Christmas is just a few weeks away and yet it only seems seconds since I got back from Birch Grove in August; time is going way too quickly of late! My fishing since then has been rather sporadic and I hardly managed to get out at all during September.
One trip out I did manage was the September carp match at Blackwood Pool. At that point I’d only fished the place once or twice during the year so it was nice to get back on the water as the pool looks at its best with full foliage all around and lots of pad-lines to go at. I’d managed to sneak up during the week previous and bait up a few likely swims where I knew Chris had been having a few fish on the Shellfish B5. However, my usual luck with the draw prevailed and I came out of the hat last… again!
All the ‘hot’ swims had gone and the lake was pretty tied up all around. As such, I opted for peg 22 on the car park bank. My only solace was that Chris had bagged peg 20 on my right where I’d been trickling in the bait during the week, so at least one of us should bank on the B5.
Last out of the bag again!
Irrespective of the draw I baited up confident of a fish and carefully waded two baits out to the pad-lines; one on B5 down to my left over a handful of B5 pellets, the other hook bait was half a Brazil nut fished over the particle mix I’ve been working on.
Since the success of Miffer’s particle mix on Birch I’ve been playing around with a mix of my own. I started with a hi-bean pigeon rearing mix; you can get these very cheaply from most pet food stores. I tend to pay a few quid extra per sack as the difference in quality does show once the mix has been soaked.
My chosen mix contains; French maize, chic peas, yellow peas, wheat, blue peas, maples and red dari. You need to soak the mix thoroughly. I tend to prepare a massive amount for freezing so I can draw from it on each session. As such, I get a big bucket and half fill it with the bean mix and then fill to a few inches off the top with water. I then leave it for three or four days to soak completely. The beans take on a massive amount of water and in a few days the beans will be most of the way up the bucket. I tend to check on them every morning and night to give them a stir and make sure they have enough water.
I also add hemp to the mix which also needs soaking. With the hemp I tend to boil it for 15 minutes first, which really gets the oils going (I also add a little salt when boiling). I then put into another big container and leave for a few days, again checking to make sure there is enough water.
Once the soaking is complete I make up the final mix. I take the drained bean mix and blend three parts to four. The blend amount really depends on the water in question - If there is a large head of fish you can decrease the amount you blend leaving more of the full beans, but if there is a low head of fish you need to be careful they don’t get pre-occupied on the full beans and leave the hookbait.
I don’t blend to a liquid either, just enough to break everything down into a nice pulp with loads of much smaller parts. I then add 50% hemp to the mix and it’s done. The result is a creamy slop of hemp and pulped beans with a good amount of complete beans for the carp to feed on. Over this I fish half a Brazil, a single boilie or one of the peas from the mix.
So, with both rods out and the particle mix in, I settled back and watched the water. The water is only about 18” deep around the area I was fishing so it’s easy to spot the fish when they move around the island. My hope was that the commotion from all the other anglers around the lake might send the fish up to the shallows where there were only a few swims, though of late they seem to just disappear when there is any bankside disturbance and start moving under cover of darkness.
No fish came out during the night; however, Chris got amongst the fish the following morning taking two double figure commons in quick succession on the B5; enough to give him the eventual win.
One of two double figure commons Chris took on B5 for the eventual win
We’ve had a record year for memberships on Blackwood and as a result there has been a little bit of litter floating around and a few grumbles about certain people on the water - The usual stuff that anybody managing a water will be more than familiar with. As a result, a few of the Committee members and I decided to concentrate our efforts on the water for a month or two just to make sure everything is in order. I really wanted to be getting back on the Top Pool, but would be happy to do a few sessions on Blackwood as I’d not really concentrated on it for a couple of years.
The thought of doing a bit on Blackwood began to appeal, though I knew I’d need to do a bit of homework. Chris had spent most of his summer holidays between Blackwood and the Swamp and had kept me up to date with catches so I had a fair idea where to start. There are a few swims that get absolutely hammered and although you will catch, the better fish tend to stay well clear. Also, as autumn approaches, many fish tend to stack up down near the dam and around the bottom end so I decided I’d start here.
