Sunday, 30 November 2014

I went fishin' today!

A first visit to Beaver Farm Fishery


My peg this morning - 'ello duckie!
Got up this morning, commandeered Sue's car and went fishing! I had arranged to meet one of the guys (Ian) I had been 'talking' to on one of the internet forums. Forty-five minutes later I was standing outside the fishery office and Ian arrived. A brief exchange of words through the window of his car and we agreed to meet at Maze Lake.

I had called the mobile number as instructed by the notice on the door and was politely told to wait there and someone would come and meet me. A few minutes later and one of the bailiffs arrived. I can't emphasis enough how welcome the staff, including the cat, made me feel. I paid my £10.00 day ticket, collected a pint of maggots and drove to the lake. It is possible to park just a few feet from the lake and if the pegs at that end are free, as they were today, you can fish with the convenience of having the car just about as close as it can be without being parked on the peg with you!

I had gone with the idea of trying out my new feeder rod. While Ian got fishing on the waggler, I set about rigging my cage feeder. I had already loaded the spool of my reel with plenty of 8lb line and I was fiddling about tying on the swivel and mixing my groundbait. I had a packet of Strawberry flavoured pellets that I had bought in the the local 99p shop. I had not mixed them into my 'sweet' groundbait mix at home as the ingredients list said that it contained peanut. The fishery has a total ban on nuts of any kind, but when I asked about my pellets I was told there was no problem with them as they were part of the pellet and I assume processed properly.

The pellets were soaked in some lake water and left to soak while I was still fiddling about with my rig. after about half an hour the pellets were added to the ground bait and mixed in - I must get myself a riddle! I rolled a couple of golf-ball sized lumps and started to lightly feed my chosen swim. Eventually, I managed to get all the knots tied up and the tangles straightened out of my line and I was ready to fish.

The first tree of the day was mine...
While I was doing all this the bailiff arrived to collect Ian's ticket money, and they were chatting when I made my initial cast. I made what I considered a light cast.THUMP! Hmmm... shouldn't that have been plop? My cast had shot right over the water and had landed on the other side. Thinking I could quietly retrieve the feeder and rig I started to reel it in only for it to get tangled in a bush... Just as I was pondering this situation I heard Ian saying to the bailiff  "Oh look, Ralph's just caught a tree!"  Great!

Ian at his peg pulling out fish on maggots with a waggler...
The bailiff then offered to go and untangle me from the tree and set off for the other side of the lake. After threatening to ban me if he fell in, he managed to snap off the branch and the first catch of the day was made. I reeled in my branch and set about freeing my tackle. After replacing the hook bait and refilling the cage, I had another go. This time I hooked the bush next to my peg... After freeing the cage feeder again I eventually got to make another cast. This time it dropped at my feet. Plop!  Well, that's an improvement, the maggots got wet. Filled with confidence I refilled the cage (again!) and made a cast. It was while walking back from the other side of the lake that I decided that fishing this rig out of the tree on the other side of the lake was getting rather tedious...

Time for a waggler. I packed away my feeder rod and tackle for another day. I wanted to have a go, and I had done so. I also discovered I still have a lot to learn and if I had any hope of catching any fish at all today it would be on the waggler. I sat there and set up my match rod for a spot of waggler fishing, plumbed the depth and weighted my float. attempted a few casts and was getting nowhere - I then spotted that the line had been passed through the last eye after a short diversion round the end of the rod. Oh, bother! At least I think that was the word I used. Deep breath, 1, 2, 3,......10!

Got it all sorted out and had a cast. Three foot. Tried again, three foot one inch... More counting.

By this time Ian was starting to feel sorry for me and came over to give me a hand. He had a go at casting and said I should go and lift his rod to see how light It was compared with mine. I did and it had a baby perch munching the maggot and hook... IAAAN!

The perch we caught - It took two of us to land this one!
We took a look at the little fellow and sent him on his way claiming half a fish each...

Ta dah! My first fish of the day
Ian decided that the best thing to do would be to start again and use one of his pre-weighted floats that he very kindly gave me. I had been pre-baiting my swim about once an hour and I could see the evidence of fish I made a cast and the float disappeared to my amazement I had hooked a fish! My first silver fish and it was a skimmer - that is what Ian had been after all morning and I caught one on my first cast. I am not sure if Ian was pleased or not... He said he was!

It may be small but I caught it all on my own...
The day progressed and I caught all sorts of silvers including some really smart looking baby perch which I think are my favourite little fellows, that obviously think big, trying to gulp down several maggots at a time. As the sun went down, the fish started to bite on nearly every cast and we were going strong until it got too dark to see. Right on the last knockings, with the aid of Ian's new head-torch, he managed his target fish; a nice looking bream.

