Clint Walker - Single Hook Pike Rigs
After targeting carp last week, I’ve done much the same this week, taking a total of ten double figure fish whilst fishing the ‘tip. Why? In truth, I spent plenty of time during the session taking photographs for clients prior to scheduling on social media, and to accompany other forthcoming copy. As a full time angler and writer, I often have to plan weeks (if not months) in advance, and having a library of relevant images is of vital importance. I fished in company with a mate and was pleased to have a proper ‘subject’ for the required images, rather than the usual ‘selfies’! We storyboarded and took a huge number of images, so the trip was an opportunity to get some ‘in the bag’ for when times are hard and I need a specific image! Having the opportunity to get the images was a great help (thanks Andy!) but I couldn’t help but keep an eye on the weather, looking forwards to a predator session just two days later… I think that pike angling has, over the last few years, definitely become my favourite facet of angling, and at this time of year, it’s just an absolute joy to be on the banks. I wanted to continue my exploration of my single hook theory, so was keen to hit the banks at my favourite Stoke-on-Trent Angling Society club water with a cool bag full of deadbaits, and a head full of ideas! I arrived bright and early, and it turned out to be one of those mornings that leaves you simply stunned… I’ve been trying the single hook rig for a number of reasons, the main one being to offer a way for relatively new pike anglers to safely handle and unhook these fine fish without the anxiety of dealing with a pair of trebles. I know that many anglers would like to catch pike, and although information is readily available, it still boils down the fact that some anglers are terrified of being unable to remove deeply embedded trebles, and as a result, sensibly, have never fished for pike. I want to try and remove that fear from the equation, by proving that a single hook can work, that it has the potential to cause less damage, and is much easier to remove. So far, my findings have been encouraging… My first trial run with Kato circle hooks, purchased in Australia on a whim saw me miss my first run through my own fault, but then hit both subsequent takes, bringing a brace of double figure pike to the bank. Both fish were firmly hooked in the scissors, and because the barb had been crushed with long nosed pliers, both were safely unhooked within seconds; a good start. I wondered whether crushing the barb was enough though, whether things could be made even safer and resolved to try a different, barbless hook pattern. I used the same 35lb PikePro wire, twizzled the trace exactly the same way, and used an identical lead arrangement. The hooks to be used however, were not circle hooks, and this had a huge effect! My first four runs with the new hooks all ended in disappointment, with not a single contact felt with any of the protagonists, and each time, the bait was lost. Not only was I missing bites, I was getting through bait at an alarming rate! I don’t expect to re-use baits, but I don’t want to lose them every cast either! I wondered whether the missed takes resulted from smaller fish picking up baits and dropping them, but my deadbaits were only small roach, so considered this unlikely. Reverting back to the circle pattern immediately saw a double figure fish banked which went some way to proving it was the hook, not the bait size at fault. More food for thought, so another session beckoned… The club venue is padlocked, with entry forbidden before 7am, so just after, I unlocked the gates, and drove up to the car park to unload. All was quiet, despite a breeze being forecast, and as I sorted my gear, I looked across the reservoir to see the breaking dawn mirrored in the still dark waters. Every second brought new colours to the tableau before me, and as the sky lightened, a hazy mist was unveiled on the fields and woodlands surrounding the lake. The fog rolled slowly down onto the water until the sky and water became one; it was hauntingly beautiful, and a sight I’m struggling to describe with mere words… I couldn’t concentrate on setting up as the minutes passed and the scene became even