Tuesday, 23 December 2014

S.E.N.P.A.C. - Seasonal Greetings To All

With thanks to Fred Buller OBE
and his definitive work "The Domesday Book of Mammoth Pike

Sunday, 30 November 2014

November 2014 - Not quite happening..............

I think the title of this blog sums up SENPAC's November pretty well. November is usually the month when our members sort of get serious about their piking, and just as in previous years this November saw some serious effort being put in on various waters by a significant proportion of our number, but with nothing outstanding by way of results so far. A case in point would be our annual tour of the Lake District, five days of  fishing hard for the six tour regulars with only five low doubles to celebrate along with a few smaller fish which ultimately felt disappointing. We've had 20's on each of the previous two years jaunts. Still the evening socials go a long way towards making-up for the lack of notable fish, thankfully. Stuart Fairclough managed two fish over the 10lb mark whilst Steve Sandiford, Dave Gardner and Bruce Turnbull each found one, although Bruce left it until the final hour of the trip for his fish which no doubt made the drive home a little easier.
and for Dave
A Lakeland double for Stuart

Of the other November fishing, well, our club trip was fished in what should have been ideal conditions weather-wise, light breeze, overcast, possibly slightly too mild, but as predicted in last month's blog the water level in the loch was up over a metre which made for difficult access and snaggy fishing. We were welcomed with a stunning sunrise which our editor felt worthy of the Newsletter's front cover and alarms which sounded from the word go although not all of the offers translated into fish on the bank sadly.
The action, though, didn't last long unfortunately and by lunchtime it had gone very quiet and stayed that way for the rest of the day. After two of our six trips we have a four-way tie at the head of the championship table, Pat Hamilton, Paul Proctor, Dave Gardner and Bruce Turnbull all hoping for better things on the next trip.
Paul Proctor' club trip fish

A few of our members have been fishing some of our more local waters and all have remarked on how weedy they all are. The die-back this year has been particularly slow as water temperatures seem to remain relatively high due to the lack of any frosts to speak of and the popular belief seems to be that it is this lack of winter temperatures which is responsible for the somewhat poor fishing results.........we always have an excuse for not catching I know but when you see reports of frog-spawn in the ponds and snowdrops starting to appear you could perhaps understand why the pike would be confused as to the calendar and delayed their winter feed-up. It can only get better one would hope and speaking of looking forward..............
December and we are heading south for a change for our club trip, to fish the Lincolnshire Drains. This is another of our regular venues which provides a complete contrast to the large lochs that we have so far fished this year and brings a whole new set of challenges for our members to overcome. Like mastering the art of short-distance casting and avoiding chucking your bait on to the opposite bank!! We've all done it. Over the years we have enjoyed catching some nice fish from the drains and this close-quarters fishing brings a new level of excitement to our fishing, that electric first bob of the float under the rod tip is a whole new dimension to what we are more used to.

We don't have a club meeting as such in December as Christmas/New Year usually gets in the way however this year we are have a fishing social on a local water on Tuesday 30th December 2014, the venue having been carefully chosen for its very convenient pub rather than the quality of the fishing I have to say!

From all at SENPAC can we wish you a very happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year and of course tight-lines for 2015.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

October 2014............Off and Running...........Sort-Of !

