Saturday, 16 March 2013

15/03/2013 - North Esk

Top end of Telfords
Time - 1400-1800
Weather - Sun, wind, rain, hail, sun, wind, rain, sun
Water - 5-6 cm up

Total - 0

To the blaring fanfare of trumpets (in my head at least) I embraced the beginning of the new trout season with a session on the Esk. With some snow still lying here and there after recent cold conditions, and with forecasts from earlier in the week predicting a lot of rain, prospects hadn't been too promising. However as the date closed in the forecast contained less rain, the river stayed quite low despite the snow melt and I was happy that conditions were eminently fishable. I also had a brand new pair of waders to test.

Opening day is never prolific (for me) on the Esk. Tis my opinion that the season starts a bit too soon as most March fish still have some recovering to do after the winter.

When the fish farm was operating in Penicuik, you'd have a reasonable chance of the odd surprise Rainbow escapee lolloping about if mink or out of season anglers hadn't found them first. But, for better or worse, these days seem to be behind us.

My new campaign kicked off on my home stretch around Valleyfield from the Corner Pool up to the Serpy Weir. While I was happy enough with the condition of the river, there were no real signs of encouragement in the catching stakes. Nonetheless it was great to get back to my old haunts and see if and how the river had been reshaped over the winter.

Fresh landslip
A few years ago now there was a land slip from a ravine formerly used as an industrial dump of sorts that wreaked havoc for as far downstream as I then observed. At the back end of last year I noticed extra polythene littering the riverside trees and bushes, a signature of the previous landslip, and suspected there had been another slippage at the site. Sure enough, this seems to be the case. That said, the problem is nowhere near as severe as the first incident.

Next stop was in the Auchendinny area where there are a few pools I like. One is adjacent to the old mill site where, last season they'd begun building houses and flats so I was interested to see how they're coming along. From being a secluded stretch of river, the character of this area will be completely altered henceforth. Probably not for the better so I'm trying to enjoy the place before it's likely change of behaviour. Sure enough access on the left bank was blocked, from being previously OK and some inventive wading was required to get to where I was going. The main pool itself was in good shape - it's prone to shape changing during spates - but it's fish, if indeed it held any, were not showing any interest.

For a final thrash I decided to head further downstream to Polton Mill. Again the river was in fine fettle, but again there wasn't a confirmed flicker of interest from my piscine friends.

Not many blanks can be described as successful, however as we famously call it fishing and not catching, landing fish is not the be all and end all. For a blank, it was quite an enjoyable one. As I write this the next day watching golf ball sized snow flakes falling, it may be a wee while before I'm back out there again (although I'm keen to get a fish and be able to photograph it on snow, so you never know).

Saturday, 9 March 2013

07/03/2013 - Eliburn

One bite, one fish - Bream
Time - 1430
Weather - 1800
Water - Clear, weedy
Method - Method & float
Total - 1
Species - Bream

Some last minute serendipity designed my first trip of the season to Eliburn with H. With the temperature hardly getting above 6 or 7 degrees for weeks, the forecast was for 4-5 degrees, a fair breeze and overcast conditions. It hadn't rained for a while at least so the water should be clear enough, but whilst it would be tough going, I was still quite confident in the Perch, Gudgeon or Roach to do their thing and accept some of my juicy maggots.

On arrival I was disappointed to see the water was really clogged up with weed, the arm of the lake being particularly choked. I was later informed there will be a clean up on the 16th March. If I can get the day off I hope to make my way through and help out. Whilst this appears to be necessary, as often is the case, I was a bit disappointed to see the amount of litter as well. While not horrendous, certainly not as bad as Pumphy Pond, this is a permitted water with Bailiff's/members patrolling it every day and yet the beer cans, crisp packets and obligatory floating Buckfast bottle make me question why I should have to pay for the privilege of cleaning up other peoples junk. A small section I was asked not to fish from last year, as it is supposedly a nature reserve, was as dirty and litter strewn as any other part of the lake. It is such a lovely little venue that, while not taking much to spoil, shouldn't take too much effort to maintain either.

