Friday, August 07, 2020

New boots and anties

The weather forecast lived up to itself. Thursday was warm and humid promising to stay that way into dark. It had to be worth a shot at eels again. If that wasn't enough I also had a new pair of boots to try out.
 
I arrived with great expectations about half an hour earlier than I needed to as I had nothing else to do. A short walk saw me pretty much decided on fishing a swim I've fancied for a while but always shied away from at the last minute because it's a bit tight to fish. Less overgrown at one side. Back to the car for the gear and I was ready to get settled in.

The rod quiver was dropped handily on the bank above where I'd set the pod up while I got my chair and rucksack in place. Reaching for the quiver to get my pod out I saw it was crawling with ants! hundreds of the busy little buggers. I brushed a load of them off and put the quiver on the other side of the swim. Then I moved my bag and seat out of ants way.

By the time I had the pod up and the rods out the ants had disappeared. They must have been disturbed by the quiver landing on top of their nest. At least I wouldn't have to spend the session sweeping ants off myself and my gear. Even so I had the itches for a while!
 
 
Once more I stuck to the usual two rigs. The off-bottom worms went to the pads on my right and the legered squid section straight out on a decent cast. Once more I found myself surrounded by those daft mallards. I'm sure they weren't in the swim when I had a look at it on my inspection walk.

By nine thirty it was getting dark and I hadn't had a single sign of an eel taking a fancy to either of my baits. Time to refresh and recast them. Still nothing by ten when it was properly dark. It was twenty past when I had my first tentative take to squid. That didn't signal the start of activity. The moon had risen by now so I got my camera out and started playing around with it to keep my occupied.

 
This meant a take would be imminent. It was. At 11.20 line was taken from the reel with the squid on the end of the line. This take was met by a strike which removed the bait from the hook. No eel hooked, of course. A brief flurry of two runs to the same bait followed over the next half hour. All frustratingly missed.
 
There didn't feel to be any wind yet the clouds were moving fairly quickly across the moon as it slowly rose and swung to my right. I put the camera away and waited for more action.It wasn't forthcoming though. Midnight came and went. Another half hour. If there was action before half past I'd stop on until one, or longer if the action continued. If there were no more indications I'd give up.


Sure enough I gave up. Conditions seemed ideal, although maybe the moon was too bright (he said clutching at straws) but again there was not much eel activity, and again nothing to speak of to the worm bait. In some way this is good because it means I'm not up and down wasting bait all the time. I'm wondering if the bootlaces have done a disappearing act. Daft as it sounds I'm contemplating an afternoon eel session. When I was a kid we always fancied our chances of catching eels on lobworms from the canal on red hot summer days.

The new boots didn't get much of a testing. They'd been comfortable worn round the house for a couple of hours. I didn't walk far enough to find out if they'd rub my feet but I wasn't aware of them while I was fishing. This morning I went for a walk of over three miles in them and the result was the same. They felt like I'd had them for ages. 
 
Looking back it was only December 2018 that I bought my previous pair of boots. I'd have expected them to last a bit longer before leaking, even given my lack of care given to them. That said the tread is almost worn out in places too, so they've put in a good few miles I suppose. They were Harkilas. A brand I'd had before and found wanting after twelve months. I guess I should have known better but it was a case of needs must and a local supplier.

This time I did some research by asking the combined wisdom of  The Pikers Pit what they'd suggest. Two people (who I know in the real world as well as virtually) and one cyber-aquaintance  recommended Alt-Berg boots. I surfed on over and browsed their website. I knew what features I wanted in a boot and the Warrior Aqua looked like it met them almost perfectly. For some reason the idea of buying military boots struck some Pitsters as amusing. I don't know why, these boots miht have a militaristic name but they look much like the stalking boots I usually wear which I prefer to those marketed for hiking. I like a higher boot than walkers as there's less chance of rain running down overtrousers and into the boot.
 
Alt-Berg offer a fitting service, either at their factory or at approved stockists, but with the current Covid situation and the distance involved I decided to take a punt and order on-line. As the boots are handmade in Yorkshire (spit...) they aren't all available in all sizes off the shelf. There'd be a wait of a few weeks. I'd have to suffer wet feet for a while longer.

