Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer holiday

DLST rod building is shutting up shop for the month of June while I take a break. I need some time to sort out my workspaces, do some jobs around the house and generally get my act together. The only way I can think of to get myself organised enough to carry out all the jobs I want done is to remove the distraction of work!

It's only the rod building that I'm having a sabbatical from while I re-jig my workspaces. Orders which only need putting in a padded envelope or cardboard box and posting out will be carrying on as usual. I'll still be taking orders for rods, but work won't start on them until July 1st at the earliest. Any orders on the books at the moment are unaffected, however.

If I manage to be efficient there's a chance I'll do some fishing too. Who knows? I might get to develop that new eel rod!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

An eel

It always comes as a surprise how my urge to go and sit by water increases when the sun shines - even though it shouldn't.

Friday evening saw me back at Another Lake, in the same swim as the day before. The wind was still coming out the north west, but not quite so strongly. I'd had a take in that swim so it seemed like as good a place as any.

My approach was slightly different in that the worm rod fished a Dyson rig with a different hook link material after I'd found the worms had managed to tie the rig in a knot last time. The tight line to slack baitrunner set-up had also been switched to open bale arms and drop-offs. I still can't get my head round the way eels will swallow great big baits and set off on steaming, unmissable, runs when they take pike baits, but when you fish for the deliberately they metamorphose into the finickiest of feeders.

Toward moonrise at dusk the wind died down and some light cloud cover materialised keeping the air temperature up. I was till wearing the bunny suit though. Then, without warning one of the bobbins dropped off! Some line was taken but stopped before I managed a strike. The remains of the rudd head were removed from the hook and a tail section attached and cast out. Ten minutes later the same bobbin jiggled.

This time I pulled the line from the clip and felt the line. Nothing. Then it began to trickle from the spool. My strike was met with dubious resistance. I wasn't sure if it were fish or weed. It turned out to be small eel. It was a start.  I called it a day.

The nice thing about eel fishing is that it can be done after close of play at the test match. So that was what i did on Saturday. Washed the dishes and set out.

The wind that had been strong for days had all but died away and the lake was almost mirror calm. As I walked the bank I got distracted by a pod of carp on the shallows. It doesn't seem to matter what kind of fish they are, anglers always get distracted when there are some to be seen. No angler I know can walk across a bridge over a river without stopping to peer into the water!

Although I have no great interest in catching carp I rummaged in the meagre contents of the tackle box I use for eeling to see if I could tie up a suitable hook link to use to cast a worm to these fish. What a short briaded hooklink with two grains of plastic corn on the hair was doing in the box I can't remember. I cut off eel rig and tied on the corn rig. I could have done with a couple of handsful ofmixed seed to put the corn on top of, but I had to make do without.

A couple of carp had cruised past some marginal bistort, so I dropped the rig there. After half an hour I gave up. Two fish had swum over the bait at speed. Cruising too fast to be feeding. I recast closer to the pod of fish expecting them to spook. They didn't. But they did swim over and ignore the bait for another thirty minutes. By then it was time to get the eel baits out.

The Dyson rig was discarded and a my long tail leger used on the worm rod, the other fished the obligatory rudd head. This time the bite indication was back to that which I settled on last season. Light bobbins on a drop with the baitrunners set really slack - just in case. I sat back and watched the bird life.

There is a family of mallards on the lake. The mother and seven clockwork ducklings. This time there I counted eight fluffy balls scuttling around. Then the mother started pecking one, which scampered off pursued by the others. It was then I noticed that it was noticeably smaller than the others. I guess one that has become detached from another brood, or been abandoned. Later, as the sun was setting, I counted seven again.

As the light faded a heron loped over the lake towards the duck family which was opposite me now. On seeing the heron come close the adult began a loud quacking and flew at the heron, forcing it to turn tail squawking. While ducklings can feed themselves quite easily, unlike young starlings which seem to be particularly dim, they are small and defenceless while still downy. They need the safety of numbers and a protective parent. That lone duckling won't have much chance unless it finds some protection. But that's life in the wild. The small fry that were dimpling will be just as susceptible to predation from the eels I was hoping to encounter. Hope was all I had; apart from three single bleeps, one to the worm rod and two to the deadbait, all of which could have been either line or bat bites

While it had been warm walking back to the car on Friday, it was cooler on Saturday. The cloud cover, or lack of it, making the difference between single or double figure temperatures.

