Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Deep river, short rod...

Tim's personal best skimmer bream out of the river to date - made his day!
Well, what a daft day yesterday was. The plan was to visit my brother and repair the jetty that had become rotten where the ladders had been. We decided to remove the ladders a few weeks ago as nobody was using them and, from our point of view, they were in the way. I had recovered what was left of the end support timbers and replaced/refurbished them here in the workshop. Refitting them was much easier than I had expected, as these things usually throw up the odd unexpected problem, but for once, the job went exactly as planned. Now for some fishing.

Even Tim's roach was not that small
It was at this point it all started to go wrong, at least for me. Tim has his rods hanging on the wall, made up and ready to go. All he has to do is pick them up and walk the few yards to the jetty, and he is fishing. Me, on the other hand, more intent on filling the van with the gear to repair the jetty, had just thrown a couple or three rods, along with a good selection of tackle in the van and left all my floats behind. Oh dear! (or words to that effect) That's a shame, I will have to borrow one of Tim's. This was a real pain as I had intended to have another go with the Polaris, slider floats. Undeterred I decided to have a go at straight ledgering, using a hair-rigged pellet.

After an hour or so, this was not showing any signs of success. I retrieved the lead and hook-bait after a bit of a tug. It was buried in the silt. I need to seriously rethink this approach. Maybe some kind of buoyant bait and a longer hook length... More pondering for next time.

That's a nice looking perch
Meanwhile, the other bloke has hooked a pretty decent perch. To say he was feeling a bit smug was an understatement. "Wow! That is a nice looking fish" I said. Have you noticed how hard it is to speak, smile and look happy for someone while clenching one's teeth?

I had given up on the ledgering and thought it might be fun to try out my new little telescopic rod, I had brought down to show the other bloke. It didn't take me long to realise that a rod that is only five feet long is not very useful when fishing a twelve feet deep swim. After agreeing that it was not a good idea, 'Little Brother' had another good sized perch on the hook and was now becoming just a tad irritating.

Okay, you have made your point...
Time to do some proper fishing, no more messing about, I rigged a float rod and proceeded to plumb the depth - twelve feet deep, give or take a bit. It was at this stage I started to have problems. It is still impossible to cast a long length of line from the jetty at the moment. Even though a lot of the overhanging trees have been trimmed, there are still some branches left. This will be rectified by the end of the month as tree surgeons have been booked to pollard the remaining trees that are in danger of collapsing into the river.

I realised that my four years of fishing experience had not included any deep (relatively) water fishing. I had either been fishing shallow commercial lakes or small rivers. The river here was going to take a bit of experimentation and a considerable learning curve.

Tim was happily fishing away, and although it was not easy, he was catching fish and managing to land them. Me, on the other hand, I was having a nightmare day. I was using Tim's floats, none of which I was happy with, and no matter what I did, I could not avoid getting in a mess. Moreover, I was having trouble getting the line out of the water. I did catch one tiny perch, but it was caught on the drop, almost by accident. Furthermore, its size would have been a poor candidate for inclusion in a can of sardines!

Now, call me a bit thick, but last night I woke up and realised what had gone wrong. The rod was too short. For some reason, passing on this information at 03:00 AM, to the missus, did not go down too well...

It just had not occurred to me, I know, obvious, but I have never been in this position before, and I was thinking of all the other reasons I was having trouble. I had packed a 'Carp Waggler' rod as I was planning to use heavier gear and a slider float, but as I said above, I had left all the floats sitting in there tubes, displayed nicely on the work surface in the fishing room - Grrr! This rod is only ten feet long. With a depth of twelve feet, even if the fixed float is against the tip ring, the bait is still a couple of feet below the butt even when the rod is held vertical, risking getting the tip caught in the trees.

Standing up helped but I was still getting in a mess. Frustrating it was, but also got me thinking and planning how I was going to sort this out. For a start, I will be using a slider float next time I use this rod. I must look into how to use an 'ordinary' float and stop knots to make the fishing easier. I do enjoy a challenge. Next time...

