Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I take it back

Saturday I sneaked a cheeky evening carp session in. Not expecting much away from The Petting Zoo I wasn't disappointed at my complete lack of success. Sunday was reserved for the soaking of pigeon conditioner (and work). Monday was work-filled until tea time. Leaving the timer on the rod drying machine I set out for another late evening lazy set up, this time intending to fish until after lunch.

All went to plan. I'd not forgotten anything. Nothing important at any rate. Just the big brolly was required given the forecast for a dry night and another hot day to follow.

Half the seeds, to which I'd added a tin of corn, got spodded out along with a pint or so of mixed pellets. The maggots could wait until dawn. No point attracting too many bootlace eels with them during the night. The spodding taught me a couple of things about these new-fangled Spombs. Firstly they are rubbish for using at close range. They need to descend almost vertically to open reliably. An under arm swing doesn't cut it. Secondly they don't seem to like pigeon conditioner. The tiny seeds get in the closing mechanism meaning it won't close. Thirdly they hold a lot of water from the particle mix. Next time I'll be throwing a couple of my old spods in for close in baiting just out of catty range. In the meantime the Fox Spombalike is going to get some holes drilled in it to drain my seed mix.

Darkness is coming around ten fifteen now. The just-past-full moon tempted me to play around with teh camera. I felt pretty sure I'd not be disturbed by any fish even though I'd swapped the fake casters for a grain of useless glow corn and the 10mm fish scarer had been swapped for a larger wafetery thing which I cast well beyond the baited area.

Just one little rat appeared early on, ate some spod spill, then scurried away not to be seen again. That was good. The westerly died away and the lake went mirror calm. Fish of various sorts, including tench, had been showing on the surface before dark, but during the night little disturbance was heard or seen. Late on a mist rose from teh water as the sky cleared. Not for long though.

A few minutes before four I was woken by a stuttering sound from the sounder Velcroed to the brolly shaft. Half asleep and spectacle-less I blundered out and grabbed the left hand rod. A small eel felt like it was wriggling on the end of the line. Once I came to my senses I realised it wasn't an eel but a tench. And to the glow corn too. I take back everything I've ever said about it being rubbish! Not quite in the dark, and probably not glowing much after more than four hours, but a confidence booster for the bait.

With the fish returned it was time for a brew and something to eat to get my energy levels up to cope with the impending non-stop tench action that was sure to occur once I'd put the rest of my bait out. This time I used the catty to get the seeds more or less where I wanted them. The wafter was removed and replaced by the maggot feeder and casters. I stuck with teh single grain of glow corn, and the two yellow grains on teh thrird rod. Three plastic baits. All being fished in full confidence. Strange.

By eight the bunny suit was removed. By nine the fleece was gone and the sweatshirt followed soon after. It was another hot one. The wind had swung to the east then died away to nothing. Willow fluff drifted about on the water, a chaffinch sang its heart out from the topmost branch of a fir, a kingfisher flashed by and a distant yellowhammer could be heard. I even saw my first damselfly of the year. The scent of the hawthorn now in full bloom, making me think it's prime tench time, seemed to be accompanied by the hum of summer. The hum turned out to be an approaching tractor spraying the crop in the field behind the lake...

As the sun arced round to the west my brolly gave me some shade. As the wind picked up again it provided some relief from the heat. Apart from odd single bleeps, which I think were liners from small fish as the bobbins never moved, nothing much was happening. The calm surface wasn't being dimpled or disturbed. It was as if the fish were keeping their heads down. I got mine down too and caught up on some sleep.

Lunch would be had at twelve then I'd think about packing up. Not much thinking was required and I was away at one. Hardly had I set off than the sky clouded over and the temperature began to drop to a more bearable level.

A fish caught and some practical lessons learned. I even got to use my new water container. I'd prefer it not to have a large logo embossed on it, but it's more robust than the two smaller containers I've been using for something like 20 years and which are looking in danger of splitting! The only negative I can think of so far is that I can't see how full it is. The old bottles were translucent, making it easy to judge how many brews I had left. As this one is a litre more than the capacity of the two old containers combined it should suffice for a two night session. With a bit of luck. It stashes nicely in the bag of my barrow, which is handy.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In the nick of time

Events were conspiring against me once more. In an ideal world I'd have fished Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, but I had to take my car in for its MOT first thing Wednesday. No worries. Wednesday night would do. The forecast was drier too. Except... A parcel that was due to arrive Wednesday was now arriving Thursday. When the fishing madness arrives chances get taken. If I could get back home before ten thirty I should be in time to take the delivery.

