Thursday, 1 December 2016

November 2016 - Can The View Make-Up For A Lack Of Fish ?

The main reason for the question in this month's blog title ( and our newsletter editors cover image) isn't as you could reasonably assume, another moan about a poor fishing month but more to do with the fact that November provided many  of our members with opportunities to fish in some very scenic locations in some very scenic conditions. Some of them even caught some nice fish whilst others were forced to revert to becoming photographers instead of anglers which will at least mean that the slideshow at our annual presentation of awards night will have something other than pictures of fish to entertain the assembled masses.
With visits to the Lake of Menteith and our Jolly Boys Outing, also north of the border, there were undoubtedly opportunities for both fish and photographs to feature in this month's blog. First the fish and best of the month was one of Menteith's crackers which fell to our joint RO Bruce Turnbull at the tail end of the day fishing with our Scottish colleagues the PAAS. The PAC visit proved to be a bit more of a struggle due to the breezy conditions and the somewhat questionable anchoring equipment that was provided by the fishery ( I'm sure that this will be sorted out in time for the March visits) and SENPAC representatives Dennis Fearon and Mike Bell had a frustrating time although Dennis did manage an 11lb'er between re-anchoring practice. Dave Gardner who was at the sharp end of the boat with Bruce had one of those days when nothing would stay hooked and took solace ( I think?) in the netting of Bruce's fish.
By The Light Of The Super Moon - 24lb Of Menteith Magic

The JB Outing fished over five days in the west of Scotland coincided with a period of high atmospheric pressure, clear blue skies, bright sun, sub-zero temperatures ( can you tell where this is going?) and no breeze which kind of equates to the perfect storm when it comes to catching pike, but as I said earlier, did provide alternative opportunities and did not impact greatly on the overall enjoyment of what is principally a social event. Certainly the very comfortable farm cottage which was our base for the trip proved to be very popular and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if we don't go back. Best fish of the trip amongst a number was an 11lb'er and the competition for best photograph is still to be decided but sunrises featured strongly.

Of  December, well the Region outing is to one of our regular venues, high in the hills of Dumfries, high enough to need us to keep an eye on the weather so hopefully that all comes together and then we enter the silly season that is Christmas, when as anglers, we all try to fit the fishing around all of the other demands on our time and domestic expectations of the festive season.

No formal region meeting in December because of the celebrations although a few of us will be found in the Northumbrian Piper on Tuesday 27th December 2016 just to get out from in front of the TV!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

October 2016 - Short,sharp and to the point.............

Apart from being a little late with this one it is going to be sharp, punchy, to the point and sadly very short!!

The main reason for this disappointing situation is that SENPAC have probably "enjoyed" the hardest start to a piking season that most of us here can remember. The fishing on the waters that we usually fish has been incredibly slow, yes we have been catching small jacks in numbers on both baits and lures ( mainly baits) and yes for all sorts of reasons the time that people have had available to actually fish has been lower than was to be expected, but none of our lot have had a double figure fish to report throughout the month. Not good.

We nearly enjoyed a perfect region outing during the month, that is if you measure perfection in terms of everybody present catching a fish, sadly one of our number let the team down, no names no pack-drill but Paul was as fed-up as a fed-up thing. That said nobody was exactly celebrating as the biggest fish was a 5lb'er, not that we were being ungrateful you understand but something a little larger would have been nice and it would certainly made having to endure a biblical hail storm towards the end of the day, a little easier. Still we all enjoyed a wonderful Scottish sunrise which solved a problem for our newsletter editor and provided him with his front cover image, (now you can all play guess the venue??).

I know this all begins to sound a little negative and I want to try and avoid that if I possibly can and here at SENPAC we are achieving that by adopting our usual philosophy of being a bunch of eternal optimists and focusing very much on the delights to come in November (at least one of which has already happened as I write this, report in next blog) with trips to the Lake of Menteith, our Region outing and  five days away for some on what has become known as our Jolly Boys Outing which one way or another is always a high-point of our season.

Next Region meeting Tuesday 29th November 2016, usual venue as detailed on the left.

Like Buses!......Tight Lines To All

P.S. Just watched the latest "River Piker" video on You Tube, the Northern Lure Gathering, fantastic stuff, well done Paul and Ady, thoroughly recommended viewing.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Oops!......Apology Time

OK guys, time for an apology. Whilst I was trying to be helpful back in the August 2016 posting by including the update on the progress of the Scottish Wild Fisheries Review (WFR) it turns out that some of what I said was in fact inaccurate, otherwise known as wrong!

