Get me outta here!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Porth Reservoir: Pre-Maver Festival Session 2014

I should start by saying that I'm not actually fishing the White Acres Maver Festival during this coming week. I wish I knew the venues well enough and had the time to commit, but the extent of my sessions these day only involve a practise/pleasure aspect.

Today I fished Porth Reservoir in Cornwall. The Maver Festival starts on here tomorrow so there were quite a few bods wandering around, making plans, having a few hours fishing or in some cases just setting eyes on the place for the very first time!

I used to fish the reservoir a lot during our various Cornish winter leagues in particular, but with the sheer scale of the place it's not somewhere that I've really come to pleasure fish for many, many years. With the size of seatboxes these days and the amount of kit we all like to carry, the walk alone is usually enough to put me off coming.

Until late last night I hadn't even considered fishing Porth today, but with calm conditions forecast and the fact that I'd sold out of maggots in the shop on Saturday (but wanting to fish somewhere today), it'd be possible for me to tuck in to White Acres on the way and grab everything I needed.

With a pint each of maggot and casters and half that of pinkies, I got to the reservoir not really knowing what to expect. It's one of those places where you may or may not find the fish within pole range, but with the warm summer we've had and lack of wind lately I hoped they'd be willing to feed close in. In fact, it was a necessity for me since I don't even own a single rod or reel at the moment! It was pole or nothing!

There wasn't a chance in hell I was breaking my back walking to the other side, and I don't much like the trees, so I settled for peg 19 in the meadow section. Just a nice average peg really in my mind.

Expecting relatively clear water (the wind usually colours it up a bit - and there's hardly been a breath of it lately) I assumed it'd be mostly a day for catching a few roach and perch. With this, it was an old-school approach with a very 'roachy' groundbait with 500g each of Sensas Lake and Roach Noir with 150g each of Epiceine and crushed hemp. Nice and active! I had more with me just in case I needed it. Before feeding I added some casters and pinkies. This type of fishing takes me back to the old days!

With little wind, I plumbed initially as long as was convenient. This basically meant fishing at 11m. Longer than this and despite the depth still going away, the bushes behind me started to get in the way. I was happy at 11 though. In reality I expected them to come even closer as I could see no logical reason given the time of year and conditions that they wouldn't be hungry for it.

I also set up 3 whips in the hope of catching them shorter. The wind was just a gentle breeze, blowing slightly from the left so I actually plumbed and planned to fish these slightly to my left, straight in to the wind. Far better this than have the line being picked up more easily at an angle. I did a little bit of the same on the pole line.

On the pole line I had no more than about six feet in depth. I've spent a lot of time fishing deeper venues lately so this felt lovely and convenient. I set up two rigs - one 0.6g wire stemmed float with a sensitive fibre bristle, bulk of shot and three no.11 droppers and the second almost identical bar a lighter float of 0.4g. Although I expected the fish to be hungry, I approached it fairly negatively in a way. I didn't want to go all out like I was expecting 50lb or anything and just felt the need to work my way in to it a little.

After feeding three balls laced with the aforementioned casters and pinkies, it took me probably 20 minutes to get in to it. The fish were actually there from the start it seemed, but I faffed in various ways before I could get in to any kind of rhythm,- getting float shotting right, taking a bit of depth off to stop dragging bottom etc...

It didn't take too long to figure out that this was potentially anything but a 'scratching' session though. I was getting bites very quickly but I was missing a lot. It wasn't solely the fishes fault either, and I wasn't completely happy with my hooks or hooklengths for the day. I have a confession to make and I actually managed to leave all of my lighter lines and hooks at home for the day! Just what you need when you're sat on Porth! Making do with some overly heavy, barbless patterns I had previously tied, it wasn't ideal. I had two hooklengths with 0.10mm Garbo Line (which was fine, bar the hooks) and nothing else with me below 0.12. In my last blog post I actually stressed how much I hate fishing these days when I'm not at all prepared, but in reality this session was a pretty prime example of what I was on about. Having said that, it was such a nice day that I was willing to make an exception. I'd already warned myself that I'd probably be making a rig or two on the bank but I hadn't quite come mentally prepared for the idea that I'd be doing that without my hooks!

Anyway, making do with the two hooklengths I had, I was catching!

Now, this was turning in to a great 'practise' session. Two things, perhaps three or four came to light. We're all aware of how things can change drastically with fishing, from one day to the next, but today we learnt that:

1) The lighter of the two rigs was far superior. Missing bites and having a few cagey bites on the 0.6g version, a switch to the 0.4g version had me straight in to more and bigger fish. This came to light relatively early on, but it was interesting that when I accidentally picked up the wrong (heavier) rig later on, I immediately experienced the same problems as I had initially. A switch straight back to the light rig and it was game on again!

2) Caster definitely picked out the better fish. I had some lovely ones on maggot too, but the caster wins. Maggot fish probably averaged only 1.5oz while caster fish were generally between 2oz and 3oz, with the odd bigger specimen.

3) The bigger fish liked a bit of groundbait, as did the skimmers - as you'd expect. I was loose feeding casters every drop in and after a period of catching, the stamp of fish would start to reduce. Introducing another ball of groundbait very often had an immediate effect and I'd be either straight in to a bigger roach, or quite often a hybrid or skimmer.

4) The roach wanted a moving bait. As far as numbers went most of the roach had the bait on the drop. In most cases I hardly had time to pick up the catapult and fill it with casters before they'd have intercepted the bait. They weren't necessarily right under the surface, so bites were hittable and less skittish than those times when they are, but you had to be quick with the feeding. To feed balls of groundbait (not so accurately at times, eh Dave?!), I'd stand up with my pole between my legs and very often I'd be striking in to a fish before I'd even have chance to sit back down again. It was fairly frantic at times. If I hadn't had a bite by the time it settled, it was very often worth picking it up and laying the rig down in a line on the water again. Getting the direction right for this was again important - with or against the tow. The wind actually went around with the session, and the tow followed. I started laying the rig in to the left (having it sink in line against the tow) and by the end was doing the opposite. This did help create more bites and enable me to hit more of them on the drop.

