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Brian Holland Coarse Lure

The Nine Pit Challenge

Well after a night carp fishing which I caught a couple at stupid o’clock in the morning, I had already decided to make the Sunday a perch session on the lake. As I was packing up a knew I need content for a blog, why not turn this into a challenge.  On the club waters I was at has nine pits. So, I decided I need to catch at least one fish from each lake. So, starting at seven in the morning and having to get away at two in the afternoon, I had seven hours to catch from nine lakes ‘simples’.

As I was going for Perch originally on the day, I decided to stick with them in hope that they would be in all the pits. My weapon of attack for this would be my six foot 0.5-to-6-gram rod, 1000 reel loaded with 5lb braid and a 4lb fluorocarbon leader with a size 6 Gamakutsu 325 hook and a 1-gram weight on a Texas set up.  I went small as size was not going to be an issue in what I had challenged myself to do. In fact, I hoped that it would help. First lure of choice was a Gunki Tispy lure.

rod

Bear with me on this as the pits will be out of order and there is no pit 7.

My starting point was pit 9, I had fished for perch and caught out of here before, the lake is shallow full of weed and with lilies at one end, I started walking around casting on the margin’s deep spots and through the holes in the weed. Always the way is that it is full of small carp that were cruising the surface and making their way to the sunny end of the lake where all the lilies are. Typical I am not carp fishing and they must know it. Anyway, after a frustrating half an hour and no fish I moved to the second pit.

pit 9

Pit 5 is the next one to pit 9. This is extremely small and an underarm cast you could cover the lake. At about four to five foot deep and has cut away trees and large roots going into it, these were my first port of call. Dropping the lure in on the first retrieve I had a knock, second cast a large knock but no take at this point I decided to remove the tail of the lure just in case it was too large and quickly has a take that fought and then fell off.  I moved slight around the corner and casting against some reed and a hit on the drop. This time no mistake and the first perch and the first pit down. One hour down six hours to go.

5 perch

Pit 4 was next along, this is u-shaped and just solid with weed and again the carp were cruising through the upper layers, with two lakes with carp cruising I should have gone back to the car and got out the stalking rod with some bread crust, but I did not. So, after about twenty minutes I went onto the next pit, to returning later thinking I would get as many pit’s out of the way quickly.

Pit 2 is just a small bowl that has weed and swims that need repair, not actually sure if anyone fishes it, had a few casts but did not get the feeling that there was fish in there. So on to the next one.

pit 2

Pit 1. This is the main carp lake of the complex with weed around all the margins but clear in the open water, at one end there are some snag’s, so I headed there first. Nothing hit the lure, so I started heading around the lake trying all the margins. Getting frustrated I pulled off and headed back to Pit 4.

Once back at pit four, I decided to drop the lure in between the weed and the edge and blow me got hit and taken by a little fellow, so with two and quarter hours of fishing I had two fish. Woohoo. Now I headed over to Pit 8 which I believed would have been the hardest pit.

perch

Pit 8. This is a large reservoir that is just clogged up with weed, down the far end there is a little inlet that has a few snags to cast at, so I was hopeful a nicking one there. First cast snagged on the retrieve at about a foot out, it started moving slowly as a small branch appeared slowly into view. At this point intuition played a vital role as I had the urge to flick my head to the right as the hook hold gave way at the rig flew past my head imbedding itself into the hood of my coat. Wow that close to another hospital trip. The hook snapped as I removed it from the coat, so I had to re rig my set up. Now I downsized the hook to an 8 and put on an FFS finesse lure. I moved a couple of swims down and caught another little fellow. So, at three hours in I had three fish. On to the next pit.

weed

Pit 3. This is a small pit which predominantly is carp but the day before I had a few knocks on the lure rod so I headed to the spot by a few lilies to see if I could nick one, after half an hour and one knock I trudged off to pit 6.

