Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Not Quite An Obsession

A return to the estate lake this week. This is becoming a bit of a habit, bordering on obsessive. I can't recall doing so many stillwater sessions on the bounce during the main season.

The truth is that time is against me on the lake and within a few weeks it won't get much of a look in if the rivers are half fishable. Of course there's a likelihood that the lake contains pike and I'll probably have a speculative dabble at some point.

I had good intentions of varying my tactics but once again the wind was blowing strongly across the lake. I went for a straight lead approach again, but on a braid mainline to improve bite registration.

I opted for a different peg with a few extra reeds to help provide shelter from the wind. It didn't make life easy in terms of watching the quiver though. The tip blended into the ever moving background. Time to think outside the box.

I was using my short 8ft TFG all rounder rod anyway, as I needed a short rod for my choice of swim. I moved back a yard or so from where I'd normally sit and that allowed me to place a large bankstick directly behind the tip to give me a static reference point.

It was better, but still not good enough. Then the solution dawned on me. In my holdall was a rod tube for my travel float rod. Dispense with the rod, place the empty tube over the bankstick and voilĂ  - problem solved. OK, so it would be a whole lot easier if I just dug out my target board, but that's no fun is it?!

The fishing proved reasonably predictable and a double handful of 6oz stamp roach were the result. I had one eye on trying a tight and snaggy little swim to my left though.

With an hour or so to go I gave it a shot and on arrival I spooked a fish that displaced a fair amount of water. I had a carp rod set up so I gave it a shot with floating crust.

Time after time I saw swirls in the water, but nothing took my bait. I went into overtime and fished well into dusk, but still nothing could be tempted. I packed up, locked the gate behind me and vowed to return the following evening to break the carp duck.

A day on and I was back to find an almost completely calm lake and loads of fish topping. Like taking candy off a baby I thought. I had the place to myself again so the options were plentiful. The only barrier was time. Just a couple of hours to crack it.

Again, most fish of any size were operating at distance. Now I'm not really geared up or used to long range fishing. 30-40 yards is extreme for a self confessed margin plunderer like me. I now found myself chucking the lead probably 60-70 yards and in truth I felt like I needed more. I still seemed to be short of the main zone and the only close call came from an inquisitive gull.

I gave it an hour before switching to a different bank which the fish seemed to have moved closer to during the session. I felt much happier and I got the bait bang on the money. I thought my number was coming up when a fish swirled by the bait and others were close by. Surely the threat of competition would trigger one of the fish into action.

Sadly it seemed spooked by either the bait or my set up and it bolted a little, causing the rest to back off. And that was that. Apart from a daft moment where in the reducing light I managed to spend about 10 minutes watching the wrong bait, very little else happened!

A very brief foray with a float rod and some leftover maggots in the margins, threw up a roach and a perch of the usual stamp.
A failed effort really, but it's all useful knowledge. It's not an easy nut to crack and the carp will certainly be shelved next time.

Having seen the whole lake in a calm state, it allowed me to see exactly where the fish were feeding. I was actually quite surprised to see plenty of bubbles within comfortable float fishing range on most pegs. I'd like to think some of it was tench related.

The lake is shallow across its whole expanse. So, although I was concerned about fishing the float in shallow water (2.5ft max), I don't think I need to worry. I haven't even found 3ft of depth when venturing out to around 70 yards. The lake isn't pressurised in any way and sees very little bank traffic on my preferred swims. Maybe I don't need to fish at long range after all? A close in swim with a bit of cover might be better after all if the depth is so uniform.

More to ponder over for the week ahead...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Calibration's What You Need...

... If you wanna be a record breaker! Not quite the words I used to remember Roy Castle belting out during my childhood, but close enough.

Records are something I'm unlikely to trouble, but Jeff Hatt served up a timely reminder recently to do some scale checks of my own. While in the grand scale of life it matters not one jot, but it's nice to know that attempts to beat my meagre personal bests are trustworthy.

I didn't have any proper weights to hand so I plumped for a heavy cooking pot and popped it on a set of kitchen scales that weigh to 0.1oz or 1g. The result was 6lb 12.9oz.

Out with my digital scales and they came up with 6lb 12oz. Close enough for my liking and slightly under weight. That sad, they only weigh to 1oz, so they would never have matched exactly.

Now given that I had proven both sets of scales were reading in the same ball park, it could still have been possible for both to be equally wrong.

