Friday, November 30, 2012

Hard Lines (The Ottergate scandal)

In my ultimate wisdom I thought the Barrow pike would be on the feed - how wrong I was. Two blanks, yes two in a row I can't understand it. Well thats two blanks unless your allowed count a frigging OTTER. Yes I caught an otter on a swimbait lure but more about that incident later.
It all started last week when we had deluge of rain, the river went up over four feet (see the previous post). It was starting to drop and was clearing well by Tuesday so I headed out first thing Wednesday morning to a swim on the main river. I'd only flung out a couple of ledgered deads when an otter appeared on the scene, it didn't hang around, maybe it knew more than me. I put in a few hours without even a touch. The only sign of life in the river were the crayfish which demolished a couple of trout on me.

I headed downstream to a spot where there is a large crease, it had produced fish before, but not today. After some time at a third swim a local pike expert appeared on the bank, minus his tackle. One of those unavoidable lengthy one sided conversations took place, with wispered word about how I'd only missed the big hen fish that feeds upstream every morning, not to mention the 21lb and 17lb'ers that are regularly seen too! (I should have got up earlier) At this stage I'd had enough talking.... and fishing. I made the trek back along the tow path throwing lures here and there as I went. None the less it wasn't a bad day to be out and its always a good suss to be adventuring down the river. However considering the weather and condition of the river the fishing was a bit of a let down.

So that was Wednesday!

Today Friday was a very odd  affair altogether. No rain since I was last out, the river is still dropping and gettting really clear. I had high hopes for a good session. Maybe I'm a bit OCD but I did all my prep, sorted the baits, lures, tackle and anything else I could think of. I must have thought I was going for the week- in hindsight I'm glad I wasn't. I even had a plan! and for me thats good.

A good few miles downstream from Wednesday's swim, I was at one of my favourite spots, baits were out early. It was one of those mornings when you could hear the morning traffic, the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the distance yet all was quiet and still in this riverbank world as the mist lifted and the sun crept out from behind the clouds. One of those mornings when you could almost anticipate a screaming run. Thats all it was- anticipation. After a couple of hours of this carry on it became glaringly obvious that the pike were not playing ball.

Unperturbed by this I ditched the dead baits,grabbed a fistful of lures and started to cover a few likely spots at various depths. Thats when my "friend" the Otter arrrived. Initially I chose to ignore it (as one does) but this one was unafraid, unphased by my presence. I continued fishing- as did the otter.

Fish breakfast.
It was getting rather embarrassing, the otter was catching alot more than me, occaisionally sitting in the water a few feet away munching Perch. The otter slipped under again and I got a knock, a short pluck... then again.... a thought flashed across my mind....NO surely the otter wasn't hitting the lure. This was ridiculous, or was it. I looked around for the otter but it was still under....then BANG! the animal surfaced with the bloody lure caught in its back!! Good God! I'd foul hooked an f***ing otter. Immediately I had visions of wrestling a snapping creature on the bank. I had 50lb braid and a heavy duty homemade trace on so I was good to go! I did not fear that I'd be broken off, the impliciations of an otter swimming around with a four piece swim bait in its back were beyond my imagination.
The animal went down taking some line off the reel, everthing was under control for the moment, when it came back up it realised it was still caught and decided to head straight for the far bank like a bullet! The rod went into a massive bend, the braid ripped off the reel. I was now sure it was all going to snap, the animal hit the bank and at that moment the hook tore from its skin. The lure, under the force of the bend in the rod was catapulted straight back at me, hitting me in the leg, lodging itself in my waders! "That was close", I thought to myself as the otter scrambled for its life up the bank and disappeared.

At this point I thought it was a  far safer option to get the deadbaits back out, have a brew and calm the nerves. Order had been restored, I was sipping coffee when low and behold the brazen otter resurfaced almost at my feet! I threw it a dead roach (one of Neville's best) which it gratefully accepted.
I packed up the gear and headed home for a cuppa.


