Monday, 29 September 2014

My head hurts...

How long is a piece of string? Or should I as how thick is a length of line?

I have now been involved with fishing for a few weeks and and so far have only been out once. The rest of the time I have been trying to learn as much as I can from books, magazines, and the internet. Recently I managed to discover how my reels work - Tick!

My next challenge is to sort out what the relationship is between the diameter of monofilament nylon line and its breaking strain. I thought this was simple, but there again, this is the bloke who didn't realise how slippery carp are!

Why don't manufactures print the breaking strain on the line? Seems madness to me...
The three fishing reels I own were supplied preloaded with line. They all seem to be around 0.30mm diameter, when measured, plus or minus a few hundredths of a mm. This seems to indicate that they are all, there or thereabout, 12lb breaking strain. This is based on the fact that one of the fishing reel's pre-loaded spools is marked 12lb with a small sticker. A hunt through the internet revealed that each manufacturer states their own diameter to breaking strain specifications, and that these can vary considerably.

I also found THIS download (272Kb) for a line test carried out by Tackle Box very informative and up to date. This is all very well but why? Why make it so flaming difficult. Am I missing something in my haze of spurious information? For the life of me, I cannot understand why on earth the manufacturers do not add this vital information to the reels of line? If the diameter of the line does not equate directly to the line strength what's the point?

I'm going for a pint!


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Light at the end of the tunnel...

The irrigation system reservoir
Being unable to get away from the house this weekend was going to mean that there would be no time to go fishing. So desperate was I, that I instigated a search of the grounds for a suitable place to fish. As we have no acreage of water within our boundary I decided to seek out a few alternatives.  The irrigation system reservoir seemed like it might bare some fruit, or even fish. On further inspection it appeared to be of no value as the water level was well below the seasonal average.

The Wetlands Centre
Moving on, I was aware that Sue had been conditioning large amounts of grass in the wetlands centre. Here again water levels seemed to be a problem and this exploration was rapidly becoming a waste of time. With little success on our own property I thought about trespassing on to the adjacent estate and fishing there.  I have heard talk of still water there, all I would have to do is find it. However aerial reconnaissance of the area showed the lake to be unsuitable due to a blanket covering of weed.

The lake in the adjoining estate
With no prospect of finding any fishing this weekend I will have to console myself with a beer and another read of the Angling Times. There is always Matt Hayes and his early morning fishing programmes on Quest (...or Quest + 1 if you oversleep!) Tomorrow he is fishing the Mid-Severn and I am hoping he talks about the section that runs through Ironbridge, as we spend a few weekends there each year. I have seen people fishing on the other side of the river from the wharfage.

Ironbridge in the spring - no fishing during the closed season
As I understand, I will be able to fish along the river at Ironbridge (except during the closed season) free of charge so long as I have a Rod licence. But that will be for next year, I am still only finding my feet on still water.

Talking of which, It looks like Tim and I will be our next weekend. I spoke to him this morning and he thinks he can fit me in next Sunday, between his high society social life engagements. I think I had better stay away from the fish restaurants the night before... See HERE. Hopefully we will spend most of the day at Bax Farm fishing Farm Lake, which is where Sue and I went last week for my very first fishing outing. This will be Tim's first attempt for many decades; it should be fun providing the weather holds. 


Friday, 26 September 2014

Reelin'em in.

Ever since I started my education, on the day I left full time learning, I have filled this ageing brain with all sorts of useful information, facts and a good deal of rubbish, some will say most of it is rubbish! Nowhere amongst this cornucopia of learning is there a file labelled 'Fishing Reels'. I was never interested in the art of fishing as a lad so this information was not collected...

My little Baitfeeder 140 reel is great value for money but it came with no instructions...
So far I have spent a lot of time filling the empty files with a mishmash of hints, tips and some very limited first-hand experience. Apart from the fact that the reel will pay out and recover the line there are all-sorts of other features that I did not understand. No instructions were included with any of the reels and my comprehensive three-book library skips over the reels by just labelling the parts without explaining how to use them. They may tell me what they are for but I need to know what they do.

...and from the other side
Back to the internet. A trawl through YouTube eventually turned up the answers I was looking for. I had already worked out what the main drag was for and now I could see the advantage of the baitfeeder drag (Which I believe is the same thing as baitrunner) when the rod is left in the rod rest. The main drag is adjusted from the knob on the front, the baitfeader drag is set by the knob on the back and engaged by lifting the lever. It can be disengaged either by flicking the lever back down or by turning the handle. I also found the little 'switch' that allows the handle to be rotated in either direction when the clutch (ratchet?) is disengaged.

