Posts Tagged ‘River Culm’

Pike fishing on the River Culm

0, September 9, 2009
Posted by james

Whilst scrabbling through the freezer trying to find space for a box of squid and a number of different sized sand eels I discovered two packets of sprats which got me thinking. Having just blanked at Budleigh Salterton the idea of catching some pike seemed like a great idea so I started to look through my tackle and put together bit’n'pieces for a quick session the next day.

The River Culm as mentioned in previous posts contains a good head of pike, some of which reaching 20lb. Quite impressive for such a small water. For me however it is not about the size of the fish but catching beautiful pike on an equally beautiful picturesque river. There had been quite a few showers over the weekend raising the water level and adding vital inches of depth increasing the chance of catching more than one fish from the same swim.

One of the biggest problems I find when fishing on the Culm is many of the swims hide some horrible snags. Weed beds, fallen trees and enough lost gear of other fishermen can make it extremely hard to fish and in some case potentially dangerous to fish. It is always a good idea to walk the Culm when the water level is low, during a flood the water level can rise as much as 2ft in places submerging some features that you don’t want to be fishing over or near to.

My preferred method of fishing for pike on the Culm is to use a paternoster style rig. Not only does the rig keep the bait from drifting into snags it offers excellent bite detection. Traditionally paternoster rigs can be tricky and time consuming to set up correctly, Fox however introduced an excellent simple and easy to use paternoster product, Fox ledger stems.

If you look at this amazingly comical photograph I took, you can see how they work. A heavy weight is attached to a length of tubing topped with a float. Above the float is a large ring through which the main line can pass with very little resistance. A large rubber bead stops the line passing through the ledger stem the wrong way.

Fox Ledger Stem - Excellent paternoster style rig

Fox Ledger Stem - Excellent paternoster style rig

Although I don’t bother myself, you can critically balance your dead baits with some Fox bait poppers keeping the bait on top of weed or gently wafting above the river bed. Even when the pike starts moving towards you with the bait you will still get decent bit detection. Just don’t try and cast them miles with a very heavy weight, they are not particularly strong and they will snap, I don’t like having a heavy weight flailing about when playing a fish anyway.

When I first started to pike fish I always bought ready made traces, roughly costing £1.99 each it can soon become expensive so I started to make my own. Because of the wire component people are immediately put off but it couldn’t be simpler. I prefer to use crimps over the twist method just because for me it is faster and easier to get a neat finish. I have included a quick guide to making wire traces at the bottom of this post.

The final rig I will be using consists of a Fox Legder Stem, a 1.5oz lead, and a 15inch wire trace with two Semi barbed trebles and some Fox bait flags to help secure the bait. If you are not going to be casting great distances  and you are not familiar with where you are fishing it is a good idea to attach the lead to the ledger stem using 3 or 4lb mono. If your lead becomes snagged the weak link will snap allowing you to free the rig.

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Pike fishing on the River Culm - Fox ledger stem, 1.5oz lead, 15inch wire trace, Fox bait flag

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Pike fishing on the River Culm - Attach the lead using a weak link

For bait I have experimented with all the usual dead bait suspects, mackerel, brown trout, roach and sprats. One didn’t appear to stand out from the rest but I always find myself stocking up on Ammo dyed sprats in red and yellow. The way in which they are packed means they can be separated easily, allowing to take what you need for a session.  Beware the dye, don’t get it on your clothes or your wife’s favourite wood kitchen worktops!

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Pike fishing on the River Culm - Ammo Dyed Sprats

I started fishing at one of my favourite spots, gently lowering the rig into the water close to some weed and a small patch of lily pads. Literally within a couple of seconds the bite alarm started to emit a few bleeps but fell silent, I waited a few moments and lifted the rig from the water. Just as the sprat was was leaving the water I saw a flash of gold, the pike was still interested in that luminous sprat. I removed the yellow sprat and replaced it with a purple one and once again lowered the rig back into the same spot. Again withing seconds the alarm started to bleep, this time I struck and was into a fish. After a brief but exciting fight I had landed a nice pike of around 7lb.

I attached another purple sprat and lowered the rig gently into a swim beneath and over hanging tree. After 15 minutes I had an absolutely ripping take, the fish stayed deep and I was confident this was a larger fish. A couple of minutes later I caught a glimpse of the fish and it was tiny. Although the fish was only about 4lb in size it was perfection in miniature.

I tried a couple of other swims before returning to my original swim, I placed the rig a metre or so upstream from where I caught the first fish. Within 10 minutes I had another rip roaring take, a beautiful jack of around 5lb. Only one more dead bait remained in my bait box so I decided to try for another fish. While lowering the rig into the water one of the trebles became snagged on a bramble, I started to apply gentle pressure but the sprat fell off into the water, disaster!

