Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Heat

I can't take much more of this glorious sun. It's sapping what little energy I have. By the time it's starting to lose its strength and I ought to be getting my act together for some eel fishing all I want to do is flop out and go to sleep.

Friday was hot and muggy, so I made the effort. I tried a change of venue, but two years away from it had seen a few changes. Maybe this weather was partly to blame for the increased weed growth, too. Either way my confidence wasn't boosted by a surprising lack of activity to the worm rod. The magic squid also failed to elicit a response. The only time an alarm sounded was when a dog limboed under one of the rods.

No fleece had been required and by the time I got back to the car the thermometer was still reading 18 degrees. Since then I've been staying home melting!

The fancy rod handle specs people dream up sometimes surprise me. The latest being a full Duplon that actually looks pretty good. I'm not a fan of the soft touch reel seat finish from a practical perspective (I have one on an Axiom and know that it is prone to scratching, and sweaty palms react with the rubbery coating) but they do look good when new. The finish is darker than the uncoated seat so blends in nicely with the black Duplon. This particular customer also specified locking collars for the DNPS seats. Probably overdoing things for pike rods, but as they are uncoated it gives an idea of the colour difference between a standard DNPS and the soft touch version. The photo below is of the dry run, taken to confirm with the customer that I've got the spec right.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Apparently there was some football match or other on telly last night. That must have explained why the roads were post-apocalyptically empty and the lake nearly so when I arrived shortly after nine. Last time out I'd looked at a swim which would allow me to cover a large area of open water. Given that most of the eels I was catching were coming away from the margins that seemed like a plan to follow. The swim was, unsurprisingly, vacant.

This time I had some fresh worms with me and thought I'd try a bunch on the edge of the pads with a bit of squid cast well out. Almost immediately I had takes to the worm rod, the worms being pinched. By ten o'clock I'd had a couple of runs to the squid, bumping a fish off on one of them. The action wasn't hectic, but steady enough to keep me interested.

It was a warm evening with a light breeze. The full moon was rising orange in the east. Silence descended on the lake as small bats flitted around the overhanging willows. I began to relax into my surroundings in anticipation with my radio turned low as I listened to The Week In Politics. That lasted a few minutes before The Copper Chopper came overhead circling around the lake and drowning out the radio. I expected the searchlight to sweep over the water at any minute, or a gang of criminals to charge past me pursued by howling police dogs, which naturally enough would seize on me.

When a red LED glowed brightly and the sounder in my pocket began to wail I forgot all about the commotion and managed to pull into an eel. It was hard to determine how big an eel had picked up the squid, but it was hooked and I wasn't letting it get away. I made sure the net was well sunk and the eel well over it before I lifted. All went well and one of the fatter bodied eels was safely swimming around in the net.

Sling and scales were readied before I swung the net ashore. This was barely done when the sounder sounded again. With all the excitement I had somehow blocked the noise of the helicopter out. The worms were showing no sign of stopping. Another eel was hooked. It was obvious from the outset that it was a bootlace, so once I had it in close I let it swim around in the margins on a couple of feet of line while I dealt with it's big sister (or brother). Five ounces over two pounds. Good enough for me but not worthy of the hassle of setting up for a self-take. Certainly not with a bootlace waiting to be unhooked.

Ten minutes later I was putting a fresh hooklink on the worm rod to fish a bigger bait when the recast squid was off again. With tackle all over the place I managed to fluff the strike, feeling the lightest of bumps that might have been an eel. The squid was recast, a roach tail put on the other hook and cast well out. By now the chopper had moved on and peace and quiet had returned.

Twenty minutes later the roach tail was taken but dropped. I did the winding the bait back to the lead thing. It was taken again five minutes later. My striking technique was back to normal, the bait gone from the hook to be replaced with another bit of squid. I had one squid chunk well out and one on the pads' edge. The close in bait was picked up and the strike messed up again at half eleven. Thirty minutes later I was packing up.

