Saturday, 14 July 2012

New Home, New Pond, New Floats , New P.B.

As the title of this post suggests ive recently moved house and back into an area I thought I knew well. Sure enough the small pond I had such fond memories of is still there however the fishing so far has been extremely lacking there. Once upon a time I would go on this particular pond for a few hours of a morning and catch up to 30 lb of crucians in just a  five hour session as well as the occasional tench and the very rare carp. So far this year I've not even had a bite, there has been one major change in the 6 years or so since I fished it last. Somebody managed to persuade the council that the pond would be better off under his control than as a free fishery. He took over the fishing rights approximately 5 years ago and since then , as far as i know, has cleaned the pond of weed....... once.
 There's an ugly little rumour going round that he may have netted the pond and transfered some of the fish to another pond he controls, I sincerely hope this isn't the case , either way, wether he moved fish or not the pond as it is certainly isnt worth the £4 fee he started asking. Such a shame to see a fantastic free fishery go this way :( .

 I signed off from my last post with anticipation of the river season, well so far its been an absolute blank for me. Yes I was out on the day, ready to try my best but alas the weather conditions were against me and I couldnt even hold bottom in the raging flow so feeling very disapointed I headed home only to find myself seated next to a rather distinguished gentleman who took one look at the 'kingfisher guild' badge on my cap and started to regale me with tales of a tiny millpond with monstrous bream, the kind of place every angler secretly dreams of finding.

 So fast forward a few days and I'm sat turning some goose feathers I'd picked up whilst walking the dog into my first attempts at goosequill floats when my mom says something which strikes a chord in mind, surely she didn't just say that the bus that runs almost outside my door went through a place with the same name as my ancient piscator had told me of? Oh but she had... and it did and does indeed.I carefully finnished the floats vowing to try them at this 'secret' pond at my very first opportunity.
My first four Goose Quills, the two large heavier ones i thought would do for carp and the shorter/lighter pair for close to medium range for tench, roach etc.

 Finally the day came and after checking the bus times I decided I'd take a bivvy and stay at the pond overnight in order to start fishing early as the last bus home was at 6pm and I couldn't set off till 4pm.
 Thanks to google maps and my phones GPS I made my way to the geenral vicinity of the pond and was led to the bottom of the right path by an elderly lady dog walker. My first glance at the pond filled me with disapointment, it was tiny! and the back half was an almost solid wall of reeds. 
 But then I saw a shadow move where a miniscule feeder stream entered the pool, looking closer i counted 4 or 5 dark shapes gliding around the edge of the reeds..and compared to the pool they looked enormous!!
  Needless to say I wasted little time in setting up my 12ft Aspindale/Gemina combination (this was to be the Gemina's first outing since acquisition) utilising the smallest of my new floats, expecting to be into hordes of large fish within minutes..
 In a way I was but not the ones I foolishly expected , instead of the monsters I'd seen I found myself catching roach after roach and not one less than six ounces, this pool was surprising the hell out of me.It seemed the float was barely settled in the water before it began to gracefully rise back out. Having failed to pack a flashlight in my haste I wistfully put away the rod at around 10 pm and lay back in the bivvy impatiently praying that first light would hurry along.
 4 am saw me already on the bank and gazing out over the water to the area where i'd seen the 'monsters' which i'd somehow convinced myself were wild carp.How to catch one without the largest 'nuisance' fish i'd ever encountered taking the breadflake? The only thing I could think of was to step up the hook from 18 to 14.. I also swapped the float for a somewhat heavier crowquill and balsa that was also on its first outing.
 Within minutes of my first cast the float rose majestically and lay flat, while I tried to put down the flask of coffee I'd resisted all night, too slow, the fish was gone. Out went the bait once more and before the float had settled it started to rise back out, as if it were connected to a bungee chord, the gentlest lift of the rod and the line was tight as could be, the tip bent over and my heart was in my mouth , I had one on! Suddenly the fight was over and I realised the fish was not a carp and could not help but feel deflated but then i saw gliding in on its side the largest bream I'd ever seen outside of TV shows.

 Within the next hour I had two more stunning bream and I knew I had beaten my personal best by quite a margin, I'd only ever had skimmers before. I took a little break to walk round the pool and take a nosy at the fish from a higher elevation. I couldnt help but be amazed at the abundance of natural beauty that had sprung up behind an old derelict mill.

