Sunday, 29 May 2016

Boxing clever!

When I first thought about pole fishing I had no idea what a can of worms I was opening. The pole is only the beginning of a journey down a long path. The first thing I discovered was that I needed a seat box if I was going to fish effectively using a pole. Although some do fish from a chair I can see how the box will make life so much easier especially in a match situation.

An eBay listing came up offering a seat box along with a couple of fittings and some odd bits of tackle in the drawers. As most of the listings are, this box was for collection only. More often than not these listings are miles away from me making purchase impractical. I had no desire to buy a new box as I was not sure if I was going to be serious about this. This box was being sold in East London, a short trip through the tunnel. Perfect! I placed a bid and waited. Days passed and there were no further bids placed. At the end of the listing's time, I sat there watching the clock tick down, expecting to be outbid. The auction ended and I had won the box for the staring price. RESULT!

After many combinations I finely decided on this set up for the match on Wednesday
I collected the box the following day. It is a Preston X3. It is not in it's first youth but ideal for what I was after at a very reasonable price. The box came with a long ripple bar and a couple of  short keep net fittings. It soon became apparent that I needed a few more fittings so I took to watching the eBay listings for second-hand fittings. I already had a groundbait bowl loop that came with my bucket, bowl and riddle set I bought last year.

I then found a pole sock that came with a short cross arm and another long single ripple arm, again on eBay. By now I was on my way. I had the basics so it was off to the bank along with a pair of cheap rollers and my brand new, Cheap as chips, 9.5m Maver Abyss X pole together with a couple of top kits. The same pole is currently on offer for as little as £35.00! I paid about £65.00 for mine including a couple of top kits.

Bill, one of the guys from the Maggot Drowning forum offered to show me the basics of pole fishing and we spent a day fishing the pole and getting used to my seat box. It soon became clear that I needed a few more accessories for the box. The first of which was a feeder arm.  This is a great piece of kit and really does make life easier when sitting on the box. Now I had a few extra fittings it was time to go and try them out. By this time I had acquired a second hand pole, much better quality than my cheap 'starter' job, and a 'V' roller both given to me by other generous anglers who could see I would give them a good home.  This time I went back to the lake and again, Bill came along and tried to pass on some more of his wisdom.

It became apparent that the few fittings I had acquired were not enough to get things set up to be comfortable. Back to eBay. I found a few bits and pieces and by the time the first match of the season came along I had located a side tray and a roost. In fact I had picked up a couple of roosts. One second-hand eight way Pro-Roost kit, that hangs off one leg, and a fantastic bargain was a new Megga Roost tripod kit at less than half price, as it is the older version (pre- SnapLoc).  Setting up took an age. I used my Pro Roost for the first time and although it was a great help It took a lot of setting up, working out the best position and getting it balanced. I think this would have been more suited to just top and cupping kits but I had a couple of feeder rods sitting on there too and although it did the job it was a bit wobbly. I managed to rig a tray under my bait waiter but it was not ideal.

The thing that caught me out was the rain. I was happy sitting there with my Teletubby outfit on (courtesy of an Aldi Stores Special) but it was the bait that was getting wet. I got in a right old mess. The groundbait was sticking to everything and the maggot's dry bedding was now wet and they had organised a mass breakout as they were now able to scale the walls of their bait box.

The box set up from the rear
Now my wants (need!) list was growing again. I could not buy a decent side table second hand for much less than I could buy a new one. Not having a bottomless pit of money to spend I was not prepared to go and buy all the things I wanted new. Scouring the eBay listings I found a job lot that had almost everything I needed without duplicating what I already had. The listing included a Preston Megga side table in tatty condition but complete, plus a whole lot of fittings including the smaller groundbait bowl hoop and various useful brackets.  The listing also included a lot of other stuff like nets, bags, a couple of spray bottles of elastic lubricant and an enormous net (stink) bag.

