March Mayhem

More than a week goes by and no fishing, partly down to the weather and partly other commitments but finally I venture out to Blacklands to find it mostly covered in thin ice but melting. I plump for peg 10 and feed sparingly with one swim in open water and another against the edge of the ice. The feed to start with was a bit of chopped worm with a few micros on both lines. A sluggish start, understandable with the conditions , but eventually some bites started and I ended with 17 roach, 5 skimmers and 7 perch, but should have been a lot better as I lost a good fish, probably a half asleep carp that plodded around before snagging me on the overflow, plus I inexplicably bumped 10-15 fish and still can’t work out why!

Three days later I returned to find the ice gone and my worms still on the garage floor at home! A good time to focus on other baits I thought! So it was peg 11 today fishing at 10m with 3 areas fed in a line – to the left a half pot of micros, directly in front a handful of micros and to the right a half pot of wheat. Each area was about 3-4 feet away from the next. Two rigs set up – a standard homemade diamond pattern with bulk down and a second bulk of 3xno10 stotz at the hooklength join, the other rig a 0.4g chianti style, again homemade with strung out shot. Both rigs were on 0.12mm mainline with 0,10mm hooklength and 18 hook. Starting on the middle line, I planned to leave the left line “cook” for at least an hour before trying it, I began to get some roach and after an hour with about 10 fish I changed to the right line with double wheat on the hook and was immediately into a better stamp of fish. Indeed the fish had settled on the wheat and apart from a brief dalliance on the left hand line, most of the time was spent on the wheat line with me swapping between the rigs – both produced, the bigger roach were in the upper layers and were taking on the drop but the skimmers were also waiting on the bottom for the wheat! I ended up with 31 roach, 20 skimmers (best two were 2-2 and 1-12), 6 gudgeon, 3 perch and a tench of 1-12.


All the fish apart from the initial ten roach and 4-5 roach and skimmers were taken on the wheat, approx 21lb. Who says wheat only catches roach in the warm weather!

Two days later and I fancied a change so headed off to Patneys, where I was hoping that I may find the odd carp awaking from their icy slumbers! I headed to the usual bay peg as at least I knew there would be fish in the area.



Fishing 13m with a rig similar to that at Blacklands but with 0.16mm mainline and 0.12mm hooklength to an 18, I started by feeding3 balls of groundbait plus a handful of pellet with a dozen maggots and then fed a pinch of micros via the catapult every 5minutes or so. Maggot on the hook got me a roach and 3 small perch, expanders collared 2 small skimmers in the first hour, at which point I decided to stop pussy-footing around and cupped in a dozen 4mm cubes of meat and put a cube on the hook. I began feeding the micros as before via the catapult but now added a small homemade toss-pot to my top kit and introduced 3-4 cubes of meat with a pinch of micros, all held in place by a plug of groundbait each time I shipped out. After 10minutes I had my first bite, a carp of 2-6, the next three hours went as follows (all carp)- 1-14, 0-8, 1-8, 3-8, 1-0,  5-10, 0-8, 3-8, 0-8, 6-0, giving a total with the silver fish of 27-11. Not hectic fishing but pleasant after the wintry weather.


Back to Blacklands but this time I fished Stans Lake for a change as the heavy rain of the previous days had caused the stream to back up and gush into Heron with muddy water. Setting up at the base of the slope behind the BBQ area. Stans is shallow, about 3 feet, and I opted to fish a Chianti style homemade float of 0.3g to a 0.10mm hooklength and my usual 18 at 10m, in the same style as Heron, ie two swims, worm to the right and pellet to my left. As usual on Stans there was the period were things went dead- mainly I suspect carp pushing the smaller fish out of the swim, but had a pleasant day with 26 skimmers, 5 roach, including ones of 15oz and 12oz, 2 perch, 1 gudgeon and a carp of 4-1 which tested my no 5 elastic! A total of around 12 and a half pounds.


