combination of some (warm at last) settled weather and small tides gave me the opportunity to fish one of my favorite spots which for the best part of this year has been too coloured up.

Very calm seas and nice clear water greeted my arrival, and lots of surface activity so things were looking good.

I'm not sure what fish were hitting the surface though, they weren't mackerel or garfish and I had lots of bumps (virtually every cast) without hooking up, my guess is thin lip mullet but they could have something else like herring or scad perhaps...anyway they looked between 0.5lb and 1.5lb and were proving very frustrating so after half an hour or so I stopped trying to catch them, put on a larger lure and started fishing for what might want to eat them!

This was a good call as almost immidiately I had a proper hit and really good fight later put this 63cm (6lbish) bass on the rocks...shortly followed by another smaller one.

Great result and as this is a mark that tends to produce decent fish rather than high numbers I quit whilst I was ahead and enjoyed a nice pint of thatchers in the nearby pub rather than fishing into dark.

Good to get my best fish of the year so far though...oh and test out the new Caldia on a proper fish. Out again this weekend weather permitting so hopefully something else worth reporting!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

New Rod Christened!

First update for a little while, sorry for the delay. Just to close off on the Cornish Lure Festival, suffice to say I caught a few fish, but didn’t win! That honour went to local angler Craig Russell with a magnificent 10lb 4oz fish! A great weekend though and I’m already looking forward to next years….big up Art of Fishing for putting this on!
Since then I’ve had a bit of a “firesale” of some tackle to raise funds for a couple of new purchases, the first of which arrived on Friday…a 9’6’’ Megabass XOR Shadow XX 8-32g. I’d been hankering over a new 9’6 rod for a while now, the Red Dragon, whilst fun to build was not cutting it for me as fishing tool and was simply to powerful for what I want from a rod.
So, after making a shortlist of replacements rods, this came out 2nd but after failing to be able to source the rod I really wanted from Japan (at least not in my impatient timescales) I ordered the above.
So on to Saturday and a trip down to Dorset to give it its first test. Thankfully, summer appears to have arrived at last, so glorious sunshine and crystal clear calm seas greeted me. Not the best conditions but after weeks of wind and rain I didn’t care it was just lovely to be out by the sea in the sun. The tide was low and flooding when I arrived at my first mark. My strategy for dealing with the bright conditions was to try and get a reaction bite, so Chartruse based lures and fast retrieves were the plan and on with a Zonk in “hot shad” to kick off.
My first impressions of the rod were that it was a bit heavy, but in fairness it’s not really, it’s just I am used to my 8ft Branzino which is feather light so anything feels heavy after that!
Casting wise, the more progressive JDM style action of the rod took a little getting used to, but I soon had it sorted and was firing the lure out nicely. Actually casting with the rod is a real pleasure, you just need to let the rod load and do the work which makes for easy effortless casts. Distance wise they were a little up on what I can normally achieved with my 8ft rod, but nothing to shout about until I put on a Tide Minnow 140, which really flew out, a good 20 yards + on my normal efforts. The rod also made easy work of a Patchinko and it was simple enough to work surface lures effectively.
The rod struggled when it came to fishing soft plastics “HRF” style, the additional length and lack of feel and balance point well forward of the reel made it a not very pleasant experience, but to be fair it’s not really designed for this sort of fishing and that’s not why I bought it.
Overall I’m really happy with the rod, it does exactly what I was after and all in all it’s a very good tool for fishing HP’s that’s will cope with all conditions without being overly powerful. I do particularly like this JDM style action on a rod I’ve decided, the action is more forgiving than some of the “Euro” top end rods and it make playing fish an absolute dream.
Talking of fish, I did manage a couple, or 5 to be precise two at dusk on a Sammy and three after dark on a Komomo II of Joker FP. Again I’m learning the lesson that it really pays to fish into darkness during these summer months, I must do more of it!
I forgot to mention my other purchase, a Diawa Caldia 2500 reel which I haven't tried this yet. Until this point I have been a sworn 8ft rod + shimano reel man so I’ve broken all my own rules with these buys, hopefully the reel will be a similar success to the rod!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

4th July - Holiday update

What has happened to our summer? I feeling pretty cheated now and getting really fed up of constant strong SW winds and endless rain!

I'm into the 2nd week of my holiday now, and with the weather being so poor its put a bit of a dampner on the fishing side of things but I've made it out a couple of times and found the odd fish, nothing to shout about though and it continues to be hard going.

Off to Cornwall on Friday for the Cornish Lure Festival, the forecast is OKish at the moment so hopefully it'll be a nice weekend with plenty of good fish caught (not least by me!).

