Saturday, 21 December 2013

Looking back at 2013

Looking back and reflecting has become such a valuable part of my fishing since I have been writing these blog posts. What is interesting when I look back at this last year and also the year before is the value I place on enjoyment of the experience and the impact my attitude and mental state makes on my catch rate.


Barbel


The best example of the impact of attitude is in my barbel fishing. Last year barbel became an absolute obsession and yet I caught none. Whatever it was I was getting wrong was impossible for me to see as I gave myself no time to reflect or space to calm down from each blank session.


This year I managed to winkle one out on March 14th before the enforced break of the closed season. Straight after the 3 month wait I was back on the bank in pursuit of 'the river prince' and lost a good one due to a faulty swivel from a supposedly reputable manufacturer. Fortunately a friend of mine who has no trouble catching a barbel caught a fish baring what appeared to be my lost rig and relieved the fish of its burden. The next time I went out I had another fish, smaller this time but a barb nonetheless. Since then I have been out 3 times fishing for barbel and blanked (or caught eels!). However, I am very happy with this result. Whilst I don't think I did much differently to last year in terms of tactics I can only attribute this years relative success to a more laissez faire attitude and as a result I have had a better experience on the bank even when not catching.


Disappointingly, I have had very few chub this year and even fewer of any size. It seems to me that there are less of them in the river these days and can only guess as to why that may be but I suppose it is quite likely many may have sadly been taken for the pot. 





Carp 
This year I have been fortunate enough to have been field testing for 'Big Carp Baits'. This has enabled me to get out much more frequently to fish for carp than in previous seasons. Whilst I have had a reasonable level of success on their boilies I have to say now that  I would not head out without a method feeder and a bucket of their flavoured pellets or ground bait. Fishing the method on my third rod this season has landed me the majority of my fish and prevented numerous sessions where the going was slow from ending up as blanks. Speaking to other anglers it seems many have found the going tough this year, perhaps due to carp spawning well in to the summer as a result of the late spring but I am aware that many big carp have been caught and that my biggest this year have only been mid-doubles. It has been suggested I should try smaller baits - advice I shall surely take. 


 Infuriatingly, after making progress with Fordwich Lake last year I seem to be back on square one again though now the problem is not locating fish but hooking them! I have had 5 good runs on this lake this year which resulted in nothing when I picked up the rod. Many possible explanations have been buzzing around my head but I am still baffled. I am going to experiment with a longer hair when using bigger baits but aside from this I am open to suggestions!

I think it is possible to over-think things. Sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. I have a few aspects of my approach I am going to attempt to refine next year but otherwise it will be business as usual and hope for the best.






Making things!

A real highlight of this season for me has been making things to use in my fishing. It started in the closed season when I started making balsa and porcupine quill floats with a kids club I run. I had some left over materials so made a few for myself. I know that many people do this and probably do it a darn sight better but my floats do what they are meant to do and have a certain naive charm about them if I do say so myself.

The smell of my boilie mix was almost as evil
as its facial expression!
Big Carp Baits very kindly sent me the raw ingredients to make my own fishmeal boilies. I have been testing my prototype baits at Fordwich and Stonar and so far have caught a lot of big bream on them at Stonar and had a few runs which I should think could only be attributed to carp at Fordwich but as I mentioned earlier I suspect my rig mechanics let me down in these cases. So I cannot yet post any conclusions or boast about my winning recipe but I am quietly confident that I am on to something that is getting the fish sniffing around. More on this to follow...





I also made a bobbin for my third rod as having only fished with two rods until this season, I only had two bobbins and needed a third. I had some Fimo in the house and by chance some of it was glow-in-the-dark which lent itself really well to a 'Jack Skeleton' design. The line clip is simply made from a hair slide - the way we used to make them as kids with just a hair slide, cork and a piece of string if a fairy liquid cap was not available! I bent the ends of the slide into a shape so that the line could either be made to run freely through it or clipped within the grip of the two prongs. I have been using it throughout the summer and it works perfectly!

 2014?

When I look ahead to fishing in 2014 there are many uncertainties but one thing I am definitely going to be carrying forward from 2013 is to continue to be easy going and relish my time on the bank. I have learnt the hard way that setting targets and putting pressure on yourself only results in stress which is not only counterproductive but defeats the whole point in going fishing. Ultimately, if we are not 'pleasure anglers' then what are we doing it for?