Monday, 20 March 2017

Back to the lake - At last!

After more than three months (yes it is that long!) of fishing famine I am actually getting back out there on Saturday, at least that is what I intend to do. I did say I was going last week but it never happened even though the middle of the week was perfect fishing weather for me. Over the past couple of months, the weather has been much colder down here in the south than we have experienced for a few years. Although I am not that keen on the cold, that was not the only reason I have not been wetting the line. We are trying to get our house packed up ready for a move, but after nearly forty years, this is proving a long job!

With the weather just on the turn and the temperature forecast to rise again, Saturday looks like it will suit me. I am not a great lover of setting up in the wet or sitting there on a damp overcast day for hours on end. My problem is I don't have anywhere really local to fish, even my nearest water is a good three-quarters of an hour away in London traffic and when I get there I have to pay for a day ticket (£10). It is just not practical to fish for a few hours, it has to be a day trip. So it is off to a commercial fishery for the day. I have no idea what the fishing will be like so I will talk to the bailiffs when I get there and take their advice.

I have not been idol over the past few months. While I could not get out to the bank, I have been doing my homework, fiddling about with loops, hook lengths and tying my own spade hooks.

Sensas loop 'tyer'
Until now, I have mostly been using eyed hooks as method feeder fishing has featured heavily in my experience to date and a hair rigged punched piece of bacon grill has been my favoured hook-bait. Tying stops and bands into a loop and then forming a hair tied to the hook using a knot-less knot is now a simple hand operation, for me, down to the smallest of hooks, using the lightest of lines. Yes, I do need some visual aid when it gets really small but I am happy with that. Constant practise has paid off and that milestone has been passed successfully. It was always the tying of spade hooks that defeated me. In the end I gave up trying to tie them by hand alone and bought a Matchman Hook Tyer. I could then tie my own spade hooks with moderate success.

A genuine Matchman spade hook tyer
The Matchman does work but I found it a bit awkward when tying small hooks. Although possible, it was not that easy for me. I then bought a couple of the Stonfo Hook Tyers. One small and one large.  These are like 'posh' Matchman Hook Tyers and are very well made with a rotating handle and rubbery grip, making them much nicer to use. The smaller one of the two holds smaller hooks easily with plenty of 'room' around the tip to see what is going on. To be honest, there is no real difference between the Matchman and the Stonfo but the latter is just made with a bit more fineness than the original Matchman. 

Stonfo hook tyers
I have been writing another page about how I tackle all these basic tasks, a beginner's guide written by a beginner. Not intended to be the ultimate guide, the page is simply a copulation of what I have discovered so far. I will publish it soon.

I have also started a collection of independent reviews starting with the ZT-Pro and its hair rig attachment, which has shone a whole new light oh tying hook lengths and some controversy too. It got me thinking, why would I want to tie a hair on a spade hook, just because I can? I an still thinking about that one.

Something new to me 

I can't help it, I get fascinated by things and once the idea is set in my head I have to find out what is what. During this fishing famine, I have been investigating fly fishing. My late father-in-law was a keen salmon angler making two trips a year from his farm in the depths of Kent. on in the winter to the Scottish boarders and once in June to a place called Mungasdale in the highlands. We accompanied him on these journeys a couple of times. In those days I had no interest in fishing and especially not fly fishing which was a shame an I missed a real opportunity to learn something, looking back on it now. He and his friends and neighbours who owned the farm next door, so to speak, rented a house, employed a cook and a ghillie for the week and we lived like lords. The deal was we would 'help' with the driving (do!) and supply the drink (as in alcohol). I think it would have been cheaper to rent the house, fly fishing farmers can get through a lot of whiskey while going over the events of the day, well into the early hours.

A couple of interesting books...
Until recently I thought that fly fishing was all about game fish. I had seen the odd video or television programme showing a spot of fly fishing for grayling and other fish I was not used to catching in the stillwaters I tend to frequent. To be honest, at the time, I had not looked any further as I was not that interested in fly fishing.

I have always been interested in wildlife but never really followed it up in any depth. If you look back over the pages of this blog you will find the odd reference to the wildlife that has been around while fishing. I have also been interested in fly tying but again, not really given it much thought. There are some very well produced videos on YouTube and my favourites are by Davie McPhail. You can find his channel HERE.  

I joined a fly fishing forum to get some pointers. I am as interested in the entomology as I am in the fishing. That coupled with the thought of catching coarse fish has got me thinking. There is far too much going on in my life at the moment to get too deeply involved in this too deeply. I have no intention of rushing out and buying rods and tackle just yet. However, a recommendation of a book from one of the guys on the fly fishing forum has got me more enthusiastic. The book, Fly Fishing for Coarse Fish, has been purchased, thanks to an Amazon 'token' given to my by my godson and his wife. I also bought a brilliant little pocket book title "Match The Hatch" that shows not only the insects in their various forms but their imitation selves as tied flies. The little book is stuffed full of all the things I want to know.

Thank you!
Just to get the juices running even quicker, one of the members of the Fly Fishing forum kindly sent me a box of flies to get me going. I am now going through them and attempting to identify them from my burgeoning fly fishing library. I have a way to go yet, and I must get this house-move behind me before I can even think about buying any tackle, but I could be tempted to start tying a few flies of my own...

Back to the hear and now

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am off to do a spot of fishing at the weekend. This will be my first time out since the beginning of November and I can't wait. Nothing too exciting just a bit of float and feeder fishing, just to 'test the water' and see how the fish are behaving. I have some new floats I want to try on my cheap elasticated pole/whip thing that I now refer to as a Hippo (don't ask, I have explained why several times before) as nobody could tell me if it should be described as a pole or a whip. I think it will be a bit windy for the long pole, and besides I am only travelling light, I will be taking my chair. I know some people will say they are happy fishing a pole from a chair, it is not for me. I much prefer to be on my box while pole fishing.