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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

So it goes

I've not been out fishing over Christmas as I've been feeling a bit under the weather, and the weather outside hasn't been encouraging enough to tempt me out into the cold. So I've stopped in reading and re-reading Gierach. I'm glad our winters don't last as long as the ones they get in Colorado. It's almost made me want to take up flyfishing with bamboo rods - but not quite... A little Googling has turned up a Gierach article on-line.

2009 wasn't a bad year, England beat the Aussies to regain the Ashes and I caught some nice fish. But my fishing was a bit up and down like the England cricketers' performances. The cold start to the year scuppered any chance of good barbel catches but I got a feel for chub fishing. Then the last week of the season panned out well when the weather changed for the better. Alas the good fortune didn't carry on into the spring tench campaign. I was hoping to really get to grips with my chosen venue this year but a combination of unfavourable conditions and a lack of time meant I caught just nine tench - although the ones I did catch were worth having.

Work restricted me to the one late spring bream session that went better than I could have hoped for. Then the rivers opened and I got sucked back into barbelling, because it was handy and fitted in round work, forgetting my other plans for the summer because I couldn't put a foot wrong with the barbel between July and November. When winter came back with a bang work piled up making me miss those narrow slots when the river was on form or a stillwater worth a visit.

Here's the highlights:
  • Barbel - 12-12
  • Bream - 14-06 [pb]
  • Carp - dnw
  • Chub - 6-09 [pb]
  • Grayling - 1-05 [pb]
  • Roach - dnw
  • Tench - 9-09 (f) [pb]
[pb]= personal best, dnw = did not weigh (i.e. small!), (m) = male, (f) = female

Perhaps not as spectacular as last year when it comes to variety of personal bests, but the longer you fish the harder they get to beat and I have no complaints. The main thing is that I've enjoyed my fishing once again. New stillwaters and stretches of river have been explored and fished successfully. That's probably the greatest thing about fishing, there's always something to do that you haven't done before. When it pans out well in pleasant surroundings, which seem to become more important than the fish as I get older and grumpier, there's nothing better.

All the best for 2010.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Veni, vidi, blanki

Coincidentally Martha Reeves is in the UK - just as the radio weather forecasters say we're heading for a heatwave! The last few days have been pretty warm, but it's supposed to be getting hotter still. I managed to make my getaway on Thursday evening and was set up well before dark after a red hot sunny day. After a warm night, when I didn't need the bunny suit or sleeping bag, just lay under the bedchair cover, Friday dawned dull with tench rolling and tail slapping, both in my swim and well out of casting range. Hopes were high. Alas they were to no avail. When the afternoon grew sunny there were fish splashing about near the inaccessible reedbeds. Some were probably carp, but I have a feeling some were tench spawning. Whether they were spawning or not they certainly weren't picking up my baits.

I spent a fair amount of time watching a pair of grebes building a nest, diving down for weed and even twigs, dragging them quite some distance. I also gained a new friend in the shape of the mallard duck that had visited my swim on another occasion but now was much more bold. No messing about, straight on the bank to mop up my spilt hemp then waddling over to my bivvy with a greedy look in her beady eyes. After peering over the bedchair she ducked (cough!) underneath it for a look around, then a circuit of the outside of the bivvy and back again. I tore up a slice of bread and she had no qualms about taking pieces from my hand. I then placed a whole slice on the edge of my bedchair. This was soon snatched and taken away to be devoured.

Later in the day she returned. I hung on to my bread this time, but threw her a couple of dendrobena worms. These must have been a bit dry or spicy, because she had to go for a drink of water after devouring them before coming back hopefully for more.

Where's my lunch?

There was a little more visible tench activity in the evening, again failing to be matched with bobbin activity. Given that I had seen more tench during this session than the previous two I decided to stay put for a second night. There had been rain in the afternoon and the evening and night were muggy. A couple of bleeps to the margin boilie rod awoke me at three, but I managed to focus my eyes just in time to see the bobbin dropping back. Liner. Out with the last of the hemp, rebait the rigs and recast.

Saturday morning was quite still, the sky grey and a light mist blurred the distance. A couple of tench showed over the bait and even closer in. Still no pick ups. After breakfast I caught up on some sleep then packed up at eleven. As I hit the road rain arrived. With nothing better to do, and with thoughts of tench fishing starting to fade I set off to look at a couple of fisheries for a new challenge.

