Thursday, 18 December 2014

This time next week...

...it will be Christmas day!

 

Fishing for oysters?
That means I might just get one more day in fishing later this week or at the weekend. All my fishing so far has been at commercial fisheries on day ticket. To make this worthwhile, this usually calls for a bit of planning, an hours drive, a whole day's fishing and a reasonable amount of expense. However, I have a plan - Oyster fishing. No, not those oysters, I mean the plastic card that gives me full access to the transport network here in London and all for a very reasonable maximum fair. I have been looking at doing a spot of urban fishing, and more precisely, urban drop shotting. This seems to be the perfect answer for my situation. I can buzz off on the train for a few hours and drown a few little lures. What's more, 'ave you seen the size of the 'ooks? I will be able to tie those a bit easier!

So, Mr Claus, can I have a Fox Rage Ultron Finesse lure rod and Fox Rage Ultron 1500 fixed spool reel, please? I am happy to go out and buy the line and end tackle...

Ralph.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

I went fishin' today!

A first visit to Beaver Farm Fishery

 

My peg this morning - 'ello duckie!
Got up this morning, commandeered Sue's car and went fishing! I had arranged to meet one of the guys (Ian) I had been 'talking' to on one of the internet forums. Forty-five minutes later I was standing outside the fishery office and Ian arrived. A brief exchange of words through the window of his car and we agreed to meet at Maze Lake.

I had called the mobile number as instructed by the notice on the door and was politely told to wait there and someone would come and meet me. A few minutes later and one of the bailiffs arrived. I can't emphasis enough how welcome the staff, including the cat, made me feel. I paid my £10.00 day ticket, collected a pint of maggots and drove to the lake. It is possible to park just a few feet from the lake and if the pegs at that end are free, as they were today, you can fish with the convenience of having the car just about as close as it can be without being parked on the peg with you!

I had gone with the idea of trying out my new feeder rod. While Ian got fishing on the waggler, I set about rigging my cage feeder. I had already loaded the spool of my reel with plenty of 8lb line and I was fiddling about tying on the swivel and mixing my groundbait. I had a packet of Strawberry flavoured pellets that I had bought in the the local 99p shop. I had not mixed them into my 'sweet' groundbait mix at home as the ingredients list said that it contained peanut. The fishery has a total ban on nuts of any kind, but when I asked about my pellets I was told there was no problem with them as they were part of the pellet and I assume processed properly.

The pellets were soaked in some lake water and left to soak while I was still fiddling about with my rig. after about half an hour the pellets were added to the ground bait and mixed in - I must get myself a riddle! I rolled a couple of golf-ball sized lumps and started to lightly feed my chosen swim. Eventually, I managed to get all the knots tied up and the tangles straightened out of my line and I was ready to fish.

The first tree of the day was mine...
While I was doing all this the bailiff arrived to collect Ian's ticket money, and they were chatting when I made my initial cast. I made what I considered a light cast.THUMP! Hmmm... shouldn't that have been plop? My cast had shot right over the water and had landed on the other side. Thinking I could quietly retrieve the feeder and rig I started to reel it in only for it to get tangled in a bush... Just as I was pondering this situation I heard Ian saying to the bailiff  "Oh look, Ralph's just caught a tree!"  Great!

Ian at his peg pulling out fish on maggots with a waggler...
The bailiff then offered to go and untangle me from the tree and set off for the other side of the lake. After threatening to ban me if he fell in, he managed to snap off the branch and the first catch of the day was made. I reeled in my branch and set about freeing my tackle. After replacing the hook bait and refilling the cage, I had another go. This time I hooked the bush next to my peg... After freeing the cage feeder again I eventually got to make another cast. This time it dropped at my feet. Plop!  Well, that's an improvement, the maggots got wet. Filled with confidence I refilled the cage (again!) and made a cast. It was while walking back from the other side of the lake that I decided that fishing this rig out of the tree on the other side of the lake was getting rather tedious...

Time for a waggler. I packed away my feeder rod and tackle for another day. I wanted to have a go, and I had done so. I also discovered I still have a lot to learn and if I had any hope of catching any fish at all today it would be on the waggler. I sat there and set up my match rod for a spot of waggler fishing, plumbed the depth and weighted my float. attempted a few casts and was getting nowhere - I then spotted that the line had been passed through the last eye after a short diversion round the end of the rod. Oh, bother! At least I think that was the word I used. Deep breath, 1, 2, 3,......10!

Got it all sorted out and had a cast. Three foot. Tried again, three foot one inch... More counting.

By this time Ian was starting to feel sorry for me and came over to give me a hand. He had a go at casting and said I should go and lift his rod to see how light It was compared with mine. I did and it had a baby perch munching the maggot and hook... IAAAN!

