Bob Roberts’ di­ary

My monthly fish­ing di­ary...

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Contents -

LAST de­cid­edly month’s nasty spell su­per­bu­gin hospi­tal cur­tailed­with a my fish­ing ex­ploits com­pletely. For­tu­nately, a few re­ally good mates stepped in to help me out with the di­ary but I have to say that sit­ting in a hospi­tal bed edit­ing their copy drove me nuts. I’d have pre­ferred to be fish­ing with them. Un­for­tu­nately, I suf­fered a re­lapse shortly after be­ing dis­charged and was re-ad­mit­ted for a fifth time in two years. This time I was go­ing to be on in­tra­venous drugs for a whole month. A nurse would ad­min­is­ter them each morn­ing, at home, which meant I was free in the af­ter­noons. Hav­ing a can­nula nee­dle in my fore­arm that had to be kept sur­gi­cally clean and not knocked meant I was strapped up in ban­dages and tapes but at least I was fish­ing again!

Week one...

Miss­ing the end of the river sea­son was heart-wrench­ing. Bad enough that the river lev­els were drop­ping back to nor­mal and the weather per­fect. It meant my per­sonal closed sea­son will last the thick end of five months dur­ing which time most of the fish I like to catch will not be spawn­ing. Iron­i­cally, come June 16 when I next get to wet a line on a river, bar­bel will be just start­ing or in the throes of spawn­ing. You watch. It’s bonkers!

First venue on the agenda was the lo­cal cut, drop shot gear in hand, try­ing to win­kle out a few wasps (perch). Al­though it was good to be back, I strug­gled to catch any­thing. I tried ev­ery dif­fer­ent lure pat­tern in the box but it made no dif­fer­ence. I’m no mug at this lure fish­ing lark but in truth I couldn’t raise a sin­gle bite. I went home baf­fled, con­vinc­ing my­self that the fish weren’t there. Then Brian Skoyles rang to sug­gest we spent an af­ter­noon at a spot where he’d been catch­ing loads of perch. I was dead ea­ger un­til he told me he’d been fish­ing the same place as I had strug­gled. How could that be? So I agreed, if only to find out what he was do­ing that was so dif­fer­ent to me. Brian was al­ready fish­ing when I ar­rived and he was catch­ing steadily. I dropped in a few yards away, cast out a lure and guess what? Not a bite. Mean­while Brian con­tin­ued to catch small perch ga­lore. Only when I re­alised he was us­ing worms and I switched did I start to catch. These perch would not touch an ar­ti­fi­cial bait. Only the real thing would pro­voke a bite. Food for thought. How of­ten have I walked down this canal with a lure rod, fail­ing to catch and writ­ing off huge ar­eas as use­less in the process? Some­times it only takes a change of bait.

Week two...

An urge to catch bream was eat­ing away at me al­though the lake I fan­cied was a bit fur­ther away than I was up to driv­ing but, when Brian vol­un­teered to chauf­feur me, it was game on. A bit­ter cold wind led us to think the fish might be shel­ter­ing on the back of it rather than in the teeth of it. A good the­ory but an in­cor­rect as­sump­tion as it turns out. We never had a bite but we did get to watch carp after carp leaping clear of the wa­ter at a range of nearly 200 yards. Un­for­tu­nately, the area of ac­tiv­ity was equidis­tant from all four banks, way be­yond cast­ing range of any swim. It was as if ev­ery fish in the lake had formed a massive shoal and, judg­ing by the ac­tiv­ity, they sim­ply had to be feed­ing had we only been able to reach them. There’s noth­ing like a blank to make me des­per­ate for bites and where bet­ter than a com­mer­cial fish­ery? I’m not a fan of com­mer­cial carp­ing but many boast fab­u­lous stocks of roach. One of my favourites is Sykehouse Fisheries, just north of Don­caster. I had hoped to fish what’s known as The Stock Pond but my favourite swims were oc­cu­pied. The Match Lake fished well all through the win­ter for sil­vers but, alas, there was a match on. “Why not have a go on Twin Isles?” sug­gested the owner. There was only one other an­gler fish­ing Twin Isles and he was strug­gling to catch on Method feeder tac­tics. Be­cause I was only able to fish the af­ter­noon I’d brought just one pint of red mag­gots. Sounded like that would be plenty but I was soon be­gin­ning to won­der if I’d slipped up. The beauty of pole fish­ing is you can be ready in no time at all. Two rigs, one set at full depth and one shal­low for fish­ing on the drop came out of the tray and I was away. Start­ing on the deeper rig I was soon get­ting bites from roach and rudd but it wasn’t long be­fore I be­gan to see flashes and tell-tale swirls just be­neath the sur­face each time I fed. Clearly very lit­tle feed was reach­ing the deck and it was patently clear I needed to switch to a shal­low rig. This was set at around 3ft deep with just four No.13 shots re­quired to cock the float so a mere dim­ple was vis­i­ble. By care­ful feed­ing it didn’t take long to bring the fish to­wards me un­til I was catch­ing on just two sec­tions of pole, swung straight to hand. So long as I fed first and then laid in the rig it was a bite ev­ery drop in, mostly from rudd that ranged from an ounce up to half a pound. Sim­ple, bril­liant fish­ing. As the af­ter­noon wore on, the rudd faced a lit­tle com­pe­ti­tion. Clus­ters of small bub­bles be­gan to break on the sur­face sug­gest­ing to me that a few bream had ar­rived. Switch­ing to full depth failed to find them so I went shal­low again and guess what? Those bream were right up in the sur­face lay­ers with the rudd. I was like a kid in a sweet shop but rapidly run­ning out of bait and day­light. After four hours and a good 40lb of fish I called it quits.

