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Posts Tagged ‘Pallatrax Winter Almond’


“Lets twist again like we did last summer”….yes I can see them now; twisting and jiving every time they’re hooked.  The best rock and roll group in the lake!  Yes, anyway back to reality.

The unseasonably high temperatures of a few weeks ago have given way to a cold wind, freezing temperatures, hail and even sleet.  A glimpse of a cold, biting winter’s last grasp perhaps.  I’ve been targeting roach at Tricklebrook Fishery, a 4 acre lake nestled in the  heart of Kent’s magnificent countryside.  The lake is primarily a carp water but contains a huge head of pristine roach, which average a really good size and run to well over 2lbs.  These fish are plump, feisty and truly spectacular.

A Quiet Corner

A Quiet Corner

The downside I guess is the sheer numbers of roach that inhabit this lake.  I’ve been using a number of baits to try and identify what works best here.  Hemp and caster will catch you dozens upon dozens of immaculate roach in the 4oz-1lb bracket.  Hemp and sweetcorn keeps away the really small Rudd that inhabit this lake and does seem to sort out a better stamp of roach.  Using small balls of the Pallatrax Bloodworm and maggot crush groundbait and flavouring the caters and sweetcorn with some winter almond also gives me some extra confidence and is at least a little different from the norm.

I like to use a fine tipped antenna Drennan float, shotted down so just the tip is showing.  Sometimes if it’s really windy you have to forgo the delicacy of presentation so you can still see the tip, so no point in over doing it.  Although these roach are lightly fished for they can give unbelievably delicate bites sometimes.  Try and go as delicate as conditions allow.  I match this with 2 outfits.  Firstly my Drennan Matchpro Ultralight, 3lb Drennan Supplex mono, 5BB antenna float and a size 18 or 16 Drennan Silverfish Hook to Nylon.  The second outfit is a Maver Reactorlite 13ft match rod, 4lb mainline, 5BB Antenna float and the same hooks-to-nylon.  I set one rod up to fish the margins and the other for fishing the deeper areas.  This means I can swap around without having to keep plumbing and altering the setting of the depth.

When using hemp and casters it can really be quite intense fishing.  You have to keep the hemp going in constantly.  This gets the fish into a feeding frenzy and a good angler could quite easily put together a 50lb bag of quality roach.  I’m not that focused but still manage up to probably 30lbs.  I actually prefer sweetcorn as a hook bait.  It seems to sort out the better fish.  I combine this with groundbait and loose fed hemp.  Just keep the bait going in and the bites are never far away.  I’m far from an expert at this type of fishing and take whatever advice I can get.  Kevin seems more at home with this style and has taken some good catches of roach from Mote Park.

A Few Accessories

A Few Accessories

So far we have caught a number of nice roach over the 1lb mark and up to 1lb 5oz.  The bigger specimens seemed to have eluded us so far.  Kevin had a rather unfortunate incident and I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it with you.  He landed a very big roach.  I was just up from him and saw it in the landing net and was very surprised when he said it was a roach, due to the size of the fish.  It looked enormous.  His legs turned to jelly and he immediately rested the fish in the net whilst he sorted out the scales.  The net rested on the platform and the lip of the net was raised out of the water by several inches.    As he grabbed a bag and scales we all heard a splosh.  The fish had jumped out of the net and back into the lake.  It was the Harry Houdini of the roach world.  Kevin was gutted.  I think we all suspected the roach was comfortably over 2lbs.  Geoff’s best roach is 2lb 4oz and he thought Kev’s looked bigger.  Sometimes roach do look bigger than they weigh, however I know both Geoff and I were gutted for Kevin, although not as much a Kev was I’m sure.

My biggest surprise was a recent capture.  On hooking this fish I was sure for just a few seconds I’d hooked the roach I’d been after.  It didn’t take too long to realise this fish wasn’t fighting like a roach and soon a back broke surface to reveal the true culprit.  It turned out to be a big chub.  On lifting it out of the water it looked huge.  It was really thick and long but seemed to have no belly at all.  Still it weighed in at 4lb 10oz and is my biggest stillwater chub, so that can’t be bad.

4lb 10oz Chub

4lb 10oz Chub

We’ll persevere with the roach until the weather warms up and we can start to target tench and those magnificent crucians of Marsh Farm near Godalming.  We just need some warm days and nights to get the water temperature up and the crucians foraging for food.

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With the 15th March looming it was a chance to have a final fling on the rivers.  It’s been a brutal winter not just for fishing but for all of those poor devils that were flooded out over the last few months.  Still the weather has at last calmed down and a far more settled period of dry and mild conditions have dominated in recent weeks.

Geoff, Kevin and I decided to give the Trent a go for the last hurrah.  Arriving late Tuesday afternoon we headed straight down to the river.  We were expecting it to be relatively clear and perhaps up a little.  We were about right and the river was running maybe a foot or so up on the summer level.  Only one other angler was on the banks and we chatted about recent form.  Apparently the fishing has been poor for most of the season, which didn’t bode well.  Still we were here now so needed to make the most of it.