The perch we caught - It took two of us to land this one!
We took a look at the little fellow and sent him on his way claiming half a fish each...

Ta dah! My first fish of the day
Ian decided that the best thing to do would be to start again and use one of his pre-weighted floats that he very kindly gave me. I had been pre-baiting my swim about once an hour and I could see the evidence of fish I made a cast and the float disappeared to my amazement I had hooked a fish! My first silver fish and it was a skimmer - that is what Ian had been after all morning and I caught one on my first cast. I am not sure if Ian was pleased or not... He said he was!

It may be small but I caught it all on my own...
The day progressed and I caught all sorts of silvers including some really smart looking baby perch which I think are my favourite little fellows, that obviously think big, trying to gulp down several maggots at a time. As the sun went down, the fish started to bite on nearly every cast and we were going strong until it got too dark to see. Right on the last knockings, with the aid of Ian's new head-torch, he managed his target fish; a nice looking bream.

Last knockings - Well done Ian - you found it!
A great day out that was made all the more enjoyable with Ian's help and guidance. A very good venue - I will certainly be back very soon... waggler fishing!

Ralph       

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Fishing tomorrow!

Yes, at last I have managed to find some time to do some actual fishing. Alas, I will be going on my own as I still can't get to find a time that works for both me and Tim. He's gone off to Manchester this weekend with his other half to visit friends. I did think about suggesting  that he let her go on her own but I don't think he would be allowed to even hint at that without ruining the next couple of Christmases... So much for finding something we could do together - See my original post HERE.

Tomorrow I am off to visit Beaver Fishery for the first time. The venue was initially recommended to me by a fellow fishing forum member who lives local to me. As the reviews, I could find on the internet, all seemed favourable I decided to give it a go. I don't often think of going off in that direction, normally heading east into Kent. On investigation it is only 45 minutes from here. If I leave here at 8:00am I will still be there before 9:00am... I intend to try and get there earlier than that tomorrow so I can have a look around before I start fishing.

My first experimental groundbait mix, gravy browning and salt... Yum!
This will be my chance to experiment with my home made (sweet) groundbait base mix. Nothing fancy, this lot is my starting point. I have no idea if it will work but I have to start somewhere. The base mix is made up from 500g of dried and processed bread, 250g of processed ginger nuts and 250g of processed custard creams. To this I will add sweetcorn water from a 285g tin, about half the of the corn. I will also add a teaspoon or two of gravy browning to darken the mix and see how it goes...

...If all else fails there is always the on-site shop!

I will let you know how I get on tomorrow!  

Ralph.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Beyond the maggot...

Three months ago I had no idea that a simple attempt to get together with my brother would lead to so much enjoyment. Okay, I have only managed to actually go fishing a couple of times, but to some extent that has been a blessing in disguise. I came into this expecting to go out, buy a rod and reel, a few bits of tackle and that would be that. Well, how wrong could I be? I used to think that fishing was one of those hobbies that encouraged the equipment collector. I had no idea that all those rods and all that tackle was absolutely necessary...

Yes, I am being just a little sarcastic but there is a lot more to this than I first thought. Take bait for example. I was under the impression that bait consisted of bread, worms and maggots. Blimey! there is a whole industry built around the stuff. I mentioned before that I was surprised that fish liked bananas (still not sure how they peel them...) and that I was not sure that was more for the angler's benefit - The jury is still out on that one as I have yet to give it a try. Still, I have done my homework and have been drying as 'processing bread into fine breadcrumb ready to take its part as a good percentage of my groundbait mix. This groundbait thing sounds like it will be interesting experimenting with. Yesterday I stocked up on some more ingredients from my local Aldi store. Biscuits - 2.4Kg of them and I only spent £2.04! Four packets of custard creams and four packets of gingernuts at 26p and 25p respectively for a 300g packet.

Aldi sell cheap biscuits - All this lot cost £2.04!
The intention is to grind all these up into powders and mix them with other processed (whizzed!) dry ingredients, some of which are to be combined, to recorded recipes and see what works and what doesn't, over a period of time. My thinking, at this time, is to mix the dry ingredients by volume rather than weight. I am going to make up some base mixes and add 'enhancers' to them at the water's edge. For example if I am fishing with sweetcorn I will add, not only some of the kernels, but use the juice topped up as required with the lake water to get to the required consistency. I found 285g cans of sweetcorn in Iceland for 50p, even if you do have to use a can opener on them! Lots of experimenting to do here at a later stage but for now I am happy to collect and process the ingredients.