 In general the update is fine and does reflect the current state of play however following an exchange of correspondence with the guys at the Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling (SFCA) they, very helpfully, pointed out that the law regarding the use of more than one rod and the use of rod rests was in fact changed many years ago. In fact the law was changed at the same time as the use of livebaits was made illegal, a battle over which an awful lot of effort was expended by both the PAC and the PAAS, all to no avail.

So for the sake of clarity, the current legal position in Scotland is that a maximum of four rods may be fished at the same time and those rods can be placed in rod rests. The use of livebaits is illegal.

In my original post I suggested that if you wanted to stay up to date with developments with the WFR then you should monitor the Scottish Governments website and that advice is still valid however, you could also monitor the SFCA's website ( or their Facebook site if you want the "anglers slant" on how things are going.

And as for progress, well the guys from the north confirm that progress is very slow, with no signs of any imminent changes being made to the status-quo.

Sorry to our readers if I have mislead anybody, particularly if you have spent any recent fishing outings north of the border nervously looking over your shoulder in case the polis turn-up?

Saturday, 1 October 2016

September 2016 - On Your Marks..........................

As with most other Regions of the PAC, the end of September and the arrival of Autumn is viewed with some excitement here at SENPAC. The start of another piking season has always been anticipated with a real sense of expectation and optimism, particularly so amongst the Region's more "active" members, one or two of whom have already enjoyed the odd exploratory outing. The end of September also marks the end of our competition year here at SENPAC and the start of a new one.

Of 2015/2016, well it wasn't particularly outstanding if you measure such things by numbers, our Region outings were the usual enjoyable events in social terms but the numbers of fish caught was a little disappointing. The number of new piking PB's for our members was very disappointing, there weren't any and whilst there were only three pike reported over the magic 20lb. mark there were a large number of good double figure fish caught which was viewed by all as a very positive sign for the waters that we fish most regularly. Of the two trophies that remained to be claimed from last season the "Biggest on a Lure" again served to demonstrate that we do not really have many what you could call, dedicated, lure anglers in the Region as the trophy was shared by Dave Gardner and Steve Sandiford, each with a fish of 7lb. Hmm! "Biggest Fish of the Year", well that was taken by our joint RO Bruce Turnbull with a Scottish fish of 24lb. that was despite the best efforts of our other joint RO, Mike Bell with his Lake of Menteith fish of 21b.
Bruce's Winning Smile ?
But now we are all about looking forward to the new season and the joys and excitement to come. Our first Region outing will once again be north of the border on Sunday 16th October 2016 as will our November outing on the 13th of the month and for some of our number there will be a first visit to the Lake of Menteith to look forward to as well as our annual " Jolly Boys" trip, five days away with a new base and new waters to fish. So as I said earlier, excitement, expectation and optimism prevail at SENPAC as we embark on a new piking journey. As our Newsletter editor quite succinctly put it "On Your Marks......"

If you would like to join in the fun then our next Region meeting will be on Tuesday 25th October 2016 at the Northumbrian Piper ( see opposite) as usual starting at 8pm. It would be great to see you,as they say.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

August 2016 - Thank Goodness For Fishing

Am I alone in feeling grateful that August is now safely behind us, and with it the wall to wall coverage of the Olympic Games. Not that most of us at SENPAC need another excuse to go fishing but if we had then the non-stop waffle and the interminable repeat showings of soon to be millionaire ( if they are not already) "athletes" and their tear  infused thank you speeches was more than enough reason to get the maggots out of the fridge and head to the water side. One aspect of fishing that you can always rely upon........escape!

August is always one of the quietest months in the SENPAC year with so many other demands on our members time with family holidays, child minding and a myriad of other domestic duties all combining to reduce the time available to go fishing. But August is also when most of our number begin to think seriously about the new season's piking and solid plans are formulated for the campaign to come. It is obviously no secret that we pikers up here in the far north-east corner of the country are not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to waters with a potential to produce a decent fish or two. In fact, to be completely honest we probably only have two such waters locally and one of them is notoriously difficult to get on to. As a result we rely quite heavily upon venues in Scotland to provide us with fishing that offers the opportunity to catch pike in reasonable numbers and also the chance of a notable fish. It was against this background that our Newsletter editor attempted to provide us all with an update on the progress being made with the Scottish Government's Wild Fisheries Review in his latest missive.
It didn't make for particularly comfortable reading and whilst it is acknowledged that the update is a much abbreviated version of the current situation and focuses on the potential impact on anglers who visit Scotland as opposed to the much wider debate that is under-way, and despite there being an inevitable degree of editorial interpretation and opinion included I decided to include the update here for information...............

