meta name="verify-v1" content="d7PFNk6IiaDiPnshLwmCM9E/oeJhyyogsTh9thA/Ap0=" /> Lumbland

Monday, March 01, 2010

Dace rig update

I thought a photo might help explain the simple helicopter rig I was using for the dace and roach. Hooklink to the left, mainline (6lb) to the right, and feeder link (5lb) to the bottom. The feeder link is shorter than the hooklink, but all lengths open to modification.

Easy peasy heli-feeder rig

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Back in the groove

My recent return to the photographic world has reminded me that going out looking for photographs is a lot like going fishing. You set out with good intentions but the elements and other factors mean there is no guarantee of success. Saturday morning saw me up and out bright and early hoping to make good use of the promised sunshine to get some pixels organised. The sun came along, but not for long. I did have a cunning plan though...

A tree yesterday

I'd gone for a walk along the river, it would have risen on Friday and it might have warmed too so it was worth investigating. Accompanying my camera gear on the walk was my thermometer. The first stop at the edge of a nicely coloured and dropping river was to throw the thermometer in the water. It didn't take long for me to decide not to return with the rods for a while. 2.9C was far from encouraging, and the distant fells still had a faint covering of snow that would be entering the river some time soon.

When the sun went into hiding, to be replaced by light rain, I was on my way home and thence to the tackle shop where the talk was of torrential rain and gale force winds for today. The consensus was that I was mad to be buying maggots to use for roach. My intention was to wait and see what the morning brought and either head to the river if it looked set fair or to a stillwater if it bode ill.

As things turned out the foul weather was in the south (hurrah!!!) so I could get a couple of small glueing jobs done, make some sarnies and pack my gear in the car to arrive after the turn of the tide. Two cars were parked up with only one angler in sight. He'd caught a couple of chub and told me he didn't fish maggots on this stretch because the dace did his head in.

After arranging my gear in the claggy clay I cast out a single white maggot on a 16 and my usual feeder rig, the feeder being filled with old maggots, their attendant casters, and micro trout pellets. Then I ate my first salami bun and recast. As I was pouring the first flask-tea of the day the quiver tip commenced a-dancing. A nicely conditioned roach of about six or eight ounces. I was fishing a close in line to start with. If I start catching from there and then bites dry up casting further out usually brings renewed action. I prefer to do it that way than start in mid river and come closer. I'm not sure why.

Eye. Aye.

The rig I was using had been trouble free when used with a heavier hooklink for chubbing. While it was tangle-free initially with a light hooklength it had soon started to twist around the lead link and tangle on previous sessions. From there on it spiralled (pun intended) downhill. Tying on a fresh hooklink would sort it temporarily but it was a pain. Why I hadn't switched to a helicopter variantI can only put down to pig-headedness or laziness. This time I made the switch.

It was so simple. A small swivel trapped between two Drennan Grippa Stops on the main line. Another swivel tied to the end of the mainline and the feeder attached to that via a link of slightly weaker mono. The hooklink is looped to the rotating swivel, after having a cut down large Korum rig sleeve (the small ones are too small) slid on to it. The rig sleeve is pushed over the rotating swivel and makes a bit of a boom. It works. Talk about kicking myself.

It was almost an hour later before another fish came along. A dace that didn't looks as big as the ones I'd neglected to weigh last month, so I weighed it. 5.5oz. Or thereabouts. A second dace was weighed at an ounce more. That one didn't look as big as the unweighed ones either. Then I hooked something that tore off downstream, hung in the flow and came adrift as I applied too much pressure trying to pull it upstream. I reckoned it was a chub until I hooked another fish that did something similar. This time I took it easy and allowed the fish to make its own way upstream. It turned out to be a pound-plus roach, and hadn't felt as heavy as the lost fish. A smaller roach was followed by another heavy feeling fish that I took my time with. This one was a chub, of about a pound and a half. I hadn't a clue what I'd lost.

Fred keeps an eye on the rod tip while I eat my sarnies

By now I was fishing further out, about a third of the way across. Bites came with increasing regularity as the afternoon wore on. Mostly dace, two of which looked more like the ones from last month and weighed eight ounces and a fraction less. The bigger fish upped my PB - the first of the year. It still didn't quite seem as big as one I had returned unweighed. Maybe there wasn't much in it, but enough.

The top of a Ruckbag makes a good unhooking mat for small species

Despite a bitterly cold wind I wasn't feeling uncomfortable. I only noticed my toes starting to numb when I thought about them! Getting plenty of bites is a great way to get back into the swing of fishing. In among the dace and dropped fish was another roach of some six ounces. Had I remembered my keepnet I'd have amassed quite a netful. The sky had been grey but cloudy until the sun began to set. For the first time in ages there was a colourful sunset during which fish began to top all along the river.

A disgorger behind the ear is a sure sign of plenty of action

My flask was all but drained, the food long gone. Bites were still coming so my departure time kept getting put back. At five to six, with still enough light to allow the Petzl to stay in the Ruckbag, I hooked something heavy again. I took my time wondering if it was a roach or a chub. the grey dorsal that sliced through the water's surface gave the game away. Only about a pound, but on light tackle with a small hook there's no way to bully these fish in a strong flow. I'd tidied most of the gear away so the recast would be the last.

Hardly had the feeder settled when the tip bounced the upstream self-hooked fish bounce. A shoal of chub must have moved in as a fish that felt just like the previous one got itself in the flow downstream a rod length out. There was still enough colour in the river to make it difficult to see fish until they were almost at the surface. When this one boiled I was sure there was a flash of red, but the light was fading fast. I eased off a little, just in case. When I did catch a definite sight of the roach I was starting to consider prayer.

Not the biggest roach in the world, not even big by some people's standards, it was the best of the day and a great way to end my first session in what seems like ages. I'd finished with 22 fish after a slow start - two chub, five roach and the rest dace. My head was well and truly done in!

Homage to Vincent

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Still wintry

Blackbirds are singing before daybreak, the days are lengthening, the light is more springlike and buds are showing on the trees. It's still bloody cold though! With no rain predicted and the sun shining I set off to try for the roach and dace again. On arriving there was a strong wind blowing straight downstream, coming from the north, with a touch of east for good measure. Like a fool I had left the umbrella behind. Not to worry. I was well wrapped up with Baffin boots, two fleeces, bunny suit and all. Topped off with balaclava and woolly hat.

Some reeds today

This time the swim was not a muddy morass, it was hard as concrete. Frozen solid. The river was running clear and I was able to hold easily with a 30g feeder filled with the usual hemp, micro trout pellets and maggots. Two hours later the tip hadn't moved, no maggots had been sucked, and the wind was chilling my bones. However the water temperature was rising fast. At the start of the session it was reading 2.2C, by the time I moved upstream to get some shelter from the wind (and to try a deeper spot), it had risen to 2.6C. The water temp carried on rising, peaking at 2.9C. The air temperature didn't follow the same trend, and after three o'clock it started to drop.

A couple of half-hearted flurries of sleet blew in. The wind did ease off after I moved. The only activity was from the birdlife. A couple of robins seemed glad of the maggots I threw them, and a skittish pied wagtail flitted from side to side of the swim. By half four I reckoned there might be a chance of a chub towards dusk, and the roach might switch on too. The clear water was all I could think of that was putting the fish off, so lower light levels might make them more amenable.

