Session 23 – Well, the scenery was nice anyway…. and Session 24 plans … and joined the BAA again.

OK… here we are again, having been on session 23 of 2013 at Himley Hall Great Pool in Dudley.

Arrived at the gates at 6:45am, to be ready for their opening at 7:00am but were open on arrival, so straight in and down to the pool. There were a couple of cars already present on the angler’s car park too.

So I gathered gear from the car boot and trotted off to my usual swim – peg 16. Well, I say ‘usual’ as if its a regular visit – but this was the 4th visit in 2 years – and only made as I found out that the pool was open all year round this year, having had a ‘close season’ from mid-March to mid-June in previous years. Once I’d arrived at the swim, first thing was to get the brolly/shelter up as rain was forecast throughout the day although on arrival it was quite bright – and very warm thus requiring the removal of the angling jacket very quickly 🙂

Tackle set up for the day consisted of a pair of Grandeslam 11′ Avon Barbel rods coupled with 8lb BS Krystonite line, 1/2oz Arseley bombs on short links and with a size 12 hook to 6lb hooklength on one rod, and size 6 to 6lb hooklength on the other. The swim was baited up with hemp, maize and maggot.

First baits of the day were worm on the size 6 hooked rig and cockles fished on a short Stonfo bait holder on the size 12. And within 5-10 minutes of making my first casts both rods had small quick plucks/lifts of the line bobbins… and I awaited developments with bated breath… but 8 hours later, even with changing baits (bread, maggot, corn, etc), they had not moved or twitched one further one millimetre…

Had a few rain showers and dips/rises of temps over the day but nothing too bad – and was quite pleasant just watching the ‘happenings’ of the pool…carp rolling, porpoising and jumping frequently all over the pool, coots nest building between my peg and peg 17 added interest – and it was quite funny when it seemed one of the coots had bullied a moorhen into carrying some buuilding materials from the pool’s far side… :D. Also watched/saw a family of swans with cygnets, a mallard and her 6 or so chicks, another coot family trying to get their 3 offspring into the water from the rock they were stood in, and a crested grebe diving, and when I left, on its nest.

So one more blank for the record… but quite an enjoyable day overall.

Pics of the day:

2013-05-30 Himley Hall 01 2013-05-30 Himley Hall 02 2013-05-30 Himley Hall 03 2013-05-30 Himley Hall 04 2013-05-30 Himley Hall 05

Session 24 – I’m hoping to have a day on Sunday, 2nd June, back at the club’s tench pool. The weather is being good today and even better is forecast for Saturday and Sunday. So, with a bit of luck, I hope to get the tackle sorted on Saturday for an early start on Sunday 🙂

B.A.A. – well, after a fit of pique, calming down and reconsideration I’ve decided, along with Liz, to re-join the BAA. I wasn’t going to after the increase in the cost to us this year… Last year (2012) we paid £45 for a Joint Ticket to cover both of us (single Senior Male membership at the time being £32, and single Female ticket was something like £25?). However, the total cost for us both this year is £70 – an effective increase of over 50%, hence the hesitation in rejoining. This increase was due to a few changes occuring – (a) the differential between male and female subscriptions has been made illegal via EU regulations, (b) a general increase in the Full (male/female individual) subscription from £32 to £35 and (c) a decision of the BAA to abolish the Joint Ticket altogether due to low take up. Thus Liz and myself now have to purchase 2 Full tickets for that overall cost of £70. But all said and done, it is still excellent value for the number of waters that can be fished – and notable for us in particular is that they control a large amount of Middle Severn fishing plus Nordley Pools between Bridgnorth and Broseley which we have enjoyed on our previous vists there also some local canal waters. And also may get some Teme visits in too. And with the new river season approaching then we needed to get on to some good water…. 🙂 Last year, Liz and I also had Izaak Walton (Stafford) cards to fish some pools and canal over that way and for me, the River Sow, which is a gorgeous small river, and the River Trent … BUT … finances, and actual number of times I visited the IW waters, make it not so good valuewise and now having just sent off for our BAA cards I think IW renewal will not take place at this point in time.