Fishing on the Culm is great fun but while fishing for Pike be extremely careful when handling them. Make sure you use a 42″ landing net and a large unhooking mat. If you don’t know how to handle a pike try and get someone to show you how, if this is not possible then watch some videos on Youtube and read as many articles as you can. Pike are extremely fragile, please do everything you can to make sure the fish is back in the water as quickly as possible.

River Culm Pike fishing

River Culm Pike

River Culm Pike fishing

River Culm Pike

For more information about fishing the River Culm and any other of the Exeter Angling association visit their website – http://www.exeteranglingassociation.co.uk/pike.htm

For more detailed information about Pike fishing, Pike care and handling visit the Pike Anglers’ Club website  – http://www.pacgb.co.uk/

Making your own wire traces

I use the following to make my own traces, crimping pliers (important!!), Drennan 7 strand 28lb Pike wire, Drennan slim crimps 15-28lb, Fox Predator crimp covers (silicone tubing works too), Drennan Semi-Barbed Trebles (size 8 or 6) and size 8 swivels.

Components to make a basic wire Pike Trace

Components to make a basic wire Pike Trace

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Step 1. Take 15-20inches of pike wire, thread a crimp onto the line. Pass the line through the swivel and back into the crimp forming a small loop. Make sure the end of the wire is not visible, the wire strands are smaller than a needle and can damage the fish if exposed.

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Step 2. Place the crimp in the end of the crimping pliers, gently but firmly apply pressure. You can use normal pliers but be careful not to crush the crimp tube or damage the wire.

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Step 3. Repeat the process until you have crimped the wire in three places.

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Step 4. Slide one of the Fox Trace covers or a piece of silicone tubing over the crimp and on to the eye of the swivel.

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Step 5. Thread a trace cover and then a treble hook onto the wire (eye of hook pointing towards swivel). I prefer not to secure the top treble until I am on the bank but to do so simply wrap the line around the hook.

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Step 6. Slide the trace cover over the shaft of the hook. I cut a Fox trace cover in half, use one section for the upper hook and the neater tapered section for the lower hook.

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Step 7. Thread the other section of trace cover, a crimp and the bottom hook onto the trace. Make sure the hook can move freely and the loop isn't too small. Repeat the crimping process as before.

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

Step 8. Slide the trace cover over the crimp. Easy

Step 1. Ensure end of pike wire is not visible

I like to store my traces on a Fox rig board.

River Culm – Coarse Fishing in Exeter

0, August 16, 2009
Posted by james

The River Culm has provided me with many hours of enjoyable fishing and is one of my favorite places to fish in the winter. I hold an Exeter and District Angling Association permit giving me access to 3 stretches of the Culm all of which contain a good head of pike, dace, chub, roach & gudgeon, brown trout, the occasional carp and if you are very very (I am placing an emphasis on very) lucky some barbel. I have had great success fishing for pike during the winter months with my biggest being a little over 17lb. I have had a number of 1lb+ Perch and Roach with some nice chub up to 3lb. This Sunday afternoon I had a few hours to spare so headed out to see what I could catch.

Being an impromtu decision to fish the Culm I didn’t have my favorite baits of Worm and Maggots so settled for some Halibut pellets of varying sizes, luncheon meat and bread flake. The river looked great, not too low with a little colour to the water. Looking below the bridge I could see a few chub and dace, none of which huge but fish I wouldn’t mind catching. I walked down the left side of the River to the first bend. This spot has a large area of deep slack water, plenty of cover, and other features making it ideal for pretty much all species.

Today I would be using a Chub Outkast Twin tip rod along with a Shimano Exage 4000 FA reel. Both are awesome pieces of kit, the Outkast Twin tip I use for 90% of my coarse fishing.  As the name suggests the Chub Outkast consists of two tip sections. One a full length Avon top and the other quiver tip carrier section making it extremely versatile and great value for money. It has a great amount of power when needed but also can be very sensitive detecting the smallest of bites. The Shimano Exage 4000 FA is a front drag reel, extremely smooth, robust and reliable. A perfect combination.

River Culm - Chub Outkast Twintip

River Culm - Chub Outkast Twin tip

River Culm - Shimano Exage 4000 FA

River Culm - Shimano Exage 4000 FA

When fishing a river for the first time it is a good idea to keep the end tackle as simple as possible. My first visit to the River Culm resulted in losing a great deal of end tackle before I found the areas free of snags. I started with an 8mm halibut pellet and a small PVA mesh bag of smaller pellets.

River Culm - End tackle

River Culm - End tackle

From the picture above you can see everything is very simple, 1 ounce fox lead that can run freely up the main line, a bead protecting the swivel, a 4lb fluorocarbon hook link and a Korum quick stop size 12 hook. The halibut pellets are pre-drilled and fed onto the quick stop with a small needle that comes supplied with the hooks. I like to use a snap link & swivel so I can quickly change the lead or swap it over to a feeder. I used the carrier section of the rod with a 2 ounce quiver tip.

