Wednesday, 12 April 2017

At Last - Fish!

A few days ago, a mate who lives down on the coast in Kent offered me some gear that I was interested in. I suggested I would drive down and collect it. As it turned out, he said he was fishing near Sittingbourne and if I liked he would take it there saving me a few miles driving. He was fishing at The Willows Angling Centre, formally Bax Farm Fishery. Those of you who have been with me from the beginning will know this is the first place I ever went fishing back in September 2014. Although I did return a couple of times, I have not been back for a couple of years.

The fishery is under new ownership and over the past couple of years they have made a lot to improvements to the venue. A huge amount of work has been done to make it a better place to fish and to improve the tackle shop. The original specimen Lake has been enlarged and restocked with a good selection of fish to 30lb. There is a good mix of fish in Pan lake and The Stream is stocked with fish for the matchman and pleasure angler. It was here that my mate and his cronies were fishing their match.

Farm Lake - A bit choppy today
I thought it would be fun to fish Farm Lake, which was the lake I fished on that first day. The lake has been netted and restocked since then. It now has a good stock of fish all small, but great fun to catch.

I had decided to lob a cage feeder plugged with Two Dog groundbait holding in about ten maggots with a red on the hook. You have to be quick as they will be out of the cage before it is cast, so it is hook bait first, then fill the cage and cast. I managed to drop the feeder just short of the little island of reeds. A finger on the reel, feathered the cast and it entered the water with a satisfying plop - Perfect! - Even if I do say it myself.  I gave it thirty seconds and gently pulled it back about a foot (the length of my hook length) to place the hook bait amongst the small pile of groundbait and maggots. No sooner had I settled the rod in the rest it was off. A good whip around and a lot of tugging ensued. What ever it was it was not going to grace us with its presence without a fight. It turned out to be the smallest mirror carp I think I have ever caught, but it really did put up a scrap for such a little fish.

This little mirror carp fought like mad to resist being landed and photographed - but failed! 
I continued to catch baby carp and F1s for a while until it all went quiet in that spot. At this point I changed tactics. Somebody on the Maggot Drowning forum had been talking about hooking banded pellets to improve presentation of the bait. Personally I was not sure about this but I thought I would have a go. I filled the feeder once again and instead of using maggots I changed to pellet; moistened 4mm pellet mixed with Two Dog in the cage feeder and a 6mm pellet banded to a hair. This was producing results for a while and that too dried up.

To give that a bit if a rest I changed to my short, 4.5m (after elasticating) whip/pole thingie. This has to be the cheapest bit of kit I own but it never fails to deliver bundles of fun and excitement if I hook anything over a few ounces in weight. Today was no different, first cast landed a small roach who could not resist a single white maggot, then another and another culminating in one large enough to photograph.     

Yes it is a roach - it got me wondering for a bit. I find small silver fish hard to identify
I decided to go back on the feeder and try the hooked pellet again. The cage was filled just as before and I hooked the banded pellet to hold it on the bend of the hook.

Hooked, banded 6mm pellet
I cast into the same area I had been fishing earlier and caught a fish immediately, and another and again. To be honest there was no obvious difference between hooking the pellet and not, as far as I could see. However, this was only the first time I tried it and I will give it a go in future to see if it makes a difference if the fish are playing hard to get.

Feeder fishing this small lake was continuing to be far too easy. I was catching fish every chuck and usually on the drop. Time to try the waggler rod. A few minutes plumbing up to be just off bottom paid off with some fun fishing. A huge No.12 hook and a couple of maggots produced the first of many small  F1s.   

There are a ton of small fish in this lake and the first F1succumbed to a couple of maggots
I continued to fish the same spot, alternating between the waggler and my short pole, changing the bait between various combinations of maggot when I landed a very pale skimmer on the pole. It was almost white. I have never seen one this light in colour before.