Session 23 Plans and How I Prepare Hemp …..

OK… thinking of a session at a pool that has previously had a ‘close season’ between mid-March and mid-June in which fishing has not been allowed. However, I’ve just found out that for 2013 at least the close season has been abolished and that re-instatement or not of the close season for 2014 will be under consideration – presumably depending on angling results but reckon more weighted by the effects, if any, on the fish and other wildlife – and the behaviour of the anglers, of course. The pool has a great head of tench and has appeared on TV in one of Matt Hayes ‘Rod Race’ series when they were targetting the crucian carp athat also abound… and it also holds a good head of perch, some of excellent size. And for a £5 day ticket is excellent value.

Anyway, I came into the information on the pool being open from a comment of another local angler, who is also famous for his angling blogs – and who also inspired this one of mine…. Stewart Bloor, The Angling Rev (*) 🙂

Which brings me neatly to the subject of hemp preparation – and my way of doing it 🙂

As Stewart says in his blog there’s 2 ways of getting your baits – pre-prepped and bagged from the shops or to buy the bulk materials and prep your own. My preference is for the latter on 2 counts … (1) for the cost of 2-3Kg of pre-prepped stuff you can make 5-6Kg easily of your own and (b) you are not limited to flavours or flavour levels as may be available commercially. And DIY is very easy and consumes very little time….

In fact, I prepare 99% of my own seed/nut baits – tiger nuts being the only one I can think of that I actually have in a commercial package, and that because they were ‘on sale’! 🙂 I prep my own yellow and red maize, hemp, chick pea, etc. otherwise.

OK – the nitty gritty of home prep…. in this case I’m going through prepping hemp – all are very similar but may take longer soaks/boils, etc….

Firstly – get your seed! A quick peruse on the internet I found 15Kg available for £30 inc shipping on eBay. And its almost certainly not impossible that you can better this. Try local pet shops, etc. Also remember that 15Kg of dry seed will actually produce 30/40 or more Kg of prepped seed.

Next step is to soak the seed to be prepped – I generally prep 500g at a time – so weigh/approximate the amount you need into a saucepan or other container that can be heated – add a teaspoon of Sodium Bicarbonate (this will help blacken the seed case and also helps the splitting at the boiling stage) – and then cover with cold water and let stand overnight or longer if possible. At this stage you can also add any flavourings you desire – as the seeds soak then they will also take in the added flavour. My personal preference is for Hot Chili, so at this stage I add 1 heaped table spoon of Extra Hot Chili powder to the soaking liquor. Check every now and then and add extra water as needed to keep the seed covered.

Now on to the (normally) final stage… which is the boil. There are 2 ways of doing this…

(1) Place your saucepan or container, with the seeds and liquor still intact (do NOT drain and replace liquor although extra water may be added to it to bring to a level suitable for boiling) on the cooker ring and turn up and start boiling, stirring occasionally to prevent burning the seeds on the pan bottom. Once boiling, turn down the heat to let the seeds simmer… and leave like this until they are done. The simmering will probably take about an hour by which time a large number of the seeds will have cracked open – evidenced by a white shoot showing from the split seed casing… at this point remove from the heat and allow to cool naturally… and when cool then virtually 90% of the seeds will have visible shoots showing. If not, then just return to the heat, return to the boil, simmer another 15 mins or so, and allow to cool again. Continue boil/cool cycle as long as you need to to get the finished product… but usually one re-boil is sufficient if the original boil came up short. Drain off liquor (HINT: drain the liquor into a plastic milk bottle or similar and fridge for use in groundbait prep at the water’s side).

OR

(2) The way I do it… I have a microwave pressure cooker… so I add my liquor/seed mix to that… and microwave on full power (700W, I think) for 20-30 mins. Remove the vessel from the microwave and allow to cool… check contents… re-microwave again as necessary until perfection is reached. Drain, keeping liquor as per version 1.