I decided due to the lateness of arrival to fish just the one rod on this first session.  It was around 6pm by now so we needed to get a move on.  We all fished in the same area.  Simple tactics really; a big cage feeder packed with small pellets and groundbait.  I opted to fish a long hooklink of around 3 feet, a Pallatrax weight clip and tail rubber, 12lb mainline and a size 10 The Hook.  Bait was a Winter Almond Squab with matching paste.  In the summer I would look at casting a loaded feeder every few minutes for around an hour to get some bait out into the swim.  During the winter I tend to cut this down a bit and so recast every 8-10 minutes.

It was already turning cold but there was quite a bit of surface activity, with fish rolling.  Some appeared to be roach but one or two were bigger fish, maybe chub or barbel.  I think all three of us managed to tempt fish of some sort with Kevin and I taking the only barbel at one apiece.  Kevin’s was a decent one at 9lb 4oz, mine was around the 6lb mark.  I think we had a few chub and bream too.

The following day started with a hearty breakfast and then off to the river from around 11am.  We are no early birds when it comes to getting on the river, well not when breakfast is involved! We opted to fish the upper reaches of this section which involves quite a lengthy walk.  It’s made all the more arduous by the amount of completely unnecessary tackle taken.  As I write this I’m just wondering why the Hell I didn’t remove the umbrella from the quiver .  No rain was forecast over the few days and so it was totally pointless taking it.  Doh!

It was a murky start to the day with quite thick fog and a tad chilly too, with an over night frost.  Still we were hopeful.  Due to the recent high levels the banks are wet and slippery with a thick coating of silt in places.  At times I felt like a hippo wallowing in mud, although I didn’t enjoy it as much as a hippo would have! Anyway I spent around 3 or 4 hours in a swim that never produced so much as a twitch and so opted to move upstream.  I then put one rod out with maggots and a large blockend feeder.  As always I like to get the maggots Pallatraxed up a bit and add some Winter Almond overspray the night before.  This allows the maggots to absorb the flavouring and I just add a little extra on and off through the session.   I was now using an 8lb Flurocarbon hooklink of around 3 feet and a size 14 The Hook.  I put on around 4 or 5 maggots of varying colours, although red seemed to generate more interest from the fish.  As with all big rivers the feeder is cast upstream and a big bow of line is let out.  This helps to keep the feeder in place and allows a much lighter weight than if you tried to fish a tight line to the feeder.

By 8pm it was getting very foggy and cold, with a frost forming on the unhooking mat.  I’d managed to tempt a few chub and 3 barbel, however once darkness had set in things seemed to go quiet.  All bar one fish fell to the maggots, with one taking a liking to the Winter Almond squabs. Geoff had also managed a barbel and Kevin two I think.  It was no great hardship calling it a day and heading off for some food.  We hoped to be on the river a little earlier in the morning so an early night was in order.

The following morning saw us arrive around 10am and once the fog cleared it was a glorious day.  The sun came out and the warmth it generated was most welcome, it really was like a late spring day.  Sadly the fish didn’t seem impressed.  We had all opted to fish the lower section, where the flow is concentrated to the near bank due to the large sweeping bend above us.  We fished around a rod length out into a deep channel.  Sadly the fish appeared to be on their annual hols somewhere.  Kevin tried further out and soon had a barbel on.  With that, both Geoff and I tried the same tactics and eventually we were fishing 3/4 of the way across.  This seemed to make all the difference and soon we had all caught a barbel or two, plus a few chub.   Again they seemed to favour the maggots and my flavoured ones produced the goods.  I ended up with 5 nice barbel to over 8lbs and a couple of chub to 4lb 12oz, all on maggots.  Geoff managed one barbel and Kevin two.  I ended the few days with 9 barbel and around the same amount of chub and lost 2 barbel.  Geoff I think had 2 barbel and Kevin 4 or 5 and again both taking a number of good chub and bream.

So a tough season comes to an end.  The three musketeers seemed to have struggled this season.  Still, it was an enjoyable finale and as always I’d like to thank both Geoff and Kevin for their good friendship and patience.  My fishing would be poorer without their company.  Also not forgetting a certain Mr Collins for his good company, stories and entertaining tales.  Yes there is so much more to fishing than just catching fish and long may it continue.

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The best laid plans of mice and men and all that.  Geoff and I had arranged an early morning start, well more like the middle of the night actually.  We headed off at 3am with our sights firmly fixed on arriving at our chosen destination before anyone else.  The reason was so I could do a bit of trotting in one particular spot.  Now that’s always a dangerous thing to do.  Firstly you pin all of your hopes on one swim and if it doesn’t work your scuppered and secondly if there’s already someone in situ when you get there, then yes your scuppered! Still it was a one off, we’re not normally too fussed if we can’t get into this particular swim as there are other areas that will produce chub and roach.  However this specific spot really does suit trotting and is probably the best on this section of river for barbel, hence it’s so very popular.  Anyway we arrived at out chosen destination at 4.45am and yes you’ve guessed it….someone was already in the car park.  Several expletives later and we decided that if someone was that keen, then good luck to em…the filthy, dirty bas….!