The day was different, not much in the way of fish on the bank for me, but Tim had a good day, landing some nice looking perch and a PB skimmer bream. He also discovered how slimy bream can be and why you need to wash your landing net out. As he said, "My net looks like it is full of wallpaper paste!"

We finished the session with a hook-tying session ready for next time. Tim had not tied any of his own before, so I had made him a length gauge from an off-cut of walnut and some modified panel pins, looked a bit posh, but it does the job. After that, it was a quick change and off to town for a meal to celebrate his birthday! All in all, although my fishing did not exactly go to plan, I had a perfect day discovering my shortcomings and opening up another opportunity to experiment with my technique.

Ralph.  

Monday, 3 September 2018

Four years today!

This day, four years ago, (maybe not this early!) I scribed my first post of this blog. I had not even held a rod at that point, let alone handled a live fish. I was 58 years old and was looking for something to do jointly with my brother, who is the best part of ten years younger than me. At the time, we lived fifty miles apart and only saw each other at family get-togethers, weddings and funerals.
Me and the other bloke, ten years ago at a family do. We have both slimmed down a bit since then, and Tim still gets that excited every time he catches a fish. Now, I can't remember what we were doing that day... I should have written it down
As kids, the age difference was a problem, what eighteen year old has that much in common with an eight-year-old sibling. As we got older, and the age gap became less critical, but the physical distance became greater, and we were back to 'visits' or the odd emergency call-out - "...the wheel bearing nut won't come off", "...my power has gone off!" or even "Can you help me change the inner back wheel on the 7½ tonner?"

Fishing was seen as a way of getting together 'outside' the formal family setting. As you will have noticed, if you have been following the blog from the beginning, that dream did not go exactly as I had imagined. I ended up having the time and the interest to pursue the hobby in full while the other bloke was having a nightmare of a time trying to get his work-life balance on track. Although it is all sorted out now, he went through a couple of years of hell, where fishing was just not a priority.

Thankfully all that has changed now, and he has sorted his life out. He and his wife now live a fair bit closer to us, and he now has a river at the bottom of the garden. There have been several recent posts about Tim and his stretch river. In fact today, I am off to his place, along with Sue to do a spot of fishing, and a spot of jetty repair - another 'call-out', nothing changes!

I have no idea where that four years have gone, but what I do know is that every trip has been recorded in this blog, as well as any other fishing related stuff, like recipes, repairs, new tackle and techniques. I am so pleased I started this blog as I read parts of it from time to time and I realise just how much I would have forgotten if I had not recorded it here.

I am off to fill the van and head off to Tim's place. I will let you know how I get on!

Ralph.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

September already and another chub!

Today is the first day of meteorological autumn. Where did summer go, and what a summer we have had, scorching temperatures and next to no rain. Great for us but not so good for the fish in some areas. Today is also the other bloke's birthday, and we are going to celebrate it on Monday with a session on the river at the bottom of his garden. In preparation for another session on The Medway, we (me and 'er-in-doors) decided to go an have a look at what was in one of our local rivers here in deepest South East London.

For the past week or so, we have been watching and feeding the fish as they patrol the far bank. There were shoals of chublet and a few perch in evidence. Today, as we walked upstream towards the weir, where we caught that chub a week or so back, we were feeding and looking for fish. Plenty of fry and a few sardine-sized fish but nothing worth throwing a baited hook at.

This was Sue a few days ago feeding the fish in our favourite spot
We eventually found all the fish gathered together in the pool just below the shallow weir, a mile or so upstream. The fish came to us, as we were standing there throwing in a few maggots. Although the water is crystal clear. The fish seemed entirely at ease with our presence.

The fish were coming in really close and did not seem to be put off by us
We sat down on the concrete that is here to prevent the banks getting washed away in flood conditions as the weir also restricts the width of the river, speeding its flow. In normal conditions as it is now, that slight restriction just helps to increase the flow slightly and preventing any excess build up of debris.

