Sunday, 20 August 2017

Not a fish in sight...

The water was at its normal height today but why was it looking so murky?
Fishing adventures have been very thin on the ground for the past few weeks. What with work, family commitments and trying to get organised to get out of this house, fishing has been very low priority. Today we managed to squeeze in a couple of hours on our local river.

Our only local river, that has any fish in it seemed to be totally devoid of fish today. Not only did we blank, we did not see any fish at all! It was good and early when we arrived at our usual favoured spot. The river was looking very coloured, so much so it was hard to see into the water at all. I was puzzled by this. We fished for about an hour with no success whatsoever. Usually, we have something within the first few casts, but today, nothing.

We like our little spot because we are off the tarmac path, away from the passing 'traffic' of walkers and cyclists, but more importantly away from any of the 'antis' that often seem to patrol these sort of spaces. Having had not a sniff of a fish, we decided to up-sticks and move a good half a mile upstream to a place where we had seen a good shoal of perch, a few chublets, and several other silvers, on several occasions, as recently as last Monday.

The river is in a concrete lining here as the park runs through the old gasworks site and was redeveloped as part of the planning permission concession given when one of the big supermarket chains wanted to build a superstore on the site. There is a lot of vegetation hanging over the wall where the river meanders through its totally man-made environment. Fish seem to hide in the shadows and commute from one area of overhang to the next. On Monday there was a huge (by River Pool standards) shoal of perch patrolling the beat between the overhangs. Today nothing was coaxing them out to play. We tried feeding our tried and tested rolled up bread, meat and even casters but not a sign of a fish. Here we were fishing in full view of other people. Apart from the odd "Morning", we were not bothered. By fishing on the opposite bank to the main path it was only really dog walkers to fend off.

The water here was still a bit murky but nothing like as coloured as it was down-stream earlier. Then the cause of this stirred up murk became obvious. Wet dog. The river has no real depth anywhere and there are plenty of places where dogs can access the river and have a good splash around, stirring up the silt and sending it down our way. I assume all this canine activity does nothing for fish confidence and they have all gone off to hide.

Today has taught us a new lesson. As dog-walkers seem to prefer the early mornings, this is possibly a time to avoid. We have not been here this early to fish before and our planning did not consider dogs. Of the several visits, we have made here over the past few weeks, the most successful one was the first, and that was late morning on a weekday. Maybe that is the time to go in future.

Ralph.       

Monday, 7 August 2017

Just a little fishing trip...

We have had some of the best fishing weather of the year over the past month or so and I have been unable to get out and fish hardly at all. Today has been no different, by the time I had finished work it was half past four in the afternoon but I was determined to get at least an hour's fishing in.

By the time we had got the gear together, grabbed some bait and made our way to the river ready to fish, it was half past five. The water looked as if it had a film on top but I think this was some kind of dust 'from' the plants as it didn't shimmer like an oil and there were plenty of holes in it. The first thing to bite was the local bug population, biting us! The place was swarming with all sorts of fauna, all of which was intent on acquiring the taste of human. For me, it is really just a nuisance, but for Sue, it is more of a problem as she reacted badly to bites. last time we were here she had a very bad reaction to a couple of bites. Even though she had used some anti-bug spray and changed her attire to try and keep the little fellows out, they still managed to get her. Let's hope they don't cause her as much discomfort as last time.

We manage to catch a small roach, almost straight-away, on bread punch. I decided to try a single red maggot, thinking I might catch another perch, and caught a stickleback, just like last time. A few more casts and the tip twitched again, a light strike and I had another stickleback, this time a male with its bright red colouration on the front part of the underside, which I understand to be its spawning colours. I will have to read up a bit more about these fascinating little fish that are full of fight.

A male stickleback in its spawning colouration
After an hour or so, the insect population was getting the better of us and we decided to call it a day. I had a good time, we caught some fish and we were only out for less than a couple of hours after work, including the walk to the river and back. We will give it another go, but I think we will try the early morning next time. Always assuming Sue can find some way of keeping the bugs off...

Ralph

Friday, 21 July 2017

Blackberries and fish

The nice thing about fishing a local river is that it is not time-limited. By that I mean I don't feel that I have to spend many hours there to justify the expense. Today, was a last minute decision to grab a couple of hours on the local river. On reflection it was probably not the best time to go as it was mid afternoon.

