Monday, 20 April 2015

Two-dog groundbait...

It's okay, I am not going to show you another picture of my very nice black bowl with a plastic bag full of groundbait base mix in it, although I do have a new lot of ingredients to make my new flavour. I am thinking a savoury spicy two-dog mix might work.

Bread and biscuit
The base mix is made from bread and Rich Tea biscuits, dried bread, ground dog biscuit and Turmeric. The cut loaves (40p from Aldi) weigh 800g when fresh, and 550g+ when dried overnight. To dry the bread, the slices are balanced, slice by slice, on a couple of the central heating radiators. Once whizzed, in a food processor/liquidiser, into a flour-like constancy, it is passed through a sieve to ensure it is completely processed. Any lumps are ground in a pestle and mortar and sieved again. The resultant processed bread is fine and smooth. The biscuit is also given a blast in the processor and passed through the sieve. This is the basis of my mix. To this I will add the other dry ingredients.

Dog number one is Wagg. This is a dried dog food and is very hard. Poundland sell 1kg boxes (for a pound!) and that is plenty for me at the moment. Huge sacks can be bought at a saving but what on earth I'm going to do with 17kg of the stuff is beyond me at the moment. In its bought state, straight out of the box, is floats and breaks down in water. I suspect it will make a good floating bait, but for now in it is in its processed form, I am interested in it as a flavour for my savoury groundbait. Trying to process or liquidise the stuff is a impossible. It just bounces about all over the place and makes the machine vibrate violently. The Wagg just gets the odd corner knocked off and not much else! The only way to process the stuff, short of hitting it with a hammer, is in the coffee grinder, and in small batches at that. It takes a while to do but is worth it in the end. The result is just what I was looking for. A whole box will render 1kg of very smelly, fine powder, just right for mixing with my other dry components.

Turmeric is a yellow spice made from the roasted, ground roots of an herbaceous plant in the same family as ginger. It stains everything it comes in contact with bright orangey-yellow. It can be bought in the supermarket but is best purchased for the specialist food shops, catering for the ever-growing cosmopolitan community. Here in London we have a fantastic choice of shops selling food from all around the world, but it is the spices that are of interest. large bags of spice, such as turmeric, can be bought for a fraction of the cost (weight for weight) of those small jars sold in the supermarkets. A word of warning, if you do use turmeric or anything that has it included as part of the mix, make sure you don't spill it on anything that matters. It will stain most kitchen utensils and it is very hard to get the stains out of some fabrics. That said and with scant regard to the repercussions should I turn the kitchen yellow, I will add some of this to my dry base mix.

My Savoury Groundbait Recipe

  • 800g Breadcrumb
  • 800g Rich Tea biscuits
  • 350g Wagg
  • 50g Turmeric powder 

The recipe above will make 2kg of base mix. A convenient size for me at the moment. I will make larger batches if it proves successful. 

The wet ingredients will be added at the bank-side. Here is where dog number two comes in. A 400g tin of 'hot dog' sausages. This including the liquid is placed in a food processor and blended until it is still lumpy. This will only take a few pulses of the blender, any more and it will turn to puree! This will be added to half of my base mix and topped up with lake water or more base mix if required. I will let it stand for half and hour or so and add more lake water if required. This one of the mixes  I use for my method feeder. Once it has been riddled a few times it works a treat see HERE.  I also use this base mix as general groundbait. To complement the the hook-bait, I will add pellets, sweetcorn, Maggots or what ever I am using on the day.

I am still not sure if any of this is worthy of the effort. I am half convinced that if I was to ball up a mixture of sawdust and loam the fish would still come into the swim just to be nosey!  Add some food and they may even hang around for a bit too...


Friday, 17 April 2015

I went shopping!

Yes, I know it is an alien concept to most of us real blokes, but sometimes it just has to be done. I spent a a few pounds and came back with this lot...

I hope the fish are hungry
A total spend of £5.80 bagged me two loaves of bread, five packets of biscuits, two cans of chopped ham, and two packets of strawberry flavour pellets. An extra pound bought me a canvas bag to carry it all home and may well be used as a bate bag to carry the resultant bait to the bank.  Check out the receipts pictured below.

...and here is the proof...
hold on a minute, there's only four lots of biscuits listed - Ops!
The plan is to make some savoury groundbait base mix from the bread and biscuit. First, I will need to dry out the bread before whizzing it all up and mixing it with the biscuits. I will add a flavour to the mix that will give it a savoury aroma and taste. I will let you know just what in a few days time when I have made up my mind, and, get to make the base mix.


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Fishing again!

