November 05, 2023

Carp, Ciaran, and Catastrophe

During the last visit to the surgeon he seemed impressed and decided that a replacement shoulder could go on the back burner for a while. I even bragged that I'd been moving rocks around our garden pond when his face changed. "No, oh no, no, no," said he. You have to remember that, although things are going well, what is left of your shoulder joint is being held together by tattered bits of tendon and gristle. No heavy lifting!

It took a bit of absorbing but I could see his point which was echoed by the physiotherapist later. She told me that were I to do further damage, I would be left with an arm that would have minimal movement and remain that way. This could seriously affect my Hokey Cokey and it stopped my season in its tracks. I wasn't going to risk further damage and miss out on the year's highlight.

Since October 2022, I have had a French carp trip planned. My lad Neil, good mate Paddy and I were to fish an intimate lake of little more than four acres, which contained some fine-looking fish which grew to vast proportions. The timing was quite late but was chosen to coincide with the half-term to release Neil from school runs. We had all been very eager and there was no chance of me pulling out. I did, however, realise that my syndicate lake full of 30lb+ fish would likely have to be dropped. I had put my back out several times hoisting fish up the bank, for once I had to act my age.

And so to France and a quick mooch around the lake had swims chosen and we all tried to set up before the rain came in. I failed and got wet. In fact, I was having a mare. I hadn't carp fished for 18 months and the rust was obvious. My fingers became thumbs or toes, I was disorganised and it took me ages just to get a rod out. In fact, with one thing and another, it took me a couple of days to get all of the rods out. My head was all over the place, and my bait boat developed a new and sinister personality. 

On night one, Neil hooked a lump. A ponderous weight mooched along the bottom but he felt he was having an impact until - his reel seized. A far from cheap Diawa stuck and useless whilst a fish of 50 or even 60lbs waddled off into the weeds. Neil stripped his reel and got movement back but the fish had gone. He was later rewarded with a mid-double common but he was wounded.

The next morning he hooked a similar small common and again, the reel seized. I arrived to net the handlined fish but Neil was now seething and who could blame him. Luckily, the lake owner gave him one of his own reels to use for the duration.

All of this was forgotten the next day when I looked at my phone early next morning, "When you wake up, come and give me a hand".

We all met in Neil's swim and watched in awe as the net was lifted and revealed a golden-scaled beast.  I was pretty much a spectator as the fish was lifted onto the scales - I now know my limits - and they thumped down and 'errored'. My scales read a bit higher and they could manage the bulk that stopped at 65lb 5oz. To Neil's credit, he was fastidious with the weight of the sling and an eventual weight of 60lb 4oz was settled on but I am sure it was a few ounces heavier but who cares. Sixty bloody pounds! Moments like this are once in a lifetime and we drank in the elation. Neil even smiled in a photo - very rare. Amazing.

Paddy joined the fun by getting a 30-pound leather, things were looking good, apart from his photos.

The full moon was now waning and I felt the pressure to get on board and join the action but, I was struggling for bites despite working hard at it. There comes a point when you realise that it's not going to be your trip. I was happy enough working at it and, if I'm honest, just seeing that huge fish was enough to leave me sated, that Neil had caught it gave me a very warm feeling.

The weather had been wet. Every afternoon brought a downpour and I was thankful that I had purchased the 'Social Cap' for my Tempest bivvy. It effectively adds a lot of space for either socialising or, for me, to increase storage space and to keep the weather out of your bivvy, very useful in poor weather. It was my first trial with the Cap and, apart from the velcro straps proving inefficient at holding it to the bivvy and needing a layer of Gorilla Tape to secure them, I was happy to have a dry bed and room to stretch out. Then Storm Ciaran popped in for a visit.

I had a fitful night and several times had to venture out into the wind and rain to re-peg the Cap front, replace the tension bars that repeatedly fell off and to re-tape the Velcro. I led there, listening to an angry wind (on the outside for a change), the flapping of canvas and the falling branches all around. An old barrow I'd borrowed and left beneath a tree, was blown into my bivvy, it was getting rough. I pondered the idea of being trapped by a fallen tree - sleep was impossible. Then it happened.

