Thursday, 2 June 2016

Soggy success...

According to the BBC weather forecast it was not going to rain for our third match of the season down at Beaver Fishery...
No rain today... So what's that on my mirror then...
I had spent the weekend sorting out my seat-box set up and was keen to give it a go. I had packed the box with all the necessary tackle and my rods and pole were now housed in my new rod-ready bag and holdall. This has made packing the van much easier and quicker. By 05:30 I was ready to leave. I had planned to get on the road early as I needed to fill up with diesel on the way. Believe it or not, there is always a queue in the service station, at that time in the morning, and today was no exception.
Still raining... Sigh.
The rain always slows the traffic, but I still I arrived at the fishery with plenty of time to spare. Even so, I was second in the queue, waiting for the gate to open - And yes, it is still raining. I am not that bothered about the rain while fishing, but setting up in the rain is horrible, especially that fine drizzle that soaks absolutely everything. Nevertheless, I got set up and started to refine a few of my box fittings. Mainly to do with the position of the legs and where the clamps were located.

Fifteen minutes in and I am almost there
I leave setting up the pole and rollers until last, they are less likely to get damaged that way. The landing nets are in, well, a couple of them are. The third is sitting there just in case I get a huge bag of fish. (I can but dream!) The third net will just require deploying and being clipped into the long tool bar's Snaplok fittings, if needed.  The landing net is just sitting in the margin with the handle resting in the tulip. It was used resting across the bait waiter and worked really well for me. Others had expressed concern over this arrangement but in this set up it worked really well and did not get in the way at all.

A view from the other side of the peg
I drew peg No.1. This peg is different from all the others in that it is sectioned off from the main lake by two reed beds. At first glance it looks to have lots of potential with margins, reeds and even a small patch of water lily pads. This would be fine if the fish thought so too.

I had been thinking about going after the bream as well as the F1s to try and make some weight. I had rigged a feeder rod with bream in mind and, had a good supply of all the things bream like to eat. The trouble was I was about as far away from where I know the larger slabs hang out as I could be and still be on Jeff's lake. My mate John had drawn the peg I was hoping for...

I decided to fish for the F1's in the gap between the reed beds. This was reasonably fruitful, catching a couple almost straight off.  When it slowed down I thought I would have a go at margins with a 2+2 set-up on the pole. I tried all sorts here, maggots , casters even bread, I fed over the top and produced no response at all, not even a line-bite.

Miserable grey day, even the moorhen was heading for cover
By now it had stopped raining, it was overcast and damp. Everything was not just wet, but soaked. It had been drizzling all morning, that very fine rain, that even with my rather hair-depleated pate, was hard to detect although it was visible, in the distance, against a dark background. I now thought I would use some of my specially dug/purchased selection of dendrobaena worms. I chopped a few up (Yuck!) and added them to some hemp, groundbait, maggots and casters to cup in some free offerings over by the reeds. I could reach this point at about 11m, a comfortable length for my pole. The water is only about three feet deep at this point.

The pole was rigged with a 0.4g  float. I reluctantly bisected a worm and impaled the two halves on a hair rig using a meat stop. Am I the only one who dislikes torturing worms, or should I man-up and get on with it? This worm carnage was shipped out to the reeds and managed to bag a couple of skimmers. At this point the rain started to spit large drops into the lake. The drops became more persistent and culminated in a full scale, no holding back downpour. What am I doing here? I must be mad... Groan.

I find my pole is not easily slid through my hands went it is wet so I gave up on that and went back to the feeder. I caught a couple of F1s from the gap in the reads while it was hammering down. I wondered if the fish go down to the bottom in such conditions... I will see if I can find out.

