Session 39 – Staffs-Worcs Canal

On Tuesday July 29th 2014 at 0600 I revisited my ‘new’ section of the Staffs-Worcs Canal fishing a new swim as usual. Well, I’ve only visited three times in all, the first time I walked the entire length with the spinning rod in hand, the second time I fished a swim where the canal widened into a sort a mini-basin and this time I selected a swim with overhanging vegetation. It wasn’t actually the swim I’d intended – which had been taken up by a moored boat and so I fished about 30 yards further along.

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The Intended Swim With Boat In Situ

The swim I chose had an overhanging bush which looked good but once I started fishing I discovered that the area around it was quite shallow and fully of grassy weed as was the main part of the bank opposite to the right of the bush – caused by boats obviously avoiding the bush and cutting the slight bend in the canal and veering to the towpath side… hence the boat channel was about 1/3 of the canal’s width out from the towpath rather than the usual centre. Having made the discovery I fed and fished just off the weedy area and thus on the far downslope into the channel.

Feed was maggot and I fished worm or worm/maggot cocktail on a size 12 hook on my standard leger rig (see previous post) set up on 6lb mainline.

Bites were frequent and over the period of fishing (0600-0930) I landed around 9 perch, 3 bream and a ruffe. I also dropped off 3 small perch/ruffe and had pull outs on 2 larger fish within 5-10 secs of hooking each. All landed fish were 1/2lb or less.

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The View To The Right

One of the bream seemed to have had a close encounter with a pike not long before hooking with a fresh wound still bleeding near to its tail… Unfortunately, I had my canal gear with me – so a minimum of tackle in my box – and one item missing that I carry in my main kit was Germolene which I carry to apply to fish in such situations – so the poor thing had to be returned as was. I’ll have to get a tube to drop in my box before my next visit. Anyway, it confirmed what I expected from my knowledge of other areas of the Shroppie – there’s pike about!! Nice to know for the autumn/winter when my fishing becomes 95%+ pike focussed that it is an area to be considered to be given a good go at.

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Leger End Rigs

I’ve never shown my standard end rig I don’t believe… so here it comes now 🙂

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Steve’s Standard Leger Rig


I.     OK… starting from the hook, which in this case is a size 6 barbless. Barbless by necessity as my main club allows only those… by choice these days I’d opt for a micro-barb as I believe they are far less damaging to fish in all aspects.

Barbless once they penetrate they penetrate right to the bend as there is nothing to prevent that happening and so the bend of the hook acts as effectively as a cheesewire especially if excess power is applied (eg a ‘stop and hold’ situation when trying to prevent fish entering a snag). Also there is nothing to prevent the hook coming loose and re-engaging and thus starting perforating the mouth tissue like a stamp – which is made so for the ease of ripping from a sheet. Also, the hook can disengage and re-engage externally to the mouth ie foul hook the fish or just disengage completely (‘hook pull’) and in my experience the number of foul hooks and hook pulls increases measurably with barbless compared with barbed. In fact, for me, the only redeeming factor of a barbless hook is the ease of removal.

Barbed hooks – as in ‘standard’ barbed hooks – are TOO much of a good thing and most of fish damage with these hooks is due to bad handling/removal by the angler due to the unnecessarily large barb. With barbed hooks, rarely does the hook point enter the flesh of the fishes mouth than the end of the barb – and even more extremely rarely does the fish sit on the bend of the hook – and so the contact is a ‘point’ contact whereby on the angle of pull changing the hook simply rotates around a point and there is no cheesewire effect and the barb also prevents hook pulls and consequently the number of foul hookings too.

Microbarbed hooks seem to be the best option AVAILABLE currently – the advantages of a barbed hook with the tempering of the size of the barb making the hooking/holding qualities of a par with the fully barbed hook whilst removing the bad qualities of the barbless – and the smaller barb leads to easier removal and thus less chance of damage being done at the unhooking stage.

Note that I said best ‘AVAILABLE’ above… to me there would be an even  better option – and one propounded many many years ago and possibly by the angling guru himself, Dick Walker, {head bowed in reverence}. And that is that a hook does not require a barb in the normal sense at all ie a sliver of metal shaved upwards from the body of the hook’s wire and protruding such that a POINTED end that catches the flesh and prevents the hook reversing out. It was said that all that was needed was a small ‘bulge’ (no sharp edges) to replace the sharp ended barb. The hook’s bulge on entry into the flesh would stretch the flesh around it and, due to the inherent elasticity of the flesh, it would close around the bulge holding the hook in place as the fish was played… thus, as for barbed hooks, the penetration is limited so no ‘cheesewire’, the hook is held in place by the bulge as much as it would be by a barb…. And unhooking is no longer a problem as hook removal is just as easy as barbless as the bulge simply re-stretches the flesh on its removal with no tearing caused whatsoever.