Pit 6 being a long pit which has a few lilies at one end and a small reed bed the other I headed for the lilies first, had nothing so I went to the reeds and again I had nothing. Time was now really against me, but I was to have a bit of luck as the morning had been sunny, but it was now clouding over and a little bit of drizzle. With this I headed to the last lake that I had not visited which is a small reservoir with and island where I had carp fished the night before.

I cast close to some snags and got a hit and bought the little devil to the surface and to the bank so that was four banked only five to go.

With a bit of hope and with only one and a half hours to go I went back to pit 3, again to the spot by the lilies and after a few casts I had another hit followed by another on the bank. With a spring in my step, I went back to pit 6 to the lilies again and bagged another.

I was now with fifty minutes to go and three fish to conquer. So back to pit 1 and the snags and the weed. I was now just dropping the lure in between the weeds in hope a bite and after a few sessions of removing loads of weed from the lure I had another take.  I was now down to half and hour with two perch to go.

perch 8

Back to pit 2 and casting into the snags dropping it through the weed time was running short, then I had a knock, so I recast and bought the lure back through the same part of the water and this time it was taken. So, I only had one fish to go and ten minutes left.

pit 5

I ran to pit 9 to where this all began and started casting in the weed around the snags. I had a take I was going to do this but unfortunately it came off in the fight, I believe that it was not on the hook and only had the tail.  So, I failed my challenge but what an enjoyable way to spend so time.

Maybe next time I will set up various rods to target various species.

This is all good practice for the #uklureseries that I have entered.

Tightlines to all

#the _bridge_troll

Categories
Guest

LRF – Flounder On A Bladed Jighead

Flounder just epitomise LRF (Light Rock Fishing) to me… Quirky looking, surprisingly aggressive and fight so well on light tackle. Knowing that they start to come back from spawning in May, could I catch an early one? A trip to Cornwall was on the cards…

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One of the most entertaining LRF target species.

Flounder return from their spawning grounds in deeper water, hungry and aggressive. They have successfully served their purpose for another year and spend the rest of spring and summer building back up their fat reserves. Although they aren’t traditionally targeted by most anglers in these months, for me, this is the best time to find them. These fish are lean and fit, ready to take on any prey they can get their jaws around!

”These jigheads scream flounder, bass and gurnard to me, so I was excited to try them out”

Recently, I had badgered Jon Owens (Jonny Lerfer on Facebook and Instagram) to order the Magbite Blading Jigheads in, and of course he came up with the goods. These jigheads scream flounder, bass and gurnard to me, so I was excited to try them out. They have a thick, strong hook, with a small blade underneath coming from an extended lead head. Flatfish love bling and these seemed perfect. I couldn’t wait to give them a dipping.

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The Magbite Bladed Jighead

Keitech make exceptional soft plastic lures. I have tried and caught on most but there was one I had eyes on that day. The Mini Wag is a perfect worm imitation, especially in natural pink. Scented with squid like most Keitech lures, it has a mad wriggling tail. Unlike your average curl tail it wiggles from the middle of the tail, not the end, so it’s really unusual. Combined with the Bladed Jighead, I had a combo with great potential, but could I find the fish?

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The Keitech MIni Wag

The tide was pushing in around the harbour and with it, hopefully some predators. I often find flounder will hug the structure, skirting the base of the harbour walls hunting for any fleeing prawns, fish and worms in the onrushing tide.

In classic Cornish fashion, myself and Jon were sharing the quay with tourists from across the UK. There were a variety of accents, ordering drinks and enjoying chips and pasties. Cornwall has a love hate relationship with the tourists that make their way to the county every year – they cause chaos but the money is vital for the locals. As angling tourists though, me and Jon were more interested in the life below the waterline rather than expanding our waistlines.

”a vortex of swirling food, an ideal ambush spot for a bass or flounder”

I flicked the lure out, letting it drop so I could work it along the base of the wall, jigging up and then stopping regularly. The tide was pushing over the slipway, created a vortex of swirling food, an ideal ambush spot for a bass or flounder I thought.