One was reputed to hold crucians and tench. It looked a bit of a hole in the ground to be honest, but it might be worth a chuck. The other was an ancient pool deep in the countryside holding a stock of wildies. I saw one carp caught, and another angler who had a load of carp (many small ones) cruising and crashing out in front of him. This was a much nicer place to be, especially on a damp midsummer afternoon with rain beginning to clear, warm drips falling from the trees and mist over the fields of wheat. I could see how carp fishing appealed to people when it was all carried out on waters such as this - but with fewer anglers about.

A vision of the past

My nostalgia isn't shared by everyone. I'd been prompted to seek out this pool by a conversation with a carp angler who had said it was a lovely place. He then went on to say that if it was his fishery he'd drain it, remove the numerous native carp and replace them with thirty big fish. Why do people want monoculture fishing? What's wrong with a bit of variety?

I've got a bit of work to get done this week, so I'll be playing it by ear dependent on the weather. I might have one more desperate try for a tench or two, or I might give those wildies a try, there's also a rudd pit that's come back on my radar. Then again a certain river I called in at looked rather enticing. If it does turn hot, with muggy nights I suppose the eel rods could get some use. Thank heavens all waters aren't chock full of twenty pound carp.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What on earth is that?

It's a float!

I like to think I'm nothing if not versatile... My efforts at float fishing didn't last long. The tench weren't showing, so I was on a loser to start with. What was interesting, however, was that setting the float revealed a depth of around eight feet, while using the plumbing rod suggested six. For the most part plumbing with a marker rod is done to find changes in depth, so accuracy isn't all that critical, but if it shows a depth of three feet when it's actually five it might affect swim selection. I might take the Smartcast next time and compare that to the plumbing set up.

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Feathered friends

A few weeks ago I watched a pair of coots feeding their scruffy looking brood. I eventually counted there to be six chicks. At that time they were spending most of their time hidden under the trailing branches overhanging the margins. Occasionally one or two would venture out to greet mum or dad to get a beakful of food. Even at that size the adults would admonish a chick by harrying it and appearing to peck at it. As the day wore on they became braver, and sometimes five would come out into the open water. There always seemed to be one that hung back. I didn't expect all the chicks to survive.

Now they are considerably bigger and braver, and there are still six of them, and they still get told off by their parents. And there is still one that spends a lot of time on its own - which is why there are just five youngsters in the photo below. They must be half grown now. Still taking food from their parents in a noisy rush each time one pops to the surface, they follow them round the lake but have learned to dive and are discovering what boilies are!

Family life

Although the coots were entertaining, it was a pair of great crested grebes that provided me with the more interesting sight. Grebes eat fish, so it took me a while to realise that a pair which were some way off making upward stabbing motions, stretching their necks sharply in all directions, weren't doing it for exercise. They were taking advantage of an evening hatch of insects. Opportunistic feeding.

I also had a close encounter with a mallard. A particularly forward female that flew into my swim and mopped up every spilled hemp seed it could find while it's mate stood guard at the water's edge. This made me happy because it left next to nothing for the rats to feast on after dark and they pretty much left me alone.

Fishingwise it was pretty much like last time. I fished the same spots, with the same rigs and caught a few more tench to keep my hand in. The females I caught, however, were nowhere near as fat as the two I had last time out. Solid, but not podded up. I should have come home before the rain set in, the temperature dropped and the tench stopped showing themselves on the surface. I've caught tench in the rain, but it's been warm rain. One day I'll learn something and it will stick.

The in-line feeder scores again

Labels: ,

Monday, June 01, 2009

Gotta get outta this place

Last week, being a short one following the Bank Holiday, saw me unable to get away tenching. Infuriating as the weather was warm and settled. The red eyed blighters must have woken up. The Saturday after my trip south for the bream I'd bought a pint and a half of red maggots which were residing in the fridge - on the off chance that I could have sneaked away. Last Saturday I bought another pint on the same premise. Sunday morning and I cracked. I had this week planned out, but I could stand no more thumb twiddling resulting from a lack of blanks to build on (Harrison's are short-staffed so are playing catch-up). The gear found itself getting readied.

I was expecting the first few hours of daylight to be the key time, so there was no rush to get set up well before dark. With dusk coming around ten, now summer is all but here, I had no need for a large food bag and set off after tea. Driving through the verdant late spring landscape in the early evening light, sillaging under way, the hawthorn blossom faded elder flowers taking its place, anticipation was high.