All this will seem obvious to most of you, but for me this is a revelation. I can now name all the bits of my reel and I know what they are for - I think!

Might have to go fishing again soon...


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

I don't need any more floats...

No I don't, but I don't need to go fishing either!

As I didn't get a chance to go fishing last weekend, I thought I would go and seek out my local fishing tackle shop. Sue and I jumped in Sue's recycled Swedish fridge and headed off west. A few miles from us is Hemming Fishing Tackle. Having never visited a tackle shop in my life before (other than the small shop at Bax Farm where we went last week) I looked in the window and was faced with an overwhelming array of, well, fishing tackle. It was at this point I realised there appears to be a lot more to this fishing lark than I thought.

This place is huge and it is full of stuff!  As I walked in the door the bloke behind the counter welcomed me warmly and asked if he could help. Faced with what seemed like an endless tunnel of stuff, It was decision time. Do I tough it out and pretend to know what I was looking for or do I come clean and admit to feeling this vast space had suddenly become incommodious. I chose the latter and polity informed the guy that I was new to angling and would it be all right for us to have a look around? "No problem at all" came the reply. "Just let me know if I can help you".

Now, you know I said I didn't need any more floats - I lied!

See I told you...
My 'studies' had revealed a lacking in my rapidly growing armoury of maggot drowning equipment. According to Mr Hayes, see video HERE, I need a clear insert waggler or two. My army of floats so far is made up from a tube of floats that came with my starter set. I can't knock these as I managed to catch a few carp on my first, and so far only, outing!  There are, however a few points to mention regarding these cheap floats, after my first experience with them .

The most obvious disadvantage is they are not marked with the required bulk weight. This is not too much of a problem, as a bit of experimentation enabled me to work out how much weight was required, however the fact that it leaked and started to fill with water was not great! I will still use these cheap floats but with no point of reference, I am not sure how they are supposed to perform.

So now you can see, I do need some more floats.

As I was in this huge Aladdin's cave of of goodies it would not be right to leave without buying a few floats and some silicone adapters and some more shot and a tackle box...  That will do, I was only looking.

A box full of tackle - should keep me going for a bit!
Purchase complete it was time to do the thing we had gone out for - a spot of shopping (Yuk!). Perambulating through the streets of South East London, if such a thing is possible in a car with a solid floor, we happened upon our local Aldi store. A visit here is always good for the essentials, wine, crisps and fig rolls...  Pardon? ...Oh, sorry, I mean Milk, Cheese and Bread.

More floats but they were cheap and they came with other stuff
During this long dull trudge through this temple to bar-codes and cellophane, I spotted a discounted items bin.  Losing the will to live, I sidled up to a bin marked 'End of promotion discounts' and peered in. Sitting on top was a tube of those cheap floats plus some other bits and pieces including a couple of packets of hook-to-line. Priced at £2.99 that seemed like a bargain, especially as it included some insert wagglers. I found three packets in that bin and elected to buy them on the basis that the hooks-to-line were worth that. 

Now I have even more floats. I have earmarked a tube for Tim to have a 'play' with. out of the other two it turned out that some low-life, maggot-loving cretin had stolen the hook-to-line packets from one of the tubes. Apart from being very irritating, this did not mean too much as the rest of the tub's content is worth the money to this beginner. The contents of one of the complete tubes and the part tube have now been added to the tackle box which, at the moment, is communal. This may change if I ever get Tim to the water's edge.

 I don't need any more floats...


Saturday, 20 September 2014

Well, that was a good choice...

No fishing this weekend as Tim is off doing something else and I have lots of work to be catching up with. However there is still time to do some reading and watching. Yesterday Sue came back, from doing a spot of shopping, clutching a copy of Angling Times. Inside there was a mention of fishing related  TV. It was a mention that Quest are rerunning the Matt Hayes Total Fishing programmes that made be look closer. They listed one example (wrong time but I had missed it anyway). I then noticed, in the Radio Times, that in fact they are running the old Mat Hayes Total Fishing series early most mornings.

I know these are old but for an absolute beginner like me that are useful. Between this sort of programme, books and magazines as well as the internet I have learnt a lot and it was down to a Mat Hayes video that I knew how to shot my float and attach a hook length, before my first trip to a lake on Wednesday. Talking of which, while I was studying the pages of the afore mentioned publication, that Sue had bought me, I notices that the recommended fishery in the South was the place we chose to have my first go at drowning some maggots. Sue came along for the ride and a day out. I must say the Angling Times recommendation is spot on. We had a brilliant day and the people are very friendly and helpful, even when I was asking very basic questions.    