Last knockings - Well done Ian - you found it!
A great day out that was made all the more enjoyable with Ian's help and guidance. A very good venue - I will certainly be back very soon... waggler fishing!


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Fishing tomorrow!

Yes, at last I have managed to find some time to do some actual fishing. Alas, I will be going on my own as I still can't get to find a time that works for both me and Tim. He's gone off to Manchester this weekend with his other half to visit friends. I did think about suggesting  that he let her go on her own but I don't think he would be allowed to even hint at that without ruining the next couple of Christmases... So much for finding something we could do together - See my original post HERE.

Tomorrow I am off to visit Beaver Fishery for the first time. The venue was initially recommended to me by a fellow fishing forum member who lives local to me. As the reviews, I could find on the internet, all seemed favourable I decided to give it a go. I don't often think of going off in that direction, normally heading east into Kent. On investigation it is only 45 minutes from here. If I leave here at 8:00am I will still be there before 9:00am... I intend to try and get there earlier than that tomorrow so I can have a look around before I start fishing.

My first experimental groundbait mix, gravy browning and salt... Yum!
This will be my chance to experiment with my home made (sweet) groundbait base mix. Nothing fancy, this lot is my starting point. I have no idea if it will work but I have to start somewhere. The base mix is made up from 500g of dried and processed bread, 250g of processed ginger nuts and 250g of processed custard creams. To this I will add sweetcorn water from a 285g tin, about half the of the corn. I will also add a teaspoon or two of gravy browning to darken the mix and see how it goes...

...If all else fails there is always the on-site shop!

I will let you know how I get on tomorrow!  


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Beyond the maggot...

Three months ago I had no idea that a simple attempt to get together with my brother would lead to so much enjoyment. Okay, I have only managed to actually go fishing a couple of times, but to some extent that has been a blessing in disguise. I came into this expecting to go out, buy a rod and reel, a few bits of tackle and that would be that. Well, how wrong could I be? I used to think that fishing was one of those hobbies that encouraged the equipment collector. I had no idea that all those rods and all that tackle was absolutely necessary...

Yes, I am being just a little sarcastic but there is a lot more to this than I first thought. Take bait for example. I was under the impression that bait consisted of bread, worms and maggots. Blimey! there is a whole industry built around the stuff. I mentioned before that I was surprised that fish liked bananas (still not sure how they peel them...) and that I was not sure that was more for the angler's benefit - The jury is still out on that one as I have yet to give it a try. Still, I have done my homework and have been drying as 'processing bread into fine breadcrumb ready to take its part as a good percentage of my groundbait mix. This groundbait thing sounds like it will be interesting experimenting with. Yesterday I stocked up on some more ingredients from my local Aldi store. Biscuits - 2.4Kg of them and I only spent £2.04! Four packets of custard creams and four packets of gingernuts at 26p and 25p respectively for a 300g packet.

Aldi sell cheap biscuits - All this lot cost £2.04!
The intention is to grind all these up into powders and mix them with other processed (whizzed!) dry ingredients, some of which are to be combined, to recorded recipes and see what works and what doesn't, over a period of time. My thinking, at this time, is to mix the dry ingredients by volume rather than weight. I am going to make up some base mixes and add 'enhancers' to them at the water's edge. For example if I am fishing with sweetcorn I will add, not only some of the kernels, but use the juice topped up as required with the lake water to get to the required consistency. I found 285g cans of sweetcorn in Iceland for 50p, even if you do have to use a can opener on them! Lots of experimenting to do here at a later stage but for now I am happy to collect and process the ingredients.

Sweetcorn from Iceland is only 50p per 285g can!
The other thing I just have to have a go at is to make my own boilies. I have been reading some of the recipes and advice on the web and within my ever-growing library of books and periodicals. I can imagine how this subject could lead to some heated debate as to what is the best recipe. Not being in the position to fuel that yet I will just stick to the basics. I think it will be fun experimenting with different flavours. I wonder if I can talk Tim into being chief taster...