Wednesday started wet and ended dry. Not too warm with a bit of north in the westerly, but warm enough once I had the Groundhog up to take the edge off the wind. Overkill for one dry night but on a barrow it doesn't make life any more strenuous than a lighter brolly would. I had plenty of time to get settled in and baited up as this was a proper tench session on a different venue with fewer carp and I wasn't expecting anything until the morning.

With that in mind I got myself cosy and organised before plumbing up, baiting with maggots, seeds and pellets, and then chucking the baits out. Sure enough nothing happened save the occasional single bleep. After dark I swapped the plastic casters for a grain of glow in the dark corn which I have been assured is a guaranteed nocturnal tench magnet. More false propaganda.

One rat made a couple of brief appearances. A fish or two crashed out. At one point I was disturbed by a loud splashy swirl in front of the rods, followed by the sight of an animal swimming away, diving and resurfacing. It wasn't a rat. What it was remains a mystery as I didn't have my specs on and the glipse was all to brief. Probably a mink. I hope.

An overcast dawn arrived slowly. I made a brew then got up and wound the rods in, cast the marker back out and baited up again. After that the rods were recast, the glow in the dark pellet reverting to the tried and tested plastic asters on an in-line feeder rig. The sinking corn was swapped to popped up grains and the fish scarer stayed as it was.

After a threat of rain passed over the day warmed up. The wind had dropped considerably and there were signs of roach or rudd topping, and a few patches of bubbles appearing beyond my baited patch. The fish scarer was wound in to have a small mesh bag of pellets attached to the hook before getting cast somewhere close to where the bubbles were popping.

I was expecting action at any minute. Even so my attention wandered to watch the birdlife. A kingfisher was zipping about. It's surprising how vivid a bird can be in flight yet be difficult to spot when perching. A pair of chaffinches seemed to be busy. They kept flitting into a spot in amid the hawthorn blossom. Maybe they have nestlings to keep fed.

As I was still getting single bleeps and there were roach topping again I chanced removing the corn and fishing three live maggots on a heli-feeder. In no time at all I had a positive take on that rod. It shouldn't have been a surprise to find a bootlace had hooked itself. The maggot idea was shelved and the corn put back out again.

My cut-off time was nine thirty. When it arrived I'd still had no tench interest and started a slow tidy up. As I was loading my bedchair on the barrow the sounder box woke up at last. The tip of the corn rod was pulling round and the reel spool spinning. A decent scrap ensued before a solid female tench was in the net. Typical. The day was warm enough to remove my fleece, a tench had been netted, and I had to leave.

Walking off I spotted a deceased tench in the margin. The second one I've seen on this water this spring. I wasn't going to poke it to inspect for causes of death as it was pretty far gone. Fingers crossed it was natural causes and not murder.

Back home there was no note telling me a delivery had been attempted and the test match hadn't started. I'd just managed a tench and got home in plenty of time. No fishing for a while now as there's work to be done. Oh well.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Retail therapy

At the moment I'm having a lot of fun snatching short sessions of a couple of hours on the Railway Pond - and less successfully on other places. Saturday was a case in point when I got the daft carp up on floaters again and might have caught some if my controller hadn't broken. Admittedly the swivel has been in danger of snapping ever since I bought the thing some time in the 1990s! I've affected a repair, and cut the weight down a bit so it sits a bit higher in the water. But I think buying a spare might be wise. A handful of suicidal pasties fell for a 10mm boilie fished in the margin to save me from a complete blank.

With these short sessions in mind I wanted to put together a bag that would contain everything I needed. Just a few bits and bats to cover unexpected losses like broken floats. I had the bag, a Korum Bait and Bits bag that will hold a bucket of mixers or pellets, tubs of bait, camera, bottle of pop, weighsling scales and sundry other stuff. Rather than keep swapping the major stuff from bag to rucksack -with the inevitable memory lapse resulting in a longer session being undertaken without a weighsling or some other essential - I decided to double up on stuff.

I have a set of scales, Super Samson spring balance, lying idle but no suitable sling. As I'm still using an original ET weigh sling for bigger fish I popped onto Ted's website and ordered one of the latest versions in the not-too-big size. It's not quite as deep as my original but it's going to be fine for anything I'm likely to put in it. Best of all it comes in a carry bag. As a rule I leave carry bags in the garage but this one will take my scales and a pair of forceps, and even the small tackle boxes I've put the rig bits in.

Rummaging in my tackle cupboard I'd found a box that  was big enough to hold a spool of hooklink material, scissors, hook packets and some back leads. I still needed something to put the smaller rig bits in. A visit to a tackle shop to buy two shortish banksticks (not carp angler short) found me that box when I wasn't looking for it. A neat little clamshell job. It looked like there had been equal quantities of black and green boxes on the shelf, with more green ones left. Black might be hip, but I know from past experience it's hard to see black swivels and so on in a black box, so I bought a green one.

