Sunday, 30 August 2015

My dedicated fishing room. Really?

I wish! But while we are decorating the house I can get away with all sorts of liberties, like drying my bread along the radiators. I can't imagine the local décor-gendarmerie agreeing to that once the decorating is finished and the carpets are down.

49½p a can...
While I am decorating the utility room I get to use if for a fishing space - I might start calling it 'The fishing room' and see if the idea sticks... Be that as it may, I have been making my next batch of Two-Dog groundbait ready for the match on Wednesday. The bread had been drying on the radiators, Sue had collected the biscuits and secured a new supply of hot dogs at two tins of 8, for 99p.

In the past I have added the 'wet' ingredients at the water's edge, but now I like to add the 'second dog' here in advance to give it a chance to soak in properly. This means blitzing the whole can to a sludge - it looks and smells absolutely revolting. To complete the revolution, all the fat and gristle floats about in the resultant purée making it look like something the cat has just thrown up. This is supposed to be for human consumption, I tell you this for nothing, I have been put off hot dogs for life - Yuck!

The groundbait will need more water added before it is ready for use, but this can come from the lake. It will need to be left to soak up the water properly and will need to be riddled a couple of times on the bank before it is finally ready to use.

Hot dogs and brine are loaded into the processor together
The transformation begins...
Revolting... and you can't smell it!
The mixture is stirred into the basic mix and then you have to get your hands in a mix it around. Leave it to stand for an hour or so and work it through your fingers again.

Stir it in a bit at a time...
Once the mixing has been completed, as far as is possible by hand, it is time to riddle, riddle and riddle again. This will not only break down the lumps but also help to distributable the meat particles more evenly.

Riddle, riddle, riddle and then, riddle again!
The secret to good groundbait is to aim for a smooth friable consistency. In this case the groundbait has some water content as well as the meat. For this reason I always keep it frozen until it is about to be used.

Finished and ready for bagging
See I did all that in my fishing room and did not get told off once - Mind you, Sue was out at the time...


Saturday, 29 August 2015


Broken quiver tip in need of attention
Last time I was out fishing, I broke one of my quiver tips while moving pegs. It was not the end of the world as I had a spare with me. Once I was home I thought about the next action to take. Should I just throw it away and buy another one or maybe I could repair it. A post on generated lots of suggestions as to how to repair it while other favoured just buying a new one. In the end I opted to repair it.

Heat up the tip ring and Pull
My first thought was to simply cut it down to the second ring. Then somebody on the forum mentioned that it would be better to cut off the second ring and replace it with the tip ring complete with its shaft. The ring will just pull off once it has been lightly heated. I used a gas stove lighter and it slipped straight off much easier than I expected.

Now I knew I had separated the tip ring successfully I cut down the tip by rolling it over a wooden strip and applying light pressure with a scalpel until I had cut all the way through, leaving a nice clean end.
Roll and cut several times... produce a clean end
The tip end was offered up to the new tip but it was obvious that it was not going to fit without some attention. The shaft had residue of the original glue still in place, reducing the clearance and preventing the new tip sliding in easily. The shaft was re-bored using a 3/64 inch diameter drill fitted into a pin chuck.  This can be achieved without the chuck, if you don't have one, by rolling the drill bit between the thumb and forefinger.

Removing the excess glue from the tip-ring shaft using a 3/64 inch drill bit.
After the old glue is removed the tip will slide onto the cut down tip with ease. A test fit confirms this and now it is ready for assembly.

It fits!
The tip is glued on using Araldite (or any other make of epoxy resin adhesive). Only a small amount is all that is needed but the minimum amount that can be squeezed is much too much. Just like Mr Colman (as in mustard), Mr Araldite must have made more money on what was not used than what was!

Mixing the epoxy resin glue - thoroughly!
The glue is applied to the cut down tip using a coctail stick and the tip is pushed home. Ideally a small amount of glue should just be visible at the joint. This will help to seal the joint against the ingress of water.

The tip has been reattached
Before the glue sets, make sure the rings align perfectly otherwise the line will bind and performance will be severely hampered. Once the glue was dry the tip was repainted in a bright colour - I chose a bright yellow so It is instantly distinguished from the full quiver tips at a glance. I also scratched of the rating  so not to confuse in the future. Once the paint was dry, the tip was given a coat of clear nail-varnish (Don't tell Sue!) to protect and seal it.

Perfect alignment
The repaired tip ready for use.
Now I have an odd tip that may, or may not, prove to be useful. I decided to buy a new quiver tip but discovered that the best price I could get for a genuine Garbolino tip was around £10. I then realised that if I bought a new rod it comes with three tips and it costs less than £30! It was a no-brainer I ordered a 9ft picker/feeder to compliment the 8ft and 11ft rods I already have.


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

It started off badly...

...but got better!

