June 29, 2010

Martin's manhood

My old mucker Martin Allen is working away from home in Liverpool at the moment. Just the thought of Dagenham's finest in the land of the Scouser makes me smile at the endless possible conflicts that it could raise. But it was someone else's fault that Martin's latest catastrophe occurred.

Stopping in the Travelodge, he was given a small room and was told that 'if it is too hot we will move you'. The question is, why put him in a 'hot' room in the first place. Anyway, returning to his boudoir Martin finds that it is hotter than the sun and opens the window the entire three inches it is allowed to open what with it being in the land of the opportunist.

Still sweltering he takes a cold shower and is happily laying - stark bollock naked - on the bed with his laptop on his chest, legs wide open to get a draft on his tackle when the door opens and an older couple stand looking at a little blob of white flesh. They had been given the same room by the receptionist.

It takes more than a woman seeing Martins pride and joy to faze him but he was concerned that the lady in question may have been upset and he passed on those thoughts to the management.

He was also quite relieved that they had not entered his room a few minutes later as he was about to don the headphones, look up his favourite site and have a personal moment - if you catch my drift ;-)

June 27, 2010

Same old England

Well I think that Germany did us a favour.

If we'd got through and met the Argies with a defence playing like that, I think the score would have gone into double figures.

Bloody appalling display.

Fabio will get his P45 in the next week or two and we will be back to square one. All together now "48 years years of hurt.............."

June 26, 2010

More chub and snakes

Dare I say it? But I really do think that the river needs a drop of rain. The bright conditions and low levels are making the fishing a bit of a struggle, well the barbel fishing that is. Not to worry, it just means trying a bit harder and maybe thinking outside the box.
I've just got back from the river and yes, it was difficult. But I walked a section I rarely fish and found a couple of small barbel 'flashing' in some shallow water near my bank. I tried all sorts to get them feeding and they picked a few of my samples off but, as I'd only a limited bait choice with me, it didn't stimulate them into getting their heads down. I should have prepared some hemp and maybe gone to town and bought some maggots. That's the trouble with off the cuff sessions, I decide I fancy a fish, jump in the car and twenty minutes later I'm there. All well and dandy but it does limit the amount of preparation that, at times,
 can make all the difference to your results.
Canoes started appearing, the great Hay On Wye to Bredwardine water fight! So I gave up but had to stop on my way out of the field to repaint a couple of signs. I had a look at the river near one of them and saw some bow waves in the shallows. I took a closer look and saw some chub heading for the far side. I had a bit of a look around and found some more under an overhanging tree in a slightly deeper run. I was wearing shorts and sandals so a bit of paddling was called for. I threaded the rod again and tied a size 10 direct to the line before heading for a bar in mid river where I could cast back into the bankside run. I got distracted for a while, turning stones looking for bullheads and loach, like you do. Then I had a few minutes running a pellet through on a rig weighted with modeling clay and I had a modest chub. It saved a blank and was an enjoyable paddle.
A couple of days ago I sat behind Neil as he demonstrated his affinity with his cane rod. Despite the back pains, I was blissfully content as I sat on a rock with a beautiful stretch of fast water passing me, peregrine falcons overhead and watching my son demonstrate a great degree of skill in using a stick and pin. The fish were proving a little harder to tempt than when I last fished this spot but he had a good chub before passing the rod to me. After a bird's nest or two I got the hang of his reel and the bait landed on the money. My chub was probably four pounds and felt brilliant on the new rod.
A lovely session that was enhanced by the appearance of a tiny grass snake that tried to crawl up Neil's leg. Some days are just that little bit special and this was a short but memorable session that will stay with me for a long, long time.

June 24, 2010

Wednesday wasn't such a bad day really. England won, the Boy came home from college and we went fishing. Oh yes, my back was starting to feel easier as well and the garden's been done in my absence ;-) Win, win all around.

I did laugh at the joke doing the rounds before yesterday's game. When asked if they were going 4,4,2 Capello said "No, we are going 747, they are bigger and you get more leg room".

I found the game frustrating. There were little glimpses of a side that knew what they were doing but for most of the time it was a fairly dire affair. Okay, we created a handful of chances but this was the equivalent of Chelsea v Plymouth, would anybody claim a scrappy 1-0 as a great result then?