The roar of the wind suddenly became deafening, the bivvy bent and twisted then, with one last violent push, I was cast into open air as my roof vanished and my gear was cast to the winds. My Cap had been torn off and my bivvy had launched upwards and was desperately trying to fly to the next county. I found myself with one leg clutched in my outstretched right arm and just about able to hold it as it blew this way and that. I then noticed that I was trapped. The tension strap, attached to my big green kite, had been pulled across my body which was holding me against my bedchair. What a predicament.

I got my wits about me and considered my options. Were I to release or cut the tension strap, I felt certain that the bivvy would be lost. Neither could I bring the bivvy back to ground - what a pickle.

I always keep my cool bag next to my bed as the flat lid is ideal for my watch, phone, spare torch and walkie-talkie. I reached for it but it was gone. I had a headtorch around my neck and began searching, nothing was how it had been. The groundsheet had turned inside out and everything was strewn. I called out for help but no reply. At last, I found my phone and rang Neil, he was obviously sleeping well. I rang Paddy who had heard my plea for rescue and was already on his way around. I lay back and relaxed as much as possible whilst trying to hold a large green parachute determined to head skyward in a hurricane.

I've known Paddy for nearly sixty years and I wondered what quip he would use on seeing me. Relieved to see his torch nearing, he appraised the chaotic and amusing scene, held one leg of the flying bivvy and said, There, is that better? I'll be off then.

I was soon released and scanned the scene of destruction around me. Where do I start? Neil put the bivvy back up and made it secure whilst we all gathered up the sodden kit spread around and threw it into it, a real quart into a pint pot scenario. It took an hour but the guys, both wishing they had put coats on, left me to find a small gap where I could lay in a damp sleeping bag and try to sleep. It was an interesting incident and Neil kept saying, in the days after, 'But what if the strap had gone across your neck'. It didn't, we survived and lived to tell the tail.

The real crippler came when I went to reel the lines in as I did not want to be disturbed again that night. I found that all of the bobbins had blown off the lines and one of the rods was up tight and bent. I lifted into  it only to find that I had been done in the lilies. My only hook-up of the week and I knew nothing of it and a fish lost.

The morning saw me trying to get things dry and tidy but it was a trial and was much the same after a lot of work. I took in the devastation around me, trees down, broken branches everywhere and a big drop in temperature.

A Poplar tree that succumbed to the storm

The island lost a few too

The remains of my Cap

Paddy had another fish of 19lbs or so I think. Whilst Neil had a 32-pound common. Again we gathered for the weigh-in and were joined by one of the owner's dogs, a particularly ugly little French Bulldog with no personality. It liked scrounging and was attentive as long as the food lasted. As we were eating our breakfasts, it was around our feet and happy. Neil took the fish from the weigh sling and revealed it to the air and mutt. It went ballistic and leapt at the hapless carp. At first, I thought it was trying to hump it but no, it wanted to kill or eat it. Neil fought it off amid some colourful language and Paddy ushered it about seventy yards down the path. He returned, thinking he had trained it but it ran straight past him and leapt again onto the unhooking mat growling and snapping like an angry weasel. I was beside myself and laughed for ages. Anyway, another lovely common for the boy. 


The object of a certain mutt's desires

I kept at it despite everything but the few bites to the others had dried up and the trip home looked grim. We had to wait another day before our changed bookings saw us leaving France and a bumpy crossing to Portsmouth.

We all learn from victories and failures. What if Neil had landed that first fish? It could easily be another sixty at this time of year and, having had one of the big ones come out last week, the two biggest fish often follow. Imagine the boy having a brace of 60's, it could spoil him for life - not to mention him spoiling mine.

I accept the blank as being all part of the game. I know I was on some good spots, and I kept at it until the last morning. Maybe it was for the best, imagine me trying to do it all alone and finishing my shoulder off on a big fish? Who knows, I'm big enough and ugly enough to put this one behind me, it's whether I do it again that's in doubt. I turned 68 during our stay and I know that despite looking less (or so I'm told), my body is ageing and I have to learn to be sensible and listen to whatever bit is complaining.

I guess I'll stop when the laughter does.

August 25, 2023


How important is it to weigh your fish? How often do you get your scales out? At what size do you get curious about your capture's weights? Like many would-be specialist anglers, I used to weigh far more fish than I do today. I recall my diary pages from 1970s tench trips as just a list of exact times and weights with little or no information of commentary added.