We had been worried that there might not be any fish in the river after getting a call from a fellow angler last Sunday, who lives at the other end of the river (it is less than 3 miles long), saying he had seen a milky cloud making its way downstream. He was concerned that it might have been something nasty. Sue and I immediately set off to have a look at our end. The river was full of sediment and we could not see through it. I guess the heavy rain had caused the river to colour up. Although we could not see any fish, there was no sign of dead fish so we assumed whatever it was had not been detrimental.

We set up in our secluded spot by the willow with the fallen limb. Sue was feeding the swim with the usual peppercorn sized pellets of bread rolled in her fingers to make them sink. A few fish appeared and started feeding. Last week's fear of another chemical spill was now put to rest. Meanwhile I was fiddling about tying the rig to the flick-tip of my whip. This short 3m flick-tip whip is the prefect weapon for this small river, fishing from a very tight spot. Last time we were here I was just freelining and using a buoyant bead on the line just to give a small amount of indication - it seemed to work. This time I decided to use a small, short pole float with half the cocking weight directly under the float and the rest strung out shirt-button style down to a loop where the hooklength was attached.

I am now thinking the size 16 hook was probably too big but it was too late now, I had only bought a couple of identical rigs with me. Anyway, I cast in a couple of times with what I thought to me to be a good guess at the depth, only to watch my bait glide down the river at what looked to be mid depth. Time to do it properly and plumb the depth. Well, what a surprise, it turned out to be getting on for 2½ ft deep! It only looks to be about a foot deep. Again, another new experience for me. I have only fished in here once before and the only other time I have fished in gin-clear water was at Canterbury the other week. both times I had been mainly freelining, so no need to plumb. It looks a lot shallower than it actually is.

Slippery little dace
I managed to catch a couple of small dace, not the largest haul of the year. Then the fishing just dried up. I am not sure if we over fed the swim or frightened the fish off by returning the fish back in the swim. It may well have been just the time of the day. Whatever it was, we did not see another fish, even after we had packed up and went blackberry picking on the way home... Not bad for a couple of hours by a river in the depths of South East London!

I am very new to this river fishing lark, but it is good fun. Sue calls it "real fishing" and I think she might be right.

Ralph.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Urban fishing 2

Sue and John look happy - a decent sized chub from the weir pool in Canterbury!
Okay, here's the plan, get up early and drive to Canterbury, fish the river for a couple or three hours and then go and visit my elderly Mum. That all sounds fine, so I call my Mum, who is 90 years of age, and tell her my plans. "Oh... all right then..." comes the rather stilted reply". With that, I ask if there is something wrong, to which she replies to my surprise "Can I come too, I would really like to see the fish?"  "Er.. Yes of course you can" I reply, trying not to sound gob-smacked!

This was fine but we had intended to be there early, and I did not expect my Mum would be up for a 05:00 start. I made arrangements that we would collect her at 08:00, go and fish for a couple of hours and then have a spot of lunch. 06:30 this morning the phone rang. My Mum was not feeling so good, nothing serious but she had decided not to come after all. Between all this mucking about my mate John, who lives locally to my Mum, had told me the river was unfishable where we had planned to fish due to excessive weed growth. He also said he would be fishing the weir pool at The Miller's Arms from mid morning. Time was now getting on, we decided to go and meet John at the weir pool.

We made sure my Mum was not in desperate need of us and arranged to meet John at the weir pool. I have no idea where the time went but it was pushing mid day by the time we eventually got to Canterbury. By this time Sue had made the sensible suggestion of not fishing now, but to go and meet John for a chat and come back later after we had visited my Mum.

It is a long way down - full extent of a 3m landing net handle
I knew it was a long drop to the water, so landing net pole in hand so I could check that it is long enough, we made our way to the weir pool. Sure enough, John was there fishing from his favoured spot. He was after chub, free-lining a huge lump of meat on a size 2 hook. He had already had one earlier in the session and was not really expecting to catch another. As we stood there discussing tactics the line tightened on his finger and he was into another. A short fight led to me landing it for him. This time it was a good size, getting on for 4lb. We took photographs and released it back into the pool.

