Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Yet another week's plans blown out of the water. On Sunday I had it all sorted out. Three free days to try the new rod out - today through to Friday. Then it all started to go Pete Tong. Monday's quest for tubes to ship rods out was fruitless. The carpet shop had loads of them. Outside and soggy. But they'd have some by Thursday. Oh well, I'd still have two days free after picking them up and shipping rods out. Or so I thought.

An e-mail arrived after my tube hunt saying a rod would be arriving on Wednesday for a refurb. Scratch Wednesday. With the PAC show looming larger I used the waiting around to get stuff sorted in advance. A first in 20 years! I could sneak a session in on Friday. Or so I thought.

A phone call was answered today to let me know a delivery due for Thursday would be delayed until Friday. B-U-G-G-E-R. I hate it when I have the fishing bug and am trapped by waiting around wastes of time.

Soooo... I have one of those plans that is cunning. Although I doubt it'll get carried out as it involves getting up early!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shop local

In this day and age it's always tempting to take the easy, and usually cheap, way out when you need some new electrical product. So it was I checked out printer prices when mine packed up last week. It was only a cheapish print/scan/copy machine but I needed it replacing urgently for work. Google revealed my local camera shop stocked the one I wanted but it was £15 more than I could get it on-line. However I could have it that day rather than wait, or pay some £7 for next day delivery.

The week before the printer packed up I'd bought a couple of ink cartridges as two colours were getting low. I buy them from the camera shop for convenience and because they are reasonably priced. Of course a new, but very similar, printer has new, but similar, ink cartridges. I'd be stuck with two useless plastic containers full of expensive ink.

Cheekily, I asked if I could swap my unopened inks for the ones to fit my new machine. To my delight this was accepted. Yay! Taking into account the cost of the cartridges and the next day delivery I would have had to pay for I ended up saving money. Which I always like!

Although this is about photographic shopping the same applies to tackle shops. Support local businesses whenever you can - especially independent ones.

So by way of a thank you I shall point you to the photographic extravaganza Wilkinson's are holding next month. It's a camera show called Digital Splash 2012 with talks and demos being held on Sunday 14th October at UCLAN in Preston.

Unfortunately I can't make it as I have a trade show to attend in the Midlands on that day. A shame as I'm sure it will be a great day out.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

All work and no play

With the PAC show coming up on Saturday I'm trying to not leave everything to the last minute this year! Hence much working and running around as I try to get rods finished for customers in time to allow me a day or two's rod testing (fishing) before the event.

One set of rods has allowed me to try a handle I've thought about for some time, and if you like full Duplon handles it looks pretty good. Kinda stealthy. Full Duplon is growing on me. I'm not ready to commit to it for any of my own rods just yet, though!

As well as my two new rods I'll have some other new and newish stuff on display and for sale at the show. It should be a good day.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Field testing

Not that I went anywhere near a field with the new rod, but it's had a bit of a testing. Emphasis on 'a bit'.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I can't wait

This weeks plans were scuppered by the demise of my printer. Everything's got pushed back a couple of days otherwise the prototype rod would have been in use today. It might get an outing on Thursday... or Friday. With the weather turning colder and wetter the eel sessions have been abandoned. This may be temporary if things dry out and warm up again before the end of the month.

I had a play around in my 'studio' this evening doing a little light painting on the prototype. I need more practice with the technique! I cant guarantee this is how the final spec will look.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The greener grass

The fishing will always be better round the next bend of a river, on the other side of the lake, or in the spot with the No Fishing sign. That was why I tramped past the spot I fished on Friday to get to eel Nirvana. The grassy bank perfect or setting up on, rods poking through a wide clearing in the reeds with just enough height to provide some cover. The overhanging trees providing the eels with a sense of security. Just the right kind of weed for prey fish to find attractive but not thick enough to prevent good bait presentation. It would be worth the walk, especially as I had slipped the brolly in the quiver to combat the rain that was due, and starting to fall as I arrived.