more alluring; rarely have I seen such a stunning morning unfold. As the sun rose, the mist became backlit, and everything was coated in a golden glow. I took some simply superb images, none of which required any filters or editing, and they are already in the printers to go up on the wall! Such beauty instantly put me in a wonderfully good mood, and I couldn’t wait to get started again! Within a few minutes, both rods were tackled up, baits mounted on the circle hooks, and deposited into around fourteen feet of still, dark water. My bobbins were set, alarms switched on, and I sat back to absorb the surroundings. I noted a flock of lapwings wheeling together over the far bank, and high above, a buzzard being harassed by crows which sought to protect their nest. Behind me, a Jay paraded on the high wall, cackling, and I watched rabbits disturb the mist as they warmed up in the weak sunlight. It was one of those perfect mornings, and everywhere I looked, I saw something to delight me… Bleep. A single note grabbed my attention and I watched the white head of the indicator twitch upwards as the rod tip shook. I removed the line from the clip, and as it continued to disappear, wound down and lifted the rod, hoping to connect. I’ve found that a ‘strike’ isn’t required with circle hooks, instead I prefer to just tighten up until I feel the fish, but on this occasion, I felt nothing; the bait came back unmarked too, so I was unsure whether the bait had been picked up, or if the pike had just brushed the line. The roach was recast to the same spot, and as I replaced it in the clip, it pinged out of my fingers as the bait was taken again. Once more, I wound down, and failed to engage with the bait stealer. Retrieving the bait, I inspected it for damage, and again could find none; now I was scratching my head! There was obviously a fish down in the depths, but why wasn’t the hook turning into its jaws, and why wasn’t the bait damaged? I discarded the roach, and threaded the hook into the tail of a new one, ensuring that the hook point was free of any scales, and was still sharp. It went back out into the same area, I felt it hit the lake bed, tightened up, and returned to my enjoyment of the morning. As I poured a mug of tea, another bleep preceded the red light of the alarm, and this time the indicator fell away as the fish moved off. Closing the bale arm, I let the fish run against the tension, then wound down to set the hook; fish on! I could feel instantly that it wasn’t a monster fish, but the pike gave a good account of itself before it slid into the net, the circle hook easily visible in the top jaw. The crushed barb had gone through, so rather than try to reverse the hook hold, it was simply exposed, then snipped off with sidecutters so that the hook fell out. Unhooked without getting my fingers anywhere near those teeth or gill rakers, and without causing any harm to the fish; easy! I missed the next couple of takes, then hit two more, leaving me with four missed, three hit which might not be seen by some as a good return. Personally, I’m not too disappointed. Since using circle hooks, in four sessions I’ve had six double figure fish from eleven runs with all of them safely and easily unhooked without damage, and in two of those instances, I’ve missed them through my own fault, so it could be scored as six from nine which is a better tally. The other hook pattern has so far failed miserably, missing four from four, but I’m considering using a hair rigged bait to see if completely barbless hooks offer even greater ease. I’ve suffered no net traumas either, no flying trebles catching in the mesh, and certainly no deep hooked fish nor awkwardly snared pike with a treble in each jaw. The circle HAVE made things much simpler, and in future, it will be only single hook rigs for me from now on. So, there you have it. My investigations thus far lead me to believe circle hooks are effective, are far easier to remove, and have less potential to cause harm to either me or the predators. If you have never tried pike angling because of a healthy disdain for trebles, then why not check out the Pike Anglers Club handling guidelines, find an experienced angler with whom to go, and try my single hook rig? You may be pleasantly surprised!
