December 28, 2010

Happy New Year

As 2010 slips quietly away the change of date makes us all think about the highs and lows of the last twelve months and what the next twelve may bring. Not wishing to buck the trend I shall do exactly that.

I haven't recorded every fishing trip on here but my blog does carry the essence of what the year has been like for me. It has been, for me, a very slow year. I have fished less than in any of the preceding ten years and my enthusiasm for barbel has most definitely waned. To be honest, this process has been developing over the last few years but I have tried to fish my way through it. I should have known better, fishing should never feel like a chore.

In the past, when my interest has swung from species to species, I have just gone with the flow as it were. But this time no particular species has jumped out at me and demanded my attention. Not, that is, until I went to Spain. Seeing those carp of such monstrous proportions was an epiphany. From that day on I have felt the need to land something really big.

The trouble is, I don't want my fishing to be 'size' driven. I enjoy my carp fishing and will undoubtedly be doing a lot more of it during the next few years but this whole single minded pursuit of 30's and 40's in self defeating and always short lived. I want to be able to cherish each fish and to take from my carp fishing the same sort of pleasure that barbel have given me in the past. A stalked 10 pounder should always be a thrill no matter what the water's potential may be.

Nobody really knows what the next year will bring but here is my game plan should health and finance permit. I shall of course continue to fish the river Wye, it is just too beautiful a river to ignore but, I shall look for different sections to try along with its tributary, the Lugg. I shall also be looking for another stillwater. The lake I was on this year is, at three acres, just too small. I love the intimacy of a small water but its just a little too easy to learn its secrets. I need somewhere a bit bigger where the mystery of unfound deeps and unseen monsters can grow in my head and inspire me.

My main target for 2011 is France. I want to visit that most appealing country on a number of occasions and sample some of the delights of her rivers. Nicky will accompany me on some trips whist others will be boys only. Ultimately, my goal is to contact something massive and to enjoy the learning experience along the way.

I've made similar plans in the past, I've even made new year resolutions but not for a long time as all plans and wishes have a tendency to to be just that - a wish. There are many things that can alter my course but, for the time being, I do at least have a direction and one that I am really looking forward to traveling.

To all of you that have looked in on my thoughts and recollections over the last seven months or so, I thank you for taking the time and hope that you have in some way enjoyed the experience. I have especially enjoyed the comments and encourage them - well, most of them ;-) feel free to make them in the future.

Happy new year to all of you and I hope that at least some of your own wishes come true.

December 09, 2010


I'm usually the one sat in the corner mumbling "Bah Humbug" but this year, for no apparent reason, I am looking forward to Christmas.

Christmas really is the season of giving and I can honestly say that I get more pleasure out of giving presents than receiving them, probably because I've already got enough socks. So here's a little gift to each of you, two of my favourite Christmas ditties from the Interweb. You may well have seen them before but I feel they are worth repeating.

Scottish Advent Calender

November 29, 2010

A Tad Chilly

I haven't fished for a bit and, quite frankly, the thrill of sitting around in the cold and wet has failed to ignite my passion. However, I do enjoy a spot of ( I can't believe I'm about to type this), extreme fishing (sorry, but I didn't do the whole crossed arm, Geordie tosser routine).

Fishing in extremes of weather is fun as any fish caught is both notable and memorable. Give me drought, floods or frost and I'm up for it - well, weather permitting :-)

With this in mind and with the thermometer failing to reach a plus reading for several days, I set off to a favourite winter chub swim with a bag of bread and some thick socks. My plan was to walk the beat and suss it out before having an hour or so after a those chub. I've done it before in very cold conditions and usually manage to winkle a fish or two out with a five pounder very much the target.

As I approached the river I knew immediately that any chance of fishing was out of the question. The floating ice rafts were a dead give away and the marginal ice did little to raise my spirits. However, I was surprised to find a section of about two hundred yards or so, totally frozen over! As I got closer I could hear a sort of rustling sound, similar to dry leaves being blown about. This turned out to be the floating ice crashing into the solid surface. I was watching the birth of a glacier - well, not quite but it was a first for me to see the river completely covered in ice and the frozen section is obviously growing by the minute as the ice is packed higher and higher in little waves. It really was a beautiful sight, I just wish I had camera with me rather than the phone. I'll go back tomorrow and get some decent shots but for now, have a look at these.

November 23, 2010

A Rant

Has your television got one of these?

Mine has and its been working overtime.

I met Jeremy Wade at a fishing show at the NEC. Having read and re-read Somewhere Down The Crazy River that he co wrote with Paul Boote, I was eager to hear what he had to say about Mahseer so I talked him into doing a talk at the BS Conference.

He's an interesting bloke, obviously from a very privileged background and able to travel widely and indulge himself. He spoke with great enthusiasm about India, his recent trip to the Amazon and his quest for the Arapaima. He came across as a decent sort.

However, I have just been watching the latest in his 'River Monsters' series and I do wonder what planet JW is actually from and what sort of of an impact his trashy little program is having on the public's opinions of fish?

Obviously made for an American audience, the program plods along with every point reiterated ad nauseum and each dramatic recreation shown over and over. I hate this form of delivery, it really does play to the dumbest member of the audience and leaves anybody with three or more brain cells frustrated. Bloody Yanks. But that is not the worse of it, its the whole demonising of each species of fish that irks me!

For those of you that have missed it, the premise of the show is that Jeremy heads off to all corners of the globe in search of 'monsters' of the deeps that have a history of dragging poor native children from the banks into their watery graves. Each species is made out to be more dangerous than the last and the hyperbole comes thick and fast.

His claims, in tonight's show, that a modest catfish could pull a fisherman to his untimely death was just ridiculous (whatever happened to carrying a knife so that you can cut the line in the event of a dunking?). In a previous episode the Wels catfish was portrayed as a man-eater and I think next week he claims that a gudgeon once ate a horse. It really is rubbish.

In these days of health and safety (don't get me started), can you imagine the pitch to the TV executives? "We are going to dangerous places to try to catch man-eating fish and will be in mortal danger 24/7". Its not going to happen is it? This is just a guy on a fishing holiday selling out to "The Man" for a few shillings and it sucks. What really annoys me is that a properly presented program about one man searching the World for large and exotic species could appeal to a wide audience but once again the television companies bottle it.

Of course, to get a minority interest show on mainstream TV you need a 'celebrity'. Quite why this is so I really don't know but it is just one more dumbing down of TV and the media in general. Enter Robson 'kin Green. I cringe at the thought that the many anglers around the world that meet this precious little prick will believe that the rest of the UK's anglers are so whiney and ungracious. Now here's a bloke that should be introduced to a true man-eater.

But I keep on watching. I know, I should turn the bloody thing off but its fishing and we are starved of new material so I am yet another hopeless case just hoping that it may improve.

For those of you that crave some escapism I'm currently reading 'Globetrotter's Quest' by Tony Davies-Patrick, (reduced to £15 at Carp Talk books), I just wish we could have something like this on the telly.

November 20, 2010


So, there's a new kid on the block, what's all that about then? The Association of Barbel Fishers has popped up in the barbel world and will no doubt cause a bit of a stir.