I'd told myself I'd leave the eels alone until July this year, but there's not much else worth fishing for locally at this time of year when I can't face trips away, and they offer the challenge of the unknown more than most species. Just about any water in the land which has eels in it could have a monster lurking in the depths, or the shallows!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sneak peek

Looking the part, if nothing else.
Having heard of a few eels being caught accidentally last week I've been contemplating giving my new rods an outing. One evening I almost went but didn't - and avoided a soaking. That was good. This week I had all planned out with a whole Friday free. Until plans went awry and Friday got busy but Thursday was buggered. Out of frustration I put the eel gear together and headed out for an exploratory few hours at Another Lake.

It was another of those spring evening's of slate sky and sunshine. The only downer being the strong and icy north westerly which has been blowing for what seems like a month. My confidence was not high.

At last the plant life is making a show of itself. Marginal reeds and bistort are evident and a few flowers are in bloom.  I've rarely seen so many swallows and house martins in one area. They were skimming the surface of the lake and swooping upwards to chase hapless flies in a swirling circulating mass. There must have been a big hatch on the lake.

This being a tester session I didn't do much preparation - and I picked a spot based solely on how well sheltered it was from the worst of the wind, and how level the bank was for my chair. One rod was baited with worms and the other a rudd head from last summer which I had dragged out of the freezer. Half a dozen pouches of red maggots were catapulted out and the baits dropped on top of them.Out of laziness and experimentation I set the bobbins high and the baitrunners slack. Getting a take would be a minor miracle given the cold and my idle approach. With everything set I switched the radio in good time for The Archers and cracked open the flask of tea.

The Archers had not long finished when the radio switched off. The batteries were dead. I've never managed to get much life out of this radio. But it was the only one I could find with long wave reception for listening to Test Match Special. This has lead to me always carrying spare batteries. If you use anything which needs AA batteries replenishing on a regular there are nifty little cases available as per picture on the left. They also take AAA batteries, but they rattle about a bit. I got my case from Battery Logic. I keep the  spare batteries for my Delkims in an old hook box.

When it got too dark for the hirundines to chase flies the insects were persecuted by a horde of bats. This change in light levels was the cue for something to try to make off with the deadbait. My lightening reflexes failed me. The bobbin dropped back on a slack line before I could grab the rod. That was it. Half an hour later I was on my way home still wondering if the rods are any use for catching eels.

When my new reels arrive next week I'll give it another bash - and take some better photos of what should be a sexy looking set up! In the mean time I need to find some easy to catch small fish to stock the freezer with. Maybe get some lobs too.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hacked off

My back took a while to become less of a pain (literally), then the weather turned vile while I couldn't press on with work, and now all the rod bits I've been waiting for have arrived and I'm busy again just as news reaches me of a big bream from a water I fish. Who recently sold his long range bream rods because he wasn't going to use them again? As you read this I'm stamping my feet and swearing loudly.

One of the blanks I was awaiting was a green painted Chimera. This was to be whipped up in black with a metallic lime green thread as tipping.  There was a 50/50 chance it would be eye burningly garish! Fact is, it looks quite refined.

My new 'eel' rods are far more subdued in their 'stealth' build. Pics to follow when they are in use with the new reels I have ordered today. They might also get pressed into use as bream rods - if I ever get my act together.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Bad day at Goat Lake

It might be a little late this year but the fresh willow leaves are doing their thing glowing against a  dark spring sky. Couple that with a brisk wind and thoughts turn to tench. So I went roach fishing...

My intentions for the long bank holiday weekend were to start on Friday after boxing off the last job on my list. Applying the final coat of varnish to a couple of butt rings on a pair of handle modifications. Okay, so I'd run out of the disposable brushes I use with more on their way. This isn't usually a problem as the craft shop in the village also stocks them.

