Thursday, 22 October 2015

No-dog groundbait for winter...

My exploits with groundbait over the past few months have worked very well. In fact, much better than I had imagined, but now winter is around the corner I am told I need to cut back on the feed content, but maintain the attractant. This means I need to modify my method mix, and particularly my Two Dog groundbait mix that I have been using so successfully over the summer, for use over the winter. My initial plan is to remove the 'dogs' from the recipe. That will leave bread, biscuit and turmeric. By adding a small amount of very finely ground black pepper, I am told that this will significantly increase the attractive powers of the turmeric. It all gets a bit technical for me as I did not study chemistry at school or in further education.  For those who, like me, are interested in such matters, here is the bones of it, Thanks to Chris Barker at LaGuna, who was very helpful by explaining to me what is actually happening.

Turmeric on its own works mainly as a visual attraction and will create a good yellow cloud. It is not so good as a stimulating ingredient on the fish's sense of smell. Adding a small amount of black pepper to the turmeric creates a chemical iron/curcumin (present in the turmeric) complex causing a chemical reaction that binds the iron. This enables the fish to detect it easier in the water. The quantities of fine ground black pepper are very small, less than 5% of the turmeric. in my recipe, that is only 2½g - might have to get the jewellery scales out for this one!

Manual labour...
..not a bad result
If I am not careful I could get stuck in a rut with this. My Two Dog mix works well for what it is intended for,  now I am thinking that I need to start from scratch with this one. I need to decide exactly want I want, or in this case what I don't. After discussing this with some of the guys, on the angling forums I frequent, I now know that if I want to continue to use a method feeder, which I do, I need to cut down on the feed content and use the method feeder as a form of 'signal' to tell the fish there is something worth investigating. If the feed is fine enough it should disperse in the water and although the fish will be able to taste/sense it, it should not fill them up. I am thinking I will adjust the mix on the bank by adding a few free offerings if necessary.

Now I think about it, I also need to look at the hook bait. Maybe I will scale down the size of the punched Bacon Grill I have been using. All summer I have been catching lots of fish on 9mm thick, 9mm punched 'pellets' of Bacon Grill. Maybe I need to be using smaller pieces or even go away from meat altogether and go for sweetcorn or even actual pellets.

Less thinking more doing...  

Right, what I need is some fine powdered something or other. I could probably use more or less anything, I can dry and render into a fine powder, for the base. Having used bread/biscuit based mixes for all the recipes I have published so far I thought I would try something different. but what?

At 80p per kilo it has to
be worth a try
I know, you are all sitting there reading this thinking why change? Well, because I can, and experimenting is the only way to learn what works and what does not. I am building a knowledge base here that I will be able to draw on in the future. I have some ideas on summer high-food mixes for next year that involve using loose animal feed. Here in London we don't have that many 'feed' stores to frequent so it my be, for now, a case of seeing what I can get hold of. I know if I want huge bags of feed I can always get it delivered but I don't really want that quantity of dry goods sitting around to feed the mice and rats. They say wherever you are in London that you are never more than six feet away from a rat! That aside, 'er-in-doors would go nuts if I started buying bulk feed and storing it in my fishing 'office' as she described it today. It is really the utility room but, until I get around to decorating it, I have moved in. I really don't want to upset my little fruit bat as she is very tolerant of my fishing and even joins in with the bait-making from time to time. I digress (again).

The best place I can find locally, without having to drive miles, to buy loose feed is our local Pets at Home store. According to their website, I can buy a 15kg bag of Vitalin for £11.99 that equates to 80p/kg which is about the same as biscuit crumb and about 1½ times the price of dried bread but without the hassle of drying it off.

At this point er-in-doors asked if I could give here a lift to the station, as it was raining. She was off to Kensington Palace for a meeting (sounds posh, so I had to put that in). After I dropped her off I thought I would make the effort and call into our local Pets at Home store to buy a bag of Vitalin. Well, as usual nothing is that simple. The normally ten minute journey turned into forty minutes, thanks to some operatives drinking tea next to a hole in the road. When I finally got there, the place was stuffed to the gunnels with bags of dry feed for every animal you can think of. They also sell lots of other dubious things like clothes for dogs! But, you've guessed it, despite having it on their website, they had no Vitalin in store. The very nice young lady on the till said they did not stock it in that store and perhaps I could try another store she recommended, but it might be an idea to call first... Groan. I drove out of the retail park, and joined the queue of traffic that had built up heading down to the junction with the South Circular. Another half an hour of my life I am never going to get back.

No Vitalin at home...
When I eventually arrived home again, I revisited the Pets at Home website to look for the telephone number of the other store. While I was trying to navigate through a minefield of "type your postcode here" and why we need your mobile telephone number, I stumbled upon a tab that said "Collect in store"...   I ordered my bag of Vitalin, designated the store to which I wanted it to be delivered to and paid my £11.99. The page disappeared and that was it. No confirmation, nothing.  Gordon Bennett! How did I get on this treadmill... Several hours later an e-mail confirmation arrived and the blood pressure returned to closer what is regarded as normal.

Just one - for me, not the fish
Along with this confirmation was a tracking number - Click! The result was a single line that read something like: "We have no record of that transaction". Repeatedly head-butting the keyboard did nothing to improve the situation, only prompting a second and third screen showing the same message. Losing the will to live, I gave up and decamped to the kitchen for a cuppa and a caramel wafer.

To cut a very long story short, in the end it appears that my bag of Vitalin will be in store tomorrow for me to collect. All I have to do is try and avoid the traffic. Maybe I'll walk, and take Sue with me. I will need someone to carry it back home... What? No, it will be fine, she is used to carrying the shopping home. I wonder what we are having for supper...

The other thing I needed to resolve before I could go much further was to replace/repair my third coffee grinder. The Wagg dog biscuit I have been using is really hard and has defeated three coffee grinders so far. The latest one was powerful enough but the blade was not up to the job. A friend of mine recommended a blender that he swears by. It is a monster 1200W motor and enormous 1.8litre thick glass jug. I have ordered one and it will be here tomorrow. I will also order a new blade for my coffee grinder as it is really useful for converting small things like peppercorns into a fine powder probably more effectively than the pestle and mortar. More in a day or so...