Session 9 – 2018 – There And Back Again …. In Superfast Time.

Thursday 22nd 2018 was my latest outing as the planned Monday trip was aborted before we even left the house due to persistent heavy drizzle – and would have been touch and go anyway as there had been had light drizzle overnight and the pool lies at the bottom of the slope and the area get quite boggy easily – and even the previous trip without rain, etc was a bit of a muddy experience.

Anyway, set off on my own this morning at 0700, arriving at my chosen pool for the day (AA-GH) around 0730 .,.. put the thermometer in the water to stabilise, fed the swim, and started to tackle up …. then stomach problems arose that necessitated a rapid retreat with the tackle thrown willy-nilly in the car … and the race home started … and arrived back at 0830….

So, that was my session for the day – and it’s looking like the next chance to get out will be two weeks hence as the weather forecast is saying that for at least the next 10 days from tonight the night time air temps are going to drop to minus 2’C or even lower and daytime temps will only be reaching a maximum of plus 3’C – so looks likely that all the pools will be frozen over within a day or two and like remain like that for the rest of the fortnight…

I did get the water temp today though – the one positive of the day… and it was 4.5’C … around a degree warmer than the past few readings. But as I say looks like it’ll be dipping back down soon…

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Session 8 – 2018 – Seamless Continuation..

Thursday 15th February saw me head to Pike Water 1 in search of …. errrr …. pike, of course!

The day was a little mixed weatherwise – sunny spells with a chilly breeze meant that when the skies were clear and the breeze dropped it was quite mild… and when the breeze picked up and the skies clouded over blocking out the sun it got real bone chilling despite the thermals and padded dungarees … and the various combinations of sunniness vs breeze levels gave all kinds of intermediate warm/cool combinations over the day.

Anyway, setting off from home a little after 0700 I was at the waterside, tackled up and, after spombing out a few loads of fishmeal based groundbait loaded with chopped sprat bodies and head, ready to fish by about 0830…. but before casting out the deadbaits I’d already set up my lure rod with a paddle tail shad on a jig head and so I spent 15 minutes or so just casting around the bay that are shown in the seconds and third pictures above… and (SPOILER ALERT!) I  disturbed the only fish of my day during that exercise. I’d cast parallel to the bank up towards that scaffold platform but on the retrieval the lure snagged in submerged rocks midway between the platform and the tree and I was unable to free it from my casting position and so had to work my way up to the platform in order to change the angle of pull … and to do so I had to pass my rod from hand-to-hand around the tree … and whilst doing that a huge swirl ensued as a fish fled from the scene. A good spot for pike, and in fact, my PB pike of 20lb 12oz was caught in that exact same spot in 2012 …  so I might have missed out on that. Anyway, a few more casts were made along that line, as were others just after packing the deadbait rods up for the day at 1500 but to no avail. Damage done.

From about 0915 I started fishing with the deadbaits, ledgered, using a needlefish popped up about 36” off the bottom and a sardine popped up about 50” with the use of balsa ‘logs’ … BTW I don’t use the commercial pop-up sticks, I just buy 1 metre lengths of 5mm round/square balsa from a hobby/craft shop and cut up into suitable lengths of 3”-6” to suit the various baits I use, far cheaper and more adaptable to your baits … Also I have narrower ones for use with smaller baits such as sprat and smelt and small coarse fish such as roach. All that needs doing to make them is to cut the balsa to length with a small hacksaw (or even a craft knife), round one end with some sandpaper to help insertion into the bait and to the blunt end of the stick tie a short length of braid with a loop tied in the end which is used to slide up the trace and over the hook when baiting up … the braid ensure that if the bait flies off the hook or a fish ‘steals’ the bait that the balsa is retained on the trace and won’t get ingested with the lost bait and cause problems. One other thing I do is to soak/wipe the balsa with fish oil – it adds a source of smell attraction but I do it mainly to waterproof the wood and protect it.

So, I fished these baits for an hour or so, winding in the line a turn of the reel handle every now and then to draw some attraction to baits but nothing …. so baits were changed, amount of pop-up lowered and re-cast … for another hour or so. After this baits were changed to scad (aka Spanish mackerel?) and fished static, tight on the bottom and again twitched back bit by bit at intervals … and again no joy… until I packed the bait rods in at 1500. And, as said previously, I did spend another final few minutes, fruitlessly, with the lure rod again before finally packing up and heading home.  So I had a seemingly seamless continuation of the previous outing..