Yes it is true, two weeks, two fishing trips! After the long period of theory and hardly any practice I am getting more practical experience. Today, I met Tim at Beaver Fishery, rapidly becoming our second home. A very agreeable distance for both of us, forty-odd miles, all fast road, for Tim and thirty-odd miles out of, and around, The Smoke for me.

Again, I made it before the gate was open at 07:00 AM. Tim made it just after opening, blaming the traffic (likely story!) I bought my ticket and was told there was a small match going on at Maze Lake and that is would probably be okay to fish, but just ask the organisers if they minded. We decided to leave them to it and have a go at one of the other lakes for a change.

Major's Lake
We elected to have a go at the largest lake at Beaver Fishery, Major's Lake, having never fished it before. A huge 3½ acre body of water with a long central island and, according to the literature, the depth varies all over the lake. It is stocked with carp to about 25lb, pike to 30lb, bream 10lb, sturgeon to 15lb tench to 10lb perch to 4lb, rudd, eels and gudgeon... With all that lot to choose from, guess who caught a gudgeon?

Well, don't laugh, it's a fish and it's my fish!
A Seven o'clock start meant that after getting set up, and while the groundbait was soaking, it was time for breakfast. Sue had kindly got up at the crack of dawn and made us a food flask each of baked beans for me, and oxtail soup for Tim, who, believe it or not must be the only bloke on the planet that does not like baked beans...

Good thick slices of fresh bread and butter make it a good filling starter for the day. These funny little 'flasks' don't seem to keep the food that hot. We are now wondering if they are really intended to keep stuff cool, such as green or fresh fruit salad. Next time I think we will take a gas stove. We can then heat up stuff on the bank-side and even cook bacon sarnies!  Meanwhile Tim was threatening me with a dunking, if I published a picture of him eating his. In an attempt to comply with his wishes I have concealed this bloke's identity, who just happened to be eating oxtail soup and bread... Groundbait ready, it was time to throw a few small balls into the swim, tackle up and see if there was any action. Now I wouldn't say he was vain, but after I took this next picture, Tim said "oh, no, you could have given me a chance to take the glasses off!"

Deep concentration - love the glasses...
I don't know what he is moaning about, those are my glasses, height of fashion. Twenty-five quid a pair from Specsavers, some people are never happy. With the aid of my glasses Tim managed to tie a loop in the end of his line. His euphoria was dashed when I asked if he had threaded the quick-change float adapter and rubber beads onto the line. I could tell, by the look on his face, that he was not happy about my question. It was either that of the muttering as he rummaged around in his box for the line clippers. On with the beads and adaptor, a new loop was tied.

Meanwhile I am still trying to tackle up myself after helping Tim get drowning a few maggots. I have not got the line wet when there are  shrieks of delight (well, a dull nasal statement: "I've got one")  as Tim catches the first fish of the day on almost his first cast. Great, that is the second time he has done that. The little skimmer made 'an impression' on his brand new unhooking mat... I have since explained that the mat should be wet first.

Fishing continued with a good few silvers and then Tim caught his first perch. Again, not an enormous fish but bigger than my first perch - don't you just love little brothers...

It was at the last knockings that I managed to catch a perch, on a bunch of maggots (about five of them), about the same size as Tim's earlier triumph.  Not huge, I know, but it was bigger then the one I caught before, so the PB is getting better!

Getting bigger!
Tim had to leave at 5 o'clock, as he was off out in the evening. I decided to stay on for a while. I had even been practising my casting. and now I was getting the distance and direction right, most of the time. It is the distance that is still a problem. Not wishing to lose any more tackle, I cast as close to the island as possible for me to feel confident of not hitting it and clipped the line up to the spool. Having never tried this before, I was interested to see how it worked. I retrieved the line and cast again, this time a little harder. I felt and heard the line reach the clip and saw the end tackle hit the water in the same spot as before.

This may not seem like a big thing to a seasoned angler but that fact that it worked for me, made my day! I could see I was a fair way from the island, so I unclipped the line and added another few feet retrieved and cast again. I did this several times until I was where I wanted to be. Now I was confident I could get to the place were all the bigger fish were, it was time to bait up with a bunch of maggots and see if I could catch one. I pulled the rod back and cast, just as I had before. No splash. That's strange, I thought to myself as I looked up to see my end-tackle hanging from the tree above me. "Oh! dear, that's a shame" (or the abbreviated version of the same that I can't print here!). The additional weight of the bait must have been just enough to sent the hooklength into the lower branches. 

Completely hacked off with making offerings of tackle to the tree-gods I was determined to get it back. A lot of flicking and tugging resulted in the sickening twang as the line snapped. The float was hanging, above my head and over the margin, just out of reach of my long landing net pole and net, the longest combination I had with me. Having lost a new float to the tree earlier in the day, I was not going to be beat so I tied a small piece of wood from the bark chippings the peg is covered in, to the end of the line and flicked it into the tree. It wrapped around the branch enabling me to pull it down close enough to get a swipe at it with the landing net.

