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Maggots and Wrasse

Following a short session on the small stream mentioned in the previous post, I was handed a load of spare maggots by fishing buddy Steve. Well I wasn’t planning on any coarse fishing for a few days, so what to do with them?

So there are me and John down along Poole Quay with the LRF gear set up with size 14’s and 12’s on split shot rigs drowning triple and quadruple maggot in the sea. And the Corkwing Wrasse, Goldsinnys, Blennies and Gobies loved them. So don’t go throwing those maggots away. Go catch some minis on the UL gear.

A Mouthful of Maggots starring Rock Goby

A Mouthful of Maggots starring Rock Goby

Following my discovery of the magical little pool on the local stream trickling around our village, I decided to have a re-visit with a few long reach garden tools in an attempt to slightly improve the fishing potential. Nothing too disturbing as I always prefer to leave nature to itself as a rule, just a small tidy up of existing hazards and snags to improve the flow, and the removal of several sections of Himalayan Balsam that have appeared following the wet winter. I also cut a narrow route through a high nettle copse to a second small swim tight to the old railway bridge.

For those of you who as yet unaware of the spread of Himalayan Balsam then I strongly suggest that you read up about and learn to recognise it and how to remove it (obviously seek permission of the land owner as some people unfortunately treat it as an attractive and welcome plant, even to the extent of spreading the seed themselves!!!). This plant could ultimately lead to severe river bank destruction if not eradicated and I understand it is on the EA’s hit list along with signal crayfish). A good starting point is to read this article.

And so a couple of before and after pics.

Towards the Bridge - Before

Towards the Bridge – Before

A general removal of debris, Balsam and the reduction in size of a large overhanging branch.

Towards the Bridge - After

Towards the Bridge – After

No weed, rush or sweet grass was touched as this is providing good cover for the smaller fish present, plus a good ambush site for the resident Perch. And still plenty of bankside vegetation overhanging a slightly undercut bank, again also providing good cover. In fact I swear I saw a small Jack Pike come charging out of this cover following my float splashdown. Hmmm! Makes sense to see the Jacks here as about a mile or so downstream this water joins with the Moors River which is known for it’s Pike.

Pool exit - Before

Pool exit – Before

Almost entirely an exercise in the removal of old debris (lots of it), though a small amount of pruning was made to the overhanging trees.

Pool Exit - After

Pool Exit – After

Vastly improved pool. At this, the widest point in this small pool the width is estimated to be about 25-30ft with a max depth of around 4ft towards the far bank. Depth of water below the weed and sweet grass is about 2½ft. The far bank has been left as is. There are a large number of underwater roots with numerous hollows and undercuts providing additional shelter for fish.

I have fished this pool on three additional occasions since carrying out this work and myself and No.2 Son have consistently caught Dace, Perch, Roach and Wild Brown Trout. Even the wife caught a trout, unfortunately (the screams of joy and fulfilment  deafened all within 50yds, mammal, fish, insect and human).

Shortly after publishing my original post on this stream (Small Stream Discoveries) I was contacted by village fishing buddy Steve asking where this pool was. Well, local lad as he is I gave him directions and then met him there the same evening. Steve was keen to give it a go, especially for the wild trout, and we returned on the Wednesday with a half pint of maggots and plenty of hope. A few Dace and Perch caught, and I am pleased to say that Steve got his wish.

Steve's First Wild Trout

Steve’s First Wild Trout

Wild Brown Trout

Wild Brown Trout

They may not be big, but they put up a helluva scrap.

I have no doubt the story of this stream will be continued.

A few posts ago I talked about the small stream that flows alongside and the length of our village (Testing Our Little Stream). Visually devoid of any finned life, I had spotted and managed to catch a fish!!! Small Perch (no surprise there), but a fish nonetheless.

To continue the topic, I recently spotted a photograph that had been posted on one of the many fishing Facebook groups I frequent. This pic was of a small stream that was being explored and fished by one of the members. The similarities in the picture to a particular pool on my own local stream were uncanny, so I decided to re-visit that spot and check it out. The opportunity arose while I was visiting my good friend John yesterday, who lives only a couple of hundred yards away from the stream.

The pool location is where an old railway line passes over the stream. Beneath the small overgrown bridge is a narrow weir dropping into a pool of around 3-4 feet in depth. This pool is no more than 25 ft at the widest point and continues for about 20 yards below the bridge prior to the stream reverting back to the normal 6-8ft width and 4-12in depth.

Small Stream Bridge Pool

Small Stream Bridge Pool

I stood and watched the water for about 10 minutes and spotted the one fish cruising around close by, close enough to identify as a small Chub. I also noticed a couple of small rises just to the edge of the main flow near the far bank. So once again fish were present in what many took as a lifeless stream. Well that was good enough for me then. Back home, a quick grab of some gear and back to John’s to set up.

