Another month flies by and I have a dilemma – not so much what to include in this column but what to leave out. It’s been such a busy time. First there was an appearance on Tight Lines with Keith Arthur. I always enjoy doing the show as it’s no harder than sitting round a table sharing a cuppa with a good fishing mate and chatting about what you enjoy most. How tough is that?
Then there was the Chapman’s open day at their huge store just outside Hull. I took charge of the Daiwa stand on the Saturday and talk about a galaxy of stars on show. The old NEC exhibition was great for the likes of me because it was an opportunity to catch up with all the other, dare I say ‘celebrity’ anglers for a chinwag. Well, Chapman’s managed to attract stars like Will Raison, John Wilson, Jan Porter and loads more and that in turn pulled in loads of customers.
I like these shows for another reason, too. Customers come along and happily tell you about new waters that might be worth a try. There are some hidden gems out there that never come under the spotlight and I was given several new ideas. Thanks you lot!
And I mustn’t forget the Barbel Society Conference that was held at Hinkley. Stu and I launched our latest two DVDs at the show – Barbel Days and Ways Volumes 3 and 4 and they’re flying off the shelves. As well as a raft of fascinating underwater revelations that will really concerned all thinking barbel anglers we have put in a load of effort to explain how we use watercraft to identify barbel swims on a stretch of river we had previously never seen before. Copies can be obtained by logging on to my web site, http://www.bobrobertsonline.co.uk/dvds-2/bdw3/
But what of the fishing? I had a fabulous day at Lakeside Fisheries, Ranskill, but not on the match lake as you might expect. I had a word with Steve who runs the place and asked if I might have a go for roach on the specimen carp lake. “Go ahead,” He said, “There’s only a couple of carpers on there today.” So I did and what a fascinating day I had using nothing more complicated than the pole and a pint of maggots.
The depth shelved down to 6 feet at about 8 metres and it wasn’t too long before I was getting regular bites – and what fish they were. Occasionally the carpers have a dabble to while away a quiet day waiting for runs but in the main these roach are virgins. Fin and scale perfect. It’d be fun to have a go with hemp and tares when the weather picks up but you’d never get a peg as it’s a very popular carp water.
What this session brought home to me was the importance of correct elastic choice and tension. I’d say the vast majority of pole anglers these days target carp using thick elastics but roach require a far more delicate approach. I dug out a top section loaded with number three elastic which was just about right. Maybe a four would have been better but a 5 would definitely have been too strong leading to bumped fish. I like to see about two feet of elastic shoot out when I strike and then stay out, keeping a nice steady pressure on the hook hold.
After landing a dozen fish the elastic had relaxed leaving me with a couple of inches dangling out of the end of the pole – sound familiar? Well the difference between missing bites and hitting every one can sometimes be rectified simply by re-tensioning the elastic. That’s what I did after bumping a couple of fish and from then on it was one-a-bung again.
I frequently feed white maggots and fish with a red one on the hook so it stands out. Well, that’s the theory and the ploy produced some interesting results today. Fish a white maggot and I caught roach. Switch to red and voila! A perch. As the day wore on the roach became cagey, bites came in fits and starts. You’d catch a few, then it would go quiet. Adding a section to fish past the feed area or just going two feet to the left or right often produced a response but sometimes it’s better to let them regain their confidence. Chasing the shoal around might just chase them away altogether.
Contact Number: 01777 818524
Another trip that I really enjoyed despite diabolical weather was to the Straight Mile Fishery at Brampton. The wind blew and the rain was far too persistent for my liking but get this. I had a problem – too many fish in front of me!
I’d gone with roach in mind, they are after all my favourite species, I guess, and the ‘Mile is stuffed with them. The size can vary from minnow sized sprats to clonking great things going upwards of 1lb 8oz. The key is getting through the tiddlers without drawing in carp or great big chub, which go upwards of 5lb. It also has to be remembered that the fishery operates a strict 5 bait rule, maggots/ casters, worm, corn, luncheon meat and bread. No hemp and tares, no pellets, no mini boilies, just good old-fashioned traditional baits.
The first lesson to draw from the trip was the importance of plumbing. I decided to fish just over the marginal rushes using only two or three sections of pole. I plumbed up carefully, not just in front of me but all the way to my left and right and discovered as much as 9 inches difference in the depths and that makes a massive difference to your presentation if you don’t make allowance for it.
My plan was to feed maggot to my left and caster to my right in the hope that the smaller fish would gravitate to the maggot while I might pick out a few quality specimens on the caster.
To a degree this worked, but bearing in mind I was fishing on a shelf that was less than three feet deep, adding an extra section and fishing just a bit further away from my brolly made a massive difference to my catch rate.
Roach can be induced to feed ‘on the drop’, even in cold weather but spreading out my shots simply produced more smaller fish, especially on maggot. Much better to bulk it all down about 4 inches from the hook and fish with caster.
Eventually I had things sorted out but the lashing I was getting from the wind and rain was making things quite uncomfortable. Indeed I was on the verge of quitting when six feet of elastic shot out of the pole and I began to hope I was into a big roach. The first time it broke surface I saw a pointed red fin and got rather excited until I realised it was a barbel. Take it from me, a 2lb barbel is NOT as exciting as a 2lb roach – not in my book anyway!
If you fancy a day on the Straight Mile the contact numbers are 01909 561663 or 07771 995331
I am sick and tired of reading two things; the first being that we anglers are killing swans with our (banned) lead shots and that we should not be allowed near the waterside in springtime because we will disturb breeding birds.
The second thing is Internet posters who believe they’re expert anglers preaching that commercial fisheries are nothing but holes in the ground.
Well, I was at Lindholme Fisheries the other day, the UK’s biggest commercial fishery. Not only was the place looking amazing with masses of blossom and flowers but I also spotted this swan, on its nest, sitting a clutch of eggs. Cute, isn’t it?
So how come it hasn’t died of lead poisoning or been frightened off by anglers fishing just a few yards away?
You may recall a couple of features I’ve done on the Specimen Lake at Alderfen Fisheries for this magazine and I do like the place. It may surprise you to learn that I went there recently to fish the Match Lake rather than the Specimen Lake. I go there because it has a greater head of tench and bream than anywhere else in the area and that means I can revert to conventional methods, particularly the waggler. Mind you, I was tempted to change my mind when I saw an angler returning some nice tench and a 2lb rudd after a session on the Specimen Lake, but I didn’t waver.
It was blowing a hooligan and keeping a waggler still was the devils own job and involved laying a lot of line and small shots on the bottom.
My intention wasn’t to stay too long but it’s hard to pack up when you’re having fun, isn’t it? I had an odd bream, several tench plus a nice carp on soft pellets. We’ll not mention the one that did me off in the far side rushes. When I struck there was none of your dashing about and thrashing around, it just swam away steadily and there was nothing I could do about it. Without a doubt it was a good ‘un.
Big Dave Walker, the fishery owner came round for a chat and I happened to mention I was fishing like a clampit. “Don’t worry about it,” He replied in his usual droll manner, “You’ll be used to that!”
You have to laugh, he’s taller than me and that’s saying something. He went on to tell me the tale of one of his regulars. Apparently he’d said to Dave recently, “Do you know why I come here?”
To which Dave shook his head.
“Because I get a better class of insult that anywhere else…”
If you’d like to be insulted by Dave, give him a call on 07772 033398