I put in a low bid a few minutes from the end and to my surprise won it by outbidding the under bidder by a pound or two! I could not believe my luck. It was a pick-up only listing and it was on the Isle of Sheppey. As it happens we had a reason to be on Sheppey that week so collection was perfect for us. It does not often work out that way but this time it all fitted perfectly.

The Megga Side Tray was enormous - far bigger than I had expected, I was very pleased to re-home it with my friend that passed on his old pole to me. When he got it, even he was surprised at the enormity of the tray! I now have a good selection of fittings and attachments for my seat box without spending a king's ransom and I should be able to set it up to suit all situations. I even managed to win a bait brolly on eBay so  I can now keep the bait dry. Now, if it stops raining, I can amuse the neighbours again by trying out different combinations in the garden...

...That was a month or so ago. I never did get to work out the set up of the box and yet again I tried to work it out before the match and yet again I got in a hopeless mess and ended up starting late and with the box and fitting only just serviceable. Enough is enough, I am determined not to be in that state for the next match on Wednesday.

By removing a few of the accessories...
...the rest of the fittings will fold down on themselves...
...making it very compact
I have spent a good few hours trying all sorts of combinations and eventually settled on a configuration that works and can be folded down after removing a minimum of fittings making it easy to reinstate after it has been levelled on the drawn peg.

Preston 19mm inserts fit the legs of my box. Old style on the left, new style on the right
The Preston range of fittings is vast. there are also some now obsolete fittings that turn up in job lots. All this stuff is compatible once you realise there are two types of fitting inserts. The older inserts have a shallow retaining lip around each end that fits nicely into both new and old fittings. However the newer fittings have a much larger lip that will only fit the newer fittings. It took me a while to work this out but now I have all the fittings, new and old can be used within the system.

The long accessory bar...
...can be extended, here to accommodate a third net - Wishful thinking?
I have been mixing and matching all sorts of odd fittings old and new. I now have a long accessory bar and this is great for holding the keep nets, it is extendible too so I have added three positions for keep nets, the third one can be fitted to the extension if required.

Redundant keepnet fittings, used with a pole tulip and butt rest, to support the landing net in a convenient position
I have put two of the original net fittings to use by fitting them vertically. A short one fitted to the roost support with a Guru 'tulip' fitted to it and a long one with a butt rest fitted, secured to the short accessory bar that allows the bait tray to be fitted at any convenient position along the side of the seat. These are used to hold my landing net. 

Footnote: Anyone spot my deliberate mistake on reassembling the seat box? 


Saturday, 28 May 2016

Seat box refurbish - stage one!

Just before Christmas, I won a second hand seat box in an eBay auction. I managed to secure it at a reasonable price and, for the money I paid, I got a bargain. The box has a few cosmetic problems, many of which were rectified after a quick wash and polish. One thing that was bothering me was the shoulder strap that was looped onto the side carrying handles and just hung down the side of the box, getting in the way.  As I never use this, I wanted to remove it. Well, nothing is ever that simple. I don't know if they come like this or if it had been modified, but the strap handles have to be released from the box to remove the shoulder strap.

This shows how the straps were held on to the box.
For some reason the straps are attached to the box using a machine screw and nut through one hole and a pop rivet through the other - Why? I am sure I don't know. All four fixing were the same. I started by attempting to undo the machine screw and discovered that the nut was not captivated in any way. a spanner would hold the nut but it was almost impossible to get a firm enough hold on the machine screw to loosen the nuts that were badly corroded.

The back-plate and nut were somewhat rusty!
This was now becoming a pain. As the other fixing, a pop rivet, was going to have to be drilled out, enough was enough and it would be much quicker to simply drill out the the head of the machine screw until it fell off. 

If all else fails - drill it out!
The pop rivets are removed in the same way and the backing plate can then be prised off the inside of the box and any remaining rivet/machine screw can easily be knocked out.