How is that for a coincidence?
I will go back there soon as it is just a few miles from where Tim lives and the original idea was for us to go fishing together. At this rate he will never catch up with me - I am already four fish in front of him! But hey, whose counting...

Last cast of the day at Bax Farm last Wednesday - Time to go home
We fished Farm lake and intended to take a look at the other lakes an the stream. As it turned out we stayed on the one lake and in the same place all day so we still have plenty to explore next time we go back.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

It's a fish!

Today I went fishing! This may not be a big thing for most of you but this was my first time. Never before have I drowned so many maggots and caught so many fish - Yes you heard correctly, I caught some fish! The original plan was to make an early start, well that was the plan, but a few e-mails and phone calls put pay to that, but work does come first. In the end we managed to get the car packed and got away by about 10:30 am. The up side of this was that we missed the worst of the traffic and got to Bax Farm an hour later, after a stop off for some anti-bacterial hand gel.

Now, that bit goes through here...
This was it, time to take up the rod, man (me!) against fish! I tentatively threaded the line through the eyelets of the rod, added the float, a no.16 hook line and then a plummet. Picked a position to fish and plumbed the depth. I threw a handful of maggots at the float and sat down. As I did so the float disappeared and - bang! I had caught something. MY! (or words to that effect...) I had caught a fish!

Now panic set in as Sue raced for the landing net and I battled with what felt like a whale! You will have to excuse me but I was so surprised by the way the fish fought and the size of it. I was expecting to catch something the size of a sardine not a sea monster!  We managed to land it and got it in my hands. luckily it was hooked in the lip and the hook came straight out. Having never handled a live fish before I was not expecting it to be so slippery. I was just about to turn around so Sue could get a picture of my first fish when it wriggle out of my hands and straight back into the pond. Luckily, Sue managed to get a shot of it just as it left my hands...

My first fish...
Great! missed it. So my very first fish is the one that got away. No photograph but it was huge, it was T H I S big!

Thinking I had lost my big chance to get a photograph I was a little despondent but stuck with it for a while until lunch. After a couple of sandwiches and coffee, I was ready to have another go. A few catapulted maggots hit the spot I was aiming at and I cast into the same place. A few seconds later the float disappeared and I struck. Here we go again. This one fought like mad it must have been about four feet long and weighed at least 28lb. I can't show you because just as I was getting excited the line went slack and the float reappeared. Fish number two had stolen my hook length and a single shot.

Now I am an expert... I can catch fish! And I did, next came number three and not only did I land it but Sue managed to photograph me holding it.

Ta-Dah! How's that for a fish then?
Now I know this may seem like a little one to you guys but to me it is fantastic. I never thought I would catch anything like this on my first day out and it didn't stop there. After a bit of a lull, I caught another one about the same size.

...and another one, the last fish of the day
Great fun! can't wait to do it again. This was supposed to be a two-man thing but Tim could not make it today so Sue came along a rode shotgun for the day as well as taking the photographs. 

Sue was keeping Tim's chair warm for the day
Time to go home. We had a fun few hours here at Bax Farm. The people in the shop were very helpful and friendly, especially when they were selling bait! I used a pint and a half of Maggots today. I have no idea if that is too many or too few but I had a good time. I even managed to master the catapult by the time we were going home.

Maggots on target!
Now I really can't wait to get back and have another go. I plan to try out some different baits next time. The best way to learn is to have a go, and today, I did both, I had a go and I learnt a lot. Now I have caught a few fish I feel I can now try and modify my technique and I think I might invest in a new float with an inserted tip to see if it makes any difference.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Fishing tomorrow!

After an aborted start to my fishing experience last Sunday, I decided to go it alone tomorrow. Well not quite alone as Sue (my better half) has decided to come along for the ride as Tim has got a big job on tomorrow - well some of us have to work during the week I suppose. We will see how it goes in future but as we tend to work at the weekends and Tim works during the week, I think I might have discovered why we do not see that much of each other...