 When I fished the Tone in Somerset, I meticulously recorded the details of my chub captures even though they topped off at just 3lb 6oz. That was soon to change. I moved to Herefordshire and quickly discovered that the Wye was home to an enormous amount of fat chub and, bar getting a sighter or two early in the season, I was flicking four pounders off in the margins without so much as a second look. I'd check the weight of anything that looked like a 'five' and soon became quite adept at guestimating the difference between a 4.14 and a 5.01. 

But sometimes you lose your accuracy. I was happily watching my rod as a lump of meat explored a back eddy one day when John Bailey stopped for a chat. I instinctively reacted to a pull and quickly landed a nice chub. I slipped the hook out and immediately released it into the water at my feet, "A nice four", I said. John, slightly incredulous, replied, "I'd suggest it was beyond a four and by a fair bit in my opinion". I shrugged it off as just another chub but, was slightly irked that I hadn't been able to accurately log another five. Chub are like that, they can vary depending on body shape and just how fat they feel. I once dismissed a customer's first Wye fish as a nice but average chub, only for it to go 6lb 6oz. Boy, was I off the mark with that one. I have reached a stage where I do not worry so much about runner-up fish's weights and my son now slips back carp as mere 'low thirties'. I always put big carp on the scales. I also weigh any barbel that looks to be nine pounds plus, decent roach, tench etc. but, there is one fish that, until yesterday, I hadn't weighed for years.

Bream, love 'em or hate 'em, they can still demand some respect - honest. I've never had a double, far from it but, the best I ever put on my Avons was a 7lb fish that was foul-hooked. I had previously had them to 6lb 6oz and called that my pb. But, I seem to have suffered from bream blindness. I fished a small carp water that held just carp and a few large bream. I did take a couple of them one day and brushed them off as 5-6 pounders and a fellow member asked if I was certain as he's never heard of one under eight. When fishing the Severn and Wye, I sometimes envied mates who'd been pestered by eight pounders while mine were always under six. Am I just unlucky? I fished for bream on the first lake I mentioned and blanked whilst my son, fishing for carp, landed a bream of exactly eleven pounds. I did think it looked a little small for such a weight. 

Last week I had a chub that I put down as 'about three and a half', but I may have been under by a bit but, the tail is long so I told myself to weigh one or two to get my eye back in. 
Then, yesterday, I targeted some bream on another pool having heard of fish to double figures. The day was muggy and overcast, just the sort of summer day that, during the 80's and 90's would see me rush to Sedgemoor and bream fish on any one of several favoured drains. It felt cock-on for action and not long after my PVA bag of goodies and a lump of meat splashed down 35 - 40 yards out, the bobbin rattled to the butt ring. The wind was hammering into my face which brought a touch of drama to the proceedings. The familiar bream responses of pretending to be a plastic bag did little to enhance any excitement and a good-sized fish was soon netted. 'Hmm? Probably nearer 6 than 5' I thought and took a quick snap of it.

 I soon had a smaller one of maybe four pounds then another which, looked suspiciously large but was obviously smaller than the first fish. I decided to put a number on it just to set my mind at ease and so that my guesstimating would at least be more accurate. It went 6.02, and, as the two pictures will show, took up quite a bit less net space than the first. So, just how big was the first one? 

I think I'm going to have to go back and soon.

 Incidentally, if you do weigh every fish regardless of size, I suggest that you are being over fussy and possibly causing damage and stress needlessly to those fish. An ounce here and there means little so don't get so hung up on it. Catch a whopper though, and weigh away but please, do it quickly and carefully without allowing any fish to flop about on hard surfaces or to get dry. You know it makes sense.

August 08, 2023

Baby Steps

 Have I told you about my operation?

The last time I blogged was just before op no2 on my thumb and, I am pleased to say, it went well. This was followed by an op on my shoulder and that went horribly wrong but, it was followed three months later (July). by yet another and, as I write, that is starting to show enough improvement that I can now start fishing again.

Yes, this year has been one of pain and intense frustration with Spring being particularly difficult. Unable to cast very far or use a catapult, puts a crimp on one's ability to carp fish on a water that demands a degree of both. Yes, I can catch under my feet and have done so in the past but, in the spring distance can be necessary - believe me.