OK – that’s it really – but there are a couple of things you can do to the prepped seeds that may help attraction…

(1) Add a tablespoon of sugar and/or salt to the cooked seeds to ‘sweeten’ them. NOTE: do NOT add salt to the steeping liquor before boiling as it can act adversely and prevent the seeds splitting properly I’m told.

OR

(2) If you intend to use the hemp in PVA bags then it needs to be dried out well. I do this by allowing an initial prolonged draining period in a sieve with occasional agitation/stirring to get as much dampness out as possible, then then placing on a tray in the oven at LOW temp (fan assisted best) remembering we don’t want to cook the seed, just dry it. Move the seeds around from time to time until they seem quite dry and remove from the oven. And then finally, place the prepped and dried seeds in a plastic bag, add a tea spoon of olive/vegetable/whatever-you-fancy-but-not-motor oil, inflate the bag and seal the neck and shake to coat the seeds uniformly. Then store as usual.

That’s it for today then…. 🙂

(*) See Stewart’s blogs at: http://www.sicm.org/anglingdiary/

Session 22 – another blank… :(

Well,  I set off to the club’s tench/silvers pool full of hope this morning – arriving and tackled up and fishing by 7:00am.

Beautiful morning … but despite floatfishing (laying on and slow-drop) maggot for 2.5 hours  without a touch and then legering worm on the quivertip for another 2 hours (a couple of small knocks) I did not have one decent bite.

At noon I transferred my attentions to the adjoining carp & chub pool – fishing legered worm off an island with one rod and fishing floating bread on another. Carp could clearly be seen cruising around but, despite swimming under and alongside the bread, they were not at all interested. The worm rod fared little better with just 2 small jerks registered in 3 hours. However, the floating bread did register interest with small fish, with groups attacking the bait and free offerings and I decided to see what these were… and did so by attaching a 2lb hooklength with size 18 hook baited with a single maggot onto the hook in use and just flicking a loose line out. Within a minute or so I had landed 3 of these fish – all roach of about 2-3oz which aren’t supposed to be in that pool! I suspect there have been migrations of small fish between the 2 pools – both within 15 yards of each other and connected by a narrow pipe (rainpipe size) so that water can enter from a stream into the tench/silvers pool, then pass into the carp pool, and then overflow from the opposite end of that pool back into the stream when full.

Pics of the day:

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Session 22 – Decision made…

OK – I’m going on Saturday as I’ve decided that the weather will be too good to be missed.

I’ll go early and get back for 4:30pm which should allow me to get the tackle stored away and baits back in fridge, etc (or even just dump it all in garage until Sunday and sort it all then), have a bath, etc, pick up Liz and then get off to the housewarming… 🙂

YEAH!!!! 🙂

Ringing the changes …again… session 22 plans…

Totally confuddled now…

Weather for the original planned day – Friday – is forecast as 10C, wet and with 22mph winds… not the best of conditions at all.

However, Saturday’s forecast is for 15C, dry and sunny and winds dropped to 7mph so would be good normally but for the fact that on the evening Liz and I are due at a housewarming-cum-birthday-BBQ party. I suppose it would work though – get back from fishing about 4:30, bath, change, etc. Liz is working until 7:30 anyway…

Other options would be to go on Sunday – conditions similar to Saturday’s but would be following a late night on Saturday… or Monday when there may be a bit of rain but wind has switched from a generally northerly to a generally southerly one…

Think that maybe I’m thinking in terms of Sunday at the mo… but that’s by no means certain at this point in time either…

Discretion being the better part of valour… Session 21 foreshortened….

… I’m back home after session 21 already … it’s 8:25am now and I’ve been soaking in the bath for a good hour … so only actually fished for about an hour and a half really.

