Monday, 26 March 2012

The Garage Mind Set

Rob Shallcroft

I’ve knocked around trying to catch bigger than average fish of the fresh water species for a few years now along with a few close friends. With up’s and down's, hard knocks and easy pickings along the way.I know some very successful anglers and have observed what makes them tick so to speak. Each one of the guys has a little edge in one department or another. It’s not just "lady luck" if a friend and fishing partner actually catches consistently more or bigger fish than you over a lengthy period of time on particular water, with time on the bank being fairly equal.
Lady luck doesn’t always have the habit of being even over any distance of time. That said does it really matter?. As long as we are enjoying ourselves and catching a few along the way most of us are contented enough. My fishing buddies and I all have common denominators, busy Mon-Fri jobs, family commitments, follow our different footie teams and none of us are flush with too much spare cash. Sound familiar ?

Without wanting to embarrass my fishing buddies and I hope they take my scribble in good spirits I know their edges and what they are able to do far better than me. Let me if I may give you some examples. Here goes....................

My buddy Secret Dave is fantastic at spotting fish, his eye sight looking through,across and into water is exceptional. On clear water rivers or pits he will spot fish that I simply cannot see and would walk past. Barbel flashing across gravel, tench patrolling in the margins or prey fish topping at distance. This is his edge, he knows it and uses his eye sight to put that extra fish or two on the bank. Dave is at his best on clear water, his eyes brighten and twitch with transparency as it’s his thing, his vibe, his edge. He will often up sticks and move if he’s spotted a little something interesting to his eye. Take the clear water away and he is not as efficient as his edge has gone.

My buddy Steve is a long time all-round piker equally at home on foot, afloat, on rivers,big lakes or pits. Steve is brilliant at getting on new untouched waters, he’ll walk round a water and somehow nearly always bump into the owner and through his bright smile and affable nature will secure a day or two fishing and often for free!. It’s his free-spirit and pioneering vibe and edge,Steve has always got some where fresh and new to have a go at. I can never seem to do this as I get tongue tied, am not a people person and probably look like I am up to no good !. Of course his new spots don’t always come up trumps but out of all my buddies if one of them is going to bump into something extra special one day then my money would be on Steve.

My buddy The Doc Donovan is fantastic on the big wild sheets of water where his heart, theories and vibe as to where the pike will be at different times of the year, at what depth and in different conditions is fascinating. His edge lies in his boat control. Float trolling is his thing. Dropping and dragging baits behind a boat is easy enough but the vital control in wind and wave, speed and boat positioning on these big sheets of water is his vibe and edge. The Docs experience is impossible for me to match. Hand over the bow mounted electrics in rough conditions into my hands and I have ended up snapping rods in the sexy Irish reeds, packing up and going home early !.

My buddy Mr V, is the sociable angler on a mission with a net work of friends across the country. He is always in on the “know” on certain waters and will travel to catch his dreams. His time is more limited than the rest of us, but when onto something he will drop everything and spend several days, bivvied up or sleeping in the car to put him close to his dreams. Mr V will put his time on the right waters, at the right times and when it really matters. I am not so sociable and don’t like being away from home too much, much preferring my fishing to be little more than an hour’s drive from home. I do have a couple of holiday travel type trips thrown in every year to waters I’d like to catch a decent pike from along with the trout ressa trips with friends. These to me are more social occasions I thoroughly enjoy and look forward too. They are not however on waters where my real dreams might come true.

Common denominators

Taking common denominators further, I felt these edges were my friend’s natural mind-sets.When fishing with these guys on waters where their vibe comes alive is an honour and a pleasure and long I hope this will continue. A few years ago, I evaluated just who I am,what I want from my fishing and exactly what gave me the buzz to get out there and catch a few wet fish. The majority of my fishing trips are solo short affairs and I like to get out two or three times a week fishing different stretches of river or dropping in on a pre-baited still water. I am happiest fishing for just 2-6hours at my perceived best times even if this means a couple of hours travelling thrown in, in fact when the winter days are short I’ll often spend more time in the car than with a bait in the water.
When on the bank there’s no time for social chat or mucking around with tackle or baits, everything needs to be organised and prepared to be mobile, to get there before it gets light or at the other end of the day to fish into dark. Any failure in organisation or other social interruption to my fishing on the day drives me nuts and I’ll often pack up and go home if my vibe is disturbed in anyway.

This was my edge,getting my buzz from smooth and organised short sessions as I have the
drive and bloody-mindedness to haul myself out of bed or get home after midnight exhausted after fishing and a day’s work thrown in. Total focus when on the bank and fishing with absolutely no interruption to the mind-set. Weather conditions never deter me from going, I like to be out there and in with a chance of a single take that will give me the buzz on the drive home. I get the fishing "tag" of being unsociable and hard work but I know who I am and can live with that!