The National side has much improving to do before Sunday or its all over. Some teams gel and improve as competitions progress, fingers crossed and all that but I may yet have a slightly soiled flag for sale come Monday.

Since I last wrote about the fishing it has been chub all the way. The river is full of chub, always has been but this year there seems to be a large number of chublets and fish between one and two pounds which is great news for the future. In these days where rivers are suffering poor recruitment it is pleasing to see such a healthy population.

I haven't seen much in the way of cormorants of late, I'm not sure where they have got to but I'm certain that some will find their way back to us. Talking of birds, I have seen a couple of kingfishers but the numbers are evidently well down no doubt due to the harsh winter. Let's hope they have a successful breeding year and that we don't get floods that may wash their nests out.

So for the next few days I'll be gingerly picking my way along the banks of the Wye, dropping a bait in here or there and a trip to the carp pool is definitely on the cards. Sheer hell.

June 22, 2010

Bless You

Looking Down

I'm incapacitated at the moment - done me back in! Groan.

How did this occur I can hear you cry? I sneezed. Yes, one single sneeze and I am bent over in agony. Its happened to me before albeit a different part of the back, but an early morning atishoo saw me hurting and miserable for a while.

The only up side to this bout of pain is that it coincided with The Boss having a mass gardening session that was supposed to include yours truly. More than coincidence she reckons.

Looking Up

I watched an interesting program about clouds last night. Gavin Pretnor-Pinne has formed a Cloud Appreciation Society for those people (like me) who spend a lot of their day just enjoying the spectacle that the sky has on offer. We are lucky in that our front room window faces west and, as the Welsh Mountains throw up some spectacular cloud formations, we are given some wonderful sunsets. In fact we watched a brilliant display of colour and form as the program played on TV.

Touch legering is more than a method to put you in direct contact with the fish. It also allows you to take time out to look around you and enjoy what is on offer. A quote from my diary of a couple of summers ago read "I was looking for fish in the clouds but saw only a cat and an owl. I was jerked from my revery by the urgent pull of a barbel....."

There is a big difference between having your head in the clouds and enjoying their form. Take a few minutes out and enjoy the sky, it is the greatest free show on - or just above - the Earth.
You may even see something quite rare such as this...

June 19, 2010

So how many of you watching the game last night thought 'what we need to spark life into this side is to change from Aaron Lennon on the wing to Shaun Right Phillips?'

What a pile of disorganised, dispirited, hopelessness. Is there something they feed England managers at World Cups that makes them loose their minds? Why would they always be so intent on hammering round pegs into square holes?

Whatever Capello is doing behind the scenes it isn't working. David James apart, the side looked like ten minutes before kick off they'd been told their mother had died. It was quite probably the worst England performance ever!

What is worse is that I put a bloody great big flag on my garage door just before kick off.

Anybody want to buy a flag?

June 18, 2010

A Stolen Hour

Its alway a pleasure to see something new especially when I'm fishing. Down at the river Nicky and I were watching what we thought was a mink working its way along a gravel beach on the far bank. When it swam over towards us I was convinced that it was obviously a mink but how surprised were we to see a squirrel emerge from the water. I've never seen one swimming before and quite what it was looking for at the water's edge is a mystery.

Sometimes its the odd stolen hour that produces the most memorable trips.

I had to pop down to the fishery and cut a couple of swims. The Boss came with me as she loves to walk by this particular section of the river - not to help with the heavy work though. We had a quick look at the shallows and a few baits brought the chub into view. One barbel flashed in the rapid, that was enough for me, but I had work to do first. Due to the area being protected I had to walk down to the end of the beat to cut one swim. Rather than carry my petrol strimmer, I slung the slasher over my shoulder and set off. It was hot, sweaty work and the stinging nettles were hell bent on getting me but I was soon back at the shallows.

I set up my 9' cane 'Stalker' rod. I've not had a fish on it before but it really is the most beautiful object and shone like amber in the sunlight. I matched it with a fixed spool reel and a lump of modeling clay for a weight as the bottom is full of rocks and a lead would be certain to snag. I like to use paste when fishing like this but had to make do with a Meat Extract boilie on a short hair. They are very meaty these boilies and smell like roadkill! Chub and barbel love 'em.