I learnt a lesson I should have already known really – never expect a weather forecast made a few days ago to be right! Check the latest one, or at least check what is expected within 24 hours of going. And I didn’t do that did I? 😦

As I was leaving the house at 4:30am misty rain drops appeared on the car’s windscreen but nothing of note and soon cleared enroute to the canal but then restarted and stopped… and restarted, etc. But nothing too bad it seemed.

Anyway, got there, walked to the selected swim, baited up and started fishing… and in the next hour and a half there were a couple of heavier showers (and I’d no brolly with me)… but more damaging was the increasing cool breeze that was channeling along the canal coupled with that sort of dampness in the air that gets straight through the clothing, no matter how well waterproofed, etc,  to the skin and starts to chill. Anyway, by 7:00am I’d caught the shivers and a short walk along the canal did nothing to improve that…. and the sky for miles was just a non-stop sheet of misty grey and it was obvious that nothing was to improve climate wise for hours anyway. Also, in the hour and a half, I fished cockle and prawn baits – and had had only one tiny pluck on a cockle so the motivating action needed for the encountered conditions was missing from the session too.  So, deciding I’d rather not risk pneumonia, I headed home….

So, later today I will be sorting out my baits that I’ve come back home with today, and also sorting my tackle out for my intended 22nd session on Friday at my club’s tench pool.

Weather’s good so it’s time for the session 21 pre-talk….!! :)

OK… weather’s looking good! And forecast even better for tomorrow too! And so it seems that a man needs to set his alarm for 4:00am in order to set off for the local canal at 4:30am 🙂

Spent this morning sorting out my tackle and baits and bar making a flask of coffee and putting the chilled baits in the bag from the fridge I reckon I’m ready now.

I have used my ‘new’ Hardy Marksmen Smuggler Carryall as my main bag with my scales, camera, knife, and other general items – and haven’t used the main compartment or one of the side pockets at all! 🙂 although the side pocket will probably house my flask and some chocolate bars to tide me through the morning and the main compartment some of my baits. Also ready are my bucket and seat (as described in previous post) with my landing net folded into the seat for carriage, and the bucket containing some groundbait and my catapults and will also contain some baits too.

Rods, banksticks, rod rests and landing net handle are all in my Korum 3-rod quiver – taking 2 rods, my 11′ Des Taylor System 3 Avon fitted with the softest quivertip and 6lb line which will be my main weapon and as a ‘spare’ I’m taking a Syntra 10′ feeder rod, again soft tip and 6lb line. Tied up a few hooklengths with hooks of sizes 10 to 16, all to 6lb line which I will connect to link swivels on the end of my main line thus allowing fast changeovers to accomodate different baits.

Baits… I’m taking some groundbait left over from my last session out that was frozen and now re-thawed – contains breadcrumb, some commercial ‘silver/bream’ mix, maggots (now dead after the freezing), hemp and maize. For hookbaits I have maggots, prawn, worm, cheesepaste, and sweetcorn… and also I purchased some perwinkles in shells (now nut crackered to break the shells) which will be used as loose feed and cockles for hookbait with a few for free offerings.

Also just remembered, as I forgot on the last canal session, that I must add my box of artificials to the bait bag. Useful for critically balancing baits – and also for keeping lively baits (eg maggots and worms) on barbless hooks. My box contains many types of artificials such as pop-up and sinking corn in various colours, floating bread, squatts, pinkies, gozzers, red worms to lobworms, mid sized larva, etc… something for all occasions really!  🙂

Anyway, the quarry I’m hoping for tomorrow are either good sized chub or perch – so the baits in use will be generally dictated by those. Initially I’ll start off with meaty baits (maggot, prawn, cockle, worm, etc) and then depending on results I may move over to cheesepaste and sweetcorn which are in favour for the chub but really remove perch from the likely captures.  And, of course, carp, tench and bream will also be possible temptees of all the listed baits and will not be snubbed – and neither will the lowly gudgeon either although I’m hoping to avoid too much interference from those.