John with his 4lb (ish!) chub
After spending just about an hour with John, we set of to visit my Mum, complete with pack lunch for three. When got there she was feeling better but did not want to go out. I did the 'obligatory' jobs she had lined up for me and spent a pleasurable few hours with her before heading back to Canterbury, via the local fish and chip shop.

Arriving back at the car park just before 19:00, I was amazed to see parking was not free until 21:00, obviously cashing in on the early evening theatre and pub/restaurant business. Three quid for two hours parking was parted with and we went back to the weir pool. Nobody was fishing it so we had our pick of swims. I opted to fish in the same place that John had fished earlier.

My struggle with what tackle to take continues. To be fair, I had not fished this venue before and other than being told to take strong gear to have a go for the larger chub, I was just guessing. The largest hook I could muster was a size 10 and my rod choice was wrong too. I took a three-piece, 12ft, cheap match rod that was as stiff as a broomstick and I could not feel a thing on the line. I took this rod because it fits in the boot area of the car, meaning I could leave the car unattended with the fishing gear being on show. I know, wrong reason for rod choice but I thought I was being smart. I have not used this rod since the very early days of my fishing and now compared to my other rods this thing really is not up to much at all.  I also did not have any meat with me, but a detour to Sainsbury's, on the way to my Mum's, cured that.

Rod issues aside I spent the first hour trying to get the meat in the same place as John had fished earlier. First with a smaller piece of meat, more appropriate to a size 10 hook. This did not have the weight to make the distance with an underarm lob. A full cast was out of the question as the spot was protected from such attack by the tree Gods. I then tried a good sized piece of meat pulling the inadequately sized hook through the piece of meat with a baiting needle. This did the job and the meat stayed on - even after a brush with the overhanging trees, but still without the sign of a fish.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pool, another chap had arrived and was float fishing for perch, getting a fish on most chucks. Every time he got a fish he would let us know by calling or gesturing across the pool. It don't half make your jaws ache smiling with clenched teeth. By now it was obvious that the chub were not going to bite so I re-rigged with a float and smaller hook. The idea was to have a go at the silvers that were in abundance. They may have been there in numbers but they were not that keen. I did manage to catch my first dace, nothing huge but a first for me. Sue has been feeding the swims, watching the fish come in and trying to identify them, although she has no passion to fish she is happy to just watch. Today she had a first; she actually picked up and fed some maggots!

My first dace
Having never fished in a river or any flowing water before, I have now done it twice in two days and I love it. I can see what so many people like about river fishing over the commercials. It is a totally different experience but for me I think I can live with both. One thing the past couple of days has taught me is that I need some more tackle. What is fine for pulling silvers and small carp out of commercials is not so useful in the small rivers. Rods and centre-pin reels apart, I could do with a few different floats and a small net (for landing the chublets of yesterday) would make far less commotion. I can't wait for our next session, because it is free and local, at last I have found somewhere I can fish for just a few hours on a more regular basis.


Ralph.
                   

Friday, 7 July 2017

Urban fishing

Our chosen swim - and yes this is in the middle of a very built-up area
You can't get much more urban than South East London. Even here there are several small rivers with fish in them. Back in 2009 one of these rivers was stocked with fish as part of a restocking plan by the Environment Agency. Sadly, not long after, an illegal dumping of a poisonous substance wiped out all the fish, and probably a lot more life, in the river.

The river in question is very small. In fact it is so small I am not sure it should be called a 'river' at all. It is also not very long at just under 3 miles it has to be down there with the shortest of rivers. The River Pool is a section of a lot of small rivers that join up on their way to discharge into the River Thames at Deptford Creek as the River Ravensbourne. For the past few years I have been looking at these rivers with the idea of fishing them and today I did just that.

Sue was in charge of feeding the swim - so long as it was bread
I am still not sure that I should be fishing in these rivers but the only criteria I can go by is there is nothing saying I can't. Last week, we took a walk along the river to see if there were any likely swims where we could fish without being too conspicuous.We found a perfect spot were we could fish in fairly deep (relative term) water in the shade of a tree. This morning we fished it.

