Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Underwater Ireland

I stumbled across a link to www.underwater-ireland.com today and found some cracking underwater photos of fish. There are also some good videos of fish in the clear waters of Irish loughs and canals which are most easily viewed on YouTube. Here's one.

By the way if you have Lumbland bookmarked, or have a link to it on your site, please change the address to www.lumbland.co.uk. It's taken me ages (and much tearing out of my remaining hair) to work out how to get the new domain name to function with all the pages displaying correctly, but I think it does now!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ravening ruddy hordes

First cast with a couple of maggots on the hook and the float sank. A tiny rudd was the cause. Second cast, third cast, fourth cast all the same. After I don't know how many tiny rudd from just a couple of inches long to a bit bigger I was getting fed up of rebaiting so stuck an imitation maggot on the hook. It took a few seconds before the float sank this time, but the rudd was a little larger.

The average stamp of rudd

I don't know how long this went on for, but soon a jack pike decided it would come out to play. Now I was losing fake maggots at a rate of knots as the greedy little beggar stole rudd from the end of the line. The colour of 'maggot' didn't seem to make much difference, although the red ones did take a little longer to get noticed. Or so it seemed. Getting a bite a chuck was fun for a while but when the fish are like peas in a bag from Birds Eye it soon becomes tedious. How people can get a kick out of it is beyond me.

Eventually I struck into something heavier. At first I though the jack was back in action, but a large flash of brassy scales just before the fish buried itself in the marginal pondweed - and the float flew up a tree - told the true story. I'd hooked what I was after and blown it. That was the biggest fish I hooked all day.

The evening saw me fishing corn on the hook and the average size of the rudd increased to what you might call 'bait-sized'.

Pass the bucket!

How many fish I caught during the day I really don't know, but it was a lot! In amongst the rudd were a couple of perch (one taking a fake maggot), some roach (a couple nudging the pound mark) and a few hybrids (of varying degrees of rudd and roach).

It was nice to do some float fishing (that wasn't for the sole purpose of providing pike baits) for a change. It quite took me back to my younger days fishing on the canal and local ponds, but one or two bigger fish would have made a pleasant day in the sun not just enjoyable but really satisfying. One thing's for sure, I'll never make a match angler. I don't think size fourteen hooks tied direct to five pound line would see me frame too often!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Review - Ultima Power Plus

While I am satisfied with another line in thicker diameters (over 0.285mm) it isn't available in the lower diameters I want for perch, roach and so forth. This is where Ultima Power Plus comes in.

It is not a particularly exciting line (if lines can be exciting). It is not super-limp, but is nowhere as near as wiry as other 'economical' monos and performs well on the reels with little twisting. In fact it is a pretty bog-standard mono which has proved reliable - even when daft c*rp have been hooked - which is all you need from a main line. The colour is a pale olive green.

Friday, July 18, 2008

La indecisiĆ³n me molesta

After fighting the weed at the weekend I didn't really feel like tench fishing and was stuck for an idea what to do. The problem with becoming an 'all-rounder' is that there are just too many options! Tuesday was wasted in indecision, so by lunchtime on Wednesday I was in the car heading for the tackle shop and some bait. Although I still didn't know where I was going or what I was after catching. I had plenty of groundbait, bought some maggots, and still was clueless!

After a chat with my mate in the shop I decided it was bream or bust. A few hours later the indecision was about which swim to choose as I had the entire lake to myself. I plumbed the shallows, which were fairly weed free reasonably close in and the wind was off my back - which was handy as I managed to cast off my plumbing float...

Like a fool I decided that it would be better to fish the opposite bank. On arrival there the weed was pretty thick, but I found that at forty to fifty yards it was clear, and there was around nine foot or more of water. I mixed up a couple of kilos of groundbait and balled it in, leaving enough behind for adding to the method feeders. Then I spodded out some pellets, set the rods up and settled in for the night.

It had been warm and sunny when I arrived but it clouded over at dusk. Although this meant I was able to sleep wearing my bunny suit under the bedchair cover it also meant that the dawn was grey, and showery.

The night had passed surprisingly uneventfully. Although I wasn't after them a tench had rolled in front of the rods before dark. However it may have been a prelude to sexual shenanigans as I am pretty sure I saw tench spawning when the light had faded enough for the head torch to be required. It was certainly too dark to be 100% sure what was writhing in the marginal weed.

I hadn't set the alarm, but still awoke shortly after first light. After the usual cup of tea I rebaited and recast then nodded off again. What befell my eyes when I awoke didn't fill me with glee. I'd been robbed of groundbait. By ducklings... The greedy little half-grown beggars had scoffed the lot, and paddled their muddy little feet all over the groundbait bowl and my catty!

I've been robbed!

They were unrepentant too, and weren't for being told to **** off - just coming back for more as soon as I turned my back. When I mixed up another bag of feed I made sure the bowl was duckproof.


