Sunday, 27 January 2008

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 2, Peg 57

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 2, Peg 57
I decided to go along to Monks to test myself and see whether I’d learnt anything from the previous sessions I’d had trying to learn how to fish the waggler. My ‘yardstick’ was the result I’d had on Match Lake 1 where I’d had 21 fish; if I could beat this then I felt I’d progressed.
I was late starting for the nine o’clock ‘off’ and didn’t get going until nearly a quarter to nine. I spent the first part of the session trying various different types of waggler as had been suggested to me including some ‘loaded’ jobbies. Now I just couldn’t get on with these at all. The peg I was fishing was almost dead opposite the ‘hot peg’ 45 – (which was occupied) dead opposite on the other side of the lake. This was much deeper, something like nine or ten feet at 20 metres or so – but I just couldn’t seem to get the depth adjusted properly for some reason. I tried using an AAA shot as a plummet………….. but I dunno – just couldn’t seem to get the thing right. Only by changing to an unshotted peacock insert jobby and using a light plummet could I really get it sorted and ended up fishing at nearly ten feet – a bit awkward to cast with my John Wilson rigged at eleven feet. On reflection, I should have added the extension and fished at thirteen feet which would have made casting easier – but there you go.

I determined to keep up a regular and consistent feed of red maggots all day and I am sure this contributed to my improved ‘performance’. After about ten minutes, the F1s moved in and I started catching them one a chuck. I employed the ‘active’ technique shown me by Peter (Morton) when we fished Bridges last time – giving the reel handle a turn every minute or so to keep the bait on the move and wafting about; it also has the effect of covering a lot of water and I found myself picking up fish ‘inside’ where my feed was going in, about fifteen yards out. Some of these F1s were chunky little fellas in good condition and went from about half a pound to over a couple of pounds.
Early on the bites were extremely positive and were of the ‘unmissable’ type – but later on became very shy indeed, barely dipping the float at all. Sometimes, I just struck on a ‘feeling’ I had something was there and was not unsurprised to find fish attached! This was a similar experience we had during the Fur and Feather on Match Lake 1 and initially I put this down to angling pressure and shyness; later, I changed my mind about this……

I fed – I suppose, about half a pouch of reds every other cast, all the time mindful of over-feeding. It is oft-mentioned that the fish won’t be feeding as well in the winter, water temperatures being cold and all that, and it is easy to over-feed them and fill them up, so I was on the parsimonious side rather than generous. Eventually however, the F1s deserted me and the occasional chub were putting in an appearance.
Now I love these Monk Lake Chub. They are what I call “good value for the money”, obliging, bold-biting, and hard-fighting. A netfull of these would gladden the heart of any angler. I am also extremely interested in how they are progressing because I have a hunch that in years to come, stillwater Chub will become the new ‘carp’. They do well in stillwater and being carnivorous are capable of eating the millions of miniscule Roach I find such a pest on most commercial waters; they of course grow fat and large on this diet. One day, fishery owners will learn to stock with chub instead of Roach as they have done here at Monks.

For most of the day the fishing was steady rather than outstanding. There were some blank spells as well as little periods of activity when I caught several fish on the trot including the odd small Carp and Tench and by the time it came to ‘stop’ at three o’clock (the end of my virtual match) I’d caught 38 fish averaging I suppose three quarters of a pound to a pound; so I had in fact between twenty-eight and a half to thirty-eight pounds of fish, a vast improvement on my meager nine pounds I scored in the Fur and Feather. It was the evening however that was most interesting…..

You must be packed up and off the water by four o’clock at Monks at this time of year but I stayed on after my ‘match’ to catch a few more. As usual, I was far more generous with the feed – as much to get rid of the bait as anything, and put out much more than I had been using during the day. This resulted in an instant and significant change. The bites which had been barely half-dips of the float became real ‘spearing-the-bottom’ jobs, and the catch rate doubled. Now you could argue that the fish had begun to feed because evening was approaching and this is a good time on any fishery – but the change was almost instantaneous. I was even getting bites on-the-drop, the float failing to rise to the surface and the line going tight to the rod-tip! I’d only got two number eight shot down the line so my slowly sinking double red maggot bait must have been falling gently through the water, much to their liking.

I have often wondered whether the normal ‘rules’ apply to these heavily stocked fisheries – there are so many fish in the water it would be virtually impossible to over-feed them with just a pint of maggots for the day. Next time I fish here I mean to try an experiment – heavy feeding from the off. Competitive feeding is the way to go to produce positive bites – get the fish competing with one another for the available feed and try and induce a ‘sparrows-on-the-lawn’ syndrome where they fight one another to get at the food.