I asked the guy that runs our little syndicate if I could use a bait boat for the time being. "No" came the reply. I didn't want to fish unreachable spots or to gain any advantage over anybody, indeed most of my fishing is done well away from the well-used swims, but "No" was repeated, the miserable sod.

I looked around for another water and settled on Llandrindod, a major carp water back in the day but those fish are long gone and there's nothing much over 20lb in there. But there is more to fishing than size and learning a new water was just the challenge I needed. I spent a few days visiting their lakeside cafe and walking around the fifteen acres in search of fish. Some days you'd believe it was devoid of life but, on others, the fish rolled or showed themselves.

I see you

There is a central island that's guarded by a water-spouting dragon, well it is in Wales. The island is an obvious haunt for the fish on this shallow water and is a minimum of 60 yards from any bank, too far for my shoulder to cast or even wind back from. But plans continued and I even bought a bait boat, me, a bait boat? I hate the bloody things but then, I don't like being knobbled so needs must.

Don't you hate it when your boat is attacked by dragons?

The carp were spawning in early May (the sun shone back then, remember?) and by early June I was ready for a go. I'd set up one rod and was told to leave the water as the carp were spawning. Really? But yes, every now and then a pod would be seen at it and down came the shutters on the lake. It re-opened well into June by which time the complications with my shoulder meant I had to abandon my plans and endure the last operation.

It's August now and I'm just dipping a toe to see how I get on. I'm not looking for big fish just yet, just to get some of the rust off and remember how to tie a ledger to a float etc. I had a day on a small pool with my lad Neil and I was soon catching tiny carp whilst the boy pulled his hair out with crust. I would expect to get at least one or two fish that need playing and a landing net but, the only netted fish went to Neil which was probably just as well.

Small but beautiful

At last, a bending rod.

There is a lack of mixed fishery waters around here with carp being the usual main species. I just want to catch a mixed bag and get back to the 'feel' of fishing so, I visited a 5 acre commercial yesterday that's stuffed with carp. Why? well, I wanted to avoid the carp and have a go for the roach that inhabit the place with a chance of a bream or tench coming along. I always fish to a plan and this suited me for now.

Whilst many wannabe carpers went about their noisy business - one had an alarm that sounded like a child's cycle hooter that frequently sounded, albeit not from bites, and could be heard above his shouting. Meanwhile, I had found a ledge running out from a thicket of sedges which looked ideal. I baited with maggots and caught rudd like razor blades. I fished pomegranate seed (reduced in the supermarket and one bait I'd never tried) and had instant mega-fast bites again, from rudd. Occasionally, a slightly larger fish would get one in its mouth and my tally started to grow. I then fed pellets and attached one with a band to my size 14 hook. Again the bites were immediate but with roach putting in an appearance. I had nothing big, the best roach being about 8oz I suppose but, I was catching what I aimed for and more important, I was able to do it.

I can see this baby-steps approach continuing for a bit but, I will ramp it up sometime next month when I get back into carp mode before a booked trip to France in late October.

Not the biggest but they were all in mint condition


October 04, 2022

The Summer That Never Was

When I last posted, I had finally caught a fish worth a picture. Was this the start of something big? Was it hell.

I struggled and conceded defeat, only to find that the lake had switched on soon after. But no matter, I had my river head on and the search began for some of the plump chub the Boy had caught from the Lugg last year. 

The visits to the river entailed long walks, some very dodgy bridges over ditches and an assortment of characters of the non-fishing variety. One such ensemble consisted of a lad, a young Polish girl wearing jogging shorts that had been sprayed on and a flimsy top (my, how observant I am), and two other young ladies so attached to each other that I feared there had been a Superglue accident. 

I exchanged greetings with the giggly group who were joined by another lad. "Enjoy your picnic," I said, and one of the siamese lovers replied, "We're having KFC". I called back, "From here it smells like you are smoking the secret recipe of herbs and spices". That amused them and I was offered some of the hinted-at weed. I declined, knowing that I would find plenty of 'weed' where I was heading.

Just one of the many swims I blanked in

That was another blank shortly followed by more. Neil, my lad, was fishing harder and more often than me and fairing no better. Time for a new project.

