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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Porth Reservoir: Pre-Preston Festival Session (post-Maver)

This weekend I am back at Porth Reservoir near Newquay in Cornwall. The past week has seen the White Acres Maver Festival anglers competing on the venue daily (Preston this week coming), so a lot of bait has gone in since I was here (see here). As expected, weights have been good through the week with 30lb+ winning most days. Mostly from pegs in the 70's on the far side where the bream tend to hang out, but there seem to have been plenty of fish caught across all sections. "The Meadow" section where I fished last weekend proved itself to probably be the lowest weight section on the reservoir. At this time of year it' to be expected really - with a lot of fish further to my right, in the shallower water. Naturally, weights have dropped during the week as the pressure of heavy pegging and lots of bait had it's affect on the fish.

For a fair comparison, I've come back to fish exactly the same peg as last weekend (19). The weather is cooler, we've had a load of rain overnight for the last couple of days (the first proper rains for months) and we're in a completely different moon phase, but I wanted to see how it went with all things being different. I expected fishing pressure alone to have made things harder though. With this section being won with only 7lb 9oz on the final day of the festival, I'd be aiming for 10lb. With less anglers fishing and a days rest in between it should be achievable.


For company I had with me Dave "Sensei" Rundle. We used to fish together a lot when I was young, and I've told him before but it's probably his fault that I enjoy catching 'silvers'. It's all we used to do, back in the day! He set up on peg 20 and was catching a roach a chuck by the time I'd rolled out of bed and made it to the reservoir.

There was hardly a ripple on the water and with Dave catching so well (a bit better than I'd have expected to be honest, considering the week's pressure) I raced to get set up. It looked perfect!

The fact that the fish seemed so eager to feed left me with a predicament. Expecting it to be hard I'd really come with it in my head that we'd be going a bit softly-softly and feeling our way in. Dave had a stack of fish in front of him though, so the first nasty thing I wanted to do was pull a few fish my way. After setting up three rigs (slightly more specific today, after last week's practise) I made a bit of noise with half a dozen balls of groundbait on the 11m line. I'd strongly considered fishing at 9m (it was 12" shallower") but bottled it in the end. I knew they'd feed at 11m very happily and to be honest, there were bubbles at around 16m and I wanted to get a little closer to those. Like I said in last week's report, the bushes behind make more than 11m a little less comfortable so it was a happy compromise.

 


Bait wise, I had with me two pints of caster, a pint of maggots, half a pint of hemp and a tin of corn.

Going on last week's experience, the rigs I'd set up involved:

Rig 1 (Bonus Fish)

Depth: Dead depth (approx. 5 feet)
Float: SconeZone Berweemz 0.6g
Shotting: Bulk and two no.9 droppers.
Hook: Drennan Red Match #16.
Elastic: J-Range Lastix Pink (3-6) through two sections.
Line: Garbo Line, 0.14 mainline, 0.10 bottom.
Bait: Double maggot.

 
Reason for choice: Last week I had a great spell catching bonus perch and the odd skimmer by fishing bigger baits underneath the roach shoals. The fine tipped floats I'd used were too easy dragged under at full depth with the tow (and bait), but the Berweemz float has a thicker tip to ensure I'll be able to trip the bottom if necessary, if the wind or tow increases.

Rig 2 (Scratching)

Depth: Dead depth (approx. 5 feet)
Float: Rameau Schumann 0.4g (wire stem, plastic bristle)
Shotting: Bulk and three no.10 droppers.
Hook: Drennan Red Roach #18.
Elastic: J-Range Lastix Orange (3-5) through one section.
Line: Garbo Line, 0.12 mainline, 0.09 bottom.
Bait: Single maggot/caster.

Reason or choice: This is actually the same rig that I caught the bulk of my fish on last week. Today though it's a little more refined with lighter line and smaller hook. It's this one I'll be expecting to catch on if the going is harder. The float is a sensitive one, and the hook ideal for small, single baits.

Rig 3 (On the Drop)

Depth: Mid depth (approx. 3 feet)
Float: Rameau Berlioz 0.3g (carbon stem, plastic bristle)
Shotting: Strung out no.10's for a slow, even fall.
Hook: Drennan Red Roach #18.
Elastic: J-Range Lastix Orange (3-5) through one section.
Line: Garbo Line, 0.12 mainline, 0.10 bottom.
Bait: Single maggot/caster.


Reason for choice: Last week a lot of fish were coming up in the water (although they're reluctant to come right to the top) and catching them on the drop was quite a regular occurrence. This rig will be used for picking off fish more effectively in the upper layers.



The Fishing

After balling it, as soon as I laid a rig in the water the roach were on it! I started on the 'scratching' rig with a single maggot just to get a fish in the net. It didn't take long at all - maybe 10 seconds.

Loose-feeding a dozen caster ever chuck I was straight back in to last weeks rhythm, although admittedly I was much more quickly up to speed this week. I was already 4lb behind Dave so had some catching up to do.

