River Axe, Diamond Farm fishing, roach and skimmer bread punch review

August 24, 2019 at 11:31 pm

The Somerset River Axe was an unknown quantity to me until this week, when I booked into Diamond Touring Park for a couple of nights, before the Bank Holiday weekend. With the electric hook-up pitches already occupied, my wife and I were allocated a spot alongside the river, which to me was perfect, but for my non fishing better half, not ideal. Fishing for guests is free, but information on the prospects are non existent. At the Park reception, when asked about the fishing, all I got was, people fish it and they catch fish!

Arriving in the afternoon, a side stream was already occupied with people fishing, maggots providing a mix of small rudd and roach on the pole, while another fishing the feeder into the main river had several small eels and a couple of roach. I intended fishing the main river on the bread punch, my usual method.

The River Axe enters the tidal stretch at the Brean Sluice here, two miles from the sea.

In total there is about a 1,000 yards of the west bank available, although brambles restricted access to much of the river, which was a approached with caution down a steep slope. I chose a swim close to my campervan, where a board had been left in position by a considerate angler.

Travelling light, I had selected a few bits and pieces from my tacklebox, pole winders, punches, disgorgers, spare hooks and line, placing them into an old plastic toolbox, that had been kicking around the garage for years, happy to give it a new lease of life.

First step was to plumb the depth, finding four feet dropping away to five only a few metres out. Feeding a couple balls of liquidised bread over the shelf and a couple close in, I was able to judge the rate of flow, which was steady, although a strong upstream wind gave the impression of it flowing in the opposite direction.

With a size 16 hook to my 16 x 4 antenna float, I started off at four feet close in using a 5mm punch. Bulking the shot 18 inches from the hook helped the float carry downstream against the opposite drift, my first bite coming second trot, diving out of sight and a 4 inch dace coming to hand. A dace from a Somerset Levels drain, I was surprised, but then close to the source of the Axe at Wookey Hole, it is a trout stream, so a fish from a fast flowing river was bound to end up here. After five bites and three more dace, I scaled up to a 6 mm punch and cast along the drop off, the float burying again and the elastic coming out of the pole tip. It felt like good skimmer bream and a flash of silver in the coloured water confirmed it. The net was out and I pulled the skimmer across the surface toward it, only for a fatal roll and a lost fish. Rebaiting and following another feed ball, the float buried again and I was playing a nice roach.

In again, the float sank to a slightly smaller roach. The wind was difficult and I had to almost pull the float downstream, a few dips among the waves of the antenna warning of submersion. The elastic was out again and I had a fight on my hands, the fish running out, then to the sides, following, letting the elastic do the work.

What a beauty, the bread punch certainly attracts the better fish. The next cast along the drop off saw the float sail away and the No. 6 elastic following another hard fighting roach, taking my time to slide it over the landing net.

I tried another two metres of pole to fish over into the deeper water, but the wind made controlling the float impossible, as the pole was blown around, so it was back to four metres. The change back resulted in another strike, this time a small skimmer bream adding to the tally.

Adding another small ball of feed kept the fish lined up on the bottom, waiting for my 6 mm pellet of bread to fall through, small rudd often intercepting the bait meant for larger fish.

Feeding a yard upstream, the hotspot was out in front, a cast swinging the float out downstream, then pulling the float back, often brought an immediate bite.

Another nice roach, followed to the net by a second skimmer.

The river Axe is obviously full of quality roach, that had homed in on the bread.

After an hour I had punched my way through a square of bread, getting out another to start the next. I had fed less than a pint of liquised bread at this stage and was trying not to overfeed, keeping the fish hungry for more.

A small, but fat chub added to the variety of species, yet another flowing river fish.

A quality roach again, who says the bread punch is only fit for small fish on winter canals?

As if to disprove the above statement, an elastic stretching skimmer was next in the net.

The roach seemed to be getting bigger with each cast.

As did the skimmer bream.

I think that this was a roach bream hybrid, it had the anal fin of a bream, but was broad in the shoulder like a roach. Whatever it was, it fought like the clappers, darting from one side to the other, pulling out the elastic with each run.

This skimmer showed signs of an attack of some kind, be it from a bird, animal, or a fish, but its fighting qualities were not affected.

This was my last roach of the evening, coming to the net at 8 pm on the dot, my wife’s curfew time. Two hour’s fishing and no more. The wind had got up and the temperature had dropped. We had only packed summer clothes, believing the weatherman that sweltering weather was returning. Not today it wasn’t. My wife was soon on the skyline, coming to make sure that I stuck to my word.