A nice ghostie to end the day...
Yes, it was another day on the bank at Beaver Fishery. I will get around to some other places as time goes on but at the moment this suits me. Early start as usual and I was there with 15 minutes to spare.  I had intended to go on Friday but the for various reasons I had to postpone until Saturday. I am not keen on fishing at the weekend as It can get rather busy and as I work for myself it is not a problem (usually) to swap days around and go fishing during the week.

Saturday was not too bad, as it turned out. A fair few people about but not so busy that I could not find a quiet place to set up. I bought a two-rod day ticket so I could have a go with my never-used carp rod and reel. I had made a good supply of boilies and a suitable glug with a pineapple theme. I also had some PVA tube and bags I wanted to try. To top it off I had some pineapple pop-ups boilies that I had bought - Yes I do buy some things!

Before I did anything I needed to familiarise myself with my new rod. I threaded a quick-change running bead onto the main line and tied a quick-change bead to the end of the line. Using this hook-less set up I made a practice cast. My! This is a bit different. As I dragged the little weight off the opposite bank and back into the water I was pleased I had not attached a hook! I need some time to get used to this and some open water to give it a try, but for now I just plonked it out there and waited to see what would happen... Nothing!

I had decided to fish the other side of Maze Lake, a lake I have fished several time before, but not from this side. I now know why - no fish! Andy, the bailiff, confirmed my suspicions and pointed out a better spot, just around the corner, a hundred yards away or so. After giving a couple of hours I collected my gear together and moved pegs. I must get some kind of trolley. All this walking to and from the van is a waste of time. It is all right if I can get the van close to the peg but if not it is a repetitive slog to and from the van, or in this case the pegs.

The second spot was a bit better. I set up my sleeper rod and left it sitting there. I had used a 'snowman' hook bait consisting of one of my 'glugged' pineapple boilies, topped off with a pineapple pop-up.  Small running bomb weight and a suitable PVA 'sausage' was fed onto the line. My poor technique was evident as I tried to get the assembled bait and hook somewhere near where I wanted to fish. I left that line in for a couple of hours or more until I made the decision to haul it in and see if my bait was still intact, it was. I had another go, this time using PVA bag full of offerings, the hook bait and the bomb. The whole lot landed about 6ft from where I had expected it to, but it was in a reasonable looking spot and I left it there. Meanwhile I was feeder fishing on The Method. I managed to bag a few bream, just to make the net slimy. I was using my new larger net I had bought to accommodate the bigger fish I was planning to catch on my sleeper rod.

I was beset with problems all day. First I had picked the wrong swim and the new one was not giving me any amount of fish. By 3:30 PM I was cheesed off having broken a quiver tip, sacrificed yet another feeder the the 'Tree Gods' and lost my scissors by accidentally kicking them into the lake - Plop! To rub salt into the wound, I was getting nowhere with the sleeper rod. Deep breath, time to move again. All the gear was loaded into the van and I set off for the back of Jeff's lake where I had been fishing a couple of weeks earlier in my second match. I decided to fish light with the minimum of gear so I set up using a bigger feeder rod that I had tackled up ready to go in the van, a box of hook baits (bacon Grill) and of course my Two Dog Groundbait used on the Method.

Just as I was about to set up I realised I had left my feeder rest and bankstick on the last peg. Bother! I decided to go on a route-march back to the old peg and retrieve it. I could not be bothered to get the van out of its space and drive around there. I could feel all the eyes on me as I abandoned my peg and marched off. I returned carrying my bankstick to a gentle cackle of understanding approval. Now I had unwillingly attracted everybody's attention I could feel their eyes watching me. I cast out three or four feeders straight out in front of me aiming for that red life-belt that I had used as a marker before. On the fifth or sixth cast I added a hook bait and caught a fish. An F1 of about a pound and a half. I unhooked it, sent it back home (after apologising and asking where his mum was) via the net.

For the next few casts I was landing fish two out of three. It was not long before I could see others around the lake pointing at me. I discreetly checked my attire which seemed to be in order... I continued to fish. More fish being landed and released, one after the other. Again I was on a roll. I was also aware of the lack of activity around me. Eventually the guy on the peg nearest me came over and said. "Do you mind me asking what bait you are using? "  I told him that I was using my own concoction that I call Two dog Groundbait mix and 9mm punched bacon grill. He said what ever it is it seems to work you are catching lots of fish. We have been here for hours and you have caught far more in the last hour or so than we have caught all day!

As I was talking to him there was another bite and this time it was a nice looking ghost carp. I have a picture of it in the net but you have been sparred the one of me holding it as it did not record to the camera card for some reason.

What started off as a really bad day, had a happy ending thanks to my Two Dog Groundbait.


Friday, 14 August 2015

A fool and his rod...

