Monday, 22 January 2018

Stuck at home again...

It is hard work trying to find a break in the weather to go fishing when I do not have to work. I had planned to visit my local fishery in Bromley on Saturday, but it was raining all day. I know a lot of you will not be put off by a bit of rain but being cold and wet for hours on end does not excite me too much. Today would have been the perfect day, and in fact, I had planned to go, but as has been the norm lately my plans were scuppered by having to work for a few hours this morning.

When fishing commercials as I do, I like to make a decent day of it. I could have gone later and fished this afternoon, but by the time I had got there, I would only get a few hours in before it got dark. I suppose I could fish on into the dark for an hour or two, but that is something I have not done before and am not geared up for. Either way, I have the cost of travelling and rod fees to consider which amount to the same for a full 12 hour day as they are for a few hours.

We are hoping to move this spring, and that will make life easier as there is plenty of free or club fishing to be had in and around North Kent. This will mean an odd couple of hours on the bank will be far more practical, having lots of water within a short drive or even walking distance if I fancy a spot of sea fishing.

Looking at the weather ahead for the next few days does mean I am not going to get out until Thursday/Friday at the earliest. I have been targeting perch the last couple of times I have been out. This time I think I am going back to just traditional float/feeder fishing for some silvers, and anything else that comes along. If I can get to the venue reasonably early, I should be able to fish for a good eight or nine hours, which is far more like it.

Jeff's Lake - Beaver fishery
In the meantime, we have had a disaster. I had made up several 500g bags of my experimental perch paste mix - Chinese Dog Bite that I had placed in our dry-store. Our dry-store is one of those giant plastic storage 'barrels' with a lid that is secured in place with a circular clamp. This thing is rodent proof as well as being watertight. We use it to store all our dry bird seed and bait-making supplies. It keeps everything bone dry... That is so long as you remember to put the lid back on.

As luck would have it, although I had left the lid off overnight, the contents had not come to any real harm as they are all wrapped in plastic. However, the barrel was wet on the inside, so I decided to empty it and bring it in. So far so good. I put the bag of white crumb in the airing cupboards to make sure it kept dry, and that was that.

Later that night we heard a commotion in the garden. This is nothing unusual with the surprisingly large amount of wildlife we live with here in London. It was not until the morning we realised what had been going on. Four bags of the paste mix and three bags of prawn crackers had been left on the outside windowsill by mistake. The noise we heard turned out to be the foxes making short work of the prawn crackers, after ripping the bags open and then having a go at 2kg of the dry Chinese Dog Bite paste mix. The paste mix contains powdered red food dye that does nothing to change the colour of the dry mix but bleeds bright red once it is in contact with water. It rained that night.The foxes have eaten most of it, but what little remains is slowly getting washed away by the rain.

I will have to make up a new batch of Chinese Dog Bite, once I have collected together a few more bags of prawn crackers. I am in no hurry, I have decided to shelve the experiment for a few months and try it out when the weather warms up.

Where to go

I have been thinking about where to go fishing later this week. I want to make a day of it, and at the moment it looks like Beaver is the favoured destination. I know, maybe I should be a bit more adventurous but at the moment I have very little time to fish, going to beaver is a 'safe' bet as there are eight lakes and ponds to choose from. The other alternative is Oakley Road. That is closer, and I don't mind doing a shorter day there as the cost of travelling and day-ticket will be significantly less than going anywhere else. I will decide later in the week. 

Oakley Road in the summer - it might be a bit different at this time of year
I have been using a nice old 13ft Silstar float rod I was given by a friend, a couple of years ago. At the same time, he also gave me a Silstar feeder rod that I have not yet used. I plan to take that with me and give it a go, as well as the float rod. Cage, block-end and even method feeder fishing are proposed methods of attack with the feeder rod and a touch of light float fishing with the other rod.
I wonder if the magic of the Two Dog groundbait mix will work in the method at Oakley Road at this time of the year? I am tempted to have a go, but the jury is still out on the destination. I will let you know at the end of the week.


Saturday, 13 January 2018

How do you spell perch? P-I-K-E !

Today was supposed to be a perch hunting session, but as you can see, it did not go exactly to plan. First, the lake (pond) I had planned to fish was already occupied by the time I arrived at the fishery and after talking to Andy, the bailiff, it seemed that Tuscany would not be the best choice for float fishing due to its depth. Instead it was agreed that The Major's Lake would be my best bet, especially as I had fished it successfully for perch last time I was there.

It was cold today, but at least it was was not raining. Before I did anything, I threw half a dozen maggots into the left hand margin. On this swim, that is the corner of the lake with a lot of miscellaneous undergrowth either hanging over or actually growing in the margin. I set up a float rod with a No.16 hook and impaled my first pair of victims - A lob worm with a maggot to help keep it on the hook. The idea was to fish for the perch conventionally before I tried out my paste. See yesterday's post. I dropped the baited hook into the swim and the float settled and then dropped below the surface before it made off in the direction of the island.