I attempted to up my pb crucian carp last season but bearly passed the pound mark. A couple of trips in the heart of the Midlands saw that pb creep up and stop at 1lb 13oz. I was pleased with the fish and the backup fish on the day and look forward to the next nudge to a 2lb plus fish next summer.

PB crucian and crooked hat

August arrived and a holiday in Pembrokeshire where a morning bothering the goby population was interrupted by a large triggerfish attacking Neil's catch on the way in. That and several decent bass that cruised around, harrying the large shoal of smelt made us realise we had aimed too low. The next outing coincided with a mighty rising tide that we were unprepared for. Maybe next time. As an addendum to this anecdote, I let fellow blogger Ordinary Angler know about the triggers as it was his posts that inspired the holiday fishing in the first place. He went himself and showed just how it should be done. I congratulate his success albeit through gritted teeth.

Goby and Cuckoo Wrasse, good fun on light tackle

Returning from the break both Nicky and I had each brought home a souvenir. Nicky had Shingles,  a painful and debilitating condition and I had badly torn the ligaments in my left shoulder. I could tell you the full tale but, I'd be embarrassed. Suffice to say that I was playing football against the grandbrats and attempted something that I haven't done for fifty years. Apparently, I was younger and fitter back then, I must try to remember this in the future.

As Nicky slowly recovered some energy and I was going mad with the frustration of not being able to fish, so I went down with Covid, followed a few days later by Nicky. And that brings me up to a few days ago. It hit us hard and we are still below par. I was beginning to think that I'd never get a decent fish before my second operation on the errant thumb next month. 

On the spur of the moment yesterday morning, I grabbed a few sticks of tackle, bait and hope and headed for the carp lake. I received a lot of 'those' looks from dearly beloved and she was probably right but when the need is this strong...

The lake looked quiet with the only surface activity being caused by goosanders that soon left as I approached. The Bay, an area I can fish with minimal casting involved, looked pretty dead, it usually produces when you can see cruising fish so, my optimism wasn't exactly peaking. Hey ho, I tied a rig on the car bonnet and got everything sorted. My rod was an unnamed three-piece cane job bought for a pittance at the Redditch Vintage Tackle show, the reel a tarted up Abu Cardinal 155, proper fishing.

I got myself ensconced at the bottom of a steep bank and waded into some chod soup, stiff with dead weed, leaves, silt and sticks. My second cast was perfect and a wafter bait slowly landed on the soft bottom. I tried to catapult some freebies out but the shoulder/thumb combination made it difficult and painful. I found that by holding the 'pult upsidedown and sort of flicking it out, just about found the right spot but suffice to say that baiting was 'light'.

I put my chair up and sat back to eat my lunch, where had the morning gone? Too much faffing about on my behalf. Food eaten I was about to open the flask when I had a couple of bleeps and a buzz from the Abu ratchet, everything had gone tight and I lifted into a heavy weight hell bent on reaching a lily bed. I leaned against it and a swirl showed I had halted its progress. I now had to get into the water to play and land the fish.

Lowering yourself into the water off a tiny ledge whilst maintaining contact with a running fish is not easy. Just last year I ended up doing a face plant into the fetid water so, I took great care and thankfully succeeded. The carp was heading across me and it all got a tad feisty as my cane rod groaned but soaked it all up with aplomb. I had waded a little deeper but the net needed to be at arm's length which I did with gritted teeth. The carp saw the net and headed back across the bay, deep and heavy.

Eventually, I got it over the net and heaved it to me, it felt like a good one. Pulling the net apart, I could see the broad shoulders and the length that told me it was a thirty.

It went 30.11 but felt heavier, mind you, with one thing and another, my arms have lost some strength, I need to build that up and soon. 

During the landing and resting the fish in clear water, I lost my glasses and, by the time I had sorted all my gear out, I was knackered. Time for home, with a detour to the opticians, all after less than half an hour with a bait in the water. 

At last

I'm feeling it today but, at least I've had something decent in this most trying of seasons. I may get a trip or two in before my op, but I am mentally prepared for the layoff and look forward to the future.


June 03, 2022

Remember me?