As there is a discount code provided if you sign up for the Alt-Berg newsletter I did just that. I also ordered a boot care kit. It remains to be seen how much use the care kit gets...


For British made footwear the prices are remarkable, and for people who can keep the uppers in good repair they offer a resoling service.
The new boots are a little higher than the ones they're replacing, but a smidgen shorter than the Le Chameau's which preceded them I liked the Mouflon's a lot so these Warrior's should suit me. And they are considerably cheaper than the Le Chameau's.
 
As already stated, they've been comfortable from the off. One thing worth noting is that I took the advice of one Pitser and ordered larger than my usual size. He suggested a whole size larger for wearing with thick socks. Alt-Berg recommend a half size extra for the same. As I've stopped wearing thick socks in boots I went for the half size extra and I'm glad I did. those are my initial impressions. How long they last before succumbing to the Lumb Lack of Boot Care regime remains to be seen. I'm full of good intentions to lovingly wax them whenever they need it. But...

Friday, July 31, 2020

Mallards and meadowsweet

When the weather warmed up again after my first session  I was keen to have another try for eels. Planning ahead I got myself some squid as I have more confidence in that as a bait for eels than bits of smelt.

I checked my worms on the Saturday and they were fine. When I went to get my gear ready the following evening they were a mess of slimy corpses. Bugger.

Naturally the weather turned cold and miserable again on the Monday.

Not to be beaten I waited until things picked up and bought a smaller tub of worms on the basis that if they all croaked it would not be such a big loss. Last week I picked a warm day to take them out. The lake was in glorious high summer fettle as I walked round it to choose a swim. The lillies are up and in flower, the banks thick with wild flowers, great swathes of foaming meadowsweet all around. I was spoiled for choice but decided to settle myself in a corner swim with a couple of eely features to cast to.


When I returned with my tackle it looked like I had chosen a roosting place for a bunch of young mallards. They seemed intent on hiding under the willows to my right, but were wary of my presence. They spent most of what remained of daylight alternately swimming towards me and away again. I don't think they were expecting to be fed, they just wanted to go to bed!


My set ups were pretty much the usual. One rod with the off-bottom rig to fish worms - I had to lengthen the lead link for this, and a simple leger for the squid section. One was cast close to the mallards' bedroom the other to some nearby pads on my left. Nothing much happened. In fact nothing happened.

As the light fell the rigs were swapped over, and eventually the squid cast out towards a shallow bar. There was a clear and starry sky accompanied by a dramatic temperature drop. even so there was silage making going on in the field at my back until well after dark which is starting to come earlier now.

The alarms remained quiet even as the light grew faint. Shortly before ten I started to get takes to the squid at prolonged intervals. After a half hearted take to the squid at eleven twenty a more confident run came on the recast. I struck and felt a fish. Then I didn't feel it. This was strange as I usually miss eel takes completely or hook them well. What was just as perpexing was the complete lack of interest in the worms. I stuck at it until quarter past midnight as the cool night wasn't encouraging me any more than the light mist rolling across the lake. That bottle of cold water I'd brought for refreshment wasn't too enticing either and I fancied a brew.

Naturally enough the up and down weather that followed did nothing to make me want to shelter from rain or shiver by the water side. When the forecast suggested an upturn was on the way I made my plans. Thursday night would be eel night. After a slightly delayed start I was checking out swims by eight fifteen. The air was still, the sky cloudy but bright, and the air was warm. I expected it would stay warm after dark. But was the moon, already in the sky, too near to full for eeling? I don't set much store by moon phases for other species, but eels aren't like other fish. I'm sure I've heard that their migrations are governed by the moon, so it strikes me as reasonable other aspects of their behaviour could be.


After discounting a swim I really fancy because it looks a bit awkward to fish - I'd have to sit above the rods, and I prefer to sit next to them when eeling - I plumped for a swim near the car which I don't remember fishing for eels before.