A decent sized skimmer for this lake, but what a light colour
As time went on, I continued to fish alternating between the feeder and the waggler. The fishing was now being done between stopping to chat to the odd visitor. A friend of mine, John, who lives relatively locally dropped in to have a chat with me and Mick, who was fishing a match on the stream. John also had some trolley wheels and tyres for me he kindly dropped off - but that is another story! My brother, Tim lives locally and he also popped in to say hello on his way home to bed after finishing a night-shift.

I was joined on the lake by a dad and a couple of young lads. They set up waggler rods and set about trying to catch a fish. As I pulled out fish after fish the lads kept complaining to their dad and saying "he's caught another one!" I was thinking about offering the lads a go with the cheap whip, as I had got that off to a fine art by then, when they upped sticks and went. A little while later the bailiff came around and said they could not understand why they had caught nothing when the bloke on the other side of the lake (me) was catching lots of fish... I must have learnt something in the past couple of years since I fished here last.

As the afternoon drew on, the wind got up and it became quite blustery. I decided to re-plumb the shallow margin and see what was lurking about in the reeds. The fish were still taking the bait, more maggots on the hook and a few dropped in as loose feed. This lake just keeps on producing these small fish. if you are looking for something bigger, then pick one of the other lakes for the next couple of years until this lot grow up a bit. I had a really good fun day and I liked the mini fish, especially the little mirrors of which I caught lots and lots. I gave up counting very early on but I must have had well over a hundred fish out over the day. My favourite catch of the day has to be this perfect linier carp only just slightly bigger than my hand.  

Perfect little fellow - I bet he will go on to be one of the prised fish in this lovely little lake
During the couple of years I have been away from this venue a lot has changed. It was fairly scruffy last time I went but today it was looking very neat and tidy and one of the bailiffs was out on the mower making sure it was looking its best. One of my dislikes about the venue was its open position with no shelter from the wind on some of the lakes. This is being addressed with the planting of trees all over the site. Obviously this will not make much difference immediately but it will help in the future.

Next to Farm Lake a new lake is being dug so they are not sitting on their bums letting the world go buy. The improvements already made to the specimen lake are impressive and although that is not really my style of fishing, I am sure that is where the money is as they now run a booking scheme for longer sessions.

The Stream 'lake' is a section of the stream, that runs through the site, which has been widened to about 14m to allow pole fishing the far bank as fishing is only permitted from one side. It makes a great match venue and has the advantage of being low down on the site which affords better shelter from the wind.

I will be back soon and with a bit of luck, as it is almost walking distance from where Tim lives, I will get my reluctant 'little' brother out to join me, once he gets off of the permanent night shifts he is doing at the moment.

Ralph.
 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Blankety Blank

No, not the television show but the only way to describe six hours of sitting on my box. It had to happen one day not a single fish during the match. First match of the year and I was so looking forward to it. Nice weather, good drive down in the daylight, had all the right gear but not a single fish in six hours.

A nice April day, shame there were no fish to play with...
The day started well. It was one of those days when the alarm went off just as I was about to wake and getting out of bed was easy. The fact that it was still trying to be dark outside and the sun was just starting to chase the black of the night, away always helps. By 05:30, as I was loading the van, it was really starting to become light and that timid first light was fighting with the street lights for supremacy of the sky. As I opened the back doors of the van the light flooded in to reveal the fact that my van-keeping is not what it should be. Never mind, nobody can see but me. Van loading went on at a pace and we were off. We? Yes, Me, Jane and the family of spiders that live in the void behind the mirrors and spend their entire life making sure the mirrors don't fall out by tying them down. Jane? That's the irritating calm voice of the SatNav. I know, I should know the way to Beaver Fishery by now, but I enjoy the company.

I must get around to giving the back of the van a spring clean...
Thanks to whoever it was that caused the traffic to tail-back along the M25, I sailed through the gates at Beaver a few minutes past 07:00 and made my way to the match office. AKA Jeff's Lake Chalet, When someone hires it for an all-nighter. There, posted on the wall, is the draw. The draw is carried out the night before. I think this is a  hang over from when the matched used to start at 08:00. These days the start time 09:00 but the pre-draw is still in place. Suits me, It always takes me ages to get set up. I drew peg 12. A peg that nobody likes but I have not done too badly from there in the past, but it was not good for me today.