This late spell also produced some good fish including this chub;
surprisingly, there were no barbel, unlike the anglers opposite who were catching loads. I wonder why peg 45 opposite has a high proportion of barbel in it and opposite here on 57 there were none. Was it that I just wasn’t fishing appropriately for them?

All very interesting.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

The Willow Pool, Faversham, Kent

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Desperately short of time this weekend and only had a short afternoon available so went down to the Willow Pool at Faversham, one of my clubs match waters. I wanted to try a totally new technique (for me) today – Punched Bread. I had read great things about the method – how it would catch when other methods fail, blah, blah, blah.

I got myself a set of Drennan Bread Punches and prepared the slices of white bread the night before by micro-waving for thirty seconds; the slices were then wrapped in cling film to keep them fresh.
The punches (allegedly) were suitable for fishing from hook sizes 26……….all the way up to a size twelve, the size of the punch increasing with the hook size.

When I arrived at the pool I was surprised to see other members present. I suppose the mild conditions of 15°C had brought them out as you generally never see anyone. I decided to leave them to the popular (and productive swims) by the gate and walked on up to the far end of the pool where it is nice and quiet and where I have never seen anyone fishing. Here, there is a quiet corner with few pegs where it is possible to fish in peace whilst all manner of mayhem takes place on the nearby School Pool just the other side of the fence about thirty yards away.
I set up the waggler rod, it being my current favourite method of choice and tied on a size eighteen Tubertini 808 to 0.10 Powerline – loop-to-loop. The shot of my insert peacock were grouped under the float and I had just two number eight shot down the line. Plumbing-up showed four and a half feet of water in the centre of the bay into which I was fishing.

Now the Willow Pool is a very young fishery and the Faversham Angling Club have invested a lot in creating and stocking the place. Not unsurprisingly they are very keen to protect the stocks from the invasive attentions of Cormorants, the pool being so close to the Thames estuary. To try and keep these birds away they have strung ropes across the pool so that the Cormorants cannot fly in and land – which does of course make casting with rod and line very difficult. Three guesses where I ended up on my very first cast!................
It took me ages to re-rig and finally get a bait in the water with a sort of sideways whoosh rather than an overhead cast, but at least I was fishing – with corn to start with, just to see if there was anything about. I decided to use liquidized bread for feed in little balls.
The oft-quoted advice is to feed very sparingly with these as the fish can fill up very quickly in the winter. I am sure that is true on some waters but in the under-fed environment of the Willow Pool I think there would be little danger of that so I chose to introduce one of these every five minutes or so unless I was struggling.
Very soon I started getting little dips on the float, signifying interest in the corn so I decided to go straight onto the punched bread. The punch has a little slot in it which I assume is to permit the hook to slide through the pellet of bread and out the bottom end; I had quite a lot of difficulty making this ‘work’, the point of the hook getting stuck in the plastic of the punch. In the end, I used the point of the hook to hoik the pellet of bread out and hook the hook-point through manually. I’m sure this is not the way to do it and I hope a maggotdrowner will enlighten me on the correct method.
I managed to get the thing in the water however and immediately had my first bite…………… and then nothing. I assume the bait had been sucked off the hook. This happened several times before I cottoned-on that punched bread was a ‘one-bite bait’ – if you don’t strike at the earliest sign of a bite you fish with a bare hook. The next time I cast out I determined I would strike at the merest flicker of interest – which I did, to produce this baby Roach. This was to prove the first of many and with a bread ball of feed going in after every fish I had them really going for it.
Now I cannot imagine these are the original stockings of Roach introduced by the club – they must be spawnlings being so small; or were they? It was unlikely the new fish were old enough to be sexually mature as my understanding is that they have to be three or four years old before they can reproduce(?) Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

If the pool is going to be full of these diminutive bait-grabbers then I hardly think this is what the club members envisaged when the plans for the fishery were unveiled.

It strikes me that stocking with Roach can be a very chancy business indeed. There is quite a body of opinion supporting the need for quality Roach-Fishing, but it seems it is quite another thing in developing a fishery where Roach can grow big enough to be of interest. To be honest, Roach of this size are nothing more than a pest and I cannot think of any angler being content to fish for these ‘spratlings’ all day long; even the youngsters these days turn their noses up at them. On balance, my view is that fisheries are better off without them and that the example of Monk Lakes should be followed in that Chub are a much better proposition and give a much better return in their investment sport-wise.

Some of my liquidized bread had floated down to the right into a quiet corner and I noticed that a number of carp were taking the morsels from the surface! In January! Crikey, it must be mild!