It raises a couple of questions such as 'do we need another group?' and, 'if the BS is losing members hand over fist (apparently), will it survive?'

In my ever so humble opinion, yes, there is room for a new group, after all the Barbel Specialist Group has faded into the sunset so there are about 150 souls looking for a new group to sort out some quality get togethers for their biannual fix. I hope that the ABF manages to capture a good number of them and sate their needs.

Barbel fishing had altered tremendously over the last ten or fifteen years as has society. This means that information is far more readily available and the mystique of barbel angling has been largely dispelled. As a result there is less dependancy upon groups and societies to help up and coming anglers. Therefore, I doubt very much that the new ABF membership will ever grow much above the low hundreds but hey, what do I know? I hope that it is successful and that it reaches its full potential. There certainly seems to be a lot of good will and energy in the group and the Chairman - Keith Truscott - is just the man to help to steer it through its first year. Thereafter the committee will be democratically elected and, should it ever become necessary, removed. I think that this alone will appeal to a lot of people.

There is one downside to the new group. It will draw comparisons to other existing groups even though they are all different in their make up. I am certain that there will be an element that identify that the new group is largely made up of ex Barbel Society members which may be construed in a negative way - depending on your own view point. Well, my view is simple. The reason for there being so many ex BS members is not the fault of the ABF, it falls squarely upon the shoulders of the BS.

I've put my hat into the ring and will even help out where I can. I am certainly looking forward to getting together with a bunch of like minded anglers at future events. I know a lot of the guys involved and can assure you that it will be a very buoyant atmosphere where all will be made to feel very welcome. I do hope that people don't focus on the negative, let's give the new group a chance to flourish and to establish itself. Hopefully, I will see you at one of their future events.

November 07, 2010

Paddy's pb

I've been on a bit of a mission this weekend. Paddy wanted to come fishing for a few days and I boldly offered to try and steer him towards a personal best. To find any pb in November sounds like a tall order but I had some things going for me, the main one being that Paddy's pb list is pretty lousy. I'm not having a go here, its because Paddy doesn't fish nearly as much as he should do and, when it comes to big fish, his record is pretty average.

Friday didn't happen, Paddy got involved in domestic responsibilities and arrived too late to fish so we had to make do with a brief riverside walk. Come Saturday and due to the mild conditions, we were going to have a crack at some carp. Paddy's still not had a double so we headed for a Shropshire water that is stuffed with fish including plenty of sizable carp.

There was only one other angler on the lake when we arrived and only one other turned up later. We fished hard and had fish bubbling and swirling on the surface all day but the sport was desperately slow. Paddy had one and I had two, added together they may have just formed a double. Oh well, Sunday is pike day.

After a late night -Paddy brought whisky! :-) - we got down to the river and started in a sheltered area at about 9.30. We each cast a smelt (yes Monty, damn the expense ;-) ) and sat back. "Its all about the first thirty minutes when you're piking" I said and I hoped that it would be Paddy that had the action as again, he's not yet had a double figure pike.

I suppose it was twenty minutes or so later that my float bobbed then slid away. The fight was brief but spectacular and I landed a thin pike of about 12lbs or so. The single circle hook was stuck neatly in the scissors and it was very easy to unhook. Even so, I still got 'bit' and bled like heck for ages.

I would put a picture up but Paddy used my phone to capture an image and well, to be honest, he's like a cow with a gun and all I got was a couple of video clips, the second of which lasted eleven minutes, most of which were of the inside of my pocket!

The pike didn't have any friends with it and we decided to try for chub and just maybe, a barbel. I fished a spot that has produced some good chub to me in the past including a number of five pounders but today I didn't get a touch. Paddy fished another crease swim that also produces well especially when there is a bit of water on as there was today. And so it was that, at about 4pm, Paddy rang me to say that despite it not quite being the 'five' he really yearned, he'd had a pb chub of 4.14.

So, not a monster but I can safely say 'mission accomplished'. As we emptied his truck at the end of the day, tired but content, I said that my one angling wish is that one day I have a catch of fish the weight of which is greater than that of the equipment I carry to catch it. Now that would be a result.

November 01, 2010


I appreciate good graffiti. Not all the tagging nonsense on ancient buildings and the like, that's just mindless vandalism. But, if you put a clever quip or comment in the right place then I'm all for it.

Of course there is always the traditional canvas - the back of a dirty van, I've had some chuckles whilst reading these. "I wish my wife was as dirty as this van" made me larf the first time I saw it, although copying another's inspiration is never clever. During the days when "drink a pint of milk a day" was the advertising catch phrase some wag licked his finger and etched "wank a pint of spunk a day" on a lorry - pure quality.

However, in the last couple of weeks I've seen the old standard "Clean Me" on a couple of vans but and it pains me to write this, written as "Clian me" and Clene me"! Lads (and I am certain it is boys), if you can't even spell a word like 'clean' then graffiti is not your strong point, take up stamp collecting or something.

On the subject of graffiti, I do see it as an art form and the more esoteric the better. I can now reveal the reason for Phil Bunyan being called a turtle botherer. Whilst he was working as a carp guide on Gran Canaria he caught - accidentally - a turtle, hooked fair and square in the mouth. Having unhooked the somewhat aggressive little critter, he took a felt tip pen and scrawled "Phil was here" on its back. I love this sort of 'art'. The idea that some other person may happen across that turtle and read it really tickles me.

I've been guilty of leaving the odd literary time bomb in the past but there was one that I wanted to do for absolutely ages and I realised my ambition a couple of years ago.

It all began with Wylie Coyota and his vain attempts to catch the Road Runner. I always liked the idea that you could put a little dish full of seed at the side of the road with, of course, a suitable sign and it would attract the target bird.

So, when I visited the Grand Canyon and drove the beautiful American desert regions of Nevada and Arizona, I came prepared and made a few stops along the way. I just hope that some following travelers appreciated my efforts.

October 18, 2010


I put my back out again last week. Having driven the 800 miles from the South of France to Weobley in one day, I guess it was a strong likelihood that it may go and as I emptied the car the next day - Ow!

I had a prearranged guiding day for Saturday, a father and son duo that came a couple of years ago. I really thought I'd have to cancel but this was " a chance to spend some time with my father as an eightieth birthday gift", so I gritted my teeth (well, took loads of pain killers), and off we went.

The last time they came Kevin, the son, had his first ever river fish - a 10.8 barbel! Whilst Ken, the father, had a 4.8 chub. But this time around I didn't fancy our chances of a barbel. The river has dropped right down after a spate and its got colder. I decided to target the chub and, rather than using pellets like everybuggerelse, I went back to some old school fishing with small cubes of meat with a hint of blue cheese flavouring.

It took a while to get things going but the chub did respond and they shared a catch of fourteen fish with maybe just two of them under 3lbs and the best nudging five. It was a grand day, the banter between father and son was lively and competitive and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

But, that will be my last guiding day. I've had enough for now. The fishing has become a lot harder over the last few years and to be in with a chance of putting the punter on the fish I have to stay in touch with the river. The trouble is, I'm a bit Wye'd out and need to broaden my horizons. So next season I shall do what I should have done a year or two ago and go and fish elsewhere a lot more often.

