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.
 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Fishing Sunday - No fish supper on Saturday night!

Last time I planned a fishing trip with my brother, I went out for a meal the night before and ending up having to cancel the day. See HERE. Hopefully all will go to plan this time. I still need to go and buy a few bits and pieces as we will both be fishing on this trip.

Fishing is about a million miles away from my normal day-to-day life. As I type this I am sitting here awaiting work from distant lands to be delivered. I have already received some 3D 'printed' parts from LA, delivered by that very tall bloke from UPS, and I am following the tracking of of further parcel, again from LA - The tracking locations look like the words lovingly inscribed on the side of Derrick Trotter's famous yellow three wheeler, except my list does not end in Peckham but Catford! On this side of the world I am waiting for a delivery from France and I have just sent some bits and pieces to Sweden. All this is made possible by the wonders of the newfangled digital technology and the World Wide Web.

The way I work has changed beyond all recognition. All I have to do is sit here, move a mouse about and bash a few keys or sit at the bench building or designing something. When it is done, I press a few more keys and that big bloke arrives to collect it and it is spirited away to the other side of the word.  It is all so far detached from reality it feels surreal. My life today would have been a Dali image a few decades ago.

I guess it is the same for everyone, but for me it seems even worse as I never seem to get out of the house. Hopefully fishing will change all that, at least it will make a start. I am really looking forward to our trip on Sunday. Tim and I don't get to see each other much outside the odd family get together.

Me and Tim, excitable chap, I have just told him we are going fishing
...and yes, we always dress like that!
Fishing, or at least the low-tech style of fishing I have in mind, is so totally and utterly different to our daily routine, it fills me with excitement and a touch of trepidation all at the same time. I am way out of my comfort zone as far as knowledge is concerned and the experience side of things is practically non existent. The same applies to Tim, although he is out and about during the day, sitting on a bank whiling away a few hours is about as alien to him as it is to me.

Having said all that, it feels great to find something new that I can get passionate about. Not obsessed, not all encompassing but something that has absolutely nothing to do with my other interests and daily work, that have somehow become rather interconnected lately.

For years I have ignored anything to do with fishing, other than watching the odd TV programme, I had never looked at a fishing magazine or paper until a month ago. Now Sue is asking me if I would like her to pick up the latest copy of the Angling Times while she is out, and I'm hearing myself saying "Yes please!" I also discovered something called Carp Crew on the TV in the mornings starting at 07:35 on Quest. Although this is all a bit out of my league at the moment, It is full of interesting hints and tips on tackle and bait. I am not sure I am ready to set up the Bivvy and camp out all night waiting for the bite alarm to go off, all looks a bit mechanical to me - but, hey, what do I know...

For now it will be off to Kent, in Sue's recycled fridge, to collect Tim early Sunday morning (that'll be a shock for his system) and a short hop down the road to Bax Farm for a spot of fishing...

...If Tim ends up walking home, you'll know it didn't work out well!

Ralph.