II.      A 4” braid hooklength – breaking strain matching the main line or slightly lower, tied to the eyed hook with a 5-turn-half-blood-with-tuck knot and having a small loop at the other end. I use braid due to its suppleness and believe a fish is more spooked by a stiff material it can see less clearly than a thicker more visual yet soft (weed like) material. The length is kept short because (a) I can’t see the point of having it longer, the last few inches are what matters to a fish’s perception of how naturally a bait moves (b) being so supple braid tangles easily – the shorter the length, the less chance of tangles and (c) I don’t use hair rigs… so a short length is easy to thread bait on to with a baiting needle. With worms I thread them on with a needle inserted in the head and threaded straight up the centre of the body and emerging at the tail and so there is no ‘bunching’ as per multiple hookings, worms do not escape from barbless hooks even without pieces of rubber band and as the braid is so supple the worm movement is perfectly natural. Another reason for the short hook lengths is that I use the same lengths for laying-on/lift-method float fishing which requires the main weight on the line to be very close to the hook – and if threading baits on the hooklength then you do not wish that weight to on there otherwise you need to remove and replace each time you rebait – solution is short length so that weight can be attached above the length.

III.      A spring link clip with a short piece of silicone rubber sleeving is attached to the end of the main line – the silicone rubber acting to protect the knot. Note that I use this kind of spring link which I find far more robust …

Link 2
than this type with which I have had several failures with either the top/swivel attachment loop pulling from the crimped sleeve or the bottom sprung attachment loop pulling free due the bad design in respect of the forces that get applied in use..
Link 1

Obviously this is the attachment point for the short hooklength and allows quick removal for baiting and reconnecting of the baited length.

IV.       Next up is an Enterprise Adjuster Stop…the only leger stop really worth considering in my opinion. Easily adjusted to desired position, will not slip,  no knots or pinched line to weaken your setup. So…say no more!! 🙂

V.      Next up the line is my link leger setup that comprises of a leger bead that runs freely up the line, and stopped by the adjuster stop at its desired distance from the hook… connected to the leger bead is a piece of 6lb BS feeder line mono (ie stiff line), threaded though the bead’s eye so it is used double but without increasing the overall 6lb BS of the link as would happen with knotting 2 pieces of 6lb line to the eye (ie then BS would increase to 12lb) as I want this to be a ‘weak link’ that fails in event of the lead snagging. On to this double line are threaded 2 wooden cylindrical beads which are locked on to line with an old version ‘peg and tube’ type leger stop up against the leger bead’s eye – 3 reasons for these (a) help prevent tangles whilst in the air and (b) work like the flight of a dart as the weight falls through the water and keep the mainline apart from the link line and (c) once the lead hits bottom it ensures that the leger bead is held up from the bottom and above any silt that the lead sinks in to. And finally at the end of the doubled link line is a swivel and spring link (of the second type – failure just adds further ‘weak link’ protection really in this case) which allows the desired weight (or swimfeeder, etc) to be fitted,  removed or replaced easily – and, of course, on the link sits the desired weight/feeder.

Session 38 – Sun Baked – And Time For A Tackle/Bait Reconsideration

Friday July 25th 2014 saw Liz and I heading out to a couple of the club’s more distant waters. There are two pools … well, more ponds really as they have only about 8-10 swims each and when the club holds matches there they utilise both pools. Both are easily castable along the longest dimension from one bank to the other. But both do hold a good head of quality fish of many species – and the pool we chose to fish has good grass carp in there and with the hot, bright weather they are usually cruising and taking floating cereal baits.

Liz with the first fish of the day – Common Carp ca 1.25lb

Liz with the first fish of the day – Common Carp ca 1.25lb

The best I’ve had was just a tad over 7lb taken in September 2013 but they do go into double figures easily. Anyway, with the hot bright weather it seemed that the grass carp would be the best species for the conditions.

So, Liz and myself tackled up on the banks and started fishing at around 0845. As there were no signs at that time of the GC being active, I tackled up two rods with 8lb line on a straight leger set up… one with a size 12 hook baited with maggot and worm, the other with a size 6 baited with chilli sausage. My swim faced a small island and so I baited along the edge of its facing bank with maggot and to the right hand end with  chilli sausage. Liz fished with feeders – and used maggot and meat/sausage baits – fishing in an area that accessed a bay with overhanging bushes on the far corner to the left, open water in front and the left end of the island to her right.

We both had bites almost from the start and Liz took first blood with a common carp of around 1.25lb… and over the course of the day I added another 4 common carp of around the same size… and a mirror carp of around 2.5lb. And we both had plenty of small roach on maggot – and worm – of around 1-2oz.