I'm wondering why the early sessions produced so many runs one after another, barely giving me a chance to sit down at times, and now things are more like I expect from eeling. Enough takes to keep me interested, but not so many as to tire me out! I was thinking of trying a different venue for a few sessions, just for a change, but I really ought to stick at it on one water. Or should I?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Feeling deflated

Still buzzing with the eel fishing I'd got my mind set on a late Sunday evening session after the crowds had departed. The gear was checked over and all I had to do was throw it in the car around nine thirty. That was when I spotted the flat tyre. Bang went that plan. Well, not literally 'bang'!

I put things forward 24 hours and hit the lake on Monday around quarter to ten. Arriving that late gave me a better choice of swims and I chose one I'd not fished before. It was warm and still, with the threat of rain which arrived in the form of a drizzle that sounded worse than it was on the brolly.

Despite the conditions it felt like an age before the first take to a sandeel head cast well out came at ten thirty. It was an age before the next missed run at quarter to twelve to the same bait. With a tail section cast out producing a dropped run ten minutes later I moved the margin squid bait away from the bank for it to be taken after ten minutes. I missed that run. Then it went dead again. The whole lake felt devoid of fish. I had been going to stop late but the lack of runs compared to previous sessions had seen me drinking tea to pass the time and the flask was getting empty. I wrapped up at quarter to one.

After that blank session I almost lost interest and didn't bother turning out on Tuesday or Wednesday. By Thursday I was determined not to be beaten and returned to the area which has given me the most eels so far. It was nine o'clock on a mild evening, the full moon already up in the sky, a kingfisher piping its call as it flew across the lake. I'm sure I saw a fish in its beak.

This session started even more slowly than the previous one. No hint of a run before dark, unlike other sessions in the area. The tedium was broken when I heard a woman calling for her pet across the lake. Her cries grew louder as she got closer. I could hear meowing opposite me. Footsteps approached and then, "Bloody hell!! A buxom blonde loomed out of the dark, "My cat's stuck up a tree and I can't find him." I pointed across the water, "He's over there." The small hairy doormat of a dog that was following her sniffed my rucksack and got shooed away before it cocked its leg. The pair melted into the darkness and all was quiet and still again.

By eleven I was getting so despondent that I was plotting a change of venue. Fifteen minutes later the squid left the margin at a rate of knots. No prizes for guessing the outcome. A fresh chunk was hooked up and cast back out. After ten minutes it was picked up and dropped. I wound the line back on the spool and it was soon running out again. I held the line and could feel the eel tugging. Usually when I have done this a strike has connected. Usually.

My hopes were rising. Unfortunately so was a light mist from the water. This never fills me with confidence. As the mist thickened towards midnight so I contemplated packing up. I like to leave the baits out as long as possible when leaving. to this end I tidy the rucksack, putting the sounder box in it's pocket, first. Then I take the rods from the pod and lie them on the deck with the line tight to the slack 'runner. The pod is dismantled, its bars folded up in my chair along with my cool bag. One rod is wound in and put in the quiver, then the second rod and finally the net is rolled up and slid into the front pocket.

The first rod had been unbaited and the joint separated when I heard a continuous buzzing. The squid had been taken again. The broken down rod was dumped and the other one picked up. Line was still being taken. I folded my left hand round the spool and struck.Something was wrong. There was a fish on!

In my head I was telling myself to take it steady, that there was no rush. I kept the pressure on rather than bully the eel while I got the net sunk. I had all night, so let the fish keep on trying to swim backwards on a tight line, gradually pumping it towards me. It's head appeared and it looked decent, but not huge. Possibly another two pounder. With the eel close to the net I had to try and judge where its tail was. Mist was swirling in the light from the Petzl making it difficult to see what was going on. being high above the water puts an awkward angle on the net frame, reducing its effective length and netting fish more difficult than it ought to be. I'm getting my excuses in early..

I had a sense of foreboding the instant I hooked the eel. That's why I was consciously taking my time. Probably why it all went so horribly, horribly Pete Tong. Probably why there were no histrionics when the inevitable happened. Because it had been inevitable.