Using my telescopic rod rigged with a small float, 4lb line and a short 3lb hook length sporting a size 16 hook, impaling one very agitated white maggot, I cast over to the far bank that is lined with pilings. Plop! just a foot or so short of the bank. I hardly had time to congratulate myself on, what for me was a perfect cast, when the reel started screaming, and I had a fish on.

I think this one is even bigger than the one we caught a few weeks ago
I had hooked another decent sized chub. Not overly happy about being tethered to a human on the bank, the fish was testing my cheap rod and reel to its limit. I gently played the fish for a while to tire it and eventually had it in the net. It was indeed one of the bigger fish. In fact, I think it was even bigger than the last one we caught here a couple of weeks ago!

A lady walking her colossal dog was interested to know if we were planning on eating it (the fish that is!) I explained that we were just pleasure fishing and in any case, it is not allowed to take course fish for the pot. Meanwhile, her dog, a St. Bernard, had taken a liking to Sue and her maggots! Luckily both the dog and the owner were pleasant, and she apologised for her dog, who was just a big mass of fur. Dogs often crash through the swim, but the fish seem oblivious to it and just move away, before returning to their former location.

I caught a couple of smaller fish. Both were about this size and put up a good fight on the cheap gear
We fished for an hour or so and caught another couple of smaller chub. Each time we put a fish back, the swim went quiet for about five minutes while the fish all scattered and had a chat about these funny maggots with hooks in them. Soon all was forgotten, and the fish were back, feeding on our free offerings.

The interesting thing for me was the time. This was not early morning or late evening. We had initially intended to go out for a walk. Sue had suggested that we go and feed the fish and I said, at the last minute, that I would take a rod and see if we could catch anything, not expecting to get the line wet. It was lunchtime when we had arrived at the river, a time I would have expected the fish to be less likely to play.

We had debated taking a bite to eat with us, but as it was so late, we thought we would probably not have much luck and be home in plenty of time to eat. As it turned out, we could have stayed there all afternoon. The fish were feeding, and the weather was perfect, not too hot and just sunny enough to be pleasant. It never fails to amaze me just how much fun we can have on our own doorstep here in a very urban setting.

Ralph.        

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Supplies!

Fish food!
Back in May, the doctor suddenly announced that I am a type 2 diabetic. Thanks! I won't go into all the happenings since then as they are not relevant to this blog, except to say that finally, I had an appointment with another doctor who answered a lot of my questions regarding diet. This resulted in a clear out of the food cupboards - long overdue anyway, as we found some stuff lurking at the back that was years out of date.

I now have a pile of things I can use, along with stock ingredients that I have by me, to make groundbait, feeder mix, boilies, custards and even some paste. My first plan was to just grind it all up and feed the river down at the other bloke's place, but then it occurred to me I could, with a bit of thought and note-taking, make some effective bait that, if it proves to be good, I can repeat. Apart from a whole lot of breakfast cereal, there is rice, nuts pasta and even a block of fondant icing. Just what I am going to do with that, I have no idea - yet!

I have been aware that I need some boilies, as I seem to have used all the ones I had in the freezer. I am thinking corn boilies, using the cornflakes and some whizzed up frozen corn as the main flavour ingredients. Maybe I will do a batch with hemp seed added to compliment my corn custard. I will have to have a think about it, but in the meantime I need to find somewhere to store it where the mice can't get at it...

Ralph.  

Friday, 17 August 2018

Another day, another fish...

Fishing our local river is a bit of a challenge, to say the least. I have been fishing it using a whip and more recently an elasticated pole. This has paid off but is still restrictive. The problem is, there are not many open places where the fish hold up. Many lengths of the river are very shallow, and shallow weirs have been constructed to manage the flow and prevent it just draining out, at its confluence, into the Ravensbourne River as it nears Catford.

The River Pool (right) meets the Ravensbourne River, at Catford
The pool formed on the downstream side of the shallow weir, where we caught the chub a couple of days ago, is one of the more open places to fish. Down stream from there, the banks of the river are almost completely overgrown and fishing with conventional gear is almost impossible. Scanning the eBay listings, I spotted what might be the answer to fishing in those hard to get to places. A small telescopic rod, complete with a reel for just a shade over £16.00 delivered. Click, bought it!

