Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Letting the fish out of the bag.

When I think of goldfish I recall seeing them when I visited fairgrounds, hanging up in plastic bags full of water for people to try and win by playing a game and if successful to take home and keep as a pet. The owner of Forest Lane Fishery near York has found another use for these pretty fish and has stocked his ponds with them instead of F1 carp. Like F1 carp they feed all year round, by all accounts the goldfish have flourished at the fishery and are regularly caught too so I headed down the A1 early last Friday morning to see if I could catch one myself.

A nice orange goldfish, just like the ones I remember from my childhood visits to fairgrounds, welcomes anglers to the fishery. 

After speaking to the fishery's owners in its on site cafe I made my way around and set up my seat box on peg three of "The Oaklands" pond. I got my gear ready and began fishing single maggot on a #18 hook under an insert waggler about a rod length out. It didn't take long to get a few bites and I was soon catching a few perch, roach, rudd and small bream. I had been fishing for an hour or so when a white and orange goldfish appeared just below the surface right in front of me and cruised around for a while before disappearing again. It was almost as if the fish was taunting me but I took it as an encouraging sign that they were present in my swim and reasoned that a bit of persistence would hopefully see me catch one of them. After a few more small fish something bigger took my float under and striking into it the fish charged off taking some line. Initially I thought it was a carp as it stayed deep but when it finally came to the surface I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had caught a barbel, a species I've never caught before. 

A very nice looking fish and my first new freshwater species of the year. I was impressed by its stamina, they are a very muscular fish. 
Another angler very kindly took this photo of me with the fish. 
Tired from its exertions in the fight I held the fish upright at the edge to let it recover before it swam off. 

The angler who took the photo was fishing a couple of pegs along from me with a pole, catching mostly carp and tench and we got talking. I asked what bait he was using and he told me it was cooked prawns which he very kindly gave me a handful of. I use raw prawns a lot in my saltwater fishing but I've never used cooked prawns so I was curious to try them. I scaled up to a #14 hook, put a small chunk on and the results were impressive. I caught a carp on the first cast and several more afterwards. A few more barbel took the cooked prawn and I also caught a few tench on it.

The cooked prawns chunks worked a treat and also totally eliminated the small silver fish and perch from my catches. 
One of the lovely tench that fell to the cooked prawn. I'll certainly be using them again for sure. 

The fish kept on coming and I was really enjoying myself. So much so that I had almost forgotten why I had made the journey, until that is I caught a fish that at first I thought was a small common carp but upon closer inspection once landed I realised was my first goldfish.

A fairly drab example of the species but I was very happy to have caught my target. 

Carp, barbel and tench kept coming and after a while I caught a second goldfish. It was a much prettier fish with an elongated tail, beautiful violet and orange tones and scattered golden scales. I'd later discover that this variety of goldfish is called a shubunkin. 

Goldfish come in a vast array of colours and with different fins shapes. Some varieties even have a double tail fin. 
The shubunkin has a long tail and is partially scaled like a mirror carp. A very pretty fish indeed. 

Eventually I used up my pile of cooked prawns and decided to try something else on my hook. I had a small jar of Japanese bait manufacturer Marukyu's JPZ hooking pellets in my seat box that I bought some time ago and had never used so I gave them a go. 

These pellets are made of a soft jelly and are strongly scented. 
I went for a "sweetcornesque" presentation of two jelly pellets on the hook. 

To be honest I was a bit sceptical about how effective they'd be but I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were. The fish loved them and again using them eliminated the smaller silver fish and perch from my catches. 

Another nice little mirror carp. 
I love tench. 
I caught a few common carp too. 

Before I knew it the time came to start packing up as the fishery closes at 18:00. While doing so I kept fishing and as I didn't have an eye on my float all of the time I loosened the drag off on my reel. A small chub was first to interrupt me cleaning down my gear. This was followed by a nice barbel that picked up my bait and charged off towards the far corner of the pond. Despite my drag being loose it still managed to pull my rod out of its rest and almost into the water. I just managed to lunge forward and grab the butt before it went in. After landing the fish, which was the biggest of the day, I thought it was a nice one to end the day on and broke my rod down. 

Catching this solitary chub meant I had caught all the species that were present in the pond. 
This is the barbel that almost pulled my rod in. 

I had really enjoyed a fantastic day's fishing at a lovely and quite unique fishery. I think the decision to stock the ponds with goldfish instead of F1 carp makes it a little different and gives it a unique appeal and for me it was certainly well worth making the drive down. I was also surprised by the strength of barbel too. I knew they were a hard fighting fish but they really give a good account of themselves. I caught quite a lot of them and even the small ones were great fun. I'm determined to target them in a river now with the eventual goal of catching one from the River Clyde. Using the cooked prawns and jelly pellets during the session also served as a reminder that whilst maggots are a convenient bait that most fish will take, other baits allow you to single out other species or to avoid catching smaller fish. The next time I go coarse fishing I might try flavouring up some prawns or meat. I might also have a break from float fishing and do some feeder fishing too. Before I do either though I fancy a session targeting perch and pike on lures. 

Tight lines, Scott.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

...because it doesn't last long!

 You have to love the Scottish summer. It lasted about a week before normal service was resumed. Despite the weather I headed to Eliburn again on Tuesday afternoon for yet another session fishing the waggler.
Things were very slow and I only caught two fish. A small roach and this slimy bream. Despite the miserable wet conditions and the lack of action I still enjoyed the session. I had the place all to myself and I also had the privilege of seeing a kingfisher.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Enjoying the sunshine...