The Scottish Government’s Wild Fisheries Review plods ever onwards, the first draft of the new Fisheries Bill was published in February 2016 and put out for consultation to interested parties, that consultation period concluding in May of this year. The draft Bill was a mixture of detailed proposals and much less detailed areas where further discussion and consideration was felt necessary in order to arrive at concrete proposals. Much of that further discussion and consideration is being undertaken by the augustly named Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) which is made up of representatives of various interested parties and organisations. The members are……………………………………

Willie Cowan (Chair)         Scottish Government
Carole Barker-Munro         Scottish Government
Alan Wells                          Scottish Government
Mark Bilsby                        Association of Salmon Fishery Boards
Jonathan Swift                   Association of Scottish Stillwater Fisheries                                             Simon McKelvey               Institute of Fishery Management
Chris Horrill                       Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland
George Pullar                     Salmon Net Fishing Association of Scotland                                          Craig Campbell                  Scottish Anglers National Association
Ron Woods                         Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling
     Duncan Ferguson               Scottish Gamekeepers Association

The basis of the latest proposals remains as originally outlined following the initial consultation process, the abolition of most of the current fisheries management bodies to be replaced by a national network of regional Fisheries Management Organisations (FMO’s) who will be given the legal responsibility for the operation and supervision of all freshwater fisheries be that salmon, sea trout, trout and coarse fisheries both wild and commercial in the case of the latter two categories. The bureaucrat’s solution you might say, and as with all bureaucracy, the costly solution.

Perhaps then, not surprisingly, one of the more sensitive areas of the discussion is in relation to how this new organisation is to be funded and is one of the areas where there is a distinct lack of detail in the draft bill. Step forward the SRG. They have now produced their first attempt as to recommendations on how the whole shebang is to be financed and it is this report that has prompted me to provide this update.
My first reaction is that this does not look like good news for anglers like our-selves who visit Scotland on a regular basis for our fishing. The five options for raising the necessary money that were considered by the SRG were, in abbreviated form, as follows………………………………

1. A tax on fishery owners, this was dismissed as being difficult and costly to collect and administer, and was considered as un-fair, as the burden would fall on “commercial” fisheries to an unreasonable level and would be mired in problems of having to identify who owns what fisheries.

2. A tax on fishing permits’, this was dismissed for the reasons above.

3. Place non-migratory fishery owners under a legal obligation to manage their fisheries and make them responsible for raising the funding to achieve this. Again this option was dismissed, somewhat less convincingly I thought for the same reasons outlined in 1. above.

4. Raise a tax on fishing tackle sales. The SRG helpfully pointed out that such sales were already subject to VAT and the suggestion was dismissed on the grounds of the additional financial burden it would place on anglers, which quite frankly I found laughable in the light of what followed.

5. Introduce a “fisheries management and development levy” to be raised directly from individual anglers. The SRG seized on this one as being “the fairest and most cost effective approach………..and to be the only viable and acceptable funding system if combined with suitable levels of government funding” They went on to dress this idea up with statements about such a levy providing anglers with a personal stake in fisheries welfare and development, the ability of anglers to influence fisheries management and provision of anglers insurance cover of some sort!

No mention so far of a rod licence you will no doubt have noticed, which at first sight appears strange. Well there is a very good reason for that and this is where the politics creeps in. It turns out that the Scottish Government has already committed to a policy of not introducing a rod licence and is clearly desperate to side-step the inevitable bomb-blast of reversing such policy on such an emotive subject. So I think it a reasonable preposition to suggest that for “Rod Licence” read “Fisheries Management and Development Levy”. There may be some good news concealed in this situation though, especially for us pike anglers. There doesn’t appear to be any connection between the payment of the “Levy” and the numbers of rods that can be used which may have proved problematic and costly if the principle of the rod licence was adopted. Historically, all fishing legislation in Scotland has been based around a single held rod. Multiple rods in rests remains strictly illegal (set-lines?) so perhaps a single payment not linked to numbers of rods and sorting out the set-line nonsense is a positive. On the other hand it is perhaps too early to celebrate.

 Whilst I suspect we wouldn’t have been overjoyed with having to buy a rod licence(s) for our fishing in Scotland, it would at least have been straightforward, what is now being proposed raises additional practical difficulties and potentially increased costs.

The SRG proposals for the levy are……………………………

1.  It must be compulsory

2. It must be universal, apply and be collected nationally, apply equally to Scottish based anglers and visitors alike, apply to all anglers pursuing all species of fish.

3.  Be easy to understand and access.

4.  Be efficient in collection and administration.

5.  Be set at a level which represents good value to anglers but is sufficient to raise adequate funds to finance the new management organisation.