Not a good idea to mix the two
I made the mistake of not really making a plan. I had intended to visit the venue last week to see how the fish were behaving. Having only fished once so far this year I we at a loss as to what should be happening. The warmer weather got me thinking the fish would be more active than they were, so when my tried and tested feeder tactics did not pay off I was stuffed. My efforts to slim down what I take is becoming a real pain. I used to take extra bags of my Two Dog groundbait with me, just in case I needed it or I wanted to give some to someone else. This time I took just what I needed. I poured it into the bowl and promptly added too much water as my collapsible bucket collapsed a little, sloshing in a good splash of water too much. Have I ever done this before when I had a few more kilograms in the van? No. Now I was stuffed the groundbait was far too wet and clung to the feeder like treacle. All I had was half a bag of my green died Surf 'n' Turf mix and that was not dry. I decided to mix the lot together. That made the mix less wet but it was still not right and now it was a mix of all sorts. Well, my theory must be correct. I am convinced that groundbait selects fish by what they dislike, not what they like, Bream and tench are not keen on my Two Dog and Carp are not keen on my Surf 'n' Turf. Conformed. I caught nothing for six hours using a mix of the two.

The water was so clear I could see the end of the empty keep nets
I had taken my pole with me but that was never going to work, I had no bait plan or strategy and I am not very confident with using yet. I just have not had a chance to get practised with it yet. My box was not really set up as well as it could have been and the rollers were not working. All in all it was a mess so I gave up trying. Later in the day a few fish were being caught off the to so I tried with the pellet waggler, nothing. Although I was the only one to blank, there was no huge weight caught with several contestants only weighing in a few pounds. The top weight, caught from what is regarded as one of the best pegs on the lake, was only 38lb 10oz.

After the weigh-in I decided to stay on and fish for a bit longer. I loaded a feeder with the mix of groundbait, which had dried out a bit by now, and cast over to past the halfway mark where I could see a lot of fish. As the feeder hit the water the hooked bait, which was hanging loose, was taken straight away buy a unsuspecting F1. At last a fish!

It was just after 4 o'clock when I caught my first fish of the day
I fished on for a while and caught a few more fish but the fun had gone and I decided to call it a day. Packing up was easy as the van was only a few yards away on the other side of the little bridge that crosses the outflow from the lake back into Eden Brook a few feet below the lake at this end.

Not far to walk so no barrow today
Another poor days fishing for me. A total lack of planning and a muddled approach made for my first match without catching a single fish. Fail to plan, plan to fail. I need to get some time in on the lake before the May match, but that can wait. I am going to try a different venue next week. I am going back to the place where I caught my very first fish. Bax Farm, now under now ownership and renamed The Willows Angling Centre. I have not been back there for a couple of years and the new owners have spent a lot of time and money improving it - should be an interesting day.

Ralph.

Monday, 27 March 2017

What do you expect for twenty quid?

I can't help it, I love messing about in the workshop. Over the past few months I have been exploring the noble art of fly fishing. No, I am not going to join the country set and trade the Transit in for a Range Rover! I am not contemplating game fishing, I am interested in the idea of catching coarse fish on the fly.

Fly fishing is about as far away from the 'standard' coarse fishing, I am used to, as chalk is to cheese. What's more it has a language of its own too. What with tippets and leaders on the line and don't ask about the fly tying, it is all a  foreign tongue to me! I can't see me doing any fly fishing for a while. Apart from the fact that I don't even have a rod yet, we are in the process of packing up our house ready for a move out of London, after living here all my life and the best part of forty years in this house.

That said, it will give me some time to study the art and to have a go at a spot of fly tying. It is the entomology that interests me, matching fly to the time of year and to the species is fascinating to me. Once I have worked out what insects are about and what the fish will eat, the job of making a fly replica and then convincing the fish to feed on it is what it is all about to me.