Otter    1           Piker     0

And the Christmas Robin looked on!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Flood Report

The Barrow today, south of Carlow Town.
Levels just keep going up. There was a fair spill of rain over the last few days and it would be fair to say the river is up 3 to 4 feet at least and pushing hard. I checked it twice today at 6 hour intervals and there was no increase in the level, however it has broken its banks in a number of places. Maybe it will start to drop in the next 24 hours, this coupled a rain free forecast for the next few days may help to bring things back to norm'

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Morning in Muine Bheag

A short burst of heavy rain a couple of days ago brought the levels flying up almost over night. It was holding steady yesterday afternoon and had already started to fine down, I figured it may be dropping by today - I was right, it had dropped over four inches by the time I got to the bank just after 9 this morning. I must admit I didn't really have a plan..... do I ever!
As the river is still quite high and pushing through I knew I'd be heading for a backwater or canal cut. I had a few deads in a bag, a few lures, flask, sambo and a luxury I don't usually bring, a light collapsible chair!

Drawbridge at Muine Bheag Lock

Yeah I must admit I fancied a morning of "lazy fishing" parked in front of the deads sipping a hot brew. Normally I'd prefer to head onto the main river, travelling light and covering lots of ground investigating all the nooks and crannies where the pike may be holding up - not today. I headed to a spot that I've not fished since the early summer when I brought my son lure fishing for jacks, this was semi urban piking at its best, a place with a lock, basin, drawbridge, old mill and  lots more. Was there the potiential for a fish or two?  I got the rods out, it was time to find out.

Two rods out, the usual set up employed, a half mackerel hard on the bottom and a pop up smelt both strategically placed at the edge of the basin. I sat back and reached for the flask, about an hour later I reached for the flask again... nothing had happened. I moved the baits and tried a small trout popped up - still nothing. I reeled in the deads and went for a wander with the lure rod.

I fished the lure out beyond where the deads has sat, bringing it back just over the dying weed. Got a knock on the first cast, I put it out again into the exact same spot and brought it through as slow as possible waiting for the take.... nothing. Had I spooked the fish? The lure flashed in the morning light as it flew through the air once more, at this stage I was on the third or fourth cast. I tried to almost "wobble" the lure back toward me. This was enough! The fish came once more and didn't miss this time.

So much for my "lazy fishing" parked in front of the dead baits waiting for something to happen - I could have blanked. Sometimes the fish just need a bit provocation to spark their predatory instincts and sometimes the fishermen need to get up off their backside and go look for the fish!

                                                                           "What a great morning"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

One hour......One Pike

I've had a few trips to the river over the last couple of weeks and have also had the oppertunity to fish one or two new spots. One 3 hour session on the bank in Carlow town with my friend Sully proved good with three fish to the bank, two on deads and one to a swimbait lure. Nothing of any great size though 3lb-6lb.
Another short session just south of the town delivered two small fish, again one to a deadbait and the other on a lure.
I was out of action for a while with a dose of the flu and then work took over too. So it wasn't until today that I ventured out to one of my usual haunts. I was sitting around the house but it was such a fine morning I couldn't resist a quick session. I figured an hour would be long enough to see if there were any fish holding in this particular swim.
It was almost lunchtime when I got there, so I had one hour before I'd have to go on the school run. The river is up a little but having said that it is currently dropping, flow is moderate with some colour. The fact that I was only out for a short time I just brought one rod and a couple of likely lures.

I started off with a SG swimbait, it was quite sunny, the lure gave off a lot of flash I was feeling optimistic but after 30 mins nothing had happened. Time for a lure change, I went over to a Bulldawg type lure and fished it real slow letting it bounce off the bottom occaisionally catching some weed on its way.

This did the trick! must have been the third or fourth cast when it was taken gently, I initially thought I was scraping the lure off the bottom again but then the fun began. Not a massive fish but he gave a good account of himself. Its amazing what a simple lure change can do! With the large silver swimbait the water appeared to be void of fish, yet covering the exact same water with the Bulldawg an almost immediate result was achieved.
One hour, two lures, one Pike.................Result!