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Polluted river fishing test over in a flash, flood that is

June 18, 2020 at 3:23 pm

Two weeks ago I prayed for rain, it was too hot to fish, but now it won’t stop, as thunder storms dump weeks of rain in an hour. Earlier this week I cut short a fishing session to avoid a soaking with minutes to spare. The next day, the first of the new river season, saw my small local river churning through well over the banks, but by the following afternoon it was running clear. Storms were forecast again, but I took the 2 mile drive anyway, as I wanted to test fish the river, after a devastating pollution event that deoxygenated the water, killing thousands of fish during the drought a month ago.

Black clouds were already on the horizon on the way to the river and as I set up my 12 foot Hardy float rod it began to rain. Nothing ventured, nothing gained is my life motto and I tackled up as quickly as possible, knowing that the large willow that I was under would keep me dry for a while, although a flash of lightning and rumble of thunder meant that my safety was questionable.

Squeezing up a small ball of liquidised bread and dropping it in just upstream of a small overhanging bush minutes before, seemed enough preparation and first cast under the bush, the float trailed under, while the rod bent into a small chub.

Taking a 5 mm punched bread pellet, this chub fought all over the shallows before coming to the net. A bit more punch on the hook and the float was back under the bush, sinking on contact, with a better chub giving all it had, swimming away upstream to avoid the net.

A flash and a clap of thunder forced me to instinctively duck my head. It was too close for comfort. The intermittent rain suddenly became a downpour, but protected by the willow I continued to fish, putting another ball of feed below the bush into deeper water. I had bounced a dace and now hoped for a roach, deepening up the float and holding back to slow the bait along the bottom. The float dipped and sank, a sight of red fins and a tiny rudd came to hand.

Not quite a roach, in fact I have not caught a rudd here for a while, maybe it has washed down from one of the many lakes that line the stream? Next cast the float dithered again and a chunky gudgeon was doing a barbel impression.

The rain had stopped, but the pace of the river was beginning to quicken and I added depth again, holding back hard. A rapid bite and another small fish bumped, a rudd, or hopefully one of the dace that had made the Cut its home since the previous pollution three years ago. Two more smaller chub and a rudd followed before the rod bent round as a better fish dashed off downstream heading straight for a tangled bush jutting out into the water. The little Hardy rod was made for this and the long shape of a chub flashed as it turned, fighting hard against the current and hugging the opposite bank, that large white mouth of the chub showing on the surface as I drew it over the landing net.

In the time that it took to unhook the chub and rebait the hook, the river was transformed as a wave of muddy water forced a raft of sticks and dead leaves downstream, rattling over the shallows as it went.

It was all over, the flash flood the result of acres of tarmac drenched in the deluge, swamping the land drains, then combining underground into a column that swept past my swim. By the time that I had packed up, the river was level with the top of the bank.

It had been a fast and furious 15 minutes, I had missed and bumped a few fish. If I had arrived an hour earlier it would have been a different story. I can blame the fitters installing new double glazing at home for that.

Nothing wrong with these fish, although only two hundred yards down from where the clean natural river joins the source of the pollution, the town street drainage outfall, it is possible that they have dropped down into the main river. Oh well not to worry, the river will soon be back to normal levels and I will give it another try.

Crucian carp brighten a mixed bag

June 16, 2020 at 6:27 pm

My plan to fish a local river on the opening day of the coarse fishing river season of June 16th, was changed while drinking my morning coffee, as I watched the TV weather forecast on the morning of the 15th. It showed thunder storms sweeping in from Europe, starting later that day and carrying through to the rest of the week, my rivers being small, would soon be in flood. If I was going to fish anywhere, it would have to be today.

After a quick consultation with my wife, the bag of liquisied bread was withdrawn from the freezer, then sandwiches and a flask of tea were made before heading the van toward my nearest lake, the Farnham AS water at Badshot Lea, Kings Pond. It was past noon when I arrived, finding most of the swims already occupied, but a longer walk found a bit of space, although the general impression of the anglers that I passed, was that the fishing had died off already, a couple in the process of packing up, having earlier caught a few tench and crucians. I’ve heard this before and pressed on.

On a bend, this swim looked promising, with lillys bordering the drop off into deeper water, going from three feet to four. Setting up the pole with a 4 x 16 antenna float to a size 16 barbless hook and mixing up a damp mix of ground carp pellets and heavy white crumb, I dropped a couple of egg sized balls to the right of the small patch of lillys and cast in. Nothing. Not a movement of the fine float tip. After five minutes a tiny movement of the float, hardly seen by the eye, but more felt in my brain. Then again, this time a ring radiating from the tip. Something was down there and I guessed it was a crucian carp. Over the next five minutes the bite continued to develope, slight dips and bobs as the 5 mm pellet of fresh bread was played with, until it slowly marched under. A strike and the elastic came out briefly as a small crucian tried to avoid the landing net.

