British Float Tube Association

BFTA EVENTS => Competition Reports 2018 => Topic started by: bracken on February 18, 2018, 04:07:05 PM

Title: Elinor Report -February 17th 2018
Post by: bracken on February 18, 2018, 04:07:05 PM
The Venue:  Elinor trout fishery, Northampton. This is a well managed lake created from an old gravel pit. Ed Foster has built up the reputation of this water over many seasons as one of the best fisheries for miles around. It is well stocked with high quality fish, which usually give a very good account of themselves when hooked.

The weather: Hopefully an indicator of things to come for the rest of the season. It started off with bright sunshine to pick out the white frost on the ground. I must admit however that the massive ice sheet over a large part of the lake eluded my attention until we were on the water. Later during the morning the sun abated and it became cloudy with a breeze which had more strength than one first realised. The breeze turned around late morning and blew directly up the lake towards the dam as opposed to blowing across towards the boat park in the early morning.

Nature notes: As usual there was a massive flock of Canada geese around in the morning. This group created a tremendous cacophony of noise around 11.00am although I was too far away to determine the reason. The now common sight of a red kite was noted and also a buzzard. Ric reported seeing a 'hovery thing' over the field at the dam end - fortunately I had also spotted it and was able to reassure him and Gary that this was not a radio-controlled drone or alien craft, but a kestrel hunting for beetles and mice. There were also a large number of extremely well fed and healthy looking carrion crows on the field - in fact one pair was so big that I did consider whether they might be ravens; probably not though.
Equally well fed cormorants were constantly in the air or on quieter parts of the lake - guess where they get their food!? A few swans and ducks were also about.

The fishermen: A smallish group of regulars, who surprisingly included Andre, who had not only escaped Sue's clutches for much of the day, but had apparently overcome his proclivity for waiting until the water is nice and warm later in the season before coming to join the fray. We were looking forward to meeting our new member who was going to join us - but he didn't turn up - maybe Methuselah had frightened him on the web. We were quite surprised that Carl didn't arrive either - Brian and Andre reckoned it was something to do with big-end trouble, but I'm not sure how they knew! It was also speculated that the man who lives near Withering Heights - (is that right)  - might also have had similar problems and so had to withdraw! Ric came in a racy blue motor with four flat tyres which didn't look like  being cross-country capable to me - but what do I know? The Preston pair had made the long trip; they were pleased to note that the breakfast was still just as acceptable in the café after Little Chef had departed and left it to somebody else, who haven't yet decided what to call themselves. Dave did look a little askance at the advertised 'Giant Breakfast' when it arrived but soon devoured it. Gary had chauffeured Andre and even brought him a bag to put his fish in at the end of the day; I guess Andre had bragged about how big his catch would be because the bag was big enough to contain a cow!

The fishing: There were more fishermen present on the water this day than I had seen for a long time. Bank fishermen were almost fighting for prime spots along the shoreline and as soon as one moved another would quickly take his place. They were mostly catching fish because the trout were following their usual early season custom of following the shoreline. It was quite amusing to watch the bank men casting as far as possible out into the lake - generally well past the location of the fish - using extremely noisy shooting heads and long weight forward lines, while the float tubers were trying to get into a position to cast close to the bank to get amongst the trout. Perhaps it was as well that only seven of us turned out because twenty of us might have found things a bit difficult. There was at least a couple of bank fishermen present who reckoned that they could cast 150 yards and that their water would be invaded if we came anywhere near - Good job Ian wasn't there is all I can say! We declined to point out that their long casting prowess was mainly a futile exercise.  In general the bank fishermen were very tolerant of float tubing and I know of at least some conversations showing great interest the whole float tubing scene and wishing they were part of it.