Flying treble hooks I can understand getting caught in landing net meshes. Singles? I think the mesh mush have been floating because when I came to remove the hook from it it was in the outside, a few inches from the net cord. The eel's head can't have been over the net when it got stuck and wriggled free. Out of habit I recast the bait for a few more minutes while I put the other rod away knowing it was a waste of time. That eel wouldn't be coming back. I felt as flat as my tyre had been on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Another rod in stock (SOLD)

I've finished off the latest build of the 'where did that come from' blanks I have in stock. This one is a green 11ft 1.25lb  Chimera Avon whipped with dark green thread. My all time favourite rod for perch and roach legering.

Not much more to be said than that really. Price on my Rods in Stock page.

As usual you can click the photos for a bigger size.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Disaster strikes

When this eel bug bites I get a little obsessed with it. I'm sure it's the continual frustration of missed runs which gets my stubborn side going. That's why I was back by the water and setting up for another eel session late on Tuesday evening in yet another swim. I'm not sure if swim choice makes much difference on small waters, but trying new spots helps keep me thinking.

Not much thinking was required when it came to choosing baits. Having forgotten my worms it was squid or fish! It took a while for the first run to materialise, to a middle section from a small hybrid. This was, unsurprisingly missed. When the bait was taken again I tried the clamping on the spool before striking trick - and it worked. This wasn't a small eel. When I got it on the surface it looked like a thicker one than the skinny ones of previous sessions too. It was doing a lot of writhing but coming in steadily. I sank the net in anticipation. Then it was gone. The silence of the still night was shattered by one loud word. BASTARD!!

I swung the eel-less rig to hand to see the wire had snapped. Not at the crimp but half way along. The other end of teh wire was wrapped around the eye of the Arlesey bomb's swivel. I can only assume that all the writhing had somehow managed to kink the trace. I've been using nylon covered wire because I thought it might be more kink-resistant than uncoated steel. Oh, well. While I was sorting the rig out the squid was away, and ten minutes later, with both rods back in action the replacement fish bait was taken. Another missed run to the squid and there was a lull.

Around twenty to twelve I missed a couple more runs. After more than an hour of inactivity, as I was considering calling it a night, I started to get twitches to the squid bait. Eventually the twitches turned into a full blooded run and I connected with an eel for the second time in the session. This one also felt decent, but not quite as decent as the one that bust me. It was chunky, but not quite chunky enough. It did manage to make two pounds though. Not a specimen, but the eeling benchmark I set myself on each water. Get a two then try to improve.

With the eel returned, without a photograph as I was now in another mess, the fish having swum around the other line, it was time to sort that mess out. As it was I decided the best plan was to go home and deal with the huge knot of braid in daylight.

Wednesday had me thinking about stepping up my wire. I was about to head for a tackle shop when I thought a delve into the depths of my 'why did I buy that' boxes might be worth a try. Sure enough there was a spool of heavier, stiffer, coated wire among the myriad of swivels, links and assorted rig bits. A trace was crimped up and tested and all seemed fine. A few more were knocked up and stored in grip seal bags in the tackle box.

That done it was time to brave the massive tangle. A closer look at the spool saw that this was the same reel I'd removed some braid from following my last tangle, and by the time the knots were off the spool there was mono backing visible. The knots proved impossible, and the braid looked fairly frayed in that area too. Out with the scissors. Line trimmed back and there seemed to be enough left on the reel to fish with without getting down to the backing.

After tea I was out again. This session I picked a swim I'd seen the night before, mostly because it was quite wide. Having got very low on coarse deads I thought I'd give a sandeel head a go on one rod (I'd forgotten the worms again...) with Bo Squiddley on the other as a banker bait. Sure enough it was less than five minutes after casting Bo out than he was heading for the other side of the lake. Sure enough I managed to miss the run...

What a difference a day makes. Tuesday had been warm with a clear starry sky and no wind. The night light enough and the water still enough to see and hear fish rolling. Wednesday was just as warm but with the willows creaking and swaying wildly under an overcast sky. Too dark and the water too rippled for any surface activity to be visible. It felt promising for eels though.

It was almost an hour before the second run. This time to the sandeel head. Missed, of course, but encouraging that the bait was acceptable to the eels. Not quite another hour had passed before the squid was taken, and the run missed. It was feeling  like a slow night by the standards I'd got used to. Ten minutes more and a run to a sandeel tail, cast well out from the bank, was connected with. This wasn't a super-slim fish, nor was it a fatty. I returned it unweighed - it looked to be between one and two pounds, nearer one.