The evening had proved a steep learning curve on a new river, 6 lb of fish in two hours, not bad for a first visit.

 

Drennan Float Fish stickfloat test on bread punch roach

August 9, 2019 at 6:39 pm

The arrival of a new reel of Drennan Float Fish line in 3.2 breaking strain was eagerly awaited this week to replace the old 2.6 B.S Bayer-Perlon on my ABU 501 match reel. On my last outing, a tangle had  reduced its length, the line was no longer running off the spool freely, so an update was required. Online reviews were good for the Float Fish line, being supple and free floating, while at 0.16mm the 3.2 lb Drennan line was the same diameter as my old Bayer 2.6 B.S. The line dropped through the letter box in the afternoon post and I was quick to load it onto the 501. A light olive colour, even this was similar to the Bayer line.

Any excuse to fish, bread bait and feed were soon out of the freezer and I was on my way to the river Blackwater ten miles away. Black clouds were gathering as I walked to a new swim, literally spending ten minutes hacking down stinging nettles to clear a fishing spot, as heavy raindrops began to cover the surface of the river. The shower was brief and refreshing in the humid air, just a fine drizzle remaining by 3:30 pm as I made my first cast.

This river is very shallow and I set my small 3 No 6 bodied stick float to just 18 inches deep to trot towards the bridge. The bottom is visible right across and following the first cloud of liquidised bread down, the float dipped and held under, the flash of a small roach indicating my first fish. The line was performing better than expected, considering the very light float, it pulling free of the reel spool without snagging.

Next trot, the float held down and I was playing a plump chub back upstream. I saw a pike dart across to the chub from cover along the opposite bank and raised the rod to draw the chub away, lifting it clear at my feet, leaving the 5 lb pike staring at the bank.

I prodded at the pike with my landing net and it turned to swim back over to the the other side. The pike returned and grabbed a small roach that I was playing, swimming back over, then letting go, but chasing the roach as I rushed it back to my side.

It began to rain again and I was already considering packing up, or moving. Unable to safely secure my tackle box on the steep bank, I was sitting on the bank with my feet resting on a narrow shelf, which was slowly eroding down toward the river and I was constantly shifting my weight to stay seated. Not ideal.

The pike took a small chub and charged off downstream, bending my 12 foot Hardy to the butt as I backwound the reel. This was the last straw, the size 16 hook holding firm in the pike’s jaw, while the chub dangled from the side, watching it swim by, as I now switched the rod to pull back down river. It lay motionless mid river and my attempts to jerk the hook free failed, causing the pike to retreat to the far side again. Pointing the rod at the pike, I pulled the line tight with my hand for a break. It obliged with a spurt away and the hook pulled free, complete with the now dead chub, which I threw back to the pike, last seen heading upstream.

I fed another couple of balls of bread in close, to keep the fish on  my side of the river, hooking a golden rudd, which I swung in.

The new Drennan line was working well, lifting easily to mend the line behind the float and setting the hook into a better roach.

The roach were lining up and getting bigger, the fish invisible until the hook was set.

The bites were very delicate, the float dipping and holding, then sinking slowly. Too early a strike usually resulted in a lost fish after a brief fight, too long could see the bait gone. I varied between 5 and 7 mm punches, the 5 mm on the size 16 hooking more fish, although the larger bait attracted better roach.

I was surprised that there were no dace in the swim, as my previous visits have had the dace going mad for the bread, juddering and jarring the float as they attacked the bait, often hooking themselves. Today was a much more sedate affair, another shy biting roach coming to the net.

This was the last decent roach, the pike attacking another as I played it back, coming off when I tried to hurry it in. A swirl down stream may have been the end of that roach. For me this too was the end of the roach, the pike had put them down. I scraped out a few more small chub and packed up at 6 pm.

The aim of the session was to test out my new line, which I felt it passed with flying colours. On the stickfloat, with a closed faced reel like the ABU 501, you want the line to be soft enough to coil off the spool, yet stiff enough to be able to mend the line back to the float. Allowing a bow in the line to develope, drags the float to one side, or worse speeds it downstream, which looks unnatural to the fish and no bites. I have said before, stick float fishing is becoming a lost art, which many today do not try, content to lob out a feeder on the bottom and wait for bites, while a good stickfloat man can entice the fish to his hook.