Downstream Section of Pool

Downstream Section of Pool

A small 8ft LRF rod was used due to the restricted space, set up with what was available off my bench, small reel loaded with 4lb fluorocarbon, small loaded waggler with three strung out no.6 shot to a size 16 hook. I could have done with a slightly longer rod but my next suitable choice was 13ft. A bit too much for this location! John rummaged around in his compost bin and found three small worms for me; a slice of white bread; small bag of 3mm Halibut pellets for a bit of feed and a few hookable pellets just in case.

All set up so back to the pool (I would love to know what people were thinking when they saw me walking the road from John’s to the stream, rod made up and over my arm; tackle bag slung over my shoulder. Not a usual sight around here).

A few pellets thrown into the small current to try and grab some attention, a small chunk of worm on the hook and second trot through and the first fish comes in. No surprise in another very obliging little Perch.

Small Stream Perch

Small Stream Perch

This was followed by two Dace, one Roach and another larger Perch – all on worm scraps.

Dace

Dace

Roach

Roach

No sign of the larger Chub I had spotted earlier, but I did notice a couple of larger fish further towards the small weir. Unable to make them out with the dappled sunlight on the water, I persisted in trying to tempt them. Worm drew no response, as did pellet. So a pinch of bread flake was trotted through. Bingo!

Bread Loving Small Stream Trout

Bread Loving Small Stream Trout

So there I was with a few small fish caught on worm, and what do I catch on bread? A small wild Brown Trout. Go figure!

So there we go! 45 minutes fishing in a scruffy little stream considered by most as no more than a ditch used for storm drain purposes, and supposedly lifeless. The exploration of this stream will continue. And I’ll be back for those Chub.

With my usual shore fishing buddy John having a few days off, and with my missus away with the girls in Tenerife, we just had to get out for a bit of bait drowning. John has fallen behind a touch with the SCSF annual species hunt (not that he is really trying), and I am seeking a few more to add to this years list. So we decided to have a daytime bash on mini-mecca Swanage Pier.

A hot, calm day with very little cloud and only a slight easterly breeze, we arrived and set up around 11am.

Glorious Calm Day on Swanage Pier

Glorious Calm Day on Swanage Pier

One small 8ft 10-40g spinning rod was set up with a 6g Chubber float rig with Sz 6 circles to 8lb F/C aimed at Mackerel, Garfish, Pollack and any other predators or pelagics floating around. The use of the Chubber floats provides that bit of extra finesse than the commonly used ‘sea floats’. I dislike those normal ‘sea floats’ you see in most tackle shops. Big, bulky, unwieldy chunks of plastic that cast like bricks and need a decent size fish to register. Not for me except in special circumstances, usually distance or bait size.

Our LRF rods were set up for bait as opposed to lures with SSG single shot rigs and Size 8 hooks for a bash at the minis. We also took along a couple of light Bass/Flattie rods just in case we decided to up the stakes a bit with hook / rig size (a brief go but basically it didn’t happen). Bait was Squid strip or thin Bluey belly strip on the floats, with Ragworm and Squid strip the prime baits on the LRF gear.

Under the Swanage Pier Main Deck

Under the Swanage Pier Main Deck

Right from the off we were hit again and again by hard fighting Corkwing and Ballan Wrasse (up to around a pound) which are always great fun on the UL set-ups, and even more so with our trying to control fish determined to wrap us around every pier snag available. It was pretty amazing that throughout the whole day we only lost one rig to a snag.

Typical Ballan Wrasse from Swanage Pier

Typical Ballan Wrasse from Swanage Pier

In addition to the main culprits we also bagged a few Sand Smelt (new species for John) which came mainly to Squid strip.

Sand Smelt

Sand Smelt

And a host of deep diving, hard hitting Pollack (largest around a pound) on the float fished strips. These proved to be some of the most entertaining fish throughout the day with some pretty challenging runs and dives through the timbers.

Swanage Pier Pollack

Swanage Pier Pollack

Bonus fish included just the one Long-Spined Scorpionfish, my first Mackerel and my first Tompot Blenny of the year. Those Tompots are always feisty little scrappers with a strong pair of nipping jaws, as my finger tip will testify. Ouch!

First Mackerel of the Year

First Mackerel of the Year

Tompot Blenny

Tompot Blenny

The Garfish didn’t show apart from one early in the session that snaffled John’s float fished squid strip and promptly shed the hook after a brief but typically spirited fight.

We decided to pack up around 7pm after a very enjoyable day. Could have stayed longer but John has an appetite to rival the two fat ladies when he is fishing and was feeling a bit low cos his larder bag was empty.

John pondering the lack of food.

John pondering the lack of food.

And then……..and then!!!

On my final trot through with the float rod I had what I thought was another decent Pollack make for Peveril Point with my Bluey Strip. A very hard fighting fish this one, and didn’t feel much like a Pollack, more like a Bass. Nope. In comes a fish I haven’t caught in many a year.

Allis Shad 1lb 1oz

Allis Shad 1lb 1oz

Over the moon with this fish. Fought like crazy and weighed in at 1lb 1oz. Quickly unhooked, weighed and returned to fight again.