On a personal note, I tried out my new motor with it's now remotely mounted switch boxes. I briefly turned it on to pull away from the boat platforms on the shore and then reverted to finning with the intention of heading across to the trees on the opposite bank. After a short while the bow of the tube began to jump about and the motor bounce up and down. Weird! I initially thought that I had mis-wired the switches and something was causing the motor to pulse on and off, or even that it had come loose on the bow mount. I then unplugged the small 7AH battery having noted that the voltmeter was showing a normal resting voltage. This made no difference and the crunching got progressively worse - finally I ended up surrounded by solid ice on the surface. The penny now dropped, the crunching and jerking was the float tube travelling through sheets of submerged ice without realising they were there. I now turned and headed down the lake towards the gravel bar and pylon end. After a few yards the flyline, a DI3, picked up into a tangle which needed unwizzling. It didn't take long to do this but the point fly had now obviously gone well down. Shortly after starting the retrieve I hooked a fish but lost it after a few seconds. Not yet being totally senile, I realised that there might well be fish much lower in the water then the two to four feet level we had been advised to fish at. A couple of casts later, and having let the line go quite well down, I had a fish around two pounds or so. Three or four casts later again I had another of similar size. Now I had total confidence that if I stayed put, I could have filled my bag in not too long a time and that I had found a good shoal of stockies. Hoping for something a bit bigger, I headed on down to the gravel bar where Andre, Gary and Steve F. were fishing. I could tell where Steve was by the voluminous clouds of steam or smoke which were gathering above and around his tube. I hadn't seen them catch any fish but they were a long way away and appeared to be content to stay where they were, so I reasoned that they might be catching something. Andre has a short attention span when he isn't filling his bag and readily moves elsewhere! By the time I had reached the gravel bar without having a pull, they had moved to the opposite side of the lake. The breeze had now increased and I was being blown across the lake to the side. I turned and went along the gravel bar, where I caught a very small trout by previous standards so decided to go back towards the dam. When passing the anchored boat, I saw fish rise and also noted that the guy catching fish was using a sinking shooting head and ripping the lure back. I passed through the area where I had caught the two earlier and never had a touch.

At the dam I could see Ric taking fish off the feet of the bank anglers while they cast madly out to reach his tube. A couple of the bank men were catching consistently while others were not getting any action. Maybe the fish were shoaled in small bunches. Dave C. was also zonkering away beside Ric but largely to no avail He only had one in the bag compared to Ric's three. I suspect Ric had let others go besides these as he ended up with seventeen fish caught. I tried to stay behind these two, and then while speaking to Dave had a good pull which didn't connect. Lack of concentration was probably the problem. A little while later I did connect into a nice 4lbs fish which took quite a lot of getting to the net. The next take was a tremendous pull and an equally tremendous battle with what felt like a huge fish, which kept running and trying to hide under the tube or heading for the bottom in this deeper water, as soon as I got it near the top it charged off again. An extremely fit and hard fighting trout indeed. When I did eventually bully it to the net it turned out to be a relatively small fish of a couple of pounds or so. During this marathon, the wind had unbeknown to me taken me within a few feet of a couple of bank anglers who had very kindly watched on patiently as I fought this fish to submission. I apologised and backed off quickly. Ric had apparently also had the same experience a couple of times. This breeze blowing the length of the lake had a lot more moving power than we suspected. By 12.40pm I had my sixth fish and headed for the boat platforms as I was a bit cold by then. Steve F. had joined the group a little earlier only having one fish in the bag, and then Andre headed up joining the mob also with a single fish in the bag. Andre was heading up beside the ice, while I was beside and talking to him on my way back, at the same time leaving him room to cast, I was accosted by one of the Olympic casters on the bank, who reckoned he could cast over the tube, so told him 'jolly good' and turned my motor on and left him to hit Andre instead. I knew that Ric had helped one of his bank angling companions by casting his flies onto the bank near him and telling the chap to cut them off his leader then put them on his own line, which he did, then going on to take fish. What a contrast we find. My fellow obviously made an impression on Dave C. too as he mentioned how ridiculous the chap had been regarding his claim for water. I'm not sure what these guys were using as running lines on their shooting heads, but it made an enormously loud swishing noise going through to rod rings, which rather smacks of high abrasion potential. My Orvis running lines which I occasionally use are virtually silent in use, and I do prefer it that way.

