Friday, 11 November 2016

I caught a fish!

Yep, I caught a fish, just one, all day!

I had decided to go fishing with a minimum of gear to see how I would get on. I knew it was not going to be easy but I had no idea that fishing one pond, using one rod would result in one fish. The day started well, no hassle, lots of time to load the van with just a few bits. I even had time for breakfast, that's a first.

My one and only fish of the day
It was only as I got on to the Sidcup Bypass I had that thought - Wallet - A quick fumble of the pockets, nothing. Okay, calm down... I pulled into a slip road and had a rummage in my bag. Still nothing. Hmmm... This is a little inconvenient, I thought to myself, while filling the cab with a few choice words and attempting to reconfigure the steering wheel. Nothing for it I will have to go back home as I must have left the blooming thing behind. The trouble with that is, I am on a duel carriageway and the bunch of face-less 'can't leave anything alone' mob have long since closed all the gaps in the central reservation so I will have to wait until I can U-turn the van at the next set of lights. It is a good job my rear wheel drive Transit has a spectacular steering lock on it for a big van.

Back at home and guess what? Still no wallet. I went back out to the van and conducted a a finger tip search of the cab and my shoulder bag. The relief of finding the wallet, inside the lining of my bag, was somewhat cancelled out by the complete waste of a good three quarters of an hour of my life, let alone the fuel I had used on an unplanned sightseeing tour of South East London in the dark. Have you seen the price of diesel lately?

I arrived at the fishery about fifteen minutes after the gate opened, that wasn't too bad. A quick discussion on the state of the world, post the US election, with Andy in the office was followed by a far more important matter; what bait to use. I topped up my merger selection of hook-bait with a tub of worms and set off for the far end of the fishery.

Now that's what you call 'still' water
I have spent several short sessions on Eden Pond over the past couple of years, usually just the first few hours of the day. Today I had decided to spend the whole day there. I set up on the north bank of the pond. Eden Pond is small and shallow with lots of features. The pond also boasts a good stock of perch. I figured that if I fished close to the features, with worm on the hook, I might tempt one out, but it was not to be. Personally, I think the owners forgot to let the fish out this morning...

The lake is surrounded by trees and bushes that gives it its secluded appeal. The trouble is it makes it harder to cast if the undergrowth is not going to claim the end tackle. Today I ended up losing a couple of Drennan float bodies, that parted from their weights on the cast, and landed up in the pond. As luck would have it, I managed to recover both of them during the day, as they drifted back into netting range. I also ended up with an extra float that just appeared on the surface as I was taking in the view. That makes a change, in the early days I was constantly making 'offerings' to the tree Gods.

Casting as close as I dare to the dead reeds made it hard to determine what was what
As the day went on and the sun moved around, visibility became a real problem. The glare off the water made it impossible to see the float tip in open water, no matter what colour it was. Close to the features the reflections also made it hard to make out what was what. Is that my float tip or a piece of dead reed in the red circle?

With just one fish on the bank all day, some may think the day was a disaster. I have had better days but I did enjoy myself. Although the sunny day was not good for fishing, I was able to sit there, munch my way through a pork pie and a couple of sandwiches, while drinking my flask of coffee in peace.

The pipe...
As with all the lakes at Beaver, vehicle access is provided by good, well maintained hard surface tracks. As you can see, I can get the van right down to the lake. To get to the lake there is a strange feature that has to be passed under. You can see it passing through the trees and reflected in the pond. I can only assume it is a sewer pipe, crossing the slight depression that the lakes at Beaver are formed in. The land to the north and south of this spot is higher and a look at Google Maps shows the pipe emerging and re-entering farmland either side of the lake. Luckily there is a spot just out of view in this picture, where the track passes under it, that affords enough clearance to drive the van under.