It's always a good idea to carry a cigarette lighter or two in the tackle bag. So when I spotted some with fish motifs on them in the same shop I went for one with a picture of a pike. The carp ones, unsurprisingly, had sold out.

While I was on the ET website I spotted some small boxes that looked really useful. I like really useful boxes so ordered a couple. As yet I haven't found a use for them. But they will be really useful one day, I'm sure! They look more robust than the clamshell box.

Despite all this planning and organising I took my rucksack with me yesterday for an evening session. And a brolly with the forecast being for rain arriving at nine and leaving at eleven. As it turned out the rain came and went half an hour earlier. Which was good as I got away in the dry.

This was to be my last session with carp rods for a while. My intention being to use tench rods for tench somewhere carp won't be such a possibility. Quite when that will be remains to be seen.

I wasn't sure where to fish when I arrived, but seeing a dark pointy fin break surface in the swim I'd dumped my tackle in before going for a wander made my mind up. I'd be happy catching anything. So it was that a fish scarer got lowered in teh margin, a pop-up cast out with a bag of pellets to another margin swim, and Lucky the Pellet cast to where the bream had rolled.

The wind was from the west for a change, warm and not very strong. It was quite muggy too. The trees are almost in full leaf and the hawthorn in bloom - hence me wanting to concentrate on tench until they spawn. It felt like a fishy evening.

It wasn't long before I had what seemed like a liner to the fish scarer. Then another. A longer gap and another liner. I was beginning to wonder if a bream had hung itself on the three ounce lead. Eventually one of these liners pulled the tip round and my suspicions were confirmed. I think the bream had been hooked for some time! You can tell I'm not a carp angler because I netted the bream, put it on my mat, weighed it - and took a photo of it's tubercle covered head.

Even though I sat it out until eleven, still confident, nothing else happened of interest on the fish front. A barn owl made a brief appearance in the gloom of dusk, but it didn't hang around. The resident grebes continued to squabble. There'll soon be young ones which might make the adults even more quarrelsome. Judging by the small fish topping they'll all be well fed.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Short session

One rod, net, some bits and a mat to sit on. Had fish in front of me but nothing to report, just liked this photo.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Not so cr*p?

More than half the battle when it comes to catching fish is location. No matter what the species, you can only catch them if you have a bait in front of them.I was going to take advantage of the drier evening no matter what, but if the swim I'd seen produce a couple of carp on Tuesday was free there'd be no way I'd fish elsewhere. I'm not completely stupid! As it turned out the lake was deserted...

There are two spots that are obvious places to place baits so they got scattered with pellets and the baits dropped over them. The closest rod started out with plastic corn on the hook but I swapped it to a 10mm fish scarer on the off chance. Some more fish scarers were scattered around it. Well I might as well throw them in a lake as a bin. The third rod got a boilie type thing put on the hair and chucked out randomly on its own. I couldn't even be bothered putting a bag of pellets on the rig.

The grebes were milling around again, this time the courting couple made a half-hearted attempt at some weed waving. It wasn't quite as windy as the evening before, warmer too but not sunny. Birdsong was prolific and once more I bemoaned my lack of identification skills in this area.

I've been using my lucky sweetcorn for some years now, carefully removing it from a rig when the hook gets blunt and putting it on a freshly tied rig. It's very economical. I think I might have a lucky plastic pellet now. Around ten to eight something picked it up. At first it felt like another bream, then it might have been a carp, but finally it got all jaggy and I knew it was a tench. Judging by the bend in the 3lb Torrix it might be a decent one too. In the net it had me guessing again. Unlike the mug from last week it was rounded out and clean looking. Not the biggest I've caught, and from other waters only worth a mat shot. I might not even have bothered with a self-take as it was, but one of the carp fanatics had turned up a few minutes earlier so I got a 'grip and don't grin' shot for a change.

Check the rig, put on another bag of pellets and out again. Forty minutes later Lucky the Pellet was picked up by something a bit heavier. Twice as heavy in fact, although sadly not a tench. A rather sick looking common was soon in the net. It had red blobs lifting some of its scales and a dull grey sort of film over its body and eyes. As if it was wrapped in opaque plastic. It seemed fit enough though.

Lucky the Pellet
Check hook, add bag, recast. Sit back and relax. I pondered over the success of the new reels and wondered why the usual jinx wasn't working. Two reels christened in two days with two local PBs. Something wasn't right!

Earlier in the day I'd been thinking about my locally caught specimen challenge and how it wasn't going too badly. Nothing large by national standards, and not much prospect for that with the possible exception of a big eel, but compared to what I'd have been overjoyed with in my teens, pretty pleasing.