Sweetcorn from Iceland is only 50p per 285g can!
The other thing I just have to have a go at is to make my own boilies. I have been reading some of the recipes and advice on the web and within my ever-growing library of books and periodicals. I can imagine how this subject could lead to some heated debate as to what is the best recipe. Not being in the position to fuel that yet I will just stick to the basics. I think it will be fun experimenting with different flavours. I wonder if I can talk Tim into being chief taster...

I found a lot of good basic information on the web and have managed to collect together some basic equipment from various sources. I have come to the conclusion that buying used tackle and accessories on eBay is a minefield of junk mixed in with the odd bargain. It may be of more use with a bit more experience. The final straw was a listing that promised the basics required for boilie making. I was really surprised when I won it on the starting price, my inexperience was working against me. The boilie gun was not. It was a very badly converted caulking gun that was filthy, the boilie rolling tables had a foot missing (or, to be fair, maybe it was lost in the packing and I accidentally threw it away) and the various ingredients were years out of date, rancid and most of the bottles of flavour and colour were almost empty. what was not empty was spilling out into the cardboard box that had been lightly filled with second hand pacing materials , old boxes and carrier bags. It was disgusting, I have no idea how anybody would have thought this was an acceptable way to sell anything. I kept the tables and a few odd bits of food flavouring. The so-called boilie gun might be recoverable with a complete rebuild using replacement parts designed for the purpose. I have put a request into to Gardner, the makers of the rolling tables, to purchase some new feet. All in all I did just about cover what I spent, but I could have bought a couple of new rolling tables for what this cost me. The rest of it went straight in the bin - Lesson learned! I have now ordered a new boilie sausage gun and will go out and buy fresh ingredients once I have collected together my own dedicated set of cookware.

Digital scales for under seven quid from Argos - they'll do!
Buckets, bowls, jugs, mixing spoons etc can be found in the local pound shops or if I am looking for a cut price deal I might have a look in the 99p shop! I have also spotted a set of digital weighing scales for a few pound in Argos. Even if I am not going fishing there is plenty to keep me occupied on the bait front at the moment. While I am gathering the ingredients and equipment to make boilies, I am slowly building up my stock of groundbait material ready for mixing into my various experimental base mixes.

It is not so bad doing all this studying and experimenting at the moment, while it is all new to me. As time goes on I hope to find some other fishing venues to get some fishing in where I can put all this theory into practice.  Hopfully by this time next year I will be able to spend much more time fishing than reading about it. I am liking the idea of a bit of urban fishing. It seems to be the in thing at the moment but finding out who looks after what stretch of water is not as easy it seems. Most of the local clubs that look after the water seem very hard to communicate with. However there is some light at the end of the tunnel, I have found a local tackle shop not far from me. I intend to go and buy a few bits and pieces of tackle that I need and see if I can find out where I can fish locally.

Ralph.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Nearly...

I had a call from my brother (Tim) today. It seemed he was well on with the job he was working on this week and, if the weather held he would be free to go fishing. Great! The weather looked as if it was going to behave itself so my hopes were high. As Sue and I were out for the day visiting my my Mum, who had been poorly (much better today!) I suggested that maybe once he was sure he would be free he could pick up a pint of Maggots, just in case we managed to get to the venue before the shop opened. A few hours later and I got a call from Tim to say he had to pull out as he had been offered some more work - Nearly!

The plan was to waggler fish to start with and to then have a go at a spot of ledgering using the carp rod we got with our starter set. I thought I could set this up on the bank and see what happened. As it was not to be I decided to do some more homework and investigate rigs. Hummm... There seems to be dozens of ways of skinning this particular cat. As I am now completely confused about what rig to use, after being 'YouTubed'. Being presented with an unlimited amount of advice, some conflicting and other just, shall we say, opinionated. The internet is a wonderful thing and with some knowledge and experience of the subject it is fairly easy to sort the wheat from the chaff. As I have neither of the former, I have decided to go back to the very basics and give that a try first.

This is what I intend to have a go with...
 The plan with this rig is to start with a long hook link and to reduce it as necessary. I will start with it about 15 inches (380mm) long. I will feed a few maggots into the swim and bait the hook with a couple, one red, one natural and see what happens. If that doesn't work I will revert to plan 'B' and try sweetcorn. I will add a small limp of tungsten putty about half way down the hook link and bait with one real and one artificial to give it a bit or buoyancy. I also intend to take and try out some home made groundbate which I will mix up with the juice from the sweetcorn and lake water.

All this is, of course, all theory at the moment but that is what I enjoy. I get a lot of fun out of working it out in advance and thinking it all through. I can then look forward to giving it a go and seeing what happens. I will let you know how I get on.

Ralph.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Fishing famine...

You won't find any fish up there, Tim
The fishing famine continues as the nights draw in. This is the first weekend I have had at home for several weeks only to discover that my fishing partner (Tim) is not around to go fishing this weekend. Typical.