Not exactly the Waverley, but I did consider it for a split second - although I think Andy (bailiff) may not have been amused
A couple of good whacks and I dislodged it. Plop! into the lake. There it was, nicely cocked floating away. just out of reach. It was at this point I thought about jumping in or stealing the lake's answer to the Waverley paddle steamer, when I noticed that it was drifting closer to the 'shore', a last ditch lunge with the net and I had got my float back - Success!

This of course put pay to any more fishing as I had spent the best part of an hour trying to retrieve my float. That aside, I had a great day, practised clipping up and managed to get it just about there. The fact that I ran out of time was unfortunate but it just made me more determined than ever to return and get me a bigger fish - lessons learned.


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A smart move...

Not a fish in sight...
I had planned to go fishing on Friday. Tim had 'booked' the time off with his other half and it was all systems go. by the time Thursday came it was obvious that Friday was going to be a wet and miserable day, so we called it off. Tim Could not make another day over the Easter holiday. I decided that I would go it alone and as Monday was forecast as being the better day that is when I decided to go. As it worked out, my fishing mate, Ian, said that he fancied drowning a few maggots that day so he met me at the venue. Not being an early riser he prefers to get there a bit later than me...

5am and the alarm is going off. I leapt out of bed like a spring lamb. I then woke fully and dragged myself out of bed trying to convince myself that the effort would be worth it. After the obligatory date with the soap and water, concentrating really hard to focus my eyes and sorting out which way my trousers went on, I staggered down the stairs to the kitchen to find Sue cooking beans and buttering rolls. "Morning!" She said with a bright smile... "Groan..."  "I have made the tea, sit down and have some cereal" "Grunt..."

I am a morning person. Honest!  The beans were rounded up into a food flask. Rolls, crisps and the official fishing biscuit (and any other occasion for that matter), the Caramel Wafer, were all corralled in a small cool bag. This pack breakfast/lunch together with A flask of coffee and a bottle of cold drink were all ready for loading into Sue's little Volvo estate along with the fishing gear. By 6:00 AM I hit the trail, heading for Beaver.

The fishery opens at 7:00 AM. I slipped off the road, into the drive, to find a queue of cars at 6:45 AM. At 7:00 AM the electric gate opened and we were able to drive in. I made straight for my intended peg on Maze Lake. The intention was to have a go with my home-made boilies. I did have a half hearted attempt but decided that I did not want to waste the day listening for a buzzer or watching a quiver tip. I understand the water is not warm enough yet for the boilies or flavouring to have much effect and Maze is not really the best lake to fish for carp.

After a couple of hours I decided to go back to my standard approach and got the wagglers out! I packed away my carp rod and strolled round to the office to pay my day ticket and buy some Maggots. Well, I succeeded in paying for my day ticket. However, no maggots! I know I am a novice at this but this is the second time I have turned up at a fishery and they had no maggots left. I would have thought they would make sure they had plenty of them, especially at a big venue like this that has ten lakes/ponds. From now on I will buy my maggots the day before from my local tackle shop. As I had some other bait with me, including a good third of a pint of dead maggots I froze after my last trip, I was catered for.

Oh, bother!
I tackled up ready to plumb the depth. In a sudden rush of blood to my head I cast the plummet and float as if the line was baited. As soon as I did it, I knew I was in trouble. The tackle landed in the tree on the end of 'finger' of land that protrudes from the opposite bank the weight of the plummet wrapped around a branch and that was that. You may just be able to see the float hanging in the tree (arrowed). Hook, plummet and float lost. Deep breath, and another one to chalk up to experience, or lack of it. To be fair, I can not really play the novice card on this one, I was just not concentrating and thinking about the lack of maggots. Now I had a lack of tackle. I do have another small plummet that came with my starter set. Not as smart as the one I lost but it did the job for the rest of the day.

By now I had an audience, the peg next to mine was occupied by a chap fishing the pole. He looked as if he knew what he was doing. Camouflage battle dress jacket and grubby trousers with matching luggage and tackle looked as if it had been on the bank before - several times. There was a lot of splashing and pole action happening.

I continued to re-tackle and plumb the depth much to his amusement. I admitted to being new to this and he agreed with me sighting the fact that my kit was clean. He offered to advise me and I accepted with good grace. However most, if not all the advice was about his past achievements and how he had a much more expensive pole at home. I baited up with a couple of my dead maggots and made a cast as I was being talked at. A bream snatched the bait almost as soon as it hit the water. I landed it to those famous words of encouragement "Cor! That was lucky" He said, as he lit a cigarette and walked back to his pole... Made my day, but the poor bream wasn't having such a good day. Now he is sitting in my net, on my unhooking mat, it is obvious that he has been recently munched by, what I assume to have been, a pike.