Renzetti Master Vice, several hundred pounds of pure class
First of all I will need some tools and top of that list has to be a fly tying vice. Have you seen the price of these things? What! six, seven, eight hundred pounds or more for a top end vice AND if you want something like a Law vice, now no longer made, two grand (£2,000) is not unheard of. Now, I am not adverse to spending money on a well made piece of kit but there is a limit. A fly tying vice is not a complicated thing it is just a clamp to hold the hook a fly is tied on. There are several types but in the main there are two basic types; fixed and swivel head. There is also the choice of clamp on and free standing on a sold base. Over and above these, there are specialist tube tying vices, but that is all a bit above my knowledge pay grade at the moment. It is all about the functionality and quality of manufacture, combined with superb finishing, like the Renzzeti vice pictured above.

Looking to the other end of the scale, there are the cheap so called 'beginner's' vices. These can be as low as a few pounds for a fixed vice and not much more for a rotary model.Most of these appear to be cheap copies of the classic style. Mostly of eastern origins, poorly made and really not fit for purpose. I am sure they will have put more people off than they have inspired. With my eyes wide open, it occurred to me that with a bit of thought and application, I might be able to modify and improve one of these cheap vices into something that is at least serviceable. I will invest in a decent vice in the future but for now I plan to make do with something a bit cheaper. A hunt through the on-line auction listings found a likely candidate, a "Fully Rotatable fly tying vice with bobbin cradle" priced at £19.99 including postage. This I had to see. A few mouse clicks and the deed was done, one vice bought, paid for on its way to be inspected.

It all looks a bit cheap and nasty in its tatty box
That was last Friday, it arrived today, Monday. Well, for twenty quid you don't expect much, or at least I was not expecting much. My thought was I could always put it back on eBay and get some if not all of my money back. As it turned out yes, straight out of the box my suspicions were confirmed it is useless, or at the very least second to useless. However, locked up solid, I suspect you could tie a fly with it at a push.

The finish is crude and the plating on the rotary knob is has blackened. The jaws are rough and set far too hight to rotate the shank of the hook in line and coaxially with the head, making it pointless even if the rotating mechanism was journalled well enough to perform so.

Even after assembly it looks cheap and nasty. The best bit is the bobbin cradle that does not look too bad. As you can see the jaws are mounted far to high to allow the shaft of the hook to rotate in line and coaxlually with the head 
Nothing is smooth or firm the whole thing is flimsy and very badly made, but it has potential. With a little bit of time spent on it, I am sure it can be improved. It will never be anywhere near as good as a high end vice, but I reckon I can make it serviceable as a rotary vice.

The jaws have a very thin coating of black paint that is already scratched and worn
The first thing to look at is the way the jaws are mounted. They are far too high. This can be rectified by boring a few more holes and tapping them to accept the fixing screw. It may also be possible to adjust the angle of the mounting bar but that will need looking at on the bench. The jaws themselves are thinly painted and very poorly finished off both cosmetically and functionally. A lot can be done by stripping the original paint and refinishing them by either polishing them or repainting and varnishing. The mating faces of the jaws can be honed and finished to a much higher standard without much effort. The two thumb screws are a bit coarse, as is the thread, but I will live with that on this vice. The rubber ring that keeps the jaws in line (sort of!) will stay too.

The bearings need looking at and replacing, a roughly cut off lump of plastic tube wit a bore that is not even central is not helping. The coarse thread used to join the brass bearing housing to the vertical support will not lock tight and will need some 'assistance' to prevent it from coming lose. The pin on the rotating wheel suffers from the same problem.

Other minor irritations include a clamp that will not grip a smooth surface and thumb wheels that are just uncomfortable to use and almost impossible to tighten enough to grip the vertical support.

I am sure I will be able to rectify most of these faults. I will not be able to turn it into a Renzetti, but I should be able to make it usable while I save the pennies for a better made vice. I will let you know how I get on...

Ralph.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sometimes...

Nothing, not even a line bite
Well, what a let down. First time out since the beginning of November and I was home by three o'clock!

