Thursday, April 28, 2016

Winter returns

Success fuelling motivation I foolishly set out for an evening session on Monday. The wind had swung round more to the north than the west and the temperature dropped considerably since Friday. Deep down I knew I was wasting my time, more so when I decided not to fish a sheltered swim with the wind off my back. Two fleeces and my warterproofs over the top just about kept me warmish. The only good thing about the wind was that it blew the rain clouds away from me. Just as well seeing as I'd left my brolly at home.

As the sun set the skies in the west were quite dramatic, so I spent my time lying on the ground trying to get a shot of a reel silhouetted against them. It was more fun than sitting in my chair shivering!

Apart from one or two roach nothing else popped its head out of the water. The place didn't look like it would throw a fish up. When it got properly dark I packed up and went home wondering why I'd bothered.

I've never been one for using back leads all that much. They've never seemed to make any difference to my catches and I always end up losing them. Recently I've been putting them to more use for fishing at close range and have been catching. This might be coincidence. I might well have caught without them. But being down to my last lead I thought I'd buy some more. That idea went out the window when I saw the price of them! Then I remembered that I had a back lead mould which I'd never used and some clips.

Not having made any leads for a while I was out of practice and had forgotten a few things I needed such as a file for taking the burrs off the cast leads. Nonetheless it only took me about half an hour to knock ten leads up and save a few quid. When I weighed them they ranged from 40g to 50g, but they're only back leads that will get lost so I couldn't care less.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Never look a gift carp in the mouth

The hottest day of the year so far got me thinking there'd be carp on the surface, and I might as well go and fail to catch one on a floater. Initially, when it was flat calm but roasting (the first t-shirt day of 2016) there were no carp to be seen. As soon as a breeze began to ruffle the surface they were cruising about. The wind was coming out of the east, the opposite of what it had been for a few days and the carp were heading down wind. Another guy doing some spotting saw them first, wandered off while I threw mixers in, and came back to say there was a group of fish right down wind.

One common had taken a floater but the rest were ignored so I went and threw some more at the congregation of carp that was easy to find. Again they were largely ignored, apart from one pair of lips braking surface briefly before the fish turned away. I gave up. Not completely. I reckoned that if i could get home, sort out some scran and some gear I might make it back in time to nick the closest swim from any other after-work anglers. So many carp in one area would surely give a carp duffer like me a chance? I made it with minutes, maybe one minute, to spare. With the swim-claiming banksticks in place I took my time sorting out some rigs - rigs no self respecting carper would use - before settling down to fry two sausages in their own fat because I'd forgotten the lard in my haste.

With the sun off the water the carp were no longer visible. Something I've noticed on here before. As soon as the water goes into shadow the carp either move or drop down.  There were a few swirls and splashes, but not all from carp. One or two looked a bit tenchy while others were definitely roachy. Sausage butties eaten, tea drunk, all I had to do was sit and wait.

Despite the new hat keeping the sun out of my eyes and Fred still in hiding in my rucksack I had a finicky looking drop back to the rod fishing where I expected the action to come from. As this was a popped up plastic pellet I wasn't expecting the fish I wound into to feel like a writhing eel. Half way in it began to feel like a small carp before reverting to eelish ways. Eventually it flashed yellowy-green and it's red eye stared at me as I drew it over the net. This time my guess was conservative and the fish nudged over the four pound mark. Back out with the rig, again over a sprinkling of pellets and it was time for more waiting.

There are two pairs of grebes nesting, one has eggs already the other is yet to start laying. Chiffchaff, chaffinch and a distant yellowhammer were among the birds singing their spring songs. With trees starting to green up and the marginal reeds spiking forth spring really did seem to have arrived. The forecast is for it to bugger off again. Maybe the fish would know that and get their heads down.

Although the rigs and baits were not much different to what I had been suing on my tench rods this time they were on the eleven foot three pound Torrixes. So I was carp fishing. Can I sink much lower? My excuse is that it's something to do until the tench put some weight on. Feeble...

Although the wind had felt a lot warmer than it had the other week when it was from the east it didn't take long for it to lose that warmth once the sun began to sink. I was glad of the big brolly I'd brought in case I decided to stop all night. Once I was behind that windbreak the option of stopping on felt much more like a goer. I'd still rethink around midnight. When the pellet bobbin dropped back before flying up at quarter to eleven the decision was made. I'd been getting odd bleeps that weren't wind related now and again suggesting that there were plenty of fish knocking around. This one was certainly no tench. It still didn't take long to bundle into the net. A fat, ugly thing it was too. With a missing pelvic fin ad someone else's hook in it's mouth next to mine. Unappealing as it was it was still a carp by design. Quite a turn up for my books. It didn't feel like much of an achievement though. Carp always disappoint me for some reason.

Out again with the rig and back to lying on the bedchair in my tatty old bunny suit. Apart from the occasional single bleep Roland trying to climb up one of my banksticks my night was mild and undisturbed. Until three or so when it turned decidedly cool and I got in the sleeping bag. Dawn broke red in the east as the full moon headed for the western horizon. Recast time. Damn. Two out of three rigs were tangled. No wonder those bleeps never turned into anything more substantial. Try again then make a brew.