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Hopefully, Liz and I (or just me, depending on Liz’s decision) will return to the pool of our previous session which was enjoyable for me and productive for Liz. Weather promising to be better – no frost/ice and several degrees warmer – so hopefully I’ll catch and Liz will catch even more!



In the original script I said that the pop-up sticks I made were generally of 1cm diameter – this was incorrect and would be far to big for baits of sardine size – although probably they would most likely be usable, and possible necessary, for large deadbaits such as whole mackerel. The standard size I actually use are half that – 0.5cm (5mm) and the text has now been corrected to indicate that.

Session 7 – 2018 – Back To The Waterside

…. and so, as I’d said we would in my previous posting, on Monday 12th February Liz and I set off at 0800 for that small pool (KF-WL1) in the almost wilds of Shropshire … with remnants of previous light snow covered in frost on the ground and a frozen over windscreen on the car to defrost before the journey could start. Sounds like it was cold but it actually felt much warmer than the previous few days … and on arrival at the pool I had to take my hat and jacket off whilst prepping the gear, etc – and never put them back on at all afterwards for the whole day (well, 1500, when we packed up but even then the jacket, etc were consigned to the back seats)…

We arrived poolside after a journey of around half an hour and, after passing frozen puddles and ponds in equal number to those unfrozen over it was good to see the average kept up as half the pool had a thin layer of ice and the other half (which is where we’d wanted to fish anyway) being ice free.

We were quite lucky really as I went with the site’s owner to investigate a car that had been stood over at the larger member’s only pool for a couple of days … and no-one spotted nearby to it … and as a couple of years ago there had been an incident when someone overnight fishing during the winter used a gas heater within his bivvy and presumably closed its doors as he was luckily discovered comatose having subdued to carbon monoxide poisoning just in time to be rescued and ‘healed’ the owner was worried about finding someone over there who’d had an heart attack or other issue. As it was it was an abandoned bogged down in the mud van. Enquiries led to finding out that the van man was coming back later that day to recover it… Anyway, to get back to the original point of this paragraph, were I was saying about Liz and I being ‘lucky’ … to the extent that the entire member’s pool was 100% covered in ice (ummm, grammar … tautism? ‘100%’ and ‘entire’?) … so if we’d intended to fish there we’d have been way down on our luck!

So, back to the fishing… Liz and I set up our tackles for the day in a sort of mirror image to our usual ways. I’m usually the one that floatfishes whilst Liz sets up and fishes her feeder rods … but on this session, due to the cold, I thought it would be possibly the best to put a static bait on the bottom and use a small feeder with fishmeal and dead maggot as an attractor … meanwhile Liz had set up her float rod 🙂

It was 1000 as we made our first casts and by 1100 neither of us had had a single nibble or nudge … and I wandered over to have a word with Liz … and complimented her on her set up … light waggler float perfectly shotted and the rod in rests perfectly angled down with the tip 1/4” from the water’s surface to sink the line and the butt perfectly aligned to the hand… perfection! Or so it seemed… as Liz said that the float/rig was still drifting slightly on the light breeze … so I asked her if she’d set her shotting/depth so that the bottom shot dragged the bottom to act as an anchor … and asked how deep she was fishing … and she responded by indicating the measure between her two index fingers … 18 inches! Now the water here is around 4’-5’, so I reset her float, etc to put the bottom shot just touching bottom and left her to it again… I’d hardly got back to my seat when I get the call ‘Fish on!’ … but before I could reach her the hook had pulled free. However, that was the start of a 15 minute ‘hot spell’ and the was the first of 4 casts that resulted in fish on the hook … firstly that lost fish, second cast resulted in a decent carp which threw the hook at the net, third cast saw the landing of a 6lb 15oz common carp, and the fourth cast a small perch of a few ounces. All on maggot.

Meanwhile, back on the feeder, my bait was being totally ignored despite ringing the changes from maggot to worm to bread (compressed to sit on bottom and also fluffy to ‘pop-up’). So, come 1200, I decided “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” and put away the feeder rod and tackled up my float rod … however, despite my best efforts I still could not buy a bite for love or money all the way through to the end of the session. However, Liz managed another small perch just after the mad 15 minutes and then around 1430 had another common carp of 4lb 11oz … followed just pre-1500 by another good fish (and Liz reckons it would have been the best fish of the day) but suffered a snap-off due a suspected knot/fault in the line.