The following weekend I was keen to start the assault and as Miffer was also free we decided to fish the Saturday night. We set up on the dam; I set up right on the dam to get a good view of the bottom end of the lake. Miffer set up next door fishing two rods right under his feet on the shelf that runs the length of the dam, and one rod at distance on the pad-line. As we were the only two on the lake I had plenty to go at and after watching the water whilst setting up I decided to spread my rods all around the dam end, all close in to the margins. I opted for B5 bottom baits fished over a couple of handfuls of my particle mix on each rod.
It was a really nice afternoon but it cooled quite quickly as soon as the sun dipped down behind the trees. Miffer had a little barbie with him left over from the previous weeks carp match, so as the evening approached we both sat watchi
ng the water whilst tucking into some chicken drumsticks - perfect!
Early evening shot of Miffer’s rods on the Dam
It was a good while since just the two of us had fished the water together so we stayed up quite late reminiscing about all the sessions we’d had on the water over the years; we actually met on Blackwood about nine years ago. We eventually turned in at around 1am. I tucked up with a brew and watched the water for signs of life in the moonlight, I could see small fish topping around the areas I’d baited and remained confident of some action.
An hour or so later I had a couple of bleep’s on my right hand margin rod, and as I got out of my sack to investigate the swinger dropped back half an inch - That was enough for me and just as I got to the rod a run picked up and I gently lifted in to the fish keeping the rod low and to my left as the fish took off up the margin to my right. I gave it a little line as there were no snags or pads to worry about and then slowly clutched down. The fish started making some strong lunges and the rod was thumping away. At this point I knew it was a decent double so gave it a moment before stepping up the pressure. After a few minutes the fish was under control and I soon saw the flanks of a decent mirror sliding into the waiting net. Up on the scales the fish went 14lb 12oz - a nice way to reacquaint my relationship with Blackwood. I recognised the fish as one I’d had some years before at around 8lb so it was nice to see it looking well and putting on weight.
Miffer was sound asleep on the next swim and as it was rather chilly I decided to just take a quick shot for the records and slip the fish straight back to the water. I re-baited and got back in the sac pretty sharpish! No more action came during the night and I had to be up and away early the next morning, but was well pleased with my double.
14lb 12oz mirror - Bad shot but nice fish!
In early October I was away up to the Isle of Mull, situated off the west coast of Scotland for the Tour of Mull Rally which my brother and various friends were competing in. On the build up to the rally we have a few days to do a bit of sightseeing and Mart & I decided to get a days fishing in on Aros Park. There were no carp of course, but we fancied a crack at some trout for a bit of a change. I took my spinner box up and a cracking little two piece spinning rod I’d nicked of Dave at Tackle Bargains. As my brother and Dave (the driver) were out checking pace notes in the car, Mart and I took Adam (his son) with us as he’d been pestering his mum about coming fishing with us all morning.
Mart teaching Adam the fine art of casting!
There had been plenty of rain about but it stayed fine throughout the day; mainly overcast with a few sunny spells. There’s one swim on the far side of the lake that I always seem to do well on so we made our way round looking at other likely spots for later in the day. We had a quick cast about and eventually found a little spinner which seemed to get their attention in the overcast conditions. With only the one rod we took it turns to have a few chucks, showing Adam how we did the retrieve, sink and casting - all of which seemed to amaze him.
After a while we started to hit the fish. They seemed to be stacked up a fair way out just the other side of a light weedbed; the spot was on the casting limit of the rod but once we’d got used to casting on such small and light tackle we started to get knocks on most retrieves. It was great fun feeling them tug at the spinner and we each took a couple of small rainbows. At this point Adam decided he wanted to get in on the action. To start with we casted the rod for him and then held a hand on the blank in order to feel the knocks whilst Adam handled the retrieve. I was holding the blank and kept getting the knocks but could not connect as I was trying to let Adam strike but obviously it’s all very difficult trying to strike, retrieve, and land a fish - especially when you’re only five!
We got the tiddlers
Adam was getting a little disheartened but we kept at it; after a while we started to connect, the problem now was that they were dropping off in front of him. Eventually we got it sorted and he soon caught his first fish. He was made up. After that there was no stopping him. Mart and I were quite happy to let him carry on all day and before long he’d got it sussed. With either Mart or I holding the blank and hitting the initial bite, Adam went on to bank more fish than Mart and I put together! - For any who may have an interest, my brother and Dave finished 25th in the rally out of 160 cars - a good result.
Adam got the proper ones!