Dropping the float back in, the antenna was dipping and bobbing again, but slid under minutes after and the elastic came out further as a larger crucian dived for the lillys, but failed to reach sanctury.

A few small roach got to the bait first, before a more positive bite saw the elastic stretching out into the pond as a decent roach made a run for it.

The small roach had moved into the right side of the lilly, so switched to the middle of the patch following with another couple of feed balls. More fiddly bites and I was playing another crucian.

Crucian carp are tough little fighters, that bely their feeble bite, standing their ground to battle it out, unlike their larger common brethren, that storm off with the bait in an often unstoppable run. I landed a 2 lb crucian from this pond last year and was hoping for better things, plus a tench or two would also be appreciated.

After I netted this crucian, the clouds disappeared and I found myself searching for my sun hat, put in the bag by my thoughtful wife. The heat was beating down from a clear sky and even the small roach went off the feed, it was like a switch had been pulled. Extending the pole, I rested it while I worked my way through the sandwiches, missing a couple of bites that sat, then sank out of sight. Unmissable, but I did. In that hour I scratched out a few small roach and decided to start to feed plain fine white liquidised bread to concentrate them into an area out in front of me.

This worked, shallowing up and dropping the bait through the cloud began to produce some better sized roach.

Patchy cloud brought a change, a lift, then a slow sink saw the elastic out again as a different fish sailed out toward the middle. It was a skimmer bream and I took my time easing it back to the net.

This is the first bream that I have caught from this water and I put it down to a fluke, but two roach later I netted a smaller one.

Roach were still taking the bread, not big but net fillers all the same.

As the clouds grew, the wind picked up and I was having trouble holding the pole out straight, the float flashing on and off in the ripples. When it stayed off I lifted, skimmers still in the swim.

I struck into a decent bream, larger then the first, but had trouble keeping the tension on the pole against the gusts and the hook pulled free. That was the last I saw of them. The wind dropped and the sun came out again and I scraped together the last of my feed for a last shout session. In the distance the sky was black and this was obviously the lull before the storm.

This feed was heavier and I increased the depth again to fish just off bottom, this roach taking without any fuss. The cloud was coming closer and the wind had increased again, causing a right to left drift and I held back the float river style to take a few more roach, whenever the float held under. Already committed to finish by 3:30 to avoid the rain, I was in two minds to continue, when a small crucian took the bread.

Was the crucian shoal back on the feed? I’ll never know, as I stuck to my guns and put the float rig back on its winder. I’ve had more than one soaking in the past, when outstaying my welcome and today was not going to be another. Pulling the keepnet from the water, I was pleased to see a reasonable haul of fish, pausing only to take a photo before tipping them back

Walking back to the van, the first drops of rain were beginning to fall and I hurriedly loaded my tackle to be on my way, only having to step out into the rain briefly to unlock the gate to drive out, another angler following me out to lock the gate behind us, being not so fortunate, as the heavens opened with a whoosh.

 

Wild brown trout hard to find after the Mayfly hatch

June 11, 2020 at 7:02 pm

A late afternoon visit to the river Whitewater this week, saw me heading toward black clouds, as I drove west, but hoped that a late Mayfly hatch and a trout, would compensate for a soaking. By the time I reached the river, the clouds had parted to allow sunshine to break through, warming the air as I heading down from the road bridge. I kept my eye open for Mayfly and rising fish, stopping below a tunnel of trees to watch a brownie of a pound rise occasionally to a sparse hatch. A sideways cast was needed to avoid the overhanging branches, while a down stream wind added to my difficulties, but after several attempts, the fly line carried enough momentum to cast the fly into the shadows. As my Mayfly emerged from the gloom, the trout rose from the side and turned, taking the fly, a reflex action setting the hook, but not for long as the brownie boiled on the surface and came off the barbless hook. Struck too soon! Lack of practice.

Not stopping to fish on, I decided to walk to the bottom of the beat about half a mile down, where a work party had cleared the banks, stopping at the farm bridge to view the river, another trout rising twice beneath the over hang of a tree, safe from any angler’s fly.

Walking down to the spot, I could see it through a gap in the trees. There was faster water here at the tail of the pool, but no chance to cast a fly, even with chest waders from the middle of the river, so I contented myself by watching as it hung around at midwater, drifting up to the surface to gently sip in small flies that I could not identify, while ignoring a mayfly that scudded across its vision.

Continuing past the jungle of trees, I came to an opening, where a tree had been removed, allowing a clear upstream cast up to a gap in the vegetation, where a fish rose. There were no Mayfly about, but I cast mine to it, the fish coming up again after the big artificial had passed it by. Another cast and the Mayfly was ignored again. I tied on a size 16 Gold Ribbed Hares Ear, which is a good general pattern, that seems to work for me in most situations, sitting high in the surface film, when rubbed in with floatant and unaffected by the wind.