Munched on by a pike maybe?
I returned him (her?) to the water and continued to fish using a variety of baits. As well as maggots the bailiff suggested really small pieces of luncheon meet. This did not seem to work for me so I tried corn and that resulted in a few more skimmers/bream. It was the dead maggots that saved the day catching some nice little rudd, including this little fellow.

The banks were alive with wildlife as was the water. My pole wielding neighbour caught a signal crayfish which he dispatched with the sole of his boot. More welcome visitors were a water vole, swimming from a close in island to the bank and back, as well as whole gang (I have no idea what the collective noun for a bunch of frogs is but 'gang' will do for now!)

I'm off, it's a human!
This little fellow was swimming around in my landing net that I had left in the margin, just before I got to the camera. Once he had spotted me he was off at a rate of knots. There was a lot of frog 'activity' going on all around the edges of the lake. I suspect there will be a few more frogs around soon!

A decent sized fish - at last!
My mate Ian arrived mid-morning and we fished for the rest of the day. There were long periods of inactivity until eventually Ian managed to land a nice-looking bream, just as I was packing up to go home. 

Another good day was had by all and another step on the path of learning by me. I did manage to catch a good few fish but lost a couple of floats, my plummet and my new Drennan glow tip antenna float snapped. I will have to go to the tackle shop and buy some more floats and a plummet - What a shame...

By the way, I have just looked it up, the collective name for a bunch of frogs is an 'army'...


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Hooklink mono...

The Korum hooklength dispenser
I recently fell into one of the 'ignorance' traps that befalls all beginners at some time or another.  I bought some mono to make up my own hooklengths. It is a recognised brand (Korum) so I assumed all would be clear. When it arrived there were no instructions or directions on how to use it - that is, how to get it out of the container! On opening the container the reel appeared to be encased in plastic.

Hmmm... what do I do with this?
At this point I had no idea what I was supposed to do with it. Logic dictated that the line needed to be threaded through the split between the plastic rings and out through a small cut-out in the case. After struggling to get the rings off, not being sure if I was damaging anything, I got to the mono on the real. This was looped around the reel and tied on. I managed to free the line and assembled the reel, rings and container as I though it should be. All this was working blind, as I said, no instructions on how it should be done. This may be obvious to a seasoned angler but not to me.

As I tried to pull line from the container, the line was coming off in coils - I expected that as it straightens up with a pull through thumb and forefinger - but as I was pulling (hard) I could feel it tightening up and then relieving. At what seemed like these points, it would kink.

Only one rig? Better but not right
I was now confused and doubting that this is how this should work. I removed it from the case and tried it without the rings attached - that was useless it was just going to unwind in the case and get in a mess. I tried just using one ring. Although this was better is was not right...

Frustrated at a lack of information I got on the internet and asked the question at my favourite fishing forum. The guys confirmed that the rings should be in place and the mono should feed, with some resistance, but  smoothly.

I have cured the problem by adding a couple paper discs, cut from a sheet of 80gsm printer paper. I place these between the reel and the 'ring'. Although these rings clip into place, the paper seems to hold them at their outer tolerance allowing the line to run freer. As can be seen in the photograph the line now dispenses in a smooth coil. All I need to do now is to put the reel back in the dispenser and get on with making my hook lengths ready for my planned trip to Beaver tomorrow...


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Rain, rain go away...

...come again another day!

But not this Friday. Unfortunately the nursery rhyme is not going to help me much this week. The weather forecast for tonight and all day tomorrow is for rain, heavy at times. A spot of rain will not put me, but persistent rain all day does not appeal much.

The trouble is, at the moment, I am not geared up for bad weather. It is another one of those things that was not considered when we both decided to take up fishing. Initially, my thoughts were of sunny days sitting on the bank of a river pulling out huge fish with little effort... Six months on, reality has hit home. Much to my surprise, I have enjoyed the act of fishing far more than I though I ever would. I enjoy experimenting and discovering all the different aspects to this hobby.

Must look at getting some decent waterproofs...
This week I have also discovered there is more to this than just collecting 'equipment' and bait in order to remove fish from the murky depths. No amount of gear is going to get used if I am soaking wet, cold and miserable. I am a pleasure fisher and that means keeping warm and dry. Ordinary clothes just do not fit the bill! My 30+ year old wax jacket, beanie hat, fleece-top, work trousers and boots are fine so long as it does not rain!