Just as the roads had been quiet so the lake was deserted. I had my pick of swims so headed to the south west corner which the warm north easterly was blowing in to. I took my time plumbing, then baited up two spots with some hemp cooked that very afternoon, laced with a light mix of pellets and old maggots. for the night I placed an in-line maggot feeder on the close in patch which had been baited by catapult, a method feeder with two grains of fake corn on the more distant patch and a 10mm Tutti with a bag of Hemp and Hali Crush to an unbaited clear patch.

Darkness was slow arriving as I lay back scanning the water from under my Aqua Rover Brolly - just big enough to cover the bedchair and fine for a warm dry night. The wind had dropped, but not died away so the brolly was welcome. Around eleven I was surprised to see tench rolling over my bait and in the general area. This went on for at least an hour, but the alarms didn't sound. Nor did they disturb my slumber.

I woke at three thirty to the sound of a coot chasing away a pair of grebes. There was a red glow low on the horizon and it was starting to slowly come light. A few birds were singing and as the day grew brighter as I drank the first brew of the morning so more joined in the chorus greeting the dawn. A tench rolled. I rebaited all the rods, the boilie on the helicopter rig being swapped over to a couple of plastic casters and the lead to a feeder. More tench rolled and tail-slapped. It was fully light. Having seen tench moving closer in than my closest baited spot I wound in the helicopter rig and added a small PVA bag with a few maggots in to mask the hook and beat the weed. A new trick for me, but one other tenchists have been using for a while.

PVA bag adds buoyancy and keeps the hook point clear of weed while providing added attraction

The bobbin on the helicopter rod lifted to a tight line, then dropped back as I got to the rod expecting the spool to commence spinning. As I was about to settle back on the bedchair it rose again. This time it stayed up and the rod top twitched. I lifted the rod and felt a fish on the end. Initially the fish came easily until it hit the margin when it woke up big time. I was convinced it would be a male, but it wasn't. It was a well filled out female.

Fit to burst

Had the bag done the trick? I wound in the in-line feeder and added a bag to that before recasting both rods. Two hours later, with the water sparkling in the sunlight, that rod was away. Another well filled out fish was soon landed. By now the rolling had abated. Three hours later I was on my way home after breaking this year's tench duck following another instance of that mysterious inspiration to fish an unplanned session.

April I could (just about!) live with being tench free, May shouldn't have been - but I suppose I didn't get the chance to put enough time in to find the fish (I blame the Bank Holidays - and bream!). Here's hoping I can make the most of June before the spawning urge overcomes the tench.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tench memories

I've not seen a tench so much as roll this year, yet this time last year I was catching loads of them. Or that's how I remember it. Checking my diary I read a different story of blank after blank followed by a few fish then more blanks. We seem to remember the good days more than the bad - until the bad ones become the norm!

To remind myself what they look like I've dug out some tench snaps from my Sywell seasons when I'm sure I never blanked... They were enjoyable days in good company with easy fishing - cast two boilies out and wait for the alarm to sound!

My first eight pounder - 1990(?)

A summer seven - 1991

7lb 10oz - 13/03/92

I didn't visit Sywell again until 2006 when I fished a 24+ hour session having been told boilies were no longer any good and maggot feeder was the method for success. I didn't have a run until I put a 14mm Tutti on one rod for the last couple of hours when I almost immediately hooked and lost a fish, then caught the rather tatty fish below. I should have started out with a Tutti on one rod, a few fish had rolled in front of me so who knows?

8lb 7oz - June 2006

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Planning ahead

The tenching has been more like sitting in the open air staring at rods than fishing so far this year. Either I haven't been able to find them or they just haven't woken up and started exploring yet. The bream, on the other hand, had been going wild down south. I couldn't string the time together to go after them though. It can be a short period of easy fishing and I'd missed out on it last year. Tuesday saw me able to get away. Unsure of the range I'd need to fish at I packed my Interceptors and one of my Ballistas. My plan being that if I needed two long range rods I'd press the marker rod into operation - so I put a spare Baitrunner in the bag. For some reason I threw another spod in the bait bag, to give me a choice of four. It must have been premonition.

