Session 22 – Carping On In The Perfumed Garden

Friday, April 22nd, I headed to a club pool (KP) that I’d not fished for a couple of years – the main species in there is carp but there are also roach, rudd, tench, chub, pike and bream.

The reason I’d not fished it for that length of time is due to the fact of a massive successful carp spawning season in 2012 – plus the pool is used by the farmer for abstraction to water his crops in dry spells – and in 2012 he drew out between 5,000,000 – 8,000,000 gallons which meant that the water level dropped by around 8 feet (and was almost the same in summer of 2015) – no problem for the fish as the water is saucer shaped with around 11’-14’ in the centre and at the dam end of the pool it is 28’+ although the other, shallow, end of the pool is only 3’ deep when the pool is full… Anyway, 2012 seemed to provide excellent spawning for the carp as in 2013 it was impossible NOT to catch 6oz carp of all varieties. In fact, so impossible that it became annoying because ALL you could catch were 6oz carp… even soft baits (luncheon meat, paste, etc), ledgered, never reached with the bait being attacked as it hit the water and being taken, or stolen, as it sank WHEREVER and WHENEVER you cast – edge of pool, channel, to left, to right,… and even 16mm boilies were whittled down to a bare hook well inside 5 minutes… and come 2014 it was basically the same but, of course, the size of fish had increased to 10-12oz… Anyway, as it was impossible to get to the better level of fish I stopped visiting the pool – and yesterday was the first return since then…

So, I arrived at around 0800 and as I was the only one there – as, again, I was all day apart from another member who came to look at the pool and chat for 5-10 minutes – I easily got to my usual swim, a sheltered bay facing the dam wall with a weed/reed bed (looks like reed and amphibious bistort are appearing there) along the right hand bank heading out to the dam (pre-drying out in 2012 it was a lily patch that sheltered perch but that never returned and was devoid of all plant-life but seems new stuff is starting to emerge although not lilies – and I’ve not seen a perch on the pool since that drying out either 😦 but hopefully the new plant material will draw them back to the area.).

Usual pre-tackle prep (groundbaited, mats set out, camera set up, net set up, …) and then the 2 ledger rods were set up and cast into position … one rod with size 12 hook baited with dendro worm and maggot cast alongside the new emergent greenery, the other one with size 6 hook baited with lob worm initially but then switched to bread later cast out into deeper water (ca 11’) towards the dam. Also a few floating dog biscuits and bread crusts were scattered over the water surface to see if anything was interested in surface baits.

Over the next few hours the worm/maggot rod was subjected to a lot of small twitches – presumably small fish but nothing of essence and the lobworm/bread rod was virtually inactive and the floating testers were getting attention from fish of around 6” or so it appeared… but at 1300 one larger piece of floating bread disappeared in a ‘cloop and swirl’ and this was the start of what seemed to be a ‘mad half hour’ as I wound in the 2 ledger rods and placed a piece of crust on my ‘floating bait’ rod and cast that out… and within 5-10 minutes I had a common carp of 4-04 on the bank – another 5 minutes on the crust and a 4lb 11oz common was landed – and followed 10 minutes later by another common, time taking the scales down to 8lb 13oz…

2016-04-22 Steve 4lb 4oz Common Carp 05

4lb 4oz Common Carp

2016-04-22 Steve 4lb 11oz Common Carp 02

4lb 11oz Common Carp

2016-04-22 Steve 8lb 13oz Common Carp 05

8lb 13oz Common Carp

I also lost 2 other carp on hook pulls, one in the emerging plant bed, and also had 2 or three missed takes… but after about 1345 all went fairly quiet again – the main action thereafter being the attempts to detract/deter a mallard and a coot from my floating bread bait to which they seemed endlessly attracted despite several free offerings also being the area…

And so it remained until 1500 when I packed in for the day…

The ‘perfumed garden’ of the title? Well, last Sunday there was a club work party day on this pool and several of the swims were re-built with log edgings and shredded bark covering – and this was the largest of the swims done on the day. Now it seems that the bark used was primarily pine as the aromas were definitely ‘pine fresh’ as it says on the bottle usually! 🙂 Actually quite heady stuff – and the level was also probably boosted by the big stock pile not too far from the back of the swim… Quite pleasant but I should think also quite bait-tainting if bait and bark got in contact – as my hands did from time to time…


Water: 12.3C rising to 13.1C over the day…


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Session 21 – First Tench Of 2016

Tuesday, April 19th, Liz and I set out for a day’s fishing on a club water in Shropshire (WL2) … weather very good – actual spring type stuff – and hopefully we are now past the cold, wet and windy stuff that we’ve experienced for the past several months….