Abu Garcia 507 Mk2 fishing reel review. Bread punch on the waggler for carp

July 15, 2019 at 7:34 pm

Back in my serious match fishing days, Abu closed face reels were my ultimate choice for waggler and stick float fishing, first with a pair of 506’s, then with a couple of 501’s. The 506’s had their locking pawl removed to allow for back winding, while the 501’s came ready for the matchman with back wind. Over the years, one of my 506’s wore out, refusing to pick up line reliably, while the gears went on a 501, being replaced by a new old stock one from a closing down sale, both still giving good service. The remaining 506 is in use on my spinning rod , the original use for the American market.

For feeder fishing an open spool Abu Cardinal 54 had served me well, being replaced by a Shimano 2500m Aero XT7, which has recently found its way onto my 12.5 ft Normark float rod as a combo for tackling the carp on a local lake. This reel on the float rod has not worked as hoped. Yes it casts well, also having a retrieve rate of 6 to 1, it is ideal for staying in contact when a carp runs toward you. It has an easily adjusted drag, which when released allows backwind, but at your peril, as it can tangle.

So why am reviewing an Abu 507 Mk2 reel? Too many times now, I have had lose line wrap around the handle, or back of the spool, when waggler fishing for carp with the Shimano and complained to my wife, too near to my birthday, that I had lost a carp due to the line being trapped. “Why not get another reel?” she said “The kids can buy one for your birthday.” Having always used the 500 series of Abus for float fishing with no line problems, I looked for a more beefed up version of my other reels and there was the 507 Mk2. A much larger spool with a retrieve rate of 5 to 1, which would outpace the smaller spooled Shimano, five bearing support and an adjustable switchable drag, which would give me a safe backwind option. At under £60 brand new on-line, I was sold. Before I could change my mind, my wife placed the order and it arrived in time for my birthday.

This is what arrived, a padded zip up case, with compartments for three shallow spools and a deeper one, I assume for heavy line. Also included were spare sets of chennelle for the spools, to prevent the line from being sucked behind the spool, breather holes already in the spools have got this problem covered.

Loading a 100 metres of 5 lb line to a shallow spool was surprisingly quick, compared to a 501, the 9 mm larger spool and retrieve rate saw to that. With line loaded, I set off in the early evening to the nearby carp lake, where I found that spawning was in full flow, black mud being stirred up in front of me.

The larger carp were not my target tonight, but the multitudes of one and two year olds that have bred naturally in this council owned green space recently. Having lobbed out a few balls of liquidised bread toward the island, I tried an underhand side cast, the float landing well beyond my feed close to the island. This was already better than the Shimano, a powered overhead cast usually required for this distance. First cast the float bobbed and slid under as the 7 mm pellet of punched bread was taken, feeling a slight resistance as a mini common was sped back to my hand.

Next cast a small mirror took the bread, the perfectly balanced 507 bringing it quickly to hand.

These micro carp were taking it in turns to pounce on the bread the moment the float hit the water. I decided to feed another three balls across laced with krill powder

It was the same result for a while, more mini carp, chucking them back each time, then resistance and a run along the island brought a slightly larger common, a slow retrieve bringing the juvenile fish to my bank and the landing net.

A few more of these could provide a bit of sport and a decent net in the remaining hour, so I put the keep net in. I continued casting and hooking the very small stuff, but another better common soon followed.

This were lying close to the far shore, the cast needing little effort to peel the line from the spool, while keeping the punched bread on the hook, for yet another mini battler. This time a surprise rudd.

Once prolific in this lake, I have not caught a rudd here for a while, but it was good to see there are some survivors. Fed by a brook, gudgeon were also a nuisance fish in the lake, they may be deep in the mud, but no one has had any for years.

The reel was performing well, balancing the Normark, as I stuck into more small commons, when they sank the float out of sight.

The float skated across the surface and disappeared and I instinctively lifted the rod as the line arced round following a proper carp, that accelerated away under the trees, leaving a black trail of mud. Backwinding, I remained in contact as the carp tried to get around the end of the island, but I laid the rod over, still back winding, but keeping on the pressure, bringing the fish to the surface. The carp, about 5 lbs, was foul hooked in the tail, pulling away like a dog on a lead, slowly coming back to me, then pulling away again. It turned and ran back as I retrieved line, turning away again as it passed, pulling hard for the island, but slowing to a stop and I pulled it back toward my landing net. With barely enough water to swim in, it turned over, flapping in the mud, the hook pulling free and flying back. Slowly it took stock of the situation, then with an almighty effort the carp powered off into deeper water.

This was my cue to pack up, the light was fading and I had enjoyed non stop action of one sort, or the other, putting over a dozen small carp in the net.