What I found was a jungle. Almost impenetrable, but not quite. I found a couple of spots where I could poke a rod or two over the water. One was ideal, apart from the mat of blanket weed extending a rod length or more out from the edge, and more of the stuff further out rising up in clumps. I looked at another which seemed clearer. Rather than set up I had a few casts around with an unbaited rig. The bottom was covered in blanket weed. The dark green, hairy stuff that clocks up run rings and festoons the hooks and bait. Only one thing for it. retrace my steps and fish the same swim as last time.

When I'd packed away on Friday I couldn't find my forceps anywhere. I took it as a good omen when they were there in full view when I got to the swim. I still have a pair of forceps that I left near that spot when I was about sixteen, returning the next day to find them where I'd unhooked a jack. Definitely auspicious. The baits went out to the same spots as before, this time over sprinklings of small trout pellets as I had no maggots.

There was a warm south-westerly blowing, ruffling the surface but not causing a chill. It was quite a breeze and the flag leaves would occasionally brush a line and make the alarm sound. Not much in the way of bird life showed itself. I'd seen a solitary reed warbler on my previous session, but there was no sign of it. Not even a reed bunting, a bird that's around all year but seems more a part of autumn and winter when the reeds die back, fading to the same colours as the bird's plumage.

When the light had faded to the point where colours begin to disappear a slack handful of swallows zipped past at low level. Shortly after a single young bird alighted briefly on the flag to my right, leaving almost instantly either disturbed by a sudden movement I'd made or the swaying of the leaf in the wind. It then returned to land on my right hand rod where it perched looking a little lost and bewildered for long enough to allow me to get a camera out of my bag and take a very rough photograph. I wondered if it had been a part of the small flock that had flown by just before it appeared.

There was no sign of the wind dying down, if anything it was strengthening. The intermittent bleeps from the alarms became more frequent. what I'd taken to be a wind bite developed. The right hand bobbin was moving upwards in fitful jerks. I struck and hooked another eel of a size that was less than encouraging. As soon as it was in the net and I lifted the mesh from the water the wind caught it and blew it into the reeds and flag! Iwasn't sure if the eel was still in the net, but it was.

With a fresh bait recast I tidied the swim, propping the landing net back in the reeds to my left. The lost-and-found forceps were on my chair, so I picked them up to clip them back on the mesh of the net where they reside. At which they snapped. They don't make forceps like they used to! Should I have landed another eel there was still a spare pair in the ruckbag.

The clouds heading my way thickened in the south. I felt drizzle. Probably a passing shower, but for some reason I'd had enough. With the gear packed and on my back I set off into the wind. The drizzle got heavier and I almost wished I'd put my waterproof jacket on. The drizzle abated. When I arrived home the clouds were breaking up.

I had the rest of this week all planned nicely. Then my printer packed up. Yes I have tried switching it off and back on again... I have also tried the other potential cure - hitting it. A lack of a printer wasn't a pressing problem, until I realised this morning that I need it to print labels to send parcels out. So I'm off on a printer safari. If it fails I'll have to resort to ordering on-line and wasting a day that was to be spent fishing waiting for the bloody thing to turn up.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Big enough

I nearly didn't get to fish yesterday as there was no space in the designated parking area, so I had to be creative. It got worse when I discovered the swim I fancied was inaccessible. Such are the joys of trying pastures new without doing a recce beforehand. I managed to find a spot that looked eely though and soon had two baits out, both fishing over a scattering of maggots and casters.

There was a light breeze blowing, but it was warm. The sky was overcast so the temperature would stay up when the sun went down. As a faint red glow appeared below the cloud base the wind dropped, but nothing else happened. No fish topped, no birds flew to roost, no bites materialised. It was looking grim. I was already titling this post 'All quiet on the eeling front'.

The take took me unaware when it came. I was in daydreamland and the fish managed to find weed, but steady pressure got it free. As last time I imagined it to be larger than it looked once netted, but it was still bigger than the average.