 It wasn't too much longer before I was joined by another fisherman who looked at my old rod and reel and laughed, he wasn't laughing for too much longer as yet another of those fabulous bream glided over the edge of my net , did i feel smug about it? , well, yes, i'm afraid I did for a moment but as he offered to take this pic for me I decided that he had suffered enough. He seemed somewhat reluctant to believe I'd caught several of these apparently hard to catch beasties however, that is he was, right up till I caught yet another . He claims to have fished that pond for 10 years and only once had he seen anyone catch more than one in a session. He also reckons that the largest he knew about had been caught two years ago at 9lb 3 oz...I pray that fish is still alive, I'd dearly love to know what it weighs now and who knows, maybe I could be the one to find out...
  Oh and just to give you an idea of how tiny this pool is.. The last picture was taken halfway along the first of the two fishable banks which ends at my left shoulder. The second fishable bank goes no further than the bush visible at top right of the picture which is where the far bank from the one i'm stood upon begins.
 I think I found a slice of heaven and I'm looking forward to a return trip..
 Tight Lines All.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Pre-season Preperations

So the river season is almost upon us and I cant wait to get back out with the splitcane rods to see what I can tempt out. I decided it would be a good idea to check out the state of the rods and floats before going and found myself lacking in the float department so had a go at making some more myself. 
 First things first was the purchase of some fresh float paints and , as I've just moved house, enquiries into the  availability of river fishing close to my new home. What a waste of time it very nearly turned out to be. The local tackle shop did indeed carry float paints so i rather gleefully bought a bottle of red and one of orange...or rather half of one of orange as the darned bottle had a leak as i found out after putting it in my pocket. Im glad it was the orange that leaked as after applying some of the remaining paint to a float i realised just how much I hate the color on floats!
 As for the shopkeepers knowledge of local river fishing, I'm sorry to say that his first words made me fume .. " River fishing? Nobody does that anymore " ..really ? then why the hell did I just ask about it? guess that means my names nobody.Next he says " if you can travel theres the ribble but nothing closer..." Exscuse me?? I know for a fact there are three rivers that have thier sources within 5 miles of my home, the Tame, the Beal and the Roch. 
 So it looks like im going to have to spend a fiver on bus fares and travel to waters I know rather than breaking in the season on a new stretch.Oh well.
 Last time I posted on here I promised to put up pics of my second attempt at rod restoration so here goes...
This entire section of the handle was missing its cork and covered in some kind of black tape when i bought the rod.

Here you can see the join from the original cork on the right to the sheeting I used as replacement material.
A quick glance and it doesnt look too bad for a first attempt right?

I managed to save all the original eyes , ferrules and fittings but again found myself faced with intermediate whippings. Fortunately I still had the needle threaders from moms sewing kit so remained undaunted.

At only 6 feet in length its one of the shortest cane rods Ive seen but it sure handles the pike (see the last post).Unfortunately theres no provenance with this little beauty so I have no idea where or when it was made or even who by.

Four Balsa on crowquill floats. The two toppers were made using broken pole float bodies, the others were made entirely by hand, no lathes/power tools used at all.
 A pair of porcupine quills with crowquill inserts and a selection of handmade bobbers using cork , cane, porc quills and a wooden bead.
Admittedly these arent up to the standards of most floatmakers but they work and imo thats the main thing, plus I still buzz like hell everytime one of these ugly little monsters disapears :) .
 Well its time i was asleep if I want to get up early and go greet the new season , just glad i bought a new brolly when i had the chance..
 Tight Lines All.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Respect , Restoration and Pike

I was going to just post about what may be my last fishing trip for a month or two but after reading some blogs I've been inspired to put a little extra in.
 First tho I'm going to do something somewhat childlike (in some peoples eyes at least) but I want to say Hi and thanks to Gurn, my first member/follower , and yes I am grinning while I type this :) .
 I started to read his blog as soon as I saw he had read the drivel on here and Im honored he saw fit to follow me. Theres a post on his blog where he restored a cane rod and had before and after pics throughout, excellent guide and I wish I'd seen it before I started on mine! I've done two restorations in the past but niether were quite as bad as Gurns when he started altho the 12 ft came close. Unfortunately I didnt have the sense that you did gurn and didnt take pics before i started altho I did snap a couple throughout the process on the first, the second I just got on with...
 The first rod is allegedly a 12 ft Aspindale 'General Purpose' rod, and I'm inclined to believe the seller's word and the bag it came in (which is indeed an aspindales bag). While the gentleman was gathering together the bits of tackle he was selling I couldnt help notice the picture of him in his uniform and medals ,if i cant trust a veteran in his Eighties then shame on me. He told me before I even looked at the rod that it had been 30 years since he refurbished the rod and 20 years since he'd used it last.
 Suffice to say there is no provenance on the rod itself, no makers mark etc but to me thats by the by. The rod had a glorious feel to it from the moment I picked it up. When I got home and took it out of its bag I almost cried, every single ring had a coating of rust and a fair number of the whippings were completely rotten. It took me 2 weeks to find a shop that sold rings that looked similar and paid i think £2.50 per ring.
 Now let me apologise for the state of some of these pics, not all cellphone cameras are this bad...
 First thing I did was strip off all the whippings, rings and varnish from the butt section marking the places for the rings/whippings as I went.No fancy tools used ,just a craftknife , some very very fine sandpaper and a couple of buckets marked 'patience'. 