This had been an effective testing session for the Abu 507 Mk2. No tangles, or trapped line, more importantly I had been able to forget about previous worries with the Shimano and get on and fish.

 

 

 

Weihrauch HW100 Sport add on IR Nitesite Viper Review

February 1, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Having flirted with night vision using a modified Sony Handycam with Nightshot and an IR torch on my Webley Viper .22 PCP, I had found that the short torch battery life was a limiting factor, as the power went down, so did the range and image on the handycam screen. 10 minutes between battery changes was about the limit. It worked well for close range rats and pigeons in the farmer’s barn, but fumbling with fresh batteries in the dark had its limits.

Occasional visits to shooting forums had highlighted a few home grown night vision systems, but the limiting factor had always been the house brick sized battery needed to run the things. Not needing to shoot after dark, until last year, when I was given permission to shoot rabbits over an 80 acre sports ground, I had put the night vision on hold. Brief low light visits had brought results, but it was time to revisit the forums to check up on the latest technology.

At last lithium batteries were being used and good reviews saw me reaching for the credit card to buy a NiteSite Viper scope add on infrared unit, which arrived in a smart shock proof case.

This is the least expensive and smallest unit with a specified range of 100 metres, more than enough for my Weihrauch HW100 Sport .22 PCP airifle, although I can see it being pressed into use with my other rifles, Career 707 FAC air, .22 semi auto Magtech and .17 HMR. More power is available at a cost, the Wolf having a quoted range of 300 yards and 500 yards for the Eagle models.

Opening up the box all the components are well protected, the idea being that the box will travel to the permission, where the parts will be assembled on site. Central in the case are two rubber sleeves to suit different sizes of scope eyepieces. Top right is the IR camera, with locations for the power jack and the screen feed. The camera has an on/off push button switch, which is silent in operation. No clicks to alert a rabbit in the dark. Bottom right is the IR torch and 3 1/2 inch screen unit. Bottom left is the lightweight lithium battery. This box housed the previous battery, a foam rubber filler taking up the now defunct space. Top left is a three pin UK mains adaptor for charging the battery, which has a charge life of over seven hours. A two pin plug is also included in the kit. Alongside the camera are two mounts for the torch/screen unit, one for a 25 mm scope tube and the other a 30 mm. With the mounts is an anti recoil bracket to firmly locate the screen unit.

Assembly onto the rifle literally takes a couple of minutes. My scope has a 25 mm tube, so the appropriate screen mount was clipped over the tube, having removed the clamp screw first. The anti recoil clip is then positioned over the mount with its slot covering the clamp screw hole.The screen unit slides into the groove at the top of the mount, the clamp screw refitted and the anti recoil clip pulled up to lock the screen. The serrated clamp nut can now be screwed on to tighten the clamp. It sounds complicated, but takes longer to say than do.

Next select the rubber sleeve that suits your scope eyepiece. This slides on up to a reduction, which positions the sleeve ready for the camera to slide in from the other end. Over the sleeve fit the battery pack, holding it in place with its velcro strap. With the camera fully home, plug in the lead from the screen and that from the battery. They are male and female connections, so fool proof. Switch on the screen and camera to check the focus of the cross hairs on the screen.

The focus of the camera is adjusted with the index finger pushing onto the rough surface of the lens holder, which is marked white to allow judgment of rotation of the holder. Rotating the lens moves it in and out allowing fine adjustments of the focal length to the scope eye piece. Each time the lens is adjusted, it is a case of pushing it back fully home in the sleeve to view the cross hairs on the screen.

With the IR torch turned fully anticlockwise in the off position with the knob at the top of the screen, for daylight use, this is the view of the cross hairs on my scope. With the focal length set at the lens, the camera can be removed and replaced without the need to reset the focus.

Weighing in at 14 oz fitted, the unit sits easily on the scope without feeling bulky. Having used a red dot scope in the past, the heads up shooting position is not difficult to master, giving a similar sensation to using a games console. Place the cross hairs on the target and squeeze the trigger.

The business end. There is a warning in the instructions not to look into the torch, when the unit is switched on, as serious damage to your eyes can be the result. Good practice would be to always turn the knob to the daylight position when in the field, adjusting the intensity to the range that you are shooting.

Due to the January weather of late, storms, rain, frost and snow, I have yet to test the NiteSite Viper in the field, but sighting down my 40 yard rear garden in pitch black conditions, I was amazed at the clear image, almost jumping out of my skin, when the neighbour’s cat emerged from behind a bush, its eyes glowing like those of a demon, as it wandered up the path toward me.