When the rain stopped, it was obvious that this swim was not going to produce any bream or tench as it looked very 'carpy', as one of the guys had described it. Out with the pellet waggler. I fired a few pellets into my chosen spot and landed the float smack in the middle of them. Yes, you are not the only one who was surprised at this achievement! I fired in a few more pellets and twitched the float into them. Text-book fishing by me (it has only taken about a year to get this right) but not a sniff. I had another go, and then another and another... Nothing not even evidence of fish. I went back to the feeder and as it landed I started to eat a sandwich. Just as I raised the tasty morsel to my lips, the tip swung around and I grabbed the rod, depositing afore mentioned sustenance in the groundbait tub.

These fish are not daft, first thing it did was head for the reeds,  leaving me battling to keep it out. I failed. The little 'fellow' (substitute another more appropriate word if you wish) had got me stuck. I still had contact with the fish so I just held the pressure on. Then, the line slowly slackened and one of the reeds parted company with the bed and started to move out into open water, along with the F1. Gotcha! This fish was a fighter and once I got it to the net, I was just about to bag it and it was gone. All I had to show for it was a single reed stem. "Well, that was unfortunate, was it not?" I exclaimed (or something that meant that). My cheese, tomato and groundbait sandwich had taken on an interesting taste and texture.

Not to be put off, I re-baited the rig and tried again. Several fish were caught and most of them made for the reeds. I discovered that if I wound like mad, and applied the pressure away from the reeds as soon as I got a take, I could usually scupper the F1's plans and hold it in open water. This was not always the case and as a consequence I lots a few hook lengths. The guy fishing the other side of the reeds was have a similar problem. At least I hope he was, I learnt some new fishing terms...

The final result - ignore the total weight caught figure!
The time flew by and even though at one point, I was so fed-up and wet, I was considering taking up some other dry pastime, I had had an interesting six hours. Time for the weigh-in and the results. A cheesy smile and a bag of fish made the obligatory catch picture. The damp camera-phone used by Ben (one of the fishery officers) turned out a grainy picture in the low light, but at least there was a record of my catch for prosperity.

It was a grey ol' day
After the numbers were crunched and the total given the now commonplace 'inflation' ( I think someone is adding the lower-case 'L' of lb in as a figure 'one' in places), I came 10th, that is the same as last year when I fished my first match in much better conditions. This time I topped the scales at 18-04 and improvement in weight year-on-year so it was not too bad a result.

Drennan crystal bibbers
Once the match and the prize giving was over I laid everything out to dry. I sat down for half an hour sorting out the bait and mucky tools - I hate wet groundbait with a passion. It gets everywhere and it just sticks to everything. There is no point in me leaving the fishery at this time just to sit in traffic on the motorway. Far better to fish on normally. Even though it had rained for the greater part of the match, it had stopped now and it was, overcast, reasonably warm and with a light breeze that was helping to start the drying off process.

I was sitting on the box drying off the top kits when I saw a few bubbles in the water in front of me. The kit I was drying was rigged with one of those tiny Drennan Crystal Dibbers. I put one of the fresh maggots, that had been part of the mass escape once the rain washed all the anti-climb ground maze from their coats, on the hook (I'll teach it to try and escape). I dropped it gently into the water were the bubbles were showing and threw in a few loose offerings. Within seconds the dibber disappeared and I caught a roach that was not huge but must have been 6-8 oz. After that, it all went dead again and try as I might I could not catch another.  I even made a few casts with the feeder rod in the direction of the gap in the reeds - nothing. By this time I was all fished out and thinking about my dinner.

It had been a day of learning and testing. My seat box and fitting mostly worked and I don't think I will change anything for the next match in July (6th). By then the water will be a good bit warmer and the fish should be more responsive to the pellet waggler and the pole, fishing up in the water. Let's hope for a peg in a better (different) place next time. Having said that, I mentioned earlier that my mate John had drawn the peg I was hoping for, over in what I call the bream end of the lake. Well guess what? He caught fewer fish than me! Maybe my draw was not as bad as it seemed first thing. Maybe he should have been using Two Dog or Surf 'n' Turf groundbait...

Fishing the crystal dibber on a top-kit only - great fun - The little yellow dot in the circle is the tip of the float
Time to pack up and go home - Knackered, damp but surprisingly happy.