Well that is the first month of the new Piking season already behind us, where did that go? It was all a bit of a blur for most at SENPAC as far as I can tell and to be honest it didn't really feel like the season had really started. The Regions first club outing was a surreal experience in many ways, particularly the weather. In last month's blog we were expressing the hope for some decent weather for what is a fairly exposed water. What we got was almost tropical in terms of temperatures as was highlighted by our Newsletter Editor on the cover of the November Newsletter. Most of those present felt distinctly over-dressed by the end of the day despite a short monsoon-like interlude about mid-afternoon. That said the conditions were not particularly conducive to catching Pike or anything that swims for that matter. But a few fish did show up with three of our sunburned stalwarts managing to net a modest fish each.
A Slightly Pensive Jim Moody
Particularly pleasing was a first SENPAC Pike for one of the Region's newest members, Jim Moody, on what was his first outing with us. Dave Gardner and Bruce Turnbull were the others with a wet net as far as the Pike were concerned however Pat Hamilton left it late in the day for his excitement when he had the rest of us convinced that he had located one of the bigger fish reputed to be present in this water, only to be surprised, perhaps disappointed, to see an eel of some 4lbs eventually come to the surface. Difficult to be disappointed with a fish of that calibre was the final view of all present I think.
A Slippery Customer........Nice Eel As Well Dave!
And speaking of inadvertent eels! Dave Gardner had a session on one of our local commercials in the hope of intercepting one of the specimen perch that featured in our September blog and thought he had struck lucky when his king prawn bait suddenly came back to life and headed off to the far side of the pond putting a worrying bend into his feeder rod. 3lb-10oz this one and whilst this is a good sized eel Dave was genuinely disappointed that it wasn't the perch that he was seeking, particularly after the head-shaking battle that he had to endure in the murky waters of the fishery had him completely convinced that he was connected to a monster stripey. Hey-ho, next time perhaps. Back to the Pike fishing and other notable fish caught during October were a repeat capture from a  south-west Scotland loch for Dave Greally of a very recognisable fish of 21lb which is fast becoming a part of the Greally family ( see our April 2014 blog) and an immaculate fish of 16lb for Bruce Turnbull from one of the larger Highland lochs whilst on a week long visit. Larger being the operative word as his visit coincided with ten inches of rain which fell in the first three days of his stay making swim selection interesting!

Looking forward to November and a busy month here at SENPAC, with our annual four day jolly-boys outing to the Lake District, our monthly club outing, this time to a hydro-electric loch north of the border which brings the additional variable of water levels to add to the challenge and a visit to the Lake of Menteith for a couple of our number. No doubt there will be a lot to talk about at out November meeting which will take place on Tuesday 25th November 2014 at the Northumbrian Piper.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

September 2014..............New Beginnings

The month of October and the beginning of a new piking season is always highly anticipated here at SENPAC, and every year the excitement builds amongst our members and whilst some of our number have been enjoying the odd foray north of the border there is something magical about the start of the season proper, the early morning chill, the changing colours and, perhaps an early fish and then the magic is complete..............................

These new beginnings were celebrated by our newsletter editor in his October missive which also marked the end of the SENPAC competition year for 2013/2014. The trophy winners for the season are as follows;

Biggest Fish on a Lure......................Steve Sandiford
Biggest Fish on a Club Trip...............Dave Greally
Club Trip Champion.........................Dave Greally
Biggest Fish of the Year....................Bruce Turnbull
The three remaining Region trophies are all decided by the votes of the members, Junior Angler of the Year, Pike Angler of the Year and The Stuart Mordue Trophy for contributions to SENPAC will be announced at the annual presentation evening in January 2015, but congratulations go to all of the above named.

As for the September fishing, well the continuing dry bright weather and milder temperatures have not really helped those of our number who have been piking with small numbers of modest sized fish seeming to be the order of the day even on the bigger, deeper waters. Best fish of the month went to Dave Greally at 8lb on one of his trips to Scotland. Those of us fishing for the silvers have found it a lot easier I'm pleased to say.Highlight of the September SENPAC fishing reports though was, arguably, a continuation of the story reported in last month's Blog, the search for big perch from our local commercial fisheries and that man Greally, joined this time by perch fan Bruce Turnbull, were back where they left off in August. Success came towards the end of the month with two more clonking fish .
A 2lb'er for Dave and an ounce short of 3lb for Bruce
 There is no doubt that as the new piking season progresses time will be found for more forays after the stripeys. Whilst we are all first and foremost pike fishing enthusiasts at SENPAC, there is something very special about a big perch.
As for October, well, our first club trip of the new season will see us on one of the more remote waters in south-west Scotland which over the years has become something of a favourite with the SENPAC members. This is very much a "big-sky" venue which, if we are blessed with decent weather, can be a very special place to be.
Our October meeting will take place on Tuesday 28th October 2014 at the Northumbrian Piper as usual. Plenty to talk about I suspect as the fishing will be well underway by then and of course some of our number will be looking forward to a trip to Menteith as well as SENPAC's annual jolly-boys outing to the Lakes.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