There was only one other angler present, after the Carp, and doing it from my favourite peg. But not a problem. The trouble with fishing is if you find a good spot and reliable method, it makes you less inclined to try elsewhere and experiment a bit. So being forced to do so is a good thing if you embrace it.

We made for the double peg in the corner at the outflow. It seems as good as any. I went for the usual float, suspending maggots and varying the depth, an absolute banker of a method here and on my other rod, for the first time, tried a method feeder with pellets, then later on maggots. H opted for a float with some maggots on the bottom and a swim feeder incorporated into a helicopter rig. Generally I'm suspicious of getting too complicated. Half of this may be justified whilst the other half is probably just laziness. But fishing with H, who as I've said before, is a hardcore fishing addict, is usually an education of sorts and it's good to view different approaches up close.

Quite soon, despite his super fine bite detection system not showing anything, he reeled in and found, of all species, a small Perch had taken his swim fed maggots. It's always great to get the first fish on the bank and it showed that if nothing else, we would be snaffling a few of the many small Perch Eliburn holds. Ha, or so we thought. After a good hour of nothing at all whatsoever, not even a phantom bite, we were starting to scratch our heads a bit. Finally, my method rod began to go for a bit of a walk (my bite detection system is about 100% cruder than H's) and despite my clumsiness, when I picked it up, found the fish was still on.

It felt half decent, but nothing special and didn't seem too keen to shoot off. Then I seen a pretty big flash and hoped I'd connected with a Carp that was about to blast off up the lake, but realised almost immediately it was a Bream. Somewhat unexpected, but very welcome. It measured 16.5 inches and would be somewhere around 2 - 2 1/2 lbs.

But that was it, no more bites (I did get twanged once more, but suspect it was a line bite), no more small Perch and so we headed around the bank in pursuit of more action. At the inflow end, where I can absolutely guarantee fish, I was extremely surprised when we didn't get a single tap between us. Most unusual. We did however see a little bit of surface activity with a fishes dorsal and tail breaking the surface at one point, but nothing on or near our hooks.

After giving up, I decided to move round to the arm for a last blast and H decided to follow. After another 15 mins or so of absolutely nothing, I decided I'd had enough, withdrew my rods and enjoyed watching a wee Robin nick H's maggots when his back was turned.

H packed up his first rod and just as he went for his other rod, the float bobbled a bit, then disappeared and he was into his second small Perch of the day.

Pipped on the last cast by 2 fish to 1, I could at least be happy with my fish of the day. Despite the slim pickings, three fish between us, one a bit more of a rarity wasn't too bad for the conditions. It just shows how much of a difference the temperature and suchlike can make. At times here I almost suspect there is more fish than water in the lake, then on days like this it's as if they've all emigrated somewhere for the winter. Lets hope the clean up is a success.

Lastly, only once home and comparing photos, it may well just be a seasonal thing, however this Bream looks a lot more silvery than my last noticeably olive green coloured Bream leaving me wondering if the most recent catch is a Silver Bream? The pectoral fins look to be a different shape too.

Here is a photo of a previous Eliburn Bream for comparison. If you click on a photo, you can view all the photos per blog full screen.

Caught July 2011

03/03/2013 - Newhaven

An old Ports Authority building atop the sea wall
A while ago it had occurred to me that the left 'bank' of the Water of Leith as it left the docks and entered the Firth of Forth might be accessible around this area so I'd gone down to investigate. However it was at high tide and it was difficult to properly assess it's potential.

So, after a night on the sauce and a kip in Edinburgh at a mate's flat, I headed down to explore the shore at Newhaven at low tide.

View of the bridges along the Firth of Forth
On arrival, in the first hour after the low tide, I was met with a flat calm and no swell at the tidal limit. The boulders used to construct the breakwater had enough gaps to whet my appetite for some blenny and sea scorpion action. But by the time I returned to the car and tackled up, there was a bit more of a gentle swell and it made 'settling' my Isome in any one spot quite difficult. Whilst I was unable to find any fish at all, I'm sure they are there somewhere.

