Sunday, 18 January 2009

Saturday, 17th.January 2009

Winter for me, used to be a grim time in the fishing year. Sitting behind a pair of carp rods, week after week, freezing cold, bored, frustrated at the lack of action, and thoroughly fed up with the whole thing wondering what the hell I was doing there. Then I discovered With the discovery of this band of lunatics came new friends and a window on a world of Angling I had hitherto had scant knowledge.

First the pole, then the waggler on the many commercial fisheries in the South-East became my winter interest and I am happy to say that through Maggotdrowning I have had some not only really enjoyable sessions in terrific company, but I have learnt an enormous amount – mostly from the Master of the Poles himself – our very own Sir Peter of Morton. It was with Sir Peter I was fishing one of my favourite places today – Match Lake 2 on the Monk Lakes complex near Staplehurst, known to all Kent anglers. It's always a Grand Day Out with Peter and today was to be no different........

The Session

I left home in a downpour and things looked decidedly grim – Monks is very exposed and the combination of high wind and rain can make a session on there arduous to say the least! We decided to go for pegs with the wind at our backs and this proved a wise decision as the wind really got up on occasions during the day.
(photo courtesy of Peter Morton)
Straight out of the rod-bag it's my brand new Shakespeare 13 foot Match Lite (£85 from Devon Angling and price matched by the excellent Invicta Angling of Ashford). This was its first outing and I was really keen to see how it would perform; this was teamed with an old Shakespeare 'Powerplay' rear drag jobby filled with 3 lbs. Line, the rig terminating in 0.1 Preston Powerline and a size 18 Tubertini.

First up and it's a little Chublet for me, closely followed by Peter with a hard-fighting carp of three pounds or so. This was going to be a very good day, marred only by a family of mental retards fishing the far bank, shouting to one another in what can only be described as 'ape language'. The dad seemed to be permanently turned to maximum volume and appeared to have the intelligence of a Geranium. Peter asked me if I had a gun as he wished to put the poor man out of his (and our) misery!
As usual, Peter's catch-rate began to exceed my own and I sat there scratching my head wondering what it was he was doing that I wasn't. I thought I'd got a grasp of the basic principles (acquired during previous sessions with Peter) of Feeding being the key to success, the Little and Often principle applying to pole and waggler fishing in general. I was obviously not doing it right and it was not long before Peter had spotted this too and stopped fishing to come to my aid....
“Lets have a look at your rig Spreaders”.

I willingly offered up my end-tackle, thinking “he won't find much wrong with that; a bulk around the base of the float and a single number eight, nine inches from the hook acting as a tell-tale. Peter grasped the line, screwed up his face in disgust and pointed to a single shot I'd got a foot below the float,
“What's that doing there?!”
“Erm; it's a shot to take the float down a bit – I had too much sticking out of the water”
(photo courtesy of Peter Morton)
Peter had an 'Oh my God' look about him as he made lots of adjustments to my shotting.

“You need to stabilise the rig in this wind as there's a bit of tow on today; there's four shots tapering down to the number eight, up from the hook and the locking shot are closely tucked up at the base of the float”.

This was an altogether better rig which on casting felt a lot better, it didn't drift so much on the tow, away from my feed. Ah feed. Now that was another disaster.

“Cast out and fire out six maggots around the float”

I grabbed what I thought was a small pinch and fired them off in the general direction of the float, the strong wind unfortunately taking them several yards away from the float, (well that was my excuse anyway!)

“Andy, the general idea is to actually feed where the hookbait is – not five yards from it. All that will happen is the fish in the area will go and eat the feed there rather than where your hookbait is! And I did say half a dozen not half a bloody handful!”

On paper, Little and Often sounds as easy as anything, but how many is Little, and how long (in time) is Often? Here was the answer – six maggots every minute and a half and they have to be spot on around the float otherwise you'll just end up drawing the fish away from your rig rather than to it.

After this I spent the rest of the session trying to get these few basic principles right – and how difficult it proved to be. Granted, the wind didn't help although on the day it was a useful training aid in practicing skills with the catapult, but for a relative numpty, I found it remarkably difficult to get right, my maggots flying hither and yon, scattered to the four winds on occasions. Peter had the answer to this too – fish a lot shorter. Better to bait accurately at short range, than inaccurately at longer range.
(photo courtesy of Peter Morton)
From then on, with just a few maggots landing around the float every few minutes or so my catch-rate began to pick up and I managed to put together quite a respectable net of fish – F1s, some Ide
(photo courtesy of Peter Morton)
(a first for me as I'd never caught one before – a fish like a huge Roach and very hard fighting), a Golden Orfe (again another first), skimmers, and a lone Tench. At the end of the session we had a weigh-in (we had special dispensation from Ron at Reception), and I was very pleased to record twenty-nine and half pounds – the most I think I've ever weighed-in at Monks. Peter was of course ahead of me with thirty-four and a half pounds which would have been much, much more had he not stopped fishing to sort me out and give me instruction.

Once again it was a Grand Day Out in smashing company. My thanks to Peter for persevering with me throughout the session – what a frustrating pupil I was! Here's to the next time we go fishing.