The plan was to go as light as we could. Just a hand full of tackle. A 3m whip and light line. We also had bread and maggots for hook bait and feed. We arrived at the swim and started to set up. Sue had bought a very small three-legged stool from Poundland the other day. On the flat it is far too low. I am sure they are intended for kids, but as the bank slopes away it gives a little more room for your feet. Sue sat on it for the whole time we were there and said it was more comfortable than she thought it would be, can't grumble at that for a pound. Sue sat and fed the swim with small peppercorn sized pieces of bread rolled between her fingers to make them sink.

I set about rigging the whip. After the usual struggle to get the rig off the winder without getting all tangled up with the second rig wound onto the same winder (Grrr!) I managed to attach it to the flick-tip and I was ready to fish. As Sue had been feeding bread (she is not keen on handling Maggots) I punched a piece of bread and hooked that onto my size 16 hook. The rig consisted of 0.1 line straight through to the hook with a small float-bead acting as the float. a single No.8 shot was crimped to the line about six inches above the hook.

That tree was great to lean on and disguise my outline.
Do you like my hat?


I flicked the rig out along the bank to land just about where Sue had been feeding. Within seconds the bead had disappeared and the tip was taking on a bend. Blimey! First ever river cast and I am into a fish. It was no small roach either. It was a good sized chublet, I would say it was about 8 inches in length and was very frisky. It was much too heavy to swing to hand so I brought it to the bank and hand-landed it. The only trouble was we did not have the camera to hand. Although that grubby mark on my shirt proves I had been trying to cuddle it!  We had only been there five minutes and in the water for about 30 seconds. I think all the commotion of hand-lining the chublet out of the water scared off all his mates as we did not see any more. I will take a landing net next time. I had no idea I was going to catch anything bigger then a couple of inches long, otherwise I would have gone back home and got a landing net once I had realised I had left it at home, on the way here. Instead I decided it would not be necessary - how wrong can you be!

My first river roach
I know we could have moved swims but this was only going to be a quick couple of hours, if that. Besides we could see lots of other fish milling about and it was possible they would return if we were quiet enough. It was not long before we were into another fish. This time a roach, on single white maggot, nothing to write home about but it was another fish.

This little perch found one of my red maggots
I decided to change to red maggot and as soon as I did, I caught a perch. I am really pleased there are perch in here, I think they are one of my favourite fish. Having said that, now I have caught a chub, well a chublet, Mr. Stripy may have some competition for that accolade.

By lunchtime we were back at home after having a brilliant couple of hours on the bank a short walk from my front door here in one of the most built up areas of South East London. My first trip to a river and I caught fish. I can't wait until tomorrow morning, when we will be attempting to catch some fish in the Great Stour as it meanders its way through Canterbury. I will be taking a float-rod with me and I fancy just just free-lining some bread to see if the chub are about. If not I will have a go at trotting a maggot or two and see what happens. 

Having never fished a river before, it looks like I will be hitting two in two days! How I spent the first 58 years of my life not fishing is a real puzzle to me. I never had the slightest interest in it as a kid - I wish I had - or maybe not. I might have got bored with it and taken up something else. Either way I can't get enough of it now, and there is always something new to discover.

And finally...

While fishing I caught a strange looking mini-fish that turned out to be a stickleback - my personal best - It is a shame the picture was not also one of my best!

My (fuzzy) PB stickleback!

Ralph.    

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Late start - big mistake!

I managed to squeeze in another day at Beaver today. It was a bit of a last minute decision as I wanted to collect a second hand landing net handle from the tackle shop, I had seen on Saturday. As is usual in this house, nothing is straightforward. As Rabbie Burns wrote (well almost!) The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. By 1:30 AM, I was still mooching about sorting bits and pieces for today's trip and tidying up some loose ends of work. Half an hour later I was ready for bed. I normally leave home about 05:45 after setting the alarm for 05:00.

As I set the alarm on my smart-phone, yes we have arrived in the twenty-first century, it then proceeded to inform me that it will be sounding in two hours and fifty-seven minutes... Groan. I don't need a lot of sleep, but under three hours is not really enough, even for me. I decided to leave a little later and grab an extra hour or so of sleep.