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So, the grass carp never materialised… as, although they did eventually start feeding, they did so in the most inaccessible place in the entire pool. Over the day I’d been catapulting, from time to time, bits of Yorkshire Pud and a few dog biscuits upwind (generally to my right) to drift down the pool as attractants and, as I say, there started to be activity BUT right on the bank of the island that faced the wind – and ‘right on’ literally meant within 12” of the bank itself. This would have been OK had it not been that that bank had an overhanging tree with branches drooping to within a couple of feet of the water AND protruding 20 feet or more out from the bank which meant a direct cast was unable to be made anywhere near them. I did try, however, walking to the windward end of the pool and casting floating baits over to the far bank and then walking with slack line to my station – the intent being for the wind to catch the bait and bow in the line and thus pull the bait under the branches and to the island’s bank. However, to get the bait to the right spot proved virtually impossible – all went well until the bait actually entered the area beneath the branches but then the sheltering from the breeze afforded meant that the bait was no longer getting pushed in towards the island and the pull on the line twixt island and myself meant that the bait was being pulled over towards me and away from the line of the island… and all attempts to mend the line, etc were really in vain. On the best attempt I did manage to get a bait almost on the right line and about 3’-4’ shy of the bank when I there was a big swirl and the line shot off and I struck into something solid causing a miss of heartbeat… but a few seconds later I realised it wasn’t a grassy and turned out to be the mirror carp.

So, a bit of a disappointing but still thoroughly enjoyable day’s fishing. Stonkingly hot too!

BUT … the pool is down a slope in a sheep field – which meant that when we packed in at 1630 there was a big task ahead – to pull the ‘barrow loaded with two loads of tackle, baits and leftover personal nourishments up this 200 yards of  hill made up of 6” grass, covering bumps and humps and collapsed mini-ditches – and all this in full sun with a temp of 26+C… I managed to get around the flat section around the pool (we were on far bank viewed from the car) and about a third of the way up the hill before I admitted defeat and unloaded a part load to make the pulling manageable, got the barrow to the car, and left Liz to start filling the boot whilst I returned back down the hill for the dumped items. SO… a decision has been made… less bait!!!

To be honest, the weight of my actual tackle bag (complete with scales, camera, knives, etc, etc and usually food and flasks of coffee in there too) is about half the weight of the bait I take which fills two 15 litre (may be bigger)  coolbags – one of which is mainly hookbaits (on the day it contained 3 pints maggots, 1/4Kg worms, 2x500g bags of prawns, 1Kg bag of mussels, 1Kg jelly bread, 1+Kg luncheon meat, 1/2Kg sweetcorn, 1Kg cocktail sausage. 200g strawberry sweetcorn, 500g ball of cheesepaste, about 30-40 Yorkshire Puds, 2Kg dog biscuits – and may have missed things in that list) . The other bag is ‘feed’ based (groundbait (2kg crumb), 1Kg particle feed, 1Kg 6mm halibut pellets, 500ml plastic jar of blitzed sweetcorn, 500ml  hemp water and 1 litre bottle of hemp oil). I also have another bag with about 12x250g pots of different dips/glugs and loads of catfood meat sausages (Webbox) but that is actually quite light. Thing is – on this trip I fed only maggots, used about 15 worms as bait, about 10 cocktail sausages cut up for  both feed and bait and used about 20-30 dog biscuits maximum as feed and bait and about 5-6 yorkshire puds. NO crumb or cereal groundbaits, no pellets, no dips or oils, etc used… in fact, other than what was stated, nothing else was utilised at all… ie EASILY 80% of what I took was not used or even considered. SOOOO… in future, much more attention will be focussed to minimise the amount of baits, etc that I carry…

I also took my 60” brolly shelter yesterday which adds at least another 60% to the weight of my rod quiver and the standard 5 rods I carry for pool fishing (2 leger rods, 1 floating bait rod, 1 float rod and a quiver tip rod) but was never used – and was never likely to be used… although I did consider using it for shade but at the time it was far to hot to mess about doing that… should have taken my standard 45” brolly at less than half the weight of the ‘monster’, if I took one at all.

Next week … Tuesday back to the Shrops-Union Canal for another early morning session. Friday, not sure, if so will be on my own. Expecting guests in a couple of weeks time and need to get the house ship-shape so Liz, as she works, def. booked next Friday for housework – me, I’ll try to get caught up on my jobs in the week but there’s always something that crops up… so touch and go really.

Session 37 – Started As A Ruffe Morning – And Encounters Of A Neighbourly Kind

[ORIGINALLY THOUGHT THE CANAL WAS THE SHROPSHIRE UNION – ACTUALLY THE STAFFS WORCS]

Tuesday 22nd July 2014 at 0615 and I had made my first cast into my newly discovered section of the Shropshire Union Canal.

A lovely morning again and I had chosen a swim in the middle of a 30 degree bend where the canal also widened slightly… and I was sat on the inside of this bend. The bank on the outside was made of overhanging vegetation including a single bramble that I later earmarked as my marker for baiting up and casting to.

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I had thrown out my depth/fish sounder on arrival to get an ideas of the contours of the bottom before setting up to locate the boat channel, etc… but there was not too noticeable a difference over the whole width with the depth at a constant 4.5’ for 60% of the way over from the far bank, dropping to 5.2’ for the next 20% and rising again to 4.5’ up to the near bank. That being the case I elected to fish close to the far bank around the bramble… as I think you can see from the following photo…

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So, the area was baited with catapulted maggot and topped up the same every few minutes or so… and also I prepared two ‘switch’ swims by baiting in the boat channel on the same line and also a near bank area about 3 rod lengths away to my left. However, I did not get to try those swims.