First thing Friday morning I walk in the shop and the proprietor knows what I'm after. "A lady from the Cubs came in yesterday and bought all the brushes." Bugger. Not to worry. Poundland had some that would do the job last time I wandered in. Off to town. Did Poundland have any paint brushes? Did it hell. Nor did anywhere else I looked. I headed home to start searching for something usable to apply the varnish. The hunt ended at five o'clock. The day which was to be spent fruitfully had been wasted.

Saturday didn't go much better. The refurbished rod butts were duly collected, and another customer stopped by to pick up his rebuilds, then I headed to the tackle shop to drop off a repair. I was going to go roach fishing in the afternoon but my back was starting to niggle so I thought it best not to irritate it by carrying my gear round the lake. When I got home the post man had delivered the replacement for the lawn mower cable I had managed to mow. My back survived the grass cutting which I finished off. Then I went for a roam with a camera after tea.

Sunday morning and the back was still niggling so I took a walk to see if that would free it up. It seemed to. With cabin fever getting bad I had an early lunch, made some butties and loaded the gear in the car. I reckoned that if I fished a peg near the car park my back might cope. Sure enough I wasn't feeling any discomfort by the time I started to set the gear up.

The wind was pretty strong, but not unmanageable. It was chilling, even though I was sheltered by a tree. I set up the two marked rods and cast one out with an open ended feeder filled with my pellet and hemp mix, to which I had added some explosive feeder groundbait, and the other with a maggot feeder. On the third rod I went for a change of tactics and tied up a hair rig with a small grain of slow sinking plastic corn. This was to be the 'sleeper' rod and be cast out just a couple of times.

It was gone four thirty by the time I was settled in and pouring my first brew. With darkness not coming until after nine now I had plenty of time. The only flies in the ointment were the water clarity and weed growth. The water was not quite gin clear, but there was about three feet of visibility. The weed growth wasn't thick, but there was the odd bit of thin, stringy weed on the rigs every now and then. I wasn't disheartened.

Butties eaten and the Korum magazine/catalogue read the radio went on. Fishing the shallower end of the lake it was easy to get the bow out of the line after the rigs had settled, despite the wind which wasn't affecting casting accuracy either. It was quite relaxing fishing. Nothing was happening. With the clear water and bright sun I didn't expet much until later so I was undeterred as I sat breathing in the gentle fragrance of the water mint which was beginning to emerge in the margins..

There wasn't much in the way of waterfowl to watch. If the Canada geese are anything to go by I guess most are well into the nesting stage by now. A few swallows were in evidence, and I saw my first swifts of the year, being alerted to their presence by their high pitched screams.

Another bird that drew my attention by its call as it flew overhead was the whimbrel. A flock of six were heading towards the river where I had spotted some for the first time last week on an evening walk looking for warblers. Strange how you see a bird for the first time in your life and then see more in short order. A bit like catching your first big fish can take years then they start to come along more frequently.

The sky clouded over and the wind dropped a little as the evening drew on. Towards sunset the sky then cleared. It was still cooler than it could be and my confidence was ebbing away. Partly it was the feeling of inevitability about the impending blank, partly the feeling that I should be fishing for something else. The other part of my plan for the weekend was a speculative session for the bream in another lake. I just fancy spending an afternoon to dark session with the rods cast on to a heavily baited area waiting for a bobbin to drop slowly to the deck. No frequent recasting as with the roach but a sit and wait approach, chilling out on a bedchair in the sun.

Nine o'clock came around. It was still light. I'd had enough. Not just because the roach weren't playing ball, but because my back had started to ache. I struggled to get the rucksack on my back and limped my way to the car park. It was only about 100 yards or so but it made me wince a time or two.

In the scheme of bad backs I can't say it's awful at all. It's more annoying and uncomfortable. Carrying fishing tackle and driving a car only serve to stop it getting better. So thoughts of heading to distant waters in search of tench or bream have to be shelved. It's too early for me to start eel fishing, and my new eel rods aren't finished yet anyway. So I'm a bit scuppered as to what to do. Maybe I'll have to find somewhere to take a float rod and start stocking up with eel baits. Preferable somewhere I can park behind my swim!