I swapped the size sixteen for a ten and pinched some bread on the hook. I left the maggots out of the feeder. First put in and the tip moved. A tentative spring back. Nothing. By half four my feet, even in the toasty boots, were telling me to go home. With it still a way off dusk I packed up at five. I guess I should have made a later start so I'd have been more willing to stick at it until dark. I don't think next time will be tomorrow though.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not quite what I intended, but it'll do

After some study of the 'dace' photograph and a couple of second opinions I came to the conclusion that they were dace. That their size and chunkiness had thrown me. There was only one thing to do. Go back and catch some more to put a weight on them.

Everything was boxed off before noon, sausage rolls scoffed in the car on my way to buy fresh maggots, then leave the barbel rods out of the sling and replace them with a float rod - just in case. Swap the barbel net for a pan net and dig out the keepnet. A keepnet that must be getting on for 35 years old. Flask filled, bunny suit and boots donned and away.

The river looked pretty much as it had on Sunday. level and clarity very similar but the thermometer showed a fall in temperature to 3.8C. There was a wind blowing from somewhere cold in the north. With the gear arranged to my satisfaction in the swim I cast out and awaited action. It was a while coming. Thirty-five minutes and many casts around the swim to be precise. A lovely slack liner that only required me to pick the rod up and wind until I felt a fish on the end.

Upstreaming is a lovely relaxed way to fish. There's no hurry when a bite comes. The fish is hooked (more often than not) and there's plenty of time to put the cup down and attend to the rod. That bite had come after I had decided to leave the rig out for longer seeing as bites weren't coming quickly. The fish that flashed in the margins showed silver and red. A nice roach of twelve ounces. The keepnet was set out and the fish popped in it ready to be joined by its shoalmates.

I'll be fishing matches next!

That was the plan. Two hours later, with cold rain being blown on a wind that had swung to the west but still had some north in it, it looked to have failed. There'd been bites, but not full-blooded ones. Watching a wren dealing with red maggots I threw to it livened up the hiatus.

The hooklink was regularly coming back twisted or tangled round the mainline. I wasn't happy. I was using the same set up as for chubbing last year, but with a maggot feeder in place of the cage feeder and a lighter hooklink with a smaller hook. The hooklink wasn't standing as proud as it should have been for some reason. Even on the previous session I'd not had this problem. How to solve it? It struck me that if I moved the leger stop over the loop in the mainline and pegged it there it might make the shortened loop stiffer. I had nothing to lose so I tried it.

Shortly after the change the second fish of the session hooked itself. It felt bigger and I thought it might be a chub, but again there was silver and red. I took things easy and a fish an ounce over a pound slid into the net. The net could do with being a bit bigger I think. It'll have to do for now, though.

No day can be a bad day when you catch one of these

With the light fading once the church clock chimed four bites came closer together. A third roach, the smallest of the day as it turned out, came a quarter of an hour after the biggest of the day. A poundish chub was next, initially fooling be into thinking I had hooked a roach of the stamp I was hoping to connect with on Sunday. The thick white lips showing in the gloom gave the game away. Darkness, as so often when maggot fishing, saw the bites tail off and me cursing that I had not picked up a loaf on my way to the river.

A cast closer in resulted in an unmistakeable bite and a dace shortly before six. Alas it was a dace sized dace. By now the rain and the wind was making me feel colder than the air temperature should have done. It was getting a bit miserable. My belly was growling too. I set a departure time of six thirty. A couple of finicky knocks on the tip saw the maggot come back with a nipped head. One last cast then take the gear to the car and return to weigh the better fish. I thought the isotopes had moved. I wasn't sure. On winding in to call it a day the maggot was a mere husk. One more last cast? My cold toes said, No.

A funny sort of session. I'd fished for roach on Sunday and caught some nice dace. I return to catch more of the dace and catch roach. Same swim, same rig, same bait. As soon as you think you have something in fishing sussed the fish confound you. I must remember the bread next time, set the float rod up in advance, and try to make an earlier start so I can put a bit more effort in. More angler friendly weather would be a big help. Cold, dry and not quite so windy would be nice. Despite not fishing gas well as I could have done the change to the rig seemed to make a difference, it certainly stopped the tangles. A little more thinking gave me another idea though. Watch this space.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A late start

A pint of red and white maggots was purchased yesterday, and three Interceptors rigged up ready for a roach session in the Land that time Forgot today. I couldn't get off to sleep last night as my mind was thinking out an idea for a website. It was gone two am when I nodded off and almost nine when I managed to crawl out of bed this morning - and it was raining. I pottered on the PC. making a start on the website and wondering if it was a good idea while listening to the radio. When the repeat of Just a Minute came on I snapped. Two slices of toast were slathered in honey and swiftly eaten. My plans had changed.

It was getting on by now, a session on the lake would be short. With this being the first weekend when anglers would be out in numbers, and the lake well filled, there might not be any swims vacant. To the river, still in search of roach. The river rod sling was ready, as always, even my quiver tip rod was set up. All I had to do was swap the stillwater tackle box and feeder bag in the rucksack for my river ones, fill the flask and load the car.

Crossing the local river it was much lower than it had been on Friday, meaning the big river should be just about spot on. parking up next to the only other car in the car park I headed straight to the river's edge to check it out. Not high and not low. Not too coloured. Great. The owner of the car had already caught a couple of roach. Things were looking good. Downstream there were more anglers in evidence, and a wander along the bank revealed that fish were being caught - on both float and leger. But no roach. Back upstream to the car, unload my burden and haul it down the slippy bank. There was not much to go on from the surface patterns on the water. There were fish in the area though, so it was worth a shot.

Almost February when the annual end of season desperation starts to kick in and a line not yet wet, no fish landed. Time to put that to rights. There was a light drizzle falling from the grey sky. The clouds that could be seen were coming from a vaguely northern direction as far as I could tell. No wonder the air temperature was below 5C. When I took the water temperature I was pleased to note it was 4.1C - and it rose slowly as the session progressed. The river level dropped. Not bad at all.

The first rod out was speculative 'barbel' rod. I wasn't expecting a barbel to pick up the paste wrapped boilie, but a chub might manage to hang itself. Having that rod out would do no harm, cast as it was downstream. The maggot feeder rig was cast upstream about a quarter of the way across the river. I'd half filled the feeder with maggots then topped it up with a mix of tinned hemp and micro trout pellets. The same combination I'd have used on the lake. The size 16 was loaded with one read and one white maggot.


The appetiser

Quarter to two and plenty of time to fish on into dark for an hour or so. Almost immediately the quiver began to jiggle. I wasn't happy though. There was too great a bend in the tip. I recast farther upstream. That was better but I still wasn't happy. The third cast went about five yards upstream and three rod lengths out. A bow was fed into the line and the tip pulled into a gentle curve pointing downstream. Within minutes the tip sprang back and I was connected to a fish. As I grabbed the landing net the fish fell off.

A repeat performance from the tip signalled a second bite on the next cast. Reasoning that I'd tried to drag the first fish upstream too quickly against the strong flow I took it easy this time. A chub of maybe a pound and a half was netted. The first fish of the year. One goal achieved. Now for a roach.

