Thursday, February 28, 2013

Double Trouble.

Right now I'm very conscious of the fact that time is running out. Spawning time is on the way, maybe another two or three weeks left depending on water temperatures and levels. Time on the bank is time well spent. A chance to meet a "big girl" before she retires to entertain the boys. With this in mind I was at the river again (any excuse to fish). Nothing had been organised with the lads so I was on my own and had a morning to kill. I was on a solo, a RECON mission. Reconnaissance is nothing new it actually dates back to 1918 but its often overlooked in relation to angling. I was checking out a few new swims and some possible access points to various stretches of the river. All was going well, found some nice water and a road I never knew even existed. Back to the map and I was en route to the second location. This time not so lucky, large amounts of NO ACCESS/PRIVATE LANDS etc...
So, I ended up with rather alot of time on my hands, what else to do?
I headed to another swim for a couple of hours before picking up the kids from school. I wasn't long there when I got a pick up, the alarm signalled a slow steady take. After the string of dropped runs last week I decided not to waste a second and immediately struck into what turned out to be a turbocharged jack, he went off like a bullet and was in a proper strop coming to the bank.

Micro Jack.
From little acorns....
With nothing else happening I moved upstream a bit to a rather featureless swim and waited. It was almost time to head for the school run when the rod twitched a bit, or did it... The alarm remained silent, no drop back signs either. It twitched again, the fish moved and the alarm registered, this fish was in no hurry, a slow blip blip blip... I struck into a good solid resistance, she didn't budge. I held my ground as did the fish, we both knew we were in for the long haul. Eventually she turned and cruised downstream slowly peeling line off the reel. Not until I had to keep her out from the weeds did she make a few insane lunges (time to readjust the drag very quickly). After another run for freedom and she finally showed, a plump double by the looks. Like any river pike she put the boot in hard and held her ground as best she could, second attempt at the net and she was on the bank.

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how folk (not little people) magically appear on the bank when a fish shows up. A very pleasent elderly couple were sure it was a salmon and were extremely disappointed to find out it was a pike!

Another angler (Chris from Kilkenny) was very kind to spend some of his valuable fishing time helping me land, photograph and release the fish. Chris if you ever read this "Thank You"
A few hours on the river, two fish and the Barrow delivers yet another double. I was on the road and still in time for the school run. Sweet!

So what happened next?

The following day I was brimming with enthusiasm (an expression I hate but it was true), Burkie was off work so the Biker piker and myself decided to join forces and meet up for a few hours to see if the river might magic up another double. It did.......
Levels are now dropping rapidly, and the river is running with just a touch of colour due to the early spring dry spell. Conditions were ideal, we slung out a couple of deads, hard on the bottom and popped up. An alarm blipped as a fish snatched a bait. Alan was in.... (Alan was into the fight of his life) this fish was not keen to move on any account, I wondered if were glued to the riverbed. Eventually the runs came, the line cut through the water as the fish moved upstream still holding firm. Alan was patient... he had to be! This fish was in no hurry. I don't know who had the greater workout Alan or the fish, eventually I reached down with the net and she came to the bank.

Check out the small video of the release of Alan's fish.  I hope to add some more soon. So what a crazy couple of days, the Barrow delivers two doubles in two days,  I can't believe it. Can things get any better... I think so! Already looking forward to the next time out.


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Phantom Menace.

I'm scheduled for work all weekend so it was either fish today or not at all (today sounded good). The "Motley crew" were called up for duty, Frank the plasterer, The Biker Piker and myself. The venue as always, one of the three sisters, our dear friend - The Barrow.

We were at the swim and ready to rock n' roll by about 10am, surprisingly enough about twenty minutes later my alarm burst into life, it let off a slow string of blips as it registered the first take of the day. The angry jack went ballistic as it attempted to shake the hooks but to no avail, he came to the bank.

We covered water by leapfrogging downstream every forty minutes or so. Thats when events took a strange turn. All was quiet, my bite alarm sounded again, three slow solitary blips...nothing for a moment... then a savage take, the rod jolted, the bank sticks dug in, everything shuddered as an almost endless amount of line blistered off the reel, the alarm almost burst into flames....... a large fish kicked up a cloud of mud and weed. It was gone as quick. I was rattled, shaking and of course gutted. I brought the bait in, it had been sliced and diced, proper Chain Saw Massacre style. The game was up, there was a large predator in the swim!

