Sunday, April 27, 2014

Off the mark

Despite promising myself to leave the tench alone until the hawthorn is in bloom those new rods kept giving me the look a dog has when it wants a walk. This became irresistible when I went to the trouble of rigging them up on Saturday. The intention was to fish Sunday morning, but by three I'd made my mind up to take them out - just to iron out any little rig niggles - before a serious session. Which is why I found myself casting an empty feeder around in search of clear spots by five o'clock.

Having just a few hours until dark I didn't bait heavily when I did find some reasonably clear areas. There was a stiff easterly blowing, which was in my favour for catapulting loose feed out in my chosen swim. The open end feeder was cast straight out and a mix of hemp and corn sprinkled over it. The feeder itself containing the same plus a blend of groundbait and pellets. The other rod fished an in-line maggot feeder with my usual tench-starter of two fake casters on the hair. Both rigs had PVA nuggets added to try and keep the baits above the silkweed until the rigs had settled and the bobbins adjusted.

Fishing at such close range was no test for the new rods' casting abilities, but they looked nice on the rests!

A couple of light, and brief, showers blew over. It wasn't exactly warm either. With all the bottom weed I was questioning my sanity. I had intended to rake a patch before setting up but time had got short. The rigs were sometimes coming in festooned in the nasty clingy dark weed. Then I remembered the method I'd used at the Rat Pit when it got carpeted with a rather more appealing clingy weed. I swapped the casters over to three buoyant fake maggots, fished straight up off the feeder on a mono hooklink. It's probably just a confidence thing using clear mono for this presentation rather than my usual Drennan braid. The mono is less tangle prone though.

Around eight o'clock bubbles started to appear in the tenchy fashion of random places. I was gaining in confidence. A eight forty, when I was hatching a change of plan for Sunday, the right hand margin rod hooped round and the bobbin danced as the reel grudgingly gave line. For the first few seconds I forgot I was using a new rod and neglected to look at its action as I kept the tench away from the sparse pads. It was obviously a tench from the way it was fighting. Although it didn't feel like a monster it was sending up some confusingly large boils in the water. Safely netted it looked to be around the five pound mark to my out of practice eyes. The scales told me I'd guessed eleven ounces light. Not a bad fish for the region I suppose, but very small looking compared to what I'd become accustomed to further south.

Another angler on the lake offered to take a snap for me, otherwise I'd have taken one of it next to the  scales. A solid fish, not yet filled out with spawn.

It came as no surprise that was my lot for the evening. I was, however, eager to return, the 'new rod jinx' broken..

Before getting my head down for an early night and setting the alarm clock when I got home I had to swap my bite alarms over as both batteries in the ones I'd been using had died and I had no replacements. Then I sorted out some grub and tidied the rucksack.

It was a good job I did all that because the alarm clock let me down. Despite setting it for four it went off at eleven. Nothing I did would make it trustworthy. So I set the alarm on my ancient phone. When I awoke the birds were singing and there was a feint light in the sky. The unreliable clock said it was almost five. I checked my phone and that said the alarm was set for four. Bugger. I could have sworn I'd put the time on my phone forward an hour when BST came in. Up hastily, Sugar Puffs eaten while the kettle boiled for my flask and off out.

I arrived half an hour later than intended. I dropped my gear in the same swim as yesterday because I'd caught from it after seeing tench activity, and because the wind was cold and strong so it would be off my back.Then I got to work with the rake to make a fishable spot at the edge of the pads to my left where I'd seen most of the bubbles as the light faded.

That job done the rods were set up, cast out as previously, and freebies scattered over the baits. Hemp casters and corn just says "tench food" to me. It looks irresistible. Alas it wasn't.

The hawthorn buds are showing hints of white but it'll be a while yet before the bushes are covered in their springtime froth. I saw and heard far more evidence of birds than fish. Chiffchaffs were indulging in their incessant singing, an occasional whitethroat and chaffinch was heard, even a curlew. A lone buzzard flopped its way north only to get mobbed by an equally lone lapwing.

Apart from a couple of liners to the margin rod there was nothing to report by noon. Insufficient bubbling to get the hopes up, and the wind was colder than ever until around nine when the sun got high enough to put out some heat. Out of the wind it had got pleasantly warm by the time I packed up. At least I'd got my weighsling and net dried out, I suppose.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tentative tenching and shorter rods

Against my better judgement I spent the last few hours of daylight tench fishing yesterday. It was just that with places starting to look tenchy it seemed like a good enough way to kill some time. With my latest set of tench rods still drying I made do with the pair I used last time out - complete with the same rigs, and in the case of the fake corn the same baits!

I'll blame the easterly direction of the wind for my lack of success. Something bubbled just off one of my baits, and small fish were topping. Maybe I had been in with a chance. The hawthorn is starting to bud, but it'll be a while yet before the blossom's out. By which time my new rods will be ready for action. Actually two of them are ready this morning but I don't want to try them out too soon.

It's not that I need new tench rods. The 1.75lb Interceptors are as near perfection as I can imagine. However I have developed an eleven footer fetish. Eleven foot rods always feel better balanced than twelves. They are lighter to carry, and take up less room in the car too. In practice, for all but the longest casts, they are more than sufficient. What's not to like? So I'm trying to find a blank which matches the Interceptor's action, but a foot shorter. If I can I'll have all bases covered at eleven foot for my close range fishing. Which is mostly what I do these days.