Up and running

Another chub was lost through another case of ignorance and brute force before I landed what looked like a big dace. I'm not accustomed to catching dace but I do know what a small chub looks like. This definitely wasn't a chub. Something about its appearance was telling me it wasn't a dace either. Dace alwasys seem dainty and delicate to me. The scales were smaller than those of chub, the mouth more refined. But... Not to worry. It was another fish.


A second mystery fish was followed by another chub. All these fish hooked themselves giving stomping slack line bites. Then I started missing bites and bumping fish off. I put on a fresh hook and promptly snagged up and lost the lot. I'd noticed that the last missed bite had seen just the white maggot sucked to a skin. After retackling I put just a single white maggot on the hook.

The next bite was again a classic slack liner coming soon after the feeder settled. When I saw that the fish was a roach I eased off as I drew it carefully upstream of the waiting landing net before dropping the rod tip so the fish slid into it. No monster but a nice fish of around nine ounces (as in eight or ten ounces). There would have been a photo of it here but the camera battery failed on me. Particularly annoying as it had been on charge for at least 16 hours, having been put back in the camera minutes before I left home.

All in all the Olympus 770SW has been a disappointment. It takes reasonable photos, many of the snaps I post on this blog (including all these in this post) are taken with it simply because it's compact and waterproof, but the colours and contrast don't always look right to me. I'll concede that the underwater shots have been good, and the macro facility too, but those are not what I use it for most. Now it looks like the battery is one the blink. It's never lasted too long on a charge to be honest. So there's no pictorial proof of my second target achievement of the day. You'll just have to trust me!

I made a longer cast to the middle of the rive which produced two very dacey looking, and dace sized, dace. A chub that wasn't much bigger fell to the single maggot when I dropped it back on the nearside line, then another definite dace.

The twin Drennan isotopes on the quiver tip didn't start to glow faintly until it had turned five o'clock. Reaching full brightness after another fifteen minutes. The nights will shorten rapidly from now on. I've found maggots to be less effective after dark, or so it seems, and was considering this after rebaiting by the red light of my Petzl when the tip sprang back to signal the final chub of the session taken from mid-river. The air temperature hadn't dropped too much but the flask was almost empty.

A prolonged bout of cabin fever can fool you into believing there are other ways to enjoy your spare time. I'd finally kicked the fishing year off and, although the fish weren't huge, I had enjoyed myself so much I was already working out how to approach another session. I'd come close to losing my senses. That website I started work on can wait. There are more fish to be caught.

I'm sure that if I had taken a keepnet I would have caught more fish. Chub, like perch, don't take kindly to their shoalmates being returned and stop feeding - or disappear. A float rod wouldn't have gone amiss either - if only for the sheer pleasure of watching a float follow the river's flow. Also because there were fish topping occasionally, increasing in intensity as the light faded. There had been a bloke fishing the 'pin upstream on the opposite bank and doing well too.

Getting back up the bank was a muddy struggle. Two trips with the tackle seemed advisable. A couple of times I thought I might tumble down the slope into the river. By the time I was on level ground and heading for the car I felt a good inch taller due to the mud on my boot soles. What does a bit of dirt matter on the car floor?

By the way, Fred Bunny accompanied me today. He's been lucky so far!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Feathered friend

Quite why I've got the urge to catch pike again I don't know. I was up and about at six, hastily eating toast and honey and forgoing my first brew of the day in my haste to get to The Land that Time Forgot again. For once the rain didn't descend as soon as I opened the car door in the car park. The air temperature had dropped about three degrees between leaving home and arriving at the lake though.

If I'm honest, had my maggots not been old and castery I would have put two roach rods in the quiver and one pike rod. As it was I had three different rods with me, all on trial. Well, the 2.5lb Torrix wasn't on its first outing, but I hadn't tried it with braid or for piking before. The other 'pike' rod was a 3.5lb Ballista which I've built up to use as a spod rod - my proper spod rod being a bit too much for the smallish spods I use when tenching. The third rod was one of the three 1.75lb Torrixes which I have managed to get whipped up and the thread sealed with its first coat (good enough to fish with). I settled on the metallic aquamarine thread for handle highlights in the end, and a cut down woven carbon reel seat and trimmed Duplon cones, plus lightweight Fuji SiC guides, for a personalised look.

It looks better if you click it...

A smelt and a headless mackerel were cast out a short distance from the bank. I'd picked a spot where the margin shelves steeply into deep water on the basis that the water will have cooled recently. It was a plan. When it was properly light I set my chair by the 'roach' rod and commenced casting the feeder to get some bait out. The rod handled the 30g feeder easily, much better than the Chimera Avon as a casting rod. It's a more powerful rod, obviously, but with a tip that is soft enough to cope with small hooks. I had a problem. The six pound line on the reel I was using (one of my Sporteras) was catching on the tag end of the backing it was tied to. It wasn't stopping me reaching where I wanted to fish but it was annoying.

The sky was overcast, the wind chillingly from the north. I couldn't get my brolly up where I was sitting as the bank was quite steep. My thermometer showed that the water was warmer than the air! I was tempted to move downwind to get some shelter in the next peg along. A much more civilised swim. I resisted.

After a couple of hours of nothing it commenced raining. I set the Aqua brolly up on a flat piece of ground above the rods and let the roach rod fish for itself - baitrunner engaged. I'd been throwing maggots to a friendly robin that had come to see me. It was in and out, mostly in, of my swim all day long. Often landing on my left hand rod setting the sensitive Blankbiter off.

Cheeky chappy

At half past ten a roach hung itself and I set up a paternoster rig on the heavier Torrix. A bit late but I should be guaranteed a pike on it. Fish must have found the maggots as a couple more bites were missed over the next hour or so before a small skimmer hooked itself. This was popped in the landing net in case I needed another bait when the roach was taken. A second skimmer joined it after lunch. Around this time the paternostered roach woke up and I heard a few single blips from the alarm. There must have been a pike spooking it, the alarm would sound in earnest soon. The next fish to the single red maggot was another roach of some ten ounces. Getting soft in my dotage I let that one go.

Too big for bait... today!

The catching line was annoying me when I cast. I swapped the feeder for a 1.5oz bomb and whacked it out. Then I pulled line from the spool until the knot was exposed. What to do? I had no tape in the tackle box to hold the tag ends down. I had one of my rare brainwaves. I took my scissors to a plastic gripseal bag I had in the box and cut a strip from it. This was placed over the knot and the line wound over it. Success! Back on with the feeder and to fishing.

By half past two I was getting ready to admit defeat on the pike front. At three I wound in the roach rod and tidied most of my gear away. The smelt rod was wound in and packed into the sling. Time was running out. I picked up the livebait rod and wound that in. Beaten. The final task was to release the two skimmers and roll the net up. I dropped the net cord below the water surface and teased the reluctant fish out. There was a noisy swirl and a puff of silt. No wonder the bream didn't want to leave the safety of the net. A small pike had nobbled one of them to taunt me.

Anyway I had turned out partly to try rods out. As with plans, I like to have my excuses prepared in advance! The 1.75lb Torrix proved okay for the job. Until something better materialises they will be my choice for feeder fishing for roach at distance. However, I am wondering how they will perform with a big tench on. There's plenty of poke lower down so the softer extreme tip compared to the Interceptor shouldn't be a problem. They are sweet rods to hold and cast with. The 3.5lb Ballista didn't get much of a work out, nor did the 2.5lb Torrix - although it cast the livebait nicely.