At nine o'clock the fish scarer failed to live up to its reputation and the third reel got its head wetted. After a decent scrap for a carp, which included the swimming round in circles under the rod tip ritual, I had another common in the net and another local best increased. On the mat and panic set in. The hair was bare. I'd lost my lucky sweetcorn. I looked around the swim for it before remembering I'd swapped it for a fish scarer. Phew!!! Quite a nice looking fish apart from an absence of pelvic fins. Again the other angler obliged with the camera - after insulting my unhooking mat for being too small... The cheek.

This place must be stuffed with carp if I'm catching them, and on my crap rigs. I'd better not tell anyone my hooklink material cost about a tenner for 100 yards, and that kilo bag of fish scarers will probably last me until winter. I'm not mean, just economical with my bait and gear. One thing seems to be working. Using carp gear catches tench, and it means I don't wreck a swim when I do hook a carp as used to happen with smaller fish than I've been catching of late. A nine pounder could wipe out a margin swim using my two test rods but carp twice that size get landed faster on heavier gear.

A pity there are so many carp in the place. The more distant carp waters I've tench fished were bigger and had lower stock levels so the carp were less of a nuisance. Then again those tench were keener on the traditional tench approach than this lot appear to be. Maybe I'll try plastic casters on one rod next time. I've yet to catch a carp on those. Famous last words?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cr*p c*arper

Summer had definitely arrived on Monday. With the air temperature over 20 degrees and even a strong easterly warm enough to sit out in a t-shirt in there had to be carp on the surface. The Railway Pond seemed like a good bet for a duffer like me to snatch an easy sucker off the top.

I travelled light with one rod, an original Chorley Anglers Lure Special which I revamped a few years ago, a bucket of mixers, a bag of bits, landing net and unhooking mat to sit on.

The up-wind swims were taken by pleasure anglers so I dropped in the windward bank to see a few smallish carp cruising around. The wind was too strong to fish a controller so I anchored a surface bait in a long hooklink. A couple of carp had a look at it. One was too small to have enough suction to drag the bait down! That's the trouble in this 'non-commercial'. It's full of carp that are two small to be called pasties. They're more the size of party sausage rolls!

I worked my way along the far bank until the other anglers had departed and I could get the wind behind me. Even with my useless skills I soon had plenty of fish swirling away in front of me. The controller back in action and drifting towards the fish. But as usual, despite a couple of takes from fish with larger mouths, I caught nowt. Back home via the chippy and it was time to search the internet for bow-fishing gear...

Tuesday and summer had gone on holiday. Cloudy but warmish. Then, after I collected my new 'carp' reels, loaded them with line and rigged them up on the rods I was itching to give them a try out. As much to get the line bedded in (and make sure I'd put enough on over the backing line..) as to try to catch a fish. That was the cue for the rain to arrive. I went anyway. New tackle has to be played with.

The rain was light as I set up so the brolly waited until everything was in place. Two grains of plastic corn and a plastic pellet in the margins over sprinklings of the respective real baits, and a pop-up chucked out mindlessly. Under the brolly, sat on my low chair at its lowest setting, I discovered my leak repair hadn't been 100% successful. At least it wasn't icy cold water dripping on my leg.

 There wasn't much variety of birdlife to watch, but with nine great crested grebes on the lake, one sitting on eggs, there was plenty of activity. One pair were engaging in their head shaking courtship ritual, but with no weed gathering. The others were milling around, diving, and adopting threat postures before chasing each other. Why there were so many grebes on a comparatively small water I don't know. There were lots of tiny and small fish topping and leaping towards dusk though. So I'm assuming the grebes are there because the food is plentiful.

With carp rods and carp reels in use I felt certain a tench or two would make a mistake as they patrolled the edges and found my loose feed. When a take came it wasn't a screamer. All that happened was the left hand bobbin dropped a bit, went up a bit, dropped a bit, went up a bit... There was something on the end of the line when I picked the rod up. A plastic bag by the feel of it. Under the rod tip it got a bit heavier and felt vaguely alive. I'd forgotten that I'd tried to catch the bream in the lake last year, so it was a bit of a surprise when a dark old-looking bream rolled on the surface before sliding over the net. A fish that was round-bellied with spawn.

Not much of a test for the new reels. It made a change for the new tackle curse to fail though! One thing was for certain; the new reels are smoother than my old baitrunners, a couple of which are making peculiar noises when I'm winding in. Although the old reels are likely to go on my eel rods now as they are not completely worn out.

The last of the particles went in and the plastic corn back out over the top of it. Despite being an unexpected species my confidence increased. Not least because it was not yet dark. Surely a tench, carp, or even another bream would be along soon?

Of course my confidence was misplaced. The rain eased off as I thought about packing up. Returned as I wound the first rod in, but was kind by blowing over as I set off back to the car. Then it came back on the drive home. Another pleasant change.