With warm weather forecast, I set off for my first visit of the season to Chew Valley Lake. Fishing the North Shore area of the lake from a boat with Martin Lowe, friend and customer, we opted to fish floating lines with teams of three nymphs on fifteen foot leaders. Trout were quick to oblige and the morning produced plenty of trout to over 3lb! After some lunch we headed back out, this time to try our luck in Herons Green Bay. Once again, just like the morning, the fishing was superb and we were soon netting more hard fighting rainbows. A fantastic start to my season on Chew! Speaking to Jon later that day revealed that he had spent the day at Hope's Nose near Torquay and had enjoyed a successful day catching mackerel using feathers and small lures.
Dan headed to Blagdon Lake, whilst I popped to Kingston Seymour seawall this week. Fishing Bobs Bits in Butcombe Bay produced a couple of nice rainbow trout for Dan. His first fish of this season and on his first time of trying. A good start! Meanwhile, I was hoping a thornback or conger would take a fancy to my squid bait, I was to be disappointed though and after three hours of trying I packed up without having had so much as a bite. Dave, who had accompanied me, was fortunate enough to catch a lovely plump whiting and was kind enough to let me take it home, probably out of sympathy, as this is not the first time he has caught whilst I have blanked. Thanks Dave!
As the title hints, I returned from Cuba this week minus a spinning rod! More on that later. The fishing was good though and despite some unfavourable weather I was able to get a couple of trips in. So, no complaints from me! My first day out was with Dunisky, one of the recommended local guides. We were joined by another holiday making angler, Jim. The three of us set off for the national park at low tide to target bonefish and permit on the fly and were soon wading in the warm, clear, shallow water and sight casting to individual fish. I soon spotted a huge bonefish, estimated to be about 12lb. I cast, dropping the fly just behind the fish, a bit short I thought but to my surprise the fish turned, snapped at my fly and the line tightened. Unfortunately the excitement of hooking the giant bonefish was short lived and after only a few seconds the fish threw the hook and was gone. Jim had similar misfortune with a large permit and that pretty much shaped the morning for us, both Jim and I hooking and losing several more fish. With the tide coming in and the water quickly getting deeper we were forced on to the boat to try trolling and spinning. This was instantly successful with fish falling to Rapala X-Rap plugs. Fishing these lures in eight feet of water produced plenty of takes and by the end of the day we had landed red snapper to 15lb, several blue runner, yellowtail and a dozen barracuda to 12lb. Day two and I was out with a different guide, a chap called Alex, who had a box of flies that he said would catch me the bonefish I was after. He wasn't wrong and on only my second cast I hooked and landed a bonefish of about 4lb. Five more followed swiftly, topped by a personal best of 6lb. A fantastic mornings fly fishing! Once again the incoming tide meant a change of location and tactics was needed for the afternoon ahead and so we made our way to an area known as the Bahamas Trench to fish lures. Sport was good and I enjoyed catching more red snapper and blue runner, but it was what happened towards the end of the day that will remain long in my memory. A very large grouper took a liking to my plug, Alex was quick to point out that it was well over 100lb, he estimated it to be nearer 150lb and I was left in no doubt as to its huge size as I watched the rod arch over, the reel start to scream and 150 metres of braid disappear off the spool in no time. Fearing the monster fish might empty the spool completely Alex tightened up the drag, something had to give and unfortunately it was my Greys travel rod, the sickening crack and subsequent jolt on the braid bumped the hooks free from the fish and as I looked down at my now useless spinning rod I was just pleased to have not been pulled overboard! Toby has his holiday to Cuba coming up soon so hopefully he will enjoy similar success and if he catches that grouper he can tell the beast it owes me a fishing rod!
Recent milder weather has seen the carp in our local lakes getting their heads down. Venues including Walrow Ponds, Huntstrete Lake and Acorn Fishery have reported fish to nearly 30lb. Small baits and slightly scaled down rigs seem to be the best way to get a bite or two at this time of year and so with this in mind I've been out armed with tutti frutti boilies and good old sweetcorn! Fishing these baits on simple lead clip rigs and feeding small amounts of pellet has produced carp approaching 20lb. These fish are in fantastic condition at this time of year and what they lack in enthusiasm for a good scrap in the colder water they certainly make up for in good looks! Rivers have started to produce some good nets of fish now too. The mostly mild winter means water temperatures are high for the time of year and the next few weeks promise to be a productive time for those of us getting a few casts in before the end of the season. A recent trip to my favourite River Wye produced a couple of nice barbel and although I lost a couple also, due to a submerged tree branch, I went home more than happy to have had a few bites. So, it looks as though spring has sprung! Warmer weather and lighter evenings mean that there is no excuse for not giving it a go. Dig those rods out, dust them off and get catching!