Great little book
My other 'iron in the fire' has gone cold. I have been trying to get a look around my local fishery. but the fishery manager has not been available at the times I could make it and was going to call me this week to arrange another visit. It is now Saturday morning and I am still waiting for a call, I suspect he has been busy as he has a full time job as well. I will give him a call today and see if I can arrange a visit for tomorrow.

In the meantime I have been playing around with end tackle and knots. There is so much basic stuff to learn, the lack of actual fishing is not too much of a problem at the moment. I do like clever little gizmos that help a novice like me achieve a result. The Matchman hook tyer I bought and mentioned a few weeks ago, see HERE, works really well. I think I am at the stage where I can actually tie them without but it is still much quicker using the Matchman. So impressed was I that I ordered another one for Tim. Now it has arrived, there is a bit of a problem - it's PINK! I am now wondering if my little brother will think my uncharacteristic  generosity will be taken as joke...

It's PINK!
 Talking of gizmos, I found a simple loop-tying tool. I don't have any trouble tying loops but they are usually on the large side. Tim, on the other hand was getting into all sorts of trouble on the bank, I think his fingers were just cold - or he is just getting old and his dexterity has gone. It's okay to say that here, he never reads my waffle.

Three loop tying tools
 I thought this might be another little aid that was worth its few pennies. I bought a couple and discovered they are available in different sizes. For the vast outlay of a couple of pounds, I had three different sizes and the smallest one had a very small disgorging tool - ideal for the fish that Tim will be catching. Tying loops with these things is simplicity itself.

I know it is possible to spend a fortune on tackle, and tempting as that may be, I am determined to not let it runaway with me. I started off with a pile of cheap waggler floats that came with my 'starter' set and another lot that were sold in a tube in Aldi. These are not very well made, and indeed some let in water and others simply broke.


So I bought three branded ones the next time I was in the tackle shop. Apart from the fact that it looked slightly better made and it had the cocking weight printed on it, the new float also leaked and  became slightly bent! an attempt to straighten it resulted in a kink. A spin and a pull over the steam of a boiling kettle removed the kink. but I now have a wobbly waggler that may still leek - I will let you know if it still works!

Also, during this enforced dormancy, I have been looking at feeder fishing and leggering. I found some safety clips and other bits of end tackle and intend to spend some time making up a few rigs to try out next time I get to a water's edge. To this end I had another 'click' moment on eBay and bought a rig-box and four small tackle boxes that all fit inside a neat little case for a shade over £10 including the postage.

Fishing line    

Now there are two innocent looking words. Until recently the only contact I have had with fishing line was to hang things up without making the method of suspension too obvious. Now I find there is a whole store-full of lines that all have different properties.  Fairy early on I discovered that my preconceptions of the stuff were simplistic to say the least and that more often than not, the thickness of the line was just as important (if not more so) than the breaking strain. I may be wrong but I have a feeling that it is a lot simpler than it appears and I need to discover what I need for my narrow field of current fishing interest.

My reel has been pre-filled with 12lb line
 So far I have worked out (been told) that the line on my float fishing set-up is far too heavy at 12lb which measures about 0.28mm. I know it is 12lb because that is what it is labelled as on the spool supplied with the reel. The carp reel I have is also pre-loaded with 0.28mm line. I am assuming that is12lb too... A lot to learn here methinks.

Ralph.          

Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Severn, this morning...


Looking along The Wharfage from our B&B, this morning
Several times a year we visit Ironbridge in Shropshire. For many years now, we have been staying in a very nice B&B right on the Wharfage. Our views from the windows are of the Severn. Looking one way towards the famous Iron bridge, which is just out of sight in my picture from the B&B but can be seen in the photo below. The river was running quite fast this morning and is prone to flooding along this section and it can make a real mess.

In recent years barriers have been erected to keep the fish (and the water!) in the river. This makes vehicular access almost impossible as the remaining open road is required for the emergency services.

The barriers erected in January 2013 Photo: Dave Throup
  Looking out of the other window we can see straight across the river to the opposite bank.  The pegs seem to me mostly in disarray. Each time the river floods, I suspect the pegs get washed away, or at the very least, damaged.  

You can see one of the pegs, in a sorry state, in the centre of the picture
Odd pegs look a little more robust even if the bank has the air of treachery about it! There was nobody fishing in the town this morning. I understand that this section is free to fish, so long as the maggot drowner has a valid EA licence. I am not sure what the form is, i.e. whether one can just turn up and fish or if there is a protocol to follow. 

We noticed, last night on the way back from the Indian Restaurant, there is a Tackle shop just by the bridge. It has probably been there ever since we have been visiting the area and just not been aware of it before. I should have made a point of investigating it this morning but didn't have time on this trip. Something to put in the bag for next time we are there in February.     