That Friday I returned as I was running a match at Blacklands that Sunday and wanted to check on peg 4 as we had not fished it for a bit. Set up was the standard one for Blacklands with the two rigs set up and a similar approach yielded 24roach to 12oz, 33 skimmers and two perch for a total of 20-14, most of the roach coming to wheat. More importantly I discovered that the heavy rainfall that had created the overflow into Heron on my previous visit had dislodged the willow snag that was between pegs 4 and 5 and it was now most definitely in peg 4!!

The weather gods must hate me as a sharp fall in temperature plus a heavy snowfall on Saturday night meant I had to cancel the match as people were unable to get there! A lot of ringing around ensued and I managed to get the match re-booked for the following Saturday (all being well!). By Wednesday when I returned to Blacklands, the snow had gone and I decided to fish peg 7- the narrowest peg on the lake. I fish this differently from most as I ignore the obvious areas against the island and instead fish at 7m “down the track”, again making use of 3 lines of attack.


While fishing it didn’t feel it was fishing well but at the end I had just under 21lb comprising of 24 skimmers (best 2-15), 23 roach, including one of exactly a pound, 12 perch and 1 tench of 1-14. More than half the fish were caught on wheat, including two of the perch!

Match day arrives and I find myself on peg 2, a large fish bumped on third put in slowed it down for me with only 6 fish in first hour with my usual approach. Moving to the pellet was equally slow and I basically had to get my head down and scratch out what I could, the problem was the fish were of a smaller stamp than usual (I suspect to the cold water going in overnight with the rain), by the end I had 28 roach, 32 skimmers and 2 perch for 13-7 for 3rd in section and fifth overall. Fred on peg 1 had a similar number of fish but his were slightly bigger and more skimmers weighed in 18-10 while Jamie on peg 3 had the same problem as me with small fish and not so many skimmers for 8-8. The match was won off peg 6 by Ali Foreshaw with 22-12 , mainly taken on the whip and maggot, a lot of fish but with the odd exception, small.

April beckons with a Fishomania match at Viaduct and roach at Boddingtons to look forward to.



Bait-are we blinkered?

With the plethora of new “super” baits and groundbaits on offer I am beginning to wonder if groundbait/bait/bait additives are the industry’s answer to the decline in float sales (with the increase in home produced and hand made floats) as the latest affordable “must haves”. It seems every season there is a new super additive/flavour/glug and it must be said that a great deal of them have proven successful but is that because of the scientific research into it’s composition or is it down to we anglers being blinkered by the baits we use and anything different will stand out.
Four years ago I bought a sack of wheat for about £9 delivered, I still have some left, and everywhere I have tried it I have caught, and not just roach which most associate wheat with. I have had bream, gudgeon, tench, carp, perch (yes perch!), dace, chub, rudd and roach in all shapes and sizes! The point is was it the pulling power of wheat or was it a different bait from the usual, soft and presented in an acceptable manner? The same goes with  cheese (see previous blog entry”Cheesy what”) and I have had similar fortune with marzipan. It must be said that in some commercial fisheries there is a very prescriptive list of bait that is allowed and as most people are looking to catch carp in a match  or pleasuring it is understandable that they go down the pellet route as the quarry was raised on pellet before introduction to the pool. In the same way, what goes on the hook can have a vast array of flavours and colour while there is now more of a trend to make the bait look “washed out” ie, looking  safer for the fish to take confidently.
Are we alone in our preoccupation with finding the perfect super bait? Obviously not as the introduction of Marukyu shows that the Asian market is just as fascinated with bait. They tend to be “F1” type carp oriented (not sure of the exact genus as there are several!) and there is a far bigger array of baits available than here!
Most bait is paste oriented and is classified into fibrous v soft and time to break down. Most paste has a target fish and method, my lad, Gareth, has been catching a variety of fish on paste, fishing inches deep in rivers and drains. He often gets paste specially made up in the tackle shop for how long he wants it to stay on the hook. Similarly pellets are pre-banded and are different sizes, colours and make-up- the ones shown here are about 6mm in diameter but 1.8cm long.
I have used smaller varieties in this country with success- not only for carp but for quality roach and bream, the shape of the pellet makes it harder for the smaller fish to take easily.
The bottom line is does a bait work because of a magical attraction or because it is different from the norm?