October 14, 2010


Having contemplated the last couple of weeks I have one or two observations about our nearest neighbours, the French.

I love France and, in the main, I have always found the French to be charming, polite and very helpful. I do not subscribe to the stereotype of an anti British or ignorant race - except for the garaged owners obviously - and I have seen nothing on this trip to alter my view.

However, as an Englishman, should a traveler from a foreign land ask me a question in pigeon English I will immediately slow my speech down and increase the volume, gesture wildly and basically treat them like a retarded child in an attempt to make myself understood. And it usually works. But when a Frenchman starts talking to you, you come out with the old "Je ne comprends pas", then apologetically state "Je suis anglais", in the hope of a little help. Oh no, the just say "Ah English" and prattle on at 100 mph without a pause. One chap stopped for a one sided chat every day for a week. He got very excited when describing something about the French lads fishing downstream but his hand gestures were even different to our own and most of it went over my head. They could have murdered a mermaid for all I knew.

Unless, of course, you do speak a little of the lingo. My menu French can get me by and when I'm in full flow I get very Gallic. The palms come out, the shoulders are shrugged and the bottom lip edges forward, oh yes, when I'm talking French I look like Cantona when he's just been booked. And what happens? The French person invariably starts to converse in English, just to make you look stupid.

So, next time you get Johnny Foreigner stop and ask you the way to the Post Office or whatever, talk to them like you are commentating on the final furlong of the Derby, that'll learn 'em.

And what is it with the flies over there? I rarely suffer with midge or mozzie bites but have come home with about sixty of the itchiest spots I've ever had - the bastards. I blame the EU for no other reason than convenience.

And why can't we buy pate like theirs over here? The crap that our supermarkets doll out is full of preservatives, colouring and is frankly shite when compared to a good, locally made Campagne. That'll be the EU's fault as well.

One last observation - for now. I mentioned in a previous blog about the carp we saw in Spain. Well, I was very careful to get a good look at the fish we had whilst they were underwater. My thirty was a fat little so and so (no comments please) and didn't seem too big as it swam away but Phil's forty also looked somewhat smaller than I expected. Just how big were those Spanish carp? I will have a trip after them one day and hopefully find out.

Anyway, must go - I've got a vat of 'Bite-ease' to rub over me. Hold that mental image you lucky people.

October 12, 2010

France - the long and the short of it

For those of you that don't want to read the full and protracted account, here's the abridged version.

We went to France, I had a big 'un first night, it got stupidly difficult, the car broke, I saw some lovely countryside, Neil eventually had a carp, the swim we'd fished for a week switched on as soon as we left it and the bloke I ran into was unhurt.

Now, for those of you with nothing better to do, here's 2600 words of detail.


There can be nothing more uncertain than foreign travel. Oh yes, we can study maps, plan

your route, select our destination and even read the glorious accounts of previous travelers but this never quite reflects reality. Take the weather for instance and unseasonal cool winds and rain are just waiting to add the buggeration factor to your plans. But I am on a fishing holiday so who cares about a spot of rain – not I, I'm after big fish and I know that they inhabit this section of river because my mate Phil (“easy tiger”) Bunyan caught some about seven years ago, what could possibly go wrong?

Strange isn't it? We arrived after a looong drive and had a quick look at the river. As we got out of the car doing weird Ti Chi movements to reinvigorate the stiff limbs, I noticed a white van follow us down the track and turn off upstream. Hmm?, obviously workers of some sort I thought and dismissed it.

The river looked delicious and full of potential. Phil had described in minute detail the going swim and I'd even spotted the partly sunken tree on Google Earth. Although I was eager to stamp my own authority on the river, a couple of 'easy' fish from a flyer would be a great start to the holiday. We decided to look along the stretch and drove up the track and saw – yes, you've guessed it, two French lads unloading a mountain of gear from the van I saw into the 'best' swim. After all that traveling we were beaten to the swim by a few minutes – incredible.

After much walking and discussion, Neil and I took to the inflatable and went across to explore the features along the far bank. We found a couple more sunken trees in areas that had promise, Neil took first choice and I dropped into a section where the river widened giving me some far bank (that I could bearly reach with my gear) and an inner line just off the main flow.

Camp set for the duration and three rods out, two long casts and one lobbed 35 yards into the inside of the bend with a pva bag of boilies. We had a meal and called it a night.

At just before 2am I woke..... was that a bleep? Yes, there it was again, a single blip on my middle rod. I got out and had a look see. The line was pointing in the wrong direction and I retrieved it, full of weed that was to become a complete nightmare. I put the rod in the rest and decided that the cool night air had provoked a biological response in my kidneys. I popped round the back of the bivvy and was just about to release last nights petite beers when I heard the wonderful sound of a monotone bite alarm from the nearside bait! I was on the rod (the fishing one) in seconds and bent into something that, to be honest, didn't feel that special. I pumped it back towards me and it wallowed and slapped the surface as it came. I was convinced that it was a small catfish for some reason but was more than content with some early action.

Just as it got close it did a bit of a run and made me feel that I was playing a worthy adversary. It was brief and I soon had the fish, that I could barely make out in my old headlight (I found the good one at the bottom of my bag much later), coming towards the waiting net. As I lifted the arms around it I got a look at its size. Oh my goodness, what a lump!

I folded the net around it and secured t with a bankstick. I called Neil on the walkie talkie suggesting he may wish to take a photograph. “How big is it?” he asked, “Certainly a double” I replied with tongue firmly in cheek, and he was soon in my swim. As I lifted it out it became even bigger than I had dared guess. I had mid to upper twenty in mind but Neil took one look and said “That's got to be a thirty!” There were lots of other words being bandied about but they are all unprintable.

30lbs11oz on the scales and I had achieved my carp target on the first night – fantastic! Not only was it a great result but it filled us with a ton of confidence and as I lay wide awake in my bivvy, I was hoping that we would continue to catch, especially Neil, who I really want to get the most from his first fishing holiday.

Who's a clever boy then?

This was written five days after that opening night and it is fair to say that since then, it has become something of a trial. I've had a small barbel, Neil's had two barbel and a chub of about 4lbs

The French lads turned out to be mad keen carp nuts with loads of UK gear and baits but with

a method as continental as the siesta. To avoid the maddening weed that clogged the lines whenever the barrage was open, and that was a lot of the time, they tied their lines to the trees above the swim. The clever bit was in the knot which, you could pull against with the rod but, as if by magic, released when a fish took. That was the theory as, during their stay, they had just one take and it smashed them instantly.

We moved into 'their/Phil's' swim when they left purely due to its previous history, something the French lads knew about and they had traveled a long way to fish. But, apart from one or two heavy rolls at night, there was no sign of a fish.

The weather, that had been pleasant, even hot for a day or two, decided to change and the Sunday saw us hanging on to everything as a gale blew through the area. I hate fishing in a wind and turned in early for a good night's sleep in the gite we had taken for some of the time there. This was a great idea and a curse as it turned out, but it meant I had a good eight hours.