The telescopic rod combo - cheap and cheerful, but it did the job
I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived yesterday. Okay, it is no Drennan Acolyte, but I did not expect it to be as good as it looked. I stripped off the heavy line that was supplied with the reel and replaced it with some 4lb line and a small float. It takes about 3g to cock this little float. Discussing it on the forums, it seems that opinion is divided as to if this is too heavy or not. As I had no real alternative other than a really light pole float, I decided to use what I had.

The float shotting seemed a bit heavy, but as it turned out, it seemed to work well.
It did work reasonably well, but I think if I had more time at the bank, I might have refined the shotting a little. The small pole floats might have worked, but with little or no weight, they may have been hard to cast with this little rod.
Pole floats might have been too light to cast
Although the rod seems to perform reasonably well, the reel is a bit cheap and cheerful. The line-lay is not good at all, and the drag is as rough as a bag of grit. It does work, after a fashion, but you could not describe it as smooth. Having said that, I am not complaining, it did the job, and for the money, it is a lot better than I had expected.

The great thing about this telescopic rod is the ease of carrying it and the speed of set up. I was fishing within a couple of minutes of arriving at the bank. All I had to do was extend the rod and add my chosen hook length. I chose a 12 inch length and fitted a small No.12 dropper about 4 inches above the hook. I was only using 2½lb line for the hooklength as the target today was small perch. After trying several spots along the river, I was beginning to think I was going to blank. We eventually ended up at the weir, where I had caught the Chub a couple of days ago.

The pool just under the shallow concrete weir
This pool is reasonably deep in places by this river's standards. There is a shoal of chub that are often seen here, and today was no exception. I decided to have a go and see what I could catch, as the perch did not seem to want to come out and play. There is not much river to fish here as the water shallows up very quickly as it flows downstream.

Standing in the same place as the picture above was taken, this is the view looking downstream
I tried casting my new rod and to my surprise, although the reel is a bit rough it worked reasonably well. A couple of casts with no bait, just to see if it was working and to see if the depth was about right, proved that this little rod was going to do the job, albeit a bit rough. I put a single white maggot on the hook and cast watched the float trot (if that is the correct word) downstream and disappear. Fish! I had caught a tiny chublet. Sue was feeding the swim every fifteen seconds or so with three or four maggots.

This was the average size of the fish we caught in ore short session today
The next cast turned up a slightly bigger fish. I was sort of hoping that I would not catch a big one just yet until I had a bit more experience with the rod and especially the reel. As it happened, although we could see the bigger fish, and they were going for the free offerings, none of them took the bait.


Tiny spool for my dropshot reels
I caught several fish, none of which required the landing net. The new rod was a complete success, and the reel will do the job, but I might have to change it for one of my 1500 Fox Ultron Rage reels that I use for dropshotting. I will have to buy another tiny spool and fill it with monofilament line as they are both filled with braid.

I did not end up catching, or seeing, any perch today, but I did catch a lot of fish, so today was another successful session, even if it was only for an hour or so. I need to refine my technique over the next few weeks and months, but one thing I am sure of, I love this river fishing!

Ralph.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Gotcha!

Done it! I have now caught one of the biggest fish in this little river and it was all planned!
Today's blog is all about the fish. For the past week or so, Sue and I have been watching a section of our river were we have found a small shoal of chublet. Last time we went 'equipped' we had no luck whatsoever. We could not even find the fish in the murky water. Even the odd dangled maggot didn't even get 'chewed'.

This time it was a different matter. We set off late morning and found the fish where we had seen them a few days ago, at the bottom of a shallow weir. The water is a bit deeper here, in fact it is deeper than it looks, as when a labrador decided to jump in it was way out of its depth and found itself having to swim.