6.  Have uniform rates for all types of angling activity with discounts for juniors, disabled and OAPs’.

7.  Be based upon an annual fee but with weekly or monthly options for visiting anglers.( no mention of whether “visitors” can opt to pay the annual levy?)

8.  Provide the means of collecting, generating and disseminating information to anglers.

So in a nutshell, coarse anglers are going to pay the same as anglers on the best salmon fishing rivers and we, south of the border as visitors, may well have to organise weekly or monthly            “ permits’” or whatever they will be called, each time we want to fish. Compared to what we have become used to over the years this all sounds like it could be an expensive nightmare! Just consider the impact on our PAC visits to the Lake of Menteith which to be honest are already something of an expensive luxury for most of us

Clearly there is still work to do by all concerned and I have yet to find anything that suggests just when the new arrangements, whatever they end up being, are to be introduced, so we may just squeeze in another season of piking before we have all this to worry about. 

If you need to learn more then I would suggest that you consult the Scottish Government's website on a fairly regular basis. As I said earlier, not the most comfortable reading and easy to see that, should these proposals be implemented, then a visit to Scotland will be a more complicated and expensive affair, consider the impact on the PAC visit to the Lake of Menteith which for many of us is already an expensive luxury without the costs associated with a weekly "levy" being added?

On the SENPAC fishing front, well as I said all a bit quiet although, speaking of Scotland as we were, one of our number gave up on patiently waiting for the new season to start and took himself off to a favourite water north of the border for a four day session and had five doubles with two at 18lbs on his first day! Not a bad start? Our Summer League matches were concluded during August but catch returns were poor on both matches. Despite that congratulations go to the winner Dave Greally who showed us all how to do it for the second year in a row.

The September meeting for the Region will be on Tuesday 27th at the Northumbrian Piper as usual, it would be great to see you.

Tight lines to all.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

July 2016 - A Forward Look

The summer fishing continues for our SENPAC members with reports from all the different angling disciplines being generally positive, including from our local rivers which, despite rapidly falling water levels have been producing the goods. Highlight from the flowing water in July, a new personal best barbel for Steve Sandiford who is fast becoming our stand-out angler of the season. Both of the first two rounds of SENPAC's Summer league passed off successfully with a different winner on each match we currently have a tie at the top of the league at the mid-way point. Two more rounds in August will hopefully sort that out.
Steve's 10lb-12oz New PB Barbel

However, whilst we are all enjoying our warm weather fishing and hopefully we continue to do that for a few more weeks yet, there has been a noticeable increase in anticipation amongst our number as we begin to formulate plans for next season's pike fishing.There has been much "chatter" about venues and trips for the Region's social piking which has always been an important element of the SENPAC philosophy and of course many of our members will also be quietly researching and planning their own campaigns for the coming winter. On the social front our newsletter editor has been able to confirm the club trip calendar for next season in the latest edition of the publication and in addition arrangements for this year's "jolly boys outing" in November have been finalised and accommodation for our four day trip has been booked, all of which served to heighten the sense of anticipation for the fishing to come.

Our six club trips held monthly, October to March, have a distinctly Scottish feel once again, with only two of the excursions south of the border. This year we have decided not to experiment with unknown waters and not to include a visit to a river venue, in order to avoid last season's frustrations of cancelled outings due to out of sorts waterways. So, very much tried and tested waters which, over the years, have served us reasonably well. A big change though on the "jolly boys" front. For a number of years we have visited the Lake District for our outings but nothing stays the same for ever and whilst our trips to Lakeland have produced some great fish for a number of our members, changes on the accommodation front and frankly increasing restrictions on access to waters and cost increases have lead us to decide to find pastures new. Guess what, we are going to Scotland! An easy decision to make in those terms I think.

So the new season is beginning to take shape nicely, next step I guess will be to put together the Region's order for bait and the logistical organisation of placing the order with the Lord of Darkness at Lucebaits and the subsequent distribution around the members and then we will be set fair for what we hope will be another enjoyable and hopefully successful season.

Only two months and counting as our newsletter editor put it!

The August regional meeting will take place on Tuesday 30th August at the Northumbrian Piper as usual. I'm sure that there will only be one subject on everybody's minds.

Best of luck, whatever you are currently fishing for.

Monday, 11 July 2016

June 2016 - On The Up

At long last we seem to be getting something like the Summer fishing that we have come to anticipate locally. There were times over the last couple of months when it felt like Spring was was never going to end and the constantly changing weather, particularly the winds from the northerly quarter, dictated that we were going to have to continue to struggle for our fish.