However, it is an easily accessible stretch of the shoreline and I'd suspect it will be better for actual shore fishing at the right time of year, whether lures for Coalies and Mackerel etc, or maybe even some bait flung out to find a dogfish or codling or similar.
Looking back towards Newhaven Harbour

I made my way as close to the Water of Leith as possible, although there are plenty of Ports Authority restrictions and restricted areas, you can still access a fair amount of water.

I made my way back along to Newhaven Harbour itself. In the low water I could see a shopping trolley which will no doubt snag up most of the people who fish it this year.  I dabbed my Isome around hoping to find a bottom dweller, but despite my best efforts, couldn't stir so much as a barnacle.

While this was a resounding blank, it was as much an investigation of this part of the shore as a fishing trip and I'll definitely give it another try from midsummer onwards.

26/02/2013 - Pumpherston Pond

In all it's glory
Time - 1615-1745
Weather - A balmy 5 or 6 degrees, no wind
Water - Clear, still
Method - Worm & maggot
Total - 1
Species - Perch, 8.75 inch

Having swithered between Pumphy and Torness for my previous soiree, I took advantage of the improvement in the weather to check out the 2013 version of Pumpherston Pond.

Waiting on a bite
Half of it's bank is effectively the adjacent golf course and there is no doubt what takes priority. Needless to say its not the anglers. But I hoped the time of year might mean the course was quiet enough for me to be able to fish as much as possible and that's how it turned out.

I chucked out two floats, one suspending some maggots which have taken some half decent (for me) Perch in the past and a worm on the other rod.

I'm led to believe that if Perch are present, a worm is almost cheating, but I've yet to catch anything at all ever on a worm. Can only persevere.
This shows how pleasant Pumphy Pond can and should be

About this time last year I tried Pumphy, but the water was clogged with weed and difficult to fish. On arrival I was delighted to see that this wasn't the case this year, further, the water was as clear as I've seen it. The only problem with this, is the amount of litter and detritus that the good people of Pumpherston feel they must scatter here, is on full display. For an amenity with such potential, and doing not bad despite its current level of disrepair, it is obviously very undervalued and left to fend for itself. I can't help think the golf club miss a trick here (I understand it's on their land).

A right fatty
Although smaller than the nearby Eliburn, this venue would benefit from a good clear out and the construction of a few pegs/marks to fish from. They could easily be shielded from incoming golf balls and the greenkeeping staff could surely act as bailiffs and go round a couple of times a day taking a fiver from the fishers just like the members do at Eliburn in a system that seems to work fine. With a little bit of stocking, say some Roach, Gudgeon, Bream or Rudd to compliment the Perch, Pike and Tench already there I think it would be a nice little top up of funds for the golf club in a time when every penny is a prisoner. But what do I know, all I'm suggesting is the owners maintain it to somewhere near it's full potential, maximise it's profit, and provide an excellent little venue for locals to walk, fish, spot some wildlife or just feed the ducks. That said, I am not blind to the litter that some less enlightened anglers discard doing themselves and those of us who obey the country code a great disservice.

Straying back to fishing it turned out to be one of those unusual days that seem to happen more than they should, namely one bite - one fish. After a good half hour of nothing at all, a couple of yoof arrived and began fishing on the brick pier. Claiming past Pike and Tench to 4lb kept my optimism afloat. Whilst semi-expecting a Perch, there is also the hope of a rogue Tench picking up my bait. As always, can only but try.
Bait and prey

After about an hour, having cast around a lot more than usual, my maggot float finally began to show signs of interest before disappearing altogether. A nice tubby Perch was soon hauled onto the bank. Although I couldn't quite make it stretch to 9 inches, it was still most welcome.

I kept on until dusk before packing up and heading back to the car. By the time I did it must have been getting back down to zero and I was delighted to get a heat back in me.

