12 September, 2023 |0 Comments
Andy Bradnock: Another Season Begins at Frimley Pits
Andy is back with another brilliantly funny and insightful article (poor Andy Mackie!), this time looking at this start of a new season at Frimley Pits…
The new Frimley season started on a Sunday this year and it had been just over two weeks since a line had been cast in anger into its depths.
As Sunday is my normal night to be angling, I could be there from the off – this could be a blessing, but I was suspecting my normally quiet Sunday night would be busier than usual. I was also hampered a bit as on Friday at work, Micky Gray’s dog had a tantrum while I was vaccinating her and took a chomp at my left hand.
It was a bit of a mess and considering I had got him the dog, which he documented in his excellent second book ‘How’s your Luck’, I was feeling pretty hard done by. I was unable to even hold my ‘crusha’ and worried about getting pond nasties into my open wound. As expected, the banks were a little busier than normal, but with only five on there was plenty of space.
On my wander round, looking for a plot to drop into I almost walked into the carcass of a pigeon hanging from a crook in a branch above the path. This was the gruesome work of the Pit Three sparrowhawk. She is a formidable bird, happily hunting pigeons much larger than she is, then hanging them from a branch so she can slowly eat down the body.
There was very little showing, apart from five fish in two feet of water in the edge of Daisy Bay. These fish were glued to a spot, and refused to move enough to allow a bait to be placed.
I therefore left them to it and dropped into Double Boards, hoping that when they left the bay, they would pass by me. There was a fair bit of bubbling really short in front of the swim, but after a while of watching this, it was obviously either the bottom letting off gas, or small fish going through the close-in weed bed.
I decided then to ignore the bubbling and drop rods beyond the weed at around 30-40m. These spots were baited fairly heavily with 30 balls of groundbait mix, which equates to around 30 spods per rod.
To put this out, I use a method blaster, which spreads the bait a bit more randomly than spombing. A healthy volume of boilies were then catapulted over all three areas.
Most people that fish Double Boards do so on the age-old hotspots at 18 and 21 wraps, which leaves a huge area of untapped, prime feeding ground that hardly sees a bait. The bait I was using was my usual seed, pellet and groundbait mix with lots of Shrimp Extract and Krill Liquid to bind it.
However, I was playing with something called ‘Fish Gutz’ on this trip. It is a liquid that the match boys have been doing well on, and acts as a feeding stimulant. I am not sure if it has any attraction properties per se, but should prolong feeding activity when it occurs. I was mixing a few mls into the Krill Liquid before it was added to the mix.
The first night and morning were quiet for me, but a few of the guys had caught from around the lake. With nowhere free that I fancied more than where I was pitched up, I decided to stay put. I sat watching a display of rolling and bubbling in front of The Stick swim, where Big Al was expectantly sat waiting for an alarm to scream – this wasn’t to be and the activity slowly faded away.
Through the afternoon, we were treated to a display of avian aeronautics from a pair of Hobbies. These small falcons migrate up from Africa each year to breed and feed on the UK’s fat and abundant dragonflies. The speed with which they turn and bank is incredible, and as well as dragonflies, they are also fast enough to catch swallows and martins.
The rods were all sorted by around 17.00, and I’d moved two rods to the left-hand spot, which seemed big enough and felt much nicer on the drop.
The highlight of the evening was when Andy Mac called to relay a story of mishap – apparently the foxes had been through his rubbish and deposited his pile of fishing teabags all over his driveway. Cursing the ginger marauders, he set about picking up the strewn teabags, without the most important bit of kit – his glasses. He then proceeded to pick up a lump of fox poo with enough force to get a good ‘squash’ on it. My favourite bit was that the following evening, when he got home, he spied what he thought was a teabag he had missed from the day before. Nope he gave another fox turd a right good handling…
Nothing happened overnight, and no fish were caught elsewhere on the pit however, at 08.00, fish arrived in front of me, with both spots awash with bubbles, the intensity of which just seemed to increase as time passed. If this degree of feeding wasn’t a direct response to the ‘Fish Gutz’, it certainly didn’t put them off.
