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!

Monday, May 26, 2008


Last week didn't go to plan as I wasn't able to get two spare days on the trot to get away tenching. Now there's the Bank Holiday weekend to avoid and my car is also off the road until Thursday. Bah!

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!

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.

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!

No fish

Three nights of immobile bobbins. So, for all those of you who loved the Goldfrapp clips here's something else.