By the time that I was ready, the fish had risen again and I made false casts up to it. Another yard from the reel and the fly floated to the surface, drifted a foot, then disappeared in a swirl. Striking, I lifted the line from the water making contact and boiling the fish on the surface. It was not a big trout and I stripped back line to stay in contact, not wishing to loose this one, no matter how small. Zig zagging from side to side it fought well and I took my time to net it from the bank with my net fully extended.

Not a monster, about 4 oz, but a perfect wild trout all the same, proof that this little river still has a self sustaining wild trout population. After unhooking it was lowered back in with the landing net, bolting back to the depths with no ill effects.

I headed back, unsuccessfully trying my luck again at the S bend, but by now the clouds had returned and drizzle was blowing across the field. Time to go.

 

Tench among the showers on the bread punch

June 6, 2020 at 2:44 pm

Cooler weather with promised sunshine and showers saw me pay my first visit since Lockdown to the Farnborough and District owned Shawfield lakes this week. Still under strict Covid-19 rules, the club is operating limited access to it’s members, only allowing a maximum of fifteen anglers on site per day, booked through the Club Secretary. So far this has worked well, with the gate code changed daily. There was a no return policy of 48 hours, but this has now been opened up to allow anglers to return after 24 hours, although social distancing and hand sanitising at the gate is still required.

Last year I fished the big lake with bream and tench of over 5 lb on the bread punch, that stretched my pole elastic to near the limit and was keen to try the small lake, which was an unknown quantity as far as I was concerned, although the Secretary informed me that some big tench and decent carp had been coming out recently.

Arriving at midday the wind was blowing in strong gusts, but the surrounding trees offered a sheltered spot and I set up a 4 x 16 antenna float to a size 16 barbless hook to fish the 4 foot deep lake, although my plummet picked up fine stringy weed from the bottom and decided to fish 6 inches off bottom with only a single No 8 shot between the hook link and the bulk shot at 18 inches from the hook.

Knocking up a damp mix of heavy liquidised bread and ground fish pellets, I fed an area seven to ten metres out in front of me and put a couple of balls in close beside an attractive looking clump of lilies on my left. While still sorting myself out, the first of several heavy rain showers swept across the lake and I made a quick grab for my waterproof jacket, although the main burst was over by the time the jacket was on.

First cast in alongside the lily bed, the float sank away and I steeled myself for a decent fish, but a small rudd had managed to cram the 7 mm pellet of bread down it’s throat, needing the disgorger.

More rudd followed, some much smaller, then the float sank purposefully away from the lilies and the elastic was streaming out of the pole, as the golden shape of a good tench tumbled beneath the surface, turning away toward trees on my left, and getting snagged on the bottom. Pointing the pole toward the snag, I hoped that the tench would swim free again, which it did, but the line stayed caught up and I pulled for a break, expecting the weaker hook link to go, but I lost the lot, the Stonfo connector pinging back and hitting my typing finger with a whack that still hurts. Ouch! An occupational hazard of pole fishing.

Fortunately the Lockdown gave me plenty of time to tie up plenty of pole rigs and a duplicate was sitting waiting in my box, a quick connection to the Stonfo and I was fishing again. Now knowing that the snag was under the trees, I concentrated on the area in front and fed another ball, once again the inevitable rudd attacking the 7 mm pellet of bread. I decided to switch to a smaller 5 mm punch to get as many rudd out of the swim and into the keepnet as I could, swinging them in until the float rotated, bobbed and sank. I was into a tench again, a short run, a tumbling fight followed by another run toward the island that was stopped by the heavy 12 – 18 red elastic and the fish turned back toward me. Sliding the pole back and breaking down to the top four sections, I let the tench wear itself out and guided it into the net.

I noticed that this fish had a damaged pectoral fin, but there was no sign of infection and after a quick weigh in with the landing net handle removed, I carried it round to the next swim and released it. An otherwise perfect specimen at 3 lb 12 oz.

A small jack pike now came into the swim, snatching one of the better rudd from the hook and briefly hanging onto another, causing panic among the greedy shoal of rudd. The swim went dead and I went back to the 7 mm punch, putting in another small ball of feed over my float. After the constant action of swinging in the small rudd, it seemed a long wait for the next bite, which lifted and slid away. Another rudd!

My disappointment didn’t last long, the float bobbing and cruising off with another good sized tench, this dark one charging all over the lake, before coming to the net and weighing in at exactly 3 lb.

 

I now took the opportunity to have a cup of tea and a sandwich, while the last of my bread feed was mixed up and put out in front again, balls breaking up as they sank.

The rudd returned, followed by the 3 lb jack pike and I was back on the 5 mm pellet catching rudd, when a slow steady sinking of the float saw the elastic out again and I was fighting another tench that made off toward a bed of lilies mid water to my right, it’s black fins breaking the surface, when it turned back. The elastic compounds its pulling power the more the fish pulls, the hook link to the 16 barbless keeping hold.