Well June finally saw an up-turn in results for most of our SENPAC members. The match fishermen began to see decent bags of fish, the few carp anglers that we have reported the odd fish, the mackerel arrived off the north sea coast and we had the first salmon of the season reported from one of our local rivers. Even the pike began to co-operate for the lure anglers amongst our number, particularly for Steve Sandiford ( he of the first salmon) who reported fourteen hits with eight to the net on a half-day session on one of our local waters! Our Newsletter editor persuaded Steve to disclose the successful lure that he used on the day and here it is, looking slightly second-hand but remarkably intact bearing in mind the action that it has seen.
This One Definitely Works

And speaking of action the other highlight of the SENPAC June, and thankfully it turned out to be a highlight, was our Golden Maggot Match. Six of our number fished the competition and all were grateful for some half-decent weather and some fish. The eventual winner was our joint-RO, Bruce Turnbull despite being somewhat outside of his comfort zone, having to adapt to 2lb hook-links and size 18's from his more usual 3oz. leads and 40lb. traces being a real test for his eyesight. An age thing you know!
The Golden Maggoteers

What of July, well we have the first two rounds of our Summer League matches to look forward to and whilst we are just starting to celebrate the arrival of Summer up here in the north-east we will also have an eye on next season's piking as our Newsletter editor will be confirming our club trip calendar and venues in the next edition of the Newsletter just to whet everybody's appetite.

Speaking of the Newsletter, there was a brief focus on fishing fashions in the July edition with a lot of talk about camo and olive green, although waterproof and warm seemed to be the priority for us piking types, regardless of what it looks like and I think most if not all of the SENPAC squad would hesitate to be seen on the banks (or the high street) in the footwear that featured on the front cover??

Our July meeting will be held at the Northumbrian Piper on Tuesday 26th July 2016 at 8-00 pm. We have had one or two enquiries from potential new members over the last month so we may see some new faces at the meeting which would be great.

Tight lines to all.

Monday, 6 June 2016

May 2016 - All Quiet In The Moonlight On The North East Front

I think that it is fair to say that all at SENPAC considered the month of April to be frustrating as far as the fishing was concerned and I think that it is also fair to say that most were looking forward to May, hanging grimly to the old adage "it can only get better". It didn't!

Up here in the north east, whilst other areas of the country were and are, as I write this,  enjoying what can best be described as early summer weather, what have we had, a very persistent cold northerly wind and heavy overcast or a a very persistent cold northerly wind and bright sun, with little in-between. Our local fisheries just haven't turned on at all as yet as far as I can tell. SENPAC members who by now would be heavily into their carping generally don't seem to have bothered and the local commercial pools have been at best hit and miss and at worst miss. One or two of our number who have broken out the lure gear have managed a few modest pike but nothing to really celebrate as such. Whilst this period of the SENPAC year is traditionally fairly quiet it would be great to be able to celebrate a few decent fish/catches at some point in the not too distant future if for no other reason than being able to produce a positive blog update for a change?
The lack of much to report in the Region's Newsletter has driven our editor to adopt fairly desperate measures and write on a subject which he has always said that he would avoid like a shopping trip to Primark. The moon and its' effect, or not, on the pike fishing. Mumbo-jumbo, clap-trap, nonsense and garbage are some of the reproducible descriptions that have been used on the odd occasion that the subject has come up so I suspect our members were more than a little surprised to see the front cover of  of the latest edition of the publication. It's all Dave Horton's fault apparently.

One of the many benefits of PAC membership is the very enjoyable and informative magazine that appears four times every year. "Pikelines" has always been a principal part of the cement that glues the organisation together, never more so than under the current production team in my opinion, so when a reputable pike angler, the aforementioned Mr. Horton, has a go at demonstrating the possible effects that the lunar calendar may have on your fishing results in his most recent article, it was obviously enough to capture our newsletter editor's attention. Clearly there has been a huge amount written on the subject over the many years, some more complicated than others, some more convincing, some most definitely not. What seems to have caught the eye this time though was Dave Horton's approach of retrospectively identifying what stage the moon was at when he has caught his many fish of over 20 lbs in weight. One of the many benefits of keeping a detailed diary record of your fishing which so few of us seem to bother with nowadays.

However, after some fourteen years as SENPAC newsletter editor, Bruce Turnbull has a significant database of the Region's members successes and with the inevitable assistance of the internet for all matters moon related carried out a similar review to that described by Dave in his article. Results, well Dave found that 70% of his fish over 20lb were caught during two of the four-week lunar cycle, the new and full moon periods. Clearly the law of averages alone would dictate that only 50% of the fish should have been caught in those two weeks and the SENPAC review, well that produced identical results. Bit scary that?

So what do we do with that new information, well probably not a lot and we will all most likely continue on the basis of given the opportunity to go piking we will go with never a thought to the state of the moon. However, interestingly, our latest newsletter also contained the initial suggestions for the dates of next season's Region outings and guess what............