August 2014 - One Extreme to Another

Another surprisingly busy month on the SENPAC fishing front which again serves to confound my predictions in the June blog. However August turned out to be a different sort of month to July to the extent that our Newsletter editor felt the need to focus on those contrasts in his latest missive.
 The first of those contrasts was of course the weather which undoubtedly impacted on our member's fishing plans. July was probably too good to last and whilst some of our number were understandably complaining about the heat, bright sun and certainly the lack of water in the local rivers, in the main they were all getting out and doing a bit.

August arrives and all of a sudden it seemed we were presented with what was probably a more typical British summer mix of conditions, three nice days and a thunderstorm with an ex-hurricane thrown in just to liven things up. The rivers could probably still do with some more water but the more "active" weather that we enjoyed during August undoubtedly threw a spanner in the works for some at SENPAC when it came to getting out on the bank-side.

But that's not to say that all was lost because we have a fairly hardy bunch amongst our membership who aren't easily deflected from their fishing and it was the fishing that presented us with another of the month's extreme contrasts. (sounding a bit like Robson Green here which is a bit of a worry!)
Faye's New PB - 10lb-4oz
Highlight of our July report was a new pb for SENPAC's oldest member, Kay Needham. Highlight of the August fishing was another new pb, this time for SENPAC's youngest member, Faye Greally.

Fishing with her Dad on a four day camping excursion to a favourite swim up in Scotland her fish of 10lb-4oz easily beats her previous best and was caught early in the trip, immediately putting some pressure on Dave who was making do catching bream,roach and perch. All came right for him in the end though with a nice fish of 16lb-13oz. Not sure who was happiest about the new pb, certainly Faye was over the moon but I suspect Dad was quietly celebrating almost as much.

Our August club trip was to a local commercial fishery on a very windy and very bright day which didn't auger too well for successful fishing and to be honest there were a few who struggled as a result of the conditions. However we did learn one thing from the experience which will no doubt result in a few more trips to this venue later in the year.
A Proper Perch For Dave Greally
Whilst we had heard rumours of decent perch being present in this water we were treated to first hand evidence of the fact by Dave Greally who towards the end of our day and despite the conditions produced a proper one for the rest of us to admire. A good month for the Greally family all round!

The August club meeting managed to confirm our club trip calendar for the coming Piking season, the first of those trips is to be north of the border on the 12th October 2014 and I know that a good few of our number are starting to get excited about getting stuck-in to some proper Piking at last and that will certainly be the main topic of conversation at the September club meeting which takes place on Tuesday 30th September 2014 at the Northumbrian Piper as usual.

Friday, 1 August 2014

July 2014............. NOT so quiet on the SENPAC front!

It appears that a number of our SENPAC members took exception to my suggestion in last month's blog report that July and August would be a quiet time as far as their fishing was concerned. I had no sooner posted the blog when our newsletter editor began to receive fishing reports and photographs from all over the place, turning my prediction on its' head and making July one of the busiest of recent months.

Speaking of our newsletter editor, his cover story for the August issue, "Fishing in the Toilet" came as something of a surprise but turned out to be what seems is a unique solution to the interior decor of the male toilet at Matfen Hall Country Hotel, in south Northumberland, wallpaper with detailed instructions on how to go about catching just about every British freshwater fish that you can think of...............................to loiter or not to loiter would be a bit of a crisis but to get a camera out and start taking pictures strikes me as a risk too far!

Kay's new pb - 8lb - 5oz
So back to the fishing action and a couple of reports to feature, firstly, and what was probably the highlight of July, a new PB for SENPAC's  matriach, Kay Needham. Kay hasn't been able to join us on our fishing trips as much as she would have liked over recent times due to health difficulties and has had to limit her outings to venues where access is easiest. So she teamed up with fellow SENPAC member Pat Hamilton to fish a local country park lake and her first run produced her new pb, a long lean fish of some age I would say which no doubt weighed a few pounds more at some stage earlier in life. Pleased doesn't come close to describing Kay's reaction and she recorded her thanks to Pat for his assistance with the netting.