So, my tackle and bait for the day consisted of a simple running leger with an 1/2oz lead on 6lb main line with a short 6lb braid hooklength terminated with a size 12 hook. Bait was worm occasionally tipped with a maggot two.

So for the first hour all was very quiet with not a touch… but then a boat approached and so I wound in… and as they approached I thought ‘Oh that looks like Chris – and that looks like Jim!’ – neighbours of ours who live about 10 doors away. And in fact it was them – leading to a bit of banter about sailing their boat into my swim and vice versa :D. I’ve known Jim since I was 8 when the parents and I and siblings moved into what is now my house following the passing of the parents, and Jim moved into the house two doors away with his parents when he’d be around 14 or so. He got married to Chris and they bought the house where they are now just down the road… and when his mother passed away one of Jim’s daughter’s and her husband moved into that house. I’d actually forgotten that Jim and Chris had a canal boat, so it seemed funny that so early in the morning, on an exceptionally quiet time on a somewhat rural area of canal that they are the first people I see.. 🙂

And not only that but they also seemed to wake the fish up as regular bites started to happen and actually within one minute of their passing I had a Daddy Ruffe. Not a major catch granted (ca 1oz-2oz) but I quite like ruffe… rarer these days than they used to be especially on the rivers, I think, but still a few going strong on the local canals. Actually, the Scots and the Americans view them as an ‘invasive species’ as it appears they’re making inroads into waters in those areas.… Not the prettiest of fish but, as I say, I find them quite endearing…

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Ruffe (aka Daddy Ruffe or Pope)

And so, started a series of bites, and another ruffe was hooked but shed the hook en-route to the bank… the occasional quiet spell being broken by the passing of a boat or my inducing a take by twitching the bait back a foot or so from time to time.

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This time of the year – and increasingly so as it becomes the start of the ‘school summer holiday’ time for most schools next week I believe – the canals can turn into something approaching a watery motorway and make fishing during ‘normal’ daytime hours difficult-to-impossible as one is constantly casting and then winding in to allow boats to pass. So this time of the year it becomes necessary to fish early before the boats start out on their runs or later in the evening as they start to moor up for the night. However, a certain passage of boats does tend to improve the fishing as their motors stir up the bottom mud liberating foodstuffs such as nymphs and other insect larvae, add colour to the water and put fry into disarray and who become prime targets for bigger fish, esp perch. Fish are used to the passing anyway and quickly learn that boats open up the larder and so are not disturbed to a great degree by the passing – and probably the ‘motorway’ conditions don’t have great effect either – that’s more telling on the angler who is unable to relax and enjoy his/her day, I suppose. Anyway, personally, I like a boat or two to pass occasionally and to me one boat passing every 30-40 mins is around the acceptable spacing before it infringes on my ‘quality of life’ so to speak.

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And so I fished on until 0930 having a fair few missed bites and a few connections.. finishing the day with a tally of 1 ruffe (plus the drop off), 2 bream of around 6-8oz and on the final cast of the morning a tench of around 8oz. I took a few pics but it seems the ‘canal camera’ doesn’t like close ups as all were blurred and very poor and I deleted them. I’d probably do better with my phone’s camera to be honest. I need to read the manual to see if there’s a ‘macro’ mode I suppose.

So nothing of major size but an enjoyable morning all the same although not quite perfect… I have bad ears and don’t hear boats coming… and in this morning’s location, due to the curving of the bank, I could see only around 50 yards one way and around 30 yards the other which means that even if I spot a boat exactly as it appeared around the bend I had little time to wind my tackle in… and so a lot of time was spent looking left and right… and a lot of bites missed when the buzzer sounded whilst doing this. I suppose there’s two options to remedy this – and which would also make me less tense with not doing the watchout stuff … (1) wear my hearing aids, but I hate them, I really do, and after an hour my ears get so sweaty inside (TMI I know!) that its like listening to someone talking underwater with a gurgling sound…and I think my ears also adjust themselves to lower their reception sensitivity so that I end up as if I had never put them in in the first place… (2) fish a straight(er) section of canal so that I can see the boats approaching when further away and so lessen the urgency to detect and respond…

There are some nice bits of canal on the stretch that do meet the specifications of (2) that also have nice looking fish holding type spots such as overhanging bushes, small bays, etc.. so that may be the line I’ll take on the next visit… but put the aids in my pocket too just in case 🙂

Plans for later this week…

25 degrees forecast for Friday so Liz will be out with me but we’ve not yet decided where … a shaded fishery would be ideal … but we’ve also the brollies to provide shelter 🙂

Session 36 – A Quiet Session – But Dunking Is Not Just For Biscuits It Appears

Thursday 17th July 2014 sees a change of day from my usual Friday outing – initiated by forecasts earlier in the week of Friday being a wet day and Liz’s desire to do dressmaking instead and so only myself to plan for. As it happens, today, Friday 18th, has been a nice day although local and not so local people report a heavy storm happening at 0300 but Liz and I must have been well in the Land of Nod at that time as neither of us heard or saw anything of it.

