Friday, 30 April 2010

Napton Tench Point

Tuesday 27th April, 16:00 - 21:00. Napton Reservoir. 17>12C. S wind.

To be honest I was in a mood most of Monday after Pete's two point weekend and his lead in our fishing competition. I won't go over old ground, suffice to say my brain's wired up wrong when it comes to contests. Competitiveness coupled with dyed in the wool honesty sometimes leads me to beat myself up.

The weather was fine and I took off to Napton after a Tench point of my own. I dithered whether to float fish but the strength of the wind and the desire sit into the teeth of the Southerly put me off. Another excuse to shoehorn the 10ft wand into a new scenario!

I filled a small feeder with a lovely mix of particle, pellet and groundbait and settled on the causeway facing the wind on the big lake. I lassoed a pellet on a ten hook and cast repeatedly every five minutes early on. Tests in the edge revealed that upon breaking down the groundbait released particles and oil upwards in the water.

It took forty five minutes to get an indication - and it came just as I was doing something in my tackle bag. I looked back at the tip to see it woy-yoinging round. I struck and missed.

Although by no means plagued by weed there were thin green strands coming back on every cast plus the occasional more significant stem. After a few more missed bites I had a revelation and added a piece of plastic corn to the hair. This made the hook and pellet sink very very slowly.

Next cast and I was in almost immediately after the feeder hit the deck. I reckon the fish took the slow sinking bait on the drop.

After this is was a case of trimming pellets and honing the rig to achieve the same results.

I had six Tench in all. None massive but between them just over seventeen pounds worth. They went 2-5, 3-1, 2-14, 2-5, 2-13, 3-12.

The last one at three twelve was very welcome as the light had nearly gone and there was no way I was moving until the Tench point target of 15lbs 3ozs was in the bag!

Here are some Tench:

The moon rose and all was fine come the end.

To get to Napton from Coventry you have to pass through a small village called Long Itchington. This village has long been within the folklore of my school fishing pals as we gave the village our own moniker: 'It's Long and Itchy and Weighs a Ton'.

To my absolute delight, someone has professionally vandalised the sign to the entrance to the village from the direction of Coventry.

It now reads:

Funniest thing of the week.

The scores:


Sunday, 25 April 2010

Nearly Man.

Sunday 25th April, 09:30 - 13:00. Brook field. 13>19C S12mph.

I returned with my daughter Abbey to Brook field after Rudd. This is not a team event and as we both fished whips my conscience was never going to allow me to claim any points today. But if I wanted to fish she wanted to come so off we trotted. I already had the trip planned and visualised in my head before I gained a team mate so I felt no need to change my plans.

Single maggot under a pole float yielded 7lb 10oz of fish in three hours. To my chagrin there were a significant number of roach amongst the net. They made up approximately 50% of the catch along with the rudd.

7lb 10ozs of Silvers.

Abbey contributed a fair few fish to the net.

I sifted out the Roach and carried out a second weigh in of just rudd which went 4lbs exactly. Nearly man.

Abbey caught one of the same goldfish Jeff Hatt had on Wednesday. This made her day.

Still no brown goldfish, although we were fishing off bottom for all of this short session.

Pete visited the venue this afternoon and had 5lb 10ozs of rudd with hardly any roach amongst them.

So here are the scores tonight:


Particles; My Style.

I find particle preparation spans a weekend perfectly.

Step 1. Friday night. Slightly wobbly. Take an empty gorilla tub.

Step 2. Fill it a quarter full of hemp seed.

Step 3. Fill it up to half full with pigeon conditioner.

 Step 4. Add water so the seeds are covered and give it a stir.

 Step 5. Leave the seeds to soak for a t least twenty four hours. Add more water to keep them covered if necessary.

 Step 6. Light a fire. I use a fire pit of brick construction which attracts no end of ribbing from my dad as I didn't use cement when putting it together. I maintain it is ultimately flexible.

Kindling and fire lighter.
Executive fire pit.

The bricks are interwoven and stacked in a 'U' shape but I brick up the front as I find this concentrates the heat from the fire.  

I have a steel grid, like that used in reinforced cement, suspended on four metal pins to provide a rest for the pot.

Step 7. Fill a large stock pot with mixed particles and put over the fire.

