Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Lure Anglers Society event. Newport Pagnell. May 5th.


In which my talent for catching small pike is rewarded with glittering prizes from the land of the rising sun.

A smug D.Heaps relaxes over a few tench
wearing  runner-up Sunline cap.
Not much to report here for me since the end of the river season. I've tried luring for perch a bit in the canal and secret gravel pit with a couple small pike to show for it.  I've also got off the mark for tench with a couple from Newlands Angling Club.
Today I have just returned from a splendid event.  The Lure Anglers Society event at Newport Pagnell Fishing Association's Sherington Lakes.  There were competitions sponsored by Major Craft and Sunline with predator fish caught being judged on the basis of length rather than weight.  There were prizes of Major Craft (smart Japanese Tackle) rods for longest pike and perch and an overall total length competition with prizes of Sunline braid/hats/trophies up for grabs.



If I'm honest I never really recovered from the heartbreak of losing Turtlemania! to Peter Carroll out in India a year ago.  Turtlemania! has been my only foray into competitive angling and the world's hardest fishing match is perhaps not the best place to start.
With quite a few prizes on offer at Newport Pag I really did think I had a chance of getting something despite knowing absolutely nothing about the venue other than a quick look at Google maps the night before.  It was a great opportunity to fish somewhere new and with more chance of catching something in the close season than in the bloody awful Oxford canal. I am reasonably confident in my own lure fishing ability after many hundreds of hours on the bank and many more hours spent soaking up information on the Lure Anglers Society forums.
Sunday dawned with a May Day bank holiday Monday to follow. My perch and pike lure fishing outfits were already in the car and I left the house at 07:00 to drive up to Newport Pagnell arriving shortly after 08:00 to find the carpark already packed with keen lure anglers and some Major Craft tackle being admired/bought from Steve Bridgen of The Pike Shop.
The venue consisted of several lakes of varying depths and weedability with a lovely section of river (Ouse we think) running along one edge of the complex.  One of the shallow gravel runs looked very interesting  as i spotted a very large fish which was either a carp (seemed unlikely for such a fast shallow stretch) or a massive fat barbel.  I saw a smaller fish which acted like a barbel close by so it was probably a double figure barbel.
Back in the carpark all the fish-in and competition entrants handed over their £10 and received a tape measure as the results were to be decided on length rather than weight of predator fish.  A few words of advice from event organiser Roy and at 9am all the anglers raced off to try and find good swims.  It was a large turnout (67!) but the venue was excellent and had plenty of space if you were up for a long walk.
From my Google mapping the previous night I knew there was a promontory sticking out into one of the lake which looked like a good place to start so off I headed in the wrong direction and got lost with another couple blokes.  After consulting the excellent mobile google maps again on my phone we found our way to the bank and the 2 other guys dropped into the first 2 good looking swims on one of the medium sized lakes.  I went into the third which turned out to be right opposite the place I had intended to fish and with better access to deeper water over the shallow weedy margins.
I cast out a rubber Sandra on a jighead mainly to see how deep it was.  The water was clear and it was easy to see that, close in, was very shallow and weedy.  Counting down the jig I estimated about 6' further out and weedy as well.  It was clear that luring would have to be done in the top 2 or 3 feet to avoid the weed.  The weed would also provide cover for pike to lurk in and attack up at the lures.  My pike lure collection is geared mainly toward flowing or deep water so I don't have many shallow/surface lures.  The Salmo Slider is a lure I have complete confidence in and has probably caught more pike for me than any other so on went the floating 10cm version in a reasonably natural brown fish pattern.  The action of the Slider has to be seen to appreciate just how ace this lure is so please watch this video before buying loads of them.  If you fail to catch pike on them you must be fishing somewhere with no pike.

The floating slider floats strongly and taps on the rod will weave the lure back and forth down to 2 or 3 feet or right on the surface.  With my new awful-looking but highly effective Cocoons polarized sunglasses I could see the lure working from a long way off.  I never did see the pike that attacked the lure about 25 yards out after 3 or 4 casts.  It was a dark coloured (often the case with clear water pike) jack pike of only 2 or 3 pounds but, more importantly, it was 56cm long.
Jack  - 56cm
This was very encouraging and my confidence grew. I continued working the place over with the floating Slider and about 15 minutes later got another hit where I saw the water being displaced by a pike attack.  This one felt a bit larger and put a pleasing bend in the rod.  When it came to the net I could see that it had a wound in one side and was about 5lb.
Jack - 69cm
The slider was obviously highly effective but after a biteless 10 minutes I decided to change lures. It is expensive but I really like the SPRO BBZ-1 4" shad.  It's a small articulated swimbait with a really nice swimming action and really nice finish all round plus a quality sharp Gamakatsu treble hook.       

Most appropriate would have been the slow sink version but I find them hard to obtain so I had to rapidly retrieve a fast sink one in the natural carp-looking pattern shown above.  This went down well with the juvenile pike community and I hooked another jack of similar size to the first.  I quickly snapped it on my phone and measured and released it.
Ja Jack - 58cm.

