Thursday, 4 December 2014

Pastures New (part 1)

 “I want a boat” was what I said to the wife last year. Her reply was a rude version of “yes hun, whatever you want”.  So a new plan was formulate to have access to a boat for use on the rivers and broads of Norfolk.

Luckily for me I had been involved in a few of the Environment Agency’s & Norwich & District Pike Club’s (NDPC) pike tagging sessions, so plan B was already off to a great  start.

Come Christmas 2013, my ideas list of present that I would dearly like to receive from the family was heavily weighted towards boat fishing, and I opened with glee a shiny 55lb trust electric outboard from the missus on Christmas morning along with a new boat rod.

6 months later and after a quiet end of the last (rubbish) season, I started to plan the new season afloat. I soon had my membership card for arrive and flicked through the list of boats and locations that they have. A few were known to me and others were new. But I quickly decided what waters I would be targeting and which ones would be back up, if I couldn’t book a boat for my number one choice. These choices of venues, isn’t because they have produced loads of big pike, but because initially they are familiar to me and I do know these venues to a degree, This is so I can cut my sole skippering skills further in the relative comfort that I have a good degree of boating a fish or two.

Then there was the list of other bits and bops that I needed, plus others that NDPC members recommended I get. Most of these items were just in case spares like rowlocks, mud weight and oars, but some were in my book necessary items including dry sacs, WD40, the all-important life jacket, oh and of course outboards motors.

So with access to boats sorted (tick) and the boat bits sorted (tick), just need to sort out tackle. Well that’s the easy part really, because you don’t need to go out and buy loads of new gear, in fact the rods are one that I’ve used on the occasional trips, plus I have buy one new Freespirt boat rod. Reels are the universal baitrunner, loaded up with mono and rigs are just conversional pike rigs (simples).

So with three ticks done, I’ve just been counting down the day, months etc. until the time is right to get out afloat. Now for me, this is unlikely to be the traditional 1st October, because whilst we rely on a calendar, the pike don’t, so it is likely that I’ll venture out afloat with lures and wobbled baits in the early autumn to get my bearings and start to map out the waters. This to me is one of the most important and exciting elements of any form of fishing, e.g. getting to know the water and what lies beneath.

But why now I hear you ask? Well most of my piking life has been spent on large stillwaters, gravel pits and reservoirs dotted around East Anglia, and whilst I do really still enjoy fishing them from the bank, I have felt for some time that I want to be more mobile and fish inaccessible areas. So what better way than from a boat.

I have fished from a boat on a fair number of occasions over the last 6 years on reservoirs, lakes and even on the rivers on occasions. But this was either as a guest on a friend’s boat, on angling holidays or during planned events. I wanted the opportunity to fish where I liked and when I liked to some degree, so having access to a boat or boats was required.  It not just about the fishing element for me you see, there are plenty venues where I can catch pike, but there has to be other challenges and scenery changes from time to time.
So what about the target for the season? Well this is a personal target, and it really is to try and spend as much time as possible afloat learning the waters, enjoying the vast array of wildlife whilst hopefully catching a few of my chosen quarry. To list that my target is a Broad thirty or even a Broad twenty would be very cliché, but in reality, whist I would be made up to catch either, realistically with the allowable time I’ll be spending on a boat, my target as mention above is to just enjoy my time afloat.

The Broads are a wonderful environment to fish in and whilst I will be hoping for some of the big girls to make an appearance, I’m under no illusions that the fishing will be hard from time to time, but I really hope that even on worst days, when all has gone wrong, I’m cold, wet hungry and blanking, that the old saying a bad days fishing is better than a good day working still rings true in my ears.

First Trip

For the first time in along while, I was filled with a wild excitement and with a ting of uncertainty for the day ahead.

It wasn't because I was fishing a new water, it wasn't because I was trying a new method, but it was because for the first time I was heading to boat fish with the possibility that I'll maybe the only one on the water.

In years gone by, I have been dabbling with boat fishing. Normally it been with a friends who either own a boat or we've hired one. This time around, I was the skipper, deck hand and solo angler in the boat.

It's been a long process from this time last year then I set my sights on pastures new and set out on a personnel quest to start fishing for a boat. To say its been a learning curve is an understatement, the cost of the components needs is quite high, but after a year of something borrowed, something new and something blue, I finally achieved the first goal which was to get afloat alone under my own steam.

So with the car packed with motors, anchors and of course tackle I headed out for the drive to the lake. The forecast wasn't great, but having taken advise from seasoned anglers I was mindful of the conditions and where and where not to fish as the conditions deteriorated. Upon arrive it was quiet and after loading the gear in the boat, checking that everything fired up and was working I pushed off from the dock and out into the broad. An overwhelming sense of tranquillity immediately fell upon me and with some gusto I motored off to find a place to anchor up.

The broad was alive with activity as the sun started to rise on the horizon and the broad awoke with sights and sounds. Kingfishers whizzing along the banks, grebes diving for their breakfast and a solitary harrier circling overhead. The air was electric with life and I was at one with my surroundings. Soon I have arrived at the first point, mudweights were lowered and the baits were in the water. With the wind behind me, it seemed an idea opportunity to let a drifter float work its magic and catch the wind, whilst I lure fished in the gaps between the other two rods.
After an hour and with nothing showing, a move was in order, so I up sticks and motored off to another inviting spot. Boat fishing allows a greater easy to up sticks an move as opposed to bank fishing and the ease in which I can move from spot to spot is refreshing.

With the move came so activity on the lure and after a couple of cast of a raider, the lure was hit by a jack, it hung on for a while before shedding the hooks at the boat.
On the very next cast the raider was hammered again and another jack followed suit jumping and thrashing about, and again it managed to shake itself free before I could pick it out by the boat. I don't mind jacks unhooking themselves, save me a job.

I stayed in this spot for an hour or more, whilst having a break from the lures and letting the baits do their thing. The wind was increasing and the drifter started to move at speed away from the boat.

After many moves and not even the slightest hint of a fish being remotely interested in bait or lure, I called it a day and motored back into the wind for home.

Whilst it was not a great day, it was useful fact/depth finding visit and hopefully the pike will be in a better mood next time.

So I’ll continue to keep you abreast via the blog of my first full season afloat, both with the highs and low, whatever the season brings warts and all. 


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