And, as we’d decided to pack in a 1500 anyway, it wasn’t worth re-tackling her up (in fact, I’ve redone the rod for her this morning ready for her next outing) and so we packed away the gear and headed to our local alehouse.

So, completely destroyed by Liz on this session (first fish, last fish, biggest, smallest, most species, biggest of species, etc) – although I think I can grab a minute bit of glory in that my tackle adjustment put her on that winning road LOL. 


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Well, I’ve decided to go for a Thursday deadbaiting trip to one of my pike waters… tackle has already been sorted ready this morning for that so I just need to resolve baits, flasks and butties now really.

Been A While … But Plans Made … And Tackle Adjusted

So its been nearly 2 weeks since I was last out at the waterside due to a mix of Liz and I both having bad colds, me having several appointments/visits at the doctors and the weather unsuitable on the days that were available to us…. and I still need to book the car in for its MOT and arrange fitting of our smart gas/electric meter…

However, I will ensure that the MOT and meter bookings do NOT clash with fishing days – something that is not possible with the doctor – and we’re aiming to be out on the water on Monday 12th as Friday 9th I’ve to see the diabetic nurse again to give another blood sample.

Our plans are to fish a club pool (KF-WL1) that we’ve not fished in a while – and possibly not since we’ve actually been club members as the pool (a pond really as its quite small) is available to fish on a day ticket. The other, larger, pool on site is ‘members only’ and is the one we generally fish these days. I’m planning to float fish, not sure about Liz but she generally prefers feeder fishing, as the pool is down in a dip and tree surrounded so should be quite calm down there.

In the meantime I’ve re-tackled up my two pike ledger rods …. same 40lb braid mainline, link ledger (terminates in a snap clip so that weights can be changed easily although I generally use a 3oz weight as this tends to avoid drop-back bites – if the fish swims towards and past the weight then rather than causing the lead to be dragged and creating the slack line that shows as a drop-back which would happen with the use of a lighter weight, the 3oz is heavy enough to remain seated and the line is pulled through and the bobbin/alarm operate as per normal BUT I do set up with a backbiter type dropoff bobbin anyway just in case :)) and a galaxy type clip to which the wire trace is connected… all pretty straightforward and standard BUT I’ve now added a ‘deadbait clip’…


I’ve set this to sit on top of the adjustable ledger stop that I use in order to be able to set up pop-up baits to sit at any depth .. in use a loop of line is tied to the bait’s tail and the is bait hung from the clip by use of the loop. As all the force of the casting is made through the loop it allows soft baits to be cast out further and also means that the hooks need only be lightly nicked into the bait itself allowing them to easily pull free on a strike and prevents the force of the strike being absorbed by the bait…. I hook on the loop and then also hook on the ledger weight by passing the loop through the eye of the weight – thus the weight and bait form one condensed mass and fly together efficiently – and when they hit the water the drag of the bait sinking pushes off both the weight and bait…. Also doing it this way means that a long pop-up length can be used as the length of the pop-up is halved (ie for a desired pop-up of 10’ then length of folded over line = 5’) plus it is loose line ie no drag, go rolling in the air, basically just a length of loose line … but generally I only use pop-ups heights of 6’ or less anyway.

The clips I use are actually meant for sea fishing but work fine for me … but Fox do one specially for pike fishing but obviously they cost more…


The Fox Deadbait Clip is attached to the trace swivel; A short piece of braid with a loop on the end is tied to the bait; the braided loop is placed on the clip to take the strain of the cast. Using this method, the hooks can be lightly nicked into the bait. Then when you get a run, the hooks are not buried in the bait, and the chances of hooking the pike are increased.

Session 6 – 2018 – Weather Continues To Improve But Changed Plans

Friday 26th January and with the weather remaining on the ‘warmer’ (albeit still not ‘warm’) side of things albeit wet at times too I headed back out to the waterside. However, my planned canal zander hunting trip had to be changed … Friday’s I need to pick Liz up from work in the evening – which would have meant battling through Friday afternoon traffic on the M6 to get back home in time to unload the car, sort out tackle/bait, bath/shower, prep tea ready for Liz, etc – so not a good idea I thought. So that trip put off for a while until probably a Monday/Tuesday when there’s no rush to get home…

In the event I decided to go out to a local pool in search of pike with deadbaits…

So, I arrived at the pool at around 0800 … and amazed to see another car already there … I’m usually first by a long chalk … and then to add to my frustration the guy was setting up in the peg I’d intended to fish! A whole pool to choose from and it had to be mine. Think he was carp fishing though – he kept sending a bait boat out to the edge of the island in front of him anyway…. and the pool ended up quite busy by the end of my day with around 10 or so fishing  which is more than usual … quite often I’m there on my own all day.