Anyway, we arrived at the site of the pools (there are two pools on site – a small pool that the club allows day tickets on and a larger members only pool which was the one we were to fish) at around 0815 and there were two people at the day ticket pool who it seemed had also just arrived and were net-dipping pre-start of their session… but on our pool there was non-one else – and that was how it remained all day…

So we tackled up after the usual preliminaries. Liz elected to fish two rods – one rod with a small open-end feeder fished with maggot, meat, sweetcorn, etc over the day and the other set up to fish laying-on style with a driftbeater float using maggot and worm baits. Myself, I intended to start off fishing just the one waggler float  rod but at around midday to switch over to fishing two ledger rods with my new frame feeders as a ‘test’ – however, laziness and the fact I had just started catching on the float meant the swap never took place and so I stuck with the waggler, fishing maggot and worm, for the complete session…

Liz’s feeder rod never so much had a twitch for the entire day despite casting around and switching baits… However, her float rod saw early action and she, by midday had landed a small perch and a small roach plus a slightly bigger perch of 7oz. However, come midday, the bites dried up with just the occasional one and despite Liz swapping bait from maggot to worm (as I’d been catching on worm) she caught no more fish.

Myself, I had opposite fortunes with only having a few bites pre-midday – and hooked a few <1oz tiddlers that all dropped off the hook before landing – on maggot… but then I had a perch of 7oz on maggot plus other bites that I was missing (and getting sucked maggots back) and at that point I decided to swap to dendro worm on the hook – and almost immediately had a tench of 2lb 2oz … followed shortly by another of 1lb 12oz … and later by a 2lb 13oz one… and then on packing up at 1545 I dropped the float+bait at the edge of the water whilst I unplugged the rod segments, and on pulling them out I had a perch of <1oz…

Anyway, tackled down, car packed we drove away – the 2 guys on the day ticket pool had already departed it seemed – and there was just one place to call at on the way home – THE PUB!!


2lb 13oz Tench


Water: 10.3C rising to 12.3C over the day…


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Session 20 – Proper Floatfishing…

Tuesday, 12th April was a visit to another club pool (GH) – my main pike pool for my October-March season – that is primarily a carp water with carp to over 20lbs (and the venue where Liz has had current PB common carp of 18lb 1oz which she has named ‘Sherman’) but also holds bream to 5lb+, roach to 2lb+ and chub to over 4lb (as personally known to but reputedly go to 7lb+)…. and pike to 34lb 8oz (real, weighed, photo’d) have been landed there although not by myself … and also tench and perch are said to be in existence there although in several years at the water I’ve neither caught either or seen either caught – and match catches are generally made up of carp, bream and roach with the occasional chub.


I arrived at the water at around 0730, the first cast was made at 0815 and tackled down at around 1615.

Tactics for the day were something I’ve not done for many years – proper waggler fishing by presenting the bait for on-the-drop takes with shot staggered down the line decreasing in size from float to hooklength rather than my usual laying-on/lift-method way that utilises a bodied antenna float weighted just below the float itself to almost sink the body and then slightly over-shotted to completely sink the float if it is fished under-depth – and then the depth is set slightly (generally about 5%-10% is about right) over-deep to actually fish so that the bottom shot lies on the bottom and thus the float would sit with the full antenna showing on a slack line but when a slight tension is applied to the the float can be made to sink to a suitable position in the water with just the tip showing.

So… the float for the day was a 5AAA+ bodied antenna waggler (basically a lighter version of the float I use for laying-on which is a 3SSG+ float) weighted with the following spread out shot: 1 x SSG, 1 x AAA, 1 x BB, 2 x No1, 2 x No 4. The top SSG shot was placed just above the half  depth – depth was plumbed to ascertain and the float set so that the bottom 6” of the line/hooklength just sat on the bottom – and the rest of the shot were placed equidistant  from each other with the lowest shot about 12” from the hook  Over the day I experimented with various depth settings and found that setting the depth at 25%-50% resulted in the most bites/fish.