I did no more – I shortened the rig right down to fish no more than a foot deep and lobbed the float out and drifted it round to the right in the margins where the carp were becoming really active, swirling and splashing at the floating items.

It wasn’t long before the float really buried and I found myself attached to one of the pool’s hard fighting carp.

These are really pretty little fish and are going to look very impressive if they survive into adult-hood, although their rate of growth is slow at present.
Nature goes at its own pace and in its own time.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Monk Lakes, Bridges

Sunday, 13th. January 2008

As previously reported By Peter on Maggotdrowning:

The object of the exercise was to carry forward what I’d learnt on my first session with the waggler (previously blogged). There were a number of issues to address – what sort of waggler for which conditions, shotting patterns, that sort of thing, and I started off by showing Peter my float-box. He suggested I try an insert peacock carrying 4 AAA and in addition to the bulk, to shot it with a couple of number 8s – one about half-way down, the other nine inches or so from the hook. This was a fairly heavy rig (as wagglers go), unlike the little six-inch jobbies I’d got which only take a few shot to cock them; it was so windy, even the heavy waggler was a job to cast.

Peter was out of the blocks almost immediately and was into a little run of skimmers;

unfortunately, the shoal must have moved off as their presence was short-lived. I managed to bag one but as usual was falling way behind Peter’s catch-rate. A problem I identified almost immediately was visibility.

I tried to match the distance Peter was casting – quite a long way for float-fishing, about twenty-five meters or so, maybe thirty – I’m not too sure, it seemed an awful long way though and I have to confess I really couldn’t see the float properly and often not at all. Although the fine tip of the insert is great for lack of resistance to a biting fish, its slimness was a real disadvantage to the optically-challenged such as myself. I struggled with the thing for a good couple of hours before finally admitting defeat and fished shorter – even picking up a couple of fish. As Peter continued to reel ‘em in from his long-range presentation I changed the float for something else.

I’d got several other patterns with me, mostly of the straight variety made of reed, clear plastic, and peacock quill, but after several changes I eventually settled on a Premier Windbeater with a balsa body and straight stem carrying a shed-load of lead. At least this was manageable in the extremely strong wind which got stronger as the day wore on. I finally got the visibility issue sorted and could see the bright orange of the tip pretty well and with some fiddling about managed to get the shotting about right too. Peter however had out-caught me by a ratio of about five to one and I began to get ever so slightly frustrated by my lack of action – whereas Peter was picking up fish (albeit the odd fish, but fish nonetheless) a matter of only a few metres away.
Peter of course had the reason – and not for the first time during our sessions together it was FEEDING.

If there is one thing that is more important than anything else it is giving the fish feed in a consistent and regular manner sufficient to keep them interested in looking around for and finding hookbaits. Almost every time we go fishing, Feeding is the number one issue and today was no different. Peter reckoned it was my carp-fisherman mindset that made me adopt the sit-and-wait style I was using – whereas he was always busy, either feeding, twitching the bait back, re-casting, re-baiting, casting spells, talking to the fish – and whatever other devices he employs to coax, cajole, and coerce fish into taking his bait.

True, twitching the bait by giving the reel handle a turn every minute or so I am sure persuades an otherwise disinterested fish to snatch the bait back, but it is the constant and continual investment of effort that really does the trick, an investment that resulted in Peter far out-fishing me.

It was not only the amount and frequency of feed going in that made a difference – but where it was going also. Peter was pin-pointedly accurate – even in what was at times, a howling wind; my catapulted maggots were often going all over the place, blown by a gusty wind veering in sometimes unpredictable directions. There is a definite knack to it – you must aim low and snappy, not high and gentle – allowing the wind to blow the feed near the float, for it will inevitably blow it exactly where you don’t want it. The feed must be little, often, and in exactly the right place. Easy to talk – more difficult to do.

The carp was a total fluke and I claim no great skill in either luring it or landing it. The skimmers fought ten times harder! I am convinced the fish must have been laying-up – and for some considerable time too as it had a number of leech-like organisms on it.

Carp lay-up in the very harsh weather and I have often noticed that sick or mangy fish are particularly prone to doing this. The one I caught was a very sad individual who had obviously had a hard summer – the evidence of disease was obvious – lesions, partially rotten fins, and poor condition resulting in a fish that was in the recovery stage of previous ill-health.

Peter had to go early as his leg was playing him up (poor old thing) and I spent the last hour doing much better than the previous few hours catching some of the Chub and this Tench.
All in all, not only an enjoyable day in good company, but once again, I learnt a lot from my ‘mentor’.

Thanks Peter.