The view from the gite

I collected Nicky from Toulouse next day and we drove through low cloud and rain to the river. “There's a lovely view over there” I offered but all we could see was grey. Back at the gite and Phil (the turtle botherer) and Bunny had arrived. They were also reticent to bivvy up in the rain so we had a drunken evening at the gite with a good meal.

I wanted to take Nicky sight seeing although she was adamant that we should fish. I was hearing none of it and we set off in a car that lurched and coughed then whistled. The Ford garage was owned by a bloke with the disinterest of a Parisian waiter and the patience of a crack addict but his mechanic was very helpful and agreed that it was a leaking pipe which he eventually found. I went back when he was less busy and we effected a (temporary) repair with my duck tape.

Next day was hot and I decided to check out more of the river – er, I mean, take Nicky sight seeing. Neil was at his nadir after so long without a bite and came along. I aimed for St Cirq Lapopie as there was a night fishing area there. What I wasn't prepared for was the majestic beauty of this part of the Lot valley, it is quite simply staggering. We drove on down to Cahors, which seemed only fair as I've drunk enough of their wine in the past. We found a nice place to sit with a drink and people watch, Neil and I found many gorgeous people to watch and would happily have lived there but the Boss was less impressed. I even pointed out the short, fat bloke wearing a thong but it didn't get her going, so we left.

St Cirq Lapopie has the fittest postman in all France

Thursday came, hot and sunny and despite Nicky insisting that we stay and fish, I insisted on a trip to Millau and a look at the new bridge. It was stunning as was the surrounding countryside, sort of a Grand Canyon with trees. Our visit was cut short though. Phil sent me a text with news of a fish. They'd moved just down from us and he had taken his first of the trip which we were eager to witness and photograph – 40lb 8oz! A fantastic fish -the spawny sod!

Spawny Bugger

Nicky went home next day and I settled down to fish the last few days refreshed by my break. However, I couldn't sleep that night. I was driven by an urge to move to a productive area I fished a few years ago so that Neil could hopefully get amongst the fish. As I saw it, we had done nothing wrong, we fished the same way that Phil with the same rigs and baits in a couple of swims that, at times, contain big carp. It was just that whilst we were there, they weren't. We could stay there another week and not catch.

I discussed it with Neil in the early morning and he agreed, we were off. We said our goodbyes to the Bunyans and, as we packed so the they were moving into our swims, I wished them luck but suggested they were wasting their time. We then left ourselves at the mercy of Tom Tom's sense of humour as to what it feels is a 'fastest route'. We eventually arrived on the river Dropt, a tributary of the Dordogne.

I'd fallen out with my bivvy by this time and could not face the wrestling match of erecting it, replacing the joint that keeps separating and even worse, putting the bloody thing back in it's undersized bag. I decided to sleep beneath the stars on my bed chair using nothing more than a bedchair cover. It was lovely looking up at the stars and listening to the night creatures around me, I dropped off into a blissful sleep............... then it rained.

Neil tapped on the car window and I appeared, bleary eyed, to the news that he'd had a mid double at about 3am – brilliant news. It had, however, done a flip and a flop back into the water before he could weigh or photograph it. Ah well, good job it wasn't a thirty.

The rain poured relentlessly and to make matters worse, news came from the poachers – I mean Bunyan's to say that they'd lost one and taken three carp to 23lbs with Bunny having two in fifteen minutes from MY swim! I was genuinely pleased for them but come on, nearly two week's of effort for little bounty and as soon as we leave the fish move in and feed with gay abandon. Fishing can be a very jagged pill to swallow at times.

Sunday was wet, very wet! My rods were at the bottom of three slippery mud steps and I just knew that, were I to get a take, I'd get very wet indeed. But I sat, read or dozed the day away in my bivvy, detached from my rods and not really with my heart in what I was doing. There were other places I wanted to look at but it was all just too late in the holiday. I sat it out, hoping that Neil would get more action as his efforts had deserved much, much more reward.

I awoke on Monday after a night with plenty of bites – all over my arms and body! I'd been feasted upon by blood thirsty beasties and I itched to buggery! Neil, however, had been getting bites of a different kind. During the hours of darkness he had a probable liner, a fish that broke the leadcore (which I had tied – oops!) and a fish that took him all over the place and was undoubtedly very large, only for the hook to pull as it dived for the nearside bushes. I felt absolutely gutted for him. But that's fishing I suppose.

It was still pretty damp and we'd had enough. I did say that we could extend our trip should the mood take us but, after so much heart ache, we both know that it was time to head for home.

I had a last look as we departed, my hateful bivvy sat, alone and empty on the bank with a sign attached telling the first local that finds it “Gratis - Bon Peche”.

The beautiful river Lot


I think that I need to round up the above with some after thoughts. From reading those accounts you would probably feel that I came home in tears but far from it. Yes, we caught very little and, at times, due to the lack of action, the fishing felt detached from the general sunbathing and cheese eating. But I had a wonderful time, I really did.

What would I do differently next time? Well, I booked the gite as a sort of cop out as I didn't want to spend two weeks in a little canvas dome. It was great having the morning three S's under a solid roof but it tied us to an area that was obviously much harder than we had bargained on. Phil (the swim poaching, turtle bothering, “easy tiger” saying bounder) is a carp expert and revels in such difficult waters. I was more than prepared for a fish as infrequent as say – every other day but we found it much, much slower and that's not what we wanted. That a shoal chose to move in as we drove away was just plain cruel but – such is life. I just wish I'd been there to watch Bunny take two fish in fifteen minutes, that would have been really special.

Most of all, I wish that Neil had had just a modicum of luck. I really wanted his rod to bend and I wish (sort of) that the thirty had come to his rod. But there's plenty more trips to come, many more rivers to fish and surely one of those will be trouble free and full of fish.

I really do want to thank Phil for his help and advice before and during the trip, he really is a good angler even if he keeps them all for himself ;-) If you want to know why Phil is a turtle botherer then please ring him on his work number at The Tackle Den 01285 862716, he won't mind.

I'd also like to apologise to HM Government Ministry of Agriculture for the number of possibly invasive species that have accompanied us home. If they are still flying, jumping and chirping their way around my garden when I next visit La Belle France, I shall endeavor to return them from whence they came.

Oh yes, the chap I ran into...... I have nothing more to say on the grounds that I may incriminate myself.

September 27, 2010

Au revoir for now

As you can see, the car's been neatly packed and I'm out 'a here for a couple of weeks.

If I can find a WiFi (anybody know what French for 'WiFi' is?), I may even blog from the banks of the Lot. It will probably be a tale of disaster and disappointment but that's usually the most entertaining isn't it?

Later folks.

September 26, 2010

The Boys part 2

For regular readers to the various barbeller's blogs, there may be something of an overlapping theme in the next few days. It will be interesting to see how the other members of the group recollect events. I, however, drank just three pints over lager over the two nights and have a clear and concise memory. Nuff said ;-)

It would appear that on the first night Conrad, who'd been fishing elsewhere, arrived late at about 11.30 and felt he had some "catching up to do". Conrad, my dear Conrad, did you learn nothing from last year? Apparently not, and he retired to a spinning room very late indeed.