So… the rod in use was my 13’ Hardy Matchmaker clone float rod (well, 12’ 9” really as 3” got snapped off the tip accidentally at some time in the past), teamed up with 6lb mainline (Diawa Hyper Sensor – the BEST line I’ve ever come across) and a 6” 6lb Dyneema braid hooklength with size 14 hook.

As usual, the chosen swim was fed lightly with a few small groundbait/maggot (pinkie/squatt)/particle balls to attract fish whilst the ‘station’ and tackle were set up for action and during the session small and frequent additions of maggots were fed by catapult and the occasional ball of groundbait added too…

Bait for the entire day was maggot and mealworm singly and as a cocktail although I did try bread for a short period without any joy.

By the end of the day I’d landed 25+ small roach to around 6oz plus a bream of 1lb 12oz.

A really enjoyable day – surprisingly, as I’ve not fished for roach for many years and have tended to ‘look down’ on them as a species (along with rudd) – but after today I think I’ll do more ‘proper waggler’ fishing and target roach more too! 🙂


If getting on a bit like me (LOL), and consequently not as supple as one used to be, then you can find that getting water for mixing groundbait from the pool’s edge can be ‘interesting’ especially if the banks are sharp (but short even) drops down and the water level is below the top. Kneeling, stretching down and then getting back up can be a difficult and demanding exercise. Solution: those pots that powdered washing bleaches (Vanish, Oxy-Brite, etc) come in are excellent item – empty, they hold about 500ml in capacity and they have handles to which it is easy to attach a length of cord to … so throw/lower the pot to the water (hold the end of the cord!), drag to fill… easy peasy!! And also great for keeping a supply of water in by the unhooking mat/weigh sling to wet those items if needed or to splash over the fish to keep cool and wet…. I actually carry two, one with cord for grabbing water and the other cordless into which I put my food dye, add some water from the ‘gathering’ pot and mix before wetting my groundbait ensuring the g’bait is equally coloured throughout. Very light, the pots fit one in the other for carrying, and take up little space to transport in reality as small items can be placed inside the pot(s) when in transit in the bag/box/rucksack/whatever you carry your tackle in… And these days I even use mine when the bottom is gently shelving and you can paddle out in to the water…no bending necessary! 🙂


Water: 9.8C – 10.7C


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Session 19 – An Unsurprising Blank…

Friday, 8th April was a visit to another club pool (LA1) that I’d not visited for a while … a pool that is earmarked to be the ‘premiere’ carp water of the club but it also holds good sized fish of other species too – perch, tench, roach, rudd, pike chub, and a solitary bream (well, on nettings of the pool only one bream turns up and its always the same one of 8-9lb). Previously I’ve had small eels there too…. However, it is a notoriously difficult pool to catch at despite the people who undertake the fisheries management finding that it is very overstocked and recommended adding extra chub to control the numbers of the smaller fish. An indication of the difficulty here is that on our other waters, generally, the monthly club matches are won with 20-30lb upwards – here it can be literally in ounces with perhaps only 2-3 anglers out of 16-20 fishing who get to weigh in. The cause of the problem, according to the fisheries management people, is that the pool is extremely rich in natural food and thus the fish need to be weaned over to accepting angler’s baits… and that creates a Catch-22 situation… due to the difficulty of catching, very few people other than the carp syndicate people fish there thus only relatively small quantities of bait are introduced and that is usually of the ‘boilies’ type and thus the fish are not being drawn away from the natural feed and thus … and so on… but sometimes there is an occasional red letter day …

So on arrival at around 0830 I had a quick look around before unloading the tackle to decide on my swim for the day as I’d several possibilities in mind – and eventually chose a corner swim at the eastern end of the pool facing into the west wind.