During the morning I swapped rigs around. One rod fished The Rig with an eighteen and two maggots to see if there were any roach or hybrids about while the baits on the other two rods were varied between pellet, fake corn and 10mm pineapple boilie - all baits that could pick up almost anything. It was noon before a smallish roach fell for the maggots. At least I hadn't blanked.

Better than nowt.

A slightly larger skimmer came along around three, but it was pretty quiet. More bait went out in preparation for the hours of darkness; groundbait, maggots, pellets and seeds. The spodding process was carried out in two periods. Not for any carefully thought out reason, but because I cracked the spod off and had to wait for it to drift back into the bank before recommencing the bombardment. That's the second time it's happened and I reckon it's time to step up the line on the spodding reel. Although I use a shock leader it is the shock of the line hitting the clip that seems to be causing the leader knot to fail. Back to the 30lb Power Pro, methinks.

I was confident that a pellet, a boilie or the fake corn would be picked up by something in the night. Untroubled by nagging doubts I was asleep well before midnight, and again didn't need the sleeping bag. At twenty five past four in the morning I was staggering out to the rods, trying to get my specs on and remain upright before determining which rod had caused the remote sounder to disturb my slumber. It turned out to be the middle rod fishing the boilie and the culprit looked more like a roach than not to my inexpert eyes.


Or not?

The helicopter rod was converted from a pellet/bag rig to a maggot/feeder. The hook was a size 14 Animal and four red maggots were crammed on to it and a piece of red rig foam trimmed to give a slow sink. This produced a small roach/bream hybrid an hour later that had had a lucky escape from a small pike by the looks of things, followed by an equally small roach. The day tried to warm up, so I donned my waders and searched the margins for my missing marker float. And found it in the reeds near the next swim!

With that I called it quits while I was ahead.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Do I need a reason?

Spookily I was about to stick the CD of Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll album in my car when a link to this clip popped up on a forum I hang around.

If you don't have the album already, get it NOW!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In it to win it

Having a session where interesting things happen does give some inspiration to blog. Especially when it gives me an opportunity to have a dig at the 'internet' anglers who haven't a clue! Reading the barbel forum post about the Trent to get an idea of conditions it seemed like people were giving up after a couple of hours because they were sick of their rigs being dragged out of position by the amount of weed coming down. This is probably why I didn't see any barbel anglers on a couple of miles of river when I arrived.

The river was about a foot up and carrying a tinge of colour, not muddy at all, but just enough to hide the river bed in three foot or so. Nice. My first port of call was a stretch I still haven't got around to fishing, and by the looks of things neither has anyone else this season. The banks were totally overgrown with head high nettles and other vegetation. I walked a good distance and found some nice looking spots. Overhanging bushes and creases, gravelly glides and streamer weed. I did spot some weed floating down too. I had plenty of time to look around elsewhere and return later so headed off to a favourite stretch.

Again the river was empty of anglers, save for one packing his float gear away on the opposite bank. The path through the nettles had been opened up a little, but it was evident that the swims had hardly been fished since the season opened. The path beyond the favourite swims was almost impenetrable - and getting to one I fancied further down river would have required some machete work!

There's a path in there somewhere!

As this was my first river session of the year I wanted to kick off with a fish or two and soon had my gear in the very same swim I ended last season in. It's a bit of a banker despite the fallen willow having been washed away last winter. Taking my time I droppered out a sticky mix of seeds, pellets and groundbait onto the line of the crease. Slowly I set the rods up, and rather lazily left the same rigs on that I had last used in March. One advantage of braid is that you can get away with doing this without even retying the knots. I did change the baits though!

The rock hard boilies were removed and one rod rigged with a 21mm halibut pellet topped off with a seafood boilie to fill out the hair, and the other rod had one and a half Sonu Tuff 1s (blatant plug!) in Monster Crab and Mussel. I get lots of Sonu stuff for free (some is really good, some less so) so I felt I had to give these a try. Although they look a nice dark colour I was disturbed to discover that once they have been in the water they turn a bright emerald green! Both rigs had a large PVA mesh bag of mixed pellets added to the hook as is my habit.

Make the bait fit the hair...

As soon as I cast the first rod out to the crease I realised what the weed situation was like as the rod almost immediately pulled right round and the lead bounced along the gravel. Oops! Now this is where I used my nous. I've fished in these conditions before and one of the tricks for keeping the bait out as long as possible is to fish so most of the line passes through slacker water. This particular peg is a small eddy, and the water by the bank flows upstream with the slack slightly downstream. If I could position my six ounce lead (which will hold out better with weed on the line than a lighter lead) in the right spot, just inside the main flow, I'd be in with a chance. I cast the second rod to a fishless spot upstream, close to the bank to avoid as much weed as possible. This rod rarely produces, but it's another bait in the water.