It was the first time in living history that Carl - Birmingham's only optimist - missed his breakfast. Arriving on the top of beat 3 at nearly 12 o'clock, he proceeded to cook his own and put three fat sausages in his frying pan to simmer whilst he had a quick look at the river. Returning to find three little black pieces of charcoal smoking on the stove he had to start again but made an excellent job of an el fresco full English.

Meanwhile, the river had dropped a foot or so and was looking particularly inviting. I left Carl munching on his brunch and dropped a piece of meat into a likely looking spot and had an immediate bite. The strike saw me leaning against an unstoppable force that powered out into the main flow. I called Carl to give me a hand as the bank was steep and slippery and I figured a cold dip would benefit Carl more then me. The reason for the great power was soon revealed as a five pounder rolled to reveal the hook stuck neatly in between its pectorals. Ah well, I did have a bite so I'll sort of count it.

I then walked the bank to see how the rest were fairing. It was patchy but Scotty had a few small ones, Tony the swim stealing blaggard, was in 'my' spot and went on to land four barbel, some chub and even a couple of dace - lip hooked on bis size 8 with a pellet! A man of many talents is our Tone.

Some notable spots failed to produce a bite despite the prolonged efforts of the two Steve's and Paul's dad who's name I can never remember. Des and Martin fished hard but, for Des especially, the Wye is proving a difficult nut to crack and his only bite became a lost fish when his hooklink failed. I swear his bottom lip quivered when he recalled the tail. Never mind mate, you'll come good next year - probably. ;-)

Hobby, the Ninja barbeller, was tucked down a bank and under a tree - Rambo fishing. It didn't work but he looked the part. Mike Joyce had a cracking eight pounder that led him a right old dance. It was a mint fish and he was well chuffed with it. Richard also had an eight but that was how many inches from tip to tail and Paul had a couple, one first thing then one at last knockings.

Conrad had one and lost one, Ian and his boy had a bunch of chub and I think that was about it.

One highlight was Ol' Trussers turning up on Saturday afternoon. It was great to see the old bugger again and he set about his first trip for a while with his usual enthusiasm. I fished for another half hour then packed and went for a chat with Keith. We talked about all sorts including the otter problem. I bade my farewells and had no longer left that field when an otter swam through his swim and resurfaced with a fish in its mouth. Apparently that was my fault and the reason he blanked.

I stayed in the bar until midnight, negotiating a free, twelve month lease of Tony's Spanish mansion which, knowing Tony, he will of forgotten about in the morning but I think you'll find is legally binding :-)

And so ended another Boys Weekend, roll on September '11

September 25, 2010

The Boys are Back

Its that time of year when the dregs of society make their annual pilgrimage to pay homage at the alter of the Red Lion cathedral. Yes its fish-in time folks and yesterday the happy band rolled into town full of optimism and thirsty for local ales.

I used to run these do's once or twice a year and its fair to say that many friendships were born through the excesses of our endeavors. Nowadays the protagonists organise their own gatherings and I love to join in and catch up with them.

I very clearly remember my first meeting with a fresh faced Carl Salter, beaming from ear to ear after catching his first Wye barbel, a nine pounder no less. Little did I know then what a legend stood before me. I could tell you some tales but a, I don't have the time b, you wouldn't believe half of it and c, any mention of some of his antics would set alarm bells ringing in the police station, MI5 HQ or with Mrs Salter. Maybe another time eh? ;-)

Two Canes and Scotty have been regular stalwarts. Scotty's only ever completed one spectacular dive into the river but we always hope for a repeat performance and Tony just sits, quietly fishing and usually comes up with a good 'un or two. Oh, and he drinks Tia Maria when he's pissed but doesn't like me telling people ;-)

Hobby fishes hard and now that Eel fisher sits next to him, there seems to be a constant competition to keep them motivated. That works well as long as the competition is not to try and out drink Carl - we all know how that little escapade ended don't we boys :-) Hobby caught an eel yesterday which made Steve Richardson get all moist and emotional. Pictures were taken and I think one of them may have kissed the beastie which was all of 10" long!

For legal reasons I will not list them all but we have a full compliment and today is the day when everybody wants to catch something so that they can all relax in the bar this evening. I'm going to have a go and try to show how its done but yesterday, despite a river that looked in top condition, I had my first Wye blank of the season - not a sniff.

September 21, 2010


I don't do 'busy' very often. Its one of the benefits of retirement and a quiet life - and being lazy. However, things have been quite hectic of late and I'm feeling a tad frazzled today.

It all focused around my new car initially. I changed the XTrail for a Peugeot 307 estate, very nice it was too, for a day. Then the engine management light came on and the passenger footwell filled up with water when driving in the rain. "No problem" said the garage and they set about sorting it all out. Well, four weeks later and the car having three stays at their garage totaling two weeks and still it wasn't fixed.

I got my money back but lost the cost of the extended warranty I bought - not happy.

So there I am, a week to go before I do a couple of thousand miles across France, a busy week ahead with guiding commitments etc and no car! A frantic search on Autotrader, a couple of cars viewed and I'm now the proud owner of a Mondeo estate. Fingers crossed it lasts longer than the piece of French crap.

The guiding was with a couple of regulars one of which, Anthony, was a good friend of Hugh Falkus and was bequeathed his section of the Cumberland Esk. He's a very affable bloke who's a barrister and professional cellist. His brother, Paul, is a dentist but they both spend most of the day talking about women. Its always amused me that no matter who you are or from what social background you come, put two or three guys together on a river bank and the banter and humour is the same.

The river's fishing well under par for this time of the year. They had a decent barbel each and a few chub on day one. The next day I took them to one of my 'bankers' - off piste as it were. Its a swim that should have been groaning under the weight of all the barbel but we didn't get a touch. A quick dash to another spot and a good chub and an nice barbel sent them home happy but it was hard work. It turned out that we were the only people on the fishery to have barbel on the first day.

I hope that it picks up by the weekend as there's the big annual piss-up come fish-in when the Northern boys under the organisation of Biker Boy Rocca and the Midlanders rallied by mountain walker Carl (who's nicked my identity) Salter descend on Bredwardine and much merriment ensues. Its always a great do, I just hope that the fish oblige.

I've also been putting the last few items together for my France trip, I can't possibly have forgotten anything can I? I just hope that if I have its something I can get over there.

September 13, 2010


I've not read the book of etiquette but I do know that there are particular rules and protocols for certain social meetings. For example; when greeted with "How do you do" the correct repost is to also say "How do you do". So, what is the correct greeting when you share pleasantries with two men in a canoe - that are stark bollock naked?

This happened whilst I guided a group at Middle Hill Court the other day, it really is a tad unexpected in this country. I was actually spared the full frontal as I was walking between swims and only saw their heads as they passed, my guests however, were all put off their sausage and boiled spuds for a day or two.

It was a good few days in the company of four anglers that I've guided now for some five years. They even had polo shirts made with a logo of the 'Wye Botherers Five Year Anniversary' on it and a Kelly Kettle in the middle. They even presented me with one, which was really good of them.

The Kelly Kettle is a standing joke. Each year Pete takes care of lighting and feeding the KK with enough wood to roast a pig! I think he's a frustrated steam train driver or stoker maybe. I always engage in a race to boil the water and put my little gas burner on and usually win. This year Pete had already started the fire before I got my stove out of the car. I then had to change the gas bottle and it was still a dead heat that Pete claimed was his victory by a second. Come on man, admit it, Kelly Kettles are crap.