However, the next few hours were some of the most frustrating of my angling life, as patches of bubbles were constantly erupting over all my rods without a single beep emanating from the Delkims.
Andy came down for a walk with his dog, Luna and started to make in-roads into my remaining teabag supply, he inevitably decided to stay on when a bacon sandwich was offered up.
Just as he decided to head off at 14.00 my right hand rod, after hours of constant bubbling decided to charge off. The most memorable aspect of the fight was poor Luna kicking up a fuss, as she was tied to a tree while we dealt with my prize.
At 27lb 3oz, a fairly pristine common was being held up for the cameras.
I decided to put her back in the next swim up, only 20m away and while on my way to the swim my middle rod roared off.
At this point I made a stupid error – instead of getting Andy to pick up the rod, I thought I could drop the fish off and be back in plenty of time. Sadly, as I picked the rod up the fish dropped off. This may have happened anyway, but I think it was due to an ego-driven mistake, which I won’t make again.
Andy wandered off as my food supplies had been exhausted and I re-cast both rods to their respective spots. Around an hour later, the right rod again trundled off and a dogged fight resulted in a re-capture of Pit Three’s leather. As I had caught this fish just a few short weeks ago, I unhooked it in the water, took a photo of it in the net and released it. The stupid sod ended up falling for one of Adam’s rigs a week later.
The following session, as I had seen plenty of fish the week before in front of the Stick, I headed for there with nothing more obvious to go on. The next 48-hours resulted in my follicly challenged bonce getting a right work out, as I pulled and rubbed at my head.
The bubbling in front of me for both mornings was like someone had dropped a bomb in an Alka Seltzer factory. It was the left rod that got all of this attention, but I didn’t get a single beep for the two days.
I caught a tench from the top of the shallow bar at 22.00 on my second night, but this was hardly compensation for the learning those carp gave me. The left rod was getting a good ‘drop’ but when reeling in there was always some weed stuck on the hook, so maybe I was fishing with the rig hung up. A solid bag could well have been the answer but by the time I worked this out the opportunity had passed.
My next trip down coincided with Adam and Andy being present, so we spent a bit of time abusing each other before I decided where to plot up. That morning Adam had seen a fair few shows over my normal spots in Double Boards, so I dropped back in there and proceeded to chuck out a mini mountain of bait and liquids that I was becoming more and more confident in.
I just needed to figure out a way of turning feeding activity into more fish on the bank.
I played around with the positions of the hookbaits, but kept everything else about the same. Andy managed to lose a good fish from the treacherously snaggy Daisy Bay. He had done all the hard work, and got the fish back across the bay ready for a trip net side, when the fish decided to show him how bulky it was and charged through a tiny lily bed, that should have caused no issues, where it promptly transferred the hook to a lily stem.
His calamitous day got worse as he had decided to wear his chesties all sexy like, with one strap hanging down unattached, and the other in a more traditional over the shoulder position. This only became an issue when he decided to go to the toilet and unbeknownst to him, his loose strap dropped into the bowl. He then deposited a thankfully firm stool all over the offending strap. There was probably a degree of urine soaking as well. I will not be borrowing those chesties in the near future that’s for sure.
By the second morning, I was still fishless when finally, they moved in on me in numbers, and the now familiar patches of fizzing were erupting over all my rods. Yet another frustrating day ensued, and when Tom arrived to drop off some hardcore, the bubbling had pretty well stopped on my short spots and was out over the longer spots by the island.
He convinced me to chuck a rod onto them, as with only an hour to go, what did I have to lose? As soon as the lead had landed, a switch was thrown, and not another bubble broke the surface. Despondent, I started to pack away, pausing briefly to have a last look whilst standing on the end of the boards that give the swim its name.