The technique is super simple.. Let the lure hit the bottom and leave it for a few seconds. Once the slack is tightened, I then flick the rod tip gently to lift the lure and spark it into action. A couple of turns of the reel bring lure closer, covering the ground, after that I let it sink back down and stop again. For any bottom dwelling species, this is the ultimate lure technique – stop go, stop go, stop go. It keeps the lure in the strike zone.

”There were no bass like headshakes, only the resistance of an angry flatfish!”

After lots of casts working my way around the harbour, about half way in the rod bent round into substantial weight. The fish had taken the lure on the drop and as I tightened the slack I set the hook. This felt good! There were no bass like headshakes, only the resistance of an angry flatfish!

Spring flounder are far more aggressive and active than in winter, they hit lures with ferocity and fight hard. This fish was no different. It went on a number of drag ripping runs, giving it hell to avoid being netted. The hookhold was strong though in the flatfish’s bony jaws. With a now captivated audience of tourists it was in the net. My first decent lure caught flounder of the year.

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The prize!

We moved out of the way of the now gathering holiday makers, onto some steps to get photos. Other than scorpion fish and gurnard, flounder are my favourite muse. If you get the angle right – photographed from their bottom jaw up – you can really capture their moody nature. Photograph them from the other side and they look a little dorky – these are quirky fish after all!

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Moody looking creatures don’t you agree?

After admiring the fish’s mottled markings, burgundy spots and bony head, I held the flounder in the water. The fish caught it’s breath and kicked away powerfully. The tactic had worked first time and this was the earliest in Spring I had caught a flounder. Everything bodes well for a great season to come.

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See what I mean about looking dorky from this angle?

Thanks for reading. You can find the jigheads and similar items on Jonny’s website –
https://japanjonnylerfer.bigcartel.com/product/blading-skirted-jigheads
The Keitech Mini Wag can be bought here –

https://www.chesilbaitntackle.co.uk/keitech-mad-wag-mini-25-31397-p.asp

The set up
ROD – Majorcraft N-One NSL-S662H/AJI 0.8-12g
REEL – Shimano Stradic 1000
MAINLINE – Majorcraft Dangan Braid 8lb
LEADER – Majorcraft Fluoro leader 4lb
Find more articles like this on my blog – www.benbassettfishing.home.blog

Categories
Bob Dellar

The Call Of The Pike Part 1


Jig fisher virgin.

And so the colder months are upon us and I’m keen to get amongst the spikes, teeth, stripes and manly jaw-lines of our native piscine predators.

Although I’ve had the odd dabble already, if the truth be known. And I’ve discovered a new way of catching them, well new to me anyway. Jig fishing. 

My very first outing was an opportunistic one, when I sneaked the jig rod in amongst the chainsaws and climbing ropes before I left home in the hope of nicking a quick session on a lovely stretch of the Upper Stour near Liston, Sudbury after a morning’s work. The weather was red hot, bright and sunny with a brisk wind so not that perfect! Nonetheless I was keen to take my new six foot rod out for its maiden voyage and to pop my jig fishing cherry at the same time! I’ve fished with spinners and plugs on and off for years but the jelly-like jig lures with all their assorted names, colours and strangeness are new to me. When I arrived the river was crystal clear and what was really pleasing to see was the sheer number of fish from fry to the more mature flitting around in the shallows. And where there’s prey there’s predators, so the sight of all those silvers boosted my confidence. Features abound in the Stour at Liston with lilies, cabbages, reed beds and overhanging as well as submerged branches. All great to cover the backs of a spiky-toothed pike or a bristling perch but a bit of a snag-magnet for a cack-handed jig-fisher virgin.

Incredibly, my first cast with a perch fry micro-lure had a follow from a little jack which might well have had a pop had I not panicked and plucked the lure from right under its nose sending it skywards into a hawthorn. I don’t know who was more surprised, me or the pike. It hung in the water stock still for a second or two and if it had blinked and shaken its head in disbelief I wouldn’t have been surprised.