Nice fish Pete, now put the kettle on

The fishing was a bit iffy, they all had barbel and Pete had five with another lost one day. But, like the rest of this year, the river is being fickle and although the river rose a bit on the second day, it didn't 'switch on'.

As I type, Neil has just returned from a short trip. The river is holding a couple of feet of extra water and the conditions looked spot on yesterday and today but the fish seem to have other ideas and he only had chub. I dare say things will pick up in a day or two as there is a big spate on the way.

September 06, 2010


I seem to be able to 'give' barbel to all and sundry but not catch them myself. Its a phase I'm enduring but one which is growing a tad tiresome.

I had a few hours the other evening, sat in one of my favoured swims where a number of chub is all but guaranteed and a couple of barbel are usually on the cards. As I set up a couple of visiting anglers appeared at my shoulder bemoaning their lack of success. I chatted about the swim they had chosen and offered a few words of advice. Two minutes after making the first cast I was reeling in a chub which seemed to impress them both and they returned to their peg with renewed enthusiasm.

After returning six chub but no barbel, I went to the pub where one of the anglers I'd spoken to bought me a beer. He'd returned to his swim, put one or two bits of my advice into play and had two chub and a barbel in three chucks! Of course, the rest he'd given his swim could have been the deciding factor but he was happy.

Yesterday I decided I wanted a barbel but on arriving at the river found all of my preferred pegs inhabited. I could have loaded up and gone for a long walk but I was feeling lazy, so I had a chat with a mate and announced that I would extract a chub from a fallen tree swim just upstream from him.

I parked on the bank above the swim, lobbed half a dozen 10mm boilies in and set up my 9' cane stalker rod. That done I lobbed four more boilies in and set off down the bank carefully..... though not carefully enough. I found myself sliding on my left heel with my right leg sticking out as a counter weight whilst I grabbed wildly at anything remotely likely to slow my progress towards the drink. I came to a shaky, relieved halt at the water's edge and regained my composure and tackle. Of course, the bag of boilies had come open and my precious bait was buried in dense grass which turned out to be the resting place for a number of enormous, sticky slugs.

Fortunately my actions had gone unobserved and I was soon teetering on the bank with a fallen branch in front of me and a willow tree leaning across the river. A couple more freebies went in followed by my bait which I lobbed beyond the swim then wound back and lowered into the chosen spot. Five seconds later the line tightened and I hit a spirited chub which was soon bullied into the net.

I moved downstream and noticed that the guys fishing the swim I'd been in the other day were, unsurprisingly, the one's that had spoken to me. They and their two mates were all fishing close together and had taken a number of chub and several barbel. Where were they when I fished there?

I had another chub from a cattle drink swim which I abandoned when the cattle got thirsty and started chasing the dog all over the fishery. I returned to the tree swim, repeated the previous scenario but without the ballet dancing and had another chub, again within a few seconds of the bait hitting bottom.

Chub? Chub are dead easy. Barbel? I can give people barbel any day of the week, I just can't catch them myself.

Ah well, I'm guiding for the next three days. I'll be down around Ross so there should be plenty of action......... unless I have a cast that is.

August 29, 2010

The Burr family did the Bank Holiday thing of having a day out yesterday, we went to the Evesham Festival. Okay, two of us enjoyed it more that the third but democracy and all that. Anyway, Nicky wants me to take her to the jousting on Monday - jousting! I ask you.

I love going to fishing do's, the only thing I miss about the BS is the annual get together and catching up with so many people. But this is a match fishing do and I didn't see anybody I know. It did allow itself to some people watching though. You know what I mean, sniggering at the guys who turn up to shop dressed from head to foot in Realtree and the hapless wives, loaded down with newly bought gear whilst hubby wanders in front of her carrying nothing more than a fag.

We sat and had a coffee just watching the world go by. I was aware of a PA system announcing really gripping commentary such as "I've just been told that Harry Ramsden on peg 9 has just had a bream of about 2lbs, that put him on about 3lbs...." Fascinating stuff. There was then an interview with the town's Mayor. It was at this point that I realised they were sat on a stage behind me (observant or what?), I looked around at the other people chatting, drinking and generally oblivious and not one person was paying any attention to them. I guess being Mayor just doesn't count as celebrity.

I spent a few bob, you know, bits and pieces. There were a few bargains on offer but lots of crap amongst it. The stand giving carp advise was quiet, so quiet they'd had time to fashion a bait of a couple of small pop-ups and a section of foam to make a 'naughty rig'.

Top product on sale was a set of 5 of those T shaped bivvy pegs that screw in, in a smart bag along with a mallet! Hammering in screws - obviously aimed at the Brummy anglers.

August 27, 2010


September is looming and there goes another summer. I can't remember the last summer when I fished less! Actually, I can. It was in the 80's and I couldn't get interested in my usual haunts so I turned to fly fishing. My good mate Chris Newton was delighted as he'd been fluff chucking for a good few years and was eager to teach me the ways of the fur and feather brigade. D'you know what? I did little else for about four years until I got bored to death with catching trout after bloody trout. I gravitated back to my roots and eventually rediscovered barbel.

So here I am, drifting along and looking for inspiration. It will come soon I am certain, I just don't know what it will involve but carp, perch and roach will figure of that I am sure.

My last few trips have been casual affairs. Neil and I decided to have a carp day to try out some rigs and to get our minds on the species as we prepare for our trip. We went to what is know as a 'runs water'. A nice sized pool in Shropshire which you can fish on a day ticket of just a fiver. I lobbed out a method feeder and a second rod with pva bag. Neil fished with two pva set-ups, casting one close to my method rig - the rascal.

It was strange result. I had ten carp to about ten pounds albeit most were much smaller. I also dropped a few probably because the bigger fish had ragged mouths which I hate to see and means (I won't go there again), but as I said, it was not a serious expedition. Despite poaching my swim, Neil couldn't buy a bite and moved to an area vacated by a lad who'd been getting plenty of action. He had one run and missed it. In fact, his only fish came on my second rod which roared off as I landed my largest fish.

We had been using similar rigs and the same bait, why did I catch and Neil didn't? Well, obviously I'm much better than him ;-) but even so. Funny thing fishing, I've sat fly fishing next to a guy in a boat and have caught six to his none. Again, similar set-ups etc but very different results. Tench fishing is renowned for one-sided results when two anglers share a swim. I've also been on the other side of a spanking - but I don't want to talk about that.


I was guiding yesterday, in the rain with a rising, cold river. The Wye can be a fickle miss when the river is rising but we managed to winkle out a few barbel to ten pounds and plenty of chub until mid afternoon when the river switched off and sulked. One chap hooked and lost at the net, a very good fish which broke his hooklink just above the hook. He took it very well and said that he had enjoyed the experience.

I spent most of the day with Mark who has fished for many exotic species in far flung places but who had little concept of coarse angling. He hit what was obviously a decent chub and just let it run and run, well that's what you do with a dorado off a boat. Alas, my urgent request for him to bend the 'kin rod and give the fish some 'kin stick, fell on deaf ears and the fish was lost in a sunken tree. We got our hook back though so no harm done.