11 hours ago
Clint Walker - Looking for dace on the River Trent
On my way back from a session elsewhere, I recently checked out a free stretch of the River Trent, hoping to be able to find some areas in which to cast a line, and absorb a little bit of information from any anglers who were there. The stretch in question isn’t that long, and my investigations revealed only a couple of fishable pegs, but it looked nice, so I decided to have a crack at it later in the week…after all, it looked absolutely perfect for dace on the stick float! A few days later, I returned, and was delighted to find that the peg I really fancied was vacant… in fact there were no other anglers to be seen anywhere, so I spent a good few minutes watching the water, spotting the flash of dace over the gravel, and the dark shadows of chub in the deeper water beneath an overhanging willow. I was itching to get started, having heard tales of gudgeon to 1lb 2oz (I know) and roach to 3lb 15oz (!) in addition to big chevins and other monsters! The reality I surmised would be somewhat different, but as I love small river fishing, I quickly got the float rod out and started to tackle up. As I threaded the line through the guides of my rod, I glanced down at my bag to see an empty space. It took me only a few seconds to realise that my session was about to change drastically; I’d forgotten my floats! Ahhhh! I really didn’t fancy fishing the ‘tip for lightening fast dace, but with no other option, I dragged out the leger rod, set up with a 2oz insert to counter the flow, and put out a bit of groundbait upstream to stir things up. A size 16 hook held a couple of maggots, and with the addition of a small bomb, it was gently lobbed out and left to settle. The tip curved around as the flow created resistance, then it pinged back as the lead moved… and moved again… and again. I’d obviously misjudged the current under the willow, so swapped to a gripper lead to give more surface area and greater friction. The rig went back out, and settled nicely… I always struggle to hit dace on the ‘tip, they are just so fast, finicky, and fleet, so it was a case of waiting for a definite pull before striking. I was so off the pace though and missed so many bites, that if I’d been in a gunfight at the OK corral, I’d have had six holes in me before I’d shot myself in the foot through my holster! Eventually, I got into the swing of it, and managed to hit perhaps two thirds of the dace, with a steady stream of nicely conditioned fish soon on the bank. I’d dropped down to a single maggot on a size 18 hook to get better indication, and for the next couple of hours, caught nothing but dace from the swim amassing a reasonable total of shimmering silvers. I continued to bait the swim every few minutes with a nugget of groundbait, and a pinch of maggots, and whilst expecting yet another dace, was surprised by the ferocity of a take which almost had the rod off the rest! Connecting with something much heavier, the rod hooped over as I tried to steer the fish away from a mid-stream snag. I didn’t get chance, the light hooklink parted within a few seconds, but not before I’d seen the golden flanks of a nice chub as it belted away from me, sadly for good! Although I hadn’t hooked any of the big gudgeon (!) a chub was a welcome distraction, and I have to admit I was less than pleased with the lost fish… With chub in the swim, I stepped up the tackle and put on a heavier link, and a bigger size 14 hook. The tail of a worm was added, and it was cast back out into the darkness beneath the tree. I had to wait almost fifteen minutes for the next bite, another lurching wrap around take, and was pleased with a perch in absolutely pristine condition. A few more followed, although sadly no chub which appeared to have been spooked downstream by my loss, and as I contemplated packing up, a flicker of the tip caught my eye, and I watched as it gently trembled… I lifted the rod and winched in a slender sliver of purple and gold… a gudgeon! Not the monster fish I’d had described to me by a fellow piscator (1lb 2oz indeed!) but nonetheless a joy to behold as it’s delicate cloak of colours glistened in the late afternoon sunlight. After a disastrous pollution incident in recent years, the humble gudgeon was a wonderful indicator of a river on the up, of clean water and good times to come. I had a very pleasant day by the riverside, and I’ll certainly visit again, but I’ll try to remember my floats next time… it’s easier to catch dace that way!
7 days ago
Clint Walker - Looking for zander
Something different for me this week, and it’s in pursuit of something I’ve thought about getting around to for a while… I love my lure fishing, it’s quick, easy and fun, but despite catching chub, trout, pike and perch with some regularity, the zander has so far eluded me this year, so I was determined to find some! I set out fairly early, keen to miss the morning rush hour to head for a spot which needed a drive of at least an hour. I won’t divulge where, as I know that the zander is still misunderstood by some anglers, blamed (unfairly in my opinion) for a lack of silver fish in venues across the UK, and harvested by the Canal and River Trust for profit. Frankly, I, and many other anglers I know, are constantly appalled by the indiscriminate culling and removal of these fine fish from waterways by the so-called custodians of our sport, and I was even more astonished to find that if they cannot be rehomed, then they are sold for food to top restaurants; not much incentive to look very hard for a new home then is it? Not if there is money involved? What upsets me even more is the fact that these same authoritive bodies make little effort to rid our waters of a true parasite, the Signal Red Crayfish, (amongst others) and refuse to allow others to make inroads on their behalf to dispose of or make use of these voracious predators, but will willingly destroy a true asset to the angling