One of the problems with fishing here is the number of dogs that make use of the easy access to the water. We had several dogs in the water during our hour and a half session. Surprisingly, this did not seem to bother the fish too much. Once the water cleared again we could see the fish swimming around looking for the free offerings we had been feeding.

There is no point in plumbing the depth here as the bottom goes from nothing to two or three feet deep, and back again in all directions. Using my 5m tele-pole which is fitted with No.6 elastic through the top two sections, and a light line and hooklength I was just letting the maggot drift through the water with only the size 18 hook as weight. The only indicator was a small bright yellow float bead set about a foot from the hook. Within seconds a small chublet had grabbed the maggot and it was away. Easily swung to hand it was the first of many.

First chuck and we had our first fish of the session
Slowly the fish were getting bigger as they grew in confidence. I was concerned that the commotion would spook the fish, but that did not seam to be the case as I was catching one after the other. The session came to an abrupt pause (paws?) as the section of river was invaded by a pack of dogs. Well 'pack' might be a bit strong but there were five or six of them. The owner was profusely apologetic and I don't suppose she expected to see anyone fishing there, besides it is not our river. I was fearful that all this further commotion will have scared the fish of, but as I said above, it didn't.

They were getting bigger...
I started fishing again after a few minutes as I could see the fish were still taking our loose feed. All of a sudden the line went tight and promptly snapped. One of the bigger fish had decided to take my hook-bait in a mad rush. The elastic did not even come out of the pole. I had been fishing light, trying not to spook the fish too much. Time to tackle up a bit heavier. I re-rigged the pole with heavier line and hooklength and this time used one of those neat little Drennan crystal dibbers. A few shot to cock it and a string of droppers ensured that this time I was going to be fishing static on the bottom.

The prize fish of the day - this is the same fish I am holding in the header shot
A few put-ins produced nothing, so I shallowed up slightly and had another go. Sue was feeding two or three maggots over the float every 15-20 seconds. It worked. The elastic berried itself in the river and I had one of the bigger fish on. It was a bit frisky at first but it soon quietened down and was making it's way closer to the bank when it spotted the net and made another break for freedom. Luckily, this time the tackle was up to the job and eventually the fish was in the net.

After weeks of watching these fish I finally had one in the net. What a great feeling. My first river chub and caught on our local urban river right here in the heart of South East London. Although I don't think this fish has been caught by an angler before, the scar on its side looks as if it has been attacked by one of the many herons or ibis that we often see on our walks along this stretch of the river.

A great day, possibly one of the best so far. I know it is not the biggest chub around, but at 16½ inches long, it is one of the biggest fish in this river.

Ralph.  

Friday, 10 August 2018

Not a sausage...

...or a fish! Following on from yesterday's post, Sue and I went back to the river with the intention of catching a few fish. It was raining as we stood and watched the fish taking the feed yesterday. It then continued to rain all afternoon and, on and off through the night. Today when we went back to have a go at catching a fish, the water was slightly higher, only by a few inches, and it had coloured up slightly. I could still make out the bottom in places, but the weeds and some deeper parts were now out of sight.

We tried feeding some maggots but there was no interest. It seemed like all the fish had gone. We walked down stream, for a couple of miles, and did not see a fish anywhere. We even stopped at our favoured fishing spot to dangle a line into the opaque water for a while, only to find that the maggot had not even been sucked by the small roach.

Like Goldilocks (sans bears) when we got there, the river was bare!
I posted a question on one of fishing forums for some advice, and had lots of useful suggestions as to why we could find no fish. You can read the thread HERE. It appears there could have been several reasons why our fish were not playing ball today. From the advice given, I tend to think it could have been a combination of factors. Firstly, not only would the water temperature have been lowered by the rainwater but, secondly, the ambient air temperature has dropped dramatically over the past few days. From daytime near record highs at the beginning of the week, to today's well under the average for this time of year - mad isn't it? This can stop the fish from feeding until they have a chance to get used to their new, cooler environment.

We can't get back there tomorrow, but we plan to have another go on Sunday when we will try some of the tactics gleaned from the afore mentioned forum thread.

