Thursday, 29 June 2017

Late start - big mistake!

I managed to squeeze in another day at Beaver today. It was a bit of a last minute decision as I wanted to collect a second hand landing net handle from the tackle shop, I had seen on Saturday. As is usual in this house, nothing is straightforward. As Rabbie Burns wrote (well almost!) The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. By 1:30 AM, I was still mooching about sorting bits and pieces for today's trip and tidying up some loose ends of work. Half an hour later I was ready for bed. I normally leave home about 05:45 after setting the alarm for 05:00.

As I set the alarm on my smart-phone, yes we have arrived in the twenty-first century, it then proceeded to inform me that it will be sounding in two hours and fifty-seven minutes... Groan. I don't need a lot of sleep, but under three hours is not really enough, even for me. I decided to leave a little later and grab an extra hour or so of sleep.

Two hours and fifty-seven minutes later the alarm on my not-so-smart, smartphone went off. If it was that smart it would have realised it was too early to get up and with the afore mentioned words of Rabbie Burns going around and around in my head, like the literary version of a musical ear-worm, I tried to go back to sleep, but to no avail. I laid there for an hour and eventually got up at 06:00. An hour later than usual. By now I was fine. The lack of sleep was now forgotten and I was firing on all four cylinders. I made my coffee, packed my food and the bait from the fridge but left the bread and feed meat behind by mistake. 

Oh bother! - or something similar
The traffic was a bit heaver than usual, but I had expected that. what I did not expect was an almost stationary on-ramp to the M25 at Swanley. Great. Just over two hours after leaving home I arrived at Beaver Fishery, a trip that normally takes well under an hour. 

I nipped into the office via the staff entrance after parking in the spot that says 'Staff Only'. I can be a bit of a revolutionary some times. I bought my two-rod day ticket, paid for the landing net handle and had a moan about the traffic which was received with complete ambivalence, as usual. I didn't care, it just had to be said. There was one very small advantage with being a little later on a Thursday; the bin-lorry was on its way back up the A22 holding up the north-bound traffic. Normally I am sitting in a queue behind it waiting to get past while it is it on its journey south.

Lately I have been going on about how much gear I take fishing. I have tried cutting it down but unless I am specifically attempting to fish a one-rod session, it is not the best idea for me. I have now got a new mantra. Today I took a good selection of gear and decided what I wanted to use when I got there. This is only practical at venues where I can park at the swim. The last thing I want to do is to leave a van half full of tackle unattended. That is just asking for trouble. It is sad that this has to be considered but I am afraid it is a sign of the times we live in. I was fishing a venue in Kent last year and there was a big match being held on an adjacent lake. Parking for the match was behind where I was fishing. a lot of the guys with vans, emptied the contents onto trolleys and left the van doors wide open. I assume this was to show that nothing was left inside and it was not worth breaking in. Not a bad plan as I know with my van I can lock the cab and leave the back and side doors open.

Security issues aside, I stocked the van with far more than I was going to use so I could make a final decision once I was at the venue. Today was a pleasure session so there was no set plan or strict tackle requirement. I had with me a good selection of rods and a selection of cheap tele-poles, plus enough end tackle to set up a market stall!
My swim for the day
Maze Lake was my choice today. I drove through the complex and parked on the hard standing behind the pegs on the East side of the lake. This is a place I have fished many times before. It can be hard going but it is much better than just dragging the fish out one after the other with little or no thought. I had no idea how the lake was going to fish. Earlier on in the year the lake had been stocked up with several hundred pounds of bream that had been moved from the specimen lakes during their complete refurbishment. I was hoping to find some of those. 

First job was to set a sleeper up. I picked a spot and laid a bed of about twenty of my own home made Two Dog boilies. I then cast a chod rig out, over the top, using a pop-up pineapple flavoured boilie as hook bait. With that rig set, I made sure the line-clip was released and left it sitting across a couple of bank sticks with the bait-runner set with minimum drag. I had three carp rods made up, one now in use and another four feeder/float rods also made up. Looking at the water I decided to make up my old vintage Silstar float rod I have been using recently. I really like this rod, it may be old and heavy by today's standard but I seem to get on with it really well. Being 13ft long means I can fish close in with just the lightest of lobs. 

Silvers - lots of 'em
I settled down to a spot of silver bashing and was catching steadily, mainly small roach on maggot. I did manage to catch one perch but he decided to jump straight back into the lake as soon as I had unhooked him! A couple of hours later the silvers were still taking the lime-light while the sleeper rod was living up to its name. I had no bite alarm on the set-up as I was sitting right next to it and there is nothing more annoying to other anglers than the constant bleeping of the buzzer every time something brushes the line or a robin bounces on the rod. the drag was enough to indicate something was interested, but nothing was. 