Two hours and fifty-seven minutes later the alarm on my not-so-smart, smartphone went off. If it was that smart it would have realised it was too early to get up and with the afore mentioned words of Rabbie Burns going around and around in my head, like the literary version of a musical ear-worm, I tried to go back to sleep, but to no avail. I laid there for an hour and eventually got up at 06:00. An hour later than usual. By now I was fine. The lack of sleep was now forgotten and I was firing on all four cylinders. I made my coffee, packed my food and the bait from the fridge but left the bread and feed meat behind by mistake. 

Oh bother! - or something similar
The traffic was a bit heaver than usual, but I had expected that. what I did not expect was an almost stationary on-ramp to the M25 at Swanley. Great. Just over two hours after leaving home I arrived at Beaver Fishery, a trip that normally takes well under an hour. 

I nipped into the office via the staff entrance after parking in the spot that says 'Staff Only'. I can be a bit of a revolutionary some times. I bought my two-rod day ticket, paid for the landing net handle and had a moan about the traffic which was received with complete ambivalence, as usual. I didn't care, it just had to be said. There was one very small advantage with being a little later on a Thursday; the bin-lorry was on its way back up the A22 holding up the north-bound traffic. Normally I am sitting in a queue behind it waiting to get past while it is it on its journey south.

Lately I have been going on about how much gear I take fishing. I have tried cutting it down but unless I am specifically attempting to fish a one-rod session, it is not the best idea for me. I have now got a new mantra. Today I took a good selection of gear and decided what I wanted to use when I got there. This is only practical at venues where I can park at the swim. The last thing I want to do is to leave a van half full of tackle unattended. That is just asking for trouble. It is sad that this has to be considered but I am afraid it is a sign of the times we live in. I was fishing a venue in Kent last year and there was a big match being held on an adjacent lake. Parking for the match was behind where I was fishing. a lot of the guys with vans, emptied the contents onto trolleys and left the van doors wide open. I assume this was to show that nothing was left inside and it was not worth breaking in. Not a bad plan as I know with my van I can lock the cab and leave the back and side doors open.

Security issues aside, I stocked the van with far more than I was going to use so I could make a final decision once I was at the venue. Today was a pleasure session so there was no set plan or strict tackle requirement. I had with me a good selection of rods and a selection of cheap tele-poles, plus enough end tackle to set up a market stall!
My swim for the day
Maze Lake was my choice today. I drove through the complex and parked on the hard standing behind the pegs on the East side of the lake. This is a place I have fished many times before. It can be hard going but it is much better than just dragging the fish out one after the other with little or no thought. I had no idea how the lake was going to fish. Earlier on in the year the lake had been stocked up with several hundred pounds of bream that had been moved from the specimen lakes during their complete refurbishment. I was hoping to find some of those. 

First job was to set a sleeper up. I picked a spot and laid a bed of about twenty of my own home made Two Dog boilies. I then cast a chod rig out, over the top, using a pop-up pineapple flavoured boilie as hook bait. With that rig set, I made sure the line-clip was released and left it sitting across a couple of bank sticks with the bait-runner set with minimum drag. I had three carp rods made up, one now in use and another four feeder/float rods also made up. Looking at the water I decided to make up my old vintage Silstar float rod I have been using recently. I really like this rod, it may be old and heavy by today's standard but I seem to get on with it really well. Being 13ft long means I can fish close in with just the lightest of lobs. 

Silvers - lots of 'em
I settled down to a spot of silver bashing and was catching steadily, mainly small roach on maggot. I did manage to catch one perch but he decided to jump straight back into the lake as soon as I had unhooked him! A couple of hours later the silvers were still taking the lime-light while the sleeper rod was living up to its name. I had no bite alarm on the set-up as I was sitting right next to it and there is nothing more annoying to other anglers than the constant bleeping of the buzzer every time something brushes the line or a robin bounces on the rod. the drag was enough to indicate something was interested, but nothing was. 