So far so ACE!  3 fish inside an hour in the first swim I fished.  I decided to stay as I was building a good length of fish.  If it were to continue in this vein I'd surely be placed somewhere in the longest total length of fish contest.  The sun was getting higher and it was turning into a nice breezy spring day.  Sunshine is not usually good for sport but I always think that a good ripple on the water makes the fish bolder.
I thought I was really on with it so went for another lure change after a dry 20 minutes. I chose the 9cm Salmo Executor crankbait in Real Roach pattern.  I have great confidence in the executor having taken double figure pike and small mahseer on them in the past.   EXECUTOR

A devastatin' clear water lure.  The executor normally gets down 3 or 4 feet but if one fishes it with the rod high it will stay up out of the muck.  The light floating plug does not cast as well as a slider but I was able to get it to around the distance the first two pike had appeared at.  Second cast and I was in again as soon as the plug began diving.  This fish felt heavier but did not seem to pull very hard.  As it surfaced I saw that it had somehow made a balls of eating the plug and got it wedged endwise jamming its mouth wide open.
Jack your body - 72cm

This one was 72cm and 6.5lb giving combined length 255cm and still only 10:30.  I fished on, reluctant to move from such a productive spot but curious as to what else the venue had to offer.
Eventually a Ian and Alex of LAS turned up to see how I was getting on.  I'd not had a bite for about 30 mins so, after a chat, I offered them the use of my winning swim.  If winning was everything then I probably shouldn't have but neither of them had had a fish yet so it seemed like a nice thing to do to let them fish where we knew the pike were feeding.   Sure enough. As soon as I turned to leave, Ian struck into another jack. d'oh!

The spring sunshine seemed to kill the fishing off by 11 and I spent the rest of the (pretty long - to 16:00) day wandering around trying other swims and lakes and chatting to other competitors.  From talking to a few people it seemed that I was doing pretty well with 4 pike and I began to regret leaving the first swim as another couple of fish could well have put me in the lead of the total length contest.  I was nowhere in the biggest fish contest as I knew Roy had landed a pike of almost 9lb.  Roy is the event organiser and prefers to fish without moving about too much.  He landed a lovely 3lb perch in very difficult conditions on a dropshot setup at the LAS event at Eynsham at the end of the season.  He was using a very innovative technique which appeared to be dropshotting a pike fly so hats off to him for trying something new and winning a nice Major Craft rod for coming second in the biggest pike contest. I'd like to try drop shot soon and hope that my perch rod will be suitable as I don't want to buy a rod for just one technique.
Strolling all around the venue I could appreciate just how nice it was and how lucky we were to secure such a good place for the LAS event.  I didn't have a sniff on my lures all day but enjoyed watching a little set of 4 or 5 good sized carp come into a swim I was fishing straight after my slider had gone weaving through it.
Apparently the big lake has a resident terrapin which some members spotted swimming about.  Other people who had caught (lots hadn't) reported that it was all in the first hour or so with no action in the afternoon.

Eventually 16:00 arrived and everybody stopped fishing and marched back to the carpark for the results.  I felt pretty confident as I handed in my blood stained (my blood again) catch return sheet still showing the 255cm total length.
Some very nice Volkey and Basspara rods from Major Craft were presented to 1st and second places in the longest pike and longest perch events. - Well done to the winners.  Some Major Craft lures were distributed to the juniors and then we were into the SUNLINE Challenge Trophy presentations.  The trophy was for the greatest total length of fish (best 6 if it came to that. - it didn't)  From what I had heard from other anglers only a couple people had caught more than 3 fish so I felt like I was in with a good shout with my 4 jacks for 255cm.
First place was announced first and it wasn't me!  Someone who's name I forget (sorry) had managed 5 fish for over 3 metres.  That was some good luring so well done to him.  It left me seriously regretting giving up the swim I had caught the 4 from but then I also enjoy the smug feeling from letting Ian in to catch his first fish of the day!  Second place was then announced with a  winning length of 255cm - ME!
A man from Japan representing SUNLINE presented me with a very fetching cap which I love and have only just taken off because it was time for work.  Also presented to me was a splendid TROPHY and certificate and 150m each of SUNLINE Super PE 30lb and SUNLINE Momentum 8 strand braid in 50lb.  I also got a 300m spool of SUNLINE 12lb BASIC flourocarbon.

To the runner up - the spoils.  I won all this top Japanese kit.
And very happy I was too.  I've been considering trying the well-regarded Sunline braid over my usual Power-Pro and now I can without having to part with the significant amounts of money charged for top braided lines.  Great.  Photos were taken of all the winners so I assume I can look forward to seeing my gurning face in the summer issue of the excellent Lure Angler magazine which all LAS members receive quarterly.
Many thanks to Lure Anglers Society and sponsors Nice-Fish for Major Craft & SUNLINE for putting on a great  event and to Newport Pagnell Fishing Association for letting us on their water.  As usual it was nice to meet up and chat with like minded anglers with the added fun of a bit of friendly competition for top prizes.

Any keen lure anglers reading should consider joining the LAS.  The magazine is absolutely first class and the events are geat.  The forums on the website are a wealth of brilliant information on lure fishing and people are very welcoming/helpful to less experienced lurers.




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