Manningford Trout Fishery winter rainbows

January 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm

A dusting of over night snow was thawing, as my friend Peter and I arrived at Manningford Trout Fishery this week. Tucked away in a quiet part of Wiltshire close to the village of Pewsey with its statue of Alfred the Great and Anglo Saxon heritage, it is better to stop and ask a local of the fishery’s whereabouts, than rely on your Sat Nav. Fed by the upper reaches of the famous Hampshire Avon, there are two lakes, Squires stocked with table size rainbows and Manor with larger fish, where we intended to fish.

Tackling up in the carpark, we sheltered in the lee of the boot lid as freezing gusts blasted across the lake, 5 C temperature reduced to 2 by the wind chill factor, the day chosen as the best of a bad bunch of forecasts. Having caught well on unweighted white lures in similar conditions at Latimer Fishery before Christmas, we opted for these to start, a home tied white chenille with a white marabou wing for me and a White Fritz with a hint of green for Peter.

Walking round to cast across the wind at the first platform, Peter was into a fish first cast before I had gathered up my tackle and I watched him land a deep clean rainbow of about 2 lb. Slotting in twenty yards further round, a rapid take took me by surprise on my first cast. Looking back at Peter he was into another fish, which he lost. A slow retrieve brought a solid take and I struck into a very good rainbow that broke the surface, before steaming off down the lake into the wind. A tumbling fight followed, seeing the deep fish briefly again close to before the line went slack. It had come off. My line was festooned with weed and called to Peter that I was moving round to find deeper water. Keeper? No deeper! The wind was snatching my words away.

Opposite an island there was some relief, trees behind diluting some of the gusts, while the main force of the wind was carrying from left to right, ideal for a right handed fly caster. Pushing the lure close to the island, a dead slow retrieve brought a response of some sort most casts, a steady straightening of the line being met by solid resistance at last and I was in once more, this time a smaller rainbow fighting hard to the net. This 2 lb 6 oz rainbow was a credit to the on site fish farm, with a thick shoulder and full tail.

Peter now had his second fish after several false alarms and now moved up twenty yards downwind, also experiencing short takes. I was into another nice rainbow, bringing it near to the bank I could see the lure in the tip of its nose. Close to the net it tumbled and the hook came out. This was the start of a frustrating half hour, with three more lost at the net. Peter had landed number three and was walking back to the clubhouse, when I hooked another which broke the surface. He gave a cheer. It came off again! There was definitely a hook there. I stopped fishing and washed down a sandwich with cups of hot calming tea.

Having weighed in his fish, Peter returned to the bank to assist two novice fly fishers, who had asked for advice earlier. One was a fly fishing virgin, what a day to learn to cast! They both managed a fish apiece before we left.

A pair of anglers walked by on their way back to the clubhouse, they each had a good fish in their bag, the best being 5 lb 8 oz, the other 3 lb 8 oz. They had been fishing Blue Flash Damsel lures stripped back fast. This can be hard work and I preferred a lighter lure with a slow retrieve, which worked for me, all I needed was to be able to get them in the net. The line tightened again and I struck hard, pulling the fish to the surface. I was not going to lose this one, letting the rod take the full force of the runs, not relaxing until the rainbow was in the net. This very silver fish weighed in at 2 lb 8 oz.

With Peter busy on his tuition duties, I walked down to the River Avon running behind the lake for a look. On my last visit to Manningford the banks had been overgrown, but now overhead trees have been trimmed and the right hand bank cleared.

This is also available as a catch and release beat, holding wild brown trout and grayling, while in season an additional stock of browns will be introduced.

This was a deep run, ideal for big grayling and trout alike. Well worth a visit later in the year with my 7 ft 3 weight rod.

Returning home, the trout were cleaned ready for the freezer, but the sight of rich red flesh put one of the rainbows on the menu for the following day.

Weihrauch HW100 Sport .22 PCP review

August 31, 2017 at 9:58 am

My neighbour is moving and asked if I was interested in buying an air rifle that had been cluttering up his office for the last couple of years. Taken as part payment for work he had done, it had been used by his son for plinking in the garden a few times, then put away. Already well served by my .177 Relum springer, Webley Venom Viper .22 PCP and the FAC rated Career 707 .22 PCP, I was not seeking another air rifle, but said I would take a look at it. Unzipping the gun bag, I could see that it was an iconic Weihrauch HW 100 with a thumbhole walnut stock in perfect condition.

Used for target shooting and pest control alike, this rifle has gained a reputation in the precharged pneumatic  air rifle world on par with the BSA Airsporter of many years ago.