There'd been another piker on the lake who had had nothing, and two anglers fishing on the tip hadn't caught as many silvers between them as I'd managed. So I hadn't fared badly. I'm pretty sure that if I'd concentrated on the roach, fishing two rods and recasting more frequently, I would have had more. I don't know what I have to do to get a run off a pike from this place though. And I'm not sure I want to put the time in to find out. Or do I?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 06, 2009

That's more like it

It's all too easy to get out of the fishing habit when you have an enforced lay-off. Faced with the choice between home improvements and fishing I narrowed the decision down to roach or barbel.... The river would be well up and coloured, possibly warm enough to get the barbel feeding in earnest, but I've done that before and I wanted to try for some roach. Rain seemed to have passed over for the day and the sun was reflecting dazzlingly off the wet roads as I headed for the hills.

Although a Sunday saw plenty of anglers out and about I managed to get the swim I fancied. Not too surprising as it's a bit awkward to get at. Cosy when in it though. I'd made up some fresh power gum rigs on Saturday night and soon had them tied to the end of my lines. Then it was time to add a feeder and have a few practice casts. Damn. I had no 30g feeders only 50g ones. A little bit much for my Chimera Avons. Beggars can't be choosers so out they went. Not as far as I'd have liked but it would have to do. On with two short hooklinks and time to get started. The first few casts were only left out for a few minutes in order to get a bit of bait out. Each feeder was two-thirds filled with maggots and then topped up with hemp, one rod baited with a single red maggot and the other with one red and one white.

Roach food

Why some people moan about hemp stinking I don't know. I like the smell of it. Roach seem to like it too as it wasn't long before the bobbins started moving. Mostly the right hand one showing the roach seemed to have a preference for the double maggot bait. I was failing to connect with the bobbins on a drop so I set them at the top to show drop-backs. This they did yet I still failed to connect. It wasn't too long before a roach hooked itself though. And not being one to look a gift roach in the mouth I popped it in a bucket while I set up the pike rod that I had forgotten to remove from the quiver from my last session. A rod that just happened to be rigged up with a paternoster and a snap tackle. What a coincidence!

Waiting for a drop-back

Bites were coming steadily to the feeder rods, either within a minute of casting out or just as I was getting ready to recast. The fish weren't getting hooked too often, but it was enough action to maintain my interest. After a couple of hours the bites started coming closer together. A small roach-bream hybrid was landed followed by a couple more roach. Not monsters but only just small enough to swing to hand. Having made a late start it was getting on by now.

A typical roach

A dusk feeding spree was being anticipated. That's when big roach are supposed to come on the feed. It didn't happen. In fact after three o'clock the bites all but ceased. I fished on until half past four without a bite in the last three quarters of an hour. All the while the livebait had also remained untouched and was released when I packed up. I'd expected to tempt a jack if nothing bigger.

Maybe a short session but enjoyable and interesting. Having a sparrowhawk fly past the swim a rod length out was the avian highlight. Watching it get mobbed by seagulls came a close second. I'm already planning another, longer, roach session and have ideas for improving the hook up ratio. Some of the bites set the rod bouncing or were storming drop-backs. How could a roach fail to get hooked against a 50g feeder when the bobbin was moving so far? Unbelievable!

It was dark by the time I got back to the car, a smell in the air that I knew but couldn't place. Behind my car there was a van parked up with its interior light on containing two young men sat smoking. As I got closer the aroma grew stronger. That was when I remembered what it was. Another form of hemp... It's an odd world.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pick of the year

Well, that's another year's fishing over. For the first time in a long time ending in a big freeze. Although I had been hoping for some prolonged cold weather to target chub this winter I hadn't wanted it this cold for so long - and predicted to continue. I nipped out mid-morning today and it was -2c and foggy, by late afternoon it was still -2c and foggy!

At least the fishing this year didn't grind to such a complete standstill as last year did. I started barbel fishing later but caught more, larger and for longer. The year had started slowly, but I made more better decisions and was more flexible than I have been in the past, so carried on catching fish by shifting my targets. You never stop learning.

Spring and summer were difficult owing to the ever changing weather with hardly two consecutive days the same. Even so I managed to catch some nice fish. After a season of bad timing on one river in 2007 I managed to get it right more often than not this time round, as my barbel results show. But where have the chub gone? Usually a few have come along to the barbel rods. This season (so far) they have been a rarity.

I'm not making any firm plans for the coming year but I do have a couple of new venues in my sights. If I can up a few more PBs along the way I'll be happy. Then again, I'll be happy if I catch more often than I blank. Unfortunately for the blog the issue of publicity bans cropped up this year and will be a factor in the coming months too.


That doesn't stop me looking back at some of my fishy highlights of 2008.
  • Barbel - 14-03 [pb]
  • Bream - 11-02
  • Carp - dnw
  • Chub - 5-09
  • Dace - 0-07 [pb]
  • Golden Orfe - 2-00 [pb]
  • Grayling - dnw, but bigger than the one I caught last year! [pb]
  • Perch - 3-05
  • Pike - 16-02
  • Roach/Bream Hybrid - 5-06 [pb]
  • Roach/Rudd Hybrid - 3-04
  • Roach - 1-10 [pb]
  • Rudd - dnw
  • Sea trout - dnw [out of season]
  • Tench - 7-04 (m) [pb], 9-03 (f)
[pb]= personal best, dnw = did not weigh (i.e. small!),(m) = male, (f) = female

Quite a satisfying list by my standards.

All the best for 2009.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or treat?

It must be nigh on forty five years since I first sat by running water with faith, hope and a toy fishing rod given to me by an aunt and uncle. Why they bought me that outfit, complete with red and white plastic 'bob' float in Ross on Wye I have no idea. Nobody in my family fished. But I sat there at the edge of a crystal clear rivulet only inches deep waiting for the float to sink. Even at that short-trousered age of four or five I was aware that the silver paper my dad had put on the hook was a poor bait, and that there were no fish to be seen. That was also the first time I had to make 'one last cast'. I was entranced.

That blind faith and irrational hope that a fish would come along against all the evidence and odds was what I experienced today and sparked this burst of nostalgia for my little metal rod with black plastic rings, handle and integral reel that I can't remember ever 'fishing' with again, although I did play with at home until it eventually broke.

Work had kept me away from the bank for most of the week, the recent night time frosts having pushed thoughts of barbel from my mind when I missed that slim chance last weekend, but I had to get out and wet a line somewhere. I had three options; perch on a commercial, chub on a river, or a speculative roach session on a pit. Reasoning that the roach fishing might be more interesting I set off with that in mind. I also fancied a session sitting in one swim making cups of tea!

With temperatures set to fall once more after dark and my intention being to fish at least an hour after the light had gone I wrapped up well. I also put on the Wychood boots I had bought about three years ago and hardly worn since as they were (are) uncomfortable to walk in. They are warm though, and walking wasn't to be much of an issue. After thirty yards or so I was reminded what is wrong with the boots. It's hard to explain. They simply don't fit where they should. The foot part is fine, the laced up bit is okay. It's the bit in between that flexes. Once sat down and not moving they're great!

These boots aren't made for walking

It being a sunny day there were a few pikers on the water. Two of them fishing the spot I had in mind which rather scuppered my plans. So I started plumbing up a couple of swims past them. There was a lot of floating weed in the margins, and some drifting about, nonetheless it was difficult finding a really clear patch to cast the feeders. After a while I found a slightly less weeded spot a good cast out and put out a few feeders of maggots before attaching the hooks. Further down the bank I could see that there was still pond weed reaching the surface in places. It will be a month or so before the weed is really on its way out.