This Dunlop chair from Argos seems like good value
Last minute purchases. As Sue is coming tomorrow, I thought we might need some chairs. So I bought a couple of the Dunlop chairs offered by Argos. I didn't have room to photograph both of them without a lot of hassle so you will just have to imagine the other!  I also needed something to weigh my first fish (Well, I have to be optimistic!) so I bought a cheap set of scales that came with a sling, that looks like someone's discarded string vest, and a unhooking mat - don't suppose I will need that for a while.

Scales, unhooking mat and who left their vest behind?
My final bit of kit to show you and my first 'upgrade' is a couple of plummets I found on eBay that are ten times better than the rough one that was supplied in the starter set. Most of what I have bought so far has been low priced 'entry level stuff but we have more than enough stuff for two of us to get started. I have a landing net but I might need a second one for when Tim can make it.

This chart might come in handy. Printed on paper and laminated it should be drip-proof
Finally I found a shot weight chart that I could download and print out. So I laminated it and I will take it with me tomorrow as a quick reference, I am sure it will all become second nature after a couple of decades...


Monday, 15 September 2014

How's this for ironic?

Today was supposed to be the first time out fishing. Well... On Saturday evening we went out for a meal in a very nice fish restaurant in Hastings with my Godson and his wife. The food was very nice and everything went well until we got home. I have a problem with shellfish and as such avoid it (them?) like the plague.  Without going into detail, I got very little sleep on Saturday night and realised the starter must have been made with a fish sauce that contianed shellfish of some kind!

Brilliant! My first outing scuppered by a fish supper. Oh well, I will try and have another go on Wednesday.


Sunday, 7 September 2014


Before the days of the internet, if you wanted to research something new it was time to refer to your own personal reference books or frequent the public lending Library. Although the internet is useful and , indeed, I found some useful material there, there is a limit to how long I am prepared to surf the net editing out all the rubbish.

With a subject that is totally new, as this is to me, I don't have a clue who to listen to. I have heard of some of the names that came up and recognise them from the odd fishing series that have been run on the television. I found lots of videos  on YouTube by Matt Hayes. These are great for someone like me who knows nothing and I know I can trust the information as being from someone who must know what he is doing.

Other than this sort of thing, the internet is a minefield of unfamiliar jargon and unqualified advice for the complete fishing numpty like me. Time to revert to the tried and tested route - books and magazines. A look through the Amazon book shop reveals a myriad of books. I discovered that a lot of them state "New and Used from 1p" I have used this before to great success so I ordered some beginners books and even including the postage only spent a few pounds.

I do like a nice solid book!
While I was out yesterday I called into a newsagent and found a magazine. My first fishing Magazine purchase is interesting. I can relate to some of it, but there is a lot to learn before I can honestly say that I understand some of the more interesting looking stuff. Lets face it, I only discovered what a plummet is a few days ago. The book, pictured above, arrived today and cost just 1p plus a couple of quid postage - perfect!  An ex-library book that had only been lent a few times in seven years, according to the lending record. The book looks almost brand new.

As I sit here typing I can here the sound of tinkering plates and cutlery, as we ate a few hours ago this can only mean one thing... Washing up! Now here is the dilemma, do I rush off and offer to help or lay low and read my new-to-me book...

...Decision made.  But how to I get to the beer without going in the kitchen? It's a hard life.


Friday, 5 September 2014

First visit to Bax Farm Fishery...

At Last! After days of chasing and finally threatening to give up on him I managed to get hold of LB (little Brother) to tell him we were ready to go. After the usual string of flimsy excuses he agreed that my course of action had been the right one and he was pleased to be the owner of some tackle. "Okay, so when do you want to go fishing?" I asked "Sunday - I know it is your wedding anniversary but you must be fed up with those by now?" I can't understand it, but he did not seem to be amused. Looks like I might be flying solo for the next week or so...
Today I had reason to drive down to North Kent. While I was in the area, I thought I would visit the fishery we intend to drown our first maggots, Bax Farm. I just wanted to see the place and visit the tackle shop. The fishery is just East of Sittingbourne, in a very secluded spot, just North of the railway line. Access is down a narrow lane and through a small bridge under the line. At the end of the lane there is a car park just outside the tackle shop.

I marched in there with Sue (my long suffering better half) in tow and immediately got chatting to the guys behind the counter. Explaining I was an absolute beginner, they were more than happy to offer advice and tell us all about the fishery. As This was only a flying visit, we bought a selection of shot, to complement the small selection we had already, and promised to return, well at least I did. At this rate it looks as if I might well be flying solo initially!


Thursday, 4 September 2014

First gear arrives!