If this is a perch it is a big one. I saw a glimpse of something that was determined to get away but felt more like a carp. I am now thinking this thing is going to snap me off, if I am not careful. Then it turned and was heading back from whence it came.. I lifted the rod in an effort to bring it to the surface. It was then I realised I had hooked a pike, and not a tidily one either. Okay, this was no monster but for me this was going to be something to remember. All my waffle about collecting the correct gear and not wanting to sit here on The Major's Lake waiting for a bite and here I am with a fish-on. Better still I landed it with Andy's help 'driving' my rather undersized net. Typical, the one time I leave the bigger net at home I needed it! Andy estimated it to be around 8lb, I did not have a weigh-sling with me either. To be honest, the last thing I expected to catch and land on light gear with no wire trace, was a pike, but I was really pleased I did as I sat there all, day trying all sorts of tactics, but didn't even get a bite. By mid afternoon the light was fading, and I was cold enough to call it a day.  

My first pike was supposed to be a perch...
The testing of the perch paste will have to wait for another day but even though the fish were not playing today, that one pike made it a day to remember and me a happy angler.


Friday, 12 January 2018

Perch paste - Chinese Dog Bite!

Happy New Year, and I hope you all had a great Christmas!

It has been a funny few months. Fishing has all-but come to a halt since September. I had a couple of hours on the weir pool in Canterbury at the end of November but blanked. Since then a whole raft of things has got in the way of my fishing. I have been planning a piking trip, but that is not as simple as it might be due to my location, stuck here in London. It is far easier at the moment to just revert to type and go and pester a few of the resident perch at my favourite commercial. With Christmas and the New Year over and done with, I am off to carry on with a spot of perch fishing at Beaver. I could do a spot of piking there, but I don't have a lure rod man enough for pike, and I really don't fancy sitting on the bank at The Major's Lake for hours on end on the off chance of bagging one on deadbait.

Time to get the gear together, with such a long gap between sessions I need to regroup and decide what I need to take. I planned to keep it really simple, but while making up some experimental groundbait, a couple of days ago, I realised the mix might be more suited to making a paste. I had used a good amount of leftover prawn crackers, you know the things they give away free every time you buy a Chinese takeaway. The prawn crackers contain tapioca flour that makes the mix hold together like dough. It is not at all friable as groundbait should be so I have ended up with a paste mix that is bright red when made wet. Perch seem to favour red so I am going to see if they are interested in my paste. I have no idea if this will work, but I will give it a go, even though it is not something that is usually used at this time of year, to my limited knowledge. In the tradition of the blog, It has to have a silly name and this one was suggested by Sue, so don't blame me!

In case you fancy having a go at making your own, here is the recipe:

Chinese Dog Bite paste mix
  • 800g dog biscuit selection
  • 150g prawn crackers
  • 1350g white breadcrumb 
  • 1tsp red food colouring powder

The dog biscuits are sold in 800g bags and mine came from our local Poundland. As I have said, the prawn crackers came with a Chinese takeaway, but you can buy them from the supermarket, although they seem expensive. It is probably cheaper to just buy some from the local takeaway, if you don't have any left over. The white crumb I now buy in bulk bags already finely ground and absolutely bone dry. If you don't want a huge amount then just dry out a couple of sliced loaves, that will give you about the correct amount. I found that an 800g loaf will dry out to render about 650g of dry crumb. Finally the food colouring. I found a small pot of red colouring at my local Asian food shop. They sell all sorts of useful ingredients that are not commonly available in the traditional supermarkets. Especially spices which are sold in much larger quantities at reasonable prices.

The dog biscuits are ground up with the prawn crackers. It is almost impossible to whiz the prawn crackers on their own as they are so light they tend to stick to the side of the liquidiser and have to be painstakingly wiped out. The biscuit/cracker mix is added to the crumb and mixed together until the mix has a uniform colour. Sprinkle the food colouring into the mix turning it over as you go. Now, riddle the mixture a couple of times to disperse the colouring evenly. Although the mix will not look very red at this stage, it will change dramatically when the water is added. Personally, I like to add river/lake water to my mixes so I will make it up on the bank. If I do need to make some up before I go, I use rain water.  

The food colouring is very strong and bleeds like mad when it is added to water, in a dry form. It seems to get 'locked in' once absorbed into the paste and the cloud effect I expected to get when the paste is immersed in water does not happen. I might try rolling the paste in dry paste-mix powder, just before it is dropped into the water, and see if that makes a cloud. It is all experimental at the moment, but for me that is all part of the fun.

I will take some of my Cattyfish groundbait as I know that works for perch and try the paste as hook-bait and small amounts of marble-sized loose feed. I will have worms, prawns and maggots with me as well so I should be able to catch the odd perch, come what may. I will post the results of my experimenting in the next few days.