By lunch time I had not had any interest, so I decided to check the bait. I reeled in and the bait looked exactly the same as it did several hours earlier. At this point I could see no advantage in recasting to the same spot and picked another fishy looking spot, next to the end of a 'finger' of land that extends into the lake. This area is full of overhanging trees, bushes and reeds. I edged my way towards the spot by clipping up and letting out a few more feet of line and casting again until I was about as close as I dare. I cast. The rig hit the overhanding tree branches, fell through straight into the bushes and some how bounced off the reeds and landed a few inches into the margin. I could not do that again even if I was stupid enough to try. The rig was a standard chod rig baited with one of Ringer's 8 mm 'Bandems'  Pellet Wafters, screwed onto one of my home-made bait spikes. These things are intended to be hair rigged on a band, as the name suggests but hold well on a bait spike. 

A nice F1 off the sleeper rod
Having got the rig just where I wanted it, there was no way I was going to retrieve it to check that I had not lost the bait on its way through the trees. I decided to give it an hour and see what happened. I catapulted a few of my Two Dog boilies out there to give the fish something to get them feeding. Within about twenty minutes my faith was rewarded and the line was ripping off the reel. After swinging silvers to hand all morning on a float rod, this felt like something huge. The carp rod was doing its job and I managed to get the fish landed. Nothing spectacular, but a fish none the less, this decent sized F1was the biggest fish I had caught for a while.

I rebated with a new wafter, the original one was still on the spike, but I thought it had done its job and a fresh one would impart a stronger fresh scent. I was not so daring this time and dropped the wafter about a foot short of the undergrowth, I can't be that lucky twice in a row.

Now the fish seemed to have woken up it was out with the method feeder. The fish seem to like the Two Dog boilies so it made sense to try the Two Dog groundbait on the feeder. Baited with a decent lump of punched Bacon Grill, I set about casting to a spot just to the side of a patch of lilly pads. I didn't have to wait too long to get a bite and sure enough the method was getting bites. Admittedly, only small F1s but a bite is a bite. Surprisingly I saw none of the bream, that have been introduced to the lake, all day.

For the last hour or so, I left the sleeper rod out and had a go at the margin. I had been feeding the margin with the odd handful of maggots, corn, meat and groundbait all afternoon on the hope of attracting some bigger fish. I dropped a feeder in a spot where the bank dropped away steeply and I was getting line bites straight away. Just as I was thinking this was looking promising, the top of the rod bent double and I had a decent fish on the hook. I have tried this before and when there is so little line between the rod and the fish it is hard to control the fish without it breaking off. This time the drag was set to allow the fish to take line. The trouble was it was set tight enough to give enough resistance to spook the fish and it headed straight into the reeds. I was stuck, the line was solid. I tried to walk along the bank to give another angle of attack but to no avail. I could see the nice new medium size, 30g feeder that had run up the line, as it should, just long enough to say goodbye as the line broke and sent it to the depths. 

Ta-dah! Best fish of the day
Okay, not deterred by this I decided to try again but this time with the drag wound out to almost nothing. Again a lot of activity and then the bite. This time the fish ran to open water and I was able to control it. After a long careful battle I managed to land a very well appreciated mirror. Not the biggest fish on the planet but a decent size for me and my biggest fish of the year so far.

With that is was time to pack up and set off home. Another good day at the lake. This time I had the right gear I only used three rods all day. I had given myself the option to fish whatever seemed to be right for the day. I am still planning to have a go at surface fishing using dog mixers, and had the conditions been different I would have done so today but just like Saturday, the only thing interested in my floaters were the moorhens and I am sure they would not appreciate one laced with a hook. 

Very strange. The one on the end looks different. I wonder if he is a hanger-on
One of the funniest things that happened today was the goose procession. When I arrived they were sitting on one of the 'fingers' of land that give Maze Lake its name. Then all of a sudden they all took to the water and went for a circuit of the lake. All very orderly and with a sense of purpose. They did this a couple of time during the day, I have no idea why. I enjoy watching the bird-life at Beaver, after a while the birds grow in confidence and will sit all around waiting for scraps. Having lived in London all my life, it is really nice to sit there interacting with nature that is not so easily accessible in the High Street! I will finish this post with this picture of a confused robin wondering how he was going to carry all his shopping home.


How am I supposed to pick all those up as well?
Ralph.           
  