We had a chat about it and I left him and his tightened clutch to it as I went to check on the others. I returned to see a long faced angler who had done as I said but the second fish had also found refuse and was lost. This one was probably a barbel and it didn't do the swim any good and Mark had to settle with a few small chub.

I popped down this morning to put a couple of the party into some 'goer' swims then grabbed a couple of hours at one of my favoured spots (one that I don't show many people), and had a barbel and a couple of good chub quite quickly. Satisfied, I went home having dumped a load of bait into the swim knowing that The Boy would be down to try his luck later. Its a swim that has given him a couple of eleven's and a ten pounder in the past so I hope the phone rings this evening for me me to go and do a number with the camera.

August 20, 2010

Crisis Meeting

No, nothing to do with the sinking ship. I'm talking about me having a bit of a chat with myself.

A rather large penny dropped in my world and I have come to a conclusion or two about me and my physical condition. It has occurred to me that I may not be in quite such good shape as I used to be. Time was, when I was working on a particular section in the job, that I had three monthly physical tests. These involved either a mile run in under six minutes or the dreaded bleep test, having to attain level ten.

This was followed a couple of minutes later with fifty press ups, fifty sit ups, the fifty bench dips. I used to do this quite easily - bloody racing snake weren't I.

That seems rather a long time ago and poor health and a lack of energy - not to mention will power - have left this Adonis physique a tad on the soft side. I get out of breath opening the post!

That is why I am typing this whilst breathing hard and moist with perspiration. I've just been wobbling about on a white plastic board connected to a Wii. I never thought I would stoop to this level but my sister has been going on about the damned Wii for ages and I have to admit, it has suitably demonstrated my pathetic physical state.

What next, aerobics classes? Nah, can't see me in leotards somehow. But I am going to try and keep it up.

I've also grown tired of chugging about in a bloody 4x4 so I've chopped it in for an estate which may or may not be a mistake, its rained constantly since I picked it up. Anyway, no more driving to the back of my swim every time, I'll have to walk a bit.

Look out world, a buff Burr is just around the corner.

August 12, 2010


No need for words, just some pictures of us taking the neighbour's kids to the river for their first taste of fishing.

Silver and Gold

A change of pace last evening. Instead of the flowing Wye I spent a couple of hours float fishing on my local carp pool.

When I got there I met the resident carp angler. He rolled up in his Transit about a month ago, set up his bivvies (note plural), plus his toilet tent, TV aerial etc. He's been fishing solidly since apart from a weekly return to Brum to scrape the dirt off and pay the bills. He has caught just 12 carp in that time and I quote, "I think they've wised up to me now". Yet, he seems to have no intention of moving swims! He also said that he would stay there "until the weather got cold". Bloody hell! Is it worth it I ask myself? Living next to the water and waiting for a fish to get so bored with life that it gives itself up.

I decided to ignore the carp. The lake is so weedy it would be difficult to bring a fish in without really cramming the pressure on and I gave up my last syndicate because of the number of parrot nosed carp in there. No, I was fishing for roach and rudd (as it turned out) and had a lovely time doing it.

Its funny, when I was a young 'un, I used to fish with the lightest float I could get away with, this was the way it was done back then - sensitivity was everything. Now I use the heaviest float I can get away with and, of course, correctly shotted they are still ultra sensitive. Another factor is the size of the float as my eyes are no longer up to looking at something the size of a match head at twenty yards. To be honest, I could have use a pike bung, those fish just tore off with the bait as soon as it hit the water. Rudd after rudd, along with a few hybrids, came seconds after each cast. I played with the shotting and got the bait to sink through them. Whenever the bait reached its position just off bottom, the bite would take a little longer to come but would usually come from a roach, although a few perch put in an appearance as well.

I don't know how many fish I caught, it doesn't matter. None of them was big, up to about 10 or 12 ounces I suppose but a very pleasant way to spend an evening. It does however show that when I choose to try for the bigger roach that inhabit here, I will have to think hard about tactics so that I can avoid the hoards of rudd and also the inevitable carp which would cause havoc on light gear. Hmmm? I'll work on that one.

August 11, 2010

Nicky and The Boy were coming back from town yesterday. Neil was in the driving seat of Nicky's aging Celica soft top that rattles and leaks but which is great fun to drive. Suddenly, something swooped low out of the hedge and in a flurry of feathers, was gone.

On getting home we checked the front of the car for signs of damage and the identity of the bird as Nick suspected it was a raptor of some sort. Imagine the surprise to find a young female kestrel, still alive, in the air duct by the front bumper!

We contacted a local and rather eccentric, lady who rears owls and rescues raptors. She was around in minutes but to no avail. Unfortunately the bird's back was broken and she took it to the vet to be put down. That it survived the collision at all was miraculous, but to see such a beautiful bird looking so helpless is always sad. The only saving grace was that it was one of this year's chicks so there was no nest full of offspring left to starve.

This was followed by another trip to the dentist and another afternoon of popping pain killers. I think I'll have 'em all out and some falsies put in.

The evening was much better. We went to the NIA in Birmingham and after a warm up act of Stewart Francis, the Canadian guy that does dry one liners, you will have seen him on Mock The Week. We then were treated to some brilliant humour from Ricky Gervais.

We've been to loads of comedy gigs over the years but I don't think I have laughed as hard or as long as I did last night, it was excellent. If you ever get the opportunity to go and see him then jump at it. Or, just buy the tickets then put them on ebay, they were fetching stupid money!

On the fishing front, I've been out for a couple of very short trips over the weekend and had the odd barbel and obligatory chub. Today I'm off to the carp pool for a spot of roach fishing armed with a couple of pints of maggots, some hemp and a few tares.

August 07, 2010

A fish lost

Not mine, I had yet more chub one of which took me into a sunken branch. The subsequent paddle to retrieve it reduced my enthusiasm somewhat so I finished ahead of my planned time and I squelched back home.

It was a nice fish, over four pounds but one that should have gone much bigger. There have been quite a few like it this season, the head of a five or six but with the body of a tadpole.

The fish that was lost was Neil's. He appeared behind me with a face that I at first thought meant he had broken his beloved cane rod. But no, he had lost a big barbel at the net. A fish that was undoubtably an eleven, probably a twelve........... maybe even bigger.

The circumstances of the loss were due largely to Neil using my old Mitchell 410. I had told him at length that old reels were ornaments not tackle but he wanted to get one on it and it bit him in the bum.

There is nothing you can say to console someone who has lost a big fish. The sensation of loss, sickness and despair is familiar to all of us yet, I've always said that its the fish we lose or fail to catch that bring us back to the river. After a period of hurt the Boy will be back and will fish with a renewed sense of determination and hopefully, he will meet that fish again.

August 06, 2010

The Season So Far

Well here we are in August and I can only remember putting one river fish on the scales. That's not much of a result is it? Trouble is, I'm not really too worried about it.