Now to flies and lines. We were told the fish were in the top four feet of water. Undoubtedly a lot of fish were. Ric was using a hover line to catch most of his fish. He also used a wide variety of flies, damsel nymphs, crunchers, a sweet susan, and he was very enthusiastic about some mating buzzers. However, Dave C. made a late run on the fish and finished with a good bag of better trout to win the competition. Dave used a green and black zonker. I used a DI3 line with two flies on all morning to catch my six fish, five came to a blue flash black damsel nymph and one came to a green red flash damsel nymph on the dropper. I would say all fish were well below the four feet level. From what I heard afterwards, I suspect that the bigger fish were deeper down and smaller fish higher in the water. Others may have different views, but certainly the bigger fish appeared to have been taken on sinking lines. Ric had a lot of fish, but most were smaller than the winning bags although he did regret putting one bigger one back. Gary reckoned black and green was the killer fly.

In summation; a catch average of 7.42 for the seven float tubers was an excellent result. The fishing was good, but not so easy from the float tubes. Most of the fish were close to the bank which was heavily populated by bank anglers. A fair degree of give and take was shown by both parties, and I would suggest the float tubers behaved very well in these interactions. Undoubtedly it was necessary to find the fish, which although spread over a lot of the lake were largely in shoals. Steve F. found the going particularly difficult and was the last to bag up and leave the water. Brian had five good fish at the quieter end of the water after long perseverance. These five gained him fourth place. Gary topped this by catching six to gain a second place in the match. Andre really struggled until he got to the Dam end. For once I found the fishing relatively good and managed to bag up and leave the water well before 1.00pm, which was probably a good thing for an ailing Old Git. Third place was a bonus as well!

Congratulations to Dave Carrie on his first place, to repeat his start to the season as it was last year. Pity the absentees didn't turn up though Dave - you only got half the points!

About an eighth of the water was covered in either surface ice or sub-surface ice floes which rather restricted the float tubers from some of the 'favourite' areas.

Asides: I can report that the ASP24 watersnake electric outboard is better for pushing a float tube than the ASP18. The tilting transom bracket is slightly better than the fixed one fitted to the smaller motor, but not a massive advantage. Bringing the switches off the motor and into a box beside the float tuber is a distinct advantage. Fitting a digital voltmeter to the box does give an indication of battery drain - including an ammeter might be more frightening!?

 I brought all the wires out of the motor to my control box so I can change speed and direction. I know at least one other member is interested in this. To achieve the extension only five of the nine wires need to be brought to the switch box, all need to be able to carry 20 amps. There are three other links between the terminals on the switches. If you are content to set the switches up and leave them in the motor head, then you could achieve a simple stop start by extending a wire out and back to a break in the main motor wire and putting a simple switch in it. Surprisingly I have used reverse as well as forward speeds, so prefer the more complicated system. Reverse can be useful when landing in shallow water to stop the motor hitting the bottom of the lake. (You reach the side before it does - then the tilting transom bracket may come into its own).

On another topic I was intrigued to see Ric walking around with his waders stripped down to his waist after the match. What particularly caught my attention was the flexible red rubber ring hanging in the material between his legs. This rather looked like a design for putting over the top of a loo seat to guide a particularly bad attack of Beri-Beri into the right place. Andre assured me that it was for putting your head through. I'm still thinking about that one!?

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Ed and Steve for hosting us at this event. We had a great days fishing and much appreciate the welcome and banter.

Title: Re: Elinor Report -February 17th 2018
Post by: davec on February 18, 2018, 05:12:40 PM
great report Tony and thanks for helping this other septuagenarian back to his car with his tube. all my fish were caught on my black and green zonker and nothing on the cat's whisker suggested by Andre although he thinks that is what attracted the better fish to my zonker Hah!! dream on.

Title: Re: Elinor Report -February 17th 2018
Post by: martin on February 18, 2018, 07:07:04 PM
Excellent report, we usually have a good day at Elinor but have never fished a lake with ice.
Nearly there! hope to meet up in a few weeks!!

Title: Re: Elinor Report -February 17th 2018
Post by: buzzerman on February 18, 2018, 07:19:55 PM
That’s good news Martin you was missed yesterday think you would have done well with your sinking line tactics. Well done Mr C excellent bit of fishing and thanks for giving me one of your treasured zonkers even though I lost it on a triple hook up. Very frustrating day first 5 fish I hooked I lost tried buzzers on a floater and nymphs on a midge tip but had them all on a intermediate with most coming to a 2 tone blob. Think Tony needs to start writing for a boating magazine!

