Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Versatile Tackle

Some items of tackle perform just one function. Others have a main function, but can be used (and often abused!) to perform other tasks. What is the most versatile item of tackle though?

My vote goes for the humble extending bankstick - the larger type that extends from about 4-7 foot. It's forever digging me out of a hole and is one of the items I can't do without.

I thought I'd pretty much exhausted the list of uses it has over the years such as:

- As a rod rest (great for deep swims just off the edge of a platform, but equally good for keeping a quiver tip high off the water).

- As a keep net handle (again great for deep water swims).

- As an emergency landing net handle because accidents do happen with the carbon net poles! Also use it for my big Carp/Pike/Barbel landing net.

- As a reel retriever. Twice now it's been used to retrieve a dropped reel from a river with a cheap plastic pole rest attached to it.

- As a chopper of undergrowth.

- As a tool to free up line when it's snagged in lilies.

- As an umbrella pole. Emergency use only of course, but I once somehow forgot my umbrella pole. However, the umbrella fitted nicely over the top section of the bankstick.

- As a walking stick when clambering around muddy and slippy banks, or when wading.

- As a supporter of bait waiters (rarely used for this purpose, but sometimes useful in the deeper, siltier pegs).

Aside from potentially being quite a useful weapon if the need ever arised, I didn't imagine I'd find any more uses for it - until last last weekend:

The place I was fishing was less than ideal for getting a signal on the phone. When sat at my peg I couldn't get a signal. However, I could just about get a slight signal just above head height, which is not exactly condusive to comfortable fishing!

Although it's not exactly the end of the world, it's just nice to stay connected in case of accidents. The missus's car hasn't been on the best of form recently (now booked in for MOT), so you can imagine the grief I'd get if it breaks down while I'm fishing and the phone isn't playing ball.

I needed a solution so it was out with the trusty bankstick, extend it to full length, fix the phone onto it with some elastic from a spool of line and hey presto:

Mobile phone mast!

Now I know what the more astute amongst you are thinking - if it only works above head height, what happens if it rings? I'll cross that bridge another time! To be fair it worked nearer to where I'd parked up, so I'd just have to take a short hike to get connected. At least I'd know someone is after me!

I also have a rucksack which I'm yet to find an alternative use for. One of my cats has ideas on that though!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Bits and Bobs

Not too much to report from this week.

I had a few hours on a new stillwater to test the water, so to speak. Perch, Perch and more Perch - 50 of the little buggers to be exact and 49 were in the 2-4oz range. Only one better stamp of fish at about 12oz showed, despite trying worm for long periods.

The only other fish to show were a small Rudd, a Crucian of about 10-12oz and a nice Roach of 15oz. I can't seem to crack the 1lb barrier for Roach or Rudd this year - I've had both to 15oz now.

I had a check on my wormery on Sunday and the lobworms look great - some right old snakes in there. In fact there seems to be more lobs in there than I can recall putting in! The redworms are conspicuous by their absence though. I did find some, but nowhere near as many as I seem to recall putting in.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Cead Mile Failte

River Blackwater - County Waterford, Ireland.

On the last full day of the holiday I managed to secure a short morning session on the local river. I had squeezed a few essential tackle items into the boot of the car before we went away and I was half expecting them not to see the light of day. But, the opportunity arose and Madeleine seemed happy to have a lie in while I went looking for fish.

I had done some research on the area before I went away and it wasn't great. It's mostly game fishing on the Blackwater - something I have no clue about. I did stumble on some coarse fishing though, controlled by the local club - Cappoquin Salmon & Trout Anglers Association. At 3 Euros for a day ticket, it was worth a shot. I had also searched out a tackle shop which was also situated in Cappoquin and they were able to supply tickets. It was a perfect plan it seemed, but all was to go wrong.

The tackle shop was part of a post office / gift shop and was another of those multi purpose shops you often stumble on in Ireland. The fishing side of it clearly wasn't the main purpose and the lack of coarse tackle was obvious. Still, I didn't need tackle - just a ticket and a few maggots and I'd be on my way.

The day ticket was no problem, but the maggots were a sticking point. He didn't sell them! Given that he'd told me the coarse fishing was 99% Dace, that was my main bait out of the equation. The nearest maggots were a 40 mile round trip! Had I been going for a full day I might well have stretched to making the trip, but for a 3 hour session, I wasn't going to those lengths. I'd make do with bread and corn.

