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.