Also of note this month past, SENPAC's lure fishing specialist, Steve Sandiford enjoyed success with specimen sized chub from one of our local rivers using plug type lures as well as with the pike on one of our harder local stillwaters, in the process moving into pole position for one of our annual trophies. So congratulations go to him.

Steve Sandiford's month

As forecast in last month's blog there was a deal of discussion at the July club meeting regarding the venues for the coming season's monthly club trips but eventually a list of waters and dates was arrived at. Perhaps not surprisingly the final list of six waters looked a lot like last season's choices because whilst the total number of fish caught was down a bit on previous years the average size of fish caught had improved which I suspect had some influence on the decisions made. So, subject to final approval from the membership, we will be visiting two waters in England, North Lincolnshire and Cumbria and four in Scotland's south-west which is a fairly typical mix for SENPAC's  piking year. Can't come soon enough for most of our members I suspect!
SENPAC's August club meeting will take place on the evening of Tuesday 26th August 2014 at the Northumbrian Piper, Fawdon, as usual and as the latter part of September usually sees our more enthusiastic members starting their new season's campaign I suspect much of the discussion will be about getting back to business.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

June 2014..........All quiet on the SENPAC front

Highlight of SENPAC's June was undoubtedly the fishing of the Golden Maggot match which was the usual mixture of competition and banter. The turn-out was a little down on previous years for all sorts of domestic reasons that seem to get in the way of a day out fishing, I'm sure you know what I mean? On the day the weather gods smiled on us and we had the small commercial fishery that we use for the event to ourselves which was an added bonus.

Match winner Dave Greally receives the Golden Maggot Trophy
from last year's winner Chris Graham

Winner on the day, by a margin, was Dave Greally who enjoyed a fish a chuck during a hectic morning spell which left the remainder of us trailing in his wake. Loser on the day, by a margin was our RO, Mike Bell, who discovered at the weigh-in that he had a skimmer sized hole in the bottom of his keepnet! Needless to say everybody present was keen to express their "sympathies"to Mike and applaud his conservation minded catch-and-release approach.

There's a hole in my...........etc..........etc.
In common with most other PAC Regions, July and August are traditionally the quiet months for SENPAC as the member's focus moves from the fishing to all of the other summer activities that get in the way of the fishing. That said there are those amongst our number who are already plundering the bounty off the north east coast and beginning to fill their freezers with mackerel and launce  in preparation for the new season. The only difficulty that is being encountered this year as far as I can tell is that whilst the mackerel shoals appear to be better than average this year, the size of the fish is also significantly larger which provides something of a dilemma for those who are partial to a fresh mackerel fillet. And what of the launce, well they too appear to be achieving specimen sizes and whilst perhaps not a fashionable pike bait nowadays they do provide a solution when an eel bait is felt to be required on waters, or events for that matter, where the rules dictate "sea deads only". They also don't take up much room in the freezer! They certainly seem to work well on some of the Scottish lochs that we fish.

Our July club meeting will be held on the 29th July 2014 at the Northumbrian Piper as usual and whilst I suspect the turn-out will be modest the focus of the get together will undoubtedly be next season's club trips and where we will be going.


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

May 2014......................Golden Maggot Time Again

A fairly quiet month on the SENPAC fishing front with most members fishing for anything that swims other than pike, with varying degrees of success. Our May fishing social at the local Whittle Dean complex turned out to be a bit of a struggle with a bright sunny day coupled with a stiff breeze on the exposed water conspiring to make catching fish less than easy. Most of us got the odd fish or two but I suspect that most of us weren't too disappointed when it was over and we could go home and tend to our sunburn!

With relatively few fishing reports received from our members and even fewer images available our Newsletter editor took the opportunity to turn his attention to next season's pike fishing and more specifically to SENPAC's club trips for the coming season. He provided a brief resume of last season's outings and each of the six different venues that we visited by way of prodding everybody to start and consider which waters we should visit in 2014/2015.This showed that two of the venues failed to produce any fish and that a total of 25 fish were caught from the remaining four venues. Best fish caught was Dave Greally's 23lb'er with Dave Gardner's 17lb fish being the only other double caught on the club outings.