The upstream rod was collecting more weed than the downstreamer. It was a bit of a pain removing weed every few minutes, but I was able to leave the downstream bait out for at least fifteen minutes without too much weed building up on the line. That's long enough as when I fish the feeder for barbel I will often recast at a similar interval.

There are other advantages that my rigs give me for fishing under these conditions. What people don't realise is that most drifting weed doesn't actually collect on your hook. It just looks like it does when you wind the rig in. Most of it actually collects on the line well above the end rig. The line isn't straight to the rod tip when fishing in a flow, it takes on a curve, and the weed collects at the point where the curve returns. As I use hooklinks of at least four feet this means the collected weed is not only above the rig, but often well upstream of it.

The hooklink itself is in two parts. I have a long length terminating in a swivel to which I loop-attach a shorter length of about eight inches with the hook on the end. This arrangement was originally devised to make changing hooks easier (partly as most hooklink damage occurs in the last few inches by the hook). It has two unplanned advantages. Firstly the weight of the swivel helps pin the hooklink down in the critical area near the bait. Secondly it collects most of the weed that would foul the hook.

The sun was shining with fluffy clouds in the sky so I expected action to occur later rather than earlier. At eight twenty the downstream rod pulled round more decisively than if a large lump of weed, or even a branch, had hit the line and the baitrunner creaked into life. The first barbel of the season was on! It put up a good scrap and once in the net I had to drop the weed enveloped lead in the net to be able to carry everything up the bank. The fish looked very lean, particularly around the back end, with a seemingly large head. It was hard to judge the weight. The scales revealed it to be a nine pounder. Hastily sacked, the bait wasn't recast while I set up the camera, took three quick snaps and put the fish back.

First of the season

The barbel police would say I did that all wrong and should have rested the fish in the net before weighing it, shouldn't have used a sack and should have rested it in the net prior to release. All I can say is that the fish fought its way out of my grip as soon as it felt the water over its gills. I really do wonder how long it takes these people to land their barbel...

More bait was droppered out before I recast. Then while washing the sticky residue off the dropper rod handle I lost the dropper. D'oh! The light was starting to fade but the weed showed no sign of disappearing. During daylight it was quite easy to see where the upstream rig had dragged to and judge when to wind it in for clearing of weed. But in the dark it was not so easy. By eleven I'd had enough of dealing with two rods - the downstream one being less trouble - and put the upstream rod back in the quiver with the now useless dropper rod.

I'd had a tidy away of the camera equipment and drunk my final cup of tea from the flask when the remaining rod pulled round again in a fishy fashion. This one felt a bit bigger. Or was the line carrying more weed? Once netted it looked a longer fish. Another lean one, it tried hard to make ten pounds but fell ounces short. The sacking and photographing process was repeated. I recast, had a final final cup of tea then headed for home half an hour later.

Getting bigger

In the end I think I picked the right swim as one that would have involved fishing in the main flow would have been frustrating in the extreme with all the weed in the river. Now I have my barbel gear sorted out I guess I'll be back at 'em again soon. Where, I don't know.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bad penny

Yes, I'm back. It's been a bad week, so I thought I'd vent my spleen on the blog! Apart from the car needing some work doing on it I had a nightmare journey to do a talk last night - the directions were spot on - except the road that should have taken me straight to the venue was closed and a diversion in operation - meaning I hadn't a clue where I was at the end of it! That followed a day when work hadn't gone well. One rod section fell off the dryer while I was out, requiring the blobbed varnish stripping off and redoing. All that and I'm getting fired up for some breaming and can't get my new rods finished.

I'm sure that many a customer has thought I was making excuses when I have told them there's a hold up with their rods as the UK distributors for Fuji are out of stock of one size of a particular rod ring. But it's always true. I ordered up three sets of Alconites for the new rods, and all bar one size turned up. I did what I could, but I'm still waiting on the missing rings. In the past I have phoned up the distributors to find out when delivery from Japan is expected and the answers have ranged from 'We don't know', to 'It could be three months'. Here I am with three rods, handles fitted, most rings whipped and nothing I can do about it.

So, when I have some varnish left over from paying jobs I've been sealing the whippings. As the photo below shows, coloured threads darken considerably when varnish is applied and soaked into them. That pinky/brown turns a lovely dark brown a little darker than the blank colour.

That's just the sealing coat on the right. A top coat will be applied to level everything out and make it look smart - eventually!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

All good things...

As the sun sinks slowly in the west I'm amazed that I've managed to keep this blog going as long as I have on a fairly regular basis. In my early twenties I kept a diary where I wrote each trip up in detail when I got home. That lasted a couple of years before dying the death, and it looks like this blog might be going the same way. I have an inherent loathing of routine and 'having' to do things. That's why I stopped pike fishing and writing articles - neither are compulsory activities, and neither is writing this blog.

There may be a few rig thoughts to come, probably some tackle reviews, and possibly a tale or two if anything really interesting happens. But but for now, that's about it.