Friday, July 19, 2013

South Coast Fishathon Part 4 : East Sussex.

When planning my trip I wanted to include some freshwater fishing so after eight days of fishing in the sea I ended my south coast fishathon with a couple of days of relaxing coarse fishing at Tanyard Fishery in East Sussex. Whilst the fishing was to be slightly more relaxed, not that any of the fishing I had done had been particularly stressful, I was still hopeful of catching a few new species whilst there.

One of seven ponds at Tanyard Fisheries. A very nice fishery indeed I must say.

Arriving at the fishery early on Thursday morning I sorted out my rod licence over the phone and paid for my permit as well as a pint of maggots, some luncheon meat, a can of sweetcorn and some feed pellets. Most importantly though I sought the advice of the bailiff on the best locations to try for some of the species I hoped to catch. My top target being a pumpkinseed, I was soon heading up to "Coarse Pool 1", the smallest pond of the venues seven. Setting up opposite some overhanging trees, fishing my favourite puddle chucker waggler, I was soon catching fish. With all of my shot directly under my float bar a single No. 10 a few inches above my #18 hook I had a single red maggot falling nice and slowly through the water column and this approach was soon producing bites on the drop almost every cast resulting in a steady stream of small roach and rudd including this rather nice specimen.

A lovely rudd.

After about thirty fish I hooked another small fish and it didn't feel any different so I quickly reeled it in and just swung it up to my hand to discover it wasn't a roach or rudd. I had caught my pumpkinseed and was quite relieved it had stayed on the hook whilst I lazily neglected to use my landing net! A very nice looking little fish and one that photographs don't do justice to due to their bright blue reflective markings.

A small pumpkinseed. I was over the moon, if taken a little by surprise, to catch this beautiful little fish.
New species #6 and addition #14 to my 2013 species tally

Happy to catch a quite unusual new freshwater species I carried on fishing to see if I could catch a few more pumpkinseed but after quite a few more roach and rudd I decided to head over to the "Carp Free Pool" to try and get my first bream. Fishing luncheon meet on the bottom over feed pellets it took a little while to get any bites but I was encouraged by the fact that both the anglers to my left and right both caught bream whilst I was trickling in the pellets and waiting for my float to go.When it finally did disappear it did so rather quickly and in fact the fish nearly pulled my rod in as it went quite ballistic once it realised it was hooked, surging off breaking the surface in the process. After this initial run however it did what bream are famous for, a rather good impersonation of a wet sack, and was quickly brought into my net.

My first common bream. Went off like a rocket but gave up the fight very quickly.
New species #6 and addition #15 to my 2013 species tally.
Another angler very kindly took this photo for me.

This would be the first of many bream throughout the afternoon and each time I was taken back by the short explosive runs they made before going rather limp and surrendering. My rod was almost pulled in a second time and after that I kept one hand on it at all times! After a while I decided to switch to double maggots to see if they would take them and first cast saw me hook a nice perch followed by a few more bream. I then changed to sweetcorn on the hook and after a couple more bream I hooked a fish that I knew wasn't a bream or perch due to the way it was staying deep and putting up a spirited fight. A lovely tench was soon played out though and was on the unhooking mat being photographed.

A colourful change from all the bream!
This powerful tench put up a good fight. The biggest I've caught.

Towards the end of the first days fishing I started experimenting with the "lift method". The following day I planned on targeting crucians and this was to be the method I'd be using. I managed to catch a couple of bream using it although in both cases instead of lifting up the float slid away rather quickly as the fish bolted off! The gates at Tanyard close at 19:15 so I headed back to my B&B and watched a bit of TV before going to bed.

Up early the next day and packing all my things into the car I set of back down to the fishery to begin my final days fishing. With an eight hour drive back up the road I wanted to be home at a reasonable time so decided to leave at 16:00 so this gave me eight hours fishing time to try and catch a crucian. Again speaking to one of the bailiffs before I started fishing he told me that the "Carp Free Pool" was the best place to try and advised me to try maggot and sweetcorn tight down the margin at the side nearest the small stream the ran along behind the pond. Off I went and set up at the spot he'd described. Fishing the lift method pretty soon I was catching a steady stream of roach, rudd and perch. It was rather odd watching my float behave in a very odd manner at times but it proved to be a very successful way to catch fish from the bottom.

A nice roach. I caught lots of these over the two days.
Another spiky fish with attitude took my maggots.

After a few hours with no crucian showing up I decided to try another spot and liked the look of a corner of the pond that had some nice looking reed beds that looked like a good place to try. After quickly speaking to another angler who agreed with my evaluation and very kindly gave me a little of his groundbait to try, I began fishing sweetcorn tight into the reeds. This saw me almost lose my rod again as a brief laps of concentration allowed a bream to pick up my hookbait and tear off after realising it had been hooked!

Another nice bream. They may fight like wet sacks but their initial run when hooked can be very powerful often propelling them out of the water in spectacular style and sometimes almost pulling rods in!

The next bite I had was quite a small one but striking gently I felt something on the other end and reeling in resulted in a red signal crayfish being landed. I've heard about these non native little crustaceans before but this was the first time I'd ever seen one "in the shell". I wasn't sure what to do with it and just tossed it back in but was subsequently told that they were not to be put back as they eat the fishes eggs and small fry and obviously that's not good for the fisheries stock levels.

An unexpected catch for me and an unwelcome guest at the fishery, a red signal crayfish.
This is how they get their name. When threatened they rear up and display the underside of their claws.

A few more bream and a tench later and now into the early afternoon I had sort of resigned myself to not getting a crucian. The fishing had slowed right down as the temperature had risen and I decided to try switching out the swan shot on my lift method rig for a small drilled bullet to try another technique, float ledgering. The beauty of this method is that the fish feels almost no resistance at all and it quickly became apparent that when fishing on the bottom this method is highly effective indeed as I soon started catching a steady stream of roach and perch again. The bite sensitivity seemed to be excellent too and the only real drawback I could see is that along with the lift method you can't hold your rod so may miss some bites. I'll certainly be experimenting more with both the lift method and float ledgering in the future. The last two fish I caught before packing up were gudgeon so whilst I didn't get any new species on my final day or even add any species I've caught before to my 2013 tally it was still a cool little fish to end my trip on.

My second tench from the carp free pool.
The final fish of my trip, a gudgeon. A nice little fish to end it with.

So my ten day fishathon had come to and end and I packed up my gear and headed up the road. What an epic time I'd had. I'd fished with some great people, in some great places, caught a lot of fish including many new species and even better, caught three of my "Most Wanted" species. I thouroughly enjoyed myself in the process, so much so that I may just make this an annual pilgrimage! 

Tight lines, Scott.

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