Saturday, 29 April 2017

Cracking the whip!

Stationary on the M25 - Great!
Monday - The perfect day to go fishing. I used to hate Mondays when I was a kid. It meant going back to school, not that I hated school because I didn't. What it also meant though was the weekend had come to an end, no more freedom, no more exploring the last of the bomb sites, no more terrorising the locals. There were seven boys in our house and we spent most of our time outside Even so fishing was something we were never close to. We lived too far from the river and docks for that to be a venue. The Surrey Canal was derelict and being filled in and the only place I knew we could fish was Crystal Palace Park which was really just out of our comfort zone as far as a place to go. Monday meant going back to school and being brought under control, being watched all day and no freedom, even in the playground.

These days life is very different, just me and Sue, no kids and no ties. Monday is just like any other day. We work from home and for ourselves so if there is work to be done it can take place at any time on any day - the internet has made all that possible. Monday can be a workday or a fishing day. This week it's a fishing day.

I regard myself as a novice all-rounder. I like all sorts of fishing and although I have not tried any sea fishing or fly fishing yet, I probably will. Currently, my experience has been mainly confined to commercials and the odd trip to the Regent's Canal. My trouble is normally I can't make-up my mind how I am going to fish. Do I take a seatbox and pole, my accessory chair and rods or some of each? That is compounded by the fact that I can take as much gear as I want. I am not restricted for space as I nearly always take the van with me unless I am going to an unknown venue where I might have trouble getting in, in which case I am down to our small estate car that is still enough to take far more tackle than one person can use.

Today was different; I had a plan!

I had some new tackle I wanted to try out. I had some whips and a new feeder float, so it was fairly simple set up. I took my accessory chair, my small bowl and hoop, a few bank sticks and a bait waiter sitting on a tripod... I also took some rods, whips and a good selection of end tackle. Having so little gear meant I was loaded and away in good time. It was a nice bright morning with little traffic in town meaning I was on the motorway in record time. As I went down the hill approaching the point where the A21 continues down towards Hastings, the traffic started to thicken and slow. Bother!  (well, words to that effect).

Solid traffic that actually comes to a standstill at 06:30 in the morning is never a good sign. Thinking that I was going to be late, I was getting a little miffed when all of a sudden it all started moving. Why does it do that? Drives me nuts. Now I am off down to the A22. As I approach one of the roundabouts a black Mercedes cuts me up and squeezes past me. In the past, I would never have let that happen. I could easily have driven him into the roundabout but today I just let him go and muttered a few obscenities under my breath. I followed him down to the point at which I turn off for the fishery only to see him do the same. As I turned in after him I think he must have thought I was going to have words, as he sped off through the fishery not stopping at the office. I didn't see him again, but it made me chuckle.

looking from my peg straight out in front of me
Nobody to my left...
...or to my right
Good, Jeff's lake was empty and I had the pick of the place. I decided to fish from the same peg I was drawn in the match a few weeks ago. I blanked here that day. With a desire to put that right I put out a couple of loaded feeders full of Two Dog. The third one carried a hook bait and within twenty seconds of hitting the water, I was playing the first fish of the day.

First fish of the day fell to the feeder
It turned out to be the first of many. I was catching fish on every chuck usually within a minute of the feeder hitting the water. I know it is much easier in non-match conditions, but the water was far more coloured than it has been and I could see the clouds of sediment being put up by rummaging fish. There was also a lot more activity going on as the day went on. Fish were topping and there were lots of bubbles and swirls evident in the areas I had been loose feeding maggots and corn.

Now I had proved to myself that they had let the fish out today, I put the feeder rod to one side and picked up my new-to-me 3m whip. With fine line a number 20 size hook I was targeting silvers. I baited up with a single red maggot and flicked it out to the spot where I had carefully plumbed the depth and let the bait settle. No sooner the float's bristle had come to rest, it was pulled under. A gentle but positive lift set the hook into that unmistakable vibration of a small roach.

My first whip - caught roach.
 Feeding and flicking the bait into the same area was paying off. I was catching a good number of roach and they were getting bigger. I changed bait for a single caster and caught a small perch. Then with the next cast, the whip was almost snatched from out of my hand, I had hooked something much bigger. I probably reacted too strongly because as suddenly as it was there it was gone. on inspection, the hook had been bent almost straight. rather than changing the hook length I thought I would have a go at reshaping the hook. This I did and it looked all right to me so I baited up and cast again. Blimey! I was into another bigger fish. I guess that the activity of the smaller fish had now brought in the bigger fish to see what was going on. This time I tried to play the fish a bit more gently almost following it around. It must have taken a good ten minutes to land, but land it I did.Not the biggest fish I have ever caught but certainly the most entertaining. That feeling of knowing it could be lost at any minute, and resisting the temptation to try and pull too hard is great. Eventually, I managed to net it.
A decent sized F1 caught on light gear and a whip - great fun!
At this point, the fish were obviously feeding up in the water and I thought I would give the new feeder float a try. I had it set up on 6lb line with a 4lb hook length and a number 16 hook set 12 inches away from the float. As a start, I filled the feeder with corn and hooked a single kernel on the hook. A couple of chucks produced nothing. I reduced the number of kernels I loaded the feeder with and had a couple of touches but still no serious bites. I then increased the hook to float distance by 6 inches to 18 inches. First, chuck and it was fish on almost immediately.

The new Sodafloat comes in its own tube
Now I had found the fish, a few corn kernels in the feeder and one on the hook was producing fish after fish. I wanted to try some other feed bait in the new float and I had brought along some of my Special Corn Custard. This is a kin to that Chinese takeaway favourite Special Fried Rice, in as much as it is my usual Corn Custard recipe (See HERE) with added dead maggots - lovely! I filled the float with the custard and baited the hook with a single maggot. It cast nicely and settled. I waited... Nothing. On inspection five minutes later the float was still almost full of custard. Okay, not the float's fault but it shows the custard needs to be thinned somewhat to be an effective bait for use in this float. I tried groundbait and so long as it is loose it works fine as do maggots, although I found it more effective when only loaded with about half a dozen.  Pellets work well, but make sure they are heavy enough to sink or they will stay in the float!

First victim of the Sodafloat
First impressions with the Sodafloat are good. It will be a learning curve and I intend to use it next week in the match, so long as conditions are good. I will also continue to experiment with it over the coming weeks and I will write a review once I have given it a good airing.

The final hour or so gave me a chance to try out yet another of my new acquisitions. A new tele-pole. This time a very expensive one... well it was for this cheap-scape. My original cheap tele-pole had given me hours of fun. In fact, I had used it earlier today until an over-enthusiastic fish decided to run off with my hook, float, line and a Stonfo connector! I am sure it will throw the hook as it was only a tidily number 20 hook. So I got my brand new 5m elasticated whip out and hooked on a small float to have a go in the margins. Now I did say expensive, it cost me all of £12.95 including delivery. I was not expecting anything flash but I must say, it is far stiffer and lighter than my original one.
Wow! that is the best £12.95 I have spent - look, mum, no sag!
Time was getting on and I only had about half an hour with it but it was coping with F1s with no trouble and I could land them fairly quickly too.  A look at my watch and it was getting on for 18:30. Eleven plus hours of fishing had gone in a flash and it was time to head home. I had the best day of the year so far today and I can't wait for the match next week - surely I will be able to catch a few fish this time, I don't want to be last again.