Two rods fished feeders and maggots, one fished a 10mm pineapple boilie. This third rod was cast out and left in one place while the feeders were reloaded, hooks rebaited and rigs recast at intervals. Even in the 'clear' area I was picking up weed on every retrieve. Admittedly much of it was accumulating once the feeder started moving, but I couldn't be certain the rigs weren't buried.

All marked up

At first the wind was coming out of the north, but I had settled in with a bush to my left and was sheltered from it's chilling effect. All set up and on with the kettle. My brewing equipment hadn't been used since July. This was more than apparent when taking the sugar tub out of my mug revealed and encrustation and some furry stuff. After pondering the health benefits of this I boiled the kettle and poured the boiling water into the mug to stand for a few minutes. Then I swilled it out and wiped round. It smelled clean enough, so the kettle went back on for the first of many brews.

Around three thirty the wind dropped and swung round to come off my back. As the air temperature was starting to drop this seemed to make it feel less cold. I was expecting it to turn really chilly at dusk, but cloud cover had moved in and the temperature held up. It was five to six when I had my one and only indication. A single bleep on the left hand rod that didn't develop into anything. When I wound in for a recast after leaving things to see if a bite might develop the maggots didn't look to have been sucked. I'd tried my tricks but there were no fishy treats for me this Halloween. I gave it another half hour and, all hope having faded, I packed up hatching a plot...

The plot was, as it was still fairly warm, to call in at a car park swim on a river, take the water temperature and spend an hour or two hoping for a barbel. As I headed to the river the car's thermometer showed the air was cooling, the gritters on the road suggested it would cool some more from 4C later. The river was low in level and temperature at a chilly, but not hopeless, 6.3C. Nonetheless I decided to carry on for home.

Things are set to warm up over the next few days. The barbel might be beckoning again.

Labels: ,

Monday, August 04, 2008

Review - Okuma Epix Pro EPB30 Baitfeeder

You may have seen a small black reel in a few of my perch fishing posts. That is the Epix Pro EPB30.

What really bugs me about some reel manufacturers is their insistence on using one reel body for three or more different 'sizes' of reel. I put 'sizes' in inverted commas because all they do is change the rotor and spool. I realise this is done on economic grounds, but if I want a reel with a small spool it is to use with fine lines on a light rod. So I don't want a large and heavy reel!

Okuma have understood that a reel should match the sort of rod it is to be used with and the 30 size Epix Pro Baitfeeder is perfectly proportioned. Even if you don't need the 'baitfeeder' feature this is a superb little reel for fishing with lines up to 0.25mm/8lb. I guess you could go heavier, the gearing and drag is up to the task of playing large fish, but the spool size is too small for smooth casting with a thicker line in my opinion. I have two of these reels loaded with 0.20/5lb mono and find long (comparatively) casting is a doddle. I've even used one for a spot of float fishing.

The reel is supplied with two graphite spools, one of which is a shallow 'match' spool, and one a deep aluminium spool. The line lay is possibly not as good as on some reels, but is perfectly adequate. Not only do you get three spools, there are two handles supplied as well - a double and a single (my preference).

Internally there are some ten bearings, and it feels like there are, being as smooth as silk to wind and reassuringly 'solid'. Everything operates as it should and the clutch is smooth enough for anyone - although I still prefer to backwind when using light mono.

Initially I was a little sceptical about some of the plastic parts, but they have proved tough enough (although some of the chrome has worn off) as have the reels overall. For some reason line can, very occasionally, wrap around the drag knob on the front of the spool. But that is my only, very minor, niggle.

I like these reels so much that after a couple of seasons' use I have added a third EPB30 to my collection. Given the current price is well under £60 they are excellent value for money.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Underwater Ireland

I stumbled across a link to today and found some cracking underwater photos of fish. There are also some good videos of fish in the clear waters of Irish loughs and canals which are most easily viewed on YouTube. Here's one.

By the way if you have Lumbland bookmarked, or have a link to it on your site, please change the address to It's taken me ages (and much tearing out of my remaining hair) to work out how to get the new domain name to function with all the pages displaying correctly, but I think it does now!

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, July 18, 2008

La indecisión me molesta

After fighting the weed at the weekend I didn't really feel like tench fishing and was stuck for an idea what to do. The problem with becoming an 'all-rounder' is that there are just too many options! Tuesday was wasted in indecision, so by lunchtime on Wednesday I was in the car heading for the tackle shop and some bait. Although I still didn't know where I was going or what I was after catching. I had plenty of groundbait, bought some maggots, and still was clueless!

After a chat with my mate in the shop I decided it was bream or bust. A few hours later the indecision was about which swim to choose as I had the entire lake to myself. I plumbed the shallows, which were fairly weed free reasonably close in and the wind was off my back - which was handy as I managed to cast off my plumbing float...

Like a fool I decided that it would be better to fish the opposite bank. On arrival there the weed was pretty thick, but I found that at forty to fifty yards it was clear, and there was around nine foot or more of water. I mixed up a couple of kilos of groundbait and balled it in, leaving enough behind for adding to the method feeders. Then I spodded out some pellets, set the rods up and settled in for the night.

It had been warm and sunny when I arrived but it clouded over at dusk. Although this meant I was able to sleep wearing my bunny suit under the bedchair cover it also meant that the dawn was grey, and showery.

The night had passed surprisingly uneventfully. Although I wasn't after them a tench had rolled in front of the rods before dark. However it may have been a prelude to sexual shenanigans as I am pretty sure I saw tench spawning when the light had faded enough for the head torch to be required. It was certainly too dark to be 100% sure what was writhing in the marginal weed.

I hadn't set the alarm, but still awoke shortly after first light. After the usual cup of tea I rebaited and recast then nodded off again. What befell my eyes when I awoke didn't fill me with glee. I'd been robbed of groundbait. By ducklings... The greedy little half-grown beggars had scoffed the lot, and paddled their muddy little feet all over the groundbait bowl and my catty!

I've been robbed!

They were unrepentant too, and weren't for being told to **** off - just coming back for more as soon as I turned my back. When I mixed up another bag of feed I made sure the bowl was duckproof.


During the morning I swapped rigs around. One rod fished The Rig with an eighteen and two maggots to see if there were any roach or hybrids about while the baits on the other two rods were varied between pellet, fake corn and 10mm pineapple boilie - all baits that could pick up almost anything. It was noon before a smallish roach fell for the maggots. At least I hadn't blanked.

Better than nowt.

A slightly larger skimmer came along around three, but it was pretty quiet. More bait went out in preparation for the hours of darkness; groundbait, maggots, pellets and seeds. The spodding process was carried out in two periods. Not for any carefully thought out reason, but because I cracked the spod off and had to wait for it to drift back into the bank before recommencing the bombardment. That's the second time it's happened and I reckon it's time to step up the line on the spodding reel. Although I use a shock leader it is the shock of the line hitting the clip that seems to be causing the leader knot to fail. Back to the 30lb Power Pro, methinks.