 Step 8. Two essential bits of kit. Fireproof welding gloves to move the hot pot, and a trowel to stir the mixture.


I have wood.

When there's a fire on the boy's never far away.
Within twenty minutes of lighting up the pan is boiling.

Step 9. After another twenty minutes boiling the hemp is split and the seeds are done.

Step 10. Once cooked I transfer the seeds into a large container with a lid and drain off the excess liquor. The liquor is sweet and sticky and I collect it in a smaller pot.

Collect the liquor.

Step 11. I add the hot drained liquor to the second pot of seeds and they come to the boil quickly over the now roaring fire.

Step 12. I repeat the boiling and draining for the second lot of seeds then put the liquor back on the heat to reduce down. This lovely nutty smelling sticky sweet liquid is put into an old lemonade bottle and frozen until needed. Whenever I defrost some seeds I give them a glug of this liquor.

Step 13. Bag up the seeds. A two pan boil up like this sees me through the first half of the summer. I leave the bags on the lawn overnight to cool before putting them in my bait freezer. I've a night session planned in the coming week hence the large carrier bag. Normally the seeds make six to eight freezer bags full.

How much would thirty litres of particles cost in the shops?



Wednesday 21st April, 08:00 - 20:30. Brookfield with Jeff and Pete. 7>13>8C. NW 14mph.

Time is my nemesis. There's never enough of it! This was a twelve hour session but would you believe me if I said I was so busy fishing I hardly had time for anything else like; eating, drinking or taking photographs.

Because the photography took a back seat not all way points in the storyline have an accompanying photo so apologies. The few paragraphs below describe what days like these mean to me so just skip them if schmaltz is not what you're here for.
I  personally love whole days devoted to fishing. Long days, with nothing on the agenda other than fishing and where our sport truly finds the room it needs for a full length feature to unfold in front of us. Short sessions are capable of offering the same intensity but but are often only short stories by comparison. I love it when I'm so wrapped-up in the fishing that mild pangs of hunger and thirst go almost unnoticed.

Incoming text messages and phone calls are greeted as irritations and as breaks in the trance. Concentrating hard on fishing to the exclusion of all other matters. I often wonder if others find enjoyment in these long intense sessions that leave you dizzy by the end. I find if I've taken a day off work then I do my damnedest to wring as mush as I can out of time.

I find time quickens relative to fishing intensity. The harder you fish the faster time will pass. Not all trips are like this of course. Put a couple of rods out on alarms and you are at liberty to take in the surroundings without accelerating time too much.  I count predator fishing with baits as one of the best ways to prolong a fishing day.
Intense float fishing has a special ability to multiply the speed of time, when one centimeter of orange and it's accompanying meniscus poking up from beneath  becomes  the focus of your entire being.  The top time-warping method however is stalking large carp in clear water. If you can hear your own heartbeat in your ears then you're doing it right.

Whilst within immersive fishing-induced states my thought processes diverge into two distinct themes; tactical and strategic. The tactical layer deals with administering the rods, casting, baiting up etc.  These thoughts are short-sighted, focused on the job in hand and pretty much on auto pilot. Referencing skills and movements you've carried out a thousand times before. The strategic  thoughts have an eye on the water and are   monitoring other conditions. Continually asking and assessing;  "Is this the best place?", "Is this the best approach?", "Do better opportunities exist?". Other worldly cares fall by the wayside. There's simply no room for them amongst the all-encompassing  focus. Fishing like this is pure escapism.

Sustaining high levels of concentration over long periods of time is tiring. A concept the wife finds laughable when explaining fatigue after fishing.
I've heard it said that those who excel at something have a habit of making it look easy, and that this can be brought about by preparing and planning more thoroughly than the next man. I'm immediately dissociating myself from any claim of excellence here but believe that when it comes to angling success there is another key ingredient - experience.