Then started to replace the eyes and felt like screaming , whipping is not as easy as it looks but I struggled on safe in the knowledge that the eyes were the easiest part, I still had the intermediates to come..

 Now no-one has ever shown me how to do such narrow bands of whipping before so I was extremely grateful when my clever clever mother came up with the idea of using 'thread pullers' from her sewing kit to pull the tag ends back under.
 First section was ready for varnish and I looked at the second section and was quite pleased with the comparison between the two...
 Bear in mind this was my first ever attempt at re-furbishment. i would have been happy if everything had just stayed where I'd put it but this was actually looking fairly good to me.So now I've taken this rod to many venues in the uk and caught with it several times, and each time is just as exhilarating as the first. Here's some of the fish ive had with it...

Four cracking chub from the river Tame at Reddish Vale and a mix of Carp , Bream and Barbel from Llyn Y Gors on Anglesey                          
 The second rod that I worked over came from the same gent and was sold as his 'piking rod' along with an old baitcaster/multiplier type reel. I've tried using it several times without success, at least until yesterday that is.Before i get into yesterdays antics this second rod wasnt quite as bad as the first but had a major hole in the cork handle which had been covered with some kind of tape at some point. I removed maybe 3 inches or patchy crap and replaced with cork sheeting out of mothers crafting supplies. I'll try and post a pic of that repair job next time along with pics of some of my cannabilised floats.
 I decided to try piking on the canal up near Droylesden instead of Debdale reservoirs due to not having had so much as  a single bite from there in the last 18 months. As things turned out it was a wise decision altho I must admit to thinking otherwise after no bites in the first 4 hours...
 And then it happened. The perfectly magical moment that we all dream of, someone comes along , asks a question like " is there fish in here then?" or " had much" just as your float dips...
 This time the question was " getting many bites" but the effect was the same, I turned and sadly replied " nah mate, not even a bite " before glancing back to where my float was only to see it wasnt ." errm having said that i do believe we have a runner.."
 I'm very glad i had a witness to the battle that ensued as it was one of the most fantastic battles ive ever had from a pike, the beastie even tail-walked for me and I'd only ever seen that on TV! 

 Fortunately the chap stayed around for the full fight and took these pictures and my email addy. Thanks Nick hope you enjoyed the show :). Now it may not be a record breaking fish by any shot but its my first pike on cane rod, the fact I repaired the rod myself makes it just so much sweeter. 
Tight Lines All.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Back to the Medlock