Once more it was a swim full of immature mallards. These, however, thought I was a source of food and kept approaching me. When I threw stones in to make a splash I hoped might scare them off they chased after them. It was futile!

I didn't change my tactics. the rigs were the same and one was cast to the left by some pads, the other to the right by some pads. It might be a boring approach but the rigs work, and the locations were as good as anywhere. When it comes to squid and eels I sometimes wonder if it matters where they are cast as eels appear to be attracted to them regardless.

It wasn't until the sun began to set that I had any indications. Initially they were all to the worms on the left hand rod. It was the old story of line being taken with a strike failing to connect. The worms bitten through.

While 'my' mallards were either reluctant or unable to fly, darkness saw two lots of mallards come in to land, wiffling their wings to slow them down for a scudding splashy landing. Thinking about it, other than a single moorhen, there wasn't much birdlife about. One warbler in the hawthorns and  a tawny owl hooting late on.

Action did come to the squid, another case of line peeling out and a strike into nothingness. I'd give circle hooks a try so I could leave takes to develop for longer without risking gut hooking if I thought they would. Somehow I can't see it. If they were taking the bait down I'd be deep hooking them instead of missing altogether. As with the worms I think the eels are avoiding the hooks. Either that or it's bootlaces to blame.

At eleven a run developed to the squid rod. No different to the others yet the strike met with resistance. Nothing spectacular but sufficient weight to make me reach for the landing net while keeping the line tight in case the eel dropped off.

Success! Worth getting the weigh sling out for to confirm my guesstimate of its weight but not as big as I'd initially hoped. The eel dropped a pound or more as it got closer in!


After sorting the slime out and rebaiting I was encouraged to linger longer. With just one more missed take by midnight prospects were fading. even so as it was still warm I hung around another half hour before the attraction of a mug of hot chocolate and a cosy bed became too much for this old git.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Trumpet blowing

It's no surprise that my eel session saw the weather change for the worse and temperatures plummet. I've got a few packs of squid now so I'm prepared for my next session - whenever the mood will take me to get the rods out again. getting motivated is the big stumbling block. If this summer doesn't throw up something special from the water I'm fishing I'm going to have to look elsewhere. But where?

I've been lax in adding stuff to my dlst.co.uk website for a long time. There's not much that I can add really unless I add a new rod to my range - which isn't a regular occurrence. Any thoughts I have about fishing end up on here. However, I noticed that it was six years since I added any testimonials from satisfied customers! So I dragged some out of my e-mail inbox and put them up on the  Nice Words page.

Getting praise is always nice, but I think being told that a customer has caught a big fish, or better still a personal best, on a rod I've built for them gives me a warmer and fuzzier glow.

If only I could catch another PB on a rod I've built!

Taking photos of recent custom build has also been neglected. Daft, because I've done a few unusual ones recently. The pic here is from last year.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Still blue

As the Covid-19 lockdown eased fisheries have opened up. The pit I fish opened a week or more back but I left well alone. Mainly because the weather had turned less eel friendly . Eel weather returned on Monday so I started making plans. I'd already bought a bag o' worms and was sure there was some squid from last year in the freezer. Wrong. I had to scrape up some dregs from my pike baits to use on the non-worm rod. Blueys and smelt don't really fill me with confidence for eels, but they take smelts when they are fished for pike so there's a chance.

This season I'm restricting myself to two rods. It might make me work a bit harder and it'll cause less problems fishing from the pod I'm forced to use because of the stoned pegs I have to fish from. With no brolly required having just a pair of rods in the quiver sure does lighten the load!

No early start required I left home around quarter past eight and was surprised to find one van in the car park. A quick look at the water to see what the clarity was like provided another pleasant  surprise. It was still blue, but quite clear. It didn't take me long to walk round and find a swim, one which lets me cover a fair bit of water and which has produced some decent eels in the past. A bunch of dendrobenas went out to my left on the off bottom rig and a short smelt tail on a leger towards the pads directly in front of the swim.