I noticed a very subtle little fizz hit the surface and muttered to myself (need to stop doing that people will talk) that it looked bang on righty. At this, behind me I heard the bobbin crack into the blank and I was away – my yell of ‘beard on’ resulted in the red faced sweaty, chestie clad apparition that was Adam standing at my shoulder, his spombing duties put on hold for a while.
The fraught battle was quite stressful as the front half of this fish looked enormous, and I was fairly certain that I had seen Charlie’s Mate roll earlier in the day. The fish then got stuck in a soft weed bed just a few feet out and refused to budge.
My leader was sticking out of the water, and calm as you like Adam grabbed it and extracted it from the weed. Just when it was ready for netting, the net being wielded by Adam decided to collapse – eventually the fish was scooped up as he held the arms of the net.
It was completely empty, and showed the signs of the recent spawning. The carp, quite obviously not Charlie’s Mate, weighed in at 32lb 13oz, but looking at its frame I think a few weeks previously it would have been close to the magical 40lb mark.
With snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, yet again, I baited the spots and planned to return the following week.
Upon my arrival at the lake, everything baiting wise was kept the same, and had almost become second nature by now. I had completed all tasks, got the house up and dinner on by 19.00. I then sat and watched the evening drift into darkness.
I was worried about the amount of feeding activity that I had received, that wasn’t translating into fish on the bank. I had therefore decided on a complete rig overhaul – buoyancy levels, length of rig and hook patterns were all played around with, different ones on each rod.
I went to bed not expecting any action until the following morning, so when I was rudely dragged from my slumber shortly after midnight, I was completely discombobulated.
I had managed to knock over my boots and grabbed a gas canister as a substitute. It was obviously a right footed canister and unsurprisingly, my left foot wouldn’t fit. The Delkim was absolutely melting by this stage, so I abandoned my attempt to don footwear, and went out in my stockinged feet – this becomes more relevant later.
I was standing on the boards, heavily bent rod in hand, when the volume of tea I had drunk started to become an issue. I am at an age where bladder control is not the best, and started to get the sweats and cramps so bad, I could hardly concentrate. I sleep in joggers so it’s a fairly easy job to unship the old fella, and take a pee into the lake.
The relief was immense, but short lived, when I realising I had managed to pee all over the boards and now had a soaking wet sock. I then managed to further exacerbate the situation, by kneeling in the puddle of pee, when I was netting what turned out to be a substantial amount of common carp.
I then trudged round to Andy, smelling of old man wee to got him to come do some photos of the awesome Crinkle Tail at 40lb 6oz. Always reliable behind the camera, he managed to stop laughing just long enough to take some excellent photos.
I couldn’t get back to sleep after putting Crinkle Tail back, and spent the early hours of the morning listening to carp rolling and sloshing out in front of me.
I thought the rig change had resulted in me having an early bite and now expected more. In hindsight, I think with all the activity I had heard through the night I had probably been cleared out, as a pod of carp had foraged over the lake bed in front of me.
The next morning saw patches of bubbles erupt over the baited spots which stopped suddenly, whereas previously once they started feeding it continued for a number of hours. I had wrongly assumed there was plenty of bait still present, and only topped up the spots with some boilies on the second night.
I now think that all the bait had been cleared on that first night, and there was enough residual signal from the liquids to make the carp investigate the area, hence the brief fizzing, but no bait present to make them stay and feed.
The rest of the session was un-eventful, and I know it sounds stupid a trip that resulted in a 40lb common I dearly wanted to catch, could be classed as a failure, but there had been opportunities squandered because I read the signs wrong.
It is these wasted moments that make for sleepless nights in the middle of winter, when blanks become the norm. However, I now have a baiting regime that is creating a good feeding response, some rig tweaks that could be working nicely and a slight change in strategy that will hopefully produce more bites through the summer.
I now have to endure three weeks where I can’t go fishing as I am back to working six days a week. This abstinence will be made more difficult by the ‘beard on’ texts I will be undoubtedly bombarded with, as Andy and Adam make further inroads in to the Frimley leviathans.