21/02/2013 - Torness

Lunar landscape
Time - 1515-1715
Weather - Windy, grey, increasingly chilly
Water - Choppy, cloudy
Method - LRF and lure
Total - 1
Species - Blenny

While we've not had as severe a winter as the last couple of years, nevertheless it's been pretty dreich. Due to a mixture of uninviting weather and other commitments I'd taken a relatively lengthy sabbatical from my piscine pursuits but as we entered February the compunction to get out and amongst the fish was growing to really itchy proportions.

Fishing on the moon
As the weather wasn't very welcoming, conditions and therefore prospects at this time of the year are not so good. If I was to venture out I'd want to also do my best to guarantee a fish. This left me with three options as far as I could see. The first one was ruled out on a time basis. I'd back myself to succeed at Eliburn but prefer to spend at least a half day there. Today I only had a couple of hours at best in the run up to darkness. That left either Torness/Dunbar to pursue any little blighters like Blennies, Gobies or Sea Scorpions (or indeed anything else willing to chomp my hook), or Pumpherston Pond where I have a decent record with the Perch.

Rock pool
I opted for Torness as the tide would be out allowing me access to the usual tried and tested pools, gaps and holes where the alluringly aggressive little fish frequent.

On arrival I couldn't believe my situation. Thinking I had both my main fishing bag, which generally holds all my kit and my carry bag which I fill with trip specific stuff, I found I'd left the latter at home. All my rockpool kit (hooks, Isome, weights etc) were miles away. I had all my lures and offshore kit and scrabbled through it all working out what to do.

'Patterned' barnacles
I managed to find a solitary hook small enough, three split shot weights (2 required) and then had to fashion a piece of Isome/Gulp type wormy lure from the tail of one of lures I did have. Well I was good until the first line break then I'd have to be content with an almost inevitable blank chucking lures out into the sea itself.

There is always the anticipation when approaching rock pools that there might be a one-off inhabitant, whether it be a flatfish or something a bit more 'exotic'. Alas I tried all the pools at the inflow and couldn't even tempt a show of interest, never mind spot something more exciting.

Random barnacles
After a while of zero action I became distracted with the rocks themselves and some of the life and characteristics I'd noticed on previous visits. A better camera than my phone would have done things more justice, not to mention a more skilled photographer. Some of the rock, which I expect has been eaten away by the limpets and barnacles and suchlike looks almost lunar in it's appearance.

But you don't catch many fish when your line isn't in the water. Very aware I was yet to get off the mark for 2013 I made for the outflow area a bit further along the coast.

Yellow lichen on black rocks
This time I had more success. There were some shows of interest which assured me that, as I suspected, my makeshift approach was still more than sufficient. I have to say the attitude of these wee fish when something is dropped into their vicinity is most endearing. It's as if anything entering their domain is showing the most disrespectful gall just dropping into their patch. If they are there, they're out like a shot. Sometimes stopping short of the lure/bait for a quick inspection before engulfing it, sometimes not even pausing before they gulp it down.
Limpet & Barnacles

The first fish of the year soon arrived in the shape of a half decent Blenny. It's colouration shows up quite nicely in the photo (considering the general grimness of the day).

A keen eye will see my improvised 'worm'. I'm still without my polarised specs, so am not able to see under the water as easily as in the past, plus the late-ish hour meant it was getting increasingly difficult to watch the lure under the water and/or see any approaches from the defenders of the rocky crevices. Also, as it was an improvised lure, I could hardly see it once it submerged.

I explored around most of the exposed reef before setting up a lure and chucking a few casts into the outflow in the hope of something bigger. But the swell was quite large, dusk was drawing in as was the cold and as I was on my own, the safety situation wasn't exactly improving and so I called it a day.

First fish of the year

06/12/2012 - Torness

Blenny #1

With the weather holding up for the time of year I was able to get down to Torness again for a pop at it's various possibilities.
Floor of the reef next to the outflow, covered at high tide

The tide was out allowing me to explore all the usual holes and pools for any Blennies, Scorpions or Gobies.

Blenny #2

It also allowed me a bit of a recce of terrain at the whole outflow mark.

Blenny #2

I couldn't connect with anything in the sea itself but managed to extract a couple of blennies on the Isome dropshot set-up.