There were several reasons for selecting this swim… facing the breeze it also allowed me to put one rod over to the overhanging bushes of an island to my left and the second rod could be fished alongside the right bank of the pool … and there was also the inlet water pipe that fed brook water to the pool about 5-6 yards to my left. This feed entered the pool on a 60 degree angle facing me and thus with the wind direction it created a small ‘eddy’ effect in the water with the water flowing along the bank towards me and then turning round in the corner, up the pool and then pushed back by the wind. A natural food trap if there ever was one.

So, tackle transported to the swim, both swims were baited up with the usual crumb with added particles and maggots (inc squatt and pinkies on this trip). Also a few boilies were catapulted across to the island swim as I intended using paste baits over there later in the day but I started the day with my usual favourite – bread. The near bank swim was fished with lob worm throughout the day.

The usual ledger tackle was used –  two 11’ 1.75lb TC Barbel Avon rods – 8lb mainline, 8lb braid hooklengths and size 6 hooks with 1/3oz (9g) flat pear weight on the near bank setup and a 2/3oz (18g) version on the island one.

So first casts were made around 0930 – and results awaited – and were still being awaited at 1500 when the skies darkened a little and the breeze became a cooler creating a good excuse to pack in… as usual, walking to the car to leave, out comes the sun and the wind dropped. However, as in the previous 5.5 hours I’d not had a single nibble or tremor or any sort of indication of interest on either rod then I wasn’t too disappointed to be leaving 🙂

As I said, I tried both bread and caramel flavoured paste over in the island swim and used worm for the whole session on the near bank – and fed both swims lightly and frequently all through the day but without joy. I also threw some crusts into the eddy as a tester – if anything was going to be searching for surface food then my corner was the place, with the wind direction and eddy being a ‘capture’ point for such material – but several hours later the same crusts were still circulating untouched – and continued to so until a couple of coots arrived to dine on them…

All in all a very quiet day – bar some amorous greylags screeching love songs, half a dozen canadian geese having issues between their two groups, and tractors and trucks going up and down the lane but I’d have not noticed those except, unusually for me, I’d put my hearing aids in. And apart from one small fish doing one jump I saw no signs of fish at all even after walking the entire circuit around before leaving.


Water: 9.3C – 9.9C


ScreenHunter_25 Apr. 09 08.57

Session 18 – A Real Stick In The Mud Day…

So, Tuesday 5th April 2016, and I head off to a club mixed fishery (B) that I’d not visited for a long time – probably June/July of 2015 from recollection without referring to past blog entries…

2016-04-05 Barlows 012016-04-05 Barlows 02

And so I arrived on site at around 0730 and I was intending to fish down the far end of the pool in my favourite swim. HOWEVER …as I started to drive down the track to the far end I noticed it was getting a bit muddy ahead and decided to reverse back and park on the hardcore car park just behind me … but it seemed I’d gone that yard too far, wheels spun and car sank deeper and deeper despite placing bread crate bottoms, bits of brick and wood, etc beneath, in front of and behind the tyres. In the end I had to walk to the neighbouring kennels, who gave me the number of the local farmer and after a quick word – and a short wait whilst he finished his milking – he arrived with a tractor and towed me back to the hardcore. So, now that meant I had a 200 yard walk to the island at the far end so I cut my losses and settled into a swim (peg 1) by the car that looked good anyway with a large overhanging bush and it is a noted tench swim usually although I’ve never previously fished it…

So pre-tackling, I baited up the area of the bush with particles and maggot and a few small prawns… and then, changing from my intended method of the day of laying-on with the float rod, I set up my 10’ Syntra quiver tip rod with 8lb mainline straight through to a size 6 hook which was originally baited with a small prawn. Over the next two hours or so I fed small additions of maggots and particles in the area, twitched the bait, re-cast but nothing seemed to induce any sort of interest and the bait was switched to a small lobworm for the next hour with a slight improvement in that a couple of ‘trembles’ (rather than ‘twitches’) were seen over that time … and then I switched over to a size 12 hook baited with four mealworms for the next couple of hours with seemingly no interest … and then I decide to call it a day at around 1330 as there were things at home that I needed to sort out and with little action at the waterside I thought it a better use of my time.

Anyway, as often at this water it was another ‘millionaire’s day’ for me…. as not another sole turned up all day and so I had this pool AND the adjoining carp pool all to myself. The carp pool and the mixed (carp-less) pool are in fact only separated by a 5 metre wide strip of land ….


