Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The new tackle curse

My new reels should have got an outing on Sunday, but life got in the way. They weren't going to get used today because I had stuff to do. But the sun was shining and the forecast was for frost, frost and more frost. The stuff could wait.

As I'm still finding my way on the roach water I opted to fish a different swim in a different, shallower area this afternoon. With freshly loaded line on the new reels my first task on setting up was to pick a spot to cast to and mark the lines to ensure accurate recasting so the feed keeps going in the same area. You can buy special 'marker braid' on small spools for silly money or a lifetimes supply of fluorescent braided fly-line backing for not much more. I wonder if they are the same thing?

With one rod cast out and marked I chucked the feeder along the bank and set the second rod alongside it to get that line marked at the same distance. The third, worm, rod I wouldn't mark as it would be fishing around the swim.

Winding one of the feeders back along the bank the line suddenly went slack and the feeder dropped off. I assumed it had popped off the clip at the end of the rig. Turned out the damned thing had snapped. It'll make an in-line feeder. In order to cut the weight of my rucksack down I had not only removed my big camera, I'd also left out the bag of feeders. Not being completely stupid I had put a couple of spares in a side pocket of teh rucky!

Rigs baited and cast out I began the process of recasting frequently. This revealed that the bottom in the shallower water was still covered in weed. That coarse 'pubic hair' weed that masks everything.

In order to keep things as clear as possible I adopted my usual strategy for fishing in weed. Cast to the marker, close the bale arm and put the rod in the rests straight away. Let the feeder sink on a tight line and clip on the bobbin to take out the slack. Then take up the slack carefully, sometimes by turning the spool against the baitrunner so as not to move the rig. It worked. Most times. And when the feeder didn't come back clean there was a chance I'd dragged it into the weed on the retrieve.

The westerly wind had some north in it and was chilly. Good job I decided to fish with it off my back and down a steep bank or I might not have stuck at it until quarter to five with the full moon rising.

The roach weren't playing. Again. One more session and I might leave the place alone until spring. I'll certainly be going doing something else if I blank next time out. Then again, if the cold spell does materialise it might force the fish to move deep and make location a bit easier. It'll certainly make me feel like staying indoors!

The new reels behaved themselves. As I expected. After all, they're just a cheaper version of the 4000Ds I have. The only thing I'm not keen on is the daft double handles. I hate double handles on fixed spool reels for one thing. For another the grips are both small and slippy (when wet).

Driving home I wondered if it was a coincidence that the two sessions when I caught were the ones when I had baited up with hemp and pellets using a spod, and the two resounding blanks were the ones when I'd only fed maggots (and  casters) via the feeders. Next time I might revert to the spod.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Unlucky mascot

I'm getting a bit sick of Fred the Barbel Bunny acting more like a jinx than a mascot. Here he is scaring away the roach.

This might be the penultimate time the Tica reels get an outing. They were only cheap and looking back it seems I've had them for four years. At the time I bought them the options for small, as opposed to small-spool, baitrunners was limited. Now Shimano have them in a range of pricepoints I've ordered up three of the 4000 size DL-FAs. The same size as my 4000Ds, but cheaper! They should make good replacements for the Ticas. Pity they come with double handles, but I'm sure I'll manage.

Yesterday's afternoon session was biteless. I tried casters in the feeders along with the maggots, and one rod fished a caster on the hook. The worm rod was switched to a running rig (with the bobbin on a drop) and remained as unmolested as the other two. Not a sniff despite recasting both maggot rods every fifteen minutes without fail and sitting it out until ten to five to pack away in the dark. The only action was untangling the worm rig after the worm had crawled into the feeder through one of the holes in the side and back out through one in the lid.

There was one bloke fishing the pole when I arrived who had caught a few fish in the previous hour and bumped one off while I was talking to him. He didn't catch anything while I was there. Fred seems able to jinx everyone! Nonetheless I enjoyed the session. It was dry and almost windless, a goldeneye approach within 20 yards as dusk slowly closed in, which was a nice encounter.

As I sit here at four thirty wit the rain pouring down outside and the electric light burning it's difficult to imagine that 24 hours ago it was still light. That's always the way when you're outside and the sky is clear. It is much brighter out than in. Another month of shortening days to come until the days begin to lengthen and lift my spirits. Another month of fishing for roach, perhaps. I think I can face another couple of blanks before trying something and somewhere else. When those reels turn up I'll feel obliged to stick at it even longer.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The great tea disaster

Although it was Sunday and the sun was shining I went fishing. Back to the new water for an afternoon to find five anglers already merrily blanking. Maybe not merrily. The positive was they had fished the place in the past so I got some background information. I hadn't been aware of the presence of bream but there are some in, which explains why Friday's 'roach' looked a bit breamish.

This time I had taken the dreaded rod pod. Although I had just about managed to get the sticks in last time it had been a struggle, and in the swim I chose yesterday it proved impossible, despite the bank looking to be grass over soil. It was actually grass over a thin layer of soil over something impenetrable. Hemp and pellets were spodded out and two maggot feeders dumped over the feed. Again a worm rod was chucked to the right closer in.

There was a light breeze ruffling the water, but this time I had chosen a sheltered spot which still gave me access to the area I had had action in on Friday. Feeling comfortable and dry I recast every fifteen minutes to get some maggots out. Nothing much happened. There wasn't even much in the way of birdlife to watch.