Experience has nothing to do with preparation and little to do with practice. Gaining angling experience takes time and is hard earned. It can be taught to some extent but there really is no replacement for experience of the  trial and error type. There's no easy shortcut. Time on the bank on it's own is not sufficient to guarantee experience. Imagination to try new things and the persistence required to give any new approach a chance is also required.
Angling experience manifests itself as watercraft or reading the water. Knowing where and how to fish under  the  conditions in front of you. Like it or not the feeling you get about fishing a certain spot or in a particular way when surveying a water is no more than the assimilation of all that's gone before. If I were to put you in front of a spate salmon river with a selection of rods, lines, leaders and flies would you know which combination to choose and where best to fish in order to maximise your chances of catching? (Me neither! As I so clearly demonstrated last month). But if you'd been raised on that river the odds would be different. That's experience. Not planning or practice.
If you fish without watercraft, without reading the water or without drawing on what has gone before then you're missing the point. Having said all this the peg next to the car park will always be well-worn.

Once again, to fishing:

In light of recent trips to this fishery I had a plan in mind for the day. Plan A.

Plan A was to nail 66+lb of carp down the edge by eleven a.m. using two float rods with paste then move swiftly on to other things.

When was the last time a fishing session went exactly to plan?

It soon became clear that after the preceding cold night there were no carp in the edge first thing. My blobs of paste over pellet sat undisturbed in the edge.

I switched over to a pole and maggot and caught seven gonks on the trot within about twenty minutes. I set myself a target of ten gudgeon. They were of average size and I figured no one would argue that ten weighed less than than the 5oz target for the species. After the seventh gudge I hooked a small carp which took my hook length. It then took me about thirty minutes and no end of roach to arrive at my tenth gudgeon.

My tenth gudgeon and a point!

After this I quickly moved pools to have a go for brown goldfish but struggled, catching only roach and rudd on a small pellet on a band.

I gave it an hour on the second pool then returned to my margin swim on the first pool to see if the carp had turned up yet. Not so.

My finest hour on the goldfish pool yielded a small koi carp:

I swapped pools twice more until the carp started patrolling the edge at three o'clock in the afternoon.

I then caught on both float rods down the edge after the carp moved in. Six carp in total. They weighed 8lb 4oz, 6lb 14oz, 8lb 5oz, 4lb 1oz, 10lb, 12 oz and 9lb 5oz. Approximately 46lb worth.

I lost a few more and spooked no end when they brushed against the line.

I fished until last light but couldn't get enough carp on the bank to make the point.

Here's the scores in the challenge after today. Pete booked his tench point at Ryton the other night:


Monday, 19 April 2010

Full Stretch!

Sunday 18th April, 17:00 - 18:30. Jubilee with the kids. 16 - 14C.

With a twinkle in their eyes after seeing Danny's carp the previous evening and to round off a full and busy weekend I took my pair to Jubilee pools for an hour at Sunday teatime.

We fished in the edge on Horseshoe pool; paste over pellet.

I set up a float rod and centrepin reel and a carp margin pole with with fat elastic.

Merv' Wilkinson and his grandson 'Twink' were taking a walk around the pools and stopped a while for a chat. It was whilst they were with us that the float dived on the rod and reel outfit. A carp tore off across the lake but soon shed the hook. A couple of small scales on the retrieved hook indicated the fish had been hooked in the jacket.

Soon after and the float on the end of the pole disappeared.

This is when the fun started. The carp made it's way out towards the middle of the pool and the pole elastic stretched to unimaginable lengths. The pole itself took on a healthy bend too. Merv' took a couple of snaps and once the first rushes of the fish were over I recruited my boy Max to the pole to help take the strain.

Full Stretch!

The Net Awaits

The fish put up a tremendous fight in the clear waters and it took perhaps ten minutes to succumb. The pole and elastic endlessly absorbed the runs. Only during the first few runs did I feel like the setup was nearing 'bottoming out'. In retrospect it was a touch maverick to use a pole on the pool but I had tench in mind.

11lbs 14ozs

Centre of attention and returned for another day

We stayed on for another hour but the cloud thickened and the temperature dropped enough for us to all notice.


Thursday, 15 April 2010

I Got it Wrong.

Tues 13th April, 15:30 - 20:00. Brookfield fishery. 12C to 8C. NE wind.

Last Saturday it was 17C and sunny in the English midlands. I've never seen so much garden furniture pass through our garage door into the garden on a single day. They were using it as fast as I could throw it at them at one point. Tables, chairs, recliners, umbrellas. I drew the line at the paddling pool though.