I found a lot of good basic information on the web and have managed to collect together some basic equipment from various sources. I have come to the conclusion that buying used tackle and accessories on eBay is a minefield of junk mixed in with the odd bargain. It may be of more use with a bit more experience. The final straw was a listing that promised the basics required for boilie making. I was really surprised when I won it on the starting price, my inexperience was working against me. The boilie gun was not. It was a very badly converted caulking gun that was filthy, the boilie rolling tables had a foot missing (or, to be fair, maybe it was lost in the packing and I accidentally threw it away) and the various ingredients were years out of date, rancid and most of the bottles of flavour and colour were almost empty. what was not empty was spilling out into the cardboard box that had been lightly filled with second hand pacing materials , old boxes and carrier bags. It was disgusting, I have no idea how anybody would have thought this was an acceptable way to sell anything. I kept the tables and a few odd bits of food flavouring. The so-called boilie gun might be recoverable with a complete rebuild using replacement parts designed for the purpose. I have put a request into to Gardner, the makers of the rolling tables, to purchase some new feet. All in all I did just about cover what I spent, but I could have bought a couple of new rolling tables for what this cost me. The rest of it went straight in the bin - Lesson learned! I have now ordered a new boilie sausage gun and will go out and buy fresh ingredients once I have collected together my own dedicated set of cookware.

Digital scales for under seven quid from Argos - they'll do!
Buckets, bowls, jugs, mixing spoons etc can be found in the local pound shops or if I am looking for a cut price deal I might have a look in the 99p shop! I have also spotted a set of digital weighing scales for a few pound in Argos. Even if I am not going fishing there is plenty to keep me occupied on the bait front at the moment. While I am gathering the ingredients and equipment to make boilies, I am slowly building up my stock of groundbait material ready for mixing into my various experimental base mixes.

It is not so bad doing all this studying and experimenting at the moment, while it is all new to me. As time goes on I hope to find some other fishing venues to get some fishing in where I can put all this theory into practice.  Hopfully by this time next year I will be able to spend much more time fishing than reading about it. I am liking the idea of a bit of urban fishing. It seems to be the in thing at the moment but finding out who looks after what stretch of water is not as easy it seems. Most of the local clubs that look after the water seem very hard to communicate with. However there is some light at the end of the tunnel, I have found a local tackle shop not far from me. I intend to go and buy a few bits and pieces of tackle that I need and see if I can find out where I can fish locally.


Thursday, 20 November 2014


I had a call from my brother (Tim) today. It seemed he was well on with the job he was working on this week and, if the weather held he would be free to go fishing. Great! The weather looked as if it was going to behave itself so my hopes were high. As Sue and I were out for the day visiting my my Mum, who had been poorly (much better today!) I suggested that maybe once he was sure he would be free he could pick up a pint of Maggots, just in case we managed to get to the venue before the shop opened. A few hours later and I got a call from Tim to say he had to pull out as he had been offered some more work - Nearly!

The plan was to waggler fish to start with and to then have a go at a spot of ledgering using the carp rod we got with our starter set. I thought I could set this up on the bank and see what happened. As it was not to be I decided to do some more homework and investigate rigs. Hummm... There seems to be dozens of ways of skinning this particular cat. As I am now completely confused about what rig to use, after being 'YouTubed'. Being presented with an unlimited amount of advice, some conflicting and other just, shall we say, opinionated. The internet is a wonderful thing and with some knowledge and experience of the subject it is fairly easy to sort the wheat from the chaff. As I have neither of the former, I have decided to go back to the very basics and give that a try first.

This is what I intend to have a go with...
 The plan with this rig is to start with a long hook link and to reduce it as necessary. I will start with it about 15 inches (380mm) long. I will feed a few maggots into the swim and bait the hook with a couple, one red, one natural and see what happens. If that doesn't work I will revert to plan 'B' and try sweetcorn. I will add a small limp of tungsten putty about half way down the hook link and bait with one real and one artificial to give it a bit or buoyancy. I also intend to take and try out some home made groundbate which I will mix up with the juice from the sweetcorn and lake water.

All this is, of course, all theory at the moment but that is what I enjoy. I get a lot of fun out of working it out in advance and thinking it all through. I can then look forward to giving it a go and seeing what happens. I will let you know how I get on.


Friday, 7 November 2014

Fishing famine...

You won't find any fish up there, Tim
The fishing famine continues as the nights draw in. This is the first weekend I have had at home for several weeks only to discover that my fishing partner (Tim) is not around to go fishing this weekend. Typical.

Great little book
My other 'iron in the fire' has gone cold. I have been trying to get a look around my local fishery. but the fishery manager has not been available at the times I could make it and was going to call me this week to arrange another visit. It is now Saturday morning and I am still waiting for a call, I suspect he has been busy as he has a full time job as well. I will give him a call today and see if I can arrange a visit for tomorrow.