After removing the strap, cosmetic cover and backing plate.
Once the plates and strap had been removed I was left with the recess and the fixing holes now was time to consider how it was going to be reassembled. I could see no point in using new machine screws and nuts and opted to use pop rivets throughout. but first I had to sort out the plates.

Ready for reassembly
The rusty backplates were soaked in rust remover for a couple of hours and then cleaned off using paper towel and water to rinse the remaining chemical. They were then oiled and dried off in a piece of rag. Now they looked a bit better! The cosmetic plates were flattened and reshaped using a small panel hammer and a 'lump' of steel as an anvil. The plates had been misshapen as there were no spacers fitted to the original in order to prevent the fixings crushing them. You can see how distorted they were in the top picture. Half an hour spent with chrome cleaner brought them up a treat.

Ready to reattach the strap-handle
Washers were added between the strap and the box to prevent the cosmetic cover being distorted as the rivets are fitted. Where the back-plate holes have been enlarged by the drilling out/flattening process Washers are also fitted to prevent pull-through.
The lower hole of this plate had become enlarged, a washer prevents the rivet pulling through

After fitting the straps the job is done, I have not refitted the shoulder strap but I will keep it in case I decide to sell the box on I will offer to refit it if required. The finished fixings not only look better but I have confidence in them and will be able to lift the box without worrying if they will hold.

That looks a bit better!
There are a few other jobs that need looking at but this will do for now. As I get around to dealing with them I will post the results.


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Me and my mate go fishing...

"Go away, I'm busy..."  He didn't really say that but he might have thought it!
I like days out on the bank fishing on my own, but I do also enjoy the company of others. There is always something to learn, something to discuss and the fun of comparing fishing techniques. I had been talking about trying my hand at catching some bigger fish with some of the guys on the Maggot Drowning forum. Talk about open another can of worms. None of this sounds complicated, it is just different.

The carp rig
My mate Duncan came to the rescue and suggested we meet at Beaver. He was waiting for me at the gate when I arrived at around 06:45. Blimey, I thought I was keen! We had a discussion regarding carp rigs and Duncan showed me a selection of different types. The thing that struck me was the weight of the line and the size of the hooks, they are much thicker/heavier than I had envisaged. Duncan kindly presented me with carp rig just as the gate was opening.

We piled into the office and handed over our day ticket money for two rods each. After some debate we decided to fish in the same area of Major's lake as I had been on last time I was there. For some reason it seemed to take me ages to get my act together. I really need to sort out what I need and what I can leave behind. I seem to end up with far too much stuff to wade through. My make-shift barrow needs a bit of work on it to make it more bag-friendly, but that will be another story. Just now I need to keep on track or I will not finish this little story before you all fall asleep!

Looking down the lake from my peg. the foliage on the left is growing on the island
Today was not cold but overcast the water was alive with fry all trying to avoid being Mr Stripy and Mrs Pike's morning snack. The greenery is now coming back faster than the staff can cut it down. Just mowing the grass must be a full time job. Although you can hear the odd clatter as the mower strikes a stone, or some other non-vegtable matter, the mowing is carried out well away from anyone fishing, keeping disturbance down to a minimum.

We settled down to fish and before too long we were catching fish. Yes I know that is the point but there have been times... Duncan claimed first real fish with a splendid looking tench, it did not look as happy as he was.

That tench does not look as happy as Duncan! Sorry about the pole being in the way
I had set my sleeper rod up on a couple of shot banksticks and a bite alarm with the volume turned down so I could just about hear it. Is it me getting old, or do those buzzers constantly going off drive everyone else nuts too? There was a friendly little robin that discovered if he bounced on the rod he could get my attention too.
Excuse me! Would you mind not jumping up and down on there!
The rig Duncan had given me was attached to a quick change bead that was preventing a small free-running ledgering weight from escaping. I made up a PVA bag full of free offerings and secured it by passing the hook through the bag, twisting it and catching the bag again. this seemed to work as the bag and rig landed where they were supposed to and moreover, they were still together.  I left the rod to its own devices, catapulting a few pellets every 10 minutes or so over where the rig was sitting.  That is if I remembered.