I had been so looking forward to today. I had all my gear ready, bait organised and ready to go in plenty of time. All I had to do, apart from the normal ablutions, was to get up, load the van and go. I needed to get some fuel so I left in plenty of time. It was getting light as I left, which always makes the drive more palatable.

Just around the corner is a petrol station but I never use it because it is much dearer then the others on the A20 way out to the M25. Sue will not go in there either, but that is because a few years ago, someone stole the numberplates from her car and used them on a car they filled with petrol and then drove off. Even though the police and the filling station know what happened, and the latter has changed hands several times since, she is still convinced the numberplate will be recognised and something bad will happen. Anyway, my point in mentioning this is that my usual filling station was selling fuel, both petrol and diesel at the same price as was every other filling station on the way - even the ones out in the countryside that are usually a few coppers dearer. Very strange. The only exception to this was the motorway services who were selling fuel at 14p per litre dearer! How on earth can they justify that? I am sure I don't know.

Still musing on the seemingly suspicious uniform pricing structure of the fuel, I pulled into the drive at Beaver Fishery a good twenty minutes before the gate was due to open. There was a queue! I sat there until the gate swung open, observing the fishery's cat making his way to the gate to inspect the assembled visitors.

The cars in front of me parked up and I pulled up alongside the office. As I made my way to the front door I was suddenly aware that the occupants of the car in front of me at the gate were falling over themselves, and the cat, to get into the office before me! I am amazed how petty people can be. The cat stood there watching the proceedings and when the commotion had settled down came over and said hello, he seems to recognise me now even though I have not been there for a few months.

Over the winter, the two specimen lakes have been refurbished and emptied of 'nuisance' species. Part of this meant that over 600lbs of bream were relocated into Maze Lake. I have a soft spot for this lake as it was the first lake I ever fished at Beaver. I also had a really good day last July on Maze with just a single float rod and not much else. Today was not a patch on that day.

Looked like it might hod the odd fish - but nothing
Maze lake was originally dug as a match lake but other than the odd club match it is only used by the odd pleasure angler. For some reason it has not been fishing well for a while. I think the design of it is too complicated and there are plenty of places for the fish to go to get away from a lone angler. All this I knew before I left, but I still decided to give it a go. I set up on the far side of the lake and put a flat-backed method feeder out just short of the far bank. I had decided to buy a two rod ticket so I could fish the feeder for long periods while I was doing something more energetic with another rod. After about fifteen minutes of inactivity on the feeder rod, I went for a retrieve. As I wound the handle of the reel, I witnessed the feeder rise out of the water. Although I had seen the feeder plop into the water, what I had not realised was the hook had caught an overhanding piece of vegetation. My line was now taught with the feeder appearing to hover above the water as the hook was holding fast...

There I was contemplating walking around and retrieve it 'manually' when the hook let go and the feeder plopped back into the water. Result! Several more casts, and a bit of playing around with my elasticated whip/pole thingie, was absolutely fruitless. What's more I had not seen any signs of fish. After a couple of hours I decided to move.

Now on the other side of the lake, still nothing...
There are times when having the van really pays off. Open the back doors and put the chair, rods and bait waiter (still on its tripod) in the back and drive around to the next destination. It is a bit of a convoluted journey via Moat Pond and the southern side of The Major's lake only to get back to the other side of Maze Lake. I set up on my favoured peg, on this side of the water, and started to fish. another couple of hours went by and I was now starting to think I was wasting my time. Andy the bailiff arrived on his son's old mountain bike. He is on his own on Saturdays an is constantly getting call back to the office by new arrivals to the fishery. Just as I was telling him my stories of woe and bleating about the lack of fish, the rod tip swung around and I had a fish. It turned out to be a nice roach of a few ounces, caught on a cage feeder packed with maggots and groundbait. I did not bother to photograph it as I suspected I would now start to catch. Sure enough, as Andy rode away the rod tip started to flicker and then bent double as I picked up the rod.