The first task was to walk round the lake looking, and asking, for clues. One thing I will say about carp anglers is that when they know you're one of those weirdos who prefers catching bream or tench they are very helpful. A spot where the bream had rolled the previous evening was pointed out to me. It would be a starting point if nothing else, so I wheeled my wheelbarrow round and selected a swim that gave access to open water. Out with the plumbing rod and hard gravel was located almost at the casting limit of my Interceptors - determined by casting a feeder at the marker float. This process revealed that one of the Sporteras was making a grinding noise and felt as rough as a bag of gravel. I put my spare Baitrunner on that rod and swapped the other Baitrunner from the Ballista to the other Interceptor. I prefer to fish with matching reels so that I know where all the knobs and levers are and that they all work in the same way. Essential in the dark, I find.

Tools of the baiting trade

The next task was the spodding of feed. A presoaked mix of pigeon conditioner and groats to which I added a load of mixed pellets. To save my back I stood the spod mix bucket on two other bait buckets. This also speeded the spodding up. Well, it did until the first spod fell apart. I had wondered why the bead was a tight fit under the loop on the MCF spod when it hadn't been on the previous cast. Everything looked okay. Then I cast again and the fins fell off. I had assumed the fins to be an integral part of the moulding, but they are not. They are a separate piece that is glued to the spod body. As the wire loop is attached to the fins and takes the force of the cast inertia did the rest. No matter, I had three more spods.

Spod the difference

I clipped on a bigger spod that I'd modified to release like the MCF, filled it up and let rip. There was a resounding crack as the line parted and the spod flew free. The line had tangled at the reel. Arse! Time was getting on and I had two options. Swap my marker reel to the spod rod (it was clipped up at the correct distance and I had my horizon marks picked out to aim for) or take the float off and use the marker rod. Out with a second MCF spod (because it was smaller) and try the marker rod. It did the job easily, and was less tiring to use than the heavy spod rod. I was soon working to a rhythm and the bait was placed accurately. I think I'll try a lighter rod for spodding again.

With half the spod mix out on the lake bed I set to sorting out my method mix. This consisted of Vitalin, more of the mixed pellets and some Sonu fishmeal and pellet method groundbait. The thinking being that bream like pellets and fishmeal! One rod fished two grains of floating fake corn set about half an inch off bottom and the other rig had a 10mm Tutti Frutti boilie on the hair. With both rods out I set up camp and waited. As if a switch had been thrown bream began rolling at eight o'clock. First of all well out from the baited patch, then closer and all points between the bait and the middle of the lake. Confidence was sky high.

When tench fishing with 'bolt' rigs I set the baitrunners and the line tight. The only way the bobbin can go is down and the tight drag helps set the hook and stop it falling out. When I'm fishing for bream I've started fishing the bobbins almost as low as the chains will allow but with just a bit more of a drop possible. The baitrunners are slackened off so if a bream does move away it can take line and give an indication. One or two have actually given decent runs. Too often I've failed to spot a bream take using the tight set up. All that happens is a single bleep and that's it. Either the fish stays where it is or it kites round on the tight line. Ignore the bleep and you end up winding a bream in when you wake up!

The down side to the slacker approach is that you are more aware of line bites, some of which can fool you into thinking they are the real thing. I always give an indication plenty of time before lifting into it. Letting the bobbin go up and stay up, watching the line tighten and the rod tip move, waiting while the bobbin goes up and down for ages, or watching it drop right back. Even so they still manage to fool me now and then. Line bites can occur on a tight line too, and if they result in a slack liner you have to get up and reset the bobbin. I think fishing the bobbin's on a bit of a drop is the best, and most informative option.

Loaded for bream

Once it was dark everything fell into place. Suffice to say that the bream found the feed and my hookbaits, the bobbins jiggled, alarms sounded and the tripod was required! One fish came out in daylight, and after I'd returned it and was sorting the landing net out I found a tiny pikelet. The tiniest pikelet I think I have ever seen.

From acorns...

To give a sense of scale!

The second night followed a similar pattern to the first. Bait was spodded out in readiness for the dark hours and right on cue at eight the bream began rolling. Again it wasn't until the light had gone that the bobbins moved and the scales and camera were required. Despite the problems that beset the start of the session a little forethought in packing extra spods and reels and some improvisation on the rod front had rescued the situation and I'd done okay. As I packed away my bream camp in the morning sunshine it was apparent that my bunny suit and towel would need a good wash!

Many years ago I scoffed at people wanting to fish for bream. It wasn't until I caught my first double that I realised big bream are different to small or medium bream. They're not groundbait devouring slime-balls, they are impressive and majestic beasts.