scene…shocking! Anyway, I digress… I arrived at the waterside, had a quick cup of tea in the back of the van whilst I got my thoughts together, then broke out the tackle. I wasn’t sure if pike were present (I suspected they were) so a wire trace was joined to my braided mainline, and a mid-sized lure added. I intended to ‘sanitise’ the area for pike first, then switch to a fluorocarbon trace whilst fishing for zander. An hour of wandering the banks bought nothing from pike, so I returned to my starting point, and tackled up in the hope of a zander. My Sonik Magna rod, twinned with matching reel loaded with 8lb braid, was quickly pieced together, and I tied up a fluorocarbon trace, terminating in a 3g jig head. My contact, who had kindly given me details of the venue (it pays to keep things quiet sometimes, a bit of integrity can unlock some fine spots indeed!) had also advised that the margins were a likely spot to tempt a first zander of the year, so with a small rubber shad affixed, I began to explore the area in front of me. I’d seen some decent perch caught from the swims too, so twitched the lure around in the hope of either species. I’d chosen a white lure to start, hoping that it would show up well in coloured water, especially as I know the zander hunts predominantly by eyesight, but despite an hour of dropping the tempter into likely spots, hadn’t had so much as a follow by anything remotely fishy! Time to change. My next lure was a Fox Microfry; I love the thumping paddletail, and if the fish couldn’t see the bait, perhaps they would be able to feel it as it moved through the water? Another fruitless hour followed, I suspected that I’d missed perhaps a single tentative bite but had nothing solid to connect with… this was proving to be harder than I thought! One of the joys of lure fishing is the ability to travel light and cover a fair bit of distance. After two hours of casting though, I’d got a bit of back ache (arthritis), so retired once more to the van for more tea and to reconsider my options. I’ve done well for perch using the Ecogear Paramax lure in the past, particularly the 3” pink option, so decided to see if the swimming action would prove enough to provoke a reaction as I went back over the same areas. I locked up the van, and went back to work… The 3g jig head was easily heavy enough to reach about 35 yards, so I made a start in covering the water with a series of casts in a fan shape to try and hunt over as much as possible. Changes in retrieve rates, a change of depth, and even allowing the lure to rest on the bottom bought little more than an odd ‘nip’ so I began to cast along the bank, hoping that fish would be laying close in. Wham! Working the lure close in certainly gave a result when a fish slammed into it within a few feet of the bank, and after gently guiding it to the net, I was delighted to find a zander of a couple of pounds safely nestled within! Excellent! I took a few seconds to admire this beautiful creature, the large eye staring balefully back at me, greens and greys shimmering in the sun; how can you not appreciate the zander? It’s a stunning fish, and worthy quarry indeed. After a quick photograph, I moved to a different area and began the pattern again. Thump! A startling strike made me think I’d finally run into a pike, but no, it proved to be a smaller zander which went mad when it felt the hook…great sport. As I returned this fish however, I was shouted at by a gentleman who ponderously jogged towards me. “Zander mate?” I replied it was, and in fine condition too. “Can I have it? I eat every one I catch”. It took me a second or two to register what I was hearing. I had to ask him to repeat his remarks. “I eat them, I fish off my canal boat, and take them when I catch them”. The fish instantly splashed back into the water… He appeared incredulous. “What are you doing?!” I stood up and told him that I would never kill a zander (or any other fish for that matter) and he had no chance of getting one for the table off me. He then launched into a tirade about them being an invasive species (not true if considered established, which they are here) and I was wrong to return it, before describing me in less than complimentary terms. Hearing this from an Englishman of mature years, indeed a pensioner, I was sometime taken aback, so returned some compliments with equal friendliness as I attempted to advise him of his folly. He wouldn’t have it though and stormed off up the bank muttering further sweet nothings as I returned to my fishing. The attitude of some ‘anglers’ towards conservation, protection and indeed the fish they seek to catch astounds me sometimes… Not too disheartened by the encounter, I decided to have a final fling around before the long drive home. Again, the pink Paramax splashed into the margins, and once again a resounding whack saw me engaged in another fish. This one took a little longer to subdue, but eventually, a fine fish of around 4lbs was floundering on the surface ready for the net. Unhooked, it was gently paraded for the camera, admired, then rested until strong enough to slink back into the depths. I’d had three bites, and banked a trio of smashing zander, and aside from a briefly bruising brush with an idiot, I was happy with my tally. I believe that the zander offers real hope to waterways neglected by the authorities, encouraging lure anglers to join clubs in the hope of capturing these handsome fish. Indeed, I joined a club with the promise of such fish, only to find that within a month or two, the waterways had been electro-fished, and the zander removed. They were not rehomed, just left to suffocate in a bucket… do you remember when we used to do that with pike? Because they ate all the roach? Before we realised what an asset they were to keeping a healthy, clean, disease free fishery? Hopefully, attitudes will change, and the zander will be better thought of in years to come… after all they are here to stay!