In the meantime I have been playing around with end tackle and knots. There is so much basic stuff to learn, the lack of actual fishing is not too much of a problem at the moment. I do like clever little gizmos that help a novice like me achieve a result. The Matchman hook tyer I bought and mentioned a few weeks ago, see HERE, works really well. I think I am at the stage where I can actually tie them without but it is still much quicker using the Matchman. So impressed was I that I ordered another one for Tim. Now it has arrived, there is a bit of a problem - it's PINK! I am now wondering if my little brother will think my uncharacteristic  generosity will be taken as joke...

It's PINK!
 Talking of gizmos, I found a simple loop-tying tool. I don't have any trouble tying loops but they are usually on the large side. Tim, on the other hand was getting into all sorts of trouble on the bank, I think his fingers were just cold - or he is just getting old and his dexterity has gone. It's okay to say that here, he never reads my waffle.

Three loop tying tools
 I thought this might be another little aid that was worth its few pennies. I bought a couple and discovered they are available in different sizes. For the vast outlay of a couple of pounds, I had three different sizes and the smallest one had a very small disgorging tool - ideal for the fish that Tim will be catching. Tying loops with these things is simplicity itself.

I know it is possible to spend a fortune on tackle, and tempting as that may be, I am determined to not let it runaway with me. I started off with a pile of cheap waggler floats that came with my 'starter' set and another lot that were sold in a tube in Aldi. These are not very well made, and indeed some let in water and others simply broke.

So I bought three branded ones the next time I was in the tackle shop. Apart from the fact that it looked slightly better made and it had the cocking weight printed on it, the new float also leaked and  became slightly bent! an attempt to straighten it resulted in a kink. A spin and a pull over the steam of a boiling kettle removed the kink. but I now have a wobbly waggler that may still leek - I will let you know if it still works!

Also, during this enforced dormancy, I have been looking at feeder fishing and leggering. I found some safety clips and other bits of end tackle and intend to spend some time making up a few rigs to try out next time I get to a water's edge. To this end I had another 'click' moment on eBay and bought a rig-box and four small tackle boxes that all fit inside a neat little case for a shade over £10 including the postage.

Fishing line    

Now there are two innocent looking words. Until recently the only contact I have had with fishing line was to hang things up without making the method of suspension too obvious. Now I find there is a whole store-full of lines that all have different properties.  Fairy early on I discovered that my preconceptions of the stuff were simplistic to say the least and that more often than not, the thickness of the line was just as important (if not more so) than the breaking strain. I may be wrong but I have a feeling that it is a lot simpler than it appears and I need to discover what I need for my narrow field of current fishing interest.

My reel has been pre-filled with 12lb line
 So far I have worked out (been told) that the line on my float fishing set-up is far too heavy at 12lb which measures about 0.28mm. I know it is 12lb because that is what it is labelled as on the spool supplied with the reel. The carp reel I have is also pre-loaded with 0.28mm line. I am assuming that is12lb too... A lot to learn here methinks.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Severn, this morning...

Looking along The Wharfage from our B&B, this morning
Several times a year we visit Ironbridge in Shropshire. For many years now, we have been staying in a very nice B&B right on the Wharfage. Our views from the windows are of the Severn. Looking one way towards the famous Iron bridge, which is just out of sight in my picture from the B&B but can be seen in the photo below. The river was running quite fast this morning and is prone to flooding along this section and it can make a real mess.

In recent years barriers have been erected to keep the fish (and the water!) in the river. This makes vehicular access almost impossible as the remaining open road is required for the emergency services.

The barriers erected in January 2013 Photo: Dave Throup
  Looking out of the other window we can see straight across the river to the opposite bank.  The pegs seem to me mostly in disarray. Each time the river floods, I suspect the pegs get washed away, or at the very least, damaged.  

You can see one of the pegs, in a sorry state, in the centre of the picture
Odd pegs look a little more robust even if the bank has the air of treachery about it! There was nobody fishing in the town this morning. I understand that this section is free to fish, so long as the maggot drowner has a valid EA licence. I am not sure what the form is, i.e. whether one can just turn up and fish or if there is a protocol to follow. 

We noticed, last night on the way back from the Indian Restaurant, there is a Tackle shop just by the bridge. It has probably been there ever since we have been visiting the area and just not been aware of it before. I should have made a point of investigating it this morning but didn't have time on this trip. Something to put in the bag for next time we are there in February.     

This peg seems intact, even if the bank is not so good
I intend to do a bit of homework and maybe give this stretch of the river a go next time we are there, if I can discover if I can just turn up and fish. I also wonder if I can fish on this side of the river.