I turned up at the stretch around 8am and quickly realised it was tidal and at fairly low tide. I spotted fish topping throughout the stretch, so I was fairly confident. I set up in a flattish area close to the water and began some random casts to see if anything was around. Nothing was showing and my set up wasn't exactly relaxed - I had to hold the rod because the area was concreted. Confidence was now ebbing away - along with the tide.

I then moved a few yards upstream and trotted a float through for a while, but it was much the same result. I could see plenty of fish topping further out again, so I went back to a straight lead. I also moved about 10 feet back from the water on to some rocks, where I was able to jam the rod into them and have a more comfortable set up.

I started to get some indications on the tip, including one decent bite that seemed impossible to miss - but I did! Eventually I did hook a fish on corn, but the smile was quickly wiped off my face when the fish slipped the hook on the way in.

It was quite interesting to watch the change in tide during the session. With Warwickshire somewhat lacking in tidal rivers, it's something I've not really encountered before. When I'd arrived, the river was flowing at a healthy rate towards the sea. Within a couple of hours the river had risen a foot and the flow had reversed.

I packed in at 11am - fishless. With a few maggots, I'm sure it would have been a different story, but that's life. It was nice to wet a line in Ireland again - something I haven't done for 10 years. I can see a plan being hatched for a return fishing based trip at some point in the not too distant future. Not to the Blackwater though - I'd be heading somewhere with a bit more of a Roach/Bream pedigree.

Jubilee (and it rained again)

Jubilee Pools - Island Pool. Friday 10th September. 6-30am to 1pm.

A somewhat belated report, due to me buggering off to Ireland only a few hours after the session finished. Brian had a spare day so my plan was to get up early and have a few hours of fishing somewhere local. Then, head off home for a couple of hours sleep, before tackling the drive to Fishguard.

Jubilee was a fairly easy choice, as it gave us a squeak of a chance of kickstarting our challenge again. Frustratingly, the last couple of months have been very disjointed and we just haven't really had many opportunities for joint ventures.

We headed round towards the point and settled on a couple of pegs to the side of it, in a sheltered bay. We had fished these pegs at this time last year and we didn't fare too well on that occasion. Why did we choose the pegs again? Well, it was pretty much a case of other pegs being a bit too precarious looking. With the ground being damp and slippy, many of the pegs in that area of the pool are prime candidates for a head over heals gambol into the wet stuff. The actual staging is fine on all pegs, but the access down steep slopes needs a bit of care at times.

I set up a bomb rod because I'd spotted a decent fish topping about 30 yards out and it didn't look like a Carp. There were also quite a few bubbles showing out there. I chucked out a few balls of groundbait and left the bomb rod to sleep peacefully on an alarm set up.

I also set up a float rig and balled in half a dozen balls of fishmeal based groundbait into about 8 feet of water. I kept the loosefeed going in over the top of it and although it wasn't an instant start, things began to pick up about an hour in. I started to catch small Perch, with the odd Skimmer and Roach thrown in - all on the float line.

The bomb rod was fairly quiet, but I did get the occasional fish on it. Eventually I hooked into something a bit better on the float rod and for a while I thought it might be a Tench. Then I realised it was a Bream and thought it may have been foulhooked because it was giving a fair account of itself. It was hooked fair and square though and went exactly 5lb.

The day continued in very much the same manner, with a consistent stream of smaller fish interrupted by two other better quality fish. One was a Tench that felt more like a Bream to start with, but it eventually woke up and had the usual spirited thrash around that Tench are so capable of doing. It was 5lb 2oz.

The other decent fish was a bit more of a sterotypical job. A Bream that surrendered faster than a Frenchman and simply popped up and rolled over into the net as per the rule book. It was the best of the bunch though, at 5lb 10oz.

I mentioned rain in the title, as it's becoming a standing joke with us at Jubilee. We've only fished it 4 times in the past 2 seasons and every one has seen some degree of rain during the day. The first of those sessions last year saw us take an absolute soaking and things have just continued from there. A day of dry weather fishing at Jubilee would be nice!