Anyway, 0615 I leave the house heading to the club’s silver/tench pool and arrive at the gates there at 0650. No cars on the near end car park on arrival and so I thought, as per usual, I was the first there. However, on driving up to the far end of the pool where I intended to fish, I discovered a parked car and some obviously keen angler already set up and fishing around the far side of the pool. Subsequently, it turned out that this angler was Simon, our club’s web and forum administrator. Anyway, Simon was based several pegs on from my ‘wanted’ swim (peg 14) which is the only peg on the long and narrow pool that faces down the length of the pool rather than from the sides across. However, it faces directly at the pool’s island about 15-20 yards away and so the area is sort of a pool-in-a-pool contained by the island and the pools sides each around 15 yards to either side.

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View from the swim slightly to the left

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Looking back at the swim from the right-hand bank

So I had two immediate areas to fish – firstly towards the island and its overhanging vegetation – usually a good bet (word ‘usually’ used guidedly as you will see later :D) – and secondly there were those lily pads just off to my left as I fished. And so, the first thing I did on arrival was to bait up those areas – the island receiving the major ‘dosing’ as it was intended to be my main swim and a lighter spread put out on the far corner edge of the lilies to act as a ‘switch’ swim. Baiting was done by spombing a breadcrumb base with the addition of prepared particles (hemp/maize/wheat) and maggots and made ‘active’ by the further addition of ground dry seeds (standard wild bird seed basically) that had been blitzed and coarsely ground in a food processor – the idea that these tiny dry particles soak in water and ‘snap, crackle and pop’ like your favourite breakfast cereal and so small pieces are constantly moving upwards and downwards in your baited area as an attractant.

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For further info on active groundbait making/mixing see:

http://www.clivebradleyfishing.com/new-blog/2013/7/9/how-to-make-an-active-groundbait

Or:

http://www.ccmoore.com/pdfs/articles/rich_seeds_making_your_ground_bait_active.pdf

Or just Google for ‘active groundbait’

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And so it was at 0750 I made the first casts with my two leger rods out towards the island but falling short (but not far) of the desired position and as they were lying in the baited area they were left in that position.

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When groundbaiting/loose feeding, I try to do so so that the bait is spread over a relatively wide area. I fail to see the point of concentrated feeding as (a) you are limiting the chances of a fish passing in the near vicinity by being attracted (if, for example, your feed is lying in a 1 metre circle than its going to be easy for a fish to pass 2-3 meters away and be oblivious of it – depending on depth and water clarity obviously and (b) having spotted your feed and grazing on it a fish in a tightly fed area only has to swim a few inches to the next item which means that bite indication is similarly subtle – but I want a fish to pick up a bit of feed and have to move a distance measured in feet to the next item so making indication more noticeable and less twitchy… So, in general, I try to lay g’bait and loose feed over a sort of 10-15 foot wide radius as it lands on the water, and obviously as it falls through the water it will spread even more as underwater currents take effect and, of course, the lighter constituents of the mix will fall slower than the heavier ones thus spreading more.  Actually, the ideal baiting up pattern is to aim to create a large ‘Y’ as that shape is the most efficient in making the bait visible to fish swimming into the area from all directions and then drawing them inwards towards the centre of the ‘Y’s fork whilst minimising the amount of feed required for this.

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The baits were a small luncheon meat cubes, about 6 or 7, fed up the line on one rod and a ½” cube of strawberry jelly bread on the other. However, I slightly deviate from the published recipe below by adding some extras… and have also before now made it up from flavourless gelatine powder and added my own flavouring which allows you to use flavours that jelly is unobtainable in – like ‘green mussel’ or ‘monster crab’.

http://homemadeboilies.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/jelly-bread-baits-for-mr-crabtree/).

So, I fished like this for a few hours and had a few pulls but had not connected and decided to re-bait and re-cast both rods which I did, perfectly in fact with both baits just brushing the island’s foliage as they entered the water… job done I thought… and then I had a take and struck, meeting resistance… but unfortunately not the resistance of a resisting fish but that of a tough but slowly yielding snag. Anyway, I continued to apply pressure and eventually a line of plaided nylon cord arose from the water, one end attached on the island the other end seeming to point to the corner of the pool to my right… further pulling raising more and more of this cord but eventually my line gave way and that was that. But, before re-tackling the rod I thought I’d wind in the other rod, re-bait that and re-cast… and when I went to do that… yep, that one was also entangled on the same cord again ending with my tackle getting snapped off.