There had been another burst of rain when I hooked this 4 lb 8 oz lump, but the sun was baking hot on my back by the time I landed it. This looked a much older tench than the others, but boy did it fight.

The sun was drying my bread quickly now, the thin rolled pieces curling up like British Rail sandwiches once out of the shade, becoming difficult for the rudd to swallow. They were small, but entertaining, it being easier to bash a few out, than to watch a static float.

Once a big fish comes into a swim, the small stuff usually make way for it and once again a classic tench bite had the elastic out in pursuit. Slow at first, then an explosion of power saw a golden tench heading for the island, while the pole was held high. It turned to the left, where I’m sure it knew where the snag was and I put on full side strain, bending the pole, waiting for a crack from the 30 year old carbon fibre, but the trusty tool stood up to the punishment, with the fin perfect tench soon in the net.

This 4 lb 4 oz beauty was the last of the afternoon, packing up shortly after at 4:30, probably the ideal time to start tench fishing, but with a Lockdown Zoom quiz lined up for the evening, the building rush hour traffic was waiting.

Small but perfectly formed, these rudd will soon be worth catching.

 

Bread punch crucians and common carp oblige after Lockdown

May 27, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Constant blue skies and 25 C temperatures have not been the ideal weather for sitting on the bank fishing, the nearest I have got is to my local pond, when my wife and I have been taking our daily morning Lockdown exercise. The walk through a small wood to a seat, that looks down the pond, is rewarded by the sound of birds singing, blackbirds being the most vocal at this time of year. Since restrictions were eased two weeks ago, the pond has had a succession of dads and lads, plus the occasional older angler occupying the swims sweltering in the heat. Not for me.

I have to admit that I have been searching the weather forecasts looking for rain and cool weather, but while those North of Watford and in Scotland been deluged with rain, we in the South have continued to wilt in the sun.

I got my chance last evening, when my wife decided that it was time for her to brave the queue of shoppers at Tesco waiting to be admitted to the supermarket. Intending to shop after 8 pm, it gave me the chance of a couple of hours fishing at the pond after Tea. Having trundled my trolley down to the water at 6:30 pm, the heat was still intense and I was sweating by the time I reached my favourite swim, only to find it crowded out by a dad with three young sons. They were busy catching small rudd on maggots, dad spending his time moving from one to the other taking out hooks and undoing tangles. Oh, happy memories.

The only swim available is shallow, half covered with lilies and overhung by a large tree, which is already adorned by a collection of fishing floats. I never fish this swim in the summer due to the lily bed, yes it holds fish, but it is also the obvious bolt hole for any fish capable of stretching pole elastic. It was time to bite the bullet and give it a try.

Three balls of damp liquidised bread, mixed with a quarter measure of ground fish pellets were thrown 8 to 9 metres out, a metre away from the lilies and by the time I was ready to fish at 7 pm, bubbles were already bursting on the surface. With the pole at 7 metres, I swung out into the baited area a short 3 No 4 waggler with a 6 mm punch of bread on a size 16 barbless hook. The float dipped and slid away toward the lilybed  and I lifted into the small rudd. Not! The elastic streamed out into the mass of lilies and I pulled hard round in the opposite direction to get the assumed carp back out. I say assumed, because after much tail wagging and splashing, the hook pulled free of the fish.

This attracted much attention round the pond, the dad looking over and asking what it was, while another angler the other side of my tree came round for a chat, by which time I was already playing my second fish, a nice crucian, which embedded itself in the lilies at my feet. Several attempts later, I had broken the lily and netted the fish. “Didn’t know there was anything that big in here?” he said, sipping on his can of beer.

Everything in the pond seems to be a hybrid of something else and this was no exception, having the colouring of a crucian, but the shape and mouth of a common carp. Now followed a quick tuitorial on the use of the bread punch, as I netted another crucian variant.

These I find are the hardest to catch. They attack the bait with dips and bangs, then seem to leave it, but are actually just holding station sucking the bread without moving off. As you can see in this image, the crucian is barely hooked in the lip. If the bite does not develope, I strike anyway and usually one is there, although lightly hooked they are often lost. My newfound friend was intrigued by the punch, having only caught small rudd on his maggots, while my elastic was out again with another nice crucian, that I had to bully away from the lilybed, raising the pole and stripping back to the top three to avoid snagging again close in.

Netting another of the bait stealing crucians was a signal for my beer drinking friend to comment, that he was surprised that such an old fashion method could still catch fish? Fish are fish. What worked 50 years ago will work today. Better presentation on the pole, just makes the punch an even deadlier method.

I could now concentrate on the job in hand, putting a ball of feed in at regular intervals bringing a response of even more bubbles, some bursts indicating that common carp were now in the area. My next fish was a rather tatty looking crucian that ran into the lilies, then out again.

The float zipping away meant contact with a proper carp that rushed out to the middle before rolling off the hook, leaving a black slick of mud behind. Another ball of feed and a true crucian was fighting at the end of the line.