Ralph.  

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Our urban fish are getting bigger...

Feeding fish - Look in the bottom left hand corner, you can just see the fish!
Here in Catford, The River Ravensbourne runs under the South Circular road between Catford and Catford Bridge railway stations. Before the bridge was built the river was forded at this point, said to be favoured by cats, which is how the area got its name. 

South of the road, the river runs under the car parks of Halfords and Wickes retail sheds, where it emerges and passes under the railway through one of the arches of the viaduct. In recent years a suspended pathway has been added to allow pedestrian access under the railway and into the area beyond. A few hundred yards further on, the river is joined by The Pool River and the River Ravensbourne crosses back under the railway on its way to Bromley and eventually Keston. 

This area of wasteland was once just that, an area of land behind the houses defined by the river on one side and the railway on the other. In recent years it has been opened up as a park and cycle route running south from Catford to lower Sydenham. Much of this is thanks to the old gasworks site having been decontaminated and landscaped as part of a planning permission deal, when it was developed into a retail super-store and retail park.

Most of the park follows the course of The Pool River on its way to Lower Sydenham. At the the confluence of the rivers there is a footbridge over The Pool where the park opens up out of the heavily overgrown section into a more open stretch of path. To the right there are several well trodden access points to the river, where there is a well defined path that runs for several hundred yards giving good access to the river. It is along this path that Sue and I have fished in the past. Well, that is me fishing and Sue watching, as she does not have (or want) a licence. She has no desire to catch the anything, but is happy to just help carry the gear and feed the fish.

There is lots of wildlife to be found here, and especially birds. Herons, egrets, and even the rare appearance of a kingfisher can be seen moping up the smaller fish. The river has recovered well after a serious toxic spillage, that killed the entire stock of fish and other wildlife, in 2009.

Now we are seeing much larger fish than we have seen for years. Over the past few weeks we have seen several small shoals of chublet and perch, along with other small silvers such as roach and dace. It is the larger chublets that interest us. Some of these fish are now over a foot long. Okay, I know that is not very big in the great scheme of things, but here in our little shallow river, that is big.

Big fish!
Yesterday we found a section of the river, just below a shallow weir, where the fish had congregated and we could see them with the naked eye. The smaller ones were holding station just where the water runs off the concrete and even venturing over the concrete in what can only be a couple of inches of water at the most. As we stood and watched them, we noticed a couple of much larger fish skulking around a clump of weed. These fish were very gently moving around looking for scraps of food caught in the gentle current. They would only move at any speed if they were spooked by our shadow or silhouette against the sky. We stood back at the top of the bank and watched for a good while as they just cruised around.

In the margins were hundreds, if not thousands, of fry basking in the warm shallow water. These would scatter if spooked and then reform fairly quickly, if the disturbance ceased. As we were watching, something dropped off a tree, into the river, and the fish immediately went to investigate. We had no food with us so we could not see if they were feeding. In the past, small pieces of bread have not interested these larger fish and more often than not, the bread going in has spooked them.

Today it has been raining all morning, not torrential, but enough to make everything wet and disturb the surface of the water. We had decided to go back to the weir and see if the fish would take any loose feed. Armed with a pot of maggots and a few slices of bread, we braved the rain and had a go at feeding the fish. Maggots seemed to do the trick. A few showers of a dozen or so maggots got them interested.

As we continued to feed the fish, more and more joined in. We used up the hand-full of maggots we had with us and then decided to give the bread another go. This time, although not as enthusiastic as they were for the maggots, they were taking it. Although the fish were a way out, as we fed them, they would come in close and take the bait we had dropped in the margin.

Tomorrow, time and weather permitting, we are going to try and catch one of these bigger fish. Tactics will involve an elasticated tele-pole and a dibber float on light line and a smallish hook baited with one maggot. We will let you know how we get on.


Ralph.         

Friday, 3 August 2018

Can't miss a trick...