A male bream rests before release

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 01, 2009

A deserved blank

When you watch a coot swimming out to your baited patch, diving down, popping back up with a tasty morsel in its beak, swimming back to its chick and repeating the process, all day, it should tell you something. Slow on the uptake it took me almost two days to work out that there were either no fish in the swim or the coots had devoured all the bait. That was last week and it was nice to be out in the sun, but that's not the same as catching fish.

Coot food

What was surprising was that the coot (or coots as I suppose the pair might have been taking turns) rarely picked up my baits. The fake casters were never touched, the fake corn occasionally and the boilies only after they had been recast. A bait was never picked up a second time. I also noted that when there was a hatch of flies in the evening the coot(s) stopped nicking my bait and made the most of the meat that had come available. Once the hatch was over they went back to the pellets and stuff. There'll be some well fed cootlets swimming about soon.

A coot snack

On the way home I collected my latest batch of blanks which have kept me occupied since my return. I'd be more occupied with them if I wasn't still waiting for a few rod fittings. Par for the course though for a European distributor to be out of stock...

A few rebuilds and refurbs have materialised this week. As usual they show varying levels of craftsmanship. The professionally built rods just need tidying up even though they are fourteen years old. They do have ridiculously long handles though. The 'home made' rods are a different matter. One of the reel seats on one pair is fitted off centre. I wouldn't actually know how to achieve that if I wanted to! Other than that they are a simple rewhip and varnish job that is almost complete. The third pair of rods are a full strip and rebuild.

One of the reel seats was loose. When pulled off it was apparent why. Whoever had built the rod failed to run epoxy round the outer edges of the rolls of masking tape under the seat. This allows water to get in and soften, and eventually rot, the masking tape. The reel seat then works loose.

Rotten tape

The blanks are Tri-Cast Arrowlites which are nice blanks, but like all woven carbon/Kevlar blanks frustrating to refurb. Strip the clear coat off and the Kevlar strands stick up. Being bullet proof they are impossible to shave off with a blade. Apply varnish over them and you have sticky-up bits. These can be trimmed away for a second coat. But it's all a right pain.

With no time to get away I snatched a couple of fly fishing sessions. One a blank on the ressy, one on the canal that resulted in a jack attacking a 'fly' three times before getting fed up. Pleasant evenings but, as with the tench/bream session, I'd have preferred to catch something. At least I put some effort and thought in so didn't feel like kicking myself.

With warblers arriving the cuckoos won't be far away. The trees are leafed up nicely, hawthorn buds starting to show (even elder buds) and the reeds are starting to turn from straw to green as their shoots reach up through the water.

New shoots

It all makes you want to get out and fish. Then another Bank Holiday approaches to spoil it all.

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: , , , , , , , , , ,

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 indecisiĆ³n 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: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Got my mojo working

What a lovely summer day. The sun shone, the bees buzzed, England batted and bowled well, and the jinx is off! Only one bite but a fish landed. A strange bite too. The line tightened and the alarm sounded a couple of times as a coot popped to the surface near my maggot feeder. The coot was shaking some weed as the alarm continued to stutter with no line being taken from the reel. With trepidation I picked the rod up, felt something move, yet the coot remained undisturbed. Fish on!

The tench decided that it would kite over the line of my middle rod, then under the line of my right hand rod. After I had sorted the mess out and got the fish clear I saw another fish shadowing the tench, which was around the six pound mark. The shadower was a pike of maybe ten pounds. Needless to say this put the wind up the tench! As the tench swam to the right the pike followed it. When it ran out from the bank out of sight the pike went with it, to reappear behind the tench when I drew it back. Eventually the pike shot off when the tench splashed on the surface just before I netted it.

As can be seen, I was using was a Preston Innovations feeder modified to fish in-line. As they come the swivel attachment is weak and will snap off in use. I'm told this fault has been rectified, but it makes the feeders a perfect candidate for modification. After removing the swivel attachment holes are drilled in the centre of the cap and the closed end of the feeder. The holes should be just wide enough to accept the PVC (I think) tubing which is the key to the modification. I drill the holes slightly too small and open them out with a reamer to get the snug fit. The tubing I use comes from and old bulb release. It is the perfect size to grip a size 10 Power Swivel and does away with the need for tulip beads or neoprene sleeves attached to rigid tubing. I fit the feeder to the tube, running superglue around the it where it exits the end of the feeder. When set the tubing is trimmed to length.