 After several weeks of no fishing I decided it was time to get back out and have another go at the River Medlock. Thanks to advice from the Meddy Man I was sure I would have more luck this time.
 So armed with a tub of maggots a large flask of coffee and a couple of sarnies it was off for the number 171 bus  and the journey to the Bay Horse, a journey that seemed full of bad omens , such as the bus driver getting lost, seriously.
 Needless to say after finally arriving at the river I wasted little time in scooting along to a peg I'd seen on the Meddy Mans blog , yeah I admit it , I jumped in one of his favourite swims but after seeing some of the fish he's had from that spot who can blame me? I spent maybe an hour trotting a double maggot hookbait through the swim on a size 18's hook to 4lb line under yet another homemade crowquill topper ( can i really class it as a homemade float as I took parts of broken floats and put them together to make it? to be honest I dont care, it looks good and works, thats good enough for me )
Topper made from a broken pole float and an old crowquill
After getting absolutely no bites trotting I figured it was time for a change of tactics and dug out a maggot feeder and my last size 16 hook. Altho I had my little tipping rod with me I was determined to catch a Medlock Whopper on my 12 ft Aspindale and considering how light and whippy the tip on the rod is I decided to ledger with it. Have you ever tried casting a fully loaded maggot feeder more than 6 feet using a centrepin reel? it aint easy but after a few terrible failures i finally got my bait more than halfway across the stream and settled down to play the waiting game.
 Then I made a mistake , I picked up my flask and started to pour a coffee as the tip slammed over and the whole rod started to bounce! Somehow I managed to lift the rod and strike without spilling any of the hot coffee or dropping the flask only to find myself battling what felt like a submarine. After a heart stopping 30 seconds that felt like 30 mins the fish finally surfaced , I knew instantly that I was into my personal best brown trout ever...Eventually I manoeuvred the beast into my net, unhooked it , then spent a few minutes holding it in the current to recover while admiring its graceful lines before collapsing in a heap with a well earned smoke.
First fish of the day.
 An hour later and I was beginning to think the swim had died when the tip trembled , unsure if it was a bite or the wind I took the rod out of its rests and grabbed the line with my left hand ,sure enough I felt a frantic but somewhat gentle tugging on the line so struck into what suddenly felt like a brick but before I even got a look at the fish it was gone.Convinced I had been snapped I reeled in feeling dejected as that was the only decent sized hook I had left in my bag, it was either pack up or tie on a size 18 or a size 6 carp hook, niether of which appealed. So it was quite a relief to find I had simply been given the slip by a truly wily fish.
 I refilled and cast back out towards the bridge and had barely moved my hand from the rod when the tip was bouncing again and yet another fantastic medlock brownie was giving me some excellent sport.

Unsure as to which fish was largest but thats a Leeds pin so judge the size for yourselves.

 After that the swim really did go quiet and after an hour and a half of no action at all I decided to finnish the day with 30 minutes or so on the wee weirpool I'd enjoyed so much on my first trip. I caught just one tiny little trout so small I didnt even bother to take a pic. With 45 minutes before my bus was due I figured I would pack up and take a slow stroll back to the road and up the hill looking for new possible swims along the way. 
 For some reason I chose to walk up the path rather than take the shortcut and there taped to the railings i spotted an official looking notice. What I read made me wonder about the rivers future as it appears the EA have decided that the wier no longer serves any useful purpose and is , in fact, a 'hindrance to the movement of fish stocks' so they are going to remove the central part of the wier completely and use the stones they take out to possibly make seating for users of the vale.
 I cannot help but think that this will have quite an effect on the rivers flow and that the job will entail more than just removing stones , surely they will also have to dig out some of the riverbed above the wier to bring the upper reaches to a level closer to that of the upper water levels of the lower reaches? Otherwise there would still be a waterfall there albeit a more natural one. Im also thinking that the removal of the wier would increase the flow of water from the upper reaches for a short period until a new balance is reached, what impact this will have on overall water levels remains to be seen. 
 To be honest I'm hoping that these plans don't have as much of an impact on the river as I fear they could. Only time will tell.
 Tight Lines All.

Friday, 23 September 2011

First trip to the Medlock

Over 30 years have passed since I first walked along the banks of the river Medlock and thought " I'm going to come and fish here soon". Needless to say I never got around to it and eventually forgot all about the river. Then recently I found The Meddy Man blog and my interest in this largely overlooked little water was rekindled.
 So when I woke this morning with nothing to do its seemed like the ideal time to get on the banks and see just what I could coax from the river. 25 minutes of bus travel later I was finally on the banks with 12 foot split cane rod in hand. The first few places I looked at were unfishable for me ( I walk with the aid of a cane so steep banks are a distinct no-no) so had to walk a little ways along passing some rather interesting swims before I finally fetched up at a very inviting wierpool.

I wasted little time setting up with a home made crowquill topper on 4 lb mainline on my Leeds pin with a 2lb hooklength to a size 16 hook. Bait was to be a fresh flake of bread. The bites started coming fairly quickly but  it seemed no matter how I tried I was missing the fish. So assuming the bites to be coming from minnows or something of that kind of size I scaled down to a 20's hook and a 1.1 lb hooklength.
My next cast was to the somewhat smoother water in the centre of the pool and my float sank almost immediately. As soon as I struck I knew that what was on the end of my line was no minnow as it barreled straight for the far bank. Mindful of the ultrafine hook length I carefully made my way down the slope I'd set myself on to some rocks at the edge of the pool and set about bringing the fish to the bank. I can't begin to explain how delighted I was to see my first brown trout in 10 years as it slipped over the edge of my landing net.