 It's almost a year since I last posted a blog entry and you may have wondered what I've been up to. Could he be making a film of his life's dreams and accomplishments? Maybe he's been organising the Commonwealth games? Surely, whatever it is that has taken up a full year of Burr's existence must be massive and worthwhile. But no, it's mainly been moaning about getting older, Covid and Boris bloody Johnson. I haven't even had Covid and I am just one year older but my rheumatic pains are genuine and my right thumb has been excruciatingly painful. Who would think that one silly digit could stop you from doing so many things, but, it is the opposable digit that separated us from pretty much all of the animal kingdom so it must be important?

Have I told you about my operation? A sentence guaranteed to see most people looking for a swift way out. Suffice to say, I spent an hour under local anaesthetic, watching a surgeon saw, drill, file and hack at my thumb knuckle as he removed excess bone growth, drilled and screwed the joint thus fusing it and, apparently, finishing any discomfort.

That was two months ago and when he saw me again last week, he took one look at the joint and said "Shit, there's still some movement in the finger". I could have told him that. Hey ho, it would seem that the new bone growth in the void of the knuckle, has failed to appear and, alas, the screw so carefully positioned, has come through the outer edge of the bone, probably as a result of me banging the bloody thing against something solid. Never mind, come and see me again in six to eight weeks and we'll have another look.

Despite the inconvenience of wearing a plastic splint, I have actually managed to fish on three occasions. I visited the Duckpond, as a guest, a couple of times last spring. In two visits I had two bites, both missed. This year my name came to the top of the list and I gained entry to a jolly little gathering of anglers that has existed for quite a long while. When I learned that the list of club rules included one that states, "No larking about", I knew I had found my place.

The first trip involved an early start, ugh, I hate waking up before a sensible hour but needs must. I had a very positive bite on the float and again, missed.

An evening trip passed without the obligatory bite, which struck deep into the confidence banks but, yesterday, as I sorted my gear for this morning's trip, I felt confident that my season would soon start.

En route to the pool, I saw one adult and a couple of young hares not far from home. I do see the occasional hare but this little family group cheered me no end. Just like the rook that's been visiting our bird feeders, anything a little unusual is always welcome.

Duckpond was calm and still as I arrived. A walk around showed one eruption of tench bubbles in an area I had no intention of fishing but, well you do, don't you.  Out went a pva bag with some hemp and bits of prawn in some dry groundbait mix to prevent wetting the bag. A prawn on a hair (not very Crabtree) and I was fishing.

A second rod with a float and maggots went to the other side of my pitch and I regularly trickled bait on that spot. My baiting was all over the place, having little or no grip, a catapult is not an ideal delivery system but, without a servant available, I struggled on.

The morning was pleasant, the swans looked serene as they paraded their brood until one of the two Canada geese popped its head over the parapet. Swans are horrible things and bully the crap out of everything around them. Over a month ago the geese had nested on the bank but rarely dared venture afloat because the swans were brooding. The goose chicks hatched but disappeared soon after. Otter? Maybe but, I would put money on ol' misery guts Mr Cob seeing to them.

Calm returned and I sat back, contemplating a diary entry. I suddenly felt that feeling and thought to myself, I must be due my bite soon. Moments later my float twitched as a fish brushed the line. I hurried to finish my coffee but the float rose slightly, dipped, rose again and finally slid.... I hit it before it sank. Immediately, I recognised the rapid tail beats of a male tench. I quickly gulped my coffee down, tossed the mug to one side and set about the job at hand.

The fish ran hard and deep but I felt my 3lb hooklink was okay as long as it stayed away from the depths of the lily beds. When it did find a lily, it was already tired and I was able to net it, and a leaf and the game was over.

It's a long time since I've had a nice tench but at 4lb 8oz, I know that there are certainly fish three pounds heavier to be caught, maybe a bit more, but they can wait until next time. The swim was devoid of fishy signs and the sun was blazing down. Time to walk around looking for the resident carp, I saw one or two, then home.

It almost feels like I'm a fisherman again.

June 16, 2021

 Since my last tale of woe I have fished once - and caught a small eel. Nuff said.

Today is the glorious 16th, a date that has had little meaning in my fishing life for several years due to my concentration on carp and the like. But in this brave new world, I have become a changed man and have resorted to type. No, it won't last.