I was confident that a pellet, a boilie or the fake corn would be picked up by something in the night. Untroubled by nagging doubts I was asleep well before midnight, and again didn't need the sleeping bag. At twenty five past four in the morning I was staggering out to the rods, trying to get my specs on and remain upright before determining which rod had caused the remote sounder to disturb my slumber. It turned out to be the middle rod fishing the boilie and the culprit looked more like a roach than not to my inexpert eyes.


Or not?

The helicopter rod was converted from a pellet/bag rig to a maggot/feeder. The hook was a size 14 Animal and four red maggots were crammed on to it and a piece of red rig foam trimmed to give a slow sink. This produced a small roach/bream hybrid an hour later that had had a lucky escape from a small pike by the looks of things, followed by an equally small roach. The day tried to warm up, so I donned my waders and searched the margins for my missing marker float. And found it in the reeds near the next swim!

With that I called it quits while I was ahead.


Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 06, 2008

All good things...

As the sun sinks slowly in the west I'm amazed that I've managed to keep this blog going as long as I have on a fairly regular basis. In my early twenties I kept a diary where I wrote each trip up in detail when I got home. That lasted a couple of years before dying the death, and it looks like this blog might be going the same way. I have an inherent loathing of routine and 'having' to do things. That's why I stopped pike fishing and writing articles - neither are compulsory activities, and neither is writing this blog.

There may be a few rig thoughts to come, probably some tackle reviews, and possibly a tale or two if anything really interesting happens. But but for now, that's about it.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, May 19, 2008

Slow progress

It was back into the bunny suit after the brief heatwave. Not only was there a north-easterly blowing but there was also rain around. I managed to get set up in the dry after pondering my swim selection on the basis that nobody was catching much. The decision was made more on a whim than anything, selecting a deeper swim that hadn't been fished this season as far as I know. I kept the baiting to a minimum and cast three rods out all fishing different baits. Two method feeders were set up one fishing the standby of two grains of plastic corn, the other a 10mm pineapple Boosted Wrap. The third rod fished a maggot feeder with two plastic casters on the hair.

Unusually there were lots of small fish topping all along the bank from a few yards out to maybe thirty yards. Small fish don't often show on this lake, although I have had one day in three seasons that they have been a nuisance on the maggot rod. Grebes, terns and pike were making the most of this abundance of prey, all obviously catching small roach by the looks of things.

The first night was quiet. Not a peep from the alarms. Before dark I had swapped the Boosted Wrap for three 6mm Tutti boilie pellets, and when I started to wind them in in the morning a small pike of around two pounds grabbed them. Two red maggots were added to the bare hook on the plastic caster rig, and it wasn't long before a small roach was landed. Plenty of bites came to this rod, most failing to result in hooked fish. If I had scaled things down I'm sure that a number of small roach could have been had on single maggot. But that wasn't what I was after. Around noon the caster/maggot rod produced a bream of some five pounds, followed by another little roach.

Then, out of the blue, the alarm on the middle rod (fishing the corn) screamed out, and my best tench of the season so far was landed. Not fully filled out yet she was a sleek seven pounder. As I was weighing the tench the caster/maggot alarm bleeped once. The tench was sacked while I set up the camera and as I did so the line on the caster/maggot rod tightened and I pulled into what felt like a heavy bream. In the shallows it swirled and took some line, then all went slack. The hooklink had been bitten through. Pike. I guess that first bleep had been a roach hooking itself, to be taken by one of the pike patrolling the area.

The day was not exactly warm and not exactly cold. Despite the light rain, coming in showers of varying length, it wasn't unpleasant as things soon dried out when the rain eased off. The wind was cool, but not strong, although annoyingly unable to settle into one direction.

At eight in the evening a small bream picked up the caster/maggot combo, so for the dark hours I fished without the maggots - as I did for the following day. The idea being to leave the plastic casters to wait it out for a tench. Most of the night was quiet apart from a roach/bream hybrid of a couple of pounds that picked up a Boosted Wrap at one o'clock.

Sunday dawned brighter with the wind more steady in direction, and turned out quite warm in the afternoon. The grebes, terns and pike were joined by cormorants - all catching small fish well within casting range. One tern actually took a fish from the very edge, a foot or so from the marginal rushes. The bobbins, however, were still.

As I had had a flurry of activity around noon on the Saturday I intended to stop until one at the earliest, and stay longer if action was forthcoming. Sure enough, at a few minutes before twelve the bobbin on the caster rod dropped back slowly. So slowly I thought a small roach had picked up the bait, but when I wound into the fish it was obviously not a small roach but a tench. A six pound male as it turned out. This spurred me to stop longer. As the Test Match was interesting I thought I might as well listen until close of play. I did, but no further action was forthcoming.

A frustrating session is some ways, but the most tench action I've had on the lake so far this season. It certainly seems like there aren't many tench, and they are wandering around pretty much at random. If you pick the right swim then one or two might move through while you are there. As they are not moving around in shoals it doesn't make too much sense to put down big beds of bait. Having watched tench grazing in a bay two years ago I don't think they follow patrol routes. Those fish sometimes turned round and covered ground they had already been over. All pretty random as far as I could tell.

If this is what's happening then the light baiting/feeder approach is probably wise. There doesn't seem much point to pile in loads of feed and sit on it until the tench show up in numbers. It might be worth a try for the bream though.

A while back I got fed up of having to go and fetch my forceps from my rucksack when unhooking fish in the landing net, so I started clipping a pair to the mesh by the spreader block. This proved to be useful even when fish were to be weighed and were being unhooked on the mat. I wasn't too sure about the security of the forceps, so I pinned a 'zinger' to the net. This arrangement is working well so far - even if the 'zinger' is looking a bit rusty now!

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, April 26, 2008

When you see a good idea - nick it!

For some time I have been struggling to find a tangle free way of rigging up a marker float. I've tried different shaped floats, bits of tube, links on the lead, all sorts. None worked with any degree of satisfaction. The other week I spotted an angler's marker rig and a little light went on in my head. I'd tried one cork ball between my big eyed swivel and the float, but not three. As well as acting as an anti tangle device this also adds a fair bit of buoyancy to the float. Trying it out on The Crow Pit it seems to work well, the float only failing to surface when the whole lot got buried in weed and not tangling once.

What the plumbing revealed was a small clear patch about twenty yards out. So that was where I kept casting a method feeder and a maggot feeder. Another maggot feeder went down the edge. It soon became apparent that the clear patch was either not all that clear, or it was smaller than I thought. So, the feeder on The Rig had it's hooklength increased to seven inches, and the size sixteen with three live maggots was swapped to a sixteen with three live maggots on the hook and a plastic caster on the hair to give a slower fall. Furthermore I added a bit of PVA foam. Now I have a problem with PVA foam. For some reason it always comes off the hook too quickly for me. So I popped it into some PVA mesh and nicked the hook in that. It worked!

I had arrived later than I hoped, starting fishing around one o'clock. Around two thirty I started to get drop backs to the maggot feeder on the clear patch. I suspected roach to be the culprits for some reason. This activity didn't last long, and I couldn't be bothered shortening the hooklink again to get a hook up. After all, I was tench fishing.

Out of the blue, at five, the method rod was away. I picked the rod up, felt the fish kick, and with the line under little tension everything went slack. For some inexplicable reason the mainline had parted. I had only recently tied on a fresh hooklength with a 10mm pineapple boilie and a piece of floating plastic corn on the hair. So I can't see it having been knot failure. But you never know.