A third set of scales (kitchen dial) were now brought into the equation with a lower weight that fell within its capacity. All 3 scales returned results of 2lb 8oz, when rounded to the nearest ounce.

A more stringent check at higher weights with a properly verified weight would be more useful, but for now I'm happy that my scales are close enough for my needs. I have some proper weights stored away somewhere (not seen since I last moved house) so I'll do further checks if I can unearth them.

I had another crack at the estate lake last week. Plans went out of the window when the only area I wanted to fish had a stiff facing wind. Float fishing at range was shelved in favour of the lead again.

Bite registration was a pain and I missed as many (probably more if I'm honest) as I hit. Peas in a pod roach were the result. Seven in total, all in the 6oz to 8oz range.

I was geared up for a go at the carp with a surface bait, but the wind was just making it impossible. As I called time to head home for tea, the wind just dropped off totally. To tease me further, the carp started to reveal themselves one by one.

Again they were at a fair old range, but one spot on a different bank looks quite favourable for reaching them. Importantly it's a little less snaggy looking too. A crafty late afternoon stalking session is on the cards next time - if the wind allows.

Only a month to go before I really start to target the predators. It seems to have flown by this year. Better start clearing out the freezer, ready for the deadbaits!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

P is for...?

The bank holiday saw me snatching a few sessions amongst my other commitments. The theme for the weekend was the letter P.


First up was a brief after work session to start the break. With less than three hours of fishing time to play with, the brief was simple : fish with worms and catch a big Perch. Joined by Steve, we plugged away and caught a good few of the right species, but about 2lbs+ below the target weight!

In a bid to encourage Steve into the world of pike we had a little dabble for them into dark. Just a jack to my rod to show for it. No evidence though, as it flung itself back into the river while I was attending to the net.

We fished into dark and the bats began to appear, swooping across the water in front of us. Steve was stood out on a platform, gazing towards the water, waiting and willing for something to happen. Sure enough it did - a wayward bat came from his blind side and took him by surprise, narrowly missing his head. The startled angler jumped out of his skin and I really thought he was going for a dip!


The following afternoon saw me returning for another crack at the perch, joined by two others. I've honestly never seen the river so alive with fish. Prospects looked good.

Once again I fished mostly with worm but I was unable to catch anything much beyond a pound. Whenever I switched to a bunch of maggots I picked up the odd roach and some better stamp dace. Not anywhere near the class of fish from a certain venue further upstream, but a little better than I'd seen here before. Charlie also reported some nice dace. They have always been here in good numbers, so maybe there are some better ones to be had now. Maybe I'll have the play the numbers game one day and just wade through them to see what can be achieved.

The only problem with hooking small fish on this section of river is the pike. I had three encounters with them and none ended in my favour. Bitten off twice and I pulled out of the other - or more precisely I parted company with the prey fish and the pike made off with its meal.

The pike wasn't the only poacher. I can't say too much, but I've filed another report with the EA.


Last up was a short bonus session on an estate lake I've recently joined. I was meant to be out cycling with my good wife, but the session was abandoned when we couldn't get her bike's gears adjusted to her satisfaction. It's funny how awkward gears can be to adjust, particularly when you know that complete failure might result in spare time to go fishing instead! Best left to Halfords just to be safe!!

Remembering what I saw last time, when fish were feeding at distance, I went armed with leger set ups. Against my normal habits I set up a sleeper rod with an alarm and worm hook bait. The other rod was rigged up with a bunch of maggots and a quiver tip approach. A smattering of groundbait was hurled as far as possible and then fished over.

Bites were at a premium, but I managed three roach, with the best a healthy 15oz. It gives me hope that talk of 2lb fish might actually be completely true. Time will tell ...

What cheesed me off though was the own goal I scored before leaving home. I forgot to take any floating baits and throughout the session a host of carp could be seen breaking the surface time and time again at distance. I'm not expecting them to be monsters and although I'm not really a fan of carp, I do love picking them off with floating baits when opportunity knocks.

I'm quite taken with the estate so far. I've seen enough to suggest there's a bit of potential. It definitely requires a different approach to the ones I'm normally used to, which can't be a bad thing.  I do have a tendency to be a little lazy with my methods. I'll continue to adapt and hopefully get some rewards soon. Either way I'm in this for the long haul and I have a year or so to see what I can extract from it.