I'd class a 2lb plus eel rather like a ten pound pike or eight pound barbel. Nothing to get excited about once you've had a few bigger ones, but big enough to keep the interest up. They're of a size that tells you you are doing the right things to catch the bigger specimens. Larger than average fish can be caught  mixed in with the small ones, but mostly they aren't. If all that come along are bootlaces, jacks or splashers you get the feeling that perhaps you are using the wrong tactics, in the wrong place, or there are no bigger fish to be caught. Of course, the latter only applies if you are fishing somewhere on a hunch and not following the herd to waters with track records. Doubt sets in. Confidence falls. You start changing things for the sake of it.

While I was engaged with the eel on the bank the other bobbin twitched a few times without developing into a run. I cast out a fresh bait on the left hand rod and scattered the last of the maggots over it, then checked the right hand bait. It had been clamped on. The cut end of it was squashed. Back it went. Both bobbins set I sat down only to have to leap up and strike a run on the left hand rod. I missed it.

I pondered, yet again, why eel activity often comes in flurries like this. As I packed up after everything went back to being quiet I also wondered why my two latest sessions had produced eels big enough to keep me interested. Is it the nearing equinox stirring them to feed up for winter or migration? Have the little ones had their fill? More to the point is it likely to continue? I'm starting to wish I didn't have that new pike rod to try out. I suppose I could always rig it up for eel fishing...

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The good bit

I think I mentioned a while back that designing new rods is one of the big buzzes in what I do for a living. The two piece swimbait rod came out of something I'd wanted for a while. A baitcaster that would handle my most used lures and be kept in the back of the car.

Another rod I've been thinking about for quite some time is a twelve foot bait rod to fill the gap between the P-1 and the Baitblaster. The P-1 is perfect for most livebaiting purposes and close range deadbaiting. The BB350 is brilliant for blasting deadbaits out.

When fishing four rods life was simple. Two P-1s and two BB350s had me covered from under the rod tip to as far as I could cast. These days I usually use three rods for bank fishing, so I have to decide which rods to double up on. A rod in between the two would mean I could have three different rods with the middle one being able to fish a livey close in or a heavier deadbait than a P-1 would like to chuck.

It's taken a bit of messing around, but I think I now have a blank that's going to do the job. The first working prototype fell into my eager mitts this afternoon. It didn't take me long to tape some rings on and give it a bend! Don't be put off by the handle in the photo. That's just what I threw on to start with.

Tomorrow I'll redo the handle and fix things more securely. Then it'll be time for the fun to begin and take it to look for some pike!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Great minds

Over on his entertaining Norfolk 'N Good blog, Chris Bishop has recently reported on his newly aquired Korum 5 rod quiver. I've been using one since they were introduced and liked it so much I got another. Although the original one is starting to look the worse for wear it has had a lot of stick. I used it during my barbel mania phase, so it was in use three times a week, often moving swims a few times each session.

My only minor gripe with the thing is that the main compartment is a bit tight for shoving a fibreglass brolly in. Well, it is when you are like me and don't roll it up tightly, and then shove the landing net (wrapped around its pole) head first alongside the brolly. A cheap nylon covered brolly is no bother though.

The mesh pocket on the back is useless for it's intended purpose. It's supposed to be for putting a wet net in - the pocket is next to your body and the water from the net runs down your legs, which is why my net goes in the main compartment. However, during my recent eel sessions I have taken to stuffing my front banksticks, complete with Delks, in this pocket. I can get at them when I arrive at a swim without having to remove a couple of rods like I do if they go in one of the front pockets. For mobile sessions this quiver is the dog's dangly bits.