After disentangling my lure and trace from a particularly vicious hawthorn branch I continued my trek down the bank on the hunt for more predator holding hotspots. The wind had whipped up sending tiny manes of white water across the river’s surface obscuring potential snags and hazards, so every cast became a lost-tackle lottery. At one point, the eddying wind and water subsided briefly offering a brief glimpse into the depths like a porthole on the Nautilus. It was then that my spiky little lure came into view no than than four metres from the near bank. Just as my wrist tensed on the rod handle to induce a last enticing flick, a jack pike shot out from his liquid lair with astonishing speed and grabbed it. I still am astounded, when I think back, at the sheer pace and savagery of that lunge. What ensued was a brief but powerful tussle with a summer pike of no more than two pounds. He gave it his all that little pike and I’ve had less enjoyable tussles with Esox many times his size who have thrown in the towel early and limped to the net like a hooked bin-bag. A second, slightly bigger fish of about three pounds followed from a swim overhung by one of the oldest and gnarliest white willows I’ve ever seen, it’s squat, fissured trunk rubbed smooth and shiny in places where generations of cattle have scratched an itch or sheltered from sun or rain. It must have been pollarded countless times over the years as well as thrashed and decollated by countless storms but as is the way with willows, new growth soon emerges to replace the lost and damaged. There must have been an absolute maze of fibrous red-tinged roots wafting in the flow where the tree’s huge buttresses enter the water, a perfect ambush point for that hungry little pike.

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Little pike from below the willow


Next swim was a tight one and I had to kneel to cast. The jig was snapped up as soon as it hit the water and I fell back in surprise and flailed about in the nettles before I regained my composure. I was attached to a lively perch of about half a pound which, as it thrashed about in the margins, was escorted sympathetically by three or four of its shoal mates to the waiting net. Anthropomorphism is a dubious trait I know but as I released him back into the flow I like to think that his mates took him to one side, checked he was ok, and gently rebuked him for being so impulsive. 

So, for a first session on the jig as it were, things went quite well and overall was an enjoyable experience. Remarkably, I didn’t leave any lures, lost and forlorn, snagged up in the underwater jungle, but I did crush my fibre glass landing net pole when the perch pounced and I fell back on my arse.

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First perch on a jig rig


Jungle jigging

I’d recently joined Sudbury and Long Melford Angling Club, impressed by the range of river fishing they offered, mainly on the Suffolk Stour. But amongst the river delights were an intriguing trio of well established gravel pits: Glemsford 1, 2 and 3. The pits are collectively a nature reserve and an SSSI, primarily down to its outstanding population of dragonflies.  I love dragonflies. If I spot one I’ll stand and watch, because every time they enthral. Absolute masters of the air, and aerial predators par excellence they can turn on a sixpence to grab an unsuspecting fly, midge or mosquito mid-flight. Without them they’d be a lot more mossie bites to scratch, a lot more hydrocortisone anointing. And their names are perfect aptronyms: darters, hawkers, chasers. On the Norfolk Broads, I once witnessed a southern hawker doing battle with an angry hornet, a bout that the hawker lost but the ensuing dog-fight was a spectacle as both insects wrestled mid-air, end over end, free falling then ascending, a contortion of brightly coloured abdomens goring at each other until the hawker was thrust away defeated, its perfect wings trashed and crumpled as it ditched in the river Ant and gently floated away, a fitting Viking burial, back to the water from whence it came.

And so for my first trip to Glemsford I opted to fish No 3, a fantastic, prehistoric looking water, wild and swamp-like, a Louisiana bayou without the heat and alligators . A maze of spits, islands and craggy-old willows with dislocated, fractured limbs hanging precariously in the trees or strewn around, as if an angry giant has crashed through. 

The weather was mild and overcast, absolutely ideal so out came the jig rod again for a couple of hours of jungle fishing. This is about as near to wild angling as it gets round these parts. Every swim I cast into screamed fish, such was the abundance of predatory lairs and ambush points. And such was the case as I netted three perfect little Jack pike and a couple of bristling perch up to half a pound within the first hour. I’ve been told that the pike are restricted to youngsters at the moment as a couple of unfortunate summer oxygen starvation events put paid to the older fish. But the perch are an unknown entity. There could be some big girls down there, hopefully I’ll find out.