The asking price was well below what I would have expected for a rifle of this quality and took up the offer of a trial before I made any decisions. The rifle also came with a 7 litre diver’s bottle and I filled the rifle to 200 bar before setting up a target at 25 yards to shoot prone off the bipod. Also supplied was a near full tin of JSB Match pellets, which filled the two 14 shot magazines.

The scope, which was an optional extra, is a Hawke Panarama EV 4-12 mag x 50 AO IR with parallax adjustment from zero to infinity. The illuminated mil dot scale has a choice of red, or blue illumination with a brightness scale from 1 to 5.

The magazine loaded easily from the right hand side with the cocking lever pulled back, a thumb switch pushing forward to then positively locate the magazine. With the cocking lever pushed forward, a centre spindle for the magazine comes forward for more location, as the pellet feed probe pushes the pellet into the barrel ensuring no damage to the pellet. The trigger is very light and smooth, the pellet sent on its way silently with no vibration back through the rifle. Reloading can be done with little effort on the bipod without unsighting the scope and the minimum of mechanical noise. In fact the click of the pellet hitting the wooden target back stop was the loudest, if any noise. A lot of thought and engineering knowledge has gone into this rifle.

With the target at 25 yards, the first shot was an inch high and a half inch to the right, although I was glad to see that the following few shots were equally off target. The thumb wheels for windage and elevation were smooth in operation with fine, but positive clicks and I was soon clover leafing the targets, taking out the 10 mm centre bull. Moving back 5 yards to 30, I was please to see very little drop of the pellets, a 14 shot magazine opening up a touching hole group on the same zero.

I am not a target shooter and and could have adjusted for the right to left breeze, while a higher magnification would also have shown the drift. At 20 yards the group was tighter and half an inch higher on the same zero.

At 160 bar on the the end of cylinder gauge, the pellets were still falling into place, a sign of a well regulated air charging valve system.

The HW100 Sport is not a lightweight, with a scope and bipod it weighs over 9 lbs, a bit heavy for me firing to hand, although the thumbhole stock gives a good firm hold on the rifle, when bringing the rifle up to the eye for a snap shot. This rifle was new in 2013 and in 2014 a shorter by 4 inches carbine was brought out, no doubt to address the weight issue, while also allowing more flexibility when hunting, especially if shooting from a vehicle.

Overall I was very impressed with the Weihrauch HW100 Sport and took over ownership of the rifle, taking it out a few days later for a test in the field using the heavier 19 grain H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets, which I have used in my Carrer 707 to good effect at longer ranges, than I expected from this 12 ft lb weapon.

This was the first of three rabbits taken during a brief after dusk session at my sports ground permission. With the blue graticule illumination on the scope, the rifle had clinical accuracy on prone head shots out to 30 yards.

Sight/strike indicator nymph fishing review

April 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Having grown up fishing a heavily greased leader as an indicator while nymph fishing, I was impressed by a short fluorescent braided indicator, that a friend was using with great success while Czech nymph fishing. Finding a set of three for sale online, I ordered a pack and sat back and waited for them to arrive from South Africa. The day of delivery was bright and clear and decided that a visit to my urban trout river would be a good test of the product, setting off after my evening meal.

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The sun was already low when I arrived and a strong downstream east wind was chilling the air, a look downstream showing no rises and little fly life. Tying in the indicator to the end of the leader, I added two feet of 4 lb line to the bottom loop of the indicator and then tied on my Black Devil nymph.

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Heading upstream along the busy road, I reached the first fishable section where trees hang over the river.

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The river was crystal clear, but no fish were on view as I worked the nymph over the gravel runs, the indicator clearly visible as it drifted downstream. Being as light as the line, it allowed the nymph to drop quietly onto the water, while being greased it floated high in the surface film. Casting along the far bank, the indicator jerked under and I overstruck into a six inch brown that lifted clear of the water, before falling back. That take was instant and I’m not sure that it would have registered on the leader.

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Moving up toward a long slack created by some flood debris, a cast between the branches saw the indicator dive to the left and on instinct lifted into a nice brown that rolled showing it’s white belly, before coming airborne in the shallow river. The 7ft No 4 rod kicked and bent as the trout headed straight for the snag, while I followed giving line. It rolled again, turning to zigzag past me, then settled down to swim up the middle, as I searched for my landing net, backtracking ten feet to pick it up and pull the brownie into the net.