Oh well, that’s it for now… need to pop to Go Outdoors shortly to top up on some Kamasan B981 barbless hooks in a few sizes.

New goodies have arrived….

Well, the replacement bite alarms (£32 all-inc from eBay) have now arrived via the Royal Mail this morning…

alarms 2

All worked well on testing – and the receiver also detects the old heads. So as the old set had green, red and (broken) blue LED heads, and this new set has yellow, red and blue LED ones it means (a) I’ve a spare red head and (b) all 4 colours are now operative! Academic really as I only use 2 rods at a time but it also means I can swap heads to suit lighting conditions for best operation. Cool!

And last week I was informed I’d won a ‘Hardy Marksmen Smuggler Carryall’ in a magazine competition.

Hardy Marksman Bag 1Hardy Marksman Bag 2

And it was delivered yesterday. An excellent item – and something I really wanted! Normally £80 in the shops!

I’ve wanted a better bag than the current one I use for my early morning canal sessions – and this looks the absolute ideal item. As I’m planning a canal trip on Monday it will be field tested then. It seems just the right size for my needs with pockets to accomodate my camera and scales, etc as I would want to do. Flask and a few choccie bars along with bait and my few items of tackle will fit nicely too – and maybe get bait in there too but that’s not so important as I always take a bucket along too. Bucket acts as a carrier for baits and all kinds of odds and ends like catapults, spombs, etc and also as my fishing seat in conjunction with one of these type of seats …

backrest seat

… which I use closed/folded up and just lay over the bucket to sit on. When river fishing I sometimes do open the seat up and place it on the ground and take advantage of the back rest to gain a bit of comfort but with canals there is (a) not enough room to stretch out legs without encroaching on the tow path and getting in the way of bikers/ramblers and (b) canal banks are generally flat and so you have to stretch your legs out straight in front which make it difficult to stand up (esp with my age and flexibility it’s bad enough rising from a proper seat!) – but saying that, in the summer I have used the seat as it is meant to be used by rolling up trouser legs, removing shoes/sock and dangling feet in the canal! 🙂

Also, I bought from Lidl one of those small flexible tripods that wraps around branches, etc  for the camera (£5.99) – before I’ve used a bankstick/camera adaptor for the job but sometimes the ground is too hard to accomodate a bankstick, etc but this can be twisted onto the rod-pod or leg of my chair or to the branch of a convenient tree, etc…

tripod

…but that’s not my camera – mine’s a Kodak C142 compact type. Better than that Nikon for my purpose!! 😀 The reason – my Kodak’s self-timer has a 2-shot option – ie you can set the self timer so that it fires 10 seconds after clicking the button (which is what most cameras do) BUT the Kodak can also fire another shot another 8 seconds later which is great! Usually 10 seconds is a bit of a dash to get from pressing the camera shutter, back to the fish on unhooking mat, uncovering fish, lifting and then taking up the ‘pose’ and quite often the camera fires before you’re ready requiring the whole sequence to be gone through again… but the second firing allows that extra time to actually get everything right and often that’s it all done – very rarely is another try required – and if the first shot worked out ok then there’s 2 good pics. The camera’s also got a burst mode – fires a shot every second or something like that – but never used it as the 2-shot timer has worked fine and the burst would take far to many pics requiring deleting the one’s not wanted regularly.

The bite alarms are no more…. but new ones purchased!

Well, my bite alarms WERE three wireless NGT camo ones like these….

Image

… but seemed to have succumbed to foul weather possibly and possibly general component failure too…

The receiver is not responding to any of the output from the alarm heads – indicative that the fault lies within itself – but I am unable to locate any obvious faulty area (burnt out component, etc… there’s power there from the batteries and at various points on the circuit board). But on top of that, the blue LED’d head has been playing up for a short while – once it starts working it tends to be OK but problem symptoms seem to indicate a faulty capacitor – takes a while to operate after switching on, fades away, etc – and components are not easy to access as the circuit board is waterproofed by a rubbery overlay that is very difficult to peel away…

Anyway, with the problems mounting I deemed it time to call on the services of eBay once more to obtain a new set… which I have done…  and now these are on their way to me….