Maximising the edge
With a busy job and keeping the family balance, fishing two or three short sessions a week can be difficult but I long felt my approach could be improved all round with increased organisation.Thus maximising time available to fish before and after work.

Equally as important would be minimising the time surrounding the preparation of actually going fishing, time spent preparing the tackle and bait needed throughout the season. Less time spent on preparation would mean more time with the family and no late nights or any early morning double checking of the gear prior to any trip.
One of the problems I'd had over the years was a small garage with condensation problems,associated damp and was falling to bits. My garage shared both fishing gear and general home life. I couldn’t swing a cat in there and the general clutter did my head in!. Plans were made to change this. I saved up my pennies and invested in the small fishing garage of my dreams. Luckily for me my mate London piker Stevie T is a chippy and for mates rates, the promise of Guinness , B+B and evening summer barbel fishing, I packed my girls off to the mother–in-laws for a week and we set about converting my garage into my dedicated fishing room.

Steve transformed an old tired damp garage with a wooden floor, insulated plaster boarded walls and ceilings plus new doors with decent locks and we fixed up the leaky roof. I later added an intruder alarm, quality lighting, heating,benches, chest freezer, shelving, rod racks etc. By adding a decent garden shed and outside storage boxes for all the other paraphernalia and clutter of life to be stored I now had a dedicated fishing room with nothing else to distract its purpose of making my fishing time more efficient.

This dedicated space enabled me to remove anything and everything to do with fishing from inside the house, from magazines to photographs, tackle, freezer -bait,clothing etc. I now had a new golden rule, nothing what-so-ever to do with fishing in the house and nothing not to do with fishing inside the garage!. Una the Dream Girl was happy, so was I with a family win/win all-round. Job done!.

With the dedicated room, I took this further with the organisation of the different tackle bags and kit. I added another golden rule, no tackle to be purchased outside the close season when I generally give my fishing a three month break. All spare end tackle, line, hooks, ground-bait, hemp and particles and all the general malarkey that goes with fishing for different species is purchased in the close season and stored in its correct easily found location.

The years of tackle scattered everywhere in and out of the house, bait rotting away in corners of the garage and shed, tackle in boxes to keep it from the elements of a damp garage are now long gone. The regular trips to the tackle shop to stock up with bits needed, probably did not need or couldn’t find in a cluttered unorganised garage are a thing of the past. I added a large stainless steel sink and running water. Yet another golden rule could apply,no cleaning stinking hemp buckets, ground bait bags or dead bait freezer boxes in the kitchen sink. I gained space for a decent dedicated chest freezer for the first time following years of having the bottom couple of drawers in the kitchen upright.

All sea dead baits required for the winters predator fishing are caught during summer bass and tope fishing trips or purchased from Morrison’s or Neville.I now no longer need to make winter trips to shops or pick up any dead bait during the winter. Fresh coarse baits are gathered along the way with the bait snatching kits always in order and ready to go. Everything I can possibly organise to ensure the best baits are available to me throughout the winter have been put in place ensuring near enough that there is not a single week of the winter season that I do not have the necessary baits that I want to use on tap and ready to go.

Preparation of rigs and the gear is now far quicker as it’s organised. Rig making sessions are now exclusive to the garage, heater on, my favourite punky bands at full blast on the CD player, decent bench and lighting make the necessary if laborious task of rig making efficient, quick and easy. If like me you go fishing regularly and fish some snaggy waters with lots of different bait sizes, a lot of different traces are needed to keep going through the winter.
Although I'll leave some trace making kit in the car for an emergency I really do not like making traces or rigs when I’m out fishing and certainly never carry anything other than traces ready to use in my bag. Any-how, the days of rig making in the house with the worry of leaving bits of wire or worse a dropped treble in the carpet are now long gone.
I know there are some interesting developments with longer lasting titanium traces to cut this rig making time down but apart from fixed up-traces I don’t use this material for hook traces.

I don’t like split rings, beads and plastic bits on my traces and as I fish a lot of snaggy water I question the breakdown properties of titanium and plastic/rubber paraphernalia should I snap off and leave a baited trace in the water for a predator to swallow. So it’s still sore hands from tying and pull testing lots of traces for me.

If I can get away from work a little earlier on a particular day during the week, there are no ifs and buts about being able to go because the gear or baits I need may not ready. Conversely when I get home wet, muddy cold and miserable from a trip I go straight into the garage kick the boots off, hang the clothes up under the heater put the trakki bottoms on , pop into the house grab a beer and am ready for family time.

I really can say that the converting of my garage has been fun and has added a little luxury to my fishing life that I had not enjoyed before. Upping the organisation has added to my mind-set and ability to get out there and enjoy my fishing in the effort to catch a few wet fish along the way.

                                                        Play Up Pompey ! 

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