 The leger rig is dead simple. A short coated wire trace to a single hook is tied to the line which has a large eyed swivel running on it. The stop is a small cork ball pushed over the trace swivel eye. The lead is tied to a length of hard nylon which acts as a bit of an anti-tangle device with a rig sleeve tidying up the knot where it's attached to the small eye of the large eyed swivel. It looks crude and inelegant. But it works.


It took less than twenty minutes for some action to occur. The bobbin on the smelt rod was twitching. A strange sort of take which wasn't taking line. I struck anyway and connected with something. From the way the fish was pulling I suspected it was a jack rather than a snig. No head shaking, no pulling back. Just a fishy weight coming in. When it kited to my left my doubts increased as I reached for the net. that's when whatever it was dropped off. The bait was lightly marked but in a pikey kind of way, even though it wasn't slashed by sharp teeth.

The willows were alive with the chiffing and chaffing of chiffchaffs, A mallard brood was almost full grown. A grebe vacated the area as I laid my gear down. The sky was clear and the wind light. Even so the air temperature was set to stay high after dark. Even by the time I left at midnight it was still in teh high teens and no fleece was required. Other than the light traffic noise, the roads are still strangely quiet, it was a peaceful evening. That was until the starlings arrived to roost. Around nine, as dusk was thinking of turning up, they began to arrive in small flocks, gathering in the tall firs where they chattered to each other. Only a passing tractor would disturb them, cars and motorcycles didn't bother them at all. After flying up they'd circle the firs a time or two before settling back.

It was around ten to ten, just after sunset according to the tide table I keep in my fishing bag, that the starlings upped and left the firs. They began circling the pit before descending into the reedbeds I've seen them roost in during autumn and winter. Being closer to me their noisy twitterings were much louder.


It was about there quarters of an hour later when there was a couple of bleeps from the Delkim with worm rod resting on it. I left it a few seconds to see if anything would develop before winding in to check the worms. They were still there. I'd previously spent the first hour with the worms wrapped around the polyball when my first cast had tangled. the worms were intact so I recast them to the same area.

The next take wasn't so long in coming. A typical up-down-up-down twitchy bootlace take to the worm rod. Sure enough it was the bane of an eel angler's life. A writhing, sliming tangle-master. How it got the hooklink and leadlink knotted up and covered in slime is one of those mysteries of the eel. When I eventually managed to flick the hook free, it was lip hooked, I had to cut the hooklink and leadlink to salvage the hook. What a mess.

With a fresh Kevlar hooklink attached and the leadlink retied I baited up and cast out again. This time I put the worms out to the pads and dropped the smelt tail close in to my left on the reed edge. They both remained untouched until I packed up and called it an early night.

This had been one of those 'feeler' sessions to check the gear out to make sure everything was in order as much as anything. And to get me back into the swing of fishing. I've been taking a lot of photographs since fishing stopped and have been really enjoying it. So much so that I haven't missed fishing at all. A few hours by the water as day turns to night, though, was a real tonic. It's still a bit early for concerted eeling for me though. Another week and I might start in earnest.



Friday, May 29, 2020

Ringing the changes

The blue dye put me off fishing before the weather improved and then came lockdown - accompanied by rod orders drying up for over a month. Despite always finding it easy to put off starting work, when there is none I usually go outdoors with rods or cameras but that option was now denied to me.

I spent the early days rereading novels, and then fishing books as a way to escape reality. It was a bit of a nostalgia trip. Chris Yates's Casting at the Sun first took me back. The chapter about Llandrindod Wells always brings back my memories of an afternoon spent there while on holiday with my parents. I was a particularly useless angler in my early years (not that I've improved much) so my lack of anything banked was no surprise. I did have a bite though, and saw a carp cruising by. The real highlight was seeing a VW campervan parked next to the café with a large triangular net propped up against it. Why that image struck me then and stuck in my memory I don't know.

Next up was Quest for Carp, reread for the umpteenth time. The times written of will never come again. It was a period of rapid discoveries and developments of bait, tackle and approaches. The hardships put up with for little reward wouldn't be tolerated by a modern angler!