So, what of June, well I suspect we will all be praying for an improvement in the local fishing and no doubt some of our number will be getting fidgety with a view to getting back on running water. One SENPAC highlight will hopefully be the first of our summer matches, The Golden Maggot! Last year's results were dire and so this one falls firmly into the category of "it can only get better"?

Our next meeting at the Northumbrian Piper will be on Tuesday 28th June 2016, don't be shy why not call in for a natter.

Friday, 29 April 2016

April 2016 - Fishing Frustrations

As we come to the end of April our members piking is all but over, with only the occasional trip over the border for one or two of our diehards to look forward to. By now I think the generally held anticipation should have been that we would all be off fishing for other things, however this year's transition to boilies, bedchairs and bolt-rigs, or wagglers and weigh-ins, or even pheasant tails and hare's ears has become mired in the gradual slide back into winter that we have had to endure as the month past developed. It's snowing outside the window as I write this!

I predicted in last month's blog that April may well be a fairly quiet month and so it has turned out.So,what to talk about at April's SENPAC gathering in the Northumbrian Piper? Well a look back over the receding month's fishing didn't take very long because most of those present hadn't been out that much with rod in hand. The only high-spot for the period turned out to be the first fish caught at the start of a four day session north of the border for Dave Greally and daughter Faye. A lovely post spawn fish of 19lb-8oz must have increased anticipation levels for the rest of the visit no end, but unfortunately such anticipation was ultimately un- rewarded. Whilst another twenty four fish came to the net, none came close to that early beauty.
Dave Greally

So with the fishing past reviewed the discussion moved on to the piking to come and next season's plans for both SENPAC's regional outings as well as our traditional, November trip. I think that there was a feeling that we may have been a little premature in our forward view, that was certainly an opinion rehearsed by our newsletter editor but as with all "democratic" organisations canvassing opinion is one thing, arriving at decisions a completely different matter. And so it was that a goodly proportion of a somewhat brief May newsletter was taken up by requests for suggestions to begin the sometimes tortuous process of deciding when and where we are going for our monthly trips and also a couple of proposals for consideration for our November break. Just to get the discussion started you understand.

And really that is about it for this SENPAC April, never a busy month for us but particularly quiet, even by our standards. Our next gathering at "the Piper" will be on Tuesday 31st May 2016 by which time I sincerely hope we will all be fishing again somewhere, for something, with some more spring-like weather to enjoy.

It's still snowing!!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

March 2016 - Just In The Nick of Time

As another SENPAC piking season begins to draw to a close we have enjoyed a half-reasonable month of fishing. There will be a few of our number who extend their seasons by travelling north from our Tyneside base and those journey's have, in the past, been rewarded by a special fish or two so it's not impossible that I will have some success to report in next month's missive but for the rest April is usually the month to earn brownie points on the domestic scene before attention is focused elsewhere on other  quarry.

March is always a busy month in the SENPAC camp and traditionally gets under-way with a trip north for some of our members to the Lake of Menteith. This year was no exception and we had two boats filled by RO Mike Bell and Dennis Fearon and Joint RO Bruce Turnbull alongside Dave Gardner. This was the PAC's first attempt at a lure and bait event when we were denied the use of anchors. It was a less than successful arrangement, much as had been experienced by the Scottish Pike Anglers Alliance back in November last year. Particularly so on our visit because of the difficult weather conditions of swirling, sometimes quite strong winds which just served to make boat management difficult and effective fishing almost impossible. Catch returns overall for the day were poor as a result and there was a little discontent evident as the day drew to a premature close for many.
Dennis Fearon

 Mike and Dennis caught pike a 12lb'er each, Dave and Bruce struggled to avoid the trout, Dave boating the only pike, a modest jack. I think that it was widely agreed that a re-think will be necessary, either on the part of the fishery management which up to now they have robustly resisted or failing that on the part of those that are fishing the event as far as tactics go. Baits and lures fished from an un-tethered boat are a challenge too far if the weather is in any way un-sympathetic.
Mike Bell

As for the rest of the month's fishing I'm pleased to be able to report that a few nice double figure fish were reported by our members, principally from waters north of the border and of course our 2015/2016 Club Trip Champion was crowned after our final trip of the season which was also fished in Scotland on a very windy, very wet water in Dumfries and Galloway.
Paul Proctor's 15lb-2oz Fish

 Some of the details, well, Paul Proctor reported a 15lb-2oz  fish and Dave Greally went one better with a very elegant pike of 18lb-4oz over which there was some debate as to whether it had spawned or not. Dave also secured the Trip Championship a couple of weeks later by not catching anything on the last trip such was his domination of the events previous!
Club Trip Champion With His Elegant Pike
All of which provided our Newsletter editor with lots of pictures for this latest edition which no doubt made a nice change. However a good proportion of his efforts were put into a somewhat belated tribute to the late Fred Buller OBE who, as you will no doubt know, passed away back in February.