Week three...

At this time of year I nor­mally get my sil­ver­fish head on. Very soon I’ll be switch­ing to carp and tench, maybe bream, then it’ll be bar­bel and chub, so it’s a case of strik­ing while there’s an op­por­tu­nity. Al­though my head said stick with the com­mer­cials be­fore the carp wake up prop­erly, my gut was han­ker­ing after a canal ses­sion. A trip to Stain­forth Angling Cen­tre for a pint of cast­ers was nec­es­sary and that threw me a bit be­cause a trio of cus­tomers were com­pet­ing to di­rect me to the best places to tar­get, each fish­ing re­ally well. Un­for­tu­nately, these three hotspots were on three dif­fer­ent canals! Tempt­ing as it was, I stuck to my guns and later re­flected on whether I’d made the right choice. De­spite roach top­ping ev­ery­where I strug­gled for bites fish­ing at 13 me­tres in 8ft of wa­ter. Of course, I should have fished at a more com­fort­able nine me­tres and I most def­i­nitely should have fished shal­low. More a case of wrong tac­tics than wrong venue. The daft thing is, al­though I got my tac­tics wrong, I still had a good 8lb or so of fish al­though a switched-on canal an­gler would have caught dou­ble that, but I’m not com­plain­ing. It was a thor­oughly en­joy­able ses­sion.

Week four...

It is an ab­so­lute priv­i­lege to be a con­sul­tant for a ma­jor tackle com­pany like Daiwa, but the role comes with cer­tain re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, for ex­am­ple at­tend­ing shows and demon­strat­ing the tackle range. Shows en­tail trav­el­ling to a venue on Fri­day to set up the stand fol­lowed by two days work­ing on the stand be­fore packing every­thing away af­ter­wards and then driv­ing home. When two ma­jor shows fall on back-to-back week­ends at op­po­site ends of the coun­try it wipes out six days and leaves pre­cious lit­tle time in be­tween for fish­ing, but I did sneak in a ses­sion at a very spe­cial day-ticket wa­ter thanks to a con­tact I made in Manch­ester. The lake is in­cred­i­bly well main­tained, in­deed the owner treats it like his own gar­den. Al­though liv­ing less than 20 miles away, I’d never even heard of the place. You’ll even strug­gle to find much about it on the in­ter­net and most of what is there can safely dis­missed as mis­in­for­ma­tion de­signed to put you off the scent. Most reg­u­lars tar­get the carp but, when my pas­sion for roach was revealed, the owner fished out his phone and showed me a roach he’d wit­nessed be­ing caught by a carper. It was a pris­tine spec­i­men weigh­ing 2lb 12oz. The carper had skimmed it across the sur­face and was about to re­turn it un­weighed and un­pho­tographed! Un­for­tu­nately for you, the owner has asked that I don’t name his lake be­cause he feels the place gets just the right amount of pres­sure from peo­ple who have gained his trust, but he was kind enough to in­vite Brian Skoyles and my­self down for a day and, as a spe­cial hon­our, I was al­lowed to use a keep­net.

With 8ft of wa­ter avail­able at four me­tres drop­ping away to ten, my swim was cry­ing out for a pole ap­proach. Twenty yards away Brian set off with two rods, each rigged bolt-style with a mag­got feeder on bite alarms cast to­wards a gravel bar. Fif­teen min­utes later he’d re­tired one rod be­cause he couldn’t keep up with the sheer num­ber of bites and would be in dan­ger of run­ning out of bait be­fore noon. Be­ing a bit smarter than me, Brian swapped one roach rod for a sleeper carp rod pre­sent­ing a sin­gle white pop-up. That switch paid div­i­dends with a crack­ing com­mon carp and a lin­ear mir­ror. We’ll never know how big as nei­ther of us had brought scales, hence I gave his com­mon 19lb 15oz (with a wink), both of us know­ing full well it was prob­a­bly a lit­tle big­ger. Mean­while, I had given up try­ing to fish on the deck as the com­pet­ing roach came shal­lower and shal­lower. Us­ing ex­actly the same rig that worked so well at Sykehouse, it was a bite ev­ery drop. This was pos­si­bly the best day’s roach fish­ing I’ve ever had, not to men­tion the good hun­dred smaller fish I re­turned im­me­di­ately to pre­vent over­crowd­ing. So there you have it. De­spite be­ing re­stricted by the time avail­able to me thanks to the need for drugs, nee­dles and ban­dages, and hav­ing to stay fairly lo­cal, it just goes to show what’s on our doorsteps if only you go look­ing for it.

took Brian I even­tu­ally to grab a Skoyles’ ad­vice few waspy perch Canal perch touch a wouldn’ t drop shot wormsworms were lure – the an­swer­an­swer

Ihada bril­liant Syke­hou dayat se 40lb40lb in Fisheries four – hour­shours The com­mer­cial sport was so good I just had to have a breather! The great thing about pole is that the fish­ing you­can in be min­utes

I fishedthe long pole at 13 me­tres when I should have fished shorter Even though I fished the wrong tac­tics, I still caught a few fish

I let Brian Skoyles With a wink, for this carp claim 19lb 15oz

roach My best-ever a ‘se­cret’ ses­sion – from from home wa­ter 20 miles

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