Ever made a wrong turn or taken the wrong route? Ever said "No, I won't bother to take that"? Well, today has been one of those days. The journey from London to Ironbridge is one we make often.There are several routes we can take and today I took the wrong one. I decided to take the M11/A14 option, through Birmingham. Not only are there major roadworks at the A14 junction with the bottom of the M6, but an serious accident had closed the M6 between junctions 6 and 7 in both directions causing absolute grid-lock in and around Birmingham. The diversion route took us over four hours to travel three miles! The signs were helpful too...

A typical example of Birmingham's idea of clear road signing - What!?
My original intention was to spend Monday fishing the river but as we were going to have to get on south I had decided to leave the tackle at home. What a fool! what about the three evenings I will be here? I can fish right outside the door and could have spent a couple of hours trotting before heading off for a meal. Instead I will just have to sit here and watch the fish swim by. Next time I will pack a float rod, reel a few hooks, landing net, a few floats and a tin of Spam. I bet I will not be able to use them, but at least I will have the wherewithal to drown some dead pig if the opportunity presents itself.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

I want to go fishing...

...but I can't!

The Severn is right outside the window... (May 2015)
Work. It gets in the way of fishing sometimes. As it stands, we are going to be working all over the weekend and guess where we will be? Ironbridge, right on the Severn, literally running right past the window of our room at our favourite B&B. Three days working and then on Monday, when I might have just had a few hours on the bank, we are heading back to Kent to collect my Mum and take her to Somerset on Tuesday. I won't even get a chance to fish there as we have to be back in London by Tuesday evening.

Hopefully I will get a chance to go and have a day out towards the end of next week to have a day pleasure fishing. Although I enjoy the friendly matches I have started to take part in, I still get a lot of pleasure just fishing for the sake of it and trying out new ideas. I have spent a good bit of time using the Method feeder and my own groundbait mixes, experimenting to see what works best. So far the Two Dog groundbait mix seems to be the most effective.

I might throw the boat out and go for two rod day ticket this time. I have a cheap carp rod and alarm that I have not tried yet. I though it might be a good opportunity to have a go at ledgering a PVA bag of goodies and a boilie or two while doing a bit of float fishing. Who knows, I might even catch a PB carp.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Second Match...

What a result - I'm happy!
An early start was the order of the day. I did not want to be late as there is only an hour before the start of the match and by the time I have found which peg I have been allocated and set up, that time goes very quickly. This was compounded by a need for diesel for the van and the queue to get in the filling station at 5:45AM! After joining the back of a queue on the M25 caused by "PEDESTRIANS IN THE ROAD" according the the matrix signs, I made it to Beaver in time and joined the back of the queue, to get into the fishery, when the electronic gate opens at 7:00AM. There seemed to be a lot of queueing going on this morning...

The normal run of proceedings is a six hour match in two sessions of three hours starting at 8:00AM. Today, after a straw poll of competitors it was decided to put the start back to 9:00 AM and go straight through. The reason for this is to give competitors extra time to set up and in future, the later start will mean most will get longer in bed. Unfortunately that is not me. If I leave any later than 6:00AM it will take me twice as long to get there. Today that meant a bit of standing around the burger van drinking tea - not a good idea with six hours of no break fishing in front of me!

Fishing from the other side of Jeff's Lake - Good of them to place a nice red, round target for me to aim at
I had drawn peg 15. This is on the opposite side of the lake to where I have fished before so it was all unfamiliar territory. I set up with the intention of working the feeder for the first hour or so and then on to the pellet waggler. The first thing to do was to prepare my method mix. I poured a good amount of my Two Dog Groundbait into a bowl, added some lake water and mixed it thoroughly. This transformed my hands to an interesting shade of yellow from the mixing. I left it to absorb the water while I set up the rest of the gear.

Once everything was ready to go I checked the groundbait mix and riddled it. I also pushed all the trimmings from the punched Bacon Grill hook bait through the riddle. I suppose that makes it two dog and a pig mix... Ten minutes before the start of the match the mix was checked for consistency and riddled again. It makes a friable mix that will hold together when squeezed in the hand but easily broken down again by rubbing it between the hands

The whistle went and it was one quick cast to check distance and clip up. I reeled it back in and put a punched lump of bacon grill on the hair. I then laid the hook and bait in the bottom of a small Preston mould and filled it with the groundbait mix, leaving the bait showing so it will free itself almost immediately it landed.  The first cast landed on the spot. I was planning on giving it my standard 40 seconds and if nothing happened, retrieve reload and recast. However it didn't get that far. I had barely got the rod settled on the rest when the tip bent double and I had a fish on! First F1 of the day. This went on for a while catching two or three in a row then a gap for a while and again two or three at a time.