If you have rods rigged up with paternoster or long leger links, drop the leads in one of the side pockets after packing the quiver. It helps stop them swinging about and getting tangled up - either with the rods or the undergrowth. Running or semi-fixed legers can be left to slide down to the rod tips and nestle in the pockets the butts go in. That's assuming you are sensible and fold your rods tip-to-butt. If you fold them joint-to-butt the female part of the joint goes in the pocket. And the pockets invariably fill with soil, gravel and suchlike abrasives. These get in the joint and cause it to wear the rod, or the joint to jam.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Last blast

Only one short session in the last fortnight. A session at a new location which was aborted early by the arrival of rodents. I can put up with rats when they are a few yards away and in clear view. But when they are scurrying in the undergrowth a few feet from my chair, and jumping in my swim I prefer to be elsewhere. It's not a fear of them as such, it's the way they surprise you. The night is still and quiet, I'm chilling out and relaxed when the silence is disturbed by a sudden loud rustling that makes me jump. If rats are in plain sight wandering around they can be interesting to watch. It's their propensity for unexpected rapid movements that sets me on edge.

Yesterday had been one of an Indian summer so it seemed like a good plan to have one last fling for an eel or two before sorting out the pike tackle. The evening looked set to be warm so I was quite enthusiastic as I got the eel gear together in that switched off way that I have when I know I'm not going to think twice about fishing. I even set off earlier than I'd intended.

Yet again my intended swim was occupied by a bloomin' barge so I settled in a spot I've fished before. My swim choices were limited by great clumps of uprooted reeds. I think the boat traffic disturbs the reed beds and causes them to drift around. When there's a tow on the canal, or a wind blowing along it, these 'islands' of reed can be most frustrating as they drift through a swim. At other times they blow into swims and block them, until they get moved on by more boat traffic.

The rods were cast out, one close in to my left, one straight across. Both deadbaits going over a scattering of red and white maggots. I sat back to listen to the radio and watch the clouds change colour while swallows twittered high in the sky.

Nothing much happened. There was no wind. The distant turbines which spin slowly on the slightest breeze were still. The chatter of reed warblers which had been an accompaniment to my eel sessions all year was absent. I'm sure there will still be some of the active little birds around for a while yet, but I neither saw nor heard any. A jogger made his sweaty way home along the towpath, small fish dimpled in the margins. Although the air cooled it was by no means cold. I only put my woolly hat on out of habit.

A single bleep to the right hand rod almost got me excited until I saw the drifting weed that had fouled the line. With no wind the canal was flowing ever so slowly. I wound in and recast. There were a couple of similar indications to the left hand rod with no sign of weed, but as I wasn't fully happy with the way the line was running through the leaves of some water plants in the edge I decided to reposition the bait just off the shelf, even though there was not long until my planned departure time.

I tidied my rucksack and sat back. The air seemed warmer despite my fleece feeling damp to the touch. The barn owl that frequents the area flew towards me, almost over the rods as it crossed the canal. It's legs dangled as it hovered briefly some twenty feet from me before heading to better hunting grounds.

Looking at my watch I saw home time was nigh. Then the left hand Delkim bleeped twice. The bobbin inched upwards as it sounded again and I found myself by the rod. As the bobbin reached the butt ring I picked up the rod and struck. Not into thin air. There was an eel pulling back. Yet again an Anguillan mind reader had done its magic trick and picked up a bait just as I was about to leave.

It was clear that this wasn't another run of the cut eel. At one point it seemed to get very heavy indeed and I wondered if it had weeded me. After much merriment I managed to get it in the net. Snaking on the surface I had guessed it to be somewhat larger than it looked in the net. Making the net secure I packed away the other rod and all the banksticks before readying the scales and camera.

Unlike my last eel this one didn't escape before going in the sling. In fact it was very well behaved. Not quite big enough to warrant messing around with a self-take I settled for snapping a few close ups before slipping it back. I like to return eels from the sling by putting just their head in the water. The way they slide sinuously from a dry to a wet environment is fascinating.

The rod was put away along with the landing net and I headed back to the car, uncertain if that had been my last eel session of the year. There's supposed to be a week or so of September sunshine, so maybe there'll be a few more eels too.