An hour later I was stood by the rods staring vacantly over the water when I hear the thud, dink, clunk, bzzzzzz of an indicator hitting the rod, the line pinging out of the clip, the indicator hitting the rod pod and the baitrunner whirring. The caster/maggot rig was away, and it wasn't a roach. After a decent scrap on the 1lb 10oz Interceptor I had a chunky male tench in the net.

The next bite also came to this rod, an up and downer that eventually held at the top. Lifting into something it didn't feel large but could have been a small tench, until it flashed silver. There were roach out there, and this one scraped over the pound mark. The other two that managed to hang themselves, from numerous bites, were about half that size. Now I'm trying to work out how to avoid roach!No self take photos this time as something has gone awol from my tripod. Just when I'd got the bulb release sorted too...

For the first time this spring I was able to fish without the bunny suit. Even when I packed up at dark it was still mild, and the light showers hadn't proved an inconvenience, barely requiring the waterproof jacket. With a first tench from a 'new' water under my belt it had been a good day.

I had gone fishing for two reasons. One was because my plans to work Monday to Wednesday morning and fish the rest of the week had been scuppered by the late arrival of rod blanks, limiting me to the Friday only. The other was the arrival of some goodies from Sonubaits. They're not really a sponsor as such, I just happen to know someone who works there.

Not being much of a bait fiend I actually get more excited by the simple stuff than the latest 'guaranteed' fish catching gimmicky baits. That's why I was keen (as in having run out of groundbait) to try out their method mix and Hemp and Hali Crush which are just what they claim to be and full of 'bits' for the fish to browse on. Add the two together and you have something that should appeal to the tincas. I already had faith in their feed pellets when added to a method mix so some of them joined the two groundbaits in the bowl.

I was also sent some 10mm Boosted Wraps in pineapple flavour to try. These are a pretty simple birdfood boilie by the looks of things, but with a peculiar jellylike flavoured coating. It was one of these, on the method rod, that I lost the tench on. At least I know they don't actively repel fish, so they'll be getting further outings. The groundbaits certainly will.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New toys and April showers

Having bought myself three new reels recently I have been itching to try them out. I have been looking for an intermediate size baitrunner-type reel for some time. The Okuma Epix Pro 30s that I use for perching have been great. Nice and smooth with a reasonable front drag too. But they are a little small for tenching, while I find the Shimano Aeros just a tad too large and don't like the fact that the various size spools are fitted to one size of body. That was why I got myself three Daiwa Regals last spring, but they proved a bit frail in my hands. The bale arms bent just by looking at them for one thing!

After a bit of interweb surfing I settled on the Tica Sportera 3507. These have the size of spool I want with a body that is in proportion. The baitrunner lever (or Hit and Run lever as Tica call it) operates the same way as the Shimanos I'm used to - unlike the Daiwas - so eliminating confusion. Initial impressions are good, but of course new tackle means blanking, so I'll have to report back more fully later in the year!

First time out was an afternoon roach fishing session in the same area of the lake that had produced on my last couple of sessions. Result? Five hours before I got a bite, followed by a small roach and a Tommy ruffe...

Undeterred I loaded the spare spools with some heavier line and headed for The Crow Pit, which I had never set eyes on before. The day was cold and wet as I set off, but although there were showers forecast (which duly arrived), I found a sheltered little sun trap to spend a pleasant afternoon watching swallows and martins from. Crystal clear water with no features I could find, and few clear spots, I fished three rods for almost eight hours with one half hearted bite (to double maggot) for my trouble. This was more an exploratory session, as much as to actually find the place as anything, than a determined attempt to catch some tench (or bream). That's what I keep telling myself, at least.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Rig

As promised here's a description of The Rig that I have been using with some success for a number of species. There are a number of variables that can be changed to suit the baits being used and fish being sought but two constants are 14lb ESP Power Gum and Drennan Grippa Stops.

I don't claim this to be an original idea, far from it, as it is in fact a variation on the helicopter roach rig described on FISHINGmagic by Andy Nellist. I wonder if Andy has ever been a carp angler? Because his rig seems overly complicated to me! Admittedly the Grippa Stops weren't around when that rig was described, and they do make the rig more streamlined.

The first thing I got rid of was the upper hook. I have a hatred of double hook rigs ever since I watched an idiot (there is no other word for him) fishing one with two hair rigged boilies for tench in thick weed at Sywell back in the dark ages. He was getting runs okay, but unsurprisingly losing more fish than he was landing (which wasn't many). Why he couldn't work out that the hook with no fish attached was the problem I haven't a clue, but I saw him retackle with the same double hook rig...

Anyway, here's The Rig.

I first knot the Power Gum to a size 10 Power Swivel using a four turn Uni Knot, then add a Grippa Stop followed by a size 12 Power Swivel and the second Grippa Stop of the pair. Finally a Hiro Rollsnap is knotted to the other end of the Power Gum. The snap link can be any kind you like really as it only serves as a quick change device for removing the feeder when packing the rods away, so it doesn't clatter about when the rod is broken down rigged up with the hook placed in a rod ring, but the Rollsnaps are quite neat.

The length of the Power Gum isn't critical, but should be at least twice the length of your hooklink and no more than twelve inches. I suppose that the longer it is the more shock absorbancy there is - which would be handy with very light hooklinks. The hooklink should be no more than four inches long, it's strength and the hook size being determined by what you are fishing for. I must say that I have found that with these short hooklinks fine line is not too critical, so I rarely go below 0.11 Reflo Powerline even with a size 20 Animal.

You can either tie up your own hooklinks, with a loop to make gauging length easier and to facilitate quick changes with cold hands, or if you find small hooks fiddly to tie you can buy hooks to nylon which you can cut down to suit.

Some people might prefer to set the Grippa Stops closer to the Rollsnap so the bait lies at the side of the feeder, but even with the little bit of silicone tube over the small swivel acting as a boom I find the hook can get stuck in one of the holes in the feeder. Placing the stops so the hook lies just above the lower knot makes the rig less tangle prone and doesn't seem to affect catches.

On stillwaters you fish The Rig on a tight line with a heavy bobbin to show dropbacks, which is what the vast majority of bites are unless you are on a commercial full of daft carp! Where carp are a possibility then a baitrunner should be used and engaged, but where they are not a problem I have managed fine with a standard fixed spool reel. I've even used this on rivers using a quiver tip as bite indication and it has worked superbly.

As well as using The Rig to catch my target species I have also taken to using it to supply myself with livebaits as it requires no effort and is a pretty foolproof self hooker. Just cast out The Rig with a size 20 and a single maggot and wait for something to hang itself. A packet of hooks to nylon and a couple of Power Gum links now live in my pike box!

One word of caution. Make sure that the hooklength is always lighter than the main line, and certainly no heavier than five pounds, just as a safety measure. For use with heavier hooklengths then a safer feeder rig is this one. I have recently streamlined this rig by swapping the Run Ring for a Rollsnap, and replacing the upper bead and stop knot with a Grippa Stop. So far it seems to work.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Trial and error

British Summer Time arrived on Sunday, and with it came a light wind and sunshine. Needless to say this brought the masses out and I was hard pressed to find a swim when I turned up at the lake in the afternoon. In a way this was good as it more or less forced me to fish an area that I have meant to fish in the past, and where I usually see small fish topping when it is calm.