[The pool I was fishing has a problem with cormorants and as a prevention to their access the pool has ropes across, between swims/pegs, to prevent them landing and taking off  and to protect fish stocks. This cord was one of those ropes attached to a point on the island that had gotten released from or rotted and snapped its fixing point on the main pool’s bank and lay submerged. As most people fishing this pool either pole fish or float fish and its not the most popular swim (probably due to the fact most people like to fish as close to their cars as possible these days) then its probably caused anyone concern before.]

Anyway, with both leger rods now out of action and requiring attention and having not really had a lot of action on them anyway, I decided to pack them away and to get the float rod out and fish worm and maggot around the baited lily pad section to my left, which I did for the rest of the day, packing up at 1600, and from which I captured 3 perch – for probably a total weight of less than 3 oz!

So, not a great day for catching… and from my previous visit and speaking to Simon who also had had a quiet session – he moved to adjoining carp pool during the day – it seems that the pool had been very quiet – and a recent match was won with just a few pounds and not many tench had shown up then. But a possibility for this ‘problem’ is the amount of natural food that is available due to the hot weather. I wanted to see how my jelly bread stood up to immersion in water and so I dipped a pot into the edge of the pool to get some to drop a sample piece in… and immediately obvious were a large number of small black water beetles… and as one’s eyes focussed more and more a myriad of pond life was apparent (midge larvae, daphnia, etc), so abundant it looked like the pond sample was 90% water and 10% fauna almost… Basically a fish would only need a few mouthfuls to fill it’s belly for a week!  So, maybe that the fish are naturally well fed and don’t need to scavenge or take large or ‘unnatural’ foodstuffs.

OK… now we get to the ‘dunking’ episode… that rope that snagged my two lines… well, it kept playing on my mind… and there is a small boat that is kept at the side of the pool… and so before leaving I went and grabbed the boat with the intention of rowing over to the island, cutting the rope free from that end and then pulling the boat back to the mainland with its help. Good idea… but I sadly failed the first bit of the exercise in practice ie the launch of the boat from the bank… I got the boat in the water OK with a 1’ drop down to it but attempting to climb in at the back I was unable to get my footing into the centre and the boat started tipping over, which made me fall, which made the boat tip more and take in water which tipped it more until finally I was deposited, on my side, into 2 feet of water and the boat was full to the gunnels with water. Climbed out of the pool and after much effort (ie try pulling a boat full of water up 1’ of vertical bank!) I succeeded in getting the boat out and tipped over to empty the water. I then managed to launch successfully but placing the front of the boat on the water whilst the back end was angled up and on the land and after wriggling and wobbling I managed to slide it gently down onto the water… rowed to the island, located the rope which I cut free, and then followed the plan of pulling on the rope to head homewards… and discovered that the rope at that end was not attached to anything but basically just buried under silt on the bottom of the pool as eventually it just came up to hand. So rowed for land, successfully beached and pulled the boat out and returned it to its home location. And packed up tackle and head home ‘soggy bottom’, ‘soggy paper money’ and all. Surprising thing was that my cheapo £5 watch is none the worse for its soaking and been happily plodding along ever since unperturbed! And the water WAS warm (20+C) :D. And actually its not the first time the boat has dunked me – the previous time I had cast out a line and it had become entangled around one of the ropes and eventually snapped with a baited hook swinging a few inches above the water line. A bit concerned for a duck grabbing it and getting hooked, I went and got the boat, rowed out and cut away this potentially dangerous bit, and rowing back to shore… but on trying to get out I ended doing the stereotypical splits with the boat moving out from the land until the inevitable happened and distance twixt bank and boat exceeded maximum distance I could attain between left and right feet – SPLASH!! :).

So endeth my day…

Plans for the forthcoming week are to re-visit the new section of canal I went to last Tuesday, this time with a bait rod, and see what I can get it to produce and hopefully a late week trip to somewhere undecided as yet.

 

Session 35 – ‘You Can’t Catch Me I’m Part Of The Union’ They Said – But Some Staffs-Worcs Perch Are Blacklegs!

Tuesday 15th July 2014, I visited a stretch of the Staffs-Worcs Canal I’d not visited – a stretch at Four Ashes near Wolverhampton that is controlled by the Wolverhampton Angling Association.

I left my house at 0530 heading to this new section of canal – and although I do fish the Staffs-Worcs and Shroppie canals, I do so generally in the winter time for two, somewhat combined – 1 begats 2 and 2 begats 1 type of thing, reasons.

Summer time on our local canals means that soon after 0730 the boat traffic starts up and increases exponentially until mid-afternoon and then dies down again. This means that fishing, at its best, is experienced either early morning or in the evening. Now, with an early morning start I don’t really want to waste the limited time available on travelling – and the Staffie is my local canal (10 minutes away)  and hence for these shorter periods that is my usual destination.

Winter time means boat traffic is at its lowest – sometimes zero boats pass at all during the day – which means that longer daytime sessions become acceptable and so travel eats up less of the available time… plus winter to me is predominantly devoted to pike fishing… and of the two canals the Shroppie wins hands down for this. Hence, my winter canal destination.