 As an angler, historian and author he had a big influence on a lot of SENPAC's members who are "of a certain age" and reference to the volumes of The Domesday Book of Mammoth Pike was un-avoidable for our editor, the fascinating tale of John Murray's Kenmure 72lb'er, an almost "local" fish for us, being used to illustrate the dedication and effort that Mr. Buller committed to his work. If, as yet you have not had the good fortune to enjoy Mr. Buller's writings then try this.......................... 

 I'm sure you will enjoy the read.

 As I suggested earlier, April will probably be a fairly quiet month for SENPAC, we have our fishing socials to look forward to, The Golden Maggot Match in June and The Summer League Matches in July and August all of which feel a long way off at the moment so for me it will be a couple more Piking trips before I turn my attention to the boilies and bolt rigs! Our April meeting will take place on Tuesday 26th at the Northumbrian Piper, if you feel that you would like to learn a little more about pike fishing why not call in for a chat. We don't bite, honest.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

February 2016 - No Shortage of Effort - Very little Reward

February can be one of the more difficult month's of the piking season on the waters that we fish, water temperatures would be expected to be at their lowest with moribund fish hard to locate and the activity of March as the drive to pro-create kicks-in still to look forward to. That is assuming that you can get a bait in the water with ice an ever present threat in these northern climes.

February 2016 hasn't been like that. Water temperatures have rarely dropped below 45 degrees, weed refuses to die back and the activity amongst the smaller jacks has remained at Autumnal levels. Most of our members have enjoyed days of multiple catches of fish in the 4lb - 6lb range whilst hoping for something a little larger. It is those larger fish that seem to have done a disappearing act on virtually all of our venues during February, the biggest fish reported being a 12lb'er which was as fat as butter and looking like it would be ready to spawn in a matter of days. The generally held view amongst our lot is that if ever there was a year when the fish spawn early then this could well be it. I guess that this suggestion is supported to some degree by the sustained level of activity amongst the smaller fish in the areas where we would begin to fish about now in the hope of intercepting the larger fish as they gather to spawn. Needless to say we are determined not to get caught out by the possibility of an early spawning and a lot of effort is already being expended in selected areas, so far, as it says at the top of this post, with very little reward.

We eventually had to give up on our planned region outing to a Yorkshire river.Whilst water levels gradually settled in the early part of February the banks were a bit of a nightmare with the debris and mud that was the residue of the prolonged flooding of January making things very difficult and potentially worse than difficult and with poor reports from those hardy souls who did give it a go we eventually succumbed and headed to a reliable stillwater due west of our Tyneside base. Eleven fish between the five members who made the journey went some way to convince us that we had made the right decision. So that saw us back on schedule as far as our club trip competition is concerned and it was at the very end of the month that we once again headed north and west this time to Dumfries and Galloway for our planned February outing, the penultimate trip of the season/competition. With an equal split between those that caught and those that didn't it was Dave Greally's two fish that moved him clear at the top of the competition table meaning the rest of us will be playing catch-up (again!) on the final event of the season. Hey-ho, it's a good job it is all a very light-hearted affair, much more to do with the craic than the catch.................honest.
Trip Champion Elect - Dave Greally

Our joint RO's, Mike Bell and Bruce Turnbull attended the fish-in that was organised to mark the passing of our friend Shane Patterson back in February 2015. They joined 14 other PAC stalwarts from the Hull, Teeside andDarlington/Durham Regions at the Hull and District A.A. complex at Brough. Our thanks go to Clive Melhuish and Jim Taylor for all their efforts in pulling the event together and of course to our hosts for providing the venue. Donations and a raffle raised £173 for Diabetes UK, Shane's adopted charity and that sum was boosted to £323 by money donated by another Yorkshire fish-in organised by LO Mark Green. All in all a fitting way with which to remember a good friend, just the sort of event in which Shane would have been in his element.
Shane Would Have Been In His Element

And what of March, well a few of us are once again looking forward to a day on the Lake of Mentieth, celebrated by our Newsletter editor on this month's front cover.

 We have our trip championship finale to look forward to and a lot of other piking besides as the season approaches its' climax, so a busy month no doubt. All of which will be reviewed and hopefully celebrated at our Region meeting which will take place at the Northumbrian Piper as usual on Tuesday 29th March 2016. Perhaps we will see you there?