"That's not a roach!" Said Andy and I agreed as the small 8½ft picker rod bent almost double. My reluctance to hold the fish meant that it had now parked itself in the lily pads that were only just showing a few tatty looking leaves. Try as I might, I could not get it out and eventually the hook straightened and the fish was gone.

Oh well, things were looking up, maybe it was not going to be so bad. A few minutes later and my second rod's top was showing some signs of life and sure enough There was one very lively common carp tugging at my line. I landed it but it was still thrashing about too much to get a picture so to be kind to the fish I returned it to the lake, again thinking this was only the start and I would get some fish pictures later. By now it was about 11:30AM.

Two and a half hours later, after trying different baits and methods I gave up. I suspect that because Maze is a strange layout that fish can avoid a lone angler and hid in other parts of the lake. I gave up as it did not look as if I was going to get any other people joining me and scaring the fish over to my side of the lake, so the kit went into the back of the van again and I decided to find another lake. By this time it as approaching 2:00PM and as I cruised the complex looking for somewhere to fish, I realised that all the decent pegs were full and even the not so good pegs were occupied. I hate going to commercials on a Saturday, they are always packed with families enjoying a day out in the sunshine and that is great, but I prefer to go during the week when it is a bit quieter - I must be getting old and grumpy.

Time to call it a day.

Ralph.    
  

Monday, 20 March 2017

Back to the lake - At last!

After more than three months (yes it is that long!) of fishing famine I am actually getting back out there on Saturday, at least that is what I intend to do. I did say I was going last week but it never happened even though the middle of the week was perfect fishing weather for me. Over the past couple of months, the weather has been much colder down here in the south than we have experienced for a few years. Although I am not that keen on the cold, that was not the only reason I have not been wetting the line. We are trying to get our house packed up ready for a move, but after nearly forty years, this is proving a long job!

With the weather just on the turn and the temperature forecast to rise again, Saturday looks like it will suit me. I am not a great lover of setting up in the wet or sitting there on a damp overcast day for hours on end. My problem is I don't have anywhere really local to fish, even my nearest water is a good three-quarters of an hour away in London traffic and when I get there I have to pay for a day ticket (£10). It is just not practical to fish for a few hours, it has to be a day trip. So it is off to a commercial fishery for the day. I have no idea what the fishing will be like so I will talk to the bailiffs when I get there and take their advice.

I have not been idol over the past few months. While I could not get out to the bank, I have been doing my homework, fiddling about with loops, hook lengths and tying my own spade hooks.

Sensas loop 'tyer'
Until now, I have mostly been using eyed hooks as method feeder fishing has featured heavily in my experience to date and a hair rigged punched piece of bacon grill has been my favoured hook-bait. Tying stops and bands into a loop and then forming a hair tied to the hook using a knot-less knot is now a simple hand operation, for me, down to the smallest of hooks, using the lightest of lines. Yes, I do need some visual aid when it gets really small but I am happy with that. Constant practise has paid off and that milestone has been passed successfully. It was always the tying of spade hooks that defeated me. In the end I gave up trying to tie them by hand alone and bought a Matchman Hook Tyer. I could then tie my own spade hooks with moderate success.

A genuine Matchman spade hook tyer
The Matchman does work but I found it a bit awkward when tying small hooks. Although possible, it was not that easy for me. I then bought a couple of the Stonfo Hook Tyers. One small and one large.  These are like 'posh' Matchman Hook Tyers and are very well made with a rotating handle and rubbery grip, making them much nicer to use. The smaller one of the two holds smaller hooks easily with plenty of 'room' around the tip to see what is going on. To be honest, there is no real difference between the Matchman and the Stonfo but the latter is just made with a bit more fineness than the original Matchman. 

Stonfo hook tyers
I have been writing another page about how I tackle all these basic tasks, a beginner's guide written by a beginner. Not intended to be the ultimate guide, the page is simply a copulation of what I have discovered so far. I will publish it soon.

I have also started a collection of independent reviews starting with the ZT-Pro and its hair rig attachment, which has shone a whole new light oh tying hook lengths and some controversy too. It got me thinking, why would I want to tie a hair on a spade hook, just because I can? I an still thinking about that one.

