Monday, 8 June 2015

The great groundbait lesson...

After my match début at Beaver Fishery on Wednesday, I thought I should revisit the venue on Saturday to sign any outstanding autographs, not to upset my fan-base...

...As it turned out, they must have been busy. Never mind, I took the opportunity to get some fishing in.

The swans were being pestered this time...
I decided that I would fish Maze Lake where I have fished several time before. I like to go back there and, if I can, to the same peg each time. This way I can see if my technique is improving with the least number of variables. At the moment, time of year is going to make a difference but as time goes on I should be able to see the result of year on year visits. That was the plan

Mallet and 'protector' made from scrap
Beaver Fishery opens at 7:00 AM and it is about a three-quarter of an hour drive from where we live in South East London, always assuming there is not a problem on the dreaded M25  motorway, that is! I arrived about ten minutes before the gate was open and joined a short queue of keen anglers determined to get their favoured spot. Luckily nobody in the queue before me wanted my favoured spot on Maze Lake. I pulled up against the undergrowth and set to work setting up my peg. My latest piece of equipment, to join the growing collection, is a rubber mallet purloined from the workshop.  I had used it on Wednesday to drive the banksticks into the hard ground under the pegs around Jeff's lake, where the open match was staged. I also knocked up a stick 'protector' from a scrap piece of softwood. The bankstick is pushed into the ground enough to stand unaided. The protector is held in contact with the thread and is then hit with the rubber mallet, ensuring no damage is done to the bankstick or mallet. Worked a treat!

I now take the van fishing. This saves a lot of time as I can take the rods ready assembled and tackled up. All I have to do is take them out of the van, add bait and I am ready to go. I set up my chair, bait waiter and wet my bowl of groundbait. I was having terrible trouble filling the Method feeder from the mould. This is where inexperience came in. I did not know if it was too wet or too dry. Luckily for me, one of the guys, I had been match fishing with on Wednesday, came over to say hello and sorted me out.

Riddle, riddle, riddle and riddle some more!
Not only was my groundbait too wet, but is had lumps in and that is not as attractive to the fish as nice fluffy groundbait. Following the advice I had just been given I added some more dry base mix and added the other ingredients to make up the same proportions as the original bowl had contained. As you can see in the picture above, with the side door open on the van, the floor makes an table area to mix the bait and do all sorts of other things away from the peg. The spillages are easily swept out after riddling has been completed!  My two-dog groundbait mix seems to work well and I wanted it to stay constant. The whole lot was thoroughly mixed together and riddled several times to make a fine dryish mix that formed well in the hand as well as when moulded to the method feeder.

A nice sized bream - one of many I was catching on the feeder
With my groundbait sorted I was back fishing. I decided where I wanted to fish and set about finding the length to clip up to. Having got caught out last time I tried this on Maze Lake and ended up giving up, I went with no bait and no hooklength. Just as well I did as the first cast landed up in the trees again! This time, with a bit of a tug, the feeder returned to the lake with a stress relieving splash. I wound it in and recast, this time I was well short so I hand pulled a few meters of line and clipped up. This time the cast landed just about where I wanted to be.

Now the distance was set I secured the short hooklink and baited the hair with a small piece of punched bacon grill. I cast and set the rod in the rest, that had been set to the left of my chair, until l had a slight bend in the quiver-tip. The bait had only been out a few seconds when the bream started to bite one after the other for a while. I was starting to get bored with it. It would have been fantastic if it was a match, I couldn't believe it, virtually every chuck was producing a fish.

I decided to have a break and a coffee from the flask. I set the feeder rod to one side and thought I would have a go at a spot of float fishing. I had a pellet waggler set up in the van and decided to give that a go using soft expander pellets as hook bait and feeding 6mm hard pellets. This had been a method I tried on Wednesday in the match but I could not get it going. As I was wasting so much time, having only caught one fish I went back to the feeder. Now with no pressure I thought I would give it another go but the end result was the same - nothing. I am sure it must be down to my technique but after a few hours of trying I was getting nowhere, I decided to put the pellet waggler to bed and have a go at straight waggler fishing.

I re-tackled with nice long float as it was quite windy by now. Baited up with maggots and had a good time pulling all sorts of small fish out. I changed bait to the punched bacon and was on the fish again straight away. More bream and the odd skimmer - I even caught a small rudd trying to devour a big lump of bacon grill! I have yet to catch a decent sized rudd, but that will come.

A nice little rudd one day I will catch his mum!
I continued to fish for the rest of the day catching much the same - more than I have ever caught before! Towards the end of the day I decided to concentrate on the margins. I had been pre-baiting it most of the afternoon with a couple of lumps of groundbait and the odd sprinkling of maggot. It paid of. I changed my float to one of those short pre-loaded Drennon carp wagglers and baited up with a bunch of maggots. a couple of casts and that was it. The rod bent double and I had hooked me a fish with fight. I thought it must be a carp and as I fought to keep it out of the reeds, it showed itself and confirmed my thought. It turned out to be a common carp. Okay not a huge fish by most people's standards but it was the biggest I have ever caught!

My carp of the day just fitted in the net!
It looks a bit odd in this photograph but I was alone and I didn't want to keep it out of the water too long. It was a very nice looking fish and it made my day, not only because of its size, but because I had used my experience, as short as it is, to know that carp will often move into the margins late in the day to feast on the bait thrown in by homeward bound anglers.

I fished for over eleven hours on Saturday and learnt a lot - my next challenge is to work out what I am doing wrong with the pellet waggler fishing...