Then it was time for tench. Both the book of that name by Chris Turnbull and Terry Lampard's great First Cast. Two more modern books which covered a period of change in tench fishing. This was a bad move. By the time I got round to those two books the weather had turned into ideal spring tench weather.I was itching to get the rods out but it wasn't possible. Locked down and locked out of the fisheries. I took top walking along the canal, scene o my very first tench fishing adventures. Days of Mitchell 300s, Fairy Liquid bottle top indicators and cans of sweetcorn. I even had the idea to pass my time writing a book about my tench fishing days over the years. I got as far as planning the chapters and writing the first chapter before I gave up having decided it wasn't working. Maybe one day.


The canal was starting to look good. With boats all locked down the clarity of old was returning. However in the forty years since I caught my first tench there things had changed. Swims had disappeared, encroached by reeds and vegetation. Also noticeable is the appearance of invasive species. The only lilies in the old days were the ones with large pads.Now there are beds of small leaved lilies. I think they are fringed lilies and they are spreading.


Worse is the widespread appearance of the highly invasive Floating Pennywort. This can cause big problems when it really takes hold, covering the entire surface and starving oxygenating plants of light.


Since these walks were only making me wish I could get the rods out, as it warmed into the 20s I was starting to think of eels as well as tench, I changed the routes for my permitted daily exercise to head out into the farmed flatlands. Out there I became a little obsessed with the landscape and started a photographic project which is continuing to keep me thinking and  motivated. So much so that now fishing is allowed I don't want to go! Besides, rod orders have picked up and I'm a bit busier than I often am in spring.

Rod building has been testing these past six months. Particularly getting reliable supplies of rings and some other fittings. The ring situation has improved a little, although it's still far from perfect or predictable.

Being forced into using rings which aren't my standard Fujis has made me realise why I prefer the Fujis! Functionally there is nothing wrong with Seymo or Kigan rings. The liners won't damage braid, the frames are strong enough. They also have the theoretical advantage over Fuji BSVOGs of being a little lighter. While they don't quite have the 'finish', or look of quality, to them that Fujis have, what I really don't like about them is that they need more work doing to them before I can whip them to rods.

Vortex ring
All rings need the feet grinding so the thread will make a smooth transition from blank to ring foot. This is easily done on a bench grinder. Some sizes of Seymo 247S also need a burr grinding off the underside of a foot. One extra step. If that wasn't enough the frames need bending to get both feet of a three leg ring to lie flat on the blank. This is an annoying trait shared with Kigans and one which really bugs me. The only advantage Kigan and Seymo rings have is that supply is consistent!

There are other rings available. I have fitted PacBay rings in the past, including their Minima rings. Again they are perfectly functional. Again they aren't as nice to work with. Minimas don't have ceramic centres. They have a rolled over metal liner. That means there's nothing to pop out or crack and there is a weight saving. They do look a bit like the ceramic has fallen out though! I'm told they are an improvement on earlier rings using metal inserts which were prone to grooving. My very limited experience of them suggests that they are okay to use with braid. The only caveat being that if the liner gets damaged it could well prove abrasive to line. But the chances of such damage is probably negligible.

This talk of Minima rings is all by way of introduction to a similar ring from American Tackle. the Vortex. The frames are not quite as nice looking as Fujis, but on a par with other brands. However, my first samples don't need any fettling beyond the usual transitional grinding. Vortex rings look even more like the liners are missing than Minimas. This is because the liners are as black as the frames! Not having used these rings I have no idea how they perform or if the black liners stay black.

With nothing better to do after varnishing a batch of rods I thought I'd get nerdy and compare some of these rings. Below is a photo of the rings I have referred to above. Click it for a closer look) These are all 30mm size.

Remaining nerdy I weighed them on my electronic scales, which don't do fractions of grammes. The results are as follows:
  1. Seymo 247S - 7g
  2. Fuji BSVOG - 8g
  3. Fuji BCLSVOG - 8g
  4. Kigan -7g
  5. Vortex - 5g
Make of that what you will!

The tip rings supplied with the sample sets of Vortex rings were ceramic lined. I need to check if that was down to the sizes I asked for. The rings themselves are currently available in sizes 50mm to 8mm.