Title: Re: Elinor Report -February 17th 2018
Post by: wardy on February 18, 2018, 10:06:00 PM
My apologies, I got double booked and forgot to message that I wouldn’t make it. (Just as a matter of note her end isn’t that big ????) Also regrettably I won’t make Toft either as my ex wife kindly moved my eldest sons 11tn birthday party forward a week. I will have a look at the diary and see what fits. Tight lines

Title: Re: Elinor Report -February 17th 2018
Post by: bracken on February 19, 2018, 09:17:20 AM
For Martin. Have fished lakes with ice on before but have never experienced ice sheets / floes sub-surface before. Toft can sometimes be iced up around the margins, but no problem because we send Ric and his electrically heated socks through first to act as an ice breaker!

To Steve ref. Boat Magazine. Point taken. However, in my defence and on a more serious note, we are supposedly the reference point for British Float tubing. Sadly the inevitability is that infirmity sometimes creeps up faster than one had planned for as we age. I note that over the years several posts on this and the Fly Fishing Forum have asked questions about moving float tubes other then with fins due to Arthritic knees, duff backs etc.

Having fairly extensively researched the web, I didn't discover anything about motorising FT's in the UK. There are two or three different commercially produce USA systems, but none are cheap for pensioners and the postage to here would be prohibitive. The Europeans have come up with some weird and wonderful home-made efforts - all credit to them - but some of these look downright unsafe to me, and some wouldn't be allowed under our rules. I decided to start from scratch, and as such have experienced a learning curve which might help others avoid mistakes which I made, or to capitalise on the positives which I discovered. I am aware of at least two members who want to know more, and of course we have other people who reference this closed to members contributions website for information. In my benevolent mood I decided to publish what I have found for free so it might help others continue fishing.

I have been considering opening a separate board on this topic which might make it easier to reference the subject for those interested. What would others think about this idea, or is it a waste of time?

Title: Re: Elinor Report -February 17th 2018
Post by: andre on February 19, 2018, 11:28:51 AM
Good report Tony, I note that I still manage to get stick for turning up in the arctic conditions, organising the whole event, pre-preparing for the next five comps that I can't attend, giving the winning competitor tips on how to maximise his catch organising the weigh in etc, etc oh well plenty of the season to go and what goes around comes around lol.

I have just had a thought about your battery usage - you need a head mounted solar panel and if you use one the size of which we see in the fields nowadays you could actually hang glide in to the water instead of getting Scottish pensioners to carry your gear to the margins like some kind of Sherpa attempting to scale Everest, lol.


Title: Re: Elinor Report -February 17th 2018
Post by: martin on February 19, 2018, 12:52:15 PM
You carry on Tony, is makes a interesting read on these cold days.

Title: Re: Elinor Report -February 17th 2018
Post by: bracken on February 19, 2018, 03:40:18 PM
You know that deep down I have deep respect and enduring consideration for your feelings and piscatorial skill Andre! I also envy your organisational capacity. Problem is that if I denigrate some of the others they are all bigger and stronger than me and might throw me in the water. Just for the record - in this instance I actually tried to assist our doughty little Scots fellow carry his kit back to the car. He was nice enough to say that I helped, and he also knows where I keep my GTN spray!? I must however admit that the Olympic breakfasts keep him much stronger and fitter than me, and he aids me far more often than I could ever help him, so I can understand the confusion Andre.

Ref. solar panels. Been there and thought about that. Have used them on caravans and motor homes, but they only trickle charge and are generally B****dy heavy. The flexible stick on types might have some small use on a FT - but I doubt it. Steve F. will be impressed to know that the boating fraternity use these to charge the batteries for their radios, navigation and depth finders etc. Lots of of info and adverts in boating magazines I understand!

Thanks for your encouragement Martin; as a recipient of a metal knee, (soon to be two I hear), I can fully understand that you might be in need of a motorising kit yourself, so may enjoy reading how to do it. I also know that Lupostie, who has scaffolding in his back, and who already has the majority of the makings of a motorised system, will be interested in the "how to go about it" section. If you are in need of a new tube Martin, consider the one which Brian has got - it's stronger than a Guideline Drifter which I mainly use, and having looked at it on Saturday, I reckon it would be very easy to make a motor mount for the front of it if you are interested.