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February 2016 - Something better change.....

Home.

journal 2016.

I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking. If this form will not work for you, please e-mail me at editor@ericweight.co.uk

...and soon, because this is hard work. I am tempted to suggest that we are a bit stuck in the doldrums. Historically, the doldrums are on the equator so in the truest sense I can’t use the term, because today in particular was absolutely bloody freezing. It doesn’t change the fact that our results are somewhat becalmed at the moment. Don’t ask me how this works, but I don’t find frosty or snowy days all that cold or difficult to bear, in fact the two most comfortable and enjoyable days’ fishing we have had this winter were both frosty ones. Real cold is all about the wind and the rain or sleet.

We walked the required three quarters of a mile to the farthest hotspot before we started and within minutes, the sleet came. Too late, I had started the morning off in fine style, getting my first take within a few seconds. Edging a ned worm across the bottom on a long line, I had only moved it about three feet when a sharp knock heralded the presence of my first fish, a pound zander and on my second put in, a pound perch took to keep it company.

It was going so well, I changed baits and that cured it completely. Fifteen biteless minutes and I was back on the successful lure and had a three pound plus zander throw the hook at the net and shortly afterwards a pound fish did the same in the margins. In contrary fashion, I don’t find the ned lure producing lots of fish hooked well back as other anglers have reported. Rather, I find that it produces a lot of teasers, that just swing on the top half of the worm and then fall off just as I am getting all excited. That may be because my presentation is so poor on the pole that they aren’t convinced by it, or more likely (I hope) the method is so sensitive that I am spotting takes very early before they have time to gulp it right down.

Whatever the reason, I swapped the ned for a 2.5” pale grey crayfish and quickly caught three more perch and a small zander up to around the pound mark. Two of those had the lure right down, so make of that what you will. No doubt about it, we, or rather I, was in the right spot, but it was frankly so uncomfortable that I gave it up and we set off to look for a more sheltered spot.

We found one and we both caught ok, not many, and all small but it was all a lot more pleasant. Dibbling 1-1.5” shads did the damage. We had the same trouble last week. The weather was the opposite, warm and wet and windy, rather than freezing cold, wet and windy, but catches were if anything even less impressive. A handful of tiddlers between us was the best we could muster then as well.

 

BREAKING BAD

One of the most serious issues that arises when using the pole to fish with lures, is that of safety. I doubt that I need to emphasise the danger of overhead power cables to the angler waving 5 metres of carbon-fibre around, but I shall anyway. The static pole angler picks his spot, has a quick squint around, sets up his oil rig and tackle shop of poles for every conceivable happenstance. He is safe as long as he doesn’t move swims. The lure angler moves swims every few minutes, or at least this one does and it is easy to forget to check every time he does so. It is not unusual to move a few feet and find yourself closer to a hidden line than you were expecting, SO LOOK UP, ALWAYS, AND EVERY TIME YOU MOVE, NOT JUST WHEN YOU FIRST ARRIVE.

Less obvious, especially to an angler who is not familiar with pole fishing is the danger of trying to free a snagged lure. Pulling on the elastic to free it is not only virtually impossible, but incredibly dangerous. It can take an enormous amount of pressure to stretch the elastic to its limit before applying any real pressure to the jig. Yes, even with a 4lbs hooklength. If the jig come free with all that stored energy built up within the elastic, it will hit you, quite literally, like a bullet.

So, how do we free it. At the very least, pull with or around your feet, then the ‘bullet’ will only shoot you in the welly. Definitely not a technique to use in shorts or a skirt (well you never know). It is a poor solution to a difficult problem and one with a solution I have never seen addressed.

With that in mind and given that regularly hooking the bottom is a certainty when fishing a lure, Pete and I have come up with a couple of fixes that get us out of trouble every time. What we needed is a way of pulling the stonfo beyond the elastic, and the first effective tool is quick and easy to use when the stonfo is within reach of the landing net handle. We use landing net handles made from telescopic travelling whips. Simply find the section that a brass bank stick top will fit in, Cut it off the stick and glue it into the end of the whip section. If it isn’t a great fit, file some grooves into the outside of the bush and build it up with some whipping thread and araldite the whole lot in place. Drill right through and insert a small rivet or nut and bolt for extra security. The point is you need a short handle at rest and a long one when netting a fish on the pole. Mine is 1ft long when collapsed and hangs comfortable from the pocket of my coat. It extends by simply holding it up and allowing the weight of the net to pull it out to 5 ft long. If your arms aren’t long enough, you can always pull it out against the bank or your foot. Anyway it works well and I have a small piece of plastic attached to the screw thread between the net and the handle. It stands out from the handle and inch or so and has a V notch cut into it with a saw cut at the bottom of the V. I can use this to hook up the stonfo with the line passing through the sawcut and pull for the break. You will be staggered how easily it will often come free given that pulling on the elastic would not budge it.

That works brilliantly, but only if you can reach if you an reach the stonfo. It  takes seconds and involves no messing about beyond extending the net and hooking the line up. Method two is for the majority of times, when you cannot reach. Usually this is when using the full 5 metres and a long line.

It utilises a grapple made from a hard rubber or soft plastic pole cap This has four V notches cut in it,  each with the saw cut at the bottom of the V. This is then drilled and a cord passed through, with a nut tied on to weight it and stop the cord pulling back through. If the cap is heavy enough, you can just knot the end of the cord. This is then thrown across the line beyond the stonfo, and pulled back until the grapple catches the line. It is best done slowly and at right angles to the line. It may take one or two attempts and some practice but once you have caught the stonfo, pulling for a break is easy. This one is still under development. Pete uses braid which is a bit fine and prone to tangling. I am using 2mm paracord which is a bit too thick and often rides over the stonfo before the grapple gets to it. Where the cord is fixed to the cap may make a difference. Pete has it fixed to the side of the cap, I have it threaded through the middle. Both work, but it’s early days. One thing is for sure, both tools work effectively and safely.

One thing you can always count on along the towpath is a steady procession of characters. Today was the turn of a long haired gentleman in a frock coat and a red top hat. I was tempted to ask where he had found a red beaver to make it from, but in the end I just congratulated him on what is undoubtedly the coolest hat that I have seen in a long time.

 

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