My MkI version seen in the photo above revealed a problem in use. The end of the tubing sticking out of the cap was cut too short. When filling the feeder the cap would slide down the line making it a fiddle to replace - by which time half the maggots had wriggled out of the feeder! By leaving the tail a little longer and superglueing a tapered sleeve to it I hope to have solved the problem for the MkII model shown below. Although simply making the tail a bit longer still might do the same job and be cheaper. I'll try both options next time out.

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 31, 2008


The session was doomed to failure before I left home. But it had to be got out of the way. I'd been on a tackle buying spree. A new spod and head torch weren't enough. No. There were some feeders bought to convert into in-line jobs, and - worst of all - three shiny new bobbins and isotopes. If there's one thing guaranteed to result in a blank, it's new indicators. At least the day at the pit was a pleasant one to spend admiring them. They they went up and down when I played with the line, so I guess they'll work okay when a fish eventually comes along.

Ironically the alarms and pod caught fish on their first trips, but indicators are a different matter. They're pretty though, you have to admit! They're part of my policy of mixing tarty and not cheap with cheap and cheerful. The pod is a Nash Hooligun 'entry level' pod. It has the advantage that Korum banksticks fit it. With two of those in the back position I can raise my rods higher at the back to get the tips low to the water. This is an advantage when waterfowl are about.

The spod certainly did the job, though, and I wish I'd bought it a couple of years back when I first saw one. I've used casting clips with spods in the past so they retrieve nose first, rather than backwards. But they were home made modifications that didn't always release and sometimes tangled. The MCF Swordfish is a bit different and (so far) releases every time, admittedly occasionally needing a jerk at the start of the retrieve. I now want a bigger one. Or I might get the wire bending tools out...

The first blossoms of spring on the blackthorn gave way to the white cascades of the hawthorn a few weeks ago. As those began to fade last week the elder was already in bud and is now in flower. A sure sign that summer is almost here. So, with June a couple of days away, I was rather surprised to hear, and then see, a cuckoo calling late in the afternoon. That, and watching a group of tree creepers feeding and squabbling in the willows almost (almost) made up for the blank. How some people can sit reading books when they are fishing is beyond me, there's always something interesting going on in the natural world if you keep your eyes and ears open. In fact there was so much noise from the birds in the surrounding trees and undergrowth (chaffinch, robin, sedge warbler, great tit, blackbird, and more I didn't recognise) that I could hardly hear my radio at times!

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: , , , ,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Thin on the ground

Back in April when I caught my first tench of the year another angler landed one that he said he'd caught twice last season. I don't usually take pictures of other people's fish, but this one I did. It has a black spot near it's tail making it easy to identify.

Although that wasn't the reason I took the photo, I did remember that my biggest fish from the water last year also had a black spot on one flank, but I wasn't sure that it was in the same place.

Having only just got round to inspecting the photos closely I now know that the fish is one and the same, and it was caught from the same swim, albeit in different months. This does rather suggest that there isn't a huge head of tench in the lake.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fish. No, really!

I was pretty sure I'd spotted a fish being returned up the opposite end of the lake on my last day there, so that was where I hoped to fish this time round. With the weather turning suddenly hot I reasoned that the shallows would have warmed and the tench would be mooching around them. As the prevailing wind had been blowing into that end of the lake that was a second reason for the choice.

Arriving in late afternoon I was surprised to see just one angler in the area, and only a couple more on the rest of the lake. A chat revealed that there had been a few tench caught in the area over the last week, but that the guy fishing there now hadn't had a bite for two days and nights. I then went for a look around as another option was a large shallow bay round the corner. An hour later I was setting up in the next comfortable swim to the bloke already fishing. The bay didn't look any more promising, and was a midge infested swamp!

By the time I started setting up camp the strong wind was easing to manageable proportions and everything calmed off nicely towards dusk and a night so mild that the bunny suit was surplus to requirements and the sleeping bag didn't need zipping up. I soon had a couple of indications to the maggot feeder, just twitches that could have been liners, which suggested there were fish in the area. With catches being just a few fish I kept the baiting minimal, ten or so spodsful of particles, dead maggots and pellet mush topped up with the method and maggot feeders.