My targets have all been missed by a country mile so I decided to ignore them. No high hopes, no shit or bust attitude, just fishing. To this end I decided to start the new season on the river Lugg.

Neil and I walked for many miles along its banks yesterday and saw - well, bugger all. The river is permanently coloured a sort of cruddy grey due to a large fruit/veg farm extracting water, washing the mud - and chemicals - off their wares then dumping the discoloured stuff back into the river. This discolouration covers much of the river including all of the good fishing area and spreads down the Wye. It used to be a beautiful water where sight fishing was rewarding but now..... How can this be allowed?

Anyway, apart from a handful of chublets, no secrets were revealed. This did not put me off, a few small chub on the float would be enough to get me off the mark - not that I was setting targets you understand, well, I was but I was aiming low.

I arrived before 7am and was surprised to see my chosen beat angler free. The route march to find a shady spot was knackering and, as usual, my 'light' approach was still too heavy. But, after beating through a close approximation of the Burmese jungle, I collapsed into my chair on a shallow run that was covered by shady trees. The bird song was incredible, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, blackcap, blackbird, wren, reed bunting, sedge warbler even a distant peregrine falcon. These, along with a couple I couldn't identify, made me feel right at home and grounded. I put an 11ft float rod together.

The main flow produced nothing but, when I allowed my float to slowly drag through the inside line, it dipped. I didn't see the fish as it got off but, I was inspired. I changed my float to a more sensitive Avon and soon had a small chub to kick the season off. Next fish was 3lb plus and looked impressive from the small river but, it killed the action. I tried a few more tricks but, apart from a tiddler, I decided to move.

Next swim was hot but the sun was about to go behind a large tree and I duly enjoyed its cover. I went onto a lead but didn't contact with any of the trembling bites. A return to a waggler across the far side and it's waddling gently under some over hanging branches brought a succession of chublets. My early rise, exercise, the heat and my cack-handedness all combined to tell me I'd had enough but it had been a really enjoyable session. I'm certain that in no time I'll be back to chasing lumps.... or will I?

May 13, 2021

Blankety Blank.

 After a rather unimpressive visit to the river in February a long cold and wet March and April ensued. As many will agree, there has been little to inspire the sap to rise and those heady early summer mornings of bubbling tench, singing birds and fresh new growth seemed to have been stuck on hold.

Eager to spend some time next to the carp lake, I set up one chilly evening quite aware that a cold night was due. Let's face it, every night was cold but, I checked the weather and the next day was forecast to be sunny, warmer and with a gentle breeze that may be enough to send a few carp toward the shallows. I was sat in the perfect interception spot.

I baited lightly and put one rod out on maggots in the hope that a cruising fish may fancy a light supper. It did - but it was a diminutive roach and it had evidently opted to breach Covid legislation and dine with a large party of its peers. I pulled the rod in, led it next to the other next to my bivvy and settled in for the night. The thought of leaving my warm bed for anything fishy on a frosty night has long since lost its lustre.

I awoke to find the pool covered with a heavy mist and the air brittle with frost. I went back to sleep. 

I did eventually lift a little and I cast out leaving the rods for almost two hours before realising the promised weather was not happening and accepting that the long list of blanks that other members had suffered was to continue a little longer. I left.

My mood was lifted when a conversation with Tim led to an invite to join him on a tench water. No, the 'Crabtree dawns' were still miles away but he had caught a few with a six pounder amongst them. I was fired up and we met an another cold morning.

I fished hard and felt I was doing everything right, I even had a definite one-inch lift on my float but struck into thin air. Tim put a worm on his feeder outfit and landed a four pounder. 

Despite my blank I was keen to return and Gary, who runs the lake, invited me for a second go. This time I woke early and, so as not to stare at a float all day, opted for a twin feeder approach that Gary had also adopted. Again, I blanked even though I had one flying run that was somehow missed. What is happening to me. Rubbing salt into my sores, Gary had a three pound tench. 

He has invited me back and I shall take him up on it..... when conditions are a little milder.

Which all leads me to today. Yesterday, with carp in mind I packed my car . Conditions look good and I reckon a fish or two are on the cards but, I've developed a sore throat and head cold with all the trimmings associated with feeling like crap therefore and my blank start to the year will continue.

All together now 'Blankety blank, blankety blank.... blankety blank.