The new arrival is officially due on the 25th December and as my leave year in work starts in December i am certainly going to be taking advantage and looking to get 2 weeks extra leave on top of my 2 weeks paternity leave to give me a whole month to get to know our new addition. I have to admit here to a certain Gary the Piking pirate tainting me last winter and some of my head has now also realised that i have a month off work smack bang in the middle of the pike season, hes a devious man of the dark arts!! Joking aside pike fishing probably one of the best forms of angling to be doing around this time as it involves travelling light to local venues where i can get home early and also if i do want to get my fishing fix after the baby is born you can just easily nip out for a few hours of an evening, just don't tell the missus haha. We are both over the moon and cant wait to find out the sex and get another look at our baby in a few weeks time at her 20 weeks scan, exciting times!
As mentioned above Sunday we had a Family day out and our chosen destination was Knowsley Safari Park. This is a place i have not visited for many years and i think it was not long after the purchase of my last car we last entered its gates and that was some 9 years ago, mainly because Chester Zoo in my opinion such better value for money than most of the wildlife related attractions around, what can i say i love the place. Any how back to Knowsley and with our little girl coming on leaps and bounds i knew it is a place she would love to visit and we was not wrong as she was pinned to the windows at every animal we saw along the way. Lions, her favourite animal behind ducks at imitating, were here favourite attraction i think as one came really close to the car but the trip will forever be remembered for one animal and one animal only, the baboon!
"There approaching the T-Rex Pen" to quote a famous movie summed up the feeling as we drove through the gates into the monkey enclosure, my mind put at ease my my partners reassuring words "it will be OK Danny, stop worrying" and turning the bend into the main area i spotted my adversary a baboon scooting between every car to get to mine, aw cute i thought till he began gnawing at my windscreen water jets, POP out one popped, POP and there was the other one gone and never to be seen again, the little.....i thought he knew exactly what he was doing and on our second trip round we took the car friendly route and spent a good 20 minutes watching this monkey pick out ford focus after ford focus and do the same thing he should be working in formula 1 with those times I'm telling you. At the time i was a little annoyed but all fixed now and at £4 quid each to replace not too bad on the old pocket in the end.
As you approach the end of the safari you park up and can walk round to see the Giraffes (which you can get really close too), sea lions, elephants and birds of prey and it was as i approached the elephants my mind was drawn to the ceiling of a shelter and to a swallow nest created in the roof and i thought how apt that a bird that could have rubbed shoulders with a wild elephant in Africa a few weeks ago is now rubbing shoulders with captive ones in England. The family seemed to be doing really well and the chicks swelled in the nest looked not to far from fledging. All in all a great trip and lovely day out and nice to see just how much our little girl loves her wildlife at such a young age and my aim is for her to still have this love for it all through her life.
Lets Talk Hemp, Why i use it? how i prepare it?
Moving on and this week i want to go into some detail on the one bait in my river fishing i cannot do without, so important is this bait that i now would not go the river fishing if i did not have some of this bait with me and that bait is of course the humble hemp seed.
Hemp seed is generally imported to this country in its raw uncooked form from Europe and is in fact the seed of the Cannabis plant. The seeds destined for this country are treated so they can not be grown into plants and are primarily used in the fishing and horse feed trade. In this country many angling shops sell hemp seed as your main companies like Dynamite baits and Sensa now sell hemp seed ready prepared in tins or jars if carp are you quarry, most baits shops also sell hemp seed in bags in its uncooked form and cooked form at a price. All these are fine for the odd use of hemp seed but any angler looking to incorporate hemp seed into their fishing long term needs to seriously look at the financial benefits of bulk buying their hemp seed from suppliers in its uncooked state.
The financial benefits of bulk buying the hemp are huge for example a pint of hemp uncooked is normally £1.50 from a bait shop with tins of the cooked stuff being more expensive and you don't even get a pint in the tins. I recently purchased 20kg of hemp seed and it cost me just over £30.00 when this was broken down into pint sized bags for sessions (i use a pint a session) it made up 66 pint bags of hemp seed so that would have a commercial value or around £99 so as you can see the financial benefits of bulk buying are huge.
How to prepare and cook hemp seed:
A quick search on the Internet will reveal all manner or weird and wacky ways of preparing hemp seed. Some people will soak the hemp for 24 hours before even thinking about cooking the hemp seed and this is something i have tried and i really did not see any drastic improvement in time scales to cook. In my opinion there are two ways to do it and the method you choose is all around if you are going to be using the hemp just for feed or on the hook. If you are using it on the hook you need to keep an eye on when it splits so you really need to be cooking it in a pan so you can stop it cooking at the right moment so you can pinch hook in the shell. This method is simple, put the hemp in a pan, add boiling water and 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda, bring to the boil and then simmer till the hemp splits and you can see the white inside coming out. This can take 30 minutes to 2 hours in some cases depending on hemp.
The way i cook my hemp for using as feed and all you need is a good Flask.
1) On a Friday Morning before work i grab a pint bag of uncooked hemp
2) I pour the contents into a flask and add 2 teas spoons of Bicarb
3)Fill the flask to the top with boiling water (hemp will float on top this is normal)
4) Seal the flask and leave till i go fishing next morning between 3am and 6am depending on season.
When you open the flask you will see water level has dropped and all the hemp should be dark black and split as you are using it for feed it really doesn't matter if it goes to far and has split completely although it has never been this case for me the hemp is normally split nicely. So there you go as easy as making a brew is cooking the old hemp seed and i then pour it into a freezer air tight bag for transporting to river and this also doubles up at the end so you can bring home any left and freeze it easily for next session.