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I had attracted a cyclist and a pair of dog walkers, while playing this beauty, the low light not capturing the full colours to do it justice. The bystanders were unaware that this urban river held such secrets. I sat and chatted as the trout recovered in my landing net, watching it swim slowly upstream to disappear against the gravel. Casting my way upstream, two more indications brought a pair of five inch parr, one swinging to hand, the other dropping off as I lifted it across the river. The light was golden with the sunset as I made my way back downstream, stopping at a man made feature to fish.

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Under the trees it was quite dark, but the indicator showed up well, when by now I would have been reduced to watching the bow in the line for movement, although the next take pulled hard upstream and I was soon playing a small but hard fighting brown.

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I missed a couple of short tugs from this pool, which with a longer rod would have given more control in the downstream wind and can see how this would mean more fish to the heavy Czech Nymph method. With an under body and rib of heavy copper wire, the Black Devil is a good early season nymph with just enough weight to fish off the bottom where fish are searching for caddis.

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The light was going fast and I walked to the lower end of this public water to see what changes had taken place since last season. Weed growth so far is minimal this year, which coupled with the lack of spring rainfall, has resulted in water so shallow that I saw the surface hump up, as a good trout turned to the nymph and struck too soon, pricking the fish, watching Vs and swirls, when it dashed off.

Windy conditions, coupled with shallow clear water on a hard fished public urban river proved to me, that this sight indicator will be a welcome addition to my tackle bag.

Bread Punch Fishing Diaries – Book Review

March 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm

As an advocate of fishing the bread punch, with many blog posts on The Urbanfieldsportsman web site, it was suggested that a pocket sized book be written on the technique, bringing together information gathered by myself over many years, with a selection of illustrated examples of it’s use through a season on a variety of waters.

I am so confident in the method, that I rarely take a back up bait with me, unless a water has a good head of perch, in which case a few worms from my compost heap will be collected before I go fishing. No longer an active match angler, I’m quite happy to pass on some of my “secrets”, something that I have been reminded of giving away, when publishing blogs over the years.

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On a recent visit to a local lake, I fished double bread pellet on a running line waggler float, taking six carp up to 8 lb, including a 5 lb mirror. I’d started off feeding an open area 20 yards out with four balls of mashed processed bread and fished over it. After ten minutes I had the first carp on the bank. Three proper carp anglers with all the gear, bite alarms, boilies and popups, failed to catch that afternoon. I would like to have included that session in the book, as with my last blog about catching chub with bread punch on the river Wey, but the line had to be drawn somewhere and Bread Punch Fishing Diaries was published.

I have highlighted these two fishing sessions to illustrate that fishing the bread punch is not just about catching small roach on a canal in winter, but a technique that can be used anywhere for quality fish, the cover image being of a 13 lb net of rudd taken in just a few hours from a free pond. I do not fish stock ponds, preferring to fish public lakes and rivers local to my home, adjusting tackle and methods to suit the venue, but always catching on the bread.

A click on the side bar link will go straight to Amazon Bookstore, where all sales commission will help with the upkeep of the Urbanfieldsports man blog.

 

 

 

 

Winchester .22 42 gn subsonic versus RWS 40 gn subsonic field test

February 9, 2017 at 6:52 pm

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A letter from the Thames Valley Police dropped onto my door mat this week. Before tearing it open open, the fear of a speeding fine filled my mind, had I been caught by a hidden speed trap? No, it was a reminder that my Firearms Certificate was due to run out in six months and that I needed to renew it as soon as possible, to avoid not being covered. When I last renewed, the whole process, including a visit from the local Firearms Officer, had taken under six weeks. Now due to the “current peak renewal period” it was now six months minimum.

Terrorism raises it’s head in all walks of life today and no less with legally held firearms, various government departments processing information back and forth, with more detailed intelligence checks needed by the Information Research Bureau, including contact with an applicant’s GP and deeper checks on referees. My information is the same as my last two applications and hope for a clean run through. I will be putting in a variation on the new .17 WSM (Winchester Super Magnum) bolt action rimfire. Maybe that will slow it down.

One of the requirements, when applying, is that the current certificate has to be sent along with the application form. What’s the problem you say, well without the actual certificate, ammunition cannot be purchased, as all bullets bought have to be written by hand on the back of the certificate, along with the signature and number of the Registered Firearms Dealer at the time of purchase. This means that my stock of ammunition needs to last at least six months, until I receive my new certificate.

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HMR ammunition has been unavailable at my RFD for months with promises of a new batch in the country “any day now” for at least a month. Only able to purchase 200 at a time, I’m already well into the last 100, so do I hang on for a few weeks in the hope of a delivery, or end up running out once the warm weather arrives? With two new permissions to explore this is a possibility.