As the evening went on, I had been shallowing up the float, going from two feet up to eighteen inches. This was giving more positive bites and the heavy crumb used in the mix, resulted in pieces of bread drifting around just off the muddy bottom. Stirred up by the fish, these were causing competition and better bites.

Another rush off bite brought a small common and I raised the pole high and let it fight to a standstill before bringing it to the net.

A lone gudgeon was followed by a pole bender that stripped out the elastic and made it to the sanctury of the lilybed, but firm pressure brought it back out again, stripping down to the top three quickly keeping the 12-18 elastic under pressure, the barbless hook hanging on to the net.

Very strange. As I said before, there are hybrids of all types here, this fan tail monstrosity no exception. Despite it’s looks a hard fighter none the less.

A fat, silver common hybrid was next, the hold the pole high method and the strong elastic doing the trick in the shallow pond.

Got another one! An even bigger fan tail battled it’s way to the net, followed by the smallest crucian of the evening.

Beautiful colours on this variety of crucian, the image here capturing the iridescent scales as the sunset.

This small common was the last photo that came out as the light reduced, switching to the flash on my pocket camera glaring out the image due to the silver scales. A few more of these found there way into the net, before I packed up dead on 9 pm.

What pleased me about this catch was the number of crucians, although in recent years small tench had grown to acceptable sizes, but now they seemed to have disappeared, but then who knows with this little pond in the corner of a housing estate. A final word. My wife drove to the Tesco supermarket to find the queue longer than ever, the customers spaced every two metres stretching for four hundred yards around the car park. She did not stop. Today the queue was even longer.

The madness continues out in the real world, when fishing, the only reality is the float going under.

CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR bolt stripdown and Lockdown maintenence.

May 25, 2020 at 12:19 am

The easing of the UK Lockdown for fieldsports, including fishing and shooting, took most of us by surprise, at least expecting limited mileages to be maintained, putting a block on many activities, but no, we are free to roam and able follow our sporting passions without the fear of a fine from the authorities.

Assuming that I still had a week or two to get round to my final rifle in the Lockdown maintenence series, I had left my CZ 452, 16 inch barreled Varmint .17 HMR rifle until last, but a phone call from one of my farmers to say that he was cutting the spring growth of grass around a large rabbit warren this week, soon had me changing my plans.

The Varmint is a heavy rifle due to it’s barrel, which tapers up from 16 mm up to 26 mm, the purpose being to absorb the heat generated from the tiny 0.17 inch plastic tipped magnum round, which produces 245 ft lb of energy and a velocity of 2,550 feet per second at the muzzle. At a hundred yards, the 17 grain bullet still carries 137 ft lb of energy with a velocity of 1,755 FPS, being dead on accurate at this range. Firing from the bipod on a windless evening, I once decimated a rabbit warren at ranges varying from 90 to 140 yards, taking over twenty bunnies in ten minutes, the two, five shot magazines needing to be reloaded at intervals being the only limiting factor. My rifle above, equipped with a Hawke 40 x 4-12 parallax scope, Harris HB25CS bipod, extending from 13.5 inches to 27 inches and the Swift silencer, bring the overall weight up to 9.6 lbs, a bit of a lump to carry around the fields, but the weight also gives stability for those extra long shots well beyond a hundred yards.

The main job today was to dismantle the rifle bolt, basically the engine of this extremely reliable weapon.

In line for carbon blowback, when each bullet is fired, carbon builds up around the firing pin and more importantly the ejection claws. The bolt slides forward and is locked in the breech by a cam action, when the arm is pushed forward and down. Lifting the bolt arm activates the cam that unlocks the bolt, allowing it to be drawn backward over the top of the spring loaded magazine. Pushing the arm forward again causes the bolt to push a bullet forward into the breech, pushing the arm down activates the cam lock, pulling back the firing pin, while the spring loaded claws in the bolt are then forced over the rear of the bullet, clamping over the rim. When the trigger is pulled, the firing pin strikes the side of the bullet rim, igniting the powder and sending the bullet on its way. The bolt absorbs the full reactive force of the bullet. When the bolt is raised and drawn back, the empty case is pulled from the breech by the claws. The right hand claw has a sharp gripping edge, while the left hand claw has a radiused edge, which tilts the case to the right as it is drawn back, the effect of both spring loaded claws being to eject the case out of the gap between the bolt and the breech. Considering that this all takes place in parts of a second, it is important that the bolt mechanism is kept clean and oiled.

To gain access to the firing pin for cleaning, the bolt is removed and the bolt arm rotated to ease the cam on the spring loaded firing pin. The thumb lever shown is held in position by the force of the firing pin spring, a pin on the lever passing through the bolt. To remove the thumb lever, the black hardened button has to be pushed in against the force of the spring and the thumb lever pin pulled out through the the hole.