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Update 6th June...hard going

I’ve had three trips out in the last week and I have to say it’s been pretty tough going, last weekend I fished the west side of Portland for the first time. Access to this area is not for the faint hearted (or unfit) and once down on the rocks the sheer size of the boulders makes moving around and finding decent fishing platforms pretty tricky. This is certainly an area I will be revisiting though, as I’m sure it has good potential, particularly as a HW mark but I wont be going back until I have some rubber soled boots as the hike down is pretty hairy in felt soles!
On the day though fishing was slow, there were a few fish around as I had a few follows and plucks but they seemed quite tentative. I eventually hooked a small fish that came off in close and I gave up at sundown as I didn’t fancy negotiating the path back up in the dark.
This weekend and bank holiday I took advantage of the time off to get a couple of trips in to my more regular haunt, Friday was bassless but I had a few Pollack and wrasse to show then on Monday I fished for 5 hours and into darkness before eventually snagging a small bass on a Sammy. So that’s my first fish off the top for the year and my first on a Sammy which is already my favourite topwater lure now.
I’ve not just been fishing though, I’ve also spent a bit of money in the last week on a few bits and bobs, including:
Costa Del Mar glasses - £150 is A LOT of money to spend on a pair of fishing shades so are they worth it? I’m not sure really, the lenses are great (I bought amber ones), colours contrast amazingly and they make fish spotting easier, but given I am not really sight fishing the overall benefit is limited so in short, I’m glad I have them, I like them but if I lost them tomorrow I’d probably revert back to normal cheaper polarized shades (like my Sainsbury’s ones I was wearing before).
Snowbee sling bag – Brilliant, why did I not get one sooner?
Scierra C4 waders – Comfy and don’t leak, that’s a good start but lets see how long they last before I pass judgement!
So the overall “bass to cash” ratio of the last week puts me definitely back in the category of all the gear no idea but with two weeks off looming at the end of the month culminating in the Cornish Lure Festival I’m looking forward to putting that right!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Dorset 18th May

Has it really been two months since my last post? Well work and weather had pretty much put pay to all my efforts to get out over the last couple of months, except one aborted trip which turned into a “recce” of a new area rather than a serious trip. To be honest though I don’t think I missed much as the reports from all areas suggested the fishing has been slow to get going so far this spring.

Still, over the last week or so, the weather, the fishing appear to have dramatically improved, so with a well earned day off I packed my gear and headed down to Dorset.  Conditions on arrival looked good, with just the faintest of tinges to the water clarity. The tides were less promising however as I would be fishing over high and the first couple of hours down, never the best state of tide for this mark but nevertheless I started off full on confidence and pleased to be out fishing. 

After half an hour of no interest though, my mind started to wander so I switched from the hard’s to an xlayer with a view to bagging a wrasse and at least avoiding a blank. I had a couple of casts with a few tentative plucks before a decent take which I stuck into and the rod hooped over. I always have the drag tightened right up when HRF’ing but this fish took a good 10 yards against this drag in its’ first run and I soon realised it was no wrasse but nice bass. A couple of minutes later and this was on the shore coming in at 59cm and around 5lb….great result and that was me well pleased. 

No more fish showed to this method though so back on the hard’s (a mullet feed shallow to be precise) and in a flurry of activity I landed two small fish, lost another and missed a couple of takes before it went quiet again. Then an hour so later just as I was thinking of packing up I tried a few casts with a Savagear Sandeel and quickly had two more fish to around 2.5lbs. 

So overall a cracking session and one that gets my season underway properly…. I’m really looking forward to the next few months now with work easing off and the house chores done I should be able to get out much more often than of late!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

24th March - Dorset blank

Just a quick update on progress, I've finished the rebuild of my Tenryu so I took for a test drive down to Dorset on Saturday afternoon. It was an absolutely beautiful day, more June like than mid March but no bass wanted to play ball.

Still it was nice to give the rod a workout, or more truthfully the rod gave me a workout, its an absolute beast! It shows hows lure tackle has progressed over the last few years, when this rod came became available in the UK it was being touted as the best lure rod around, but now after a couple of years of using 8ft fairy wands, this felt really long and heavy. Still it will chuck a lure a long way so useful for those days when conditions are really bad (or good, if you're a bass!).

I'm pretty happy with the build though, it was interesting to do and although far from perfect I learnt a lot and reckon I could do a really top job next time so I think I'll buy myself another "project" at some point. There's a few pics of the finished job below.

No fishing for a couple of weeks due to kids birthdays etc, so by the time I get our again water temp should be back up to 10 degrees and the bass should back properly so hopefully no more blanks to report!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

10th March - The season starts here!

Well with a lovely spring day forecast, I decided to forego the plaice fishing and as normal, went for the lures instead, so a trip down to Dorset was in order. It really was a gorgeous day, I love the first trip of spring and feeling the suns warmth again after winter. Summers on its way and its all good from here on in! Anyway I went for my usual spot to start the season as timing of the big spring tide was perfect for here. I arrived about three hours before low, just as the flow was picking up.