On with the waders and I was soon down the bank and bouncing the bait through the fast water. Nothing came to a moving bait but by letting it get hung up on a stone or whatever, I had a few bites. I packed up probably less than an hour later having caught two chub and a barbel of about 6 or 7 pounds. As I landed that barbel a peregrine falcon flew noisily overhead which was a great way of heralding my first of the season.

A lovely way to snatch a few quick fish and we still had time to nip down to Lyonshall for steak night. Oh yes, the rod is just perfect.

June 16, 2010

Opening Day

The mist hung over the fields and river as I drove along the track towards the Wye. The prospect of missing a Full English was obviously too much for the hotel guests so we had the place to ourselves, the perfect welcome back to the river.

I chose a swim with a chance of a barbel but where I new that the chub would be in residence. The gravels above this area have changed during the winter so the current is a little different, as a result I doubt there will be as many barbel around here this season but I enjoy fishing here so it would do for today.

Well, the chub certainly were evident and four graced my net but not so the barbel. I don't mind, there's plenty of time for them, today was just about wetting a line.

Nicky and I packed as the crowds arrived, I was a little amazed to see 3 out of 12 anglers wearing white T shirts as they sky-lined themselves along the steep banks. Another wore sky blue whilst one more had on bright peach, they looked very colourful all grouped together around one bend when they had so much water available to them. I expect they will be bemoaning the lack of sport in the bar tonight.

Oh well, so starts another season.

June 15, 2010

Well I went back to the pool this afternoon. I didn't get there until half two because I'd been waiting for a delivery of boilies to come. Why is the courier always late when I want to go fishing?

Anyway, I quickly put a bait over the area I'd baited and a second one to the outer edge of the area. I followed up with a few freebies and was just sorting myself a drink when I had a screaming run which resulted in a lovely looking common of exactly 15lbs.

I sat back quite content and thought again about that drink when the other rod went but this time a slow run which I think was just a liner as it resulted in nothing more than a weedy hook.

All this was too much for the carp pool and it settled into something of a sulk, it just stopped feeling like I may get a bite. I went through the motions for another couple of hours before packing to come home and sort some gear for an early start in the morning. I don't know why I should make such an effort as opening day is usually a let down but hey, its traditional.


As I type this Brazil are playing world cup minnows North Korea. As with virtually all of the opening matches, so far it is slow and disappointing. The first round of games are always like this but the next couple of rounds will see some of the best games of the competition... I hope.

Its funny but here we are almost a week into the biggest football competition there is and the main points of conversation are about the ball and those bloody vuvzelas. Well here's my two penneth worth.

First the ball. How can FIFA allow a world cup to be decided by the lottery of a bloody ball that floats and swerves like those cheap plastic jobs I used as a kid? It is the roundest ball ever - huh! If that's the case then give us an oval one. I remember back in 1970 when the high altitude made the ball fly faster and unpredictably and that was a great heavy leather thing. We are now back at altitude with a balloon.

Oddly enough, the only side that has got on well with the ball are the Germans. Did you know that the ball was developed and made in Germany and used in the Bundesliga last season? Hmm, clever buggers.

I must mention that constant droning sound that accompanies every game from the dreaded vuvezelas. Please God they don't find their way into the English grounds! There is only one saving grace that can be attributed to the little plastic horns, they drowned out the sound of that awful band that follows the England team.

June 14, 2010

A walk around the lake

I haven't fished for nearly two weeks. I took the Boss away last week and when I went to the carp pool at the weekend there were already two people fishing it so I left them to it rather than make the place look crowded.

Today was one of those wonderful June days where yesterday's rain had made the countryside look especially green and lush. The path around the pool is becoming quite overgrown, a sure sign that some of the early season hopefuls have given up on the water and have left it to the likes of me and one or two others - excellent.

The Boss was with me and it was Nicky who spotted the first carp drifting out from the shallows. It never ceases to irk me that she is a better fish spotter than me but there is no denying the fact. Ah well, at least I found the next few, a group of four fish were circling an area that they had muddied in their search for food. "Let's get the rod" said Nicky. But I was quite content to watch them for a while then to put some feed in the area, its tomorrow when I'm going to give it a go, they can wait until then.