While the sleeper was doing its job, I was engaged in fishing for roach and perch around the small patch of lily's to my left.  This is just small enough to bridge over with my 'hippo'. I fished this swim about ten days ago and was feeding liquid bread and using bread as the hook-bait to catch skimmers and small bream - that gets interesting on this lightweight kit! This time I was using maggots to feed with a single dead maggot as hook-bait to target the roach. I discovered by keeping it going the bites are plentiful - every cast at times - and the fish get bigger. Resting the swim to do a bit of feeder fishing and then attacking it again, this time feeding a few casters with the maggots and a single caster was finding the perch. Okay the fish are not huge but it is great fun once you get it right.

Getting bigger, not huge but I was happy!
The technique I used was to plum the rig to dead depth and then add an inch to the depth so the bait is just laying there. I then fed a few free offerings and raised the float, six to eight inches out of the water and let it back down again. Doing this produced fish after fish, usually on the drop. Great fun when it works and I was actually targeting and catching the fish I was aiming for.

The perch were moving in - they seem to love casters
The really interesting thing was the fact that we were not catching any carp of any kind. Duncan hooked today's one that got away, which was a huge carp but it ran him a merry dance and after tying his rig up in the tree roots then made for the lily pads and finished him off. He was very good and I heard nothing to offend the ear, either by volume or content.

I was just thinking about giving the hippo a rest when the alarm went off and this time it was not the robin. I hastily placed the hippo on the grass (hooking the nearby tree - Grrr!)  I grabbed the rod and sure enough I had hooked a fish. I managed to keep the fish out of the tree roots and it was not heading straight for the lily's. As I got it close it broke the surface - it was a tench. The rig had worked and I had caught my first fish using this technique.

First fish using carp gear - He did not look happy... I was, even though it was supposed to be a big carp
The day continued Duncan has his own laid-back style of fishing that works for him. He was really after the bigger fish but I hope he enjoyed the day. He caught his fair share of fish. Although his sleeper rod did not show any fish at all, he was hauling in lots of other fish on pole and feeder.

Look Mum, no hands!
In the quiet times, back on my peg I was amusing myself feeding a little robin that would eat a few maggots himself (her self?) and then fill its beak with as many as it could get in and fly off, I assume to feed young. No sooner had it gone than it was back. It would sit there while I was feeding my hippo swim and pick up any maggot that fell on the lily pads. If that was not happening I would put a few on the sleeper, that edged the front of the peg, and let him help himself. If all else failed he would raid the bait box itself. He was a fearless little fellow.
Is it okay if I have this one?
Blimey! I have found the mother-load
Before I knew it, the time had gone and we had half an hour before we would be locked in by the automatic gate that closes on the dot of 7 o'clock. With the best intentions blown to the wind, all the gear was hurriedly packed into the van to be sorted out when I got home.

Another fun day over, now to think about the match on Wednesday, next week...


Saturday, 21 May 2016

Oops - Again!

Last year I managed to snap a quiver tip while carrying my rod from one swim to the other. I 'fixed' it by cutting it down and refitting the tip ring (See HERE). Last week I managed to damage another quiver tip by trying to cast a feeder while the line was looped over the tip and caught around the second ring. The force of the cast compressed the tip, fracturing the gel coat but leaving the glass fibre strands intact.

The top has not parted company with the rest of the quiver tip so it will only need a new gel coat
I had a spare tip so it was not too much of a problem on the day. Buying spare quiver tips for cheap rods is a bit silly as I can buy a whole rod (including three new quiver tips) for the cost of buying two tips on their own - almost!

The jig supports the tip while it is rotated
As the tip is not actually separated, I decided to have a go at re-coating the existing fibre. I have some gel-coat left over from the pole repair, that will do the job. All I need to do is construct a simple jig to slowly rotate the tip while the gel coat cures. I made my jig from Meccano and similar parts but a wooden jig will do. This will result in a perfectly smooth finish. The very short video below is a bit fuzzy but shows the speed of rotation.