Fishing on a flat bank covered in grass with my chair level and the gear neatly spread around me I realised how much I like this kind of fishing. Scrabbling up and down muddy river banks, or tripping over boulders on reservoirs, struggling to set a chair up so I don't slide off it are a few of the things that combine to take the pleasure of fishing away even when you're catching. Sitting in a cumfy-cosy swim with nobody to talk to is how I enjoy my fishing most. If it's got cover either side so I can't see any anglers around me so much the better. If there are no other anglers it's better still!

I was relaxing, watching the bobbins, recasting and drinking tea on a dry sunny afternoon. Great stuff. Then it happened. I put the cup from my flask on the bait-bucket lid, spun the stopper to allow the tea to flow and began to pour. With the cup half full the stopper popped out and landed in my maggot box followed by stream of hot tea. I can now confirm that maggots and hot tea do not a great combination make. The maggots reacted in just the same way they do when I pour boiling water on them. They expired. Worse still I lost most of the remaining contents of my flask!

Luckily there were only a few fresh reds in the maggot tub as I'd decanted some into the tub containing the remainder of  the maggots from Friday which I'd set aside to use as feed. I could still find a few fresh ones for hookbaits in amongst them. I was going to have to eke the brews out though.

One of the anglers I'd passed on the way to my swim came for a wander and confirmed it was still grim where he was fishing. Around two thirty he and his friends departed. One or two small fish topped as the sun swung further west and some cloud cover blew in. By half three it was getting chilly. The two remaining anglers packed up, having had just two sucked maggots. As they set off for the car park my middle bobbin dropped. There was something on the hook, but it was small.

The red fins and overall 'look' said it was all roach this time. A couple more fish topped over the feed so I hung on until dark. The bobbins remained stationary. When I wound the worm in half of it had gone. Time to fish the worm on a running rig and the bobbin on a drop.

When the fishing is tough and nobody else is catching much it's difficult to build a picture and work out where you are going wrong. I did spot a few fish topping in one area. That might be worth a try. So far it's the best clue I have to go on. On the bright side I haven't blanked. Yet!

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's a start... I suppose

The warm week came to a halt today. The day I chose to try my new water for the first time. Still, the day was forecast to be dry. With that in mind I left my overtrousers behind and almost took the brolly out of the quiver to lighten the load as I hauled my overweight load along the bank.

Although the morning had been overcast as soon as I left to go fishing the sun came out and I was looking forward to soaking up the sun and watching a repeat of yesterday's lovely sunset. Playing it by the book I set up with the light wind in my face and began spodding out a mix of hemp and micro trout pellets before casting two maggot feeder rigs over the top and a third rod to the margin with a dendrobena on the hook.

The worm rod was a suck-it-and-see job. It might pick up a roach, or anything else. The idea was to give me an idea of what's present. A big perch would be a nice bonus. Every fifteen minutes or so I'd refill the feeders and recast the maggot rods. The worm was left to its own devices.

It didn't take long for the sun to change its mind and go into hiding behind a veil of thin cloud turning the sky to a wintry watercolour wash.

An hour and a half after starting the worm got bitten off the hook. Things started to look up half an hour later when a roach hung itself on one of the baits over the feed. I say a roach, but there was something about it suggestive of bream in its heritage. Or maybe that's my imagination.

Behind me restless flocks of fieldfares were moving from tree top to tree top. As the afternoon wore on the flocks were joined by others and from there being maybe forty or fifty birds there must have been three hundred or more by the time they moved out of the area as dusk approached.

Around three I had a couple of bites to the maggot rods, one being a reel spinner that I connected with feeling a couple of thumps before whatever it was fell off. A few small fish started topping as the light fell. My confidence was rising for a dusk feeding spell. Then the horizon disappeared as the cloud thickened and rain set in. With the wind in my face it was a struggle to get the brolly up so it would keep the rain off me while allowing me to grab a rod. Of course if I'd put my overtrousers on I could have happily sat with my legs out of the brolly's shelter...

With the rain falling I must admit I wasn't rebaiting the feeders as frequently as I should have done. A missed bite to the worm rod managed to spur me on for a last burst of enthusiasm and I recast both of the maggot rods. With the rain looking as if it was in for the night I tidied everything away and packed up a quarter of an hour before dark. One of the maggots had been sucked without any indication on the bobbin. I reckon the hooklink was too long. Something to address before the next session.

By the time I arrived home the rain had stopped.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ups and downs

I did say that things might go slow on here this winter. So have I been piking? Yes, but not much. Have I been catching? Yes, but not enough. My pikey plans got thwarted through idleness brought on by failure and the bloody awful weather. The amount of rain we've had this year I keep expecting to see Noah and his menagerie float by.

Then the other day I remembered how much I hate scrabbling about on rocks while blanking and decided to put the pike rods away again.

There is something new on the horizon that will be getting me on the bank though. A new (to me) water and a new challenge. I took a plumbing rod with me for a look around the place when I had some free time today, but not enough time to wet a line. I liked what I found and the grey cells have been in action. The gear has been readied, and all I need is a window to open so I can start trying to catch what I'm going after. There could be a surprise or two in addition to the target species.

However, this latest burst of enthusiasm was, as I've come to expect, immediately hobbled at its first step by today's arrival of some long-awaited rod components, meaning I've got rods that have been on hold to get finished.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


I got the first prototype blank through for my latest lure rod last winter. Since then I've used it and had it out on loan. I also had it on show at the LAS Lurefair in the spring where it was met with approval. At last I'm happy to offer it for sale. You can find more info here. There's a lighter version in the pipeline too.