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.22 subsonsonic ammunition is readily available, but my semi automatic Magtech will only recycle certain brands. Eley subs were the best through this rifle, then they became unavailable in my area. I tried 40 grain Winchester, but these jammed on every other round. Recommended German made RWS, I tried them and they worked well, being accurate and quiet. Having bought 500, I was now down to the last 200 and in need of a top up, but guess what? The RFD has stopped stocking them too.

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Winchester have recently brought out a 42 grain bullet with slightly more power than the RWS, which is supposed to give better recycling in a semi auto, being heavier with a speed difference of 1065 FPS to the slower 990 FPS of the RWS. I bought a box of 50 and set off to my nearest permission to give them a comparison field test.

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It was a cold, damp, but still afternoon and I set up two targets side by at fifty yards, checking the zero on another target using the RWS. The zero had not moved and single shots gave hits in and around the 10 mm bull. Ideal for rabbit head shots. Of these ten shots, one did not recycle. Firing ten of the Winchester, there were no misfires and similar accuracy, although the report through the silencer was deeper in tone, but not loud. Happy so far.

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Moving on to the test targets, I fired five RWS  shots in five seconds, a good test of the semi auto Magtech. The first shot went straight through the bull, two edged the 10 mm bull and the other two hit the main target area with a maximum deviation to the left of 20 mm centres, these two being the last fired. Maybe warming of the barrel, or pilot error, but pretty good for rapid fire and a certain kill on any rabbit.

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Next up was the Winchester 42 grain, again similar results, one in the bull, two others edging and two out to the left, the furthest at 22 mm centres, but an almost identical pattern as the RWS. Most of the RWS were just below the centre of the bull, while the Winchesters were above, possibly due to the extra speed and power of the bullet giving less drop despite the additional weight.

This test was enough to give me the confidence to buy another 300 Winchesters  and with .22 High Velocity Remingtons already in the ammo box, the top up brings me near my 650 limit for .22 rimfire.

Hoping to try out the Winchesters on a rabbit, I went for a walk along the hedgerows, but nothing was on show and with the light drizzle turning to sleet, I headed back to the van.

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A post script to this blog was a phone call saying that my 17 Hornady were now in stock, so it was a quick drive to the RFD to use the FAC to buy enough ammunition to see me through the application period. The assistant in the sports shop said that I would be lucky to get the new certificate in six months, as he has been waiting for nine!

 

Isle of Man fly fishing for brown trout

September 12, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Known worldwide as the home of the TT motorcycle races, the Isle of Man can boast excellent game fishing too, with runs of salmon and sea trout up it’s short rocky rivers and well stocked reservoirs, while the resident brown trout will provide sport on light tackle at any time of the day.

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The bonus of trout fishing on the Isle of Man is the scenery encountered along the way, finding out of the way gems missed by most visitors, this being the river Neb a mile above the estuary. A trout can be seen rising on the right of the arch.

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These trout have to be some of the most distinctly marked browns, that I have caught, this one taking a dry sedge on the river Neb. Unlike the mainland, there are no riparian fishing rights, all rivers are controlled by the I o M government, a weekly £27 river license allows fishing in all the rivers, where you can gain access to the water. National Glens and Government owned lands also give access to miles of fishing.

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One of many browns netted from the Neb at the Raggatt, an overgrown wasteland, when I first visited, but recently transformed into a park with managed banks, having seating for anglers and walkers, but also the ideal spot for ball chasing dogs, their owners seemingly unaware of the needs of anglers.

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Another example of  the Neb trout, well rounded and full of fight. I watched a brown twice this size cruise up along side my fly, give it nudge with it’s nose, then slowly sink back to the depths. Must try harder next time.

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A pool on the Foxdale river, in the parkland grounds of the DEFA offices at St Johns, where I bought my license, which was home to several above average browns, all taking the dry sedge fished upstream. The best came from a deep tree shrouded pool, that only allowed a bow and arrow cast into the back eddy formed by a waterfall, watching a dark shape rise out of the depths, turn over and take the fly, then running off downstream beneath overhanging branches. I could only fight the fish with my rod tip held under the raging waterfall, reeling it back, until ready to pull into the net.

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This was just a taster of the river fishing in the Isle of Man, these waters all with in walking distance of my accommodation, a ten mile drive will put you on the Sulby river near Ramsey, or the Dhoo near Douglas, while many smaller rivers, like in Glen Maye below, will give plenty of sport.

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