This peg seems intact, even if the bank is not so good
I intend to do a bit of homework and maybe give this stretch of the river a go next time we are there, if I can discover if I can just turn up and fish. I also wonder if I can fish on this side of the river.

Ralph.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Keeping it simple...

My first fishing outing was brilliant and produced a few fish. This spurred me on to want more. I can't go fishing anywhere near as much as I would like to so the practical side is way behind the theory. I have a list of things to try out as long as my arm. Most of them may not be implicated for months, years or maybe never.

The first time out I had absolutely no experience whatsoever. The only knowledge I had was gleaned from an old Matt Hayes video I found on YouTube. This showed in easy-step by-step stages how to put the rod and reel together and rig it for waggler fishing. It also showed how to plumb the depth and simple casting and playing the fish into the net. It worked and I caught fish.

By the time I went out for the second time, I was not much further down the road of learning and we blindly fished away all day. Trying to cast in a straight line and to any distance seemed much harder than the first time. I now realise that we were doing it all wrong. We were casting at random stretches of water and just hoping for the best. Our depth seeking was a mess - we even lost one of our plummets. The floats we happened to use were too light and we had no idea where the fish were likely to be. We also did not know anything about baiting the swim to get the fish feeding or even where and when they might feed.

For our next few trips, I will be much more considered. I have a plan to continue with waggler fishing around the island with constant casting into the same place, after feeding the swim. I will try using the line clip to make this happen and I have seen a method of casting that should suit me and get the hook-bait in the correct place. This is of course all theory and this will be its first practical use. Once I am happy I can get the technique somewhere near right I plan to try some feeder fishing or ledgering using a  quiver-tip rod and see how that goes.

In the fishing free period between now and our next outing, I will have a go at making my own ground bait and collect together a selection of different hook baits to try. I will also gather together some shop bought ground and hook baits and see how that goes.

Now that's interesting... another 1p book from Amazon
Amazon and Kindle (one of the same, but you know what I mean) have added to my reference library this week. I found a couple of books within my celling price of 1p on Amazon's 'New and used from...' A copy of Tony Miles' Coarse Fishing - A Step-By-Step Guide and the book pictured above is a really interesting book, with lots of under-water photography, called Improve your Bait Fishing by John Bailey. I then found on Kindle The angler's Book of Freshwater Fish. This is almost current being dated 2013. So I am now studying one fish at a time. So far I am studding Barbel!

One development that might change things dramatically is that I have discovered there is a local club that has a complex of several lakes, some river fed and others spring fed, 15 minutes drive from here! I must have driven past the lakes thousands of times and I had no idea they were there! I have contacted the club and they suggested I contact their Bailiff who will give me a good look around. If I like what I see I will join the club and with that amount water on my doorstep I might be able to increase my practical experience. I will post a report once I have seen the complex...

Ralph.      
        

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Supermarket feeders...


Aldi are now feeding the fish...
Here in South East London the demand for cheap fishing gear must be limited as the local Aldi store is often found to be selling off its fishing related special offers at even further reduced prices. Today they were selling a nice little set of feeders for £3.49. At that price Sue decided to buy them and give them to me as a gift. Thank You! I was thinking about doing a bit of ledgering/feeder fishing next time we go out, between bouts of waggler fishing. Especially if we are having no luck on the float, like last time.

Not bad for a few pounds!
As well as the feeders and mould, there are a few hooks to nylon, some mini swivels, bright green rubbery beads and the obligatory disgorger. I must have about half a dozen of these now! For the money, these feeders look as if they will do the job to me and I will be able to try out some of my home-made ground bait.

You even get yet another free edition of Matt Hayes'  Useful Book of Fishing Which to be fair is useful to beginners like us but we now have several copies!

Ralph.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Processed!

Well, not yet but what a find! My Mum, who is proud of being 87 has lived in the same house for decades. Over that time, she and my late Dad successfully and progressively filled it with stuff .  You know what stuff is; it is the things that do not fit into the essentials category of items that fill our houses. Some people manage without stuff and live in clinically clean and spacious interiors (also known as minimalist). I suspect most of us have things other than clothes, furniture, pots, pans and cleaning implements. Anything else that does not fit into the aforementioned list, including disused kitchen appliances, is stuff! Our mum is in the process of clearing out a lot of her stuff and is always eager when Tim or I show an interest in removing any of it.

Thanks Mum!
Regular readers will know that recently I have been investigating (should I say discovering) the possibility of drowning other things to use as bait other than maggots. One of the roads I have been treading is that of groundbait. Apart from the ingredients, I also needed something to chop it all up in. Using our own kitchen food processor is all right for the bread and biscuit but ground up fish flavoured dry cat biscuit might well be a step too far. Tolerant as she is, I think even Sue will draw the line at adding a fishy tinge to the latest work of culinary art!