One box from Argos and the other two in the post
The rod and reel I ordered yesterday arrived nice and early this morning. How is that for service! I can see the top of the Argos building from our (home) office window, so it was only a short walk down to the High Street to collect the other parcel.   

Lots of stuff... click on picture to enlarge
This is a starter set and contains all sorts of things. The picture above shows all the floats and other miscellaneous tackle, boxes and so on. I am sure this is a case of quantity over quality but I am hoping this will get us most of the way to catching fish. I think we will need some more split shot as there seems to be very little in that little blue box, next to the imitation maggots, I didn't know there were such things! They are made of some rubbery stuff (Silicone?) that sticks to the laminated card and the clear plastic bubble packing and when the packet is tilted move around mimicking the real things - very weird, Sue was not impressed. Wait until I come home with some real ones.

There were two rods and a pole included in the starter set. One match rod, 3m long, a 3.3m carp rod and a 5M 'Tele-pole'. To my untrained eye these don't look too bad and I should be able to use these with ease, all pictured below. I didn't bother to show the whole of the Tele-pole as it is just a tube and is far too long to photograph extended indoors!

A three piece match rod...
...3m long
A three piece carp rod...
 ...this one is a bit longer and thicker then the match rod
The 5m Tele-pole
I would not have gone out a bought a pole from day one, but as it is here, one of us will give it a go I expect. I have not pictured it but a rod bag, big enough to take the two rods and pole, is also supplied. Talking of bags there is and enormous tackle bag included in the set much too big at the moment, although it may get filled with food and flasks and cool drinks initially...

This bag is huge compared with the tackle we have so far
Also included in the set, but not worth photographing, is a bent lump of heavy gauge wire (that is meant to be a rod rest I assume). The folding/telescopic 2.5m landing net has not been photographed yet as I want to show it with a fish in it...  Thinking about it we probably need a couple of them. I think I had better add another landing net to the growing shopping list.

Finally there are a couple of reels. These don't look like the best quality in the world but for the price I am not complaining. If they get us going and give us some fun then that is what it is all about.

Little match reel and much bigger carp reel
The other two parcels contained a rod and real that is (was if you are reading this in the future!) on special offer from Go Outdoors. This rod and reel appears to be far better quality than the ones from the Argos set and at its original quoted price it should be. Time  will tell. it will be interesting to see what I think about it in a year or so once I have caught a fish big enough to need an unhooking mat.

The Go Outdoors match rod is slightly longer than the Argos one pictured above...
... and just 'feels' nicer
The Go Outdoors real is much nicer and comes with a spare spool - all I have to do now is work out how to get the line onto the spool. As I have a fully wound spools on all the reels at the moment I can worry about that later.

The reel from Go Outdoors
Tomorrow, if time allows I will drop into the tackle shop on the fishery we intend to visit and collect some of the last bits and pieces. I need some split weights and I will have to buy a couple of unhooking mats as one of the very few rules is that we must have one each to fish. I am not sure it will get wet for a bit as I can't see us catching anything big enough to need it for a while yet.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

What's a plummet?

My name is Ralph and I live in South East London. A week or so ago I decided that as I am now pushing 60 and my 'little' brother, Tim, is now pushing 50, it was about time we found something we could do together that we were both interested in. We hit upon fishing. Having never fished before (other than sticklebacks from a stream 50+ years ago) I decided to search the internet for information and guidance. As the heading will tell you I had zero knowledge of fishing techniques, tackle or even the fish. I am pleased to tell you the task was successful. I am now an expert on all aspects of fishing with a rod and line - I have watched several on-line videos and read many pages of text....

... All joking aside, I have learnt the very basics. A few days ago I had no idea how to attach a float to the line or what a plummet was, let alone what it is used for. I am about to take the plunge and buy some gear for myself and hopefully get my brother along as well. He did some fishing as a kid but when he was interested in fishing, due to the age gap, I was more interested in the birds and I do not mean the feathered kind.

I have been reading some of the fishing forums and even joined one or two, to get some advice on how to start. All good advice too, so I have ordered a rod and reel, as recommended by one of the forum members, and reserved a starter set at Argos that was on special offer. I suspect that some of the stuff in the starter set will get replaced fairly soon but with an outlay of about £130.00, all in, I have more than enough kit to allow us to go and drown a few unsuspecting maggots. I wonder If Tim has told his wife he will be storing the bait in the fridge...

I will post some pictures of the kit tomorrow and work out what else I need. First on the list will be a couple of nice comfy seats; don't want this to be too stressful.