Water: 10.0 – 10.4C


ScreenHunter_23 Apr. 05 18.37


Well, I’m off out at the water’s side tomorrow and this morning had to mix some dry base this morning for my feed as I’d run out of my already mixed stuff….

I rarely use commercial groundbait and 99.9% of the time mix up my own – after all, its not rocket science is it?

And the base material I use, bread crumb – well, I suppose its cereal crumb really – comes from leftover loaves that have been taken for bait but never used plus old stale bread from normal household use plus other old/stale household leftovers such as biscuits, tea cakes, hot cross buns, breakfast cereals, doughnuts – in fact anything that is cereal based is dried out and blitzed and sieved and stored in 500g bags and then when I have enough to do a few bags of finished groundbait I make up my standard mix. BTW – a great item for drying out of bread and suchlike ready for the blitzing is a …. CD tower! Put bread slices, etc in the slots and they are held apart so the air can circulate and dry out quite quickly ready for the food processor to blitz…

My personal recipe:

500g Breadcrumb (Bulking agent)
250g Lightly ground/cracked shell birdseed (To create an active g’bait)
250g Blitzed Vitalin (Feed particles)
150g Blood/Bone/Fishmeal Mix (Attractors)
150g Whole Porage Oats  (Feed particles)
135g Strong White Flour (Binder)
75g Salt (Flavour enhancer)

And that gives me a 1.5Kg in total ‘single session portion’…

I did, at one time, also add 100g of sugar as a sweetener but I found that the results when using this sugared version were far inferior to the unsugared original and so that has been removed from my mix these days.

Birdseed – active groundbait ingredient – the lightly blitzed seeds are cracked so that water can ingress the shells and wet the inner flour – this causes the flour to swell and ‘pop’ the shell open and so causes a sound attraction due to the popping and also causes the seeds/flour puffs to rise and fall in the water creating a visual attraction too.

Strong White Flour – well, it can be any strong flour really. Cornflour, wholemeal, etc. I like my groundbait to sink quickly and remain mainly as a ball until it reaches the bottom and only then to start disintegrating. Its easy enough to wet more than usual to create a sloppy cloud type effect anyway if that is needed. I’m of the opinion that fish will be held longer if there is actual food material available rather than a ‘hint’ of it… Analogy: Indian restaurant with divine smells emanating from the doorway – you enter and find the smell is just from an aerosol, do you stay? But enter and find tables full of tureens brimming with curries, etc, do you leave?

Other items – well, as described….

At the waterside I also add particles (hemp/wheat/rice/corn) as desired plus at times small meat pieces, prawn pieces and other samples of the intended hookbaits for the day – and a good dose of maggots too… and also I have a liking to colour my groundbait and to do so I use strong powder food dyes (liquid supermarket ones are far too weak I find), 1 level teaspoon of the dye being added to the mixing water pre-wetting of the mix. I carry small sachets of black, chocolate brown, lemon yellow, egg yellow, electric green, pink and red … and have a personal preference for the green and red colours.

Session 17 – Chub And Carp

Well, it transpired that I hadn’t seen off the lurgy that had troubled me before session 16 or maybe I gained another dose of it… but whatever, it meant that that the planned Tuesday session of the week never happened and so the next outing, a trip to a club mixed fishery (VV),  was actually undertaken on Friday 1st April.

Forecast for the day was for air temps of 10C with a 16mph wind from the south and overcast skies – and so it would have appeared to have been BUT the breeze was a major wind chill influence. Without the breeze it would have been quite pleasant as evidenced by the warmer feeling on the few occasions that the breeze did drop and when the sun managed to faintly penetrate the high misty cloud but with the breeze it became very cool and was like this all session long.

I arrived at the pool at around 0800 and I was the first on-site and thus had my selection of swims – and I selected a swim where an island sat between myself and the breeze but which also had a bushy bank providing overhanging branches for fish cover and which was around 4-5 rod lengths away from my position – the perfect swim for the day IMHO.