To ease the spring, I use a 1/4 inch pin punch with a shrader valve dust cap fitted over the end. This allows a better grip than metal to metal contact. I have the scars to prove it. The punch is held firmly in a vice, the bolt is gripped in the left hand, while the button is located over the dust cap and forced downward. As the button is forced upward, the thumb lever becomes loose and can be pulled away by the right hand. Care must be taken to ease the pressure on the button once the thumb lever is removed, gently releasing the firing pin and it’s spring to avoid parts being scattered.

These are the parts that make up the firing pin mechanism, all held in by the thumb lever pin.

At the other end of the bolt are the case ejector claws. These fit into holes in the sides of the bolt and are held in place by a C clip. The clip is easily levered out of position using a small instrument screwdriver.

I sprayed WD40 into all the holes and surfaces of the bolt parts, the residue clearly visible in the container. Each part was individually cleaned and wiped down with absorbent kitchen towel. The container was emptied and cleaned, before the parts were sprayed by WD40 again and left to drain.

Reassembly is the reverse of the strip down. Care must be taken to fit the sharp ejector claw on the right hand side of the bolt, as fitted to the rifle, the rounded claw on the left. See the image below.

Although WD40 has lubricating properties, all parts of the bolt were sprayed with Bisley Gun Oil on assembly. While the bolt was out of the rifle, I lubricated the front wire brush end of my .17 HMR Boresnake and dropped the brass weight through the bore from the breech. Once through, I turned the rifle round to face me, pulling the cord and and the cleaning brushes through in one stroke, avoiding putting pressure on the crown at the muzzle. Without oiling the brushes, I pulled the Boresnake through again for good measure.

With the bolt and a full magazine fitted, I checked that the bullets were loading and that the ejectors were working perfectly. The Swift silencer was screwed back on and the rifle is ready for another busy season.

My local River Cut has been polluted again with a total fish kill.

May 18, 2020 at 10:32 am

With a month to go before the UK river fishing season opens, I was devastated to see that another pollution event has wiped out the recovering fish population of my little local River Cut. A few years ago oil cleaning fluid was being released down the drains of the upstream industrial estate, coating the banks and bottom of the river, killing thousands of fish.

This time there was no tell tale smell of oil, only the sight of dead fish coating the bottom of the river, or trapped by branches as they drifted downstream.

Looking down into the river from a road bridge, I could see hundreds of fish from one ounce to over a pound in the mirke, chub, roach, dace and gudgeon, even a tench on its side in the margins.

In the last few days of the season in March, I had an enjoyable stick float session catching healthy chub and roach. It is hard to think that these fin perfect fish are down there rotting somewhere.

Even when I was catching these fish, Thames Water had pollution booms out across the river upstream and I took a picture of the mud at the edge of my swim. It was oozing oil.

Unfortunately we live in a selfish society, where the majority of the population are disconnected from the natural world, not knowing, or caring that a roadside drain eventually finds its way into a living, balanced ecosystem. This is the result.

Big Whitewater brown trout, a fitting end to the Lockdown

May 13, 2020 at 9:58 pm

The UK Government took everyone by surprise, by easing the English Lockdown and allowing travel to extended periods of exercise, including angling and other fieldsports among their list of approved exercise. I had already decided that my first foray into the countryside, would be a session on Farnborough and District’s Hampshire  trout stream, the River Whitewater.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, there had been only the minimum of work parties and no stocking, so was not optimistic about catching much as I climbed the gate, the code in the club book not opening the lock, a sign of things to come? Once in the open pasture, the icy north wind was cutting through my lightweight jacket. Despite bright afternoon sunshine, the air temperature was 10 degrees C down on last week, not ideal for my hoped for Mayfly hatch and I headed straight for a big S bend in the river, which has been kind to me in the past.

The river was pushing hard round the bend with a tinge of colour, but it was good to see it rushing over clean gravel. There was no fly life visible and no rising fish, so a good early season stanby, an unweighted Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear was tied on and I worked my way up round the bend toward the main pool. Once teeming with dace, this fast run yielded no takes and I was already considering the points that I would gain from my wife for being home early for Tea. Working to the top of the pool, I considered my options, go home now, sit and wait for the Mayfly to hatch, if at all, or continue downstream to another promising area. I chose the latter.

With only sheep for company, I was alone with my thoughts. Again there were no rising fish, but it was good to be out with the fly rod among the luxuriant spring growth, although the gusting wind caused a few close calls, as I tried some of the more over grown runs, where no winter trimming has taken place.

After an hour, it was time to head back upstream again, watching a few Mayfly drift with the flow, temptingly spinning in the current, as I waited for a spotted nose to appear to suck them down to oblivion. None rose.

Walking through the copse close to the S bend, I heard the unmistakable sound of a large fish breaking the surface and as I emerged, saw the swirl of another rise in the main pool. Without waders, I had to edge along the bottom of the high bank with reeds out in front of me, the bank stopping my progress. I could now see a few light green Mayfly lifting off and being intercepted by a large fish in the middle of the river.