After a couple of hours I tried out the Red Dog groundbait mix, first with coloured meat and then with corn both plain and the red chilli corn that I used to devastating effect last time out. I even tried plain Bacon Grill... Nothing. I went back to the Two Dog mix with the plain, large punched bacon grill. First cast, fish on. I decided to carry on fishing the method and continued to fish until midday. The bites had slowed so I had a dabble with the pellet waggler. After half an hour I was not getting anywhere so I went back to the proven method mix and bacon grill, and the fish kept coming. Not at the rate I was getting fishing the lake solo but enough to convince me I was going to catch more fish than last time.

The rain that was promised arrived in the afternoon but it was only the odd shower and my new lightweight bib and brace over-trousers and the old cagoule, I have had sitting in the back of the wardrobe, came into their own. The weather dried up and the five minute warning was 'sounded'. At this point I cast out a couple more times and then... Wham! the tip bent double and it was fish on - and for me it was BIG fish on, the largest fish of the day for me, a very nice example of a common carp!

The weigh-in came and the results were posted - 27lb (Pictured right) and seventh place! I was delighted. Second match and I was actually catching fish, more fish than last time and higher in the placings - does it get any better? Well, maybe but that will do for now.

With that I have put myself down for the next one in September. Now you know I said I was not interested in match fishing? Cancel that! 


Saturday, 1 August 2015

On Wednesday...

Some of the opposition weighing in on the other side of  Jeff's Lake in June
 ...I will be fishing my second match ever at Beaver fishery. My first match a couple of months ago was a great day out. I entered the match without expectation and the intention was to just have an enjoyable day fishing, and I did. To my surprise, I started to catch fish at what was an alarming rate, at least for me. The full story of that day can be found HERE. Since then I have been experimenting with different methods, and brushing up on my technique.  What I like about the matches at Beaver is they are very informal, more of a fun day out, pleasure fishing with a target, if you like. At the moment I have nothing to compare them to and I guess there are matches held all over the country in the same vain.

I am now into the twelfth month of my fishing adventure. I started this blog on the 3rd September last year and at that time I knew next to nothing. The first few months were taken up navigating a steep learning curve. I had no idea how much there was to learn or how many ways there are to skin this particular cat. Before I got interested. I thought there was one rod for course fishing, one for fly fishing and one for sea fishing and that was it. That sounds so naive now, I can barely bring myself to admit it.

At first, I was thrashing around trying to find my way around the overwhelming diversity of this enormous subject. I soon realised that if I was going to get anywhere I needed to concentrate on one thing at a time. Reading books and magazines, studying the internet and watching videos was filling my head with a mountain of information that had little or no order.

Tim 'fishing'
Having no real contact with anyone else who fished, apart from Tim (my brother), I turned to the internet forums for help and advice. It was soon very obvious that although he had fished as a kid, forty years earlier, he was not going to be of much help now as he had forgotten most of what he knew and besides, the world of fishing today is a very different place. As it has turned out, the original plan has gone to pot somewhat. I had intended this to be something that we could do together. That was not to be and it is me that is the interested party here. Tim is far less committed than I thought he would be, mainly due to his hectic lifestyle.

For the first few months I was not keen on the idea of fishing alone, maybe it was a confidence thing, or maybe I was hoping that my original plan of the two of us sitting in the bank would come to fruition. That was not to be and in the past year, Tim has made to the bank four times. If I had not made the effort and got out more on my own I think the interest would have been severely curtailed. The breakthrough came when a forum member invited me to a day's fishing at Beaver. Up until then I had only fished at one venue, Bax (now The Willows) near Sittingbourne, Kent. The reason for picking the original venue was that it is just a few miles from where Tim lives and I thought that would be convenient for him and a day out for me. As Tim is not as keen as me, it soon became obvious that I was going to have to go it alone.

The introduction to Beaver was a turning point. It is much closer and quicker to get to and less than half the  distance of going to Bax (Bax is well over an hour away by road and pushing 60 miles). As you will have read in the previous posts, Beaver has become my second home. Not by design, but I have not fished anywhere else other than these two fisheries. This has been a concious decision not to introduce too many variables. I needed to get the hang of one thing at a time and for me that started with waggler fishing. I am now fairly confident (note I did not say competent!) that I have mastered the basics of still water waggler float fishing. All I need to do now is get better at it.

Grrr... missed!
After sacrificing several feeders to the Tree Gods, I have got the hang of feeder fishing, using method feeders, in recent months as have been fairly successful at it (for me!). I caught most of my fish in the last match using this technique. I was also attempting to pellet-waggler fish, however this proved less than successful last time. Since then I have had a couple of months to get it right and last time out I think I may have cracked it - we will see.

I now need to tie a few hooklengths, get the rods tackled up and ready for the match on Wednesday. I am sure I will not get into the prizes but if I can better last times performance I will be happy. This time I have my own method mixes and hook baits to use, having tried them out a week or so ago (see HERE), I am confident they will help me increase my haul of last time.