The plan (notice how I always have a plan) was to fish two worm rods and a mini-bolt rig with a single maggot - all in conjunction with 40g Black Cap feeders. I know there are roach and perch to be caught, although not to what size they grow. So, having my perch head on the worms got priority. It only took a couple of small roach, after an hour of recasting the feeders to see one of the worm rods swapped to fish two maggots.

This was only a short session, but bites increased in frequency to the point I was expecting big things to happen as darkness approached with the day being bright. However, the opposite occurred and bites dried up altogether. I ended up with nine or ten fish, all small. Mostly roach but a skimmer, a tiny perch (maybe they are all tiny in here) and a surprise rudd. Even though it was minuscule it reminded me how pretty rudd are, not having seen one for a long time.

Wednesday came round and I decided to spend a little longer on the lake. The reason behind this session was to decide, or try to decide, which rods would be best for some 'proper' roach fishing. The Interceptor I had been using was a bit stiff in the tip, as it is for perch fishing. Yet the Avon Specialists that are so good for perching feel a bit lacking in oomph for punching the feeders out. They coped okay with no wind to contend with, but if there had been anything stronger I reckon it would have been a struggle, and they won't cope with heavier feeders either. Rummaging around I found a Chimera Specialist 1 that felt like it might be nearer the mark. It was duly rigged with 'the rig' (which I intend to devote a blog to when I get time - there's a clue in the top photo here) and stuck in the quiver.

The swim I fished on Sunday was taken, in fact the lake was almost as packed as it had been then. I set up a couple of pegs away and started casting two feeder rigs, both fishing a single maggot, using the Interceptor and the Chimera 1. The third rod fished a worm with a maggot feeder. It took a couple of hours before an indication of fishy activity, and another hour before the first small roach was landed. As before, bites increase in frequency as the afternoon wore on. This time it was roach all the way, all small, with the biggest (which might have pushed six ounces) coming to the worm rod!

I gave it until half seven before packing up as I wanted to compare the casting potential of the rods. Although the Chimera 1 does have a slightly more forgiving tip than the Interceptor (the 1lb 10oz model) the distances I achieved with an empty feeder were pretty much identical - gauged by counting the handle turns on the retrieve. For the time being the Chimeras will be my distance roach rods, despite them being a rather heavy blank. But what I really want is a 12ft version of the Avon Specialist. I reckon that would be bob on. Lengthening the tip section at the spigot end would force the butt section to be thicker, and so stiffer giving it the additional beef for casting the feeders. As the rig is a self hooker striking power at range is immaterial with fish playing capability the overarching requirement.

I also took time to play with the underwater function on my Olympus compact. I think more practice is required!

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 29, 2008

I know how to pick my days

Sunday was another case of turn up, cast the barbel baits in, sit around for a few hours, wind the baits in and go home. Although there had been some rain the river was low and had a greenish tinge to it, but warm enough for some action to be expected. None happened though, not even a chub knock or two.

The early part of the week was committed to work, but when Thursday came around I was unexpectedly able to nip out and buy some 'maggits' for a perch session on Friday. I still had some lobworms wriggling in a tub so that seemed like a good plan.

Unfortunately the weather forecast I heard as I rolled out of my pit at half five turned out to be correct. The wind wasn't too bad as I got to the water, and I got set up in the dry. Then the rain arrived, followed swiftly by the wind gathering strength. The rain actually abated around midday - but the wind gathered even more strength. Although the air temperature was into double figures the wind chill made it feel much colder.

Bites were hard to come by through the early part of the morning. It was areal struggle. A carp was lost around ten thirty, and finally a perch was landed to a bunch of red maggots at quarter past eleven. This proved to be the smallest perch I've had from the lake at a pound and a quarter.

After lunchtime bites started to come more frequently, but not from perch. The first surprise was a couple of decent roach, the second was a brace of golden orfe. I wasn't aware that there were any in the place. The first weighed 1lb 12oz, and the second looked its twin but was an ounce over 2lb. Never having caught a golden orfe before that was two PBs!

Just before five I landed an imitation crucian, I assume it was an F1 thing but I'm no expert on these matters. By then I was starting to wish I wasn't there and began the task of dismantling the Aqua brolly. I must say that this has been a Godsend on the windy days I've fished this winter. Once pegged down with the stormpoles in place it stands up well and the stormsides keep the wind off me and the bobbins. Without this brolly I'm sure I'd not have lasted as long as I did today before packing up.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Like riding a bike

Three blanks in a row and it's time to do something different. So, having a couple of new rods I was itching to try out (Chimera Avon Specialists if you must know) I dragged out a couple of pike rods that I hadn't used for three years, threw two packs of deadbaits in a carrier bag and headed for a water I hadn't fished for ten or twelve years.

Quite why I headed there I'm not sure. It must have been the thought of trying out the rods and the feeder rigs I intend using for roach at some point soon. I wanted to see how they coped with various size feeders. There was also the chance of a jack if I threw a deadbait out. I'd either fish two deads and a feeder or vice versa, depending how I felt. Whatever was most likely to prevent another fishless session!

I knew where I wanted to fish but there was howling gale blowing straight into the swim. I looked around the sheltered bank but didn't fancy it at all and, with the rain easing off as dawn broke, I set up in my initial choice of swim.

Around ten o'clock my first fish of the year was landed. A small roach to the maggot feeder. I almost put it out as bait, but it had broken my duck. So I released it. There were bound to be more along in a minute.

Shortly after, as I wound in the feeder for a recast something grabbed hold and I briefly did battle with a jack - until it bit me off. I think a tiny perch must have hooked itself without registering a bite because I wound one in later in the day. At least there was one pike in my swim. And half an hour later I think I landed it on a pollan that had dropped short of where I intended to cast it owing to the strength of the wind. When I recast a fresh bait, however, the wind had dropped enough to get the extra distance.

This session was a last minute job and my planning was rather hit and miss. My real interest was the roach fishing trial and I had just popped three spare pike traces in my 'stillwater' tackle box, six deadbaits in the carrier bag and the two pike rods that hadn't been retackled for three years in my quiver! I'd managed to find one drop-back indicator but had to cobble a 'dangler' bobbin to the back rest to make a second. I had also planned to pack up in mid-afternoon as I wasn't taking the session too seriously.

Just before two, while setting the bobbin on the feeder rod. I saw the line peeling off the reel on the pollan rod. With my sounder box under the brolly I had set up to keep the chill north-westerly off me the wind was carrying the sound away from me as the line ran through the Delkim. I grabbed the landing net, closed the bale arm and after a couple of turns of the reel handle everything locked up. This was no four pounder. It actually pulled back and had me backwinding! After a brief tussle it was wallowing ready for the net and in it went. Hmmm! Lying in the net it looked real pig. On the scales it tipped past 16lb. The photo doesn't do it's belly justice.

You might think it would have been foolish to pack up after that. But it would actually have been a wise move, for apart from a tiny perch and a small roach on the feeder that was my lot.

Not to worry. I'd tried the new rods out, well one of them. The head wind didn't really let me see how far the rod would cast a feeder, but it handled a 40g blackcap well enough. The roach rig worked to a degree. A tweak is required. And I hadn't blanked. In fact I'd beaten my previous biggest pike from the water by over five pounds. Seeing as the rain had held off too it had been a good day all round.

Labels: ,