Thursday, June 26, 2014

Night shift

No doubt those fancy Rollover indicators are superb for eel fishing with their infinitely adjustable 'weightlessness' and lack of a line clip. But in reality they look like a mighty faff to set up and extremely disaster prone for a slapdash chuck-it-in-the-quiver kinda guy like me. I likes simple! That's why I persevere with my home made drop-offs with their Gardner line clips which the internet world tells me are pants.

In all the years I have used them they've proved no worse than any other line clip - including the supposedly brilliant Solar clips which a lot of pikers rave about. So brilliant are they I can never set them to anything other than too bloody tight or too flaming slack! They also weigh a ton - which probably helps if you are in the majority who think drop off bobbins have to be heavy to show slack line takes.

I think the trouble I'm having on this lake is that my leads aren't heavy enough because I'm struggling to get the line tight enough to the bobbins, resulting in some slack in the cord which in turn gives the eels some leeway before they feel the (slackly set) clip. Last night I had one or two small twitches which didn't develop. A couple which did develop after I pulled the line free. On one occasion the rod tip pulled down slowly a couple of times before I freed the line. Then again I had a few runs which pulled the line free no trouble and I heard the bobbin smack the pod. I might step up the lead size for my next session. Or I might give the light bobbin on a long drop and slack baitrunner method a try again.

Still, despite the usual eeling tribulations I landed three, the largest again not making two pounds and all three being long and slender. When you catch thin pike it's common to say they 'look like eels', but you can't describe skinny eels that way because they already look like, well, eels!

Despite some light drizzle on and off it was a pleasantly warm evening to be out. When I got back to the car just before midnight the temperature was still 16. No wonder I had a sweat on. Why there are people who don't like night fishing I really can't fathom. It's a great time to be by the water. The world of train, plane and automobile noise is silenced, the sounds of nature can be heard loud and clear. Carp crashing out, leaves rustling as a breeze springs up and owls in the woods. Plant scents become stronger too when the breeze dies down again and the air clears. Once night vision kicks in you really tune in to what's going on.

Then, with a bit of luck, all that is forgotten when there's a high pitched squeal in your breast pocket and the swim takes on a bright red glow as a Delkim becomes active alerting you to the mystery of how fifty pound braid can be whirring off the reel's spool so quickly, and apparently under its own steam, that you can hardly get the bale arm over! It's time to get some more bait sorted out and put in some overnighters I think.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Enough is enough

The blog might have been quiet for a couple of weeks but that's not because I haven't been fishing, it's because the fishing's been rubbish. A couple of tench sessions produced a bream and a couple of roach which lead to depression. This tench water really isn't living up to my hopes for it. A few more fish, no matter what size, might have kept me interested, but the lack of big fish (even to carpers) makes me think the rewards aren't worth the effort required. If the 'nuisance bream' were bigger it would be something to keep me interested. I guess the waters I've travelled further to fish have spoiled me. I needed a change to keep me fishing.

An attempt at catching eel baits resulted in one small perch and no more bites in half an hour causing me to pack up. When I'm bait catching I want it over and done with in short order, so the float has to be dipping every few minutes or I give up.

A second attempt saw bites coming almost immediately and a perch in the bucket when an old codger turned up to watch. Luckily the three fish I hooked while he was stood next to me coughing and spitting were too big for bait. I had to endure his admonitions about using barbed hooks though. I felt like telling him that the barbed hooks would be the least of the fish's worries once they were in my freezer. Then the inevitable happened and a bootlace found the loose fed maggots. This scared the old git away, and once I had a new hooklink attached I was back to putting fish in the bucket. I didn't manage as many as I'd have liked, the just-too-big-for-my-liking fish kept showing up, but I got enough for a starter session. My Big Plan to carry on tenching until the end of June was scrapped and Sunday evening was pencilled in to target eels. The lake ought to be quiet then.

Disaster struck on Saturday when I was 'resting my eyes' listening to the cricket from Headingly. I'd taken my specs off and rested them on one of my knees. I must have nodded off for a few seconds (cough) because I came round and adjusted my posture. Repositioning my feet I heard a crunching sound as if I'd stepped on a snail. Reaching for my specs I found nothing. With trepidation, but knowing what I was going to see through blurry eyes, I lifted my left foot and looked down. One mangled pair of glasses. Although there was no doubt that straightening them would end in only one outcome I did it anyway. Sure enough I ended up with two half-glasses.

I went and found my last pair and tried them on. I could see through them! The only thing was that I'd robbed one of the plastic nose pieces to repair my now-broken pair. This meant I had to try to swap it back - with only one pair of glasses to let me see what I was doing with the tiny, tiny screw that holds it in place. Somehow I managed it. The only saving grace to all this is that on Friday I had booked in for an eye test this coming Tuesday and was going to change my frames in any case. But would I be able to see well enough with my old pair? Once I had readjusted to the frames, the prescription wasn't much different (in fact the optician had said I hadn't needed to change if I didn't want to), I managed okay. I could go eeling.

Once the cricket had finished on Sunday I could wait no longer. Although I had planned to get to the lake around eight I was there by seven to find the car park rammed out and all the pegs I fancied taken. Damn. I picked a second-best swim and took my time setting up. One leger had a long link on it, the other had the bomb straight off the run ring. A small perch was chopped in two and out the baits went. The head was cast just beyond the marginal pads and the tail dropped in closer. With it still being bright I wasn't expecting much for an hour or more.