I've just realised there is another ring I occasionally fit missing in this frame style. Alconite lined Fujis. I have previously compared these with the very similar BSVOG here.

As I'm still obsessed with photography I can't see me wetting a line for a while. When I do it will most likely be for eels. As usual I don't want to start chasing Anguilla too early. Maybe another month. By which time I fully expect the heatwave to be over and the monsoon season to have arrived.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Almost interested - and rod ring news

Sometime back I leant a discontinued lure to someone for them to make a mould off it and knock up some copies. A few weeks back I was sent some, beautifully painted by Mark Houghton. They looked so good I got a couple of rods rigged up and went to try them out. The idea was to have one rod rigged with an original (the gold plate one in the pic below) and the other to test the copies.


First cast and the reel wouldn't go back in gear. The button was sticking. I put this down to the usual worn or broken spring. Good job I'd taken two rods!

The copy Magnum Hellcats seem to cast a little better than the original. As they are moulded from solid plastic rather than being hollow they are a little denser so also slightly less buoyant. The hooks I fitted didn't provide quite enough of a keel effect leading to a tendency to 'burst' when twitched hard. mark suggested a size larger belly hook which I'll fit in due course.

The afternoon was mild and pleasant. Unfortunately blue, weed inhibiting, dye had been put in the previous weekend and the water which I had expected to be clear enough to see the lures working deep (for a Hellcat) had very limited visibility. I still tried a number of likely swims but the colour didn't do anything for my enthusiasm.

After that brief session the weather reverted to type for the winter. Wet and windy. So I lost interest again.

 Even before teh Covid-19 pandemic began to impact on deliveries from overseas it had been a real struggle to get hold of Fuji rings in all teh sizes I use. Some having been on back order since the start of December.

This has meant I've been fitting Seymos to rods for people who are not prepared to wait for the missing size 25 Fuji BSVOGs to turn up. The other alternative has been to fit more expensive Fuji Alconite or SiC rings, or Kigans. None of those are without problems either as some Alconites have gone out of stock and Kigans are not available in size 6 (which I fit to Avon rods).

If all this wasn't hassle enough I got warned that BSVOG rings are being discontinued. I fit those to the majority of rods. ApparentlyFuji's  black reel seats are going too. It's something to do with an environmental issue related to the black finish.

As yet I'm not sure what is happening with regard to the reel seats, but I have had a sample of the new ring through. And rather tasty it is too! The overall frame shape and size matches that of the BSVOG, but the ceramic is held in a 'rolled' section of frame like the MNSG SiC and BMNAG Alconite centres have been for many years.

They are also have a 'black chrome' finish which is more akin to the Gunsmoke finish of SiC rings or maybe a slightly darker version of the Kigan frames.

When these will be on stream I don't yet know, but I'll be switching to them as soon as I can. I will have limited stocks of BSVOGs for a while to use on repairs and for matching existing rods. They might not last long though and the Seymo alternative (assuming they continue) will be held in their place.

I have also seen the Vortex rings which Harrison's stock. These are similar to the hard chrome lined Pac-Bay Minima rings which look good on light rods. When I first saw the Vortex rings they were only available in large sizes for carp rods. These should soon be available in sizes down to 8, making them usable on tench and barbel rods. More news on that when I know more.

In the meantime, here are some ropey photos comparing the BSVOG and new frames.






Friday, January 03, 2020

You never can tell

It all started with a walk back from the Post Office along the canal bank. Something about the day told me that fishing was a better bet than clearing moss off the drive or stocking up at the supermarket. If nothing else at least I could stop off at the chippy on my way home after another blank session to cheer myself up.

The festive holidays are still not over for everyone and there were cars in the car park. I could see one swim taken but it wasn't on my radar anyway. No problem. On my way to my first choice spot I dropped my gear off in one which has never done me any favours despite its visual promise. When I'm suffering blankitis I always think there are two way out - fish a swim with a track record, or try something left field. This one was the latter sort of swim.