If nothing else this glimpse of summer prompted the purchase of a cool new gadget - Bluetooth speakers! So far I've hooked-up and broadcast to them from every bluetooth enabled device we have e.g. phones and laptop. Perfect for streaming spotify on those long summer evenings. Drinking Belgian lager lying in the paddling pool whilst keeping valuable devices indoors and out of the dust and sun.

Saturdays weather soon came and went and the thin heat was replaced by a North Easterly which dragged us back to spring.

The Hawthorn has been in leaf for a week now and tree blossom abounds. It won't be long before the heady scent of the 'Darling buds of May' is upon us. The Chinese celebrate blossom in spring with the Hanami festival, picnicking under cherry blossom trees whilst the petals fall amongst them. We do something similar in our family inasmuch as it's my wife's fathers birthday in a couple of weeks. "To the Cocked Hat pub!", is the cry. There's definitely a tree in the garden there and if recollection serves it might even have blossom. We can see it out of the window if we squint .

To fishing.

I got the tactics wrong on my return to Brookfield. I made two primary errors and backed it up with a secondary third.

Primary error No.1: Two rods are better than one.
I fished a second rod this session. I used a pretty standard carp set up in the margin, only I used a centrepin reel as my bite alarm.

A lassoed broken boilie and what in my book amounts to fancy rig mechanics.

The administration of the second rod prevented me devoting all my attention the first. Also casting and retrieving of any sort spooked no end of fish in the edge.

Primary error No.2: A 10ft wand is the elixir to all fishing problems.
Having done pretty well when deploying my new shortened super-sensitive quiver rod in recent weeks, I hastily assumed that using it here would once again increase my catch rate. It didn't. In the well stocked pool the noise on the tip from liners and passing fish was like trying to find a good satellite TV channel amongst the overwhelming shite in the ether. I didn't catch a fish on this rod!

Secondary error No.3: Overconfidence. Even before I got out of the car I had the blog title ready, "Blue is the Colour", a nod towards the match man's fashion sense in anticipation of a huge bag of carp. Enough said.

4lbs 2oz carp.

I fed pellets steadily into the margin and after an hour or so an endless procession of fish and the whole spectrum of tail patterns were observed. From tail fully-out and feeding to a light ruffle on the surface caused when the fish moves it's tail fin like fingers impatiently tapping on a table, but in the perpendicular. I was being done left, right and centre on the rod in the margin. The line would twitch tight then fall slack, or draw steadily out then stop. Inevitably followed by a bow wave as a fish spooked out into the middle. I did catch on conventional carp tactics and the click of the back-winding reel signaled a self-hooked fish but to be honest it was a method devoid of art.

In retrospect I think the fish were moving very, very carefully over the pellets in the edge taking their time mouthing each mouth full and inching along the deck. Probably why a sensitive pole float scored last week over either of this weeks methods.

It clouded over around five and began to rain lightly shortly afterwards. The wind sharpened and the temperature dropped. Once again it turned cold.

I knew by six that I'd thrown my hand.

I wound in at seven and set up a pole float for the last hour. Carp were still in the margins and I had fun trying to make out a bite from a liner. I caught and lost two more carp but that was it.

Danny got amongst the points in this years 'Record Weight' fishing challenge on Sunday and so the scores on the doors are now:

I look forward to the prevailing Westerlies returning.


Sunday, 11 April 2010


I took a bike ride to Coombe with my daughter yesterday. She’s recently completed her cycling proficiency test and so spent most of the journey telling me what I was doing wrong.

In the woods the bluebell flowers were not quite out but their bright green foliage carpeting the wood was quite a display in itself. Once in flower, in perhaps a weeks time, the woods will look spectacular in the spring sunshine. Catch it if you can.

I popped up to Jubilee for the last hour to see my mate Pete who had been fishing up there for the bream yesterday afternoon. We saw lots of activity from carp on the surface but he didn’t have a bite and so retired fishless just before eight.

The margins were alive with frogs undertaking some fruity behaviour.

I don’t know if this is nationwide but my local Tesco in Coventry have Energizer three LED head torches on for half price at the moment - £5.49. A good buy.

My particle supply is running low and I’ll shortly be having a mass preparation session in the back garden. I’ll take some photos of the process so you too can fill a bin with stewed seeds should you so wish.