February Freeze

With Gareth safely back in China I went to Blacklands on the Monday to find it covered with a sheet of ice and my ice breaker at home! Pegs 4,5 and 6 were partly clear but I decided to go on peg 1, fortunately the ice was thin and was broken with a pole cup and landing net.

Blacklands ice

I set up with just the one rig, a homemade diamond style float taking 0.6g on 0.12mm Tornado with an 15cm 0.08 Shogun hooklength to a 20. I had a bulk shot 2 feet from the hook, a number 8 just 6 inches below that and

then two number 10 stotz at the hooklength loop.  This is a pattern I had been experimenting with and it seemed to work very well to date. I began cautiously with micros on the left of the peg and worm on the right but less than I would normally introduce at the start. Two hours later and not a bite, plus the ice was rapidly thawing and the ice water seemed to be having a detrimental effect but then suddenly as if a tap was turned on I had a bite every put in on worm – one perch and 36 roach later I packed up, undecided why the “tap” had been put on…Was it a change in atmospheric pressure or…

Saturday saw the next in the series of matches I had arranged at Blacklands. Just 8 taking part this time with some other events locally clashing, this became 7 with a no-show. I drew (or rather Dazza did for me) peg 8. I set up the usual rigs – the diamond and a chianti style for on the drop. This time I had decided on 4 lines, the first at 11m to my left was to be my worm line, a pellet line straight in front of me  at 11m, another pellet line 11m to my right almost 6m out from the bank and a caster line a metre off the island.At the start I put in my usual  decent dollop of choppie , and a big handful of pellet cupped on to both lines, a cup containing about 200 casters was put on my island line. Starting on the worm was a steady start before moving onto the pellet lines, rotating between then and occasionally trying the caster line to plunder some better roach I ended up with 28 roach, 36 skimmers, 2 perch and a gudgeon, at the weigh in the scales went to 20-10, I have to use two weighs as the scales I have go to 20lb and always weigh in last. After this when I was gathering my net I found I had missed a roach – 10oz to be precise much to Dazza’s amusement, so my real weight was 21-4, still not enough to change my position. Must remember in future to thoroughly check the net and spread it out tidily!! The weights went as follows

Peg 2    23-11                              Peg 8   20-10 (21-4)

Peg 3    16-06                                Peg 10 15-01

Peg 5     11-10                              Peg 12   21-09

Peg 6    11-05

Thanks to Dazza for the pics of some of the catches

The following week I returned but decided to fish the other lake- Stan’s. Now this is a very different prospect with a consistent depth of about 3-3.5ft and despite the cold weather I fancied it for a change. Setting up on the right hand bank with the building behind me I set up a chianti style float to 0.08mm hooklength and a 20, kicking off with the usual worm to the right and pellet to the left approach  IO had a very pleasant session with 9 perch, 8 roach to 12oz, 56 skimmers to 3-3 and a solitary carp that gave me the runaround on my no.5 elastic with no puller!IMG_20180221_125517670.jpg

The silvers came to 20-08 giving a total of 25-06 with the carp- a pleasant if cold outing.

Two days later I decided to give the river a go and see if I could get one of the pike that cause so many problems on matches. The top weir at Benger was my choice, but with the temperatures showing -2C I was not over hopeful. I had traveled light and put a float out with a joey for the pike and a maggot feeder with a small piece of worm on a 0.08mm to a 20 and chopped worm in the feeder as my other rod, mainly to keep my interest! After 10 minutes I had a bite on the feeder that I missed and that was that for two hours. I decided to pack the rods away and resorted to getting my 5 piece Shakespeare travel match rod that always goes everywhere with me in the car along with my emergency tackle and give the backwater a go for an hour.

Tackling up, I found about 5 feet of water and catapulting out some maggots I immediately began to get bites and had 3 small fish- a dace and two chub before it went dead- possibly a pike! Twenty minutes later after feeding the cheeky robin that landed on my rod I gave it best and went home! March beckons and a final match at Blacklands