14 days ago
Clint Walker - Change of plans and somewhere new
I was going sea fishing this week… We had a trip booked, I’d bought new tackle, ordered the appropriate bait, and was all set for an early start to travel to Fleetwood in Lancashire to board the boat with some friends, and enjoy a day at sea; lovely. Then it was cancelled. The day before. I know a sea fishing trip is always at the mercy of the weather, but I was especially disappointed to miss out on this one, so disappointed in fact, I went fishing to get over it! In truth, the bad news arrived just as I pulled up at the lake in search of a few carp. I’d just got out of the van when the phone pinged, so was in a foul mood as I barrowed my stuff across to the waterside. In the holdall, I’d got a couple of rods which needed to be photographed, so silently set them up, mixed some groundbait, attached a method feeder and positioned the bait. Still feeling fed up, I set the camera on its tripod, then watched as the bobbin flew up, the alarm squealed, and the first carp of the day was hooked. Good. I could get some ‘rod bending’ shots, then pack up and go home to sulk… A double figure mirror hit the mat, which was quickly followed by a similarly sized common, then another mirror. I decided to stay until I’d used up my bowl of bait, so continued to drop the method feeder in, and pick off fish after fish. With the exception of a couple of bream, I landed nothing but double figure carp. It may be a little presumptuous to say so, but my life… it was boring fishing! I definitely felt as though I had returned to my recent rut, so the following day, I decided to try a completely new club lake. Black Lake is a small secluded pool set amongst farmland. Its quiet, tree lined, and looks ‘right’. I had little idea what may reside within, however I had noted a few bream pictured on social media, so set up a cage feeder, slipped on a pre-tied hooklink with a size 16 hook, and added a couple of maggots. My groundbait was Spotted Fin Carp Super Blend, a general purpose mix which is easy to get right, and to which I added a handful of Catalyst pellets (bream love pellets!) and a small amount of hemp to cover all bases. A few quick casts got some bait in, and I dropped a baited rig on the spot to see what would find it and sat back to enjoy a brew. After an hour, a barely perceptible quiver of my sensitive carbon tip alerted me to my first bite, which proved to be a roach of an ounce or so, not big, but at least it was progress. The weather soon turned from bright and sunny to much colder with a brisk wind rippling the lake, and after overnight rain, I wondered if I was going to catch much else. A second bite saw a perch of matching proportions to the roach, so that was two fish for two ounces… match winner! I kept plugging away, casting every ten minutes to keep the bait going in, and eventually I got a much better bite; the slow pull of a bream, and a fish of around two pounds came to the net. The next cast bought the same result, as did the next half a dozen, as bream after bream tripped up over the hook bait. It was soon time for another brew, and as I reached down to top up my mug, out of the corner of my eye, I noted the ‘tip fly around and the rod was wrenched off the rest! Kicking my tea everywhere, I grabbed the rod, and felt a much better fish. My light 3lb hook link was going to be well stretched during this fight, but luckily, my clutch was set to slip early…just in case! I gently played the carp to the net, and was delighted to find a beautifully dark, plump fish of around six pounds on the mat which had fought far harder than its modest weight might suggest! I sat for about four hours, slowly getting colder as the autumn weather blew wind and rain at me, before a phone call suggested a visit to McDonalds with my grandsons; an infinitely more attractive proposition… I loaded the van, happy with a few nice fish from an unknown water, especially after witnessing another angler turn up, fish for less than an hour without a bite and pack up again, so I gathered I must have been doing something right. I’ll return again I think, as I’ve also heard rumours of pike, but for now, I’m looking forward to a trip abroad again, though without a fishing rod unfortunately, but I need something to cheer me after a cancelled sea fishing trip! I’ll be back soon, so tight lines until then…