However, this new stretch of Staffie is far closer to home than the other stretches that I have access to… and close enough to be a viable early summer morning or evening venue so I hope to make further summer/spring/autumn visits in the future. Fantastic!!

So arriving at the canal I am taken back in amazement! An absolutely gorgeous piece of canal meets you as you step from the car with a bridge denoting the start of the stretch and a canal turning basin cut into the far bank with overhanging vegetation. Screamed perch and pike as soon as I looked at it…and I automatically looked to see if Mr Crabtree and Peter were around! So idyllic…..

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Bridge

Bridge

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Basin

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And so my session started. As this was a dual purpose visit – to have a look at the whole length available and also to do a bit of spin fishing for perch, pike and chub – I was loaded very light – which will amaze my best mate! I just carried a small shoulder bag containing my small ‘canal’ camera, my small set of ‘canal’ digital scales, a strong plastic carrier bag to act as a weighing container, a small plastic tub with blade spinners and a couple of spare 20lb BS wire traces and the biggest item of them all, my 1 litre flask of coffee – and so 66% of the bag’s contents was pure air! Only other things I had with me were a collapsible landing net and my 2.40 metre spinning rod and reel fitted with 12lb BS braid.

And so I walked the length and back, taking photos and casting now and then in likely looking areas and was impressed by 90% of the length – especially the to the middle bridge of the length which was in keeping with the ambience of the start area.

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However,  directly after this bridge there were about 15 or so moored boats in a line and the far bank was cropped back….

… but a bit further along it went back to the overhanging bushes on the far bank and finally the canal edged along a marina on the far side and until the club’s angling controlled section terminated at another  bridge. Also at this last area there was a joining of a canal arm to the main canal which produced a large triangular pool like area which again shouted predator … and bream … and carp … well, anything fishy really! 🙂

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So to sum up… a lovely section of canal… and seemingly not much frequented as a passerby cycling up the towpath (and the only person I saw other than boaters for the whole session) said that I was the first person he’d seen fishing there – and I can believe that as the towpath was lined with quite robust vegetation and overhanging branches with just the odd trampled areas where boats had been moored. And so I also don’t think many ramblers or bikers frequent the length either. Hopefully it will stay that way!! There were signs around the final bridge that the Canal & River Trust might be vandalising though – strimmed and mowed grass all around that bridge – hopefully, as its not a road bridge, its just localised and done by residents and not going to be done all down the towpath. No need for that, the undergrowth provides food and shelter for our wildlife, and anglers and boaters can easily trample down small areas to ease access as and when necessary, and walkers/cyclists create a suitable path created by level of usage – and someone’s, ie ALL of us, is paying for the all of that ‘pasteurisation’ of our environment. Seems the purse is bottomless for this unnecessary stuff, but empty when it comes to something really useful or needed.

Oh! How did I do? Why didn’t you say!!? 😀  Well, it wasn’t a blank! I actually had 5 perch to about 4oz take my spinner. Not a major haul nor a specimen in sight today – but, as for the previous fishing visit we made last week, it was such a great place that being there in that ambience made it a really pleasant 2-3 hours enjoying the scenery and having a bit of light exercise. PLUS.. there were signs that good fish were available from the area – spotted, unfortunately long dead and bloated, were a bream of around 4-5lb and a chub of 2.5-3lb.

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And as Arnie S said… ‘I SHALL be back….’ 🙂

 

 

Session 33 – Quantity Not Quality But Fun For Me And A Nice Place To Blank For Liz.

Friday 11th July 2014, and Liz and I departed the house on our way to Kinver Freeliner’s Woodland Lodge Pools. There are two pools on site – Pool 1 is available to non-members on a £5 day ticket but Pool 2 is members only. Thus as non-members (but currently on the waiting list – and have been for two years now) we were limited to fishing on Pool 1. But this is no hardship as it’s a lovely pool near woodland, far from any main roads and so all very quiet and serene.

And so, we arrived at the pool at around 0745 and had a quick walk round – I say pool, but more a large pond really? – and selected our (adjacent) swims for the day on the far bank over on the far bank but only 100 yards or so  really from the where the  car was parked. My swim faced the left half of island and the left hand channel between that and the main land, Liz’s swim was to the right hand side of the island and the open water twixt that and the main land on that side.

The ‘far’ bank and looking towards the ‘near’ bank from Liz’s swim…

And so, we wheelbarrowed our equipment round to our swims and prepped our tackles for the day. Liz elected to fish with two leger rods with feeders loaded with groundbait/crumb and maggot and using meat based baits and maggots for bait. Myself, I elected to floatfish (laying-on style) with maggot, worm and bread baits over a bed of particles (hemp, wheat, corn) with additional dead maggots catapulted out.

2014-07-11 Steve Tackling Up

Steve tackles up….as seen from Liz’s swim.

And so we fished until 1700 when, after a long and swelteringly hot day, we packed up and headed for home.