A couple more missed runs to the squid before twitchy takes started to come to sandeel. These were more like the twitchy takes you get to worms. The bobbin jiggling up and down as line is taken then goes slack in fits and starts. I tried striking one lift without success. Leaving it to develop failed just as miserably. A full night of this frustrating fishing would see me drained and completely unable to function the next day! By midnight I'd had enough. I'd learned something valuable though. Coarse deads aren't essential, and leaving worms in the fridge catches no eels.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Squids in

After reading about someone using sandeel heads for eels on The Pikers Pit, something I'd tried unsuccessfully a few years ago, I thought I'd pick up another packet to save my coarse baits.That's why last Thursday I was rummaging around in my local tackle shop's freezer. The sandeels looked as small and useless as the last time I'd bought some but there were some packets of frozen squid in with them. I knew squid worked for catfish so it had to be worth a try for eels.

Later that day I was settling myself into a swim which had always been occupied on my previous visits to the lake, which looked the part for eels for some reason. The usual pads ringed the margin, with a gap to cast through, but it was a corner swim lined with reeds at one end and a willow overhanging the water.

First out was a perch tail just past the pads to the right, followed by a bunch of dendrobenas further out to the left. It was only eight o'clock so when I had a take to the worms twenty five minutes later it wasn't unexpected. Anything could have been responsible. Twenty minutes later there was another run to the worm rod, and another an hour later. Five minutes after that I hooked what I took to be the culprit and landed a small eel of less than a pound. I use these dendrobenas out of convenience despite feeling that they attract small eels.

Swifts were squealing overhead, the shoal of fry I'd spotted in the shallows as I set up was getting harried by small perch, the day was closing down. Anyway, that small eel was my cue to try the squid. I cut a chunk off the end of one and threaded it onto the hook. When I cast it out the madness began. It took fifteen minutes for the first run to come to that rod. The drop-off dropped, the line ran out, I struck at thin air. I won't list them all but in the next hour the line ran out five more times! The second run resulted in an eel in the net. Not a big one but a first to the squid.

I'd abandoned the drop-offs and switched to fishing straight off the very slack baitrunner with no bobbin. Two runs later I hooked another eel, one which felt and looked bigger than the previous one, but which shed the hook. And so the evening went on. Runs galore. Three times I had both rods out of the water as I either rebaited one or had an eel in the net when the other took off. At one stage I fished squid on both rods but as the squid began to run out I switched to bunches of worms on one rod, which produced two more small eels. By quarter to twelve all the squid was gone and I was knackered!

Friday morning saw me raiding the shop's freezer for squid again, planning to use it on Monday night for a longer session in the dark. Once more I found a swim I'd been eyeing up to be free. Hopes were high, and rose higher when the, by now, inevitable squid bait on the left hand rod, fished out from the pads, was picked up and the baitrunner spun. Four more missed runs to that rod before nine o'clock gave me confidence that I would be on for a repeat performance.

I tightened up the baitrunner to give the eels something to pull, and maybe even hook themselves, against. The next take to that rod was a jerky affair. The line eventually began to run out smoothly and I connected oh so briefly with a fish. Five minutes later it happened again but this time I trapped the spinning spool as I picked the rod up and struck. At last. I felt the weight and writhing of an eel. It was soon on the surface and looked fatter than the skinny ones I'd had on earlier sessions. Alas it wasn't as long. It still managed to be the heaviest, if not quite a two pounder. It was a step in the right direction, even so.

Then, not only did the wide world begin to go to sleep, it seemed like the eels did too. The few runs I got after returning the eel came widely spaced until ten thirty when they dried up altogether. By eleven thirty my confidence had evaporated. The lake was looking fishless too. Maybe if I'd sat it out the eels would have switched on. I'll never know. I do know that I fished my first session on the lake in the next swim and that had been disappointing, my three best sessions so far having come from teh other end of the lake. I know where I'll be setting up next time out.