Monday, January 30, 2012

All quiet

Nothing much to report in Lumbland. I picked a good afternoon (because the morning got eaten into) and blanked, a foul morning of rain and wind (but good water conditions) and blanked, and not much else. Settled conditions have moved in and guess what? I'm busy again. It's alright for these early retirers who really can pick the days, unlike hard working self employed rod builders with a troupe of varnish monkey's to feed... Anyroad up. I've got some gear for sale.

Three of these XTEA 10000s which I've used maybe half a dozen times (a couple of barbel sessions to try them out, one pike session and a couple of hours eel-blanking). All mint with spare spools. They're nice, but I can't get on with double handles and my ancient Spheros 5000Fs have the same spool size. Not that anyone would use it, but all six spools are freshly loaded (but only partially filled) with unused line - three with 15lb ESP mono, three with 50lb Power Pro.

All three reels and the spare spools for £200 posted. Sold pending payment.

More stuff later when I can get some snaps taken.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pike floats

Trapped indoors again waiting for parcels so I thought I'd do a tutorial on how to make bottom end sliders in a hurry - like I did on Tuesday for my session yesterday when I couldn't find any suitable floats that weren't rigged up on rods. Obviously you need the bits - which I already had in my junk box.

The simple method would have been to shove the split pin straight into the float's tube and go fishing. I tried that, but it stuck out about an inch looked a bit like a tangle magnet.

First cut off the top of the tube with a hacksaw. Then run a sharp blade around the bottom of the float where the tube comes out to stop the paint pulling away when you grip the tube with pliers and pull it out. The split pin is opened up wide so that it grips when pushed into the float. Apply glue to the split pin (epoxy for a long lasting job, or superglue if you're in a hurry) and push the pin home.

For a neat job, and to stop the swivel getting wedged out of line, slide a short length of shrink tube or silicone tube over the swivel and split pin eye. That's it!

When I'm in less of a hurry I use the split pin and swivel construction on floats shaped from lengths of balsa dowel. Starting from scratch with balsa means you can make the floats just the right size to suit your needs, but they take longer to make with all the shaping, sealing and painting.

I prefer this stumpy profile for my bottom end floats as I find they both hold up better in a flow, and are more visible in any conditions, than the usually recommended pencil float for legering deadbaits. They work for paternostering, too, making them an all purpose drain float.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Testing times

The things you see when fishing!
Since I got my pike mojo back and started blogging about piking hits to Lumbland have increased threefold. Here's some more piking drivel to keep you all looking in!

I haven't had much opportunity to get out of late. Not on days I've wanted to fish. Me and the cold don't mix, which has seen me staying home on the clear, frosty days, and by dint of fate cooped up waiting for deliveries on the mild ones. I don't like the wet either, but made the effort to put a full day in last Tuesday as the forecast wasn't bad. It wasn't bad at all. It was bloody rotten - as in way off the mark.

I rolled up full of enthusiasm on a mild and dry morning well before light and made my way to a far off swim which I was surprised to see had obviously been fished in the not too distant past. Undeterred I set up and awaited the first run of the day. When it came fully light I realised that I had become disoriented in the dark and was fishing a swim I had fished before Christmas. I had been the recent visitor!

As the morning wore on, runless, so the weather took a turn for the worse. First of all the wind picked up with a touch of the north in it making it borderline as to putting the brolly up for shelter. I'd intended moving at eleven thirty, but the arrival of drizzle convinced me to make the move a little sooner and erect the brolly in the new swim. Then the day settled into it's routine of a constant wind chilling me and waves of rain blowing through. behind the brolly it was almost comfortable, but the lack of pike activity was making it dreary as was the gloomy light that lasted all day long. It was one of those days when I was glad to have had enough. I'd had high hopes of a run at dusk, but I was so depressed by four o'clock that I packed up early.

The disillusionment had set in when I realised that I had seen no small fish topping or swirling at dawn. Getting  a definite sighting of a marsh harrier had briefly lifted my spirits during the morning, but the appearance of a cormorant near my floats in the later afternoon did my confidence no good either.

This week I would have ventured out on Monday in the frost and the sun, but I had to wait in for another late-arriving parcel. Tuesday I simply couldn't motivate myself to get out of bed. Today was almost a repeat when I looked through the bedroom window to see a wet street with rain making rings in the puddles. However I had spooled up three reels with some new braid I wanted to try out, and even rigged up three rods. Something made me get up, albeit a little later than I would have liked, but I felt motivated. By the time I was loading the carp the rain seemed to have stopped. It was far from cold too.

For a change there was no need for a head torch as I walked to the swim, not the one I'd had in mind when I set off. I'd got 'that feeling'. Not only did I head to a different area than my first choice, I steered clear of the spot I usually fish. Three baits were soon hooked up and cast out. Then the radio went on to continue listening to the dreary English bowling in Dubai Test Match.