Preparing to get some sleep the alarm on the middle rod with the trusty method feeder fishing two grains of plastic corn bleeped a couple of times. Popping my head out of the bivvy I saw the bobbin right up on a tight line. Lifting into the fish I felt the nodding weight of a bream. My first double from the water and, apart from a split tail fin, a nice clean, young looking fish.

Half an hour later the same alarm signalled a far more positive take, and after a good scrap a tench was landed. A female of five or six pounds. Things were looking good and I was anticipating more action through the night. It never came. One more twitch and that was it.

In the morning there were tench blowing over a wide area in front and to either side of me and the other angler, but as usual they didn't play ball. Out of the blue the other angler, who had broken his duck with a few small bream in the night, landed a male tench around ten o'clock with the sun beating down. He packed up shortly after and I was on my own on that length of bank watching the scummy algae and weed drifting on the surface as the bottom 'broke up' with the heat.

What little wind there was caused this scum do drift into, and collect on, my lines requiring it to be cleaned off at intervals or it would have clogged in the tip rings had I been lucky enough to hook a fish. As the water went calm when the sun set the scummy blobs remained on the surface slowly drifting straight in to me. When I got up in the night to see what might have caused a single bleep I spotted huge mats of scum drifting in. I put on back leads to prevent problems.

By dawn the scum had cleared, but the wind failed to gain any real strength and more blobs started to appear. I decided that the best plan was to move upwind to find a spot where the wind would drift the scum away from me. With the sultry conditions there were plenty of pike basking in the marginal shallows, all either small or very small.

Although the swim I picked had produced a few double figure bream over the last couple of weeks, and I had seen tench bubbles moving through it last week, the afternoon, night and first four hours of daylight were completely fishless. I'm sure that it was a combination of bright sunshine and lack of wind, plus the bottom 'breaking up', that was the reason the fishing was patchy. The lake is either going to switch on big style soon, or continue to be moody for the rest of the spring. Knowing my luck it's going to be the latter.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

No fish (the real blog)

Three nights (as in four evenings and three mornings with most of Sunday spent away from the water) with hardly a sign of fish until I was packing up when some fish, maybe hybrids, showed at dusk. The first two nights were spent in a swim that isn't a swim, but plumbing around with the MkII modifed plumbing rig found something interesting, the south-westerly was blowing into the area and all looked good. Apart from three or four single bleeps during the hours of darkness the alarms remained silent. Which is more than can be said for the coots.

The lake is certainly waking up. Not only are coots sitting on eggs (when not squabbling amongst themselves) the swans and geese are nesting too. The cuckoo was calling at dawn each day and the hobbies are back in town. In the water the invertebrate activity in the margins has increased, so I assume the fish activity will be doing the same.

I have to admit that after moving for the final night I did spy some tench bubbles at one point. What looked like a couple of fish moving through a bay. I had a cast at them, and would have moved if they hadn't been moving through so quickly - and I hadn't already put the last of my bait in for the night.

Not much (if anything) was caught at my end of the lake while I was there. So maybe the bulk of the fish have moved with the change in the temperature. It was t-shirt weather at times, and the rain was that summery sort that doesn't make you chilly and soon dries from the grass.

Two good things to come from the session were the upgraded plumbing rig, and the foamed baits. I'd noticed that after very little use the cork balls between lead and float were getting damaged, mainly by the clip on the end of the line. Opening up my pike box to find a hard plastic bead to act as a buffer I spotted my bait poppers. Two birds, one stone. They could replace the cork ball and alleviate the need for a plastic bead - as they are hollow hard plastic. I also cut up a single leg rod ring and added a snap link to it to provide a hi-tech run ring. Knowing my luck it will crack, but I'll stick with it for the time being.

The other step forward is one I've been trying to make for ages. I'd seen PVA foam used on his hooklinks by Terry Lampard in an issue of Coarse Angling Today a couple of years ago. Unfortunately it wasn't the issue in which he'd explained how it was done and it looked like the stuff had been sliced and the line slotted in to it. I tried that and it failed - the foam flying off on the cast. Then last week I had a blinding flash of inspiration. If you can call it a flash when it took two years to happen! I'm sure this must have been written about a million times, but I obviously read the wrong magazines. Take a piece of foam, lick one side of it, fold it round the hooklink and hook point and squeeze. The damp PVA sticks to itself and the lump stays put.

Much better than fiddling about putting the foam chunks in PVA stocking. D'oh!

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: , , , ,