For roach, perch, rudd, small-river chubbing and anything of that sort, I have my Chimera Avons in 1.25lb. Simply can't fault them. For eels, close range barbel and a bit of zander fishing (should I do either again),  and carp (should I have some form of mental aberration) there are my recently rebuilt (yet again) P-2s. Piking is covered by the P-5s which hardly ever leave the quiver. The only gap to fill is between the Avons and the P-2s for tench and bream with feeders and leads around the 2oz mark.

Having played around with the 11ft 1.75lb Torrix a bit last summer I found it just a tad too stiff in the butt for my taste. When I built a 2lb version up for customer earlier this year it felt like a different rod altogether. Less tippy (much less tippy than the 12ft 2lb Torrix which I ditched after one summer's use in favour of the Interceptor) and not much more powerful overall. The slightly stiffer tip making the curve come further into the butt, perhaps. Only fishing with a rod tells the true tale, so that's the blank I'm trying out this summer.

The build I've chosen is based on what I did on my Avon's. Ultra matt blanks, cut down reel seats with matt carbon inserts, split Duplon grips, black plastic butt button, six Alconite rings plus tip (25 - 8) rover style, keeper ring on left of rod. All lettering under the blank except for 'DLST',  whipped in black with metallic purple tipping at the handle to break the black monotony without being too obvious. They look the part. I hope they live up to my expectations.

Waiting to be rigged up.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

So much for that plan

Sabbatical. What sabbatical?! A sunny afternoon temped me out to Goat Lake for a try at the roach. After a wander round to see what had changed since I last fished there in August I carted the gear to the same swim I roach-fished last time, about twelve months ago, and began casting around with an empty feeder to check the weed situation. As expected it was starting to grow and was quite thick in places, needing quite a pull to free the rig. Heading to deeper water found less weed but I wasn't sure that I fancied it there. Having found a line where it seemed reasonably clear in the original swim I started to set up stall.

Nothing much had changed in my approach. One block end feeder and two open enders. Two rigs fishing a single red  maggot each and the other a sleeper with two hair rigged Sonu Band Ums for a laugh.

It was four thirty, warm in the sun but cool in the only shaded spot on the bank - where I was fishing... After half an hour I was losing hope. My heart wasn't in it for some reason. I ate my pork pies, drank some tea and thought about packing up around six at the latest. A sparrowhawk swooped over the water and up into a tree behind me. Chiiffchaffs and chaffinches sang their spring songs. It was a lovely afternoon turning to evening and I felt like I was wasting it. Rummaging around in my rucksack I found Fred. No sooner had I put him on watch than the middle alarm began to bleep and the rod top pull up. I lifted into what felt like a reasonable roach.

All thoughts of heading for home evaporated as the silvery flank flashed a few feet from the landing net before I managed to slide the fat fish into its folds. On the scales the plump and near-perfect fish went over a pound and a quarter. Well worth coming for.

With renewed enthusiasm I began recasting at more frequent intervals. Not every cast was landing clear, and I always wound in to find stringy pale-green silk weed on the rigs. Recasting regularly was a good idea to make sure the rigs were clean most of the time. After a second, sub-pound fish to the middle rod I swapped the maggot feeder to an third open end job.Which seemed to make a difference. The mix of groundbait, 2mm pellets and hemp must have had more allure than the maggots which were surely burying themselves in the silkweed.

A couple of fish were hooked but lost when the feeder fouled weed on the way in. There were a few single bleeps to each rod too. Quite often an indication would come soon after the feeder had settled and the bobbin set. Had the bottom been clearer I'd possibly have been better off recasting even more frequently - clearing the weed off the rig every time was a pain though. I'm beginning to think that catapulting groundbait and fishing a straight lead might not be a bad approach here too. That way I could keep the feed going in more frequently without as much hassle. Then again I might be leaving a ig in a load of weed for longer. It's those blasted swings and roundabouts again.

The third, and final, fish landed was not so well filled out as, but longer than, the first, and still managed to weigh an ounce heavier. This is just like my chub fishing used to be. Long slim fish and short fat ones - but never long porkers! It's nice to catch decent size roach without too many missing scales, though, and especially without the cormorant damage some showed last time I fished the lake.

The sunset saw me getting some benefit from it's heat at last. Despite numerous fry dimpling and flipping on the surface as the light began to weaken bites had dried up. I eventually packed up with fifteen or more minutes of daylight remaining. After a despondent start the session had worked out okay and I walked back to the car warm and happy with my efforts.

Monday, April 14, 2014


April is usually a funny month for fishing. Pike have either spawned or are spawning and tench can be spasmodic - they also haven't piled on the weight yet... So this year I'm taking a break from fishing until the hawthorn begins to bud. That way I might not burn myself out trying to catch tench before they start feeding in earnest. I might have a dabble for anything-that-eats-maggots one evening before then, or I might not. I've got work to do and 'life in general' to contend with and the dreaded Easter weekend is almost upon us, so a break from fishing is in order.

Waters are starting to show signs of spring though. Green reedy shoots in the margins and already a few pads up on top where it's shallow. There's a warmth to the evening light full of a promise of summer. The carpers are out of hibernation too!