I looked through the listings on eBay and they all seemed either on their last legs or almost as expensive as buying a new one I then too a look at the Argos catalogue and even the cheap stuff in the local Tesco. Nothing was shouting "buy me" so I was still thinking about what to do when we went visiting yesterday. I mentioned this to Mum in passing and she said, I think I have one of those you can have... After following a set of directions as to its location, akin to those used by ancient mariners seeking treasure island would follow, I discovered a perfect little  food processor just begging to be given a new life.  

Thanks Sue!
That will do for the 'softer' ingredients , now I need something for the hard stuff. A cheap coffee grinder seems to be the best bet. Sue picked up a cheap one while she was out today and this looks like it will do the job.  Now all I have to do is find something to process/grind. Sue collected a few prices for dog and cat biscuits from our local shops but I think a visit to one of the pet stores in the retail parts might be in order.

The next job will be a visit to the tackle shop to buy a new quiver tip rod and some ledgering tackle for our next great adventure. I plan to try out my home-made ground bait and see how I get on.

I hope to work my way up to having a go with a bit more planning. At the moment I am just casting out, feeding with some bait and hoping for the best. I like the idea of using a marker float and mapping the portion of the lake I want to fish. The idea of using a spod appeals to me. I have a cheap carp rod that will do as marker rod and I might need something to use as a spodding rod. But that is all a bit further down the line, and I really need to sort out what kit I really need. For now we will be using the carp rod for ledgering along with the new quiver tip rod and see how we go from there. I might buy a cheap, single bit alarm and have a play with that...This is all  good fun and very enjoyable. To be learning something completely new in my sixth decade of life is very rewarding. Especially when it is something I have never really had a desire to do before. 

Ralph.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

No float next time!

Waggler fishing drowns lots of maggots!
My two trips to the water so far have involved float fishing. More precisely, waggler fishing. The reason for this has been, until now, it is the only way I knew how to fish. Now, I am not claiming to be an expert at this, bit I did want to have a go at a different type of fishing. The trouble is I still could not get the other forms of fishing, I knew existed, clear in my head...

Six plus weeks into this fishing thing, and my head is full of 'stuff'. Stuff about rods, stuff about bait, stuff about tackle... Trouble was it was all over the place, like an office after a hurricane had passed through. The information I needed was mostly there it was just in the wrong place. I then realised something that will be obvious to all but me!

I find myself re-reading the books and magazines with fresh eyes...
I was reading Coarse Fishing Basics, a beginner's guide - by Steve Partner, for the umpteenth time and I suddenly realised that ledger fishing was carried out using either weighted feeders, a ledger-weight or a string of large shot. All of which can be fixed to the main line or allowed to travel along it. The eureka moment came when I realised - they are all basically the same technique or principle. I know that is an oversimplification, but they all rely on a weight (anchor) a baited hook and a tight-line that goes slack. or screams off the real to indicate a bite. I said it was obvious, but not to me. I was making it all far too complicated and going around and around in circles.

I subsequently discovered quiver tips, Marker floats, Spods and sbombs. I have also found out how to use them - at least the theory behind them. All this may seem obvious to anyone who has fished before, but for me it is all slowly falling into place. I can now read my copy of Improve your Coarse Fishing, that I bought six weeks ago, and understand so much more of what is being said.

Guess what? - looks like I need some more Tackle and another session on the water to try out all this new found knowledge. You know what they say about a little knowledge is dangerous... Well, I will take a change of clothes with me this time, just in case!

Ralph

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Matchman made even easier...

At times like this, when I can't actually get out and fish, I can spend the evenings (and the odd hour during the day) trying to improve my knowledge. I can also end up spending money! Another £2.20 has just been invested in the ever growing armoury of weapons, employed in making it easier for me to spoil a fish's day. A Matchman hook tier. This looks like the bea's knees of gizmos, and the price is incredible as that included the postage!

Now this looks interesting...
Eager to get going, I found a hook and some hook-length monofilament line of a suitable diameter (.12mm) and set to work tying knots in the line and missing the hook... Hmmm.

I had several goes and then bingo! I realised where I was going wrong and the job was a gooden'.

A further problem I found was keeping the tension in the line. I tried holding the spool between my knees but that was awkward. A quick rummage around the workshop produced a rare-earth magnet a very nice 25mm steel ball bearing and a nice lump of mild steel rectangular bar. You know the sort of thing everybody has laying around... Problem solved!