As usual on arrival, before tackling up the rods – or plugging the two halves of the rods together as it is these days with my use of a quiver to hold my rods pre-tackled – I pre-baited up two swims along the edge of the island, one directly opposite my position and the other slightly off to the right by a bush at the end of the island. About 1Kg of dry crumb, dyed red, was split between the two locations and over the top of each a few catapults full of hemp/wheat/rice and a few catapults of maggot were added. Throughout the session more particles and maggots were put out into the swims too.

Tackle was 2 ledger rods, 8lb Diawa Hyper Sensor main line to 8lb Dyneema braid hooklengths and size 6 barbless hooks with 7g leads stopped at around 18”. Baits used were lobworm on the righthand rod and the lefthand rod was baited with bread, cheesepaste and caramel paste at various times.

From first casts it appeared that the day might have been more fruitful than it actually was, as within a minute of each bait hitting the water the bobbins shot up to the butt and the reels span in backwind at an alarming rate BUT each strike met no resistance at all – and over the day several other similar ‘unmissable’ bites ensued  plus a couple where contact was felt momentarily but then lost. However, the bite rate soon decreased and I was probably getting one proper indication per hour or so and a few ‘twitches’of an inch or so.

Anyway, by the end of the day at 1500 I had 3 fish landed – 1 chub of 1lb 10oz taken on bread and a common carp of 3lb 8oz on lobworm which were taken within 2 minutes of each other at 1010 – and at 1215 a chub of 2lb 13oz was netted, taken on a bread/.cheesepaste cocktail bait.

So compared to my other recent results I actually had a red letter day!! With more and better to come hopefully 🙂

Also had a bit of ‘fun’ on the day … one of the angler’s car got bogged down on the car park when turning to park he hit some boggy ground and the car just sank almost to the axle .. he’d some rope so I tried to pull him out and did manage to move him a couple of feet but then the car sank again and I started to lose traction myself.. However, all got resolved relatively quickly by one of the guys going to a neighbouring farm and getting a farmer with tractor to pull the errant car to firm land without too much problem. I noticed the tractor also had a fail-safe method too – on the front it was fitted with a forklift so could have lifted the car out! LOL!


Recently I’ve been using Wychwood ‘T’ bar scales…

ScreenHunter_14 Apr. 02 13.09

… chosen for their ability to display in a ‘LB:OZ’ format. Many scales display only in Kilograms or some sort of hybrid bastardised imperial/metric system that uses decimal points… ie ‘2LB 8OZ’ being displayed as ‘2.5LB’ which to me is (a) NO!!! (b) WTF???

However, I do have a problem with the ‘T Bar’ scales usage – and seems other people have noted the problem on the internet – regarding the ‘tare’ system (ie the ability to place a bag or other container that the actual item to be weighed is to be placed into, and press a button which re-zeroes the scales so that when the item itself is added then the weight shown is solely that of that item). Yes, it is possible to weigh the bag, add contents and weigh total, subtract weight from bag, etc but too much hassle…

Anyway, back to the taring problem… you get the ‘T bar’, add the weigh bag, press ‘Tare’ and the weight registers ‘0LB 0OZ’ – fine! BUT then you have to add the fish to the bag… which uses 2 hands usually and thus means you need to lay the bag/scales on the ground, add the fish and re-lift… HOWEVER.. whilst doing that the scales have decided that the weight has changed (due to the bag no longer being suspended) and thus it must now determine the weight which it does by determining when the weight is steady for a few seconds – and then locks the display and ‘beeps’… and often this weight is ‘negative’ as the bag is no longer a factor … and as the display is locked now then simply lifting the scales does not change it… so you then need to remove, fish, fish, re-tare the bag, re-add fish and … usually the same has happened again … and so it can take several attempts (and thus time) to get a successful weigh.

BUT NOW – I’ve managed to get some super scales – cheaper than the ‘T Bars’, as as they are made by a USA company they do ‘LB:OZ’ displays, and they also have a perfect tare mechanism… and, in fact, the company (‘Rapala’ – famed mostly for their fishing lures) do several models of scales to choose from including the 2 illustrated below…

Mine are the Pro-Digital version which I got for £20 (second hand) off eBay… and I thoroughly recommend them. Put on bag, tare, then do what is necessary to add fish to the bag (lay ensemble on ground, etc), lift and weight of fish is perfectly shown…and also have a backlight facility for use in the dark….


Water: 8.4-8.8C


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