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...