David Muirin of East Coast Fishing
This series of events was repeated numerous times throughout the day to all our rods, hard fast takes yet all were dropped as quick as they'd been taken, sometimes the baits returning undamaged, looking almost untouched. I had visions of a phantom pike lurking in the depths striking at our baits! One particularly vicious take (the whole lot nearly ended up in the swim) was witnessed by angler and blogger David Muirin of the East Coast Fishing Blog. We were in awe, we couldn't believe the sheer intensity of the run and more so that it didn't result in a fish. We wondered if maybe a local otter was playing silly buggers in the swim but having said that, we didn't see one all day. No ducking n'diving, no rustling in the margins, not even a trail of tell-tail bubbles! Nothing! If there was an otter about he was operating with more stealth than a Lockheed F-117.

Whilst driving home the series of dropped runs played on my mind. An otter? I didn't think so but it couldn't be ruled out. Pressured water? More likely... its getting late in the season, have the pike in this stretch of river seen it all before and now know a baited rig when they hit it... hot potato syndrome. Lower resistance rigs and smaller hooks could be an option. One other thought crossed my mind, maybe they're just getting giddy! Perhaps their minds are just not on the job. Are they thinking about "other" things... They are in the last phase before spawning now, were they grabbing the baits out of instinct but with no real interest to feed? Yet many anglers would say the pike will be feeding up well before going to spawn, so who knows what really happened today.

One thing I did know, was that I'd have to go back to the river to find out. So not the most productive day but certainly interesting, highly entertaining if not a tad frustrating. Between the three of us, one fish to the bank, two fish lost, seven or eight of those dreaded dropped runs and one large elusive "Phantom Pike".

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lazing In A Slack.

Frank the plasterer had often spoken of this swim and I knew it well too. On the Barrow south of Carlow town. A text book pike swim, medium to fast flowing water with plenty of adjoining deep slow water. A perfect scenario for the pike, they laze in the slack water keeping their heads down and run guerilla raids into the fast flow to abduct their prey at will. Great theory!
To say I was keen is an over statement, I'd just finished ten days on the trot at work and was not really pushed to spend the day somewhere thats never produced a big fish for me (I had other plans). A few jacks to deads and lures was about the best I could account to this swim over the last couple of years.
I decided to leave it to chance! Maybe something would happen... Thats pike fishing, very often when your luck is down, when you least expect it, something special can happen.
So at the very last minute I threw the gear in the boot. A few ledgered deads were strategically placed tight up against the crease and the coffee was made. A couple of hours in and after moving the baits around a few times the pike remained tight-lipped, literally! It was time to tweak the gameplay settings. I grabbed the lure rod and started to cover water, Frank set up a dead under a slider float, leaving it to drift slowly about the swim. About a mug of coffee later, the float dropped. The silhouette of a roach against the morning sky proved to be too much for one restless fish...

Frank gets his fish.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The WaterWolf is on the prowl.

The WaterWolf has been out stalking the banks again, the water came right and my old mate Archie was on a roll. Throwing some of his own lures, a couple of big girls just couldn't resist his charm offensive. Archie will be showing his WaterWolf Lures at The Ireland Angling Show 2013 this weekend, stand H1. Drop by if you get a chance.
Mark Archie Andrews, WaterWolf Lures.

Get the full "low down" on Archie and WaterWolf Lures in one of my previous blog posts, check it out here!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Still Waters Run Deep.

Driving a pothole ridden back road in the early hours my phone gave a mechanical shudder, a text!. I grabbed the phone, it read "Just missed a good run". I hadn't even got there and the pike were on the feed. Alan had already wet the lines... With the recent rains the river's been somewhat out of sorts, running high, coloured and generally uninviting. Come to think of it, my own recent string of blanks has been enough to put me out of sorts too. It would be true to say the Barrow has not been its usual "crowd pleaser" self. So Alan suggested a change of scene (the pub seemed like a good idea) he was thinking of a still water! So with more rain forecast a venue change was arranged.

We arrived just in time to witness his second run, the float wobbled for a moment then tore across the surface before disappearing into the depths. He connected well, a respectable jack was landed, on the mat, unhooked and released. All this before I'd even put the rods together. The words, "arse" "in" "gear" came to mind... I got set up and put the coffee on.
All was quiet but not for long, The line on Frank's reel ran off steadily as another jack let it be known he was on the hunt. He gave up the ghost easily and was quickly dispatched back to the shallows.
We put in a couple of hours but all signs were that the spell was over, or the pike had us sussed!

 All tranquility and silence was broken late in the afternoon, suddenly Alan let off a string of obscenities, his float dropped on a take, a moment later a large fish showed its back as it broke the surface but then bolted straight to the refuge of the weeds not to be seen again...
So, there I was looking down my rods at my upteempth blank and then it happened, in the blink of an eye the float was gone! I dared to wind into the fish, was this going to be another missed run? No, I was in. Not a big fish by any stretch of the imagination but nonetheless I had duped my quarry, the predator had become the prey. This humble jack with his beautiful markings and colour had just made my day. The run of blanks was finally over.

Alan Burkie Burke - The Biker Piker.