Monday, 1 February 2016

January 2016 - Something of a Fishing Non-Event!

The general view amongst the SENPAC members appears to be that this season is rapidly becoming something of a non-event judging by the degree of frustration that was being voiced at our annual presentation of awards event a few nights ago. Those that have managed to get out have found their waters either totally un-fishable in practical terms due to flooding, or in some cases flotsam and jetsam, and even if they have managed to get baits into the water the results have proved to be very poor. The constantly fluctuating water levels, air pressures and temperatures may well be confusing the pike as much as the anglers seems to be a widely held view amongst our more active members.

With much of our piking being carried out at significant distance from our base here in the north east it is proving to be an increasing challenge as to whether it is worth the commitment in time and money to make the journey only to be defeated by the conditions. I suspect the internet browsing history's of our more committed  members over the past month will consist of a significant majority of visits to the Met Office and the SEPA and EA water level websites in desperate attempts to suss out whether the journey is worthwhile.

Even our most local water that is of any real interest has been substantially un-fishable since the end of December. Being a relatively shallow pit the almost continuous high winds have stirred the silt up and ripped up the remaining weed into huge rafts of the stuff which now line the banks such that any sensible fishing effort requires an hours hard work with a weed rake just to get a swim!

Am I beginning to sound like a "Victor" here? Perhaps. Not all bad though, we have managed the odd trip out on a day that wasn't completely inhospitable so there is always hope I guess.
The January outing to the Lincolnshire Drains was well attended bearing in mind the longish drive, however only two modest fish were caught on a day when conditions were pretty near perfect which just served to compound the sense of injustice that those that were unsuccessful no doubt shared.

Our annual awards night was a success, and congratulations must go to all of the trophy winners particularly Paul Proctor who was voted our Pike Angler of the Year as well as picking up the Regions Trip Championship.

 Paul was subjected to what has now become the traditional piss-take associated with the PAOTY award which, as usual was celebrated on the front cover of the February Newsletter.

On a sadder note, February will mark the first anniversary of the passing of Shane Patterson who, whilst not a member of our Region was a good friend, presenting the trophies at our last year's awards night. Shane was remembered in the slideshow that was part of the this year's event and is sadly missed by us all here at SENPAC. We hope to put up a team to fish the Shane Patterson/Peter Green memorial match that is being organised by the north-east and Yorkshire Region,s later in February. Cornerstones of the local PAC both and fondly remembered.

What of February, well we will be making our fourth and final attempt to fish a Yorkshire river on the 14th of the month, if this fails then we will give it best and head west to Scotland instead, speaking of which that is exactly what we hope to be doing on the 28th when we will be trying our luck on one of the better known commercial waters in Dumfrieshire.

Our February Region meeting will take place on Tuesday 23rd February at the Northumbrian Piper as usual, if you feel like joining us for the evening then feel free.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

December 2015 - Tight Lines for 2016

Christmas gone and a new year to look forward to. Looking forward feels the right thing to do as far a SENPAC is concerned especially after the December that we have all been forced to endure in piking terms up here in the north-east of England. We are almost certainly not alone in feeling pretty badly bruised as far as our fishing is concerned,  all of which pales into insignificance as the appalling weather wrought chaos and misery of a much more fundamental kind on so many other areas of the country.

So looking forward is very much the flavour of this month's Blog........A happy, healthy and successful new year to you all from everybody at SENPAC.

January is usually a busy month for SENPAC and this coming month will be no exception... we hope? We have not one but two region outings to anticipate, having been forced to postpone our planned November trip to the North Yorkshire rivers, twice, we will be trying again on the 10th January followed two weeks later by another journey south, this time to a favourite venue on the Lincolnshire drains. Towards the end of the month we have the evil necessity of our AGM to look forward to but that is quickly followed by our principal social event of the year, the annual presentation of the regions awards and review of our 2014 - 2015 year. Not quite "Sports Personality of the Year" but based upon a very similar if somewhat more modest model!

Having to spend most of last month reliant on You Tube for our piking action, particularly to fend-off the inevitable cabin fever that is the festive period, it would be especially welcome if we could be granted some proper Winter weather this coming month, you remember the sort of thing,  clear crisp frosty dawns, camera ready sunrises and the promise of a fish or two instead of having to paddle around in mud!!

Is that too much to ask, probably I hear you say?

So to finish off, our next region meeting/ AGM will be on Tuesday 26th January 2016 at the Northumbrian Piper as usual which will also be the venue for our awards/review night on Saturday 30th January 2016. If you have been toying with idea of coming to see us, then why not join us for the evening, you will get the best possible in-sight into what we are all about.

Tight lines to you all.