Not one of our better seasons then and this is bound to fuel an animated discussion over the next few club meetings as we try to agree the list of waters that we will be visiting next season. We always plan to have both the venues and the dates for the outings agreed in time to include the details in our September Newsletter so that everybody can organise their diaries.............so let "battle" commence!
 Chris Graham with a nice tench from a local pond

Speaking of "battles", June will see the SENPAC stalwarts fishing the Golden Maggot match on the 8th of the month when many of our number who are comfortable with 15lb mono and size 8 hook traces will be faced with the daunting challenge of 2lb hook links and size 18 hook eyes to overcome. Those of us "of a certain age" will no doubt struggle but as fishing socials go this will, as usual, be one of the most enjoyable of the SENPAC summer.

Next club meeting, Tuesday 24th June 2014 at the Northumbrian Piper.

Friday, 2 May 2014

April 2014...................SENPAC goes global

As the Summer fishing begins to take hold with SENPAC members and the pike fishing begins to take second place, our Newsletter editor took the opportunity to record the growing success of the SENPAC blog this month as well as the usual review of the now varied fishing activity amongst the club members.

 Firstly the blog, which continues to enjoy an ever growing number of visitors and perhaps surprisingly the majority of which come from outside of the UK. The details make interesting reading.................37% are UK based, a further 25% come from America, 7% from Russia and 4% from Germany with the remainder fairly equally shared between France, the Netherlands,Sweden,Ukraine, Romania and South Korea!
As you can probably imagine this all came as something of a surprise to our club members, a shared interest in pike fishing is obviously spread far and wide.
That's how you do it Dad...........

On the fishing front, our April fishing social failed to produce any fish to those present but was none the less enjoyable, a duck of the tufted variety providing the only excitement for one of our number?

Like Father, Like Son!
Also reported, a new pb perch of 2lb-3oz for Dave Gardner whilst on a weeks trip to White Acres, good bags of carp, silvers and some early season tench for Paul Proctor fishing one of the local fishing clubs ponds and a reality check for Dave Greally who was comprehensively out fished by Daughter Faye on one trip. What is it with lady anglers?

Dave saved face to some degree later in the month, this time fishing with Son Aaron up in Scotland when they enjoyed one of those remarkable piking coincidences that occasionally crop up, by catching a somewhat elderly fish of 20lb-2oz which was immediately  identified as Aaron's current pb caught eight months previous in the same swim at a weight of 19lb-13oz. You couldn't make it up?

Looking forward to our May fishing and I suspect that once again our members will be spread far and wide chasing various quarry. Our fishing social for the month will take place on the 18th May when we are off to Northumbrian Water's Whittle Dean complex in the hope that in addition to being sociable we may also enjoy catching a fish or two! Tight lines to all.


Friday, 28 March 2014

March 2014.....................and the winner is

So that was March and for many SENPAC members that brings to a close another piking season. But not for all, one of the benefits of living up here in the north-east is that, for those of us that enjoy a slightly extended pike fishing season, it is only a relatively short journey northwards to the cooler climes of the larger Scottish waters, that provide the opportunity to take advantage of the post-spawning feed-up. So that is something to look forward to as an alternative to the mysteries of the dark-side, boilies, bolt-rigs and the like?

One of eight for Dave
March also saw the conclusion of the SENPAC Club Trip Championship for the season with the final event fished on a day of mixed weather and equally mixed results. Hearty congratulations must go to the runaway winner, Dave Greally who, with a master class of eight fish on this final outing, cemented his almost total domination of this year's competition. Something of a tour de force from Dave this season which left the rest of us floundering in his wake.
As for the March fishing results for SENPAC members, well the highlight of the reports in this month's Newsletter is undoubtedly a second new pb of the season for Peter Armstrong, this time a wonderful fish of 21lb caught from north of the border. This, along with Peter's previous best of 16lb-8oz caught in December has meant that he has enjoyed his best season so far since joining SENPAC in July 2011. Just rewards for the significant effort that Peter has put into his pike fishing with us. Well done.