Around nine another piker turned up and came for a chat and I turned the radio off. The drizzle had returned by now but it didn't stop me seeing the yellow topped float begin to wobble downstream. There was no flow at all, so it had to be getting towed along by a pike! So it was. The strike was met by the light resistance of a lively jack. As I had also gone to try out a new compact camera I asked my visitor to take a couple of snaps. I even smiled on one to illustrate to someone why I don't make a habit of smiling in my trophy shots. I look like I've left my teeth out! By the time the fish was returned, my visitor left to fish elsewhere, and a fresh bait was cast out I'd missed two Pakistan wickets falling!

Not exactly a tough test for the new braid, but it was a start. It knots well and stood up to a bench abrasion test without even furring up - it is 'round' and tightly braided.  Here's hopping it performs as reliably as it hints at doing.

The rods I'd rigged up were a couple of P-2s that I'd been using for small river barbelling. Although I'd caught some big pike with them I had come to prefer my P-5s. They're perfectly adequate for this sort of close range fishing, and you'll never need to worry about giving pike slack as they are very forgiving (bendy) and even though I've chucked six ounce leads with them on the rivers I don't like casting pike baits with them. A personal preference I guess. I like pike rods to hgave some grunt.

The drizzle abated. The sun even started to break through the cloud cover. Distant great tits chinked. A kestrel paid a brief visit to a nearby tree. A moorhen clambered onto some floating reeds and preened itself - stretching a leg and  a wing back then noticing a tasty morsel and pecking at it without toppling over. Wickets began to fall when the new ball was taken. The day was improving. Although I'd taken no food to speak of with me I put back my leaving time until close of play as I was warming up and feeling at ease with the world. By the time I made it home I was ravenous!

Getting back on the drains has seen me revising my rigs. Not in overall construction but in the detail. I've already mention the use of Korum Running Clips to attach pike floats with. I'm also using them to attach my leads in such a way they can be easily swapped from semi-fixed to running. The photo on the left shows the set-up, which is tangle-proof (as any rig can be). Unclip the clip, and replace it above the rubber bead and it's free to run on the line. If you want to do away with the float then take that and its clip off, slide the beads and stop knots down to the trace and put the lead above them. It's pretty much an all-purpose rig. If a paternoster is required just remove the lead and tie a link to the trace. Simple. I like simple.

Initially I was using 1oz leads but soon switched to 2oz jobs like I always used to use on my semi-fixed rigs. Pike really don't mind dragging these leads around.

This winter has been an odd one for weather. It might not suit some pikers who think it has to be cold to catch pike, but I'll take this winter so far over the last two bitter ones we've had. Who knows, we might even get a red hot summer this year. Now that would be a novelty!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

I don't know why I bother

Back in the old days, thirty years ago when I first fished the drains, I had some success using swimfeeders packed with chopped fish on my deadbait rigs. For some reason I stopped using the method. Probably because I was using livebaits more frequently and they worked a lot better than deads did at the time.

Now the drain pike are taking deadbaits regularly it seemed like a good time to try boosting the attraction again. Over the last thirty years I have dabbled with injecting baits with oils and flavours and given it up as a bad job. They never made a noticeable difference to my catch rates.

However, inspired by Chris Hammond's piece on The Pike Pool, but not liking the look of the messy paste making process, I thought up a groundbait idea. The ingredients are shown in the top photo, and the mix in the one below it. The brown powder in the bag is trout pellet paste (ground trout pellets).

First time out with the mix I threw a couple of balls around two baits (I've also taken to chopping up bits of the baits I'm using and throwing them out), and they were the two that produced the only runs of the day.  I was on to something! Second time out I again baited round two of my deadbaits. It was the other bait that went. Damn. On the third trip I chucked the groundbait at all three deads. And blanked. I've got another bag of paste and more tuna, so I'll probably give it another go. To get rid of the bloody stuff if nothing else. I had such high hopes.

Two trips so far this year and one fish caught. That came on a short session. A full day was the aforementioned blank. It wasn't an enjoyable session. It started well enough with a light breeze blowing and the air warm. Then the wind picked up, as seems inevitable at the moment, making it feel a lot cooler. Some showers blew in meaning it was brolly time. The wind got up so strong that the brolly sides were trying to wrap around me. I never put much effort in under these conditions, but the water looked spot on. One clue might have been the lack of surface activity at first light. The short productive session had seen much dimpling and splashing of small fish. Easy to spot these correlations with hindsight.

What has been interesting out on the mere recently is that I have seen a marsh harrier on each of my last three sessions. These birds seem to be wintering in the region on a regular basis, and away from the coastal marshes now. I am assuming it is the reed beds that have been created on the nearby nature reserve that are, at least partly, responsible for the harriers' presence.

Here's me trying not to look miserable with my first pike of the year.