I've been really enjoying my trips to Eliburn Reservoir of late. The waggler is such a simple and relaxing way too fish. The weather has been really nice too which always makes for a more pleasurable day out. During a session last Wednesday I decided to fish a shallow area where I could see lots of fish fairly high up in the water including a few carp. To try and maximise my chances of tempting the sun bathing fish I bulked all my shot under my float so my maggot would fall slowly through the water column. With most of the fish suspended motionless or slowly cruising around just below the surface, lazily enjoying the sunhine no doubt, bites didn't exactly come thick and fast but when the float did go under I caught some nice fish.

An ide in nice condition. It put up a good scrap. 
I caught these two rudd one after another. It's the first time I've caught rudd from the venue. As is typical of the species they took the maggot high up in the water column. 
Eliburn is stuffed full of these little perfect perch and if my bait sat in the bottom for long enough I'd usually catch one eventually. 
How adorable is this little tench? This was my last fish of the session and put a big smile on my face. 

I must say I'm really enjoying my coarse fishing at the moment. The nice weather didn't last long unfortunately and it is very poor at the moment. The next day off I have with a reasonable forecast I'll probably make the drive south Forest Lane Fishery to have a go for my first goldfish. I can see myself carrying on coarse fishing over the coming weeks and I might have a go fishing "the method", another approach I quite enjoy.

Tight lines, Scott.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I don't know if the mackerel are in yet!

We must have been asked if the mackerel were in about half a dozen times the other day. Fishing down the inside of Burntisland Harbour's eastern breakwater with my mate Col we just weren't that interested if they were or not. There are other fish in the sea after all! Col was after a rock cook wrasse whilst I was hoping to catch a Yarrell's blenny or a Scottish record breaking goldsinny wrasse. I decided to fish small pieces of raw prawn on a one hook paternoster whilst Col decided to fish wacky rigged Gulp and Isome on a drop shot rig. The water was slightly coloured up and things were pretty slow but we started getting the odd tap and I landed a couple of goldsinny wrasse, one of them equalling the current Scottish record of 53g. Things remained pretty slow as the tide rose but Col eventually opened his account with a corkwing wrasse. I then landed a small ballan wrasse followed by bonus butterfish that I mistook for a Yarrell's blenny as it appeared from the rocky harbour bottom. 

My first ballan wrasse of the year. 
A bonus butterfish. Col caught one the day before as well so there is obviously a healthy population of them in the harbour. 

As the tide turned and began to ebb we caught a few more wrasse but neither of us managed to catch our main target for the day or any record breakers before we decided to head off. I think in a few more weeks there will be a few more fish around and might return for another session. Maybe the mackerel will be in too. 

Tight lines, Scott.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Well hooked.

I took my mate Cammy to Eliburn Reservoir last Sunday evening for his first go at coarse fishing. He's relatively new to fishing but he seems to be well hooked and is keen to try different styles. It was a slow session but he managed to catch two roach.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Birds do it, bees do it...

I visited Eliburn reservoir again last week for another session fishing the waggler. I took some groundbait I found in my freezer with me and as well as some maggots I also took a tin of corn. Tossing in a few small balls of groundbait and feeding a few maggots saw lots of small perch greedily gobbling up my single maggot hookbait which kept me fairly busy. It was a lovely day and it was quite relaxing just sitting there watching my float as the sun beat down. After a while the little perch stopped biting and I reasoned that perhaps some bigger fish had moved into my swim. To try and see if I was right I switched to a bigger hook and fished corn. This didn't tempt any fish though so I tried three maggots on my hook instead. Eventually my float went quickly under and lifting my rod the fish was on but after a few seconds it managed to throw the hook. Shortly afterwards however I hooked another fish that felt about the same size as the escapee. It stayed on this time and after a few head shakes gave up fighting. A bream came to the surface where it lay motionless on its side, as they usually do once they give up. It was quickly drawn over my net and was unhooked on my mat. 

...even reservoir bream do it. The fish's forehead was covered with spawning tubercles.
A very nice looking fish indeed. Not a scale was out of place and every fin was perfect. Lovely.

Shortly afterwards a couple more much smaller bream were landed and a few roach too. In the afternoon heat things went very quiet though. As my float wasn't doing much my gaze wandered a bit and I spotted a three spined stickleback in the shallow water directly in front of my peg. I reeled in my rig and spent five minutes trying to catch it. Sticklebacks do it as well and he was far to preoccupied tending to his nest under a submerged broken branch to be interested in half a maggot dangled in his vicinity. Casting my float back out bites remained few and far between so I decided to pack up and head to the River Forth near Stirling to see if there were any dace around. Upon arrival I couldn't resist dropping a maggot down the side and pulling out a few humble minnows first though.

The minnow is a nice looking little fish If you ask me. 

Getting down to business I started firing maggots upstream and letting my float run down through an area in front of me between some reed beds. The river was very low and bites were hard to come by but after catching a few tiny salmon parr and a small brown trout I finally managed to catch a dace. 

Evidence that some salmon have been doing it as well.
A nice little brown trout. 
Small but perfectly formed. A nice reward for my persistence but sadly it would be the only dace caught.

Having had a lot of fun catching a variety of freshwater species I decided to call an end to what had been both a relaxing and enjoyable day's fishing. I can see myself doing more float fishing over the summer and maybe I'll venture down south to try and catch some of the U.K.'s freshwater species that I've never caught before. Goldfish would be an nice species to catch and Forest Lane Fishery near York seems to be the closest commercial that has a few of them in its ponds.

Tight lines, Scott. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A fresh start.

 I finally opened my 2016 freshwater account last week, spending a day fishing the waggler at Eliburn Reservoir with my mate Nick. Small perch were out in force but I also caught a few roach.
A couple of ide also took my single maggot giving quite a good account of themselves. One even leapt out of the the water in its attempts to throw my barbless #18 hook. All good fun.