When the right hand bobbin fell off the tail rod and the braid raced across the water after half an hour I was stunned. It goes without saying that my strike met with no resistance whatsoever! Fifteen minutes later I did it all again. For some reason after another twenty minutes I moved the tail section to the same line as the head and I had barely sat down when it was on the move. This strike connected. The eel was a strange looking thing. Easily long enough to have weighed two and a half pounds or more, with a head to match, but ever so skinny. Not like some I had last summer which were thick at the head and front half of the body but lacking girth lower down, just skinny from right behind the head.

It was an hour before the next missed run to the head section which came back with the 'meat' missing. I'd lip-hooked the head but threaded the tail so when I rebaited I fed the hook through the lips and positioned the hook towards the cut end of the bait. Then I cast it further out than before. Half an hour later it was away. At first the eel felt like a good un. As it came shallower it got less powerful. I thought it might have made two pounds but it didn't quite. It was a better built fish than the first one though. Being an exploratory session I didn't fish into dark.Two more missed runs and one pinched bait saw me packing up at quarter to eleven, all thoughts of tench banished and another bait snatching session being planned.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Catfish rods

Although I've built up various blanks for use as catfish rods over the years, and supplied a catfish blank or two, I've only just built up a pair of Ballista catfish blanks for a customer.

Compared to the Torrix catfish blank, which is also 10ft long and rated at 5lb, the Ballista has a more through action.  The build is to the customer's spec, but similar to what I have done in the past, although I'm not sure what I'd provide as a standard build.

A broad butt cap of some sort is essential (I like the Duplon one used this time), along with a decent foregrip or even a fighting grip. Not being a fan of full length Duplon I'd probably leave the blank bare between butt cap and a small section of  Duplon behind the reel seat with either a longer Duplon foregrip or a fighting grip of either Duplon or Japanese shrink above the handle proper.
The rings are eight BSVOG three leggers with a heavy duty flanged BUHT tip. If anyone's interested in these rods the base price is currently £210 each.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Before the rain came

Somehow or other I managed to get up early and to the water by four, rods out by half past. With the forecast being for the heavy showers of rain and hail accompanied by thunder and lightning I wanted to be doing the return journey before ten. All was quiet and still as I walked to the swim I had in mind. It was so warm that the fleece had to come off before I got the rods set up and the hemp fired out to left and right.

Rigs and baits were as usual. They're not working for the tench but I had no other options. The corn went to the right, a pellet to the left, both on in-line lead rigs. The third rod was cast straight out almost as far as I could manage. This was a helicopter rig baited with a pellet and the lead dropped in a small bag of mixed pellets.

Since last time out I'd re jigged the helicopter rig a little. I'd found a packet of some Korda quick change clips which looked like they'd do for attaching the lead to. It's only on helicopter rigs that I remove the leads when packing up. In-line leads pull off the swivel, slide down the line and nestle in the pocket of the quiver. The other modification I wanted to make was to do away with the bottom braid stop so the hooklink was trapped directly above the lead as this makes it a better set up for use with a bag in my experience. The John Roberts Buffer Bead sleeves the link and makes for a bottom stop the lower hard plastic bead can rest on. Everything else is as before.

With the attention I'd had over past sessions from unwanted bream I didn't feed any loose pellets with the hemp. I've never associated bream with hemp on its own, so my hope was they'd stay away from the two close range rods, and I'd take my chance on the distance rod and it's bag of bream food.

After an hour I started to get twitches to the left hand rod. Possibly liners. A few bubbles appeared over the hemp too. A breeze had sprung up making it a little cooler so the fleece had gone back on. Fifteen minutes later the rod pulled round and the bobbin dropped back. At first I thought I felt the jagging of a tench, but it soon turned into the dead weight of a bream. Not a big one either. I popped the hook out with the fish in the water and slipped it over the net cord.

Rods were rebaited and recast. More hemp fired out over the close range baits. A common tern flew around diving occasionally for small fry. Reed warblers chased each other over the margins. Sedge warblers chattered away. I drank tea.

An hour after the first signs of activity the middle rod was in action. If the line pulling tight can be classed as action. A four ounce roach was wound in and returned. It was only twenty minutes before the same rod showed a more positive indication - a short pull on the line followed by a big drop-back. That couldn't be a roach or a bream. On the longer line it seemed to be fighting a bit too. As it came closer it got more breamy. Rolling into the net it was still a bit breamy, a bit roachy too. As hybrids tend to be.

Another half hour passed. A light rain shower made me get the brolly up. A few minutes later it was down again, laid on the ground at the ready just in case. The middle rod was away again this time to a small bream. A slightly larger bream took the other pellet at ten to eight. Then things went quiet and I started to plan my escape as it was looking black over Bill's mother's.

Sure enough rain began to spatter the water. Having seen no signs of tench it seemed wise to get away before I got wet. I was back home having a brew when there was a cloudburst. Four hours later and that's been the sum total of the vile weather that was promised. A bit of drizzle has all that's been falling so far. It might turn up later I suppose.