Its funny but I'm never in a hurry to catch a carp, they look so serene when they are in their environment that I find it difficult to disturb them. Even in my twenty's and before I'd even caught a double, I saw a good carp feeding right below me in the town section of the Tone at Taunton. My tackle was in my car not 30 yards away yet I stood and watched that fish feed until it swam off across the river. I was enraptured by the experience. Don't get me wrong, I can get as high tech and bivvied as the rest of 'em but sometimes, when I'm up close and personal, it just seems too rude to impose.

The lake was engulfed in bird song, so many different species but the Tree Creeper is always a favourite to watch. The geese and coots have done well with their broods, although one of the canada goslings has gone seven remain whilst the six greylags youngsters are all doing well. Its just a pity the lake surround is ankle deep in goose shit.

I've also been busy at the river, cutting back the balsam to make swims, painting signs and giving the stiles an appropriate thump or two with a sledge hammer, the usual pre-season stuff that I have to do. Its a tough old life, spending all this time by the Wye or a carp pool but I suppose somebody has to do it.

June 13, 2010

More bamboo

My first rod was made of wood..... not split cane you understand, just some sort of wood. It was a Christmas present from auntie Nova who had no idea what she was unleashing onto the fish of this world. She had acquired the 'junior fishing set' through her catalogue of gifts available in return for cigarette coupons, the reward scheme for diligent smokers. It was a very different time back then.

In three pieces with a 2" bakelite centre pin that regularly fell apart, the middle section broke - frequently - at the lower ferrule especially when I waggled the rod to demonstrate its action, or lack of it.

When this rod finally became so much kindling my non-angling parents bought me a 5' trigger grip, solid glass spinning rod and an Intrepid Truspin which I used for float fishing in 7 or 8' of water. It was a trying time but I did manage a huge roach of nearly two pounds on long trotted silkweed with it. However, its shortcomings were apparent and I progressed to a two piece 7' glass rod for a short while. It all ended quite literally in tears when, fishing from a weir, I got snagged, pointed the rod at the lead and pulled only to se the top section disappear into the depths. Shortly after the line broke and I was effectively grounded from fishing until I could get a replacement as a birthday present.

I eventually progressed to a 10' split cane rod which was classed as an 'all rounder'. Most rods were 'all rounders' back then, even the grown ups only had one rod and maybe a solid glass boat rod for pikeing.

Me aged 11 or 12 using a split cane rod. In the background is my lifelong angling friend Paddy

So, I have been aware of cane and had moved on into the world of hollow glass and carbon. I saw no reason to go back.

However, I've used a couple of cane rods in recent years and even caught a barbel on one, funny, that fish meant a lot to me even though it was a mere 3 or 4 pounds. In my last post I told you about Neil's cane rod and whilst I was waiting for it to be made I was looking forward to having a go with it but it still was only a novelty thing. Then, one morning I woke up and thought to myself "I want a cane rod". It was as simple as that, I had a sudden and overpowering need to use some bamboo. Within a week I had one.

I'm normally something of a steady Eddy but when struck with an impulse I am direct and fast. I had my rod and immediately wanted more. What is it about split cane? Why are they so appealing on the eye and seductive in the hand?

So here I am, the new season is a couple of days away and I have no particular plans to catch the biggest or the best barbel or chub this year, I intend to just enjoy each fish I catch and I know that anything caught on cane will enhance the experience. Sure, I will get side tracked and the old urges will take over from time to time but cane has become a part of my angling artillery once more and I think that this time, it is here to stay.

June 11, 2010


Yesterday was a proud day. The Boy (my son Neil), completed the final exam of a three year course at Sparsholt College. With a bit of luck and a following wind, he will come out of it with a science degree and hopefully, a chance of gaining meaningful employment in this recession hit world.

He did have a job and was busy going nowhere when, at the age of 25 he dropped everything he had and went back into education. I gave him three months before he quit. I am very happy to admit that I was very wrong.