I'd actually mixed a full 2kg of groundbait this week after last week's experiences finding that they really did want it. Today seemed a bit different though. Loosefeeding caster and the odd bit of hemp, the fish were actually quite happy without requiring further groundbait top ups. When the swim did go quiet very occasionally I'd put another ball or two in, but on the whole I fed far less this week. It was more of a rejuvenator rather than something I could use effectively to actually catch me more fish. It bought the fish in, but adding it on top of feeding fish didn't really seem to improve things much.

With the shallower rig set up and available to me this week, I spent more time trying to get them to come shallower. For me, this is where a lot of my better fish were showing so the loosefeed attack was a better approach.

After an hour or so I did start heading in to a few frustrations. As with last week, caster certainly caught a better stamp of fish. The only annoying thing with caster is that if you're missing bites and the bait is getting beaten up, it's annoying and time consuming having to ship back to re-bait. Despite playing with shotting and feeding, those missed bites were a real problem. Obviously when you're not catching consistently it's hard to keep a rhythm going and I was getting myself in a right state of annoyance with much fewer fish actually making it to the net. There were loads of fish in front of me but they were just being total scumbags!

Was it a result of their week of constant pressure?! I don't know, but although I was missing bites last week too (I blamed it on the chunky hooks and line), this was a bit different. I was also catching far fewer of the proper bonus fish from last week. Far less big roach especially. The stamp of fish was definitely smaller, even if there was still that obvious distinction between maggot and caster fish.

Finding it hard to get in to any kind of rhythm, I put three balls of groundbait in and got up to watch Dave bagging for 5 minutes... His approach was quite different to mine. Although I had the odd spell where I'd be catching very quickly, he was more consistent and probably catching slightly bigger fish than me on the whole. Rather than trying to catch them shallow he was feeding more specifically to keep them on the deck, and it seemed to be working. He too was having funny spells where the fish were just not having the caster properly, but switching to maggot he was keeping them coming in between spells on the caster.

Back to my box, I gave myself a fresh start. Just wanting to put fish in the net without any of the stress, I went back on the maggot. The bites on maggot are far quicker and much easier to hit, but the only problem is that the fish are that much smaller. I compensated a little by trying double maggot. This seemed to work and I was catching better fish more regularly. Mostly on the drop. I was catching none of the bigger perch I'd seen last week, nor many skimmers either, but 2oz roach were regular visitors to the keepnet. Plus there was the benefit that if I missed a bite or two (or three) there was a high chance that the maggots were still in good enough condition to get me another bite - and they often did.

With this double maggot pattern established and the odd bite being missed, I stepped up my hook size on the shallower rig to a size 16 Red Match. It worked, I was missing less bites and the fish definitely weren't put off by the size.

It wasn't easy fishing however. I had a few spells when the fish seemed to all but disappear (pike maybe?!) and much slower periods surrounding these. If bites slowed on the shallow rig I'd usually find a few fish down below. If I was getting bites on the drop (on the full depth rig) then I'd switch the other way.

I did try the big fish rig a few times as well, but this week those fish just weren't there. I did catch a bonus 2lb Perch on a single fluoro maggot at full depth on the scratching rig, but that was one of only half a dozen perch I saw all day. All the others were tiny. Very different to last week!

One thing that is worth mentioning is just how shallow the skimmers and hybrids were coming. Often they'd actually be sat above the roach! I was missing some blisteringly fast bites at times on the shallow rig. When I really got my head down and hit the odd one, it was always, always a better hybrid (4-6oz).

Eventually, in the last hour I did manage to settle the fish a little and got them taking a caster again. To hit bites it was essential to lay the rig in a straight line and hold a tight line to the tip as the bait fell at an angle. Had it been a windier day then this just wouldn't have been possible, but it just seemed to be the way they wanted it... I think the bigger hook helped too and a string of 2-6oz fish were coming in quite regularly. This was now much more like last week. Just a shame the previous four hours had been so much more tricky.

By the end of my five hours I'd amassed a little net totalling 17lb. We weighed them this week for easier reference. I could feel the difference to last weeks catch, despite numbers of fish probably being similar. The average stamp was far superior last week and I had a good few extra pounds.


Starting a few pounds ahead of me, Dave's 20lb left us with almost identical nets of fish overall - testament to how many fish are spread over the pegs. 

Anyway, another great day on Porth! Much better than expected in fact. By the end Dave especially was feeding very heavily indeed, and there were just so many fish there that they really didn't seem to care! The truth is that there were just lots f fish in front of us! They were tricky buggers at times and far more fussy and cautious than last week, but there were loads around!

Hopefully anglers on the Preston festival this week will catch a few! As I write (Sunday evening) the wind is howling and the rain is hammering on the windows. Could be a rough first few days to the week - very different to today.

Over n out.


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