Carrying on without my gear I saw that number one choice was occupied. Worse still by a pike who was unhooking a decent looking fish. I could have got the hump at that but I looked on the positive side - if one decent pike was feeding others might be. number two choice was free but there was someone fishing opposite it. The distance is sufficient for that not to be a problem, but I prefer to imagine I have the place to myself!

On my way back to my gear I stopped to look at a swim which has been kind and unkind to me. It looked well with a ripple on the water from right to left. I could use that to drift a bait along a feature to some reeds. Static baits had been doing me no favours so I was determined to try to make things happen. I was soon back and starting to set up.

I was a bit fed up of using the blueys I'd got. I've caught well enough on blueys but on bigger, chunkier ones cut in half. The ones in my cool bag were not much bigger and fatter than snake launce. I was going to dip deeper into my dwindling stock of lamprey to fish two on the float leger rigs and drift a smelt about under a float.

First out was a fresh lamprey head to the left hand margin. It's tail followed to the right. I would have fished two heads but I had fewer lamprey in the bag than I thought I did. Then I set about swapping the third rig over to float fish. I had two large shot pinched on the trace when I heard a steady whirring sound. The left hand float had disappeared and the reel's spool was spinning.

The net was grabbed and I pounced on the rod. My strike met with a hell of a resistance. Whatever had picked up my bait was either an unexpected monster or in some sunken branches. Keeping the pressure on resulted in movement. A couple of kicks and a large stick broke surface. Another kick and the pike was free.The rod retained an impressive bend as the pike bore deep, made a run or two then thrashed briefly on the top before I drew it over the net cord. The weighsling would be getting an outing.



Quickly unhooked, weighed and photographed I slipped her back. As I stood up I noticed the line on the other rod was hanging limp. That float had gone too! The net was up the bank so I'd have to chance hand landing the fish no matter how big. No problem so long as I can see where the hooks are. As it turned out the fish was only a rooter. Easily unhooked and returned without the palaver of weighing.

All that excitement and I'd worked up a sweat. The rigs were in a fit state to be used again, and both baits still attached to the hooks. Back out they went. I got back to sorting the float rig. Or tried. The left hand float bobbed, rose, then after a pause bobbed once more before setting off ever so slowly. Net picked up and I was by the rod winding down again. I felt something, then the bait came back. Oh well. With the blank saved I wasn't too bothered. Pike were in the area and feeding. I might still have a chance. I'd only been fishing for half an hour after all.

Now I had a chance to sit down and write in my new year's diary. I've been using Black and Red notebooks as fishing logs/diaries for years. Now they come with inspirational quotes in them. I'm not a fan of motivational phrases. I much prefer the wisdom of Homer Simpson. "Trying is the first step towards failure." That sort of thing. Still, one line was apt after my run of failures.



Thinking there might be some merit in sticking in this swim until dark I let the float drift around for an hour. Then the feet got itchy again. I moved to the next swim along. As I set up the second rod rest the first float stabbed under. That was it. Float under, a few sharp clicks on the reel. Nothing more. very odd. As the bait had already been chewed I couldn't tell if there were fresh teeth marks on it.

Time passed. The sun's reflection moved off my middle float in the middle distance. Fieldfares came and went, there are hardly any berries left on the hawthorns now. A buzzard landed briefly in a birch on the far side of the lake. I was pondering a return to my first swim. When boat fishing we'd often 'rest' a spot after catching a few pike from it by moving elsewhere on the water to return later on and catch a few more from the original hotspot. This contemplation was a cue for the left hand float to fall flat. Slowly, very slowly, it began to move to the right. It was so close in, closer than the rod tip, that I waited for it to get to my right before I wound down. Once more I felt something before the bait cam back. I'd give it a bit longer and move for the last hour.

That's just what I did. Alas my only visitors were a robin hopping from rod to rod in teh hop I would feed it, and three noisy wrens as it got dark. I wondered if the wrens were planning on huddling together somewhere for the night as I've heard they are liable to do this in nest boxes and such like for warmth during the winter. It was certainly the first time I've seen three wrens together.

Thinking back this day of increased pike activity was also one of increased bird activity. I saw a greater variety than of late, too. Coincidence? I'm beginning to think not.