I took this pic just after it had risen again, a cast of about 20 yards, where the faster water entered the pool. Looking in my Mayfly box, a likely candidate stood out, a green bodied, shadow Mayfly.

With fumbling fingers, I managed a perfect improved clinch knot, licked it and slid it down to the hook, then tested it and trimmed off. This was a big fish and the last thing I wanted was to lose it due to a dodgy knot tied in haste.

Rubbing floatant grease into the Mayfly, I tried a few false casts to get the range, battling the wind that blew my 4 lb tippet off target, everywhere but down the middle, where the trout continued to slurp down Mayfly. My artificial was riding the surface perfectly as it passed out of range of the feeding trout, but a moment of calm allowed the fly to float down to the surface, where it was engulfed.

I struck, feeling the full weight of the trout, as it powered up toward the bend, screaming the reel as it took line. Not for long, it turned and rushed past me, heading for the fast water downstream. Stripping line, I lost contact momentarily, fearing that the barbless hook would lose its hold, but my 3 WT, seven foot rod was soon bending double with the run. Now the fight began, giving just enough line, letting the rod do its work, the trout leaping clear in a shower of spray and spots, shaking its head as it made off upstream again.

Last season I had lost a decent trout at the net from a high bank, but this time had extended the landing net to full length and waited for the trout to come to the surface, letting it swim in, only for it to accelerate out again! Take your time Ken, the hook is holding. This time the head went in and I lifted. It was mine! Phew, that was hard work!

22 inches of pure muscle, that tested man and rod. I did not have scales with me, but estimate that this twice over wintered stockie went about 4 pounds. Inside the scissors of its jaw, the mangled fly pushed out with forceps and I returned it to the river in my landing net, keeping the head upstream for ten minutes, it swimming strongly away, when released.

Checking my watch, there would be no brownie points tonight. I had said that I would be home by 6 pm, it was almost that now and I still had not reached the locked gate. At the van I called to make my apologies for being late. “Why break the habit of a lifetime? Dinner will be ready for 6:45” I made it with 5 minutes to spare. Homemade chicken and ham pie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magtech 7022 (Mossberg 702) .22 semi auto rimfire rifle Lockdown maintenance

May 10, 2020 at 1:22 pm

With the UK Government getting ready to ease the Covid-19 Lockdown, I took the Magtech 7022 .22 semi auto out of the gun safe this week for a preseason check. This rugged composite stocked rimfire rifle has served me well since I bought it brand new a dozen or so years ago.

Removing these two cross head screws allows the plastic stock to pull away, exposing two 5 mm pins, that hold the trigger mechanism in place. Pushing these through allows the complete trigger assembly to pull out. Looking inside to the underside of the receiver, the spring loaded bolt, which slides on a guide pin, backed by a nylon buffer can be seen. It is a very simple assembly, which can be pulled out with your fingers, without special tools in the field if necessary. I have done it several times to clean out the carbon blown back, when the spent bullet casings are ejected, but only on my workshop bench. I decided not to attempt it on this occasion, as the bolt and trigger are working perfectly, since my last full strip a year ago.

These images were taken straight from the Mossberg 702 Plinkster Manual, which gives a full, image led description of the strip down and rebuild of the rifle. The Mossberg is a straight copy of the CBC Magtech 7022 and parts are still available.

The bolt can be held back by pushing the cocking lever in, when in the fully open position. This allows gun oil to be sprayed inside for lubrication. Holding the rifle vertical helps the oil to travel back to the spring and trigger sear. To ease the bolt, pulling the cocking lever back releases it again to slide forward into the ready to fire position.

In this position, the rifle is ready to start the firing cycle. With a loaded magazine in place, the cocking lever is pulled back to the most rearward position, cocking the action; the bolt is allowed to spring forward, collecting a bullet from the magazine and pushing it into the barrel. The trigger is pulled and the hammer released to strike the firing pin within the bolt, the pin hitting the rim of the cartridge to ignite the powder, forcing the bullet out of the barrel and blowing the cartridge back, forcing the bolt to overcome the spring pressure, as it does, the cartridge case glances against the slanted ejector plate and exits the now open receiver, the bolt continuing back to recock the rifle. The cycle continues with another bullet being collected as the bolt springs forward again, pulling the trigger firing the rifle, etc, until no bullets are left in the magazine, the red magazine follower now holding the bolt open. The bolt lever should again be pulled back and pushed in to hold the bolt open, before the angled button behind the magazine and ahead of the trigger is pushed forward to release the magazine.

I was informed by one of my readers recently that he bought a pair of Mossberg 702 magazines for his Magtech 7022 and they did not fit properly. When I bought my Magtech, it came with the magazine on the left and later bought two more pattern ones, those on the right. As you can see, the left hand magazine has a larger locating lug in the top left than those on the right. The original is a firmer fit than the other two, but all cycle bullets perfectly. I have seen images of Mossberg magazines and they all have a large lug similar to the original Magtech. Any comments would be welcome regarding these magazines to pass on to other owners. By the way, I did not spill my nail varnish accidentally on the left hand magazine, I used some of my wife’s to mark which one carries the high velocity bullets, the others carrying Winchester 42 grain subsonic rounds.