Peter's new pb

As for April, well we have the first of our SENPAC fishing socials organised for a bit of roach fishing on a local water and I suspect that a few of us will be heading north later in the month to renew the hunt for old Esox.

SENPAC continue to meet throughout the summer, on the last Tuesday of every month at the usual place, the Northumbrian Piper at Fawdon, Newcastle NE3 2AH. If you fancy a natter then why not call in and see us.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

February 2014

So that was February then and for SENPAC it was a very quiet month on the fishing front, judging by the reports that I have had from the members. The incessant wind and rain certainly had a part to play and whilst up here in the north east we have been extremely fortunate compared to areas of England in the south and south west, the storms rolling in from the Atlantic have been sufficient to convince some of our less committed members not to venture out and for those that probably need committing the local rivers have really been too much of a challenge and the water levels in the lochs and lakes that we fish have been such that on a number of occasions I am convinced that we have been fishing in the fields!

As a result of this the fishing has been fairly poor and the over-riding feature for most of us that were out was the mud! We didn't seem able to escape the stuff no matter where we went, so much so that the club's Newsletter editor felt the need to reminisce about the good old days when we all enjoyed those magical, still, frosty, mornings when you just knew that the fish were going to be interested as the pale sun appeared over the horizon and began to burn off the mist.

Our February club trip coincided with one of the more vigorous storms and we had to battle 70mph winds, rain as well as the inevitable mud and by the end of the day, despite all present having numerous takes and runs no-one managed to get a fish to the net. Frustrating!

Of the February fishing results well it was generally a month of small jacks with a couple of exceptions, Steve Sandiford enjoyed an exploratory trip on one of the local rivers which needless to say was well up, coloured and running through and so reverted to the worm rod to take a very nice 3lb sea trout and a something over 3lb chub but by far and away the best fish of the month fell  to SENPAC joint RO Bruce Turnbull who after something of an extended fishless campaign on a water finally cracked it with a very fit fish of 24lb-10oz.
As for March, well the SENPAC squad will be off to one of the larger lochs in Dumfries and Galloway for the final club trip of the season on Sunday 16th March, a location which at this time last year produced two 20lb'ers in a week for one lucky (skillfull?) club member and there will no doubt be the usual end of season flurry of activity on many other waters in the area. A little colder weather and less mud would be a real treat if somebody could organise that please?

Thursday, 30 January 2014


South East Northumberland Pike Anglers Club (SENPAC)wish to record their thanks to Neil Baker who for many years has shared the role of Regional Organiser (RO) with region founder Mike Bell. Amongst other responsibilities Neil looked after our Blog. Recently he has decided that he had to retire from the position of RO and that mantle has passed to Bruce Turnbull and with it the very steep learning curve necessary to get to grips with the Blog. So here we go................January was as usual a very busy month for SENPAC. In addition to the peak season fishing we held our annual presentation of awards and slideshow review of the SENPAC year which seemed to be enjoyed by all members present. Trophy winners this year were; Biggest Fish on a Lure.............Paul Proctor/Biggest Fish on a Club Trip.......Bruce Turnbull/ Junior Angler of the Year.........Aaron Greally/ Club Trip Champion................Bruce Turnbull/ Biggest Fish of the Year.........Dave Greally/ and the principal trophy, that of Pike Angler of the Year, which is decided by the votes of the members was deservedly taken by Dave Greally, who had to put up with what has now become the traditional p**s take, celebrated on the front cover of our February Newsletter.

As for the January fishing, well, SENPAC members were out and about on a variety of waters and a few fish were being reported, however highlight of the month came on our club trip to a Lincolnshire drain and it was that man Dave Greally again who showed us all how to do it. This time with a fine fish of 20lb-3oz.

Dave Greally.........down the drain?

Looking forward to February,we are staying a little closer to home for our club trip on the 23rd February, we are going to a water which just prior to Christmas produced a red-letter day for two of SENPAC's finest with Pat Hamilton and Paul Proctor sharing a day of 13 fish. Doesn't happen very often that, in my experience, be nice if it happened again for our visit!