I can't remember a season like this, the fish just don't seem to be playing ball. Sure, if I was to spend all of the day sat staring at a couple of rod tips, I could probably bore a few fish out but that doesn't appeal to me at the moment. I like to fish short sessions and can usually have a fish or two for my efforts, but not of late - apart from chub that is. I don't mind. I like to catch decent chub and there's plenty of them about but a few barbel would pep things up.

Its not because I've lost the little bit of talent I had though, well, I hope not. Others are finding the same situation, there are obviously less fish about. However, I spoke to Tommo the other day and he's been catching near Hereford. Well, if Tommo can catch - anybody can catch, so there must be loads of fish there ( I think I may get a response to that last sentence). Paul Ashton has come to the same conclusion as me, the barbel are on their holidays, we just hope they will come back soon.

I had a dabble in the week and took some nice chub which put a considerable bend in Bunny's rod. Then Neil and I gave Knightwick a try on the Talbot section. If ever there was a place to demonstrate the lack of Teme fish then this is it. What was previously a prolific stretch is way down on barbel numbers. I had a couple of small barbel feeding in some shallow water but missed the only pull - which I suspect came from a small chub, and Neil had a five pounder after cutting his way into a good looking spot. Other than that it was pants! But a pint of This, the locally brewed ale at the Talbot, made us both feel better. But I had to record my first blank of the season.

I spent most of yesterday with a frozen face after a prolonged mining expedition by the dentist. I did tell him that a capped tooth was giving me right ol' gip but he didn't believe it. He does now because having taken the top of it off, he's found dodgy roots that he then dug out with what looked like a thin baiting needle. I'm back next week for a filling in another tooth then back in a few weeks for the root job to be finished. I hate the bloody dentists and am not looking forward to any of it. The only saving grace is that it is an NHS surgery so my pocket won't suffer too badly.

Looking outside its grey and windy, I think I'll have an early tea and fish for the evening, maybe even staying until it gets dark as opposed to capitulating as the watch reaches 'beer o'clock'. Hopefully, I'll have something of substance to write about tomorrow.

August 05, 2010

Topical Comment

There has been much discussion over the last week or so about a certain group of barbel enthusiasts. Tunes have been downloaded that, in some way, reflect the issue of the day and many have made me chuckle. I thank Monty Dalrymple for all of his efforts to bring humour to this turgid world of ours.

Anyway, here's my five penneth worth, sung by that great countryman and angler Bernard Cribbins who prophetically penned this ditty many moons ago.

August 02, 2010

July 30, 2010

The Brummie's done it!

Big respect goes out to the only optimistic Brummy I've ever met - Carl Salter.

At 5 pm yesterday he set off to climb Ben Nevis. At 3.30 this morning he did Scafell Pike and this afternoon, despite feeling "completely bolloxed", he completed the Three Peak Challenge by climbing Mount Snowdon. The job was done in 22 hours and 3 minutes.

For a fat little bald bloke that is quite an accomplishment and I have nothing but respect for his efforts, the training even involved him cutting back on the beer for goodness sake! Although, he may catch up on some lost time this evening.

Any of you that have met Carl will know what a lovely bloke he is. He has done this in aid of the Living Angels Charity to raise money for ST Giles Hospice in Lichfield. This being the hospice that a close family friend stayed in before her untimely death from cancer last year.

I suggested that next week he should try again to get his time below 22 hours but he mentioned something about a duck cloth or similar, I'm not sure, it was a bad line.

Anyway, Carl I'm proud of you mate - top man.
Carl in training

Anybody wishing to send him a congratulations of organise a donation, his email is

More about wood

I've mentioned it before that Andy Sliwa made a rod for my son Neil but he's also been renovating another rod for me. The rod in question was made many moons ago by my old mate Bunny Bunyan from a DIY kit out of a Bruce and Walker blank.

The Mk iv carp rod was de rigueur back in the day and as Bunny saw himself as a latter day Dick Walker, he just had to have one. It was well made too although I doubt that it ever saw a fish anywhere near the size of Clarissa. Anyway, having spoken about wooden rods to Bunny he graciously gave the rod to me. I didn't use it for a while although Neil had some nice chub on it, but when I did, I caught an unexpected perch but no barbel.

Then I decided to try a spot where I felt I would at last test the rod on a decent fish, but failed to get a bite. I lovingly packed everything away but when I next looked at the rod it was damaged. I was mortified. To use something as personal as a cane rod is a genuine treat but the responsibility is always to cherish it. Yet here I was, looking at a rod that had a peculiar piece of damage where the top layer of cane near the tip had lifted and split. It was not done by knocking it and when I asked a couple of rod builders for their opinions, it was the general consensus that either some glue had failed or it was due to the conditions (Bunny's loft) where it had been stored.

I didn't feel any better.

Bunny was very understanding as he had no intention of ever using the rod again. He said that I should glue it up and hang it on a wall. But that was not right; A damaged rod is no use to anybody, I decided to get it repaired. But then, if I had a new top section made it would not be 'Bunny's' rod. Enter Andy Sliwa.

Andy had a look at it and decided that he could repair it and it would still be usable. I had visions of a built up repaired section or of a rod whipped and bound like a broken leg but he set about it and asked if I wanted the whole rod refurbished. In for a penny.... he went ahead.

Yesterday I met up with Andy on the Red Lion section. Part of the deal when he made Neil's rod was that he would have a couple of days here with me, unfortunately I couldn't be with him on Wednesday but yesterday we got it together.

He produced the rod and I was staggered! I thought that he had put Bunny's handle onto a new rod but he insists that its the same one and the mend is quite invisible. It looks absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to put a bend in it. This guy has some talent, if your old cane rods are looking a bit sad then he's the man to contact.

a rod reborn

As for the fishing, well we tried a spot that, although lovely to look at, did not produce a bite. So we headed for another beat and I learned that Andy's fishing has not been too successful so far this season and he hadn't landed a barbel so far. Also, he'd never had more than one barbel in a day, due mainly to low stock density on his home section of river. I really wanted to get him a fish or two.

In the chosen swim I droppered a load of hemp and suggested he fish hemp in the feeder with a 10mm pineapple on the hook. I had to pop into Hay for a an hour but returned to find a happy angler who'd had a nice chub and a barbel of about seven pounds. Excellent.

We stuck at it and when Andy's rod (a carbon rod by the way), bent around, he hit into a heavy fish that staid deep and gave a really good account of itself. Safely in the net it went nine pounds exactly. Andy was doing cartwheels down the bank and I felt that I had, in some small way, given back some of the pleasure that his rod building has given me.
Andy looks happy with his fish

Alas, the river switched off during the evening and only a chub was added to the catch. Neil was fishing elsewhere and his chub, that had been biting freely earlier, stopped feeding just at the time you would expect them to come on and have a go. Not to worry, Andy went home happy and will no doubt be back again.

He did give me one more little gem. For the ultimate bamboo tart (I am well short of that by the way) he has made some split cane handled baiting needles. Mine will probably never see the river because I lose things way too easily. But for those who appreciate wood, take a look at the picture and drool. Although I rather suspect that the likes of ol' Twocanes himself will claim, through gritted teeth, "well, I don't use boilies anyway". I know you're jealous Rocca, eat yer heart out ;-)