Only a very small amount of gel coat is required in the ratio of 10 parts resin to 3 parts hardener. In this case it can be measured in drops from a length of wire. Dip the wire in the resin and drip 10 droplets onto the mixing surface - I use a small piece of glass. Wipe the wire and use the other end to drop 3 droplets of harder on to the surface. After mixing apply the resin to the damaged area, start the tip rotating.

Applying the new gel coat
Mine is running at 10-12 RPM. While it is curing, if you have any gel coat over, place a ring of card or putty around the surplus resin and, after wrapping in cling-film, put it in the freezer. This will prevent it from curing and can be used to re-coat the repair if required after the first coat has cured.

The gel-coat did its job but there was still a weakness at the joint. I tried to strengthen it with some shrink tube but this did not make enough difference to make it worthwhile so I stripped it off and started to sand the joint ready for another coat of resin when it snapped.

Well, that was not the plan - Grrr!

Short top section
I decided that rather than cut it down to the next ring, as I had done previously, I would just refit the tip ring to the shortened top section. The tip ring is easily removed by heating it gently and pulling. Any remaining glue is cleaned out with a small drill bit or screwdriver. The tip-eye was glued onto the shortened section of the quiver tip and aligned before the top section was painted yellow.

A coat of yellow paint identifies it as a repaired tip in my stock
Not the repair I had planned but at least I have a serviceable quiver tip now.


Friday, 13 May 2016

No dogs and Major success!

My idyllic peg in a picturesque location - Major's Lake
We had planned to visit my 89 year old mother today but she could not fit us into her busy schedule - or to quote the modern vernacular, she could not 'find a window'... I don't know, I suppose I might as well go fishing!

One day I should go and visit a different fishery but today it is back to the old slippers, Beaver Fishery and just for a change I am not going to talk about the M25. I didn't use it today. I was packed and ready to roll early, Sitting in the van at 05:45, I decided to take a chance and try going straight through South London rather than going east to join the dreaded motorway.

Hmmm... a queue - Behind me!
The art of this rather cavalier approach to getting places is to ignore Jane... Jane? Oh' she's the voice in the little box of a couple of Toms... Just ignore the "Turn around when possible" until the graphics agree with the chosen trajectory. It is thirteen miles shorter each way by staying off the motorway and it only takes a few minutes longer. I have cut across on a Sunday morning in the past but never before a weekday. I can warn you now, I have a whole new route to talk about in future!

I arrived with plenty of time to spare, first in the queue again, filling the
CCTV with blue. By the time the gate opened I had a couple of people behind me. And yes, The gate opened while I was taking the photograph. Nobody hooted me or maybe they had not realised. Either way an orderly procession of hardened anglers precoded to enter and pay our day-ticket money. I paid for a two rod ticket, I had a plan, not a hard and fast plan like I had for the first match, but a plan, nevertheless.

My target this time was to fish Major's lake from one of the newly refurbished pegs sitting under the bank that separates Major's Lake from Maze Lake. I had reason to walk this bank a few weeks ago when fishing on the back of Maze, as it is the route  to trek when attempting to recover tackle from the opposite bank - Don't ask!

The island opposite my peg. Red area is my feeder line target and the blue is where the sleeper should land
It is an easy chuck to the island and there are lilly pads all around. Great for fish and tackle shops, not so good for the blood pressure. Yes, I managed to loose a couple of feeders, one to the trees and one to the lilly pads when a huge, record braking, fish took my bate and parked the hook in the middle of a huge outcrop if lilly pads - Thanks!