With my first choice swim taken I decided to fish in a position actually between two pegs so that I could cast towards the near end of the island in the deeper water and the first thing I did was to get out my Deeper Sonar to check the contours of that area as its not an area I fish often and when I do its usually with a lure…. and I found that the best depth was around 15’ …. and there were a lot of bait fish hovering mid-water…

2018-01-26 Deeper Sounder

Sonar scan… those white streaks are fish

So, having determined where to place my baits I then spombed out some rubby-dubby in the form of breadcrumb into which was added fish oils and maggots plus an amount of chopped up fish – generally old baits.

I then tackled up my 2 pike ledger rods – both home-built in the 80’s – North Western blanks,11’, 2.75lb TC, no handles as such and the sliding Fufi reel fittings are fitted directly to the blank over a wrapping of insulation tape to protect/cushion the blank and held on with more wrappings of insulation tape … in fact, until recently, the rod rings were also attached with insulation tape but now they’re properly whipped on. Rods were then fitted with 5000 size reels loaded with 40lb braid and 30lb wire traces (with 2 x size 2 double hooks) and free running 3oz ledger leads.

Baits were two halves of a needlefish – tail end on one rod and the head end on the other – and balsa wood sticks added to both with the intention of popping up the baits, one at 2’ and the other at 3’. As I say, popping up was ‘intended’ as I discovered later that the belly of the tail end had burst open and the stick popped out and the head end was too heavy for the stick and sunk anyway.

These were cast out and left for around three hours with occasional tweaks of a yard or so to try to attract attention to no effect …. and then re-cast to a slightly different area for another 3 hours, again with no joy.

Meanwhile, I put out my WaterWolf underwater camera for a few hours but not yet looked at the results closely….

The ‘donkey dick’ rod has the WaterWolf attached.

Anyway, it was a nice day with blue skies, sunshine and little breeze for the main part although far from sunbathing temperatures…..

So, as it came up to 1415, having had no action at all, I decided to pack away the bait rods and have a few casts around my immediate area with my lure rod. Normally I’d have wandered around a bit but there were more people there than usual which limited the options of casting areas… and I know the bit of bank where I was can produce as I had my current PB pike (20-12) there along with several others since. So, with most of my gear packed down, I set up the lure rod with a slim blue/gold/silver, slightly banana shaped, sinking plug and about 6-7 casts later I set the hooks into a 4-04 pike…. It was landed and weighed and then, inside the weigh sling, slipped into the water whilst I set up my camera on a bankstick ready to take a self-timed photo. Camera setup, I lifted the weigh sling from the water and placed on to an area of flattened/decaying rushes that I’d focussed the camera on … went to camera and pressed the shutter button to start the 5-shot sequence I use for self timers … but as I got back to the fish, it flipped itself out of the sling and straight back to the water … and I ended with 5 pictures of my knees and none of the fish…

So at that point I reckoned it was time to go … and I went ….

If I fish next week it will be a single session on the Tuesday as on my usual days (Monday and Friday) I have places to be and people to see … specifically, Monday 29th, I’ve an appointment to have a tyre changed as the current one gets pumped up to its required 44psi but within a week its dropped to <20psi so has a slow puncture…. and Friday 2nd I need to bid place internet bids for a book I’m after and there are two copies in two separate lots coming up that day…. Anyway, if I go on Tuesday, I’ve still to decide on the what, how and where….


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Session 5 – 2018 – An Upturn In The Weather And A Canal Trip

With an improvement in the weather – and the improvement is forecast to last at least another week with air temperatures at a minimum daytime reading of 8’C – I decided to take my lure rods for a jigging session on the local Staffs-Worcs canal (KF-SW/SP) in search of pike and perch – zander not having reached this neck of the woods yet … but they are getting closer…

So, I set off out of the house at 0930, arriving at the canal at 1000 with my 2 pre-setup rods. Both were 9’ lure rods rated 10g-40g with 30lb Dyneema braid main lines. One was set up with a 3”-4” fire-tiger pattern paddle tail jelly on a jighead and the other had a Shakespeare Midi-S plug, perch pattern.