A cracking day out rounded off with fish ‘n’ chips picked up on the way home. Now to prepare for tomorrows trip to the Haven Hotel at Poole Harbour entrance. Garfish please! Bass anyone!

 

I have not caught a Dab in a lot of years. A fish that is pretty common and a staple catch for most anglers around the coastline just always seems to avoid me. So when I heard from Clive in Southampton that he was being plagued with them at Town Quay, I just had to make the trip and bag one for my 2014 species count.

Well that’s my excuse. It’s always a pleasure and a laugh to fish alongside the clown prince of sea angling. I know there are a few young’uns that read my blog so the content of the evenings banter will remain between me and Clive. However, success!! First Dab since ….. for ever.

First Dab in a Long Time

First Dab in a Long Time

As you can clearly see, it was a monster. I don’t care. It all counts.

A very quiet Town Quay last night. Probably the longest, quietest spell I have ever experienced on there. We did however have a few leading up to the dry spell, with Bass, Dabs, Pout, Whiting, Tub Gurnard, Plaice, Dogfish and Silver Eels all making an appearance. And apparently soon after I left the Smoothhounds started showing.

That’s to be my last sea fishing session for a couple of weeks. Saturday sees my Dad and me returning to Kingslake for our annual pilgrimage. Carp and Tench gear at the ready.

Running along more or less west and south of our village is a small stream which varies from 8ft to 25ft bank to bank. Throughout this length the water rarely achieves depths greater than 18 inches or so, but it does have the occasional deeper pool. Unfortunately this stream has been neglected for many years and is pretty choked up with fallen trees and banked up flood debris. With the peaty soil banks and regular flooding (it is used as the local storm drain dump) the water is usually a dirty brown colour.

Not an ideal habitat for fish, but I happen to know that about 2 miles upstream it has a good head of Chub, Roach, Dace, Perch and Pike. So why not here? In all the years I have been walking along the banks I have rarely seen any sign of fish. However, following our lovely wet winter and an almost continuous state of spate, I happened to spot a few rises on a slightly deeper stretch on the lower section. Aha!! Life!

So my lad hears about this and persuades me to spend an hour or so with him to see if anything is about. Or was it just his old mans active imagination. So there we were with some spare red maggots, a very small telescopic pen rod and a small float trying to see if I was demented or not.

Well I’m here now to announce that I am not.

Proof I'm Not Mad. Small Stream Perch.

Proof I’m Not Mad. Small Stream Perch.

Caught in about 2½ feet of water close to the nearside bank.  And we both saw plenty of other rises and the occasional scatter. I’m pretty sure there will be Roach, Chub and Dace there. This could be interesting.

My two sons have been fishing on and off now for about 18 years. Okay, we have had a few long dry spells during that time, but the passion for angling has always been there and has grown through the years. Currently it is going through another growth spurt and they are further increasing their involvement in the sport, with No.1 son Robert primarily interested in the sea, while No.2 son Michael is hitting the freshwater big time. Both however will and do fish anywhere there is water with a chance of a bite.

Most of their current skills come from my own tuition, with an increasing amount now from other sources. I for one am grateful for this. I consider myself a confident fisherman but I am definitely not to be taken as anything other than a pleasure angler. I have passed on my meagre knowledge as best I can since the boys were around 8-10 years of age. Now they are moving into the enthusiastic stage it is up to them to continue their own angling education. This is especially necessary with the Coarse Angling scene.

The changes in equipment, rigs and methods during the past 15-20 years has been explosive and has left me well behind. Personally I think most of the new gear is designed to catch more anglers than fish and has brought an unneeded element to the banks. I am never happier than when wandering along the river bank with just a bait pouch, a few end bits in a pocket, a rod and landing net, stalking for that special Chub, Roach or Barbel. Or watching my float trundling through a smooth glide as the line peels silently from my centrepin. Tried and trusted methods that have and will always stand up to the test of time.

Now it seems that the modern angler has to bring enough equipment to collapse the bank, and have more high-tech gear and electronic gadgetry to worry the hell out of MI6. And when they start talking about spods, spombs, alarm bobbins, fly and zip rigs, I feel the urgent need to call the vice squad and have their tackle box searched for illegal Victoria’s Secret magazines and goods.

Let’s face it, in the eyes of the modern angler, I’m a bloody dinosaur and I haven’t even reached retirement age yet.

And now Michael, with his growing but admittedly limited knowledge, is occasionally  taking his girlfriend’s daughter Reeyah along to the local easy lake for a bit of fun fishing. I thought I had started the boys out young when they were 8-10 years of age, but at the time of writing this entry Reeyah is one week short of her sixth birthday. I’m to understand that Reeyah has caught fish entirely on her own but mostly requires help, and may even be a little intimidated by an initial fish strike. One of these days I’ll go with them and see for myself.

Good luck to you Michael. I know from experience you have your work cut out for you with teaching one so young. Been there, done that. But when you see images like those below, it is all well worth it.

Reeyah and Michael. The Smile Says it All.

Reeyah and Michael. The Smile Says it All.

“That’s More My Size”

Helping Michael

Helping Michael

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