I set up my chair with a feeder arm and a small groundbait bowl ring. With Preston and Korum being the same company, the fitting are interchangeable between boxes and accessory chairs. At least they would be if my old box had the same size legs as my brand new chair. This is not a problem as the inserts can be changed to suit. It would have been helpful if Preston had not changed the style of them (at some point in the past) without telling me! It is fine if you have all new fittings as either style of insert will fit. If, like me, you have some of each it can get a bit frustrating. My feeder arm came from eBay and is of the older type. These fittings have a much smaller locating rebate to correspond with a much finer retaining lip on the inset. The newer insets, when used in these fittings, will not open up far enough to accept the leg of either chair or seat box. Now I have discovered this, I need to go through all my inserts and make sure the new fittings have the larger inserts fitted, freeing up a few of the older inserts for my collection of older fittings... Well done Preston, nothing like making life difficult for the novice!

I picked a spot on the far bank and cast a few meters short, estimated the shortfall and let out more line before clipping up and casting again. I continued to do this until I was a foot or so back from the bank. I added a single halibut pellet and a PVA 'tube' of goodies threaded onto the hook length. I was hoping to tempt one of the bigger carp that seem to lurk over there.  I cast it out and left it sitting on a couple of short bank sticks and a bite alarm.

My new cupping kit is made from a cheap eBay telescopic pole
Now it was time to try out my latest creation, my cheap cupping kit made to compliment my elasticated Tele-Pole. There has been a fair bit of talk as to whether this is actually a whip or a pole. Personally I think it should be be called a 'pole'. Some say it is a hybrid. To aid the confusion I decided to give it a name of it's own. From now on it is to be called a 'hippo'. An anagram of 'whip or pole' is 'Lower Hippo', hippo for short. The cupping kit is simply another one of these telescopic offering from eBay, cut to length with a Maver cup fitting glued to the end with a good helping of Araldite.

Close in over the lily pads
To my left was a patch of water water lilies. My hippo is just long enough get to the far side and to my left. The cupping kit is a bit flexible and will not take too much weight. That is no bad thing as
most of the time only small volumes of feed would be required. Today I am on the liquid bread so a large cup is required as the bread is very fluffy and light compared with it's volume. I placed one of my small black bowls, tilted towards me by propping it up on a bait box, about three and a half meters to my left, along the bank.  This enabled me to scoop the liquid bread without having to collapse the cupping kit.

I cupped in two lots of liquid bread and, after plumbing the depth, fished 12mm compressed bread punch just about an inch over dead depth using a short float with a bulk of weight about six inches below the stem and a shirt-button shotting pattern of four No.10 shot spread out below.

Wow! first dip!
First dip and the bait was taken as it was on it's way down. Blimey! it's a fish! It was to, a huge (for me and my hippo) slab of a bream. The elastic was out and it was at this point I started to questions the merits if fishing the wrong side of the lilies, as the fish extended the elastic to its full stretch. The feeling was not so much excitement but trepidation - like waiting for a party balloon to burst as it is being inflated. With half closed eyes I kept my nerve. The fish suddenly tired and gave up like bream do.  I guided this slab of motionless, floating fish to the net at which point it decided to wake up and do an impression of one of Michael Jackson's dance routines spreading slime all over the net and me.

I continued to land bream and skimmers on the hippo using bread and cupping in more liquid bread from time to time. I probably could have kept this up all day but just as I was thinking about giving it a rest and targeting some small perch, the alarm on the sleeper rod started to peep and then scream as the bait-runner style reel started to give line at a good rate. I pulled the hippo line in and grabbed the rod. As I started to wind the bait-runner mechanism clicked off and the rod took on a serious curve. I had hooked a reasonable fish, but what?

Not so small golden coloured tench was a nice surprise
I was fishing with heavy gear on this rod so I would have been very surprised if the line broke, unless it got snagged. The fish tired after a few minutes and I could get a lot of line back. I still had no idea what I had caught. It was almost playing dead until it saw the net. At this point it thrashed about like a mad thing. It was only now I could see it was a tench. I landed it to see it was a very nice, female with a real golden hue. I was chuffed as this was only the second tench I have ever caught, and the first fish of any kind using a sleeper rod.