By lunch time I had not had any interest, so I decided to check the bait. I reeled in and the bait looked exactly the same as it did several hours earlier. At this point I could see no advantage in recasting to the same spot and picked another fishy looking spot, next to the end of a 'finger' of land that extends into the lake. This area is full of overhanging trees, bushes and reeds. I edged my way towards the spot by clipping up and letting out a few more feet of line and casting again until I was about as close as I dare. I cast. The rig hit the overhanding tree branches, fell through straight into the bushes and some how bounced off the reeds and landed a few inches into the margin. I could not do that again even if I was stupid enough to try. The rig was a standard chod rig baited with one of Ringer's 8 mm 'Bandems'  Pellet Wafters, screwed onto one of my home-made bait spikes. These things are intended to be hair rigged on a band, as the name suggests but hold well on a bait spike. 

A nice F1 off the sleeper rod
Having got the rig just where I wanted it, there was no way I was going to retrieve it to check that I had not lost the bait on its way through the trees. I decided to give it an hour and see what happened. I catapulted a few of my Two Dog boilies out there to give the fish something to get them feeding. Within about twenty minutes my faith was rewarded and the line was ripping off the reel. After swinging silvers to hand all morning on a float rod, this felt like something huge. The carp rod was doing its job and I managed to get the fish landed. Nothing spectacular, but a fish none the less, this decent sized F1was the biggest fish I had caught for a while.

I rebated with a new wafter, the original one was still on the spike, but I thought it had done its job and a fresh one would impart a stronger fresh scent. I was not so daring this time and dropped the wafter about a foot short of the undergrowth, I can't be that lucky twice in a row.

Now the fish seemed to have woken up it was out with the method feeder. The fish seem to like the Two Dog boilies so it made sense to try the Two Dog groundbait on the feeder. Baited with a decent lump of punched Bacon Grill, I set about casting to a spot just to the side of a patch of lilly pads. I didn't have to wait too long to get a bite and sure enough the method was getting bites. Admittedly, only small F1s but a bite is a bite. Surprisingly I saw none of the bream, that have been introduced to the lake, all day.

For the last hour or so, I left the sleeper rod out and had a go at the margin. I had been feeding the margin with the odd handful of maggots, corn, meat and groundbait all afternoon on the hope of attracting some bigger fish. I dropped a feeder in a spot where the bank dropped away steeply and I was getting line bites straight away. Just as I was thinking this was looking promising, the top of the rod bent double and I had a decent fish on the hook. I have tried this before and when there is so little line between the rod and the fish it is hard to control the fish without it breaking off. This time the drag was set to allow the fish to take line. The trouble was it was set tight enough to give enough resistance to spook the fish and it headed straight into the reeds. I was stuck, the line was solid. I tried to walk along the bank to give another angle of attack but to no avail. I could see the nice new medium size, 30g feeder that had run up the line, as it should, just long enough to say goodbye as the line broke and sent it to the depths. 

Ta-dah! Best fish of the day
Okay, not deterred by this I decided to try again but this time with the drag wound out to almost nothing. Again a lot of activity and then the bite. This time the fish ran to open water and I was able to control it. After a long careful battle I managed to land a very well appreciated mirror. Not the biggest fish on the planet but a decent size for me and my biggest fish of the year so far.

With that is was time to pack up and set off home. Another good day at the lake. This time I had the right gear I only used three rods all day. I had given myself the option to fish whatever seemed to be right for the day. I am still planning to have a go at surface fishing using dog mixers, and had the conditions been different I would have done so today but just like Saturday, the only thing interested in my floaters were the moorhens and I am sure they would not appreciate one laced with a hook. 

Very strange. The one on the end looks different. I wonder if he is a hanger-on
One of the funniest things that happened today was the goose procession. When I arrived they were sitting on one of the 'fingers' of land that give Maze Lake its name. Then all of a sudden they all took to the water and went for a circuit of the lake. All very orderly and with a sense of purpose. They did this a couple of time during the day, I have no idea why. I enjoy watching the bird-life at Beaver, after a while the birds grow in confidence and will sit all around waiting for scraps. Having lived in London all my life, it is really nice to sit there interacting with nature that is not so easily accessible in the High Street! I will finish this post with this picture of a confused robin wondering how he was going to carry all his shopping home.

How am I supposed to pick all those up as well?