I use hemp seed in my fishing as a holding bait to try and keep the fish feeding in an area of the swim where i expect my maggots to hit the bottom the idea being that the hemp being heavy will sink to the bottom and slowly trundle along the bed of the river the idea being the fish are drawn in and held in the area by the hemp also the fact that in one hand full of hemp you have so many more particles than in hand full of maggots you have a quantity of bait down on the bed which with rivers you really need to even attract the fish in. I also subside to the theory that fish eat hemp because it looks like water snails and probably have a texture like them, hard outer shell with soft middle. One thing to remember with hemp is the fact it weighs more than your feed (if your feed is maggots) so it so will sink faster hence it needs to be fed down stream taking the speed of flow and depth into account. I personally never fish with hemp on the hook but a lot of anglers do and do very well and some even used baits like elderberry's on the hook instead of grains of hemp when fishing with hemp.
I hope you have found the above about hemp use full and although i purposely never write my blog in a way that preaches or tries to teach anglers how to fish i thought it would be help full to have an insight into how i go about cooking my hemp and why i use it.
On to this weeks fishing:
River Dane Fishing: One Of Those Sessions
Sat in the house on Friday evening putting together a few hook lengths for the fishing sessions the next day i was really excited for the session ahead as normal with me on a Friday sleep was an impossibility as i counted down the hours till it was time to leave to pick up my uncle. All set to go the hemp bagged up and the maggots airing on the window ledge and the gear in the hall all ready to be loaded i could not wait to get out on the river bank.
My weather forecast was for it to be overcast with the odd heavy shower and I must admit I made my first mistake of the morning before i even got to the bank as i had already decided i would fish the tough swim where you have to stand in the river and trot the far bank, you should always pick the swim as you see ti on arrival and not have a pre set swim in mind before arrival. Blissfully unaware of the mistake i was making and my mind full of the thought of a but net of fish i set up my bolo rod, rod set i slid down the bank and began feeding the swim. Instantly there was boils on the top of fish taking the maggots on the drop and judging by the splashing they were really small fish.
As day light came through i made my first cast of the day and the float went though untouched. I would say for around 20 minutes i trotted through without interest then the float started to shoot under rapidly half way down the swim, striking i was rewarded with a well chewed maggot. This went of for some time as i struggled to hit tiny bites right down the swim, eventually i managed to connect with one and the problem became apparent, really small fry and it seemed like a lot of them in the swim,
Even at such a small size the chub is instantly recognisable by its large mouth and it surprised me how a fish this size spewed out a big ball of mashed up maggots. The next hour brought the rain with it and as i was standing in the river it was me and my berghaus against the elements as i continued to persevere with the swim and missing bites from small fish, my hope was to feed them off and get some of the better fish going but as the hour moved on to two my uncle came to visit and he has settled in a swim where he could batten down a little with his brolly, sit on his basket and have a comfortable fish and he had been catching steady.
The visit of my uncle coincided with a break in the rain and i knew it was time to make a decision to either stay in the swim or make a move. The swim i had fished the previous week was only a short walk down the bank and i with only around 6 small fish in the net i had nothing to lose so we quickly let the fish go and my uncle helped me move my gear.
With not serious rainfall since i last fished the swim i had a fair idea of depth and quickly changed my bolo for a stick float and as i did the line rested in the edge, float changed i lifted the rod and all was solid and i found myself solid on a snag in the edge which saw me again setting up a hook length. During this time i was drip feeding the swim down a line i had fished the previous week and after a few minutes i was set to fish again. The First trot down the swim the float buried and i was into a fish that was solid and certainly felt a good fish, a few hard runs for the far tree line and the snag gave it away as a chub before it came up the the surface and sure enough was a nice chub and certainly the best i have encountered so far on the river and then as soon as i saw it the fish was gone as the hook pulled and the line shot up in the air into a birds nest round the tip, not only had i lost the fish but was left with a nice set up from scratch job, i have to say i was ready to call it a day and i am not easily beaten.
A break was needed so it was a slow slurped brew while i fed the swim and began to get the tackle together to set up and eventually i was again ready. All this time i knew there were fish to be caught in this swim and it last week was anything to go by my time was limited. My first trot down brought a pristine chub shown above and he was not alone as for the next hour or so i enjoyed some nice fishing with fish coming regular to the bank and even when the rain came back i was able to get the brolly in to boot what could possibly go wrong now i thought, surely it was too late for another visit from the law ha-ha.
I only jest with the law visit it was actually my self that messed up again as i not only knocked over my tub of maggots stashed behind my peg i also managed to drop my good disgorger in the river and there it was glistening in my line of sight, there was no option and down the steep bank i slip narrowly evading going straight into the river. Fish wise i had caught steady for around two hours and it was approaching midday and i was still getting a few bites which culminated in this chub above but in true fashion the swim died in an instant and after giving it another 40 minutes to an hour i called it a day and dropped in for the remainder of the session to the side of my uncles swim to chew the fat while he carried on fishing. My final net going around 6.5lb.
Time spent watching my uncle trotting a float down a swim is never time wasted and just watching things like the line he trots, little changes he makes and more importantly why he does it can only help your fishing. While i was sat with him he picked up fish steady and one or two nice roach to boot and by the time it came to weigh the catch he had put together 12lb of roach, chub and the odd dace.
In reflection it was one of those sessions we all have form time to time when you can't do right for doing wrong and as i have said before on this blog when you are out on the bank every week like we are you get to experience the rough and the smooth and you have to do as the very river your fishing does and go with the flow.
till next time i wish you all