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Fry-day on Saturday

After a week of sweltering, record-breaking whether here in London, I decided I needed some relaxation in the relative cool of an overcast day at the lake with a selection of tackle. For the past few weeks I have been fishing 'light', taking minimum tackle with the idea of keeping it simple. This practice backfired last Wednesday, as you may have read HERE. Today I was not going to be restricted for choice.

On Wednesday the fish were taking floating bait and cruising around just under the surface. I had a float rod and that was it. It was a breezy day and I was struggling to keep the float stationary even using a long waggler. Today I was not going to be so restricted. Space not being a problem, I packed the van with a good selection of rods, my favourite cheap 5m tele-pole, and a good selection of bait. My aim was to try grabbing the fish off the top with some surface bait. I had a couple of new baits, for me, mini marshmallows and dog mixer biscuits. I also had bread with me. To cope with the huge fish I was going to be hauling out of The Major's Lake, I had packed a carp rod, or three.

As you may have gathered I was off to Beaver Fishery today. The variety of fishing there is great, currently spread over eight lakes and ponds, everything from a well stocked runs lake where your are guaranteed a fish, an idyllic pond with roach, tench, perch and the odd big carp, to the two specimen lakes where you can catch big carp in one and enormous moggies in the other. I usually avoid commercials at the weekend but today I was planning on fishing one of the less 'inhabited' parts of the fishery. I got there about twenty minutes before the gate opens at 07:00 to find five or six cars queuing already. I was not too bothered by this as I was fairly confident that my chosen spot was not going to be inundated with people, and I was right. I had the bank to myself.

The Major's Lake was not going to give up its fish to me today...
I have fished here several times in the past and had a good selection of fish from reasonable bream, tench and perch as well as a good selection of roach and other small silvers. The plan was to put out a sleeper rod over to the island and collect the odd fish trying to keep out of the way. While the other rod was 'sleeping' I had a little go with the tele-pole while soaking some mixers ready for a session of picking 'em off the top a bit later in the day.

I threw a few mixers in just to see if anything was interested. To my surprise, they started zipping about and fizzing. At first I thought there was something in the mixers reacting with the water, the reaction was so vigorous, closer inspection revealed they were being attacked by hundreds (thousands even!?) of fry, I have never seen so many. Lots of fry, but no bigger fish showing any interest. In fact the only interest shown was by the local population of Moorhen; mum (I assume) and a couple of chicks. The chicks were hiding in a clump of reeds to my left and soon recognised the plop of mixer into water meant a free lunch. None of the mixers lasted more than a few seconds before they were 'rescued' by one of the chicks. At this point I realised that floater fishing was out for today, at least in this spot.

I discovered by bitter experience there is not much point in trying to relocate on a Saturday so I decided to just stay put and try a spot of feeder fishing instead. I was now feeling very smug about deciding to bring a good selection of gear. The carp rods went back in the van and the feeder rods came out. Well, I say feeder rods but my short feeders are called 'Picker' rods. Even now after two and a half years plus, I am still baffled by the total lack of standardisation in fishing. Rods, reels, line and hooks all seem to vary from make to make. I am sure they only do it to confuse me! At 9ft and 8ft, give or take a bit, they are ideal for this sort of fishing and allow me to cast easier in confined places. It is all very well being in an idyllic setting but I am always mindful of the tree Gods about me, attempting to claim my end tackle.

I left the sleeper rod out for a couple of hours at a time, checking the chod rig and hooking a fresh PVA mesh bag full of boilies, particles and groundbait each time. To cut a long story short - that did nothing. I saw the odd fish break the surface but not a sign of anything on that rod all day.

I also caught next to nothing on the feeder or the tele-pole. I caught about three fish, none of which required the landing net so the nets were still dry when it was time to pack up. I hardly saw any fish action, other than the fry, but it seems most people were reporting the same. I am wondering if the fish were still recovering after spawning. Someone said it was probably the air pressure but I don't know. I need to study these sort of things a bit more to give me a better chance of 'reading' the water and conditions with a more informed eye.

Fish or no fish I had a great day experimenting and feeding the wild fowl while taking in all the nature around me. I even managed to practise my Spanish by having a short siesta in the afternoon...

...Siesta is Spanish for nap, you know!

Ralph.