I think my one rod approach limited my options too much and it is a case of hitting a happy medium between taking too much and too little gear. This would have been a perfect pole session as most of the features could be within pole reach from a selection of pegs. I also think a swim-feeder might have paid off. There is always another day.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

November sunshine

Flat-calm and full sun made for a pleasant day and few fish
This year the friendly matches at Beaver Fishery have extended into November and there is talk of a December match too, weather permitting. Today I was at Beaver Fishery competing in the November friendly. I have a theory that my Two Dog groundbait, I use on the feeder, may be too bright for this time of year, fish may be put off feeding over it as they will be silhouetted against it, as the water clears, making them an easy target for attack. I have been experimenting with coloured dyes in various groundbait mixes and come up with something I think might work; green Surf 'n' Turf.

The day started with a van covered in dew, thankfully not frozen, and a full tank of diesel meant there was no need to stop. The first half a mile was spent trying not to breath for fear of misting up the screen while the demisting fan was struggling to keep up. It never fails to surprise me just how many vehicles, of all types, are on the south circular at that time of the morning. The traffic is being 'channelled' along the main route by the introduction of so-called traffic calming measures. The traffic congestion on the south circular has undoubtedly become worse, over the past few years, as my local council (Lewisham) has introduced speed bumps on every road they own in the entire borough. Recently all the roads in the borough, including fairly busy main roads, have had a mandatory 20mph speed limit applied. It is ridiculous as there are short sections of road that cross the borough's borders at one end and join a Highways Department owned road at the other, that have very short sections where a 20 mph speed limit has been applied. Now, call me a cynic, but how long is it going to be until they apply speed cameras to those sections?

Local road rant over, the rest of the journey was reasonably clear. A lot of traffic on the southern section of the M25 was relieved by the mile long slip-road to the A22. I arrived at Beaver to be the first in the queue and observe the new winter gate times posted on the gate and sign; 6 PM. No sign of the cat, it must be cold. I bet he is sitting on top of the portable gas fire in the office, sensible cat.

Winter is here
Peg 14. That's good. This is the peg that has produced a few winners this year including the victor last month. Feeder fishing is the name of the game here for me. I do have my small pole/whip with me, that I call 'Hippo' see HERE for an explanation, if you are at all interested! The plan is to build up a couple of spots of my new green coloured groundbait and fish over that. Dead maggot on the hook, a 30g feeder and a short hooklink with No.16 hook.

At the all in, nobody was catching immediately. After five minutes or so, I saw a landing net being deployed on the opposite bank. Just as I was thinking "Here we go again" the rod tip slammed around and I had a fish on. Nice F1 as I had expected. For the first hour or so I caught several fish and I was starting to think that maybe this was going to be my day. That was just wishful thinking. By 11 AM the fishing had dried up completely at our end of the lake. It was not only me, one of the better anglers and lake record holder, who was in the peg I had last time, had nothing.

I was happy to come 7th, only a few ounces behind 6th! Sorry about the poor picture, the lens on my camera misted up in the cold after being in my pocket
As the day went on, it was obvious that the fish were on the other side of the lake as all we could see was landing nets making the occasional visit to the water. It was obvious that the weights were going to be low, and so they were. I ended up with 11lb 4oz that gave me 7th place. It was not a good day for photographs as the sun was right in my face all day. This was not a bad thing as for those of us on this side of the bank it was nice and warm, the guys opposite looked frozen in the shade, but that is where the fish were most of the day and all three winning pegs came from there. Proving beyond doubt that I am not really a serious match fisherman, I was happy to have drawn my peg! As I was a bit short on pictures, here is the weigh-in photograph of me and my fish. I even caught a skimmer and a tiny perch that seems to be camera-shy.

A small bag of very lively fish
With fifteen minutes to go, I caught one last decent sized F1 as I was collecting my gear together. I had cast out a feeder, hooked my rod over the small 'V' roller mounted on the front leg of my box, and was just about to dismantle a rod when the drag started giving line at a rate. I picked up the rod and landed one of the best fish of the day. without it, I could have been several places lower in the table. On a day like today, a few fish can make a huge difference.

I am sure the dark green groundbait mix gave me an edge and the choice of hook-bailt was also a good move. I will try the green Surf 'n' Turf feeder mix, over the cooler months, and see how it performs.