Something new to me 

I can't help it, I get fascinated by things and once the idea is set in my head I have to find out what is what. During this fishing famine, I have been investigating fly fishing. My late father-in-law was a keen salmon angler making two trips a year from his farm in the depths of Kent. on in the winter to the Scottish boarders and once in June to a place called Mungasdale in the highlands. We accompanied him on these journeys a couple of times. In those days I had no interest in fishing and especially not fly fishing which was a shame an I missed a real opportunity to learn something, looking back on it now. He and his friends and neighbours who owned the farm next door, so to speak, rented a house, employed a cook and a ghillie for the week and we lived like lords. The deal was we would 'help' with the driving (do!) and supply the drink (as in alcohol). I think it would have been cheaper to rent the house, fly fishing farmers can get through a lot of whiskey while going over the events of the day, well into the early hours.

A couple of interesting books...
Until recently I thought that fly fishing was all about game fish. I had seen the odd video or television programme showing a spot of fly fishing for grayling and other fish I was not used to catching in the stillwaters I tend to frequent. To be honest, at the time, I had not looked any further as I was not that interested in fly fishing.

I have always been interested in wildlife but never really followed it up in any depth. If you look back over the pages of this blog you will find the odd reference to the wildlife that has been around while fishing. I have also been interested in fly tying but again, not really given it much thought. There are some very well produced videos on YouTube and my favourites are by Davie McPhail. You can find his channel HERE.  

I joined a fly fishing forum to get some pointers. I am as interested in the entomology as I am in the fishing. That coupled with the thought of catching coarse fish has got me thinking. There is far too much going on in my life at the moment to get too deeply involved in this too deeply. I have no intention of rushing out and buying rods and tackle just yet. However, a recommendation of a book from one of the guys on the fly fishing forum has got me more enthusiastic. The book, Fly Fishing for Coarse Fish, has been purchased, thanks to an Amazon 'token' given to my by my godson and his wife. I also bought a brilliant little pocket book title "Match The Hatch" that shows not only the insects in their various forms but their imitation selves as tied flies. The little book is stuffed full of all the things I want to know.

Thank you!
Just to get the juices running even quicker, one of the members of the Fly Fishing forum kindly sent me a box of flies to get me going. I am now going through them and attempting to identify them from my burgeoning fly fishing library. I have a way to go yet, and I must get this house-move behind me before I can even think about buying any tackle, but I could be tempted to start tying a few flies of my own...

Back to the hear and now

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am off to do a spot of fishing at the weekend. This will be my first time out since the beginning of November and I can't wait. Nothing too exciting just a bit of float and feeder fishing, just to 'test the water' and see how the fish are behaving. I have some new floats I want to try on my cheap elasticated pole/whip thing that I now refer to as a Hippo (don't ask, I have explained why several times before) as nobody could tell me if it should be described as a pole or a whip. I think it will be a bit windy for the long pole, and besides I am only travelling light, I will be taking my chair. I know some people will say they are happy fishing a pole from a chair, it is not for me. I much prefer to be on my box while pole fishing.

Ralph.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

The ZT Pro

Well, I have not been fishing for a while, partly due to 'life' getting in the way and also I am not a keen cold weather angler. Instead I have been sorting out my tackle and playing with my new toy.

Gizmo Angling's ZT Pro hook tyer
Eye-wateringly expensive at first glance, but a pleasure to use and I do like nice tools, jigs and machines. I thought I would publish my own experience as an unbiased, independent review. To this end, I have started a series of reviews that I have produced as stand alone features. The first of which is The ZT Pro and can be found HERE. All the items I review will be purchased by me. I will not accept any freebies or commercial sponsorship, that way I can say it as I find it without the risk of any recrimination.

I will be adding more reviews and features as time goes on. You will be able to find them listed in the panel at the top of the left hand column (as seen in web view). If you are reading this on a mobile device, scroll down to the bottom and click on 'View web version' to see all three columns.

MORE!
First impressions review of hair rig attachment now posted HERE.

