Thursday, January 28, 2016

Downs and ups

A run of blanks does nothing to encourage me to try again. Only a bit of nice weather will tempt me out when that's happening. Sunday was another of those excessively mild January days, for once without the blight of rain. I gave the roach another try. The result was the same as last time. An early bite followed by bog all. To rub salt into my wounds a carp popped its head out right in front of me. I'm sure it was laughing.

There had been a fairly strong westerly blowing putting the kind of ripple on the water that made me want to get the pike rods out. When Wednesday came around and boredom set in with varnish and glue drying and my next batch of blanks still being rolled (if I'm lucky...) the easy option was taken. The pike rods are permanently set up in a quiver. All I added was my 45 inch brolly as there was rain due in around dusk. I grabbed the carrier bag of deadbaits from my last pike session. Didn't bother filling a flask and set off.

I was aghast to see the car park full and carp anglers blighting the lake. It was almost a turn round and go elsewhere job but a quick scout revealed that the carpers were shoaled up leaving plenty of room for some semi-mobile piking.

As it turned out a mate of mine was also piking and in the swim next to one I fancied - we both had the same idea to keep the strong wind off our backs. The wind was both stronger and cooler than it had been on Sunday, but by no means cold. Conditions looked good and my friend had had some action. While chatting I mentioned that twitching baits only ever resulted in me finding snags. Why I bothered twitching one of my baits I don't know. It was snagged when I came to move it for a recast. Only in some of last summer's weed. But my point was proved. After an hour and a half I was itching for a move. The swim opposite looked inviting, despite the wind blowing straight into that bank. I upped sticks intending to give it no more than an hour.

Luckily there was a willow bush to give me some protection from the wind. It wasn't as uncomfortable as it might have been. The  bluey tail that had got snagged was in a bit of a state and not fit for a long cast, so it got dropped by the willow. A spot that usually harbours a jack. The lamprey head got the big heave and the herring tail went to my left.

I waved farewell to my mate when he left for home and thought I'd have a recast. I picked up the herring rod, gave the reel handle a couple of turns and felt something pulling back. Just as I always snag up twitching baits I never get takes on the retrieve. Being taken by surprise I snatched the bait out of the pike's gob! The bait got dropped back whence it came.

As if the rain had read the forecast it arrived spot on time. Out with the brolly and fight with it against the wind to get it opened out. This proved doubly difficult thanks to one of the ribs popping our of the hinge mechanism and jambing against the cover. Once that was sorted I shoved the pole as far into the soft ground as I could and pegged the guy ropes down. Thankfully the shower passed fairly quickly. Out of the blue there were a couple of bleeps from the sounder in my fleece pocket. The lamprey head was away.

I grabbed the net and wound down to the fish. It didn't feel particularly large, but at a reasonable distance and with the pike not fighting much on previous trips I wasn't making any firm predictions. When it rose to the surface and I could see the top treble was clear of the fish, and the bottom treble right at the tip of its snout, I was prepared for it to get off should it go through the old headshake routine. Although the head was shaken the hook stayed in place. No problem with the flying treble at the netting either.

Once lifted ashore the hook finally came free saving me the trouble of using the forceps. Lengthwise it looked a scraper double, but once more there was a flabby belly. A head covered in leeches made me think it might have just come on the feed. A quick trip into the sling and the scales showed that it would make ten pounds after a decent meal.

There was still time for a move, but a couple of takes in this spot gave me hope of something better at last knockings. The rain clouds were building too. However they scudded away to the south and a briefly colourful sunset followed.

The hoped for monster requiring the headtorch to read the scales failed to show up and I slipped and slid my way back through the mud to the car.

This morning I attacked my umbrella with a pair of pliers and a bit of stainless steel wire to replace the rivet that had popped out. That's three such repairs I've carried out on this brolly. Only five more ribs to do!

On the rod building front I've just complete a set of three P-1s with a slightly different handle configuration. It's one I didn't think I'd like the look of, but it's turned out better than anticipated.I think the collars and winding check help the look, and the gunsmoke reel seat - which matches will with an Ultra Matt blank finish and SiC rings.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cut down to size again

I hadn't planned to get the rods out today, but when I walked along the canal on my way home from the Post Office it looked inviting. The workload that has been conspiring with the rain of late is under control at last so I could take the afternoon off. It was tempting to go and fish the 'easy' pit, roach weren't in my mind as I had no maggots, but I thought I'd take the canal pike challenge instead.

After my last session had been hampered, at least my confidence had, by my one and a half and two ounce leads burying in the black silty leaf litter on the bottom of the canal I put some one ounce bombs in a pocket of my bunny suit. Swapping to the lighter leads did the trick. Neither leads or baits were coming back festooned in horrible gunk when I wound in for a recast or move.

Despite the cut looking perfect in terms of colour and generally feeling 'right' I suffered another totally runless few hours. At least the dog walkers were less bothersome than last time. Although I was jumped on by an over-friendly Staffy at one point.

I'm starting to think that I ought to fish it like I did way back when - with paternostered baits instead of legered ones. The proverbially humble sprat used to catch me a few, as did dead roach. In fact when I think about it legered sea baits never did me much good in those days. A grand total of two pike have come my way from the canal on legered herring tails. That said, lamprey work everywhere. Maybe one lamprey on the bottom and a couple of paternostered baits is the way to go? I'll have one more try I think, then go and fail to catch roach. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Carrying on as I left off

New Year's Day saw me dropping in on a couple of friends having a pike session. I hadn't planned on fishing and actually had my camera gear with me to go do some photography. But on the way back to the car one swim I'd never fished looked inviting. The afternoon was warm and not too bright so I headed home, hastily swapped cameras for rods and went back to the swim. Three hours and one move later I packed up in the drizzle and went home with nothing to show for my trouble.

Today the England cricket team were facing a humiliating draw at best in the second test in South Africa when I took the maggots I'd bought before Christmas out of the fridge for a trip to Goat Lake. The sun was shining and it felt more like spring than winter. The thought of a roving pike session didn't fill me with enthusiasm, but sitting in one place replenishing feeders into dark did. A roaching I would go.

By the time I'd marked my lines, mixed my hemp and Explosive Feeder groundbait and got all three rigs in place the sun had disappeared and the distant woods were hiding behind a blue-grey haze.

As the weather hasn't turned really cold so far this winter I opted for a not too deep spot but still I wasn't too sure on my choice of swim.When I had a couple of bites in quick succession after just twenty minutes I felt more content. It was another hour before I had a clonking drop-back to the left hand rod. Nothing was hooking itself though. Then I started brining in skins without having had a bit registered. Small roach or crap rigs? As all activity dried up I'll never know.

Although I knew it would be overload for my Avons I took my new Fox Spombalike with me to try out. It works, and will come in handy this spring for getting some tench bait out. I thought the thing looked a bit like a puffer fish. So I stuck a couple of eyes on it!

With the fish apparently having buggered off I fished about half an hour into dark. It wasn't bitter cold and I almost got the urge to do an all nighter. But when I worked out how long darkness lasts at this time of year I put my next overnight session back until April....

One problem with this place is that when the wind is in a certain direction, just as the hunger pangs kick in, the local chip shop fires up it's deep fat fryers and the scent of fish and chips blows across the water. I think that contributed to me earlier than planned departure and my stopping at the other chippy on my way home.

At least I've made a start on the roach fishing. Now I know where not to fish I can try again in another area. I'll make an earlier start next time to give me longer to get some bait down and alter one of my rigs to see if that makes a difference or not. That's my intention. There's always a chance I'll do something completely different.