Spool holder
Rare_earth magnet attached to the block of steel
The rare-earth magnet sticks to the mild steel with serious intent. The spool then fits over it. It doesn't matter that the hole in the spool is larger than the magnet as the ball bearing will centre the spool  as it is attracted to the magnet. The art of this is to ensure the ball cannot actually touch the magnet. Using a different size ball-bearing will alter the pressure being applied and hence the amount of drag being applied to the spool. The line can now be pulled from the spool under constant tension making it much easier to use the Matchman.

The spool is placed over the magnet and the ball bearing is dropped on top
This set-up works fine. I do realise that not everybody has this sort of stuff laying around but a similar jig can be made using a lump of wood with the magnet glued to it. The magnets and ball bearings are readily available on eBay.  The basic idea could be adapted to suit the spool by adjusting the height of the magnet's surface by shimming it with either thinner magnets and/or steel washers.

Works a treat!
It will even work in the vertical plain if you so wish, although I have not thought of a reason for using it in the manner - yet. The little blob of Blu-Tack is used to secure the line to prevent it unravelling after use. 

It will even work in the vertical plain
The Matchman is a really handy little gizmo and with a bit of practice I can now tie spade hooks to line with ease. Best couple of quid I have spent in ages. I thought the pellet bander was a good buy, and it was, but this is right up there too. 

Ralph.
 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Look what landed on the mat...

This!
As I have not been able to go fishing this week I thought I would console myself with a spot of retail therapy. I have been reading up about bait and how to present it. I have now realised, apart from the bait, there are a few tools that might make life easier. One of which is a pellet bander. I have seen them demonstrated before but had no idea of the cost. When I saw this one listed on eBay at £2.99 including delivery I could not resist - CLICK! Ops! I bought one.

Now all I have to do is get some pellets! but first I will have to look at some bait needles and some...

Ralph.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

No fishing this weekend.

It has it's advantages working for yourself but I can get in the way sometimes. It's the yin-yang that is the norm of the self employed, that has to balance. This week the work has spilt over into the weekend. Work the weekend and get a couple of day during the week. Fishing? Maybe.

I will go and visit my Mum at some point, I am not sure at 87 years of age she will be up for a stint by the lake, or the thought of all those maggots. We might have to go to the pub instead! Yes it is true to say that my mum spends more time in the pub than I do these days. Having spent most of my working life in the graphics business associated with print and publishing as well as a stint at a |London advertising agency at the end of the 1970s, I spent a considerable amount of time is such places. In the 1970 and 80s we spent as much time in the wine bars of the yet to be developed Covent Garden and Soho as we did in the office. Today, I hardly ever frequent such places unless it is to eat. Lunch time meal deals have reversed the role of parent and child. Today it is my mum who wants to go to the pub for the 'three courses for £7.99!

A spot of armchair fishing this weekend
I digress, In this period devoid of real fishing I find myself picking up the books and magazines and when the days work is done - or I have had enough of thinking too hard - I try and relax with a few hours fishing studies.

Over the past couple of days I have discovered there are all sorts of other things to drown, other than maggots. Last week when I went out with Tim, for the first time, I tried a bit of sweetcorn and although we caught nothing we did get some interest. This encouraged me to look at other baits. Blimey! Where do I start? The first thing I managed to get clear is the difference between hook bait and all the other bait; hook bait goes on the hook, the rest doesn't!

Mmmm... bananas!
For a real novice like me this is a whole new world of what seems like fantasy.  Do fish really like bananas? I am sure I will read this in time to come and be embarrassed at my ignorance. But, really, is this like the cat food flavours? Surely real cat food flavour would be rancid pigeon, or squashed door mouse.  When have you ever seen a cat eat a cow? Yet Beef flavoured cat food is there on the shelf. I suppose it is intended to 'appeal' to the human buyer, but that is nuts too, who eats cat food?  Mind you I am sure if I gave Tim tuna flavoured cat food sandwiches he would eat them thinking it was tinned tuna... He'll never know.

Talking of deceptive food and bait, You know how at, this time of year, the odd box of Ferrero Rocheris is given as a present. You take them home and someone turns up to say hello. They spot the chocolates and you have to offer then one. Excusing their rudeness by saying "These are so moreish" as they eat the last one... Well, I have a plan for some human bait. Take one box of the aforementioned sweet. Eat them and save the wrappers. Replace the sweets with cold brussel sprouts that have been dipped in molten Ex-lax chocolate and sawdust and wrapped in the original wrappers. Be warned - don't pinch my Ferrero Rocheris!

Getting back to bait for fish, it seems like I will have a lot of reading and watching to do. For now I get how to drown maggots and I can see how sweetcorn works. I think next time I go out fishing I will take some other bait with me and see how I get on, but just what I am not sure. more reading is required here, me thinks...

Ralph.  

Monday, 6 October 2014

Finally we fished...