Ralph. 

Friday, 11 November 2016

I caught a fish!

Yep, I caught a fish, just one, all day!

I had decided to go fishing with a minimum of gear to see how I would get on. I knew it was not going to be easy but I had no idea that fishing one pond, using one rod would result in one fish. The day started well, no hassle, lots of time to load the van with just a few bits. I even had time for breakfast, that's a first.

My one and only fish of the day
It was only as I got on to the Sidcup Bypass I had that thought - Wallet - A quick fumble of the pockets, nothing. Okay, calm down... I pulled into a slip road and had a rummage in my bag. Still nothing. Hmmm... This is a little inconvenient, I thought to myself, while filling the cab with a few choice words and attempting to reconfigure the steering wheel. Nothing for it I will have to go back home as I must have left the blooming thing behind. The trouble with that is, I am on a duel carriageway and the bunch of face-less 'can't leave anything alone' mob have long since closed all the gaps in the central reservation so I will have to wait until I can U-turn the van at the next set of lights. It is a good job my rear wheel drive Transit has a spectacular steering lock on it for a big van.

Back at home and guess what? Still no wallet. I went back out to the van and conducted a a finger tip search of the cab and my shoulder bag. The relief of finding the wallet, inside the lining of my bag, was somewhat cancelled out by the complete waste of a good three quarters of an hour of my life, let alone the fuel I had used on an unplanned sightseeing tour of South East London in the dark. Have you seen the price of diesel lately?

I arrived at the fishery about fifteen minutes after the gate opened, that wasn't too bad. A quick discussion on the state of the world, post the US election, with Andy in the office was followed by a far more important matter; what bait to use. I topped up my merger selection of hook-bait with a tub of worms and set off for the far end of the fishery.

Now that's what you call 'still' water
I have spent several short sessions on Eden Pond over the past couple of years, usually just the first few hours of the day. Today I had decided to spend the whole day there. I set up on the north bank of the pond. Eden Pond is small and shallow with lots of features. The pond also boasts a good stock of perch. I figured that if I fished close to the features, with worm on the hook, I might tempt one out, but it was not to be. Personally, I think the owners forgot to let the fish out this morning...

The lake is surrounded by trees and bushes that gives it its secluded appeal. The trouble is it makes it harder to cast if the undergrowth is not going to claim the end tackle. Today I ended up losing a couple of Drennan float bodies, that parted from their weights on the cast, and landed up in the pond. As luck would have it, I managed to recover both of them during the day, as they drifted back into netting range. I also ended up with an extra float that just appeared on the surface as I was taking in the view. That makes a change, in the early days I was constantly making 'offerings' to the tree Gods.

Casting as close as I dare to the dead reeds made it hard to determine what was what
As the day went on and the sun moved around, visibility became a real problem. The glare off the water made it impossible to see the float tip in open water, no matter what colour it was. Close to the features the reflections also made it hard to make out what was what. Is that my float tip or a piece of dead reed in the red circle?

With just one fish on the bank all day, some may think the day was a disaster. I have had better days but I did enjoy myself. Although the sunny day was not good for fishing, I was able to sit there, munch my way through a pork pie and a couple of sandwiches, while drinking my flask of coffee in peace.

The pipe...
As with all the lakes at Beaver, vehicle access is provided by good, well maintained hard surface tracks. As you can see, I can get the van right down to the lake. To get to the lake there is a strange feature that has to be passed under. You can see it passing through the trees and reflected in the pond. I can only assume it is a sewer pipe, crossing the slight depression that the lakes at Beaver are formed in. The land to the north and south of this spot is higher and a look at Google Maps shows the pipe emerging and re-entering farmland either side of the lake. Luckily there is a spot just out of view in this picture, where the track passes under it, that affords enough clearance to drive the van under.

I think my one rod approach limited my options too much and it is a case of hitting a happy medium between taking too much and too little gear. This would have been a perfect pole session as most of the features could be within pole reach from a selection of pegs. I also think a swim-feeder might have paid off. There is always another day.

Ralph.