Three hours later I got my first of the season, not a monster but that's me off and running. Last year I really struggled early season so it was nice to get the first one under my belt. Taken on one of last years favorites...the komomo II in Joker FP.

The rod build is coming on, I've nearly finished varnishing the blank now. This has been a bit of a faff as I've tried a couple of techniques. I think a rod turner would really help but without one of these its been tricky to get a decent finish, but after a couple of experiments I think I've got there. A few evenings on the rings this week and it should be finished for next weekend...hopefully I'll get out to give it a bash.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

W'gwan....rod building!

Well it’s been a while…but my two month winter break is coming towards its end and I think the first lure trip of the “season” is just around the corner. Water temps are on the way up and I’ve seen reports of bass being caught pretty much all the way through the winter so it definitely worth a try now.
 Not many new additions have been added to the lure box over the winter as I’m sticking with my principles of keeping the numbers of lures I own to manageable levels (a deliberately vague description to still allow for those impulse buys though!).
One nice new one however, which I’m looking forward to using is this Feed Shallow 128 in a white/pearl colour. I love pearl lures and don’t own many so this was a welcome addition to the armoury.

There has been 1 major addition as well, a Tenryu Red Dragon Express, I swapped this for my old 8ft Rod Bar which had been usurped by an 8ft Branzino and so was unlikely to get much use.
I was after a longer rod for those days when casting distance is a bit more important and I think the RDE (which was one of the first Tenryu’s available over here and helped spark the “red rod” boom), will be just the ticket. The rod was pretty well used when I got, with the blank being touched up here and there with red paint. My original plan was to have the rod professionally rebuilt, however with my preferred builder being a bit snowed under it was going to be a three month wait. That’s just too long for a man of my impatience so I have decided to embark upon a bit of project and rebuilt it myself. I’ve replaced a couple of rings in the past but rebuilding a complete rod is a first for me so it could be a bit of challenge.
I’ve made a start, the first job is to remove the rings and strip away the red paint and give the rod a new identity! It’s slow going but coming away fairly easily and so far I have not trashed the blank! I did think about using a paint stripper to do this but was unsure if this would damage the blank so I decided to err on the side of caution and am using a sharp modelling knife.
At this stage I am not going to replace the reel fitting or foam grips. I really like the look of the Matagi range of fittings and would love to kit it out with those but mainly because I can’t quite figure out their website and am again because I am too impatient to wait for delivery from Japan I’m leaving this for now…I can always go back to it later.
I’ve ordered rings, whippings and varnishes though. Varnishing the blank neatly could be tricky but I’ve read a few tips on line and have a plan. I’ll take some photos of the build process as I go through it but for now, this is progress to date.

Hopefully the blog will see some more frequent action again now, I never did make it out for those winter cod and the fishing in the Bristol Channel has died right off so that’s that until next autumn. There’s always talk of a spring run but unless you can be bothered to get hold of peelers (which I can’t!) it never amounts to much. There are reports of plenty of plaice from Chesil though so I might just sneak one of those out before getting the lures wet again…we’ll see.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Happy New Year and off to a good start! - 8th January

I had planned to go cod fishing today, I had bought the bait, sorted out the gear and re-spooled my multipliers, tide looked good and the local fishing has been brilliant, with lots of cod in the 5-8lb range coming out, game on.

But with the first break in the weather and an easing wind for what feels like weeks, at the last minuite I decided I couldn't resist the opportunity for some clean water and a spot of winter plugging, so the bait stayed in the freezer and I headed to Dorset instead.

The water temperature is still at 10 degrees and I'd seen reports of quite a few fish recently, so I was quietly optimistic. On the downside I was heading to a mark that fished better on the ebb and I was going to arrive around low water.

Anyway, onto the mark and conditions looked good, the water had just a hint of colour and a little movement. Confidence wains quickly in January though and after 20 minutes or so I was just starting to think about those cod when on. A short fight and this one safely landed, taken on a Daiwa Shoreline in Chart/rainbow (a great little lure this, runs really shallow like a feed shallow but casts a little better).

Now I've fished this area a lot in summer, and over the low water period there is normally a lot of weed around which limits the areas you can effectively fish, but whether it was the recent storms or just a winter thing I don't know but most of the kelp had gone which really opened up where you could cast here and about an hour after low I was working the lure across a boulder reef that would previously been "out of bounds" when this fish hit, taken on a mullet feed shallow.

Confidence was sky high now and two more fish followed, both really wanting the feed shallow, the last one putting up a really good fight for it's size.

So I packed up around 3pm, all in all a great session, firstly because any lure caught bass in January is to be welcomed but also because it was nice to catch 4 fish on the flood on a mark I had previously put down as an ebb tide only venue.

The only downside was the presence of a small boat gillnetting, I watched it set one about 50 yards uptide from me and another further down and on the walk back to my car I watched checking another couple. A couple of weeks of this sort of activity could have a real negative effect on the local stocks :-(