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...