Monday, 2 November 2015

No Dogs at Beaver - Except Toby!

Autumn colour reflects in Jeff's Lake as I look out over my rod tip
Toby? He is the owners black Labrador who takes great delight in creeping up on the paying customers and surprising them - we all love Toby... Honest!

The usual early start was rewarded by an early entrance to the fishery. I was mindful that the clocks going back, the weekend before, meant the the evenings would be darker sooner but to our advantage, the mornings would be lighter too. No matter what time I have arrived at the fishery, I have never been at the front of the queue, today there was no queue. As I turned off the A22, I could see the time controlled, electricity operated gate was already open. It turned out that the gate had not been reset to take account of the time change as the guy who knows how to do it was on holiday...

06:46 and parked up
That's handy! I drove in to find the office open and the first line of defence manned by Ben, our new (additional) full-time fishery officer, greeting all comers with his usual warm welcome.  I paid the day ticket fee and headed for my favoured spot on Jeff's lake. It was just light, the mist hanging over the lake and there was not a soul about. I had made up my rods the night before and all I needed to do was set up my chair, bait waiter and landing net etc. and I was fishing by 07:00.

I was trying out my latest groundbait method mix. My trusty Two Dog mix has been an absolute winner all year enabling me to catch lots of fish at every session. Okay, I am not catching record amounts but I am catching enough to hold a reasonable position in the friendly matches held at Beaver during the warmer months. Considering I have only been fishing a little over a year I am happy with that result. I am constantly being asked how I am catching so many fish by others on the lake and all I can say is that it must be down to my bait/method mix combination.

My Two Dog mix is fortified with ground up dog biscuit (Wagg) and hot dog sausages - hence Two Dog. As the weather gets cooler, I am told I need to feed less as the fish do not feed as vigorously as they do in the warmer periods. This all sounds reasonable. I am targeting carp in Jeff's lake, mainly F1s and these do not slow down their feeding as much as other fish which is why the fisheries love them. Nevertheless, it seemed reasonable to cut down the amount of food in the mix and see what happens. I have already talked about my No Dog groundbait mix HERE. In essence, it is a stripped down version of the Two Dog mix with the meat and dog biscuit stripped out and some peeper added to increase the attractive qualities of the turmeric.

The revised recipe is shown below but the breadcrumb/biscuit mix can be anything that will not become bound together when it gets wet.

My No Dog Groundbait Recipe

  • 975g Breadcrumb
  • 975g Rich Tea biscuits
  • 50g Turmeric powder 
  • 2-3g Finely ground black pepper

Using my trusty 11ft feeder rod and small, 30g flat-backed method feeder I made a couple of casts without a hooklength attached to establish where I wanted to clip up to. I had picked three markers on the opposite bank. One of these was my favoured life belt I have mentioned before. I also had a couple of other trees earmarked as markers for two other lines. Now I was ready to fish.
One of a couple of mirror carp caught during the session
Sticking with my usual set up of a four inch hooklength, hair rigged to a push stop (or what ever you call them depending on the make!) on an NWM size 12 hook. I have also found some really small tube to hold the hair in position on the hook. I know I could just add more turns to the knotless-knot but I think this is a more elegant way of doing it as I am using fairly heavy line (6 or 8lb) and I do not risk catching the line on the point of the hook, creating a week point or dulling the point on the hook. I had fun working out just how to get a tiny piece of silicone tube onto the hook. Getting it on the line was much easier than I thought it would be as it just slides through with little or no resistance. I found the way to get it on the hood is not to try and thread it on as this results in the hook point piercing the tubing.

The best way I found to do it is to use the push stop needle, which has a blunt point- if you see what I mean, that will push its way through the tubing, after it has been fitted on the line. The line can be pulled away from the needle opening up a gap into which the hook can be passed through easily without causing any damage to the line, hook point or tube. The other advantage of using this method is that the hair can be set to length and the tubing will hold it in place while the knot is being tied.

Tackle aside, I rigged a 9mm thick, 9mm diameter punched piece of bacon grill on the hair and placed it in the bottom of the feeder mould, Filled the feeder with my new 'lean' groundbait and pushed the feeder into the mould. after releasing it I then placed a small anount of the mix into the mould and applied the ready loaded feeder to the mould again, pressing it in firmly, to add a second skin of groundbait to cover the hook bait.

...and here's another mirror, they really fight hard, I thought I had hooked something much bigger!
A nice controlled flick and the feeder plopped into the lake bang on target - I am getting better at this as time goes on. It is all about getting out there and trying over and over again until it becomes natural. It is not there yet, but I am getting there slowly and each outing I get a little more consistent. I was expecting to get a few feeder loads out before I got any action but to my complete surprise, I had a fish on after about 20 seconds. My two or three empty feeder casts while I was checking my ranging must have got the fish interested. Three more casts, three more bites, two of which I landed.

I was fishing the lifebelt line and it was paying off. Then, someone else arrived and took the peg opposite me right under the lifebelt. Not wanting to cast at another angler when there was plenty of space I made a few more rapid casts to lay down some groundbait and moved to another line.

My plan was to have a few chucks at the original spot when the bloke opposite went for a break during the day or at lunch. As It happened, I was fishing my other two lines perfectly happily all day pulling fish out at a fair old rate and did not get back to that line until I noticed the bloke opposite was packing up early and going home. By this time I had run out of my experimental no-meat groundbait mix and was back on the original Two Dog mix. Although the new mix was working. reverting back to the original mix really showed a marked difference, fish were on it straight away and the catch rate increased almost immediately. I think this may be because although it was the 1st November, it was still not that cold. I moved back to the original line and almost as soon as the feeder landed I was getting a bite and landing one fish after another. It will be interesting to see how it goes as the weather cools down even further. I am back at Beaver next Sunday as a planned trip to Ironbridge has been cancelled due to pressure of work, so by Sunday I will be glad of the break. You never know, I might have some company as my brother is threatening to come. Maybe I will be able to get him catching his first good bag of fish.

The clean-up crew are not far away as the sun starts to go down behind the trees
Another great day fishing for me. I left just as it was starting to get dark so I had a good few hours of fun and proved that although the lean version of my groundbait worked, the full bodied meaty version is still getting the fish excited.