Tea drunk and a carp stuck its head out of the water four feet from the end of my nearest rod. The one I'd cast into oblivion. Then bubbles appeared. it took me a while to wind the rig in and drop it and it's two grains of fake corn (one floating one sinking) in the edge on a slack line with a sprinkling of pellets over the top of it. It was worth a try. Eight o'clock was cut-off time as I had to get home because the gas man cometh. The day was warming up. Not sufficiently to remove the bunny suit, but definitely warming.

Seven twenty and the sounder woke up. I checked the farther two rods which I expected action on but they were inactive. It was the margin rod! A brief scrap, more of a swimming in circles, and a modest common hit the net.Two carp by design. What on earth is going on? The corn was dropped short again, more to get the rod out of the way as I started a slow packing up. That'll do me for carp for a while.  I was almost tempted to put together a short session carp bag, but they still don't do enough for me to want to bother. It's the idea of catching carp that appeals to me. The reality  makes me realise how much nicer it is to catch proper fish. Then again, if another sure fire opportunity arises I might still take it. Like I said, carp fishing is something to do when there are no better offers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hat magic

Checking back through this blog I see that my current baseball cap has been covering my bald patch since March 2007. No wonder it was looking tired. It had been looking tired for at least eighteen months if I'm honest. Faded, frayed and falling apart it has character, but it's getting annoying having to trim bits of thread which  dangle before my eyes from the peak. Into the home for retired fishing caps it goes. Obviously it's pristine replacement would be a sure fire blank inducer.

Luckily when I arrived at the lake the wind was cold enough for me to require a woolly hat. One with a proven fish-catching track record. The baits hadn't been out half an hour when the boilie rod was in action. I was fiddling with a replacement rig at the time and when I got to the rod the run stopped. I knew that rig was a poor one for tench. The rig swap was made and out it went with another bag of mixed pellets of uncertain origin.

It wasn't long before the bobbin dropped back on that rod and this time I connected with a small-feeling tench. It fell off half way in. Bugger. A third cast and a third take which stayed attached all the way to the net. Despite being a small male that wasn't much more than two pounds at a guess it was my first tench of the year.

The wind had dropped, the sun was shining and the evening was warming up. Time for a hat swap and on with the new cap. The alarms stayed silent as I watched first a flock of sand martins, then one of swallows, feeding on high. I counted seven great crested grebes, three pairs and a singleton, on the lake. The midges were far too numerous to count, no doubt providing good feeding for the hirundines and the bats which appeared as darkness drew in. With the sun setting so the air chilled and the woolly hat was dug out again. This was the signal for another take to the boilie rod. Who says lucky hats don't work?

A slightly more feisty fish, a little bigger I guessed the female to weigh around four pounds and used the sling and scales to check. I had overestimated by half a pound. The length was there but she was a skinny fish. Looking at the fish in the net I could easily imagine a non-tench angler guessing a pound or even two more than I had. Carp are a different build to tench, rounder in cross section if you will, and so weigh heavier for a similar length. Hardly surprising so many seven and eight pounders get caught by carp anglers from waters where tench anglers struggle to catch anything close to those weights.

Guessing weights accurately comes with familiarity of weighing fish of a particular species. That's why I never decry newcomers to pike fishing weighing the jacks they catch. Some hardened pikers seem to make a big thing out of never weighing anything less than ten or twenty pounds, depending how much they want to impress their acolytes. Unless they have weighed fish less than those weights in the past, how can they judge when a pike is worth their while getting the sling wet for? Even when you have the necessary experience an unusually fat or thin fish will come along and throw you one way or the other.

I fished on into dark for nothing more than two or three liners, only one to a bait that wasn't the boilie. I much prefer catching tench using tench tactics, but if they want boilies I'll give them to 'em. I just hope the pesky carp keep away from my baits.

One plus point to take away from this short session was that the cheapo flat leads I'd bought work a treat in PVA bags. They also seem to plane up on the retrieve, an added bonus. Considering I bought them originally for piking I'm well chuffed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Over the last couple of weeks I've had a couple of short evening sessions trying to catch carp. One on the railway pond one on a bigger, deeper place. Both sessions saw me fishing into the wind like an idiot and freezing my nads off as a result. I should have had the wind behind me. I probably still would have blanked but at least I'd have been warmer.

I did manage a couple of runs on the railway pit, which was to be expected, but they both fell off for some reason. I suspect that my double boilie baits were too big for the daft little cyprios that picked them up and stopped the hooks doing their job. The other place was simply dead. Plenty of sand martins and a few swallows zipping about on the wind during the last hours of daylight, and a nice sunset though.

At least those two sessions have made my mind up to wait until things warm up before getting the tench rods out. Past experience has shown that if I start tenching too soon I get despondent before they start feeding and fattening up. May will be here soon enough.

Talking of tench I have one 11ft 2lb Torrix built with 25mm butt ring and five other rings to an 8mm tip and my standard cork handle in stock.