NGT Wireless Alarms 2

… which actually don’t look too dissimilar to the set being replaced… possibly the original heads will also work with the new  receiver. Only real differences as I can make out is that this new receiver uses a 9v (PP9) battery whilst the old one used 4 x AAA 1.5v ones (all the heads, old and new, use an A23 12v battery) and that the heads, at least, are black rather than camo although the receiver in the pic does look camo but may be a trick of the light, possibly? Hopefully, they will work as well as the old ones as I was pretty happy with those – they were probably the best alarms I’ve used since the original Optonics of the 80’s.

I do need to use wireless ones as my failing hearing means that to depend on the normal head speakers would mean having them at full volume generally – much to the annoyance of other anglers – and would still be unheard if I were to pop to the swim next door (eg to net a fish for Liz). However, with wireless I can have the head volumes way down low and depend on the receiver’s speaker kept close to me to indicate takes.

Anyway, hopefully, should be in receipt of these new items in a few days 🙂

But weather pretty grim now – and no change is forecast until Sunday and then a return to wind/rain on Monday but then Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are forecasted as improved.  So possibly no fishing now until mid next week.

Session 20 – In Which I Break My Duck On That Pool…

Well, we set off at 7:30am to the intended pool, arriving at about 8:10am. Walked the pool to decide on the swims to fish – and finally decided upon a double swim with our backs to the westerly breeze. We tackled up and a few large spods of bait mix were sent out into the swims before settling down with our baits in the water.

Whilst walking the water we spotted a dead (and well decaying) carp that would have been close to double figures near the dam wall.

On setting up, I discovered that my bite alarms had a bit of a problem – probably due to the Welsh rain a couple of weeks back – neither of my buzzer heads responded to line movement but that was resolved easily by battery replacement, seems the dampness had effectively shorted the batteries and drained their power (although no actual sign of dampness was apparent inside the battery compartment, or indeed, anywhere inside the heads when completely stripped down back at home)… and the wireless receiver did not function at all either but changing batteries did not resolve this problem, so now that is also stripped down and sitting on radiator although, again, no actual signs of water/dampness could be seen anywhere inside. Anyway, as the heads worked OK after the battery change I was dependant upon their inbuilt sounders for indication, so a good job there was only Liz and I on the pool (as I’ve said before – I have very dickey hearing!).

The day itself wasn’t the best – most of the time there was a very stiff breeze which really only abated/moderated infrequently and although white cloud and blue sky did occasionally show itself, the main weather feature of the day was rain intermingled with hail at times.

Anyway, back to the actual fishing… Liz fished her usual maggot and meat baits coupled with open-ended feeders, whilst I myself fished chili meat, sweetcorn and bread. However, there were no bites to either of us on those baits.  And then I tried a lob worm, and lo and behold, almost immediate results with my bobbin twitching away. Eventually, I managed to catch a perch of about 6oz and a little later another nice one of 13oz. At this point, Liz also put on worm and had a bite to which she connected, and said she thought it was a nettable size, but unfortunately the hook was thrown just short of shore. That then signalled a lull in action for quite a time for both of us, and the bites, when they restarted quite a while later, were very jittery – just quick small jumps of the bobbin – and things remained the same until around 3pm when, a heavy shower just having passed over, we decided to call it a day and packed up and headed home.

As you can see, by my being here still and writing this, that my planned trip to the canal today has been postponed – but a small possibility of going tomorrow instead – due to (a) tiredness after an early day yesterday and (b) need to look at the problems with my alarms. In all likeliness now the next trip will be back to the club’s tench pool on Friday.

2013-05-13 13oz Perch (2) 2013-05-13 13oz Perch (1)