Today, or rather this afternoon, Tim was on an early shift. That meant he would be home by about 15:00. Sue and I filled the van with tools, and some fishing gear, and set off for Maidstone. We needed to do a small job on the jetties that involved removing some redundant ladders. One of them had come loose a couple of weeks ago and initially we were going to strengthen the mountings and re-fix them. In the end, it was decided that as nobody was using them, the simplest course of action would be to remove them.

This we did with little effort, for once, other than dropping a spanner into the murky depths of the Medway, the job went very smoothly. The spanner will be retrieved (hopefully) next time I am down there, using a magnet and a length of cord. You never know, we might even find a lot of stuff we don't expect.

After we had finished, we took a walk across the foot bridge into town and bought fish and chips for all of us, as by this time Tim's other half had arrived home from work. As soon as the food had been devoured, Tim and I turned our attention to getting a spot of fishing in. It was now getting late and the heat of the day had relented slightly but so had the light. We got about an hour in before it became too dark to see what we were doing and being Friday night we were visited by the 'disco' boat, twice!

Full of old fuds, like me, it must have been somebody's leaving do or anniversary as the music was audible and reminiscent of my youth when clubs were called discos. We managed to catch a lot of small silvers on our tele-poles, mainly dace, with a few roach thrown in. Fishing was close in, to avoid the river traffic, and we were catching high up in the water using a few maggots that Tim had in the fridge.  Even this close in the water is still deep; 8-10 feet a few yards out. Not the most scintillating of sessions but great that we could get an hour in, at the bottom of Tim's garden.

Ralph.  

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Too hot to sit at a fishery all day...

Road trip around the Kent countryside in search of tackle shops in the luxury of Tim's air conditioning - Sorry, I mean 'climate control'
Tim and I decided to abandon a trip to Monk Lakes today, on the grounds that we might just end up cooking ourselves in the sun. Instead we decided to stay at Tim's place and have a lazy day visiting the local tackle shops we had not checked out yet (since Tim moved to Maidstone), trim some of the willows, that are getting in the way, and spend a few hours fishing in the river at the bottom of his garden.

To be honest we did more mucking about than fishing. I had recently managed to get hold of a second hand Preston X5 seat box for twenty quid! Okay it is the old version with blue fittings but for that money I couldn't say no. I was only interested in the drawer section to upgrade my old seat box to a five-drawer model. I rebuilt and cleaned up what was left to make a second box (X3) for Tim. With the same lot came an 8.5m margin pole, again for no money, which I also passed on to Tim. As Tim had never pole fished or had a seat-box before it was a bit of a struggle to get him set up and fishing. The pole turned out to be very difficult to use off one of the jetties due to the over hanging trees, deep water and an abundance of tree roots close in.

We got the basics sorted but decided it would be much easier to continue this exercise at a commercial where we had a bit more room and fewer trees! By now it was mid afternoon and Tim got a rod out and rigged a ledger. Patience paid off and he managed to catch a couple of small (not tiny) roach. This made Tim's day as he had never been successful with corn before... He is still learning and enjoying every bite.

Now, either that is a big net or a small fish - Tim insisted it was a big net!
While Tim was fishing I had spent a couple of hours just watching the water. Throwing in two or three maggots close in attracted a flurry of excitement as a good number of dace moved in. I put in a small handful and the water erupted. I had been fishing a swim feeder earlier with heavy gear as I know there are some big fish out there. The heat makes me lazy and I could not be bothered to walk back up the garden to completely re-rig, so I removed the feeder and hook length from the 12lb line and with a loop-to-loop connection I added a ultra light hooklength with a size 18 B911 hook. One white maggot was impaled on the hook and slowly allowed to sink into the water. Almost instantly I had a fish. I could have sat there an pulled dace after dace out of the water all between four and five inches long.

I have not caught so many dace in one go before. I think next time I will use a lighter set up and a small float, as most of the fish had taken the bait in and I had to use my fine disgorger to free them. I think a float will enable me to strike before they have a chance to devour the bait.

All in all it was a good day and it was not too hot sitting there under the trees.

Ralph.