This shows the other side of the magazines, those on the right being a weaker design with one long slot at the rear, while the original has three slots.

One important bit of maintenance on the magazines, is to slide the bottom plate forward to give access to the inside for cleaning. The spring is an elongated shape to give an even pressure on the follower and I have never removed the spring before, as it could prove difficult to get back in, while attempting to slide the bottom plate across. Partly open, it allows carb cleaner to be blasted up inside to remove any bits of grit, that may have found its way in, stopping the smooth action of the magazine. The magazine should not be oiled for this reason, allowing grit to collect. This view shows high velocity Remington Yellow Jacket bullets, which extend the range on the same scope setting by twenty yards.

Over the years I have done a few improvements to the Magtech 7022. In its brand new state, the trigger was gravelly in feel, which I refined by removing the trigger mechanism and applying valve grinding paste to the sliding parts, spending hours working the trigger, while watching TV, until it felt smooth to operate. A thorough a blast through with carb cleaner, WD40, then Bisley aerosol oil, left me with a consistent pull of the trigger.

Another modification that I did, was to relieve the plastic stock around the barrel, as on hot days the plastic would soften, allowing it to rest against the barrel enough to cause a miss. Having fitted a bipod, this had been magnified, when swinging round to follow a rabbit, the stock would push against the stock. Filing a good clearance around the barrel stopped this from happening. Today a stiff card can be passed between the stock and the barrel.

I found that the rifle butt tended to slide against my hunting jacket, when taking a standing shot, so I glued a strip of soft neoprene to the butt, which cured the problem. Looking at this image, it is about time that I renewed the neoprene.

Due to the light weight of the Magtech, being only about 5 lb with the scope, I found that it often suffered from trigger twitch, when taking a standing snap shot in wooded areas at moving rabbits. Fitting a Jack Pyke tactical sling, when adjusted to the exact length, gave a very firm, steady aim on moving rabbits and spot on shots at static ones that appeared in front of me. This involved drilling the butt and stock to suit the coarse thread of the sling mounts, having measured the sling mount positions from my CZ452 HMR rifle.

Although a very cheap rifle to buy, the Magtech 7022 and the later edition of the Mossberg 702 Plinkster, the Plinkster title not doing it justice, this is an extremely accurate and reliable hunting rifle, which has put hundreds of rabbits on the table.

 

 

 

UK Government poised to give green light for fieldsports?

May 5, 2020 at 2:19 pm

This weekend the UK government is due to lay out it’s Road Map to easing the Covid-19 Lockdown. While concentrating on getting the population back to work and opening schools, it is expected that limited social activity, including sports, that naturally enjoy social distancing, such as pleasure angling and certain forms of shooting, will be permitted from the middle of May.

Citing several European countries such as Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland, that did not ban fishing, with no measurable increase in transmission of Covid-19, the UK’s Angling Trust has submitted a 15 page consultative document to the Government on the benefits of angling. Apart from the social and mental well being benefits to anglers, the angling industry is worth £4 billion to the UK economy, which the Government would find hard to ignore, as it attempts to regenerate income to the Chancellor’s rapidly emptying coffers.

The Angling Trust expects an upsurge in interest in the sport, as did Holland with a 30% increase in permit sales during it’s Covid-19 restrictions. This will not be a case of carry on regardless. Fishing matches will remain banned, along with all other large gatherings, it being difficult to maintain social distancing at the draw and weigh in, while many matchmen share transport to and from venues. With one angler per vehicle, travel is likely to be limited to a radius local to an angler’s home, say 5 miles, which will also restrict fishing for many. For myself, both of my fly fishing rivers are over 10 miles away, as are several good lakes, which will mean missing the Mayfly hatch and the best of the early tench fishing, but beggars can’t be choosers.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has advised it’s members not to take part in any form of shooting during the Lockdown, apart from those involved in essential pest control to protect crops and livestock. Their advice is to obtain a letter from farmers and landowners requesting their presence, to avoid any difficulties if stopped by the authorities with guns in their vehicle. Again social distancing must be maintained, not difficult in a 100 acre field. For my own safety, I prefer to shoot alone, while all my permissions are for me only. BASC advise pest controllers to inform the local police of when and where they will be working, obtaining a reference number. This does not always work though, a few years ago, when working with a couple of ferreters in a local park before dawn, a dog walker reported us, resulting in a visit from the local constabulary, despite a reference number. I had my Firearms License and permission from the council with me and they were soon on their way.

As we come out of this pandemic, it is hoped that personal freedoms will return, while responsible sportsmen will continue keep within the rules, to prevent an upsurge in Covid-19 infections until a safe vaccine is proven.