The Lea

The Lea

So it was plan B.  The only problem was we didn’t have a plan B!  Still we plumped on a couple of other swims and hoped for the best.  I had a selection of rods with me.  As explained my primary reason for coming here was to trot for barbel.  The reason for that was to try out some new baits I’d received from Pallatrax, that I think will be ideal for this type of fishing.  I have mentioned them before; they are small dried snails that once rehydrated in water return to their natural state.  They can then be fished on a small hook (14 or 16) and offer a high protein and very natural bait.  So I had my Drennan Power Float set-up for barbel, the Drennan Ultralight for chub and roach and my Torrix for fishing bottom baits, if the other method failed to produce.

As the light slowly broke through the gloom of dawn it was time to run a float through the swim.  The flow was much less than I expected, especially following some of the heavy rain of recent days.  Also the flow sharply angled from the far to near bank after just a few yards, which made presentation a little tricky.  Still if the float was started tight to the reeds opposite I could get a decent trot down before the float headed to the nearside bank and disappeared from view.  I had sprayed the bronze maggots with some Winter Almond spray the night before and they had a delightful (well almost) cherry bakewell aroma.  I loose fed a few maggots every cast to get the swim going.  If the fish started to respond then I would be using a selection of baits but maggots would be my opening gambit.

After an hour I’d had one small perch and a nice roach of about 8oz.  No signs of barbel.  I popped down to see Geoff and on my return thought I’d give the Ultralight a go.  First trot through and yes, typical, a barbel was hooked.  The fish plodded off powerfully downstream.  Gentle, steady pressure stopped the fish advancing any further and a tug of war ensued.  The barbel sat under the reeds sulking whilst I kept the pressure up.  Then it was gone.  The hook to nylon had parted close to the spade end of the hook.  I’m not a fan of hooks to nylon for this very reason.  They seem to fail on big fish a lot and I much prefer to tie my own.  Today though I thought they’d be OK for roach and dace but they are not man enough generally for barbel, in my opinion.

The Baits

The Baits

The barbel float rod was employed again for about an hour or so but failed to produce and so the lighter outfit was put through it’s paces once again.  Typically first trot through and another barbel was hooked.  I had this one almost ready for netting when the HTN parted again close to the spade end.  I decided to change the line on the power float rod and reduce it to a mainline of 0.15mm (5.14lb) and use a 5lb hooklink.  It could be that the heavier set-up was spooking the barbel.   This also allowed me to use a smaller float.  I had been alternating between bulk shotting and shirt button style and today the shirt button style seemed to be producing the goods.  Sadly though the flow seemed to keep changing and by now the wind had picked up considerably making float presentation almost impossible.  That was a shame because it can be such a rewarding method but there are times when its just not practical.

A typical Lea barbel

A typical Lea barbel

So it was to the Torrix Barbel Rod that my hopes were now pinned.  I was using around 3′ of Pallatrax Steamlink for my hooklink, a size 10 ‘The Hook’, a flying backlead to make sure it all stayed pinned down and a medium sized Stonze weight.  It all looked very good in the margins and the Steamlink, which had been passed through the steam of a kettle, stayed nice and straight.    For bait I was using the new Winter Almond squabs.  They are a nice size and not rock hard either.  I like slightly softer baits for my river fishing.  These Winter Almond baits smell just like cherry bakewell.  I think if I’d of had some custard with me I would of ended up tucking into a bowl full!  Watch out Mr Kipling there’s a new kid on the block and Pallatrax make exceedingly good baits!!  Anyway I digress, I used the squabs with either paste or dipped into the thickest glug I’ve ever used and then rolled around in the maggot box to create an enticing cocktail.  Then additionally around the Stonze weight I moulded a ball of the Bloodworm and Maggot Crush Groundbait.  Keeping it slightly over damp ensured it stayed on well and allowed for a slow break down process, gradually releasing all of those nutritious little morsels for the fish to hone in on.

Pallatrax Stonze

Pallatrax Stonze

I was fishing to a deep area just where the flow diverted and right next to the reeds.  A few knocks and the rod tip hammered round.  There’s nothing quite like a 3 foot twitch to get the adrenaline pumping that’s for sure.  The culprit was a small but perfectly formed barbel.  As always it put up a tremendous fight and I’m pleased to say there were more to follow.  The time was now around 2pm and the skies had darkened quite considerably.  Heavy rain was forecast for later in the day and the wind was howling across the fields.  Still all the while is stayed dry we decided to persevere.

Out went the bait and a short while later round went the rod tip.  Another feisty barbel resulted.  In fact throughout the remainder of the afternoon numerous barbel followed and I lost just one fish.  It seems it’s not just me with a sweet tooth then, these Lea fish like a bit of barbel bakewell too!  I was suffering with man-flu and the wind was beginning to get to me.  We decided to finish at 4.30 before it got too cold.  By now I’d had 6 barbel to 6lb 3oz and Geoff had caught around 10 reasonable chub and one barbel.  It was great to see the rod top whack round so often for a change and one of the  highlights of the day was seeing a stunning red kite glide past, which I’ve only seen here once before.

Recovering Nicely

Recovering Nicely

In case I don’t post again before Christmas, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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