Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Bags of fun...

Weather set fair, plenty of new things to try and van load of tackle. Guess who's going fishing?

Although I was really looking forward to a day at my local fishery, I just could not get to sleep. Eventually getting a few hours only to be woken by the alarm at 5 o'clock.


Laying there on a Sunday morning telling myself this is meant to be fun, I dragged myself out of bed and negotiate my way around the bed in the dark, trying not to wake the missus. I almost succeed when I was blinded by Sue's bedside light being switched on. Feeling a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a speeding car, I froze. "Are you okay my love" a voice whispered. "Sorry, I'm going fishing" "Oh yes, have a nice day". The room descended back into darkness, as quickly as the light arrived, and I was left blinking while my tired eyes readjusted to the semi dark.

By the time I had made it to the bathroom I was wide awake and ready to go. By the time I had made my flask of coffee, heated up the contents of my food-flask (Baked beans ravioli and chopped up frankfurters), packed the van and checked all was in order it was later than I like to leave. Being Sunday, the traffic should be lighter, so I was not bothered.

From now on , the mornings are lighter and the drive is made all the more enjoyable by this fact. The light Sunday traffic meant that I arrived at Beaver Fishery just before the gate opened having made up any lost time.

The mist is lifting as the gate silently swings open on another day at Beaver Fishery
Last week I made some PVA bag feeders, after being inspired by an article in Angling Times. (You can see how I made them HERE).

The whole point of PVA bags is that they melt when immersed in water, spilling their contents. This is fine all the time you want to fill them with dry feed. If on the other hand the preferred feed is wet, the feed, if untreated, will simply start to melt the PVA as soon as it makes contact. This may not be instant but it will not hold together long enough to risk. There are ways of preventing this and one method I have tried is to add salt. For those who want to know what is happening, Chris from LaGuna explained it thus, as an answer to a question I posted on the Fishing Magic forum:

"A sodium chloride solution disrupts the hydrogen bonding of water molecules and retards dissolving of poly vinyl alcohol. In simple terms; the salt and salty particles coat the inside of the PVA bag and allows the angler more time to reach bottom before the bag melts."

My intended fill was not really 'wet' more damp. It was made up primarily of the stuff that was too wet to riddle from some leftover groundbait. To this I added ground up Vitalin (dry dog food), a couple of handfuls of the riddled groundbait and a splash of turmeric. To this I added a couple of teaspoons of salt.

All the 'lumpy' bits that would not riddle plus some extras (see text) to make up my bag-fill
After discussing the use of my leftovers on the Maggot Drowning forum, the consensus of opinion was that It would not be any good.  I decided to use it just to test fill a few PVA mesh bags. they stayed together so the salt worked. Working on the theory that I had nothing to lose, I took the bags and the remaining mix with me to the lake.

Made up bags - May as well give them a go...
It was the last day of the cheap day tickets so I could fish one rod for a fiver, but I took the opportunity to fish two rods for the normal day ticket price of a tenner. I set up a carp rod on a buzzer and chucked a bag full of goodies out with a pop-up boilie. Within minutes the alarm went off and the reel was giving up line at an alarming rate. I grabbed the rod and wound in to lock out the 'bait-runner' function. There was a fish there - and then there was not. Well, that was a nuisance... (or something similar!) I recast the bait to the same place and left it there.

Meanwhile I was fishing my bag feeder to a different line. First cast was a bag of hard pellets that I had used to try out the bag making. That is not as easy as it looks.  Nothing after a couple of minutes as I reeled in the now empty feeder and realised it would have to be dried before adding a new bag. Failing to dry it would probably lead to covering my head with bait, as the bag gave way while preparing to cast. A quick but firm dab with the towel and it was bag-on and out again. Well, you know all the guys said it was a waste of time? They forgot to tell the fish. Within seconds I was on to a fish - first F1 of the day. I continued to cast out the bags, making more as I went along. almost every bag produced a fish some almost immediately and others after a minute or so, one after the other.

I tired of just pulling the fish out, production-line style and put that rig to one side. I had some new larger feeders that I had bought on the cheap (thank you eBay) that I wanted to try out. Until now I have been using small Preston method feeders. These larger ones might be useful later in the year when I need to get a good amount of bait down. For now I only wanted to get a feel for casting them. I dropped it into the same area I had been sending out bags to. This time the feeder was delivering my trusty Two Dog Groundbait. Almost immediately I was on a fish, and then another and another. Every chuck was producing a fish within seconds of the feeder landing.

After getting bored with just pulling out fish, cast after cast, I thought it might be useful to try out the bag feeder against the method feeder. I set up a second identical feeder rod and wound in my sleeper rod, that was producing nothing, and cast out a bag feeder on the new line. I placed that rod in the rest and cast out the original feeder again tackled up with a flat-back method feeder carrying Two Dog groundbait. As I did, the bag feeder was registering a bite. I picked it up and at that moment the other rod was also telling me there was a fish on. Two at once and no one to help.

Gotcha! Both of you...
As you can see, I managed to net both fish, one after the other. Now who said that old groundbait was useless? It continued to perform, even if it was a bit slower than the other line on the flat-backed method using the Two Dog Groundbait, but it was not slow. I got through several bags of the 'waste' mix before deciding that I had proved the worth of these bag feeders. besides, I was running low on PVA mesh.

Vintage match rod proved to be still up to the job!
By now the feeder fishing was getting a bit thin on the ground and it was time to try out a very nice vintage float rod. This one came from Dave (aka 'Dave the Fish) another of the Maggot Drowners from the forum. Dave had contacted me after I was talking about using my other vintage rod back at the beginning of February. He said he had a few rods that he never uses and thought I might have some fun with them. The rod I was itching to try out is a 'Milo Deep Blue Match 120' This carbon fibre rod is very light indeed and paired with a modern Mitchell fixed spool reel is a dream to use. I had been feeding an area, no more than four or five meters out to my right, with some of my home made sweet groundbait enriched with corn, hemp, a few dead maggots and the odd scrap of bacon grill. My aim was to bring in the smaller fish and hopefully the odd perch.

I chopped up some prawns and fed a few bits into the swim. A few minutes later the micro-silvers were leaping out of the water. There must be a perch about so it was time to get fishing. I started by threading a whole prawn onto a number 10 hook. After feeding with some more chopped prawn and getting a similar reaction I knew there was something down there. I changed the hook bait for half a prawn and within seconds, the float took a dive and everything went tight as I struck into what I had hopped would be a decent sized perch. A short struggle lasted a few minutes and then it surfaced. My prize perch looked for all the world like an F1. On landing my quarry, I was sure this was a funny looking perch! What are you doing eating Mr Stripe's prawns?

Another half an hour or so did not produce a perch. By this time I was running out of bait and the sun had dropped behind the trees reintroducing a chill in the air.

You're not a perch!
This seemed like a good time to call it a day. I had a great day, learnt a bit more and caught a lot of fish. Others on the lake had come and gone all catching fish and the weather is definitely on the turn for the better. I could even feel the skin on my face tightening up where I had caught the sun. The good weather had obviously got to Ben, one of the bailiffs who decided to paint the chalet next to Tuscany Lake, green. I can only assume to match his sweatshirt!

Matching bailiff and chalet - very posh!
Apart from Ben painting, the staff at Beaver do a great job of keeping the place tidy by keeping the vegetation down and the place tidy and civilised. I must say they probably have the best toilet and shower block in the country!

Next month the friendly matches start again and I will be entering from the beginning this year. I will be back at Beaver again on Thursday with my pole and seat-box working out how best to use them in a match situation, between feeder and waggler fishing...

Can't wait!