I added another PVA bag of goodies and recast the sleeper rod expecting it to be there for a while. I had just got around to casting a feeder rod to the far bank when the alarm when off again. I flicked the bait runner on the feeder and left it in its rest. I grabbed the other rod to discover it was connected to another female tench slightly smaller in size and of similar colour to the first one.

Like buses. You can wait for hours and two come along together - Chuffed!
When I went back to the feeder, and picked it up, there was a fish on there too.  Another bream. This was starting to get interesting. I had not taken any of my usual Two Dog groundbait with me that I use on the method feeder. So far I had not caught a single carp of any kind only bream and tench. I wonder if this Surf 'n' Turf groundbait is the reason?

I continued with the sleeper rod and caught nothing for a few hours. In the meantime I had gone back to the hippo and changed tactics. I swapped the cup on the new cupping kit for a smaller one. I fed a few maggots and some of my own casters that I had turned from the maggots left over from my last trip out. One caster on the hook and presented it just over the back of the water lilies. I let the float settle and was about to feed a few offerings by hand when the float disappeared and I had a fish on. This time it was a perch - my target fish on casters. I can't believe such a small bait can be so deadly. I continued to fish for the little stripy fellows and caught several over the next hour or so, punctuated by the odd roach.

Mmmm... got any more of those casters?
It was now mid-afternoon and I had got bored with catching silvers. I decided to move over to my favourite position on Jeff's lake where I could try out my new groundbait on the inhabitants of this heavily stocked lake. Normally I would be fishing the method feeder here laced with Two Dog groundbait mix. This will usually result in catching F1's and various carp almost exclusively, one after the other. I have had the odd bream but not many and usually no more than one per session. Today I employed the same tactics of putting down a bed of feed - three chucks to the same spot (no hook-bait) and giving it a minute to dispense its load and get noticed - but this time I was using the Surf 'n' Turf mix.

Now that looks familiar
Forth chuck, first with a hook-bait of my usual 9mm punched bacon grill, produced a bite. This was not a carp but a decent sized bream. Then another and another.  As usual I was out-fishing the people around me. I do have the advantage of knowing this lake reasonably well and have a good idea where the fish are likely to be, but this was different. Yes, over the couple of hours I fished, I did catch some F1s but I was catching mainly skimmers and bream. Could it be that the bream prefer this new mix and the carp are less keen? It is too early to say but today's experience was interesting and does point that way. Only time will tell...


Thursday, 5 May 2016

Fish, fish everywhere...

...but not a one to catch!

I know I am always banging on about getting to the venue early and leaving home in plenty of time, well today proved my point. I really wanted to be there as the gate opened to give myself the maximum set-up time. I left about five minutes later than I would normally and paid for it. Those few minutes difference meant that the South Circular was much busier, and by the time I had reached the M25 the traffic had really built up. It all moves these days but adding the few minutes I lost to the slower journey-time meant I did not get to the fishery until getting on for half past seven.

Lovely day but the fish spent more time basking than feeding...
I really could have done with that extra half and hour as I am still messing about with combinations of fittings on my box. Just as I was about to set up a fellow member of the Maggot Drowning forum arrived and introduced himself. Although not new to fishing, this was his first match and I had arranged to sort him out a keepnet. We had drawn pegs on opposite sides of the lake so at that point we parted company and continued to get set up.

I started the set up process and my best laid plans were scuppered when my mate John, fishing the peg next to me, pointed out that I would not be able to get on or off the box without stepping over my pole once I had it all set up... That is the trouble with setting it all up in the living room - I couldn't set the pole up as well!

Groan, panic, mutter...

Deep breath. A rapid readjustment sorted a workable, if not perfect, solution and it was time to get the rods out. Over the holiday weekend we had been working away in Ironbridge. That meant we drove straight through Birmingham on the M6, right past Fosters of Birmingham, Having never visited the shop before we were amazed at the size of the place and the range of tackle, from all the big names, on display. But that is another story, my reason for mentioning it was I bought a rod ready bag while I was there (Sue made me - Honest!) and this made set-up so much easier and quicker on the bank. I set the pole up on a long and short line. I had feeder and pellet waggler rods ready to empty the lake of anything that swam.