 For the next couple of hours all I could catch were a few very small chub and I was beginning to despair of anything more substantial taking a liking to my flake, however I had seen signs of larger fish out towards the far side of the smoother water , unfortunately I was having a few problems with my casting distance due to my neglecting the upkeep of my reel. Would you believe I'd put it away wet and all the oil/grease had gone from inside its workings restricting its spin? 
 Feeling a little frustrated and more than a little annoyed with myself I figured it was time to switch to the more modern tipping rod. At under seven feet its got to be the shortest quivertip rod I've ever seen but for all its lack of length its quite a powerful wee thing. The wieght was to be a small drilled bullet, hooklength was 2lbs and the hook a size 18, bait again was breadflake . 
 A light underhand flick was more than sufficient to send the bait flyin out way beyond my targeted area...oops. A quick wind in and I let the tackle settle. No sooner had I put the rod in its rest than the tip started to bounce and my second brownie was on its way to my net. Not as big as the first but still a nice fish.  

 While not the most productive of days it was nontheless an enjoyable experience, especially catching the first fish on the cane rod.The only downside to the entire day was packing up at around 6pm, walking back to the road and then finding out the bus home had already stopped running for the day *sigh*
 I think next time I venture on to the Medlock I'll plan it a little better, take a flask of coffee and some maggots for bait and make sure I have transport home . Thanks Meddy Man for reminding me of the Medlock , its definitely a river worth another visit, or two ;)
 Tight Lines all.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Birth of a Love Affair

 Two men were influential in my passion for the sport of angling, my Dad , Mr Walter Clarke and my Granddad , Mr Jock Blair. From the tender age of 7 these wonderful men introduced me to the world of 'stripeys' ( perch) 'redfins' (roach) and trout. They each had a slightly different approach to the sport and each had their own methods of teaching. For example before my Dad let me near the water he made sure I wasn't going to be beaten by a tangle by bringing home as many 'birds nests' as he could find and having me spend hours at a time working my patient way through them and removing any hooks and or shot I found.
Some ten years ago both these wonderful men passed out of my life within a few short months and both left me a split cane rod. From my Granddad came a rather stiff unnamed rod that I've been led to believe is a cheap version of the Avon Mrk IV . So far this tree-branch like beast has landed me several skimmer bream, 1 perch and a carp of around 8lbs. The carp was a specially satisfying catch coming as it did on the first anniversary of his death.

 From My father I recieved a rather short (6ft) rod that I was told is a japanese reproduction made circa 1950. I have fond memories of using this rod as a bairn catching stone loach on the local canal.At that time I never dreamed that one day I would own it.Since then I've been surprised at some of the fish it would handle, especially when coupled with an old wooden starback centrepin I bought at a carboot sale. For example I set out to catch perch with it once, fishing just 2 foot deep with a perch bobber float and a size 20 hook using a small red worm as bait. The resultant catch was my PB carp to date, an arm-breaking, heart-stopping beast of 12 pounds! The fish gave me one of the longest and most exhilarating fights I had ever had and after that I was hooked on the feel of a big fish on a cane rod. Nothing compares.
 Since then I have purchased 2 more split cane rods for an absolute bargain price of just 5 pounds each, One is about 7 foot long and was used for spinning for pike by the gentleman I bought them off. The second came in a bag the old fella assured me was its original, a bag with the legend " Aspindales" on it. A little research has led me to believe its an Aspindale 12ft General Purpose. Its also one of the lightest and 'whippiest' rods ive ever owned.
 Along with these rods I also became the proud owner of the old gents bamboo handled landing net and a speedia centrepin. Unfortunately the reel doesnt spin too freely so its been relegated to a purely ledger fishing role.
 I then set out to buy myself a more functional centrepin and opted for a Leeds reel, simple, easy to use and understand.
 Since then I have fished several places using the cane and pins and on each occasion that I've landed a fish, be it a commercial fishery carp ( Llyn Y Gors in Anglesey ) a roach of 1lb or more ( Renny Lakes in East Harlsey) or a wild chub of around 3lb (The River Tame at Stockport) , I have enjoyed every minute of the fight and thats just what each fish has given me. None of this hook it , crank the handle and have it on the bank in 5 minutes business you sometimes get with more modern tackle but a " wow look at that rod bend now play that fish" scrap every inch of the way.
 After reading a certain chaps blog I'm now looking forward to fishing the medlock with my old cane tackle and seeing how I do.
 Tight Lines all