Once back from Mull it was time to get a mass of work done with Elton on Collectors Gifts as a boat load of new releases needed homes to go to. After a few weeks I’d caught up sufficiently to sneak a night on the Top Pool. Chris and I went up to do an overnighter but nothing came of it. The weed made most swims unfishable so we settled for the Boathouse and Rodie bush. We packed up the next morning knowing that we would need to get some weed cleared if we were to have any sort of success over the winter months. One of the regulars told us that he’d had a couple of good doubles over recent sessions but that nothing major had been out to anybody whilst we had been off the water, which is always nice to know:-)
Back on Blackwood the lads had been scoring well whilst I was away. Miffer took a nice mirror of 17lb 12oz and Chris had taken a number of fish on the B5. We had decided to resurrect the old winter league on Blackwood as we were going to be spending a bit of time on there. Basically this is just a light hearted bit of fun where points get awarded per fish and on weights etc. We each chuck in a few quid each time, paying out next March on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Miffer had won the first match with an amazing catch of 3lb! Can you believe it!
A week or so later Miffer and I were walking around the water prior to one of our little gatherings; it was a fantastic day, the sun had been out all morning and the water was looking fantastic. We made our way around the lake to have a look for likely swims and were stopped in our tracks by a load of fish stacked up down by the dam. There must have been 20 or more double figure fish with a good handful of upper doubles scattered amongst them. We opted for swims along the dam but as soon as Miffer cast a lead out they all buggered off for the rest of the session!
Since then we’ve had a few more sessions on Blackwood and have had plenty of fish between us on the B5. We’ve also had a new member join the ranks since we’ve been spending time back on Blackwood; Jonathan Salt. Jon has been spending time with us at Blackwood as well as fishing sessions on Capesthorne Main Lake (where he managed to bank a nice double figure pike last week, on a fluro pop-up no less!). Jon’s also had a few sessions on Knypersley Reservoir where he recently took a lovely 19lb 8oz mirror - I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of Jon’s catches in the not too distant future.
Jon with a 19lb 8oz Knypersely mirror
Well, that brings us almost up to date - As I say, fishing has been a bit sketchy over the last month or so as we’ve been concentrating on work parties, both at Blackwood and on the Top Pool & Main Lake at Capesthorne. We’ve been removing weed from the Capesthorne waters but it’s a slow process. The pondweed we drag in is full of small tench and carp fry. Obviously we don’t want to loose any so it’s been a slow but rewarding process going through all the weed.
I’ve managed a couple of quick sessions on Blackwood over the last few weeks, and although the last session was mainly to get some product shots for the packaging of some waders we’ve been helping to develop, I still managed to take a couple of nice commons from the margins whilst there was still a heavy frost on the ground - you can’t really ask for more than that at this time of year!
One of two Blackwood winter commons
Whilst on the subject of winter chills - If your better half is stuck for gift ideas over coming weeks, there’s one piece of kit I can heartily recommend. Elton reviewed the SealSkinz waterproof gloves some time ago; well I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on the socks from the same company - In short they are brilliant. Basically they are made up of three layers; an inner wool layer, a waterproof & breathable inner membrane, and another outer layer. I’ve been using them in conjunction with my waders and also boots and trainers and they perform very well in all conditions. If you want any more info visit http://www.fishingbrochures.com to get a free brochure or view direct at http://www.sealskinz.com
I managed to sneak up to the Top Pool in the week to have a look at the weed situation. It’s much better now and most of the bay swims are becoming fishable. I noted a few areas whilst I was there and trickled in some bait. I’m heading up there tomorrow with Chris to do an overnighter and can’t wait to get back on; hopefully I’ll be able to put in a number of sessions over the next month or so.
In addition to the Top Pool, I may even be tempted by the Main Lake. I’ve never really done much on this water as the Top Pool is right next door and much more appealing (for me). However, after doing a few work parties of late I’ve spotted a few areas which look to hold a number of good fish and hardly anybody seems to be fishing them. I know of one guy who had a couple of nice twenties from a similar part of the lake a few weeks back so it could be worth a few day sessions (nights are not allowed on the Main Lake). The weed is falling back in most places so presentation should not be much of a problem and I’m pretty confident they would like the B5 so I reckon I’ll give it a crack over the coming months - I’ll keep you posted.
Until next time, best wishes for the festive period and tight lines for 2004.