View from my swim across the pool...

View from my swim across the pool…

Results… well, unfortunately Liz blanked but did have one small perch on which took a maggot bait but which popped the hook just before landing. However, in her own words, she was going for ‘quality not quantity’ and that the place was so nice and idyllic that if there was to be a blank then that was the place to do it. Myself, I just enjoyed myself in a sort of ‘catch what comes’ sort of day – and finished up landing 31 perch (and at least another 10 or so popped the hook before landing) on maggot and 2 roach on bread. However, it was all quantity – the total catch would probably have only amassed a grand total weight of between 5-6lb with the 2 roach probably the 2 biggest fish of the day at about 4oz each.

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Looking from my swim across to Liz’s

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Liz’s rods in action position…

During the day there was quite a lot of surface activity from small fish of around a few ounces dappling the surface to feed on midges, etc but not much in the way of larger stuff – biggest I saw was a single carp of around 2lb, but possibly 3lb and flicking a bait caused said fish to scarper whenever it spotted it – not so much it landing on the water as it could be 10 seconds or more before the bait appeared to the fish on the drift but as soon as it got close he gave a quick tail flick away from it.

And so  the day ended with a visit to the bailiff’s lodge to pay for our day tickets (£5 each) and I had a quick chat with him. He advised light tackle and small baits and changing depths to find the fish – he said that he’d had carp to well into double figures from there – but also that some fish may have escaped in the floods as the pools were flooded over their banks (at the bottom of a slope as can be seen in some of the photos) and a brook runs along the back of the pools only 10-20 yards away.

Well, I say ‘ended’ … ‘ended’ in respect of fishing really as due to the thirst building weather a stop was necessary for us on the way home… at the Bandon Arms in Bridgnorth for a couple of pints of ‘Old Thumper’… beautiful and well satisfying!!!

FUTURE PLANS:

Tuesday: I’ll probably take the spinning rod and some blade spinners to a stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal that has become available to me via a club card – and I’ve received my personal key to allow me to access some limited parking at one end of the club’s stretch – so I intend to go there and walk the full available length to see what it’s like and suss out good looking areas for future bait fishing visits and whilst doing so I’ll be casting the spinner in likely looking spots too 🙂

Friday: Unplanned as yet. Liz is not sure if she’ll be coming out to play as she says she has a lot of stuff she needs to catch up on, partially a dress she’s making for when she attends my niece’s wedding at the end of August… so destination may depend on her final decision… as I’ll be out whatever!! 😀

TACKLE TALK:

In ‘Improve Your Coarse Fishing’ magazine this month there’s a ‘Reader’ Special Offer’ for Q-DOS 7-box tackle boxes with an offer of being able to purchase the boxes for £14.99 each as opposed to a RRP of £24.99.…

Now, I had thought get one of these boxes and having seen one that my best mate has and his recommendation of them that idea was firmed up.

Q-DOS 7-box tackle box

Q-DOS 7-box tackle box

The boxes consist, as can be seen from the picture, 1 large box along with 7 other smaller boxes that sit inside the larger one. One of the accessory boxes is a rig box (the longer one) that has a foam insert, a bar to put the hooks around at one end and comes complete with pins to hold the rig’s end loops to the foam. Around 25 rigs can be contained on this. The other boxes are identically sized and only differ in the number of inner compartments each one contains – there is one of each of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 compartments. Great for all your small bits – beads, leger stops, legers, shot, etc. And all these boxes can be stored in the middle row of the box – and the depth of the main box means that 2 small boxes can be placed on top of each other thus maximising the use of space. And you also get dividers that allow user defined partitioning of the middle and bottom rows. BTW – the depth of the main box also allows loose storage of items under the rig box – I’ve put my shrink and silicon tubing, etc under there. In fact, all the contents of my old dividered box PLUS the contents of a wash bag that I used to store my tubing, elastic bands, etc have all gone into the Q-DOS system AND I still have room, albeit small, to spare.

However, when purchasing, rather than take up ‘IYCF’s deal which seemed rather expensive still, I went on to eBay and fund someone selling them at £9.00 each (plus £4.00 p&p) but who was also ameniable to ‘Best Offers’… end result was I offered £15 for two of these boxes and this was accepted – and P&P came to £6 with multi-item discount. The ‘IYCF’ deal was post-free  but even then I got the best deal at £21 as opposed to £29.98 all-in with IYCF. BTW – there’s also a Q-DOS 6-box option available – same as the 7-box BUT no rig box and hence no rig box space either within the large box – but then again smaller in size if you don’t have any use for a rig box….

Q-DOS 6-box tackle box

Q-DOS 6-box tackle box

Currently available on eBay at around £8.50-£9.00 inc P&P.

Also available separately are the smaller compartmented boxes that fit both the 6- and 7-box versions – as are the rig boxes, so if you had a 7-box and wanted another rig box then you could obtain one – and it would sit on top of the supplied one within the main box…