I was happy enough with the session though, which saw me catch aboout 20lb of fish. Brian caught some silver fish, but nothing to add to the challenge tally.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Ryton Rudd At Last

I've had a couple of sessions at Ryton this week. The first session was a bit of a spur of the moment session, which would be fairly brief and with no obvious plan to it. The lack of a cunning plan was all too obvious!

I arrived at Ryton to find a few anglers around the picnic table area and I saw another one round the back of the island. With another angler marching up the bank alongside me, I decided to backtrack and take up the Information Desk (peg 1).

I then proceeded to screw things up for the next 3-4 hours! I couldn't seem to settle on a tactic and I couldn't buy a bite either. I was also becoming more and more infuriated by the number of Carp I could see milling around on the surface a fair way out - too far out out for the gear I had brought.

I decided to stick it out on the float line that I had groundbaited and eventually dropped a leger rig close in alongside it. A Roach of about 3oz attached itself to my leger rig, albeit not registering a bite. Later on I did manage a Tench though, which went exactly 4lb. Well that's what I thought! Later on I rembered I hadn't zeroed the scales for the net (first time I can recall doing that!), so I'll deduct 14oz for the net and settle for 3lb 2oz instead.

I even managed to make a cock up with the photo - forgetting to notice the slight incline where I took my place while the timer did it's stuff. I figured I might as well edit my head completely out - something that has often been suggested in the past I might add! Oh well, it's enough of shot to prove I actually caught something.

The second session on the Saturday had a bit more purpose about it. I arrived slightly later than planned at 8-30 and to my surprise I had the place to myself - not a single car in the car park either. As it turned out, I never saw another angler all day - quite odd given the decent weather and it also being a weekend.

I marched round the back of the island, as I figured that the ramblers might be plentiful and I wanted a bit of peace. I settled on Roger's peg, which I hadn't fished this year. I had spotted some bubbles a good way across to the left of the swim (which would be attacked with a leger rig), while a few bubbles were also showing close in directly in front of the peg and would be attacked with a float rig.

I was in two minds as to whether I should ball in the groundbait. Would it spook any fish that were already seemingly in front of me? Or, would they simply move on anyway if I didn't get some bait into the swim? Should I go for a softly softly approach? I guess this is the real art of fishing - knowing exactly how to extract the best of the situation, by feeding it correctly.

I mulled it over and decided to ball it in anyway! I eventually figured that if there were plenty of bubbles on the leger line, then I always had that back up if things backfired on the float line. Being optimisitic I recalled previous sessions from last year where the groundbait really got the fish rooting around. I was hoping for the same here and if it meant spooking fish for the first part of the session, I'd take the risk.

I started the session confidently, but 2 hours in (of a planned 4-5 hour session) and I was starting to think the Ryton jinx was going to strike me again. The leger rig wasn't producing for me, while the float rig was only giving the occasional hint of a bite, but nothing worth that warranted a strike. Bubbles were not appearing on the float line either, while the leger rig wasn't producing either.

A small Tench of about 10-12oz got me off the mark and came as a bit of a relief. There definitely seems to more of these smaller samples in the pool this year, which has to be good for the years ahead.

A further Tench followed soon afterwards, this one being around 2lb.

I then missed a decent bite on the leger rig and things seemed to be heading in the right way. It then went a bit quiet again, but I was more confident now.
The next fish was very welcome though - my first Ryton Rudd. These infuriating red finned creatures have eluded me all year at Ryton, but at last I had caught one - a fish of about 6oz. Next cast, another one took the bait, albeit it slipped off the hook on the way in. I went on to catch 3 more Rudd, all of which were in the 10-12oz stamp.

I had a couple of token 3oz Roach before I finished off the day with 2 more Tench which went 2lb 12oz and 3lb 3oz. I did remember to zero my scales for those!

I'm not sure where the Perch have gone this year. I don't seem to be attracted to them like I have in previous years. Maybe they are more interested in gorging themselves on the smaller fish that have turned up in numbers this year.

Although I had better results at Ryton last year, I still think it's an ever improving venue. I think the cold start to the year has made comparisons a little difficult too. There's definitely a better head of fish in there now and more variety with the Rudd and a few more Roach. Judging by the numbers of Carp I saw towards the middle of the pool, they are still there in healthy numbers too. It will be interesting to see if the Pike fatten up a bit this year - a decent twenty must be on the cards with all the extra food in there now.