5) Towards the end of the session I had a great spell fishing double maggot closer to the bottom. Although the roach were very willing to come shallow (but tricky to catch shallower than 3 feet), the larger perch sat below them and if you dropped a visible bait down to them it didn't take long for them to have a go. They were good weight builders averaging about 6-8oz. I lost a much better fish too (Perch) and also something I foul-hooked. A couple of nice scales attached to the hook suggest it was something actually worth catching! Luckily I had no pike trouble all day - one follow but that was it.

I fished for 5 hours in total and caught fairly constantly with fish being in the peg from start to finish. I had to change depth regularly and played around with feeding a little, but sport was pretty constant. They went through a few tricky periods but it was usually possible to do something to settle them or figure out how to start hitting them again. I did try the whip but with fish being smaller than on the longer line I didn't stick at it for long. Saying that, I'm certain that if I had fed it more aggressively and spent more time building it up then I could have caught much closer than I was. Especially when the wind went around a little and was blowing straight in my face. There's just something I like about seeing a brightly coloured elastic zipping from the pole! For reference I was using (and love!) the J-Range Lastix Hollow 3-5 through just one section. The whip idea was also one that I had as a back-up in case of pike trouble. Obviously I'd have been in and out much faster.

We all know that conditions can vary day to day and the festival will likely fish very differently this week, but if I were to go back tomorrow for another pleasure session I would:

A) Mix more groundbait. I'd have done a full 2kg. Three balls at the start seemed right. I could happily have fed six, but three seemed to do the job as far as attracting fish went. After my spell on the whip, it may be worth noting that having neglected the pole line a little I fed three more balls to give it a boost. After this I had six skimmers on the trot. Nothing big, but it was certainly noticeable. It's always possible of coarse that they'd just settled a little more with less disturbance above while I wasn't fishing it. This did happen regularly when groundbait was introduced though, like I already said.


B) Rigs. Today I actually had it quite wrong, despite catching. The rigs and floats were more suited to catching closer to full depth. I caught most fish anything from 2" to 24" off bottom though, with the odd one on the drop far shallower than that. Light rigs were obviously best on the day, but I'd go back with something like a Chianti pattern in 4x12 or 4x14 with a more spread shotting pattern to really make the most of those fish taking on the drop. I'd also have set up a much shallower rig. I was getting the odd swirl right under the pole tip, but even set shallow (half-heartedly) the rigs I used today just weren't efficient. I'd have had a 4x10 or 4x12 float set 24" deep to make more of those fish. There were some nice fish amongst them! Rigs for full depth would possibly be the same weights. With conditions so calm today, there's every chance that tomorrow with any increase in wind at all, all of a sudden the 0.6g rig will be the best choice. I'd certainly be having one rig set at full depth (or just off bottom - the leafy bottom can be tricky!) and another 6" off - then the shallower rigs above that.

C) Hooks. I fished barbless patterns today. I think they were 808's. Although the size was ok (18) they aren't hooks I'd be using through choice on Porth. This is the land of the Kamasan B511, B611 or similar. I'm a massive fan of the old Drennan Nu hooks in the Maggot pattern especially which have a lovely fine wire and relatively long shank which really helps when you're catching quickly. The micro-barb (allowed on here) is a real benefit when you're swinging bouncy 1oz fish left, right and centre. I'd possibly have fished a size 20 on the lighter rig as well, sticking to an 18 on what would be my 'normal' rig.

D) Line. I'd have opted for my usual Porth 0.09mm hooklengths. With the right hooks and more delicate lines I'm absolutely convinced I would have missed far, far, far less bites today. It was very frustrating at times.

E) It would have been more than possible to come another section shorter - even two (depth around 3-4 feet at 6m). The skimmers and hybrids did make a difference on the day though, so the only thing I'd wonder to myself is just whether I would still be catching these fish at 6m? I'd probably fish 9.5m if you took me back tomorrow for a pleasure session and I wanted to catch more than today. I'm obviously aware that things might change with match anglers on every peg along this length, so anglers in the festival may find it different. Who knows?! 13m may even end up a better length to hold the fish at?! Certainly I can't imagine these fish disappearing altogether though. It'll be interesting to see whether the bream show this week or whether the roach nets come in to play. There is certainly the potential for some big nets of roach, perch and skimmers right now!

F) I'd probably also spend a little more time fishing those bigger baits closer to the bottom. Spending more time on it I'm certain that the odd much bigger bonus would have come along to really bulk out the perch weight.

I only found my fish counter in my bag just over an hour and a half before I packed up. By the end I had 60 fish on the clicker and it'd been as consistent, if not more so earlier on. The end result was somewhere over 20lb of roach, skimmers, hybrids and perch. The picture doesn't do them any justice at all and even I'll suggest that it probably doesn't look like there's 20lb in there. In reality there was more than that. The blister on my finger (pole burn!!!) can testify!

In total I fed all of the groundbait that I mixed, and in addition just one pint of caster and a few maggots. Quite a cheap day out really.

It's been a long time since I've made the effort to fish Porth. I think my next purchase will be some kind of canal stool so that I can fish it more easily from now on without the effort of taking a massive box!

Good luck to everybody who's fishing the festival this week - and especially Paul Holland who sat behind me for an hour or so today! He's fishing Porth on Tuesday.

Over n out.


  1. Nice detailed report well a very enjoyable read........

  2. Thanks Craig! Was a lovely day out!