Conversely, next door is a commercial fishery that’s the polar opposite of Pit 3. Comprising of a ‘traditional pond’, a ‘pleasure/match’ pond and a larger, ‘specimen’ lake, the two ponds are barren puddles with the odd drift of sick looking lilies, no bankside vegetation, very few features and certainly no fishing appeal. A rusting JCB that may well have dug them out skulks nearby, giving off an air of after-thought and that’ll do to the fishery as a whole. The specimen lake is behind a gated fence so is difficult to see. It does look slightly more appealing with some reed beds and a couple of islands, but comparing this fishery to Pit 3 would be like comparing Stephen Fry to Joey Essex.
But I suppose it’s a case of horses for courses. No doubt these ponds are packed full of fish and would provide a a welcome bend in the rod if you’d suffered a few blanks elsewhere. And these fisheries are often fantastic confidence boosters and training grounds for new fisherman. But I’d prefer a wild-water, any day of the week.

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The bayou that is Glemsford Pit 3


Apologies to the pike. Winter, 1977 (or thereabouts.)

As a schoolboy of twelve or thirteen, I fished fairly often with Steve, my brother in law. I remember fishing a stretch of what was probably the river Roding in Essex; a small, narrow stretch festooned with vegetation and overhanging willows, a chub fishers paradise. 

One Sunday afternoon during the winter, while Steve and I immersed ourselves in this chubby heaven, probing the depths with ledgered luncheon meat, I got bored with the lack of action and slapped on a rusty old Mepps spinner that had been knocking around in my tackle bag for ages, regularly puncturing my fingers if I delved too deep. I just tied it straight to the nylon mainline, no trace, and no thought to the consequences.

I think I had perch in mind as Steve had said that fishing near features like bridges and weirs, especially during the winter, was a useful tactic for big stripeys, so I blame him entirely for the years of guilt and trauma I suffered as a result of my foolhardiness! Just upstream from our swim was a small weir coupled with a small footbridge; perfect perch territory according to angling oracle Steve, so off I trotted in the naive hope of snaring a giant stripey . I’m not sure if it was first cast or not but everything seemed to happen very quickly. As I reeled the spinner back towards the bank I had a great, lunging take that very nearly ripped the rod from my hand and sent a great shudder of shock and fear right through me. This was no perch, for if it were it would have shattered the British record, and I would have been a famous schoolboy fisherman. What had grabbed my rusty old Mepps was an enormous pike. I’d been a fisherman for about three years up to that point and my biggest fish to date had been a five pound common carp. Now I thought that fish put up a fair old fight but it was truly nothing compared to the pike. I had little concept of playing a fish of any size, and the clutch on my Intrepid ‘Boyo’ reel was cranked up far too tight, so that poor old fish jagged, tugged and tail-walked right under my rod tip. I held on for dear life; from a distance I probably looked like a manic conductor suffering a fit during the final movement. But as soon as it started it stopped. I have a searing image, still vivid to this day, of that great pike’s head disappearing below the foam it had whipped up, my rusty old Mepps spinner, with its flash of red-wool, dangling from its face like some cheap, back-street piercing. I’ve caught pike to 25lb since then, so I have some idea of pike proportions. I’m guessing that pike could have easily been a mid-double and I hope it shed that spinner very quickly and lived a long and happy life, or maybe grew to love its facial adornment and wore it as a token of its prowess in battle. Puerile musings aside, I still feel guilty about that pike. And now, as a convert to the art of jig fishing, drop-shotting, ned-slinging, creature chucking and so forth, I always use a trace, despite the general consensus amongst the lure-fisher fraternity that it’s ok to use fluorocarbon hook lengths, because if you do hook a pike and it bites you off it’ll soon shed the hooks. I think to a great extent this is wishful thinking, so I’m a trace man, in memory of the Mepps spinner pike.

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My Mepps was rustier than this