My first cast was into a tree, the last time I cast a lead was at Morecambe bay and that was a matter of casting it as far as I could so trying to be accurate over a few meters was hard to get back into. The next cast was a lot better, placing the rig nicely under an over hanging tree. I waited for a around 30minutes, a few bites but today it seemed like a change was in order. I pinched some bread onto the hook and cast to a different spot just before a fallen tree hoping that the bait would waft gently just below the branch. As soon as the bait had settled the rod tip started to twtich non-stop, an abundance of small fish had great fun chewing the bread.

After some very small chub and roach I moved a few meters down river so I could cast across into a deep channel with a lot of cover. I also decided to try luncheon meat, although the bread was getting bites it simply wasn’t robust enough to stand up to the 10billion strong gudgeon and minnow assault. I made a few more casts into some trees and bushes but was soon into a decent sized chub. The end of my session was drawing to a close, it felt good to be back on the bank of the River Culm.

The River Culm offers some great fishing to the mobile angler, bating up a few swims with some bread mash and then fishing each spot for a short period of time often is the best tactic. Trotting can be productive but finding a long stretch of river uniform in depth and free from snags can be difficult. I prefer to fish during the autumn and early winter when the water is high and the River banks are not as over-grown. Chucking a big worm into a back eddy when the water is coloured is great fun, pike, perch, chub and roach all seem to love it. For pike dead baits are reliable (sprats, brown trout, roach all work) and preferably I only use one set of trebles striking as soon as I get a run to avoid deep hooking. I even caught a 5lb eel on a sprat while fishing for pike.

Please take a look at the Exeter and District Angling Association website for further information about this stretch of the River Culm.


View River Culm – Killerton Estate Stretch in a larger map

River Culm

River Culm

River Culm

River Culm

River Culm

River Culm

Coarse fishing in and around Exeter

0, August 5, 2009
Posted by james

Having made a post in every other category on my blog the coarse fishing section is looking rather neglected so this is going to be a place holder of things to come. Exeter and the surrounding area has a large number of coarse fishing venues, each of which can provide the keen angler with a wide range of species and opportunities to catch them using different techniques.

I first cut my teeth on the Exeter Canal, a free permit can be obtained from the council (here) allowing you to fish from the Basin to the Double Locks. This large stretch of water contains pike, perch, carp, tench, roach, eels and bream. Carp (up to 40lb) and pike (up to 30lb) have been caught in the past making it a stretch of water extremely rewarding to those willing to put in the time, or a shock to those hooking into a fish of that size without realising what the canal contains. I started off by catching roach and perch, progressing to pike of varying sizes. Although I don’t really fish the canal very often I do like to catch perch on the fly when I have a few hours to spare in the evening.

After rekindling my passion for angling I started to research and explore other locations. I eased myself back into carp fishing at Darts Farm which although quite small in size still holds some very big carp (30lb+). On one occasion after becoming frustrated with catching eels and being rained on  I landed a 20lb common carp in perfect condition. I had great fun fishing Luccombes Ponds in the summer months, catching fish after fish off the surface on light tackle. Luccombes again is not very big in size but the 5 ponds are well stocked with some nice carp to 20lb. Over the period of about 2 months I targeted a number of different fish from each pond, including Koi, ghosties, commons over 10lb and mirrors to 14lb.

During the Autumn I decided to purchase an Exeter & District Angling Association permit for the insanely cheap price of £36 (for 1 year). The permit allows you to fish the entire stretch of the Exeter canal,various parts of the river Exe, a large section of the river Culm and a number of ponds. I really recommend this to anyone in the Exeter area, it would take you the best part of a year before you had even scratched the surface of the fishing potential.

Using the Exeter Angling Association permit I found that I had a particular soft spot for the river Culm, and spent a good few months exploring the Killerton stretch. Containing a good head of pike, perch, chub, roach, trout, and the occasional Barbel. One sunday I was fishing for Perch  when I spotted an exceptionally large salmon making it’s way up the shallow part of the river, the Culm is full of suprises. Again even though the Culm is small in size it contains a lot of pike from tiny jacks up to 20lb’ers. Fishing is best when the water level starts to drop after a flood, in one day I caught 6 pike in around 3 hours, the largest of which being 17lb.

Over the next 2 years I visited most of the fisheries and stretches of river, spending a great deal of time trying to catch all the different species each location had to offer. I plan to revisit a lot of these and share my findings both new and old. It is also a good time to thank Exeter Angling and the staff for all their expert advice which has always been offered so enthusiastically.

River Culm Pike

River Culm Pike

12lb Luccombe Pond Carp

12lb Luccombe Pond Carp