I was almost ready to fish when the all-in was called.

Clear water
The day was going to be warm and it had already shown signs of promise, being bright and sunny. The lake was very clear, I could see the bottom in the shallows by my nets. The fish were not on the feed. The sun had brought all the fish to the surface and the clear water meant we could watch them cruising around, avoiding our tackle.

 My little bag of fish -
Thanks to Ben for the picture
Whatever tactic was employed, it would catch a fish, maybe two and then go dead. It was not only me, the fishing was slow for everybody. The fish were just not overly interested in feeding and I suspect the only fish we caught were the ones that snapped (if fish can do that) at the bait in annoyance. For me, I did actually achieve something. I caught a few on the pellet waggler without getting the line tangled! The short pole line produced a few silvers including a good size (for me) bream. Even though it was hard, the Two Dog groundbait mix did its thing and although nowhere near as good as it will be next month, it did produce a sprinkling of small F1s.

The match was eventful. One poor guy fell in, a real full-body dunking! Then Sid, the little Jack Russell, who belongs to one of the regulars, fell in and got stuck between his owner's keepnets. A full blown rescue was actioned and although he did not fit in the landing net, he was rescued and given a caring cuddle from his owner until he warmed up. I think the experience had frightened the little fellow, but he seemed okay at the end of the match. It was muted that it might have been an attempt at a new groundbait - One Dog groundbait anyone?  The fishing was slow, but one guy managed to bag himself a rod and reel from the deep trench in the west end of the lake.

I came eighth, about par for me but look at that winning weight!
The match dragged a bit. We could see all the fish cruising about in shoals, they were right in the top layer of water often breaking the surface as if to give a fish version of the 'two fingers' at us. I had a good day and I am getting there with my technique. I still need to get myself properly sorted out and set up efficiently.

As I mentioned earlier fellow contestant and tackle-tart (his words, not mine) John Palmer had pointed out a better way of arranging things so it looks like the neighbours are in for some free entertainment again as I get to grips with the new layout, this time in the garden.

Fishing on after the match
After the match, I took the opportunity for a bit of fun fishing. I packed up the long pole and dug out my cheap Tele-Pole that I have elasticated. This really is fishing on the cheap. The pole came with our original starter set and I have used it as a cupping kit, in the past, for the margins. Now the pole has been elasticated, it is a good fun pole for a bit of fun fishing. Once I got the hang of tele-shipping (collapsing it down to a workable length) it can be interesting landing the typical Jeff's Lake F1.

This fellow felt like Moby Dick once hooked on Tele-Pole!
Just fishing a double maggot and throwing in a few maggots by hand, every now and again, and a light lift of the float was producing bite after bite. The first sign of anything happening is when the elastic dives into the lake and the tip of the pole takes on a curve. Great fun and the whole set-up cost under £20.00!

There goes the elastic...
The nice thing about this time of the year is that fishing can carry on until late in the day. The gate has a timer that closes it automatically at seven o'clock. Guess who got engrossed and forgot about the time? A mad dash to load the van resulted in a right mess in the back, but needs must, I drove the van out of the gate and parked up out on the main car park. As I was sorting it all out, the gate closed. If I had not rushed out of the gate I would have been there for the night... I must remember to pack up a bit earlier in future.

The new members of the clean-up crew in training

As the sun sank low in the sky the wildfowl arrived to do the clean up. Last time I was here, Mrs. M. and her twelve chicks were doing the rounds. This time they were still here and I was pleased to see all twelve are fit and well. They are hilarious to watch. They all spread out and at any sign of danger they all huddle back behind mum!

The Grim Netter?
While I was packing up I noticed this high contrast shadow on the bark chippings. I wonder what is going to be in that net next...