After weeks of planning, it finally happened, two blokes went fishing! 

 

Sunday morning. I opened my eyes, squinted at the clock radio (I don't sleep with my glasses on!) and it was reading 5:46, I think! Hummm... another few minutes and I will....zzzzz... Oh! bother! (clean version) 6:38!!!

Say hello to Tim...
The plan was to pick Tim up at around 8:00. As he lives about an hour from here, and I need to sort the tackle out while Sue makes the pack lunch and fills the flask with coffee, I am never going to get there by the agreed time. By the time I had eaten breakfast and implemented the daily ablutions, it was getting on for 8:00.

The car was covered in dew, wiped off with the worst of it with the knackered (can I say that?) old squeegee, got in and set the sat-nav to see what time I would get there and it read 8:57. Only an hour late... Look up and guess what? The inside of the car has fugged up. Don't you just love this time of year. Clean up the windscreen and now the dew is back. Finally get going, turn left at the end of the road and head East - guess where the sun is. This time of year is so low in the sky, when we are promised a fine day there is nothing to soften its glare. This morning it was so bad I had to pull over and wait until the demister to warm up keep the window clear...

Just under an hour later I am ringing Tim's doorbell. Down he comes, phone and diary in hand - "What's that for, taking notes?" Turned out he wanted to follow up on a quote...

On arrival at Bax Farm we stopped off in the car park to visit the shop to pay for our day ticket, buy some bait and pick up a new catapult - the old one was not very accurate. Besides, Tim needed one as I had forgotten to buy one on Friday night when I went to Hemmings Tackle.


One of the things I like about Bax Farm is the simplicity. Even their list of rules does not get into double figures. This very nicely written sign board is plain and to the point. It must be a few years old as the layout has changed slightly since it was made.

We unpacked and set up the tackle. Fished for a few hours on maggots - nothing. Changed position and plumbed the depth only to lose the plummet and the hook-length... Today was not going well. Looking around nobody else was catching anything either other than the guys from the shop who came out for a few hours and managed to catch a couple of fish each - what do they know that we don't?

Look Tim I caught something!
Later in the day we reverted to sweetcorn. I managed to catch a lump of weed. Tim did suggest we might have more luck if we left the corn in the can and threw it at the fish... He was joking, I think. as the day went on this was looking to be a fish-less day but just as we were about to give up Tim got a bite. Alas, the 24 pounder "It Was a monster" he had hooked was too powerful and took the hook-length as a trophy - yeah right!  Personally I think the loop he had tied failed - but I will let him have his fishing story of the day.

Still Waters Run Deep (Four Tops) not here!
Although there were no fish, that's right no fish all day, we had a great day by the water. The weather was fine all day and pleasantly warm. There was very little activity on the lake and at times the water was mirror flat and still. Even the moorhens got board and walked off! 

Bye!
We slogged on for a few more hours, Tim got a bite after we changed to sweetcorn but as, I said above, it got away. That was the highlight of the day. Eight and a half hours of sitting looking at still flat water was obviously taking its toll. Do you remember the Morecambe and Wise gag where Eric shows Ernie a framed blank canvas, "What's that?" asks Ernie. "It's a cow eating grass" came the reply, "Where's the grass?" - "The cow has eaten it" "Where's the cow? It's gone to find some more grass." 

To paraphrase Eric Morecambe - It's a fisherman catching fish
Oh well, maybe next time.

Ralph.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Pre-fish shopping...

Yes. I know, down the slippery slope...

New stuff!
I can justify it - honest! On Sunday I am going fishing with my brother and, as both of us will be fishing at the same time, there are a couple of things we will need two of. The starter set I bought to get us going included most of what we needed, albeit of only 'adequate' quality, it did allow me to catch fish. Now we are lacking a couple of items, namely, a second rod rest and a landing net.

Today I forced myself to make a trip to my local fishing tackle shop, Hemmings Fishing  Tackle in Beckenham, Kent. I have to say, at this stage, that I have been there once before and apart from the fact that the place is stuffed with stock, the staff are really helpful and very friendly indeed. I was very good, I went there with a purpose in mind and I left there with only the stuff I went to buy - how's that for discipline!

I bought an adjustable bank stick with rod rest, that looks a little better than the bent piece of wire I have been using, and a telescopic 3M landing net pole and separate landing net. The bloke in the shop said that the net would hold a 14lb Carp... All I have to do now is catch one! I avoided all the really expensive stuff. The landing net, complete, was a few coppers under £30.00 and the bank stick/rod rest was under £9.00. That will do me for now, I will see how I get on with it and go from there. Tim can have the cheap landing net and rod rest for his first day out on Sunday and if he decides he is going to continue fishing, he can upgrade it at his leisure.

Ralph.