Thursday, 10 September 2015

A day pleasure fishing...

Out with the bins - 05:30 AM - It's still dark!
You can tell the summer is drawing to an end, cold damp and soggy morning here in London today. Up at 05:00 AM, do the necessary and make a flask of coffee. Sue had made the sandwiches and I had prepared all the bait. into the cool boxes and the whole lot is loaded into the van ready to leave before the six o'clock news rattles the cold and damp speakers in the van.

The camera mounted on the dashboard captures a wobbly image
Out onto the South Circular and even at this time I have to wait to get out of the end of the road. There is a distinctive under lying buzz flaunting itself under the newsreaders voice that is usually cured with a spot of percussive  maintenance to the driver's side speaker. The passenger side is a different matter, persisting in being irritating, until we get caught at the next set of traffic lights, where it will receive a satisfying blow from the toe of my right boot! It must be an age thing, but stuff that I used to ignore has now become very irritating, more-so than it ever did before...

The run out onto the M25 is reasonably painless until we meet the fog. I will never understand why other drivers will insist on passing a van just because it is there. Most of the time a modern (ish) van will outrun most cars these days but still they try - even in thick fog. The fog is patchy, and that is the worst kind. Crystal clear one minute and so thick it is hard to see the vehicle in front. My little compact camera, mounted on the dash - hence the vibration -  seems to cut through it better than my tired old eyes.

Even though the fog slowed us all down I still got to Beaver before the gate opened and was third in the queue. Out of all the pegs on all the lakes guess where the bloke in front of me wanted to fish? Yes, you guessed it, the very same peg I had thought about fishing on Jeff's. Typical but it is first come first serve. I have been fishing here lately as I wanted to try and get some idea of where the fish are and the topography of the lake bottom. Yes, a year on and I am now working on my water-craft! With that peg gone I went back to the other side of the lake and set up, initially, for a spot of feeder fishing. I had my latest groundbait to try out...

Loading punched bacon grill to the hair fitted with a meat stop note the hooklength is held alongside the meat-stop needle to prevent it cutting into the hook bait. Also note the colour of the Ginger Tom groundbait
The name of my latest creation is Ginger Tom. Following on from my really successful previous adventures into custom groundbait based on dog biscuit, I have made a feline version using cat biscuit called Ginger Tom. Eager to give it a go I mixed the dry base mixture with some lake water and left it to rest while I set up my gear and a feeder rod. The mix was left for about 20 minutes and then it was obvious it needed a spot more water so it was riddled and a small amount of water added, well mixed by hand and riddles again and again. You can't riddle too much, I was told so riddle I do. I had intended to dye this mix green using liquid food colouring added to the lake water. Well, that didn't work! It made no discernible difference to the colour. For now, the idea of 'Green' Ginger Tom is dead. Instead I will just use it without the green colouration.

I picked my spot and cast for it, using my 11ft feeder rod rigged with a 30g method feeder. Once I was happy, I clipped up and recast just to check I was on target. That life belt I mentioned before is a perfect target to aim for as it is bright reddy-orange colour with a white line top-dead-centre. Hmmm... maybe that is the hook it is hanging on, thinking about it.

I have been using some pre-tied hook lengths recently but I must get around to tying my own with push-stops, I have all the bits I need, just have not got around to doing it. I selected a size 14 QM1 Guru hooklength fitted with a push-stop. These are the best thing I have found so far for my punched meat hook bait. I loaded up the feeder with the hook bait and a double skin of Ginger Tom and cast. Expecting to cast a few times, to lay some groundbait, before I got any action I was taken by surprise when I got a bite on almost immediately. Blimey! This stuff is good!

Everybody posts pictures of big fish; here is one of the smaller ones to address the imbalance!
I reeled in my first catch of the day in, a nice F1 of about 2lb. This continued for a while catching fish on almost every cast then a lull. I changed direction and cast at the same length perhaps 12-15ft to the right. After a few cast of nothing I was about to rethink when the tip bent over and the clutch was screening. This time the fish was a bit bigger at 3½ pound that is a reasonable weight for me on this lake. I decided to continue in that spot for a while longer.

As the bites dropped off I sent the feeder off to the line clip, unclipped and recovered it while contemplated my next move. I thought I would pick a new spot and distance. At this point, with my head full of options I recast on auto pilot. Forgetting the line was free I cast as if I was aiming at my previous target. In that split second while my brain is catching up with the here and now and puzzling where the feeder had gone I realised I had cast clean across the lake into the reeds. Probably my best cast of the day as far as direction was concerned, shame about the distance. A good stout pull freed the line and the feeder in two parts. The line returned as a ball that made cooked spaghetti look positivity neat by comparison, and the reeds gave up the feeder - straight into the lake.

At this point I moved on to do a spot of float fishing. I have been given a selection of rods and reels. All are old but in good condition. Having never been interested in fishing prior to my introduction to the black art twelve months ago, I have never used 'old' rods so I was curious to see how they performed. I put it together only to realise the previous owner must have been left handed and reels at this time were sold as left and right handed. Needless to say as this has been flagged up, I am right handed. Never mind, I will give it a go. Awkward is not the word. I am still trying to get to grips with my modern gear, this is really strange. Nevertheless, I managed to cast a float and line to about where I had plumbed the depth. Maggot on the hook and a modern float.

Within a minute or so I had a fish on the hook. Trying to get it in left handed was far more difficult than I thought and ended up switching hands to control the net. I did not want to risk damaging the poor fish that was foolhardy enough to succumb to my pair of wriggling maggots. I landed the fish and set it free unharmed. Time to switch to a modern rod! I will try this rod out again but first I will try and get hold of a right-handed version of the old reel that came with it.

My short period of float  fishing was not getting me the number of catches I was getting on the feeder so it was time to go back to the favoured method. More casting and catching by now I had 25 on the clicker and I know I had not entered the few I caught first thing (before I remembered the clicker!) and also there were unrecorded catches when the fish were coming thick and fast. These sort of numbers may not seem that fantastic to a lot of you, but to me they are amazing.

Corn custard being delivered to the spot
For a good part of the day I had been feeding the near margin to my right with the odd hand-full of 'slop'. Slop? This is made up of bait leftover from previous fishing trips. Mixed with bread and water. It all goes into an ice cream tub and is frozen until it is needed. By now it is late afternoon and the fish are patrolling the margins looking for free offerings. I can see the bubbles and clouds of silt where the fish are feeding. Time to try my latest secret weapon combination, my cupping in pole and corn custard.

A cup full of corn custard makes a really good cloud and the fish come running
The pole cup was filled with the custard and aimed at a point on the far bank. At full stretch from my sitting position it will discharge in the area I had been pre-baiting. I cupped in a couple of cups full and left it for a few minutes. Obvious signs of fish feeding activity followed. I then filled the method feeder with my usual groundbait mix and set it into the cup, shipped it out to where I had been feeding and dropped it right on top of the pile of free offerings - No sooner had it hit bottom than it was taken by yet another F1 carp. This is too easy, one after the other they are being caught.

Happy with that result it was time to pack up. As I was doing so for the second time, my catch rate was being noticed. As happened last time I was on this lake for pleasure, one of the other anglers near me came over and asked what bait I was using and that he had lost count of how many fish I had caught at 22. Thinking he was just wanting to share his catch total, I asked how many fish he had caught. "One" he said as he walked towards his car.

The clean-up crew arrived just in time to scoff any dropped bait
Let's just hope I can make a decent sized bag at Tricklebrook fishery (Kent) a week on Sunday where I will be fishing with some of the guys from the forum.