Anyway, I walked about 1400 yards down the banks casting in all the likely looking spots and others too fishing just the jig rod but without a single response. And I had the misfortune to encounter groups of my three most despised members of the human race on that walk – ramblers (a group of about 20 passed by), cyclists (again a group of about 20 passed by) and Canals & River Trust workers with chain saws…  even now I shudder at the thought!! Oh, to be in the USA and have the right to bear arms!

So, at that point I had a stop for a cuppa and changed the jig to a small red bladed bar spoon – but it felt ‘less right’ than even the jig … with the jig the 9’ rod was the wrong option and I’d have been happier with my 8’ rod – trying to give small jerks the rod was too long and making the jig ‘jump’ too far as a consequence for what I wanted … and with the blade spinner the braid was far too heavy for purpose, 15lb would have been far better.

With the time now around 1200 I decided to turn back and head to the car casting out the Midi-S from time to time but again with no response …..

So I think the problems were due, apart from my natural ineptness, to the snows of last week having thawed out … and entering the canal they have cooled the waters and the higher air temps haven’t been high enough to counteract this in the time. Plus the melting snow has washed probably a bit too much colour into the waters plus a dual carriageway runs along the canal at the top of a high bank and possibly the salt from the road grittings of the past few weeks has also been washed down and ‘sickened’ the water to a degree….

And so that was my day…..

The Worcester Stour that runs alongside the canal:

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At the minute I’m thinking of visiting the Fazeley Canal at Drayton Bassett (by Drayton Manor Park), a stretch under the control of the BAA (Birmingham Anglers Association), on Friday 26th in search of pike, perch … and zander as the canal holds a reasonable head of them – unless the C&RT have been netting recently that is…

I’m intending on taking my 8’ jig rod, one of my 9’ lure rods of today and my 12’ 3lb TC bass rod which is my ‘canal pike bait’ rod along with some deadbaits so that I can sit it out in good looking areas and/or rest with a coffee and chocolate when desired…. It will mean an early start though to try to beat the M6 going-to-work traffic but no problem once I’m there as I can sit out the darkness out in the car….

Session 4 – 2018 – A Hard Water Session

On Friday 19th January I decided to return to the venue of the previous outing (KF-VV) albeit by myself.

A heavy overnight frost led to me having my breakfast sat in the car on the car on the driveway at home whilst I ran the engine and tried to defrost the windows at 0645 in an attempt to get them clear for a 0730 set off for the pool … and that worked out fine and I set off at the intended time.

Air temperature on the drive was showing as +1.5’C …. and on arrival at the pool itself as +1.0 … but during the trip the temps varied from a low of  -2.5’C up to a high of +1.5’C.

Water temps measured at the pool ranged from a low of 2.8’C on arrival and had risen to 3.2’C when I left at 1200.

OK now … the ‘hard’ bit of the title doesn’t refer to the ‘catchability’ factor of the pool itself, in fact the pool is very ‘commercial’ in nature and usually its harder to not catch there than it is to actually catch. The ‘hard’ bit actually refers to the physical state of the water on arrival – ie it was 95%, at least, iced over with a few pockets of clear water over on the east bank.

So, I had intended to fish the west bank, that’s the one with the line of conifers that you can see in the first picture, as the wind of the day was forecast to come in from that direction and the trees would have formed a bit of a windbreak … but it was not to be as, as I said, the only clear water was on the east side and thus I was forced to that bank – the third picture is the actual swim I sat in with a clear area in front of me of around 8-10 yards.

So, before prepping tackle, etc I catapulted out a couple of pouches of dead maggots and a few small prawns as I was hoping for perch to make an appearance. I also cast out my FishSpy underwater camera in the hope of catching a view of some fish but with a quick preliminary glance at the captured footage I’ve not seen anything but perhaps on a more prolonged and closer examination….

I floatfished, lift method, with a 3AAA driftbeater float on 6lb mainline with a size 12 hook, making the first cast around 0830, and tried both worm and prawn baits with no joy whatsoever until I packed in at 1200. At that time although air temps in general were rising, the temp on the east bank was dropping as the air passed over the icy surface, and as the ice was gradually thawing it was drawing warmth from the air to do so (latent heat)… and at 1200, even though I was wearing fleecey fingerless gloves that have a pullover full mitt I could no longer feel my fingers – and that meant it was time to leave….



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