Thursday, 15 November 2018

A bend in the rod

Today, the weather forecast was for good weather with a predicted temperature high of 17°C. This being halfway through November, I decided to try and get a day's fishing in before it really started to get cold. As it turned out, the sun stayed hidden, except for a fleeting glance in the afternoon and temperatures never did get near the forecast high. Even so, it was plenty mild enough to make it comfortable with the standard clobber adorning my now much lighter frame. I have lost over two stone over the summer and now my fishing clothes, which were tight, are now a more than comfortable fit. I used to look like a Teletubby, in my bib and brace, now I am starting to resemble a partially deflated Michelin man.

As last week's trip to Beaver was a disaster, as far as catching fish was concerned, I made a point of getting there early this week to get the choice of swims. I have not got up this early for a while, but it all went fine. I was feeling good and as I was not taking too much tackle, and the van is half full of boxes and other junk from the packing up of our house, I chose to take the car. The old, recycled, Swedish fridge is getting on a bit these days (it is even older than the van!), but it still does the job with flying colours.

The water today was dead flat at times. Just look at the refection of the rod in the water
A decent run meant I got to the fishery just as the gates were open and to my surprise, there was no queue. I had expected to be among a whole lot of people who had the same thought as me. After a bit of a catch-up with Andy, I paid my day-ticket money and set off for the back of Jeff's lake. I got there to find just one other person setting up on the far bank. The water was so still, it was like a mirror at times, ideal conditions for seeing the float. That might come in handy later, but for now, it is time to go back to what I know.

Today, I had made the decision to go back to method feeder fishing, using my tried and tested Two Dog groundbait as a feeder mix and Bacon Grill on the hook. I set up and filled the small 30g, Preston flat back method feeder, burying the hook-bait within the feed. This will generally give almost instant results on this lake, but not today. I persevered with this method for a while and eventually gave up, planning to revisit the spot later in the day.

Ah! A nice little roach, for a change
Meanwhile, I had been feeding a spot a few meters out to my right where I could drop a maggot-baited hook in with my short 5m tele-pole. A size 16 hook on a light rig was decimating the gudgeon population. I must have caught several dozen of them! Then, just for a change, I caught a nice little roach. Although I was catching fish this week, my total catch so far probably did not weigh much more than a pound or two at most. After getting bored with catching lots of tiny fish, I reverted to the feeder.

I had some Maggots left over from last week. I had bought a pint of mixed (colour) maggots. I have never used these before, and they are interesting to look at, even if the fish were not at all interested last week. Not wanting to change the rig I thought I would make a 'cocktail' bait by securing a punch of Bacon Grill on the hair, and a couple of the brightly coloured maggots on the hook. Having never tried this before, I was impressed when it resulted in a nice, firm take. For the first time in months, I was playing a fish that had some fight. The fact that it played dead after a very short fight confirmed my assumption that I was playing a bream.

That's more like it
Great! First decent fish of the day, I was on my way. I baited the rig again, and cast. Nothing. That was the end of the feeder fishing in that spot. I decided to go back to the pole and try some bigger bait to try and discourage the gudgeon. I tried at dead depth and nothing. After several attempts, using meat, sweetcorn and even bread, I was getting nowhere other than one perch that went for a piece of red (dyed) Bacon Grill. Even that was only a small fish. In desperation, I changed the hook to a size 10 and loaded it with a bunch of various coloured maggots, after buying another pint from the fishery shop. I also moved the float up the line so now I was fishing with an inch or so of line sitting on the bottom. That changed things dramatically.

The first put-in got a mighty tug. At this point, I realised the line was wrapped around the tip, and the elastic was still in the pole. Snap! The hooklength had broken, and I was left having to re-rig. Next put-in had the same reaction. This time the elastic came out of the pole until it bottomed-out and then snapped. I had brought along a second tele-pole with a stronger elastic fitted. That was rigged with a stronger line and hooklength. I put this in and again I had several strong bites that got away, this time I was just losing the fish. The gear, including the hook, sans bait, was holding up. Then I had another one on. It was playing nicely, and I was as gentle as I could be until it made a bolt for it and bottomed-out the elastic. This time the hooklength broke and the fish was lost.

By now, I realised that there was not much I could do to stop the fish using the small poles. They are excellent for small fish, but if anything of any size gets a hold of the bait, there is nothing I can do to stop it. By now it is getting on for lunchtime. I pulled the line out of the water and poured myself a cup of coffee to have with a sandwich and consider my options. It has been a while since I last fished this lake with any commitment. I did spend an hour or so on here earlier this year catching F1s on corn, but that was at the height of summer, and I was using heavier gear.

The multi-coloured maggots worked well with my Two Dog groundbait feeder-mix
After lunch I hit on the idea of just dropping the feeder in, charged with Two Dog and leaving a bunch of maggots just hanging on a four-inch hooklength. After all, that is not that much different to what I was doing with the pole, once I had started to fish over-depth. That worked! The heavier gear was easily up to the job, and I was landing fish after fish. By now the lake had filled, and I was fishing with seven or eight other anglers. Some were catching, but not at the rate I was. Again, the Two Dog feeder mix was calling in those F1s. I must have had twenty of them over the next few hours, along with the odd bream and a lovely crucian. At least I am reasonably sure it was a crucian. As I understand it, the way to tell the difference is by counting the number lateral line scales. This fish seems to be in the 32-34 bracket which makes it a crucian as F1s usually have more, in the 35-36 range. Please correct me if I am wrong, I am only going by what I have read.

A nice size crucian was my favourite fish of the day
It starts to get dark very quickly at this time of year, so by 4 o'clock I was beginning to pack up, and by 5 o'clock I was all packed up and well on my way home. A great day fishing and I learnt a lot today.