21 days ago
Player Profile - Phil Lokken
Phil Lokken Bass Angler Minneapolis, Minnesota Fishing for me is a seasonal thing, I fish spring through fall and it is currently -10 degrees F in Minnesota and the lakes are frozen over. I am not an Ice fisherman, so I live for open water! I love to fish as often as I can. When I was a kid I would go fishing with my Dad a few times a week and couldn’t wait until he got home and hooked up the boat, when he couldn’t go…I would hop on my bicycle and head to the nearest lake. When I was able to get a nice Bass boat I started out by joining a fishing club associated with the Minnesota Bass Federation, I am a lifetime member of the B.A.S.S. federation and have fished in club tournaments over the years and qualified to fish the State Tournament for 7 years, being the club champion a few of those years, for a chance to move on to regionals, but that is as far as I ever got. IF you can keep moving on, winning tournaments…you can get to fish in the BIG one…Bass Master Classic! That is the path Mike Iaconelli took and the rest is history. I would recommend joining a fishing club, you will really learn a lot! Now when I am in town, I fish the local lakes as much as I can and I try to fish as many out of town money tournaments with my brother who lives in Northern Minnesota. A couple of my highlights, tournaments that stand out are, fishing the Silverado Pro Am Bass tournament in 2010 as an amateur in a season series and placed first over all on the Am side. And more recently winning the West Central Bass Masters tournament in 2017 with my brother and landing “big fish” for the day. Who am I? I am Passionate about fishing and addicted to video games, well…mostly sports and fishing video games! As much as I love fishing, I have no interest in Ice fishing! I have lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota my whole life. I am now a machine operator by trade, Husband for 28 years and a Dad to two sons. My current fishing boat is a 929 Nitro 21’ Bass boat with a 225hp Mercury motor. When Dovetail contacted me to make a player profile for their Facebook page I was happy to do it. I have really been enjoying this game! It is so realistic…just like fishing a real tournament! In September a friend of mine mentioned a new fishing game coming out and I was very skeptical. Previous games I have played were cheesy, terrible graphics and not realistic at all. I went on Playstation LIVE to watch some live broadcasts of people playing the game, it looked very promising! I purchased the game, started playing and just couldn’t stop! I wanted to find all the good spots on all the lakes, get all the available upgrades and lures so I could compete in the Online Bass tournaments. Which I have been doing pretty well in each week! I am currently in second place for the monthly Bass series standings, just points behind the leader with one tournament to go. So exciting!!! I spend many hours playing this game each week, I love how realistic it is. The graphics are awesome, the sun reflecting off of the water actually blinds you like you are on a real lake at sunrise or sunset and the fish look amazing! I love the realism of this game, You might go to a spot one day and think you have them dialed in and go back the next time and they are gone, depending on weather conditions, and time of day. With this games online tournaments… I get a rush just like being in a real live tournament. If I lose a big fish I am heartbroken! Just like real life!! Fighting a fish is a little bit hard at first, but it makes it fun because you have a tension meter and you have to play the fish, not just set the hook and reel them in! Yes, you do catch a lot of Big bass in this game that is not true to real life, but I think that is a good thing…if a big fish in this game was 5-8 pounds, I don’t think the players would get as much of a fun experience out of it. There is just something about hooking into a 14-15 pounder in an online Bass tournament that just gets your heart pounding because you know you must get him in the boat! Currently I am playing on two systems, that’s how much I love this game! You can find me at: * On PS4 I am @ PhillyBass-1965 * On XBOX I am @ PhillyBass 1965 Thanks for reading my post, Tight lines everyone!! Phil
23 days ago
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