So what has this got to do with bamboo? As a 'well done' we had a splitcane rod made for him. Neil has had a fascination with cane for some time, a result of reading my Chris Yates collection no doubt. He used one that I had borrowed and loved it. He now has his own and it is an absolute gem.

Andy Sliwa has been making cane rods as a hobby for about fifteen years, he's got really quite good at it. Andy's a lovely bloke and we talked at length about what sort of rod would best suit the Boy's needs. Andy came up with a Legerstrike copy, or at least a similar model but very slightly heavier. Whatever the design it has been beautifully put together and the action is a dream. I am very jealous!

Neil's face was a picture when he unsheathed his new weapon, he says that it surpassed his highest expectation. I think angler and rod have a long and happy relationship ahead of them and I am certain that some of those escapades will feature here.

June 07, 2010


Fishing is like life. Fishing gives you hope, reward, success and failure. It provides us with every emotional stimulus we could wish for. It is also a place for eternal youth and childlike dreams. In an angler's world there are many Christmases and birthdays, there is unbound excitement and joy that adulthood generally stifles and ....... we live in a world where monsters exist.

To an angler, a piece of water is just a bounty to enjoy where anything is possible. Well, it used to be. Nowadays, everybody is quick to tell you what the biggest fish is and when it was last caught. They even have names for them - groan! I hate that; arriving at a new venue and being told the size, shape and identifying features of all the 'top' fish and the scant regard given to the also-rans or 'stockies', a phrase used in the trout world where the fish are indeed 'stocked' for the anglers but which is creeping into carp and even barbel angling when fish are introduced to bolster dwindling stocks. All of our carp and barbel are stockies, some are just more settled in that others.

But occasionally, just every now and then, we are touched by the fleeting glimpse of something special. To spot a monster is one of the high points of angling, it is even, dare I say, sometimes better than catching a monster. I say that having never taken a fish of true monster proportions but I have seen them and I know that they can stir a passion and drive deep into the soul.

A couple of years ago I saw a gigantic chub in the river Wye, it was huge and well over the river's current best of about 7.12. That fish is always at the back of my mind when I fish but I know that due to the size of the river, the itinerant nature of some of its fish and the sheer cunning of an old chub, that to catch it would be little short of a miracle. Who knows? Maybe one day our paths will meet but just to know that it is in there is enough for now.

Last month, whilst in Spain and looking for a section of river to fish for barbel, a group of us stopped and had a peer into the depths near a dam. The sight that greeted us was amazing and has had a profound effect on me. There, beneath our feet in the shallow water of a concrete ledge swam carp, lots of carp. These were not ordinary carp, these were M&S carp!

Obviously gathering to spawn they mooched up and down oblivious of our presence and in full display in clear water. There were over a hundred fish, all bar one or two were commons and at least forty of them looked to be in excess of 40lbs in weight. It is a spectacle that I shall never forget and from the stream of expletives on either side of me, nor will the other five in the group. How big did they go? I am usually quite good at assessing fish size, if anything I tend to underestimate but not by far. We stood looking at numerous 50 and 60lb fish, they could not have been smaller and there amongst the were three fish that came into view every now and then and they were just colossal! If an 80lb fish came from there I would not be at all surprised, nor would I if a 90 was landed.

The 'little' fish with its head at the surface next to the shoe shaped flotsam was an upper double of about 18lb or so.

I returned from Spain to fish my carp lake where the record stands at about 25lbs. I love this water but I know that I shall spend limited time on it, I now have a deep inner need, a desire that must be satisfied. I need to catch a big carp.

My initial target is realistic at 30lbs and I will doubtless have to squeeze in, shoulder to shoulder with the mass of like minded carpers on some gravel pit somewhere to have a chance of achieving that. Or shall I? Having enjoyed the travel experience a few times I think that I am going to combine the two and seek out my monster abroad. Spain is a long drive and baggage restrictions mean that flying is impractical. To go on a guided trip is possible but that would be a hollow victory and from what I've seen of the regions 'top' guide, an arduous option. So it is to France that I intend to head. Drivable, good food, I can even order my own beer in the lingo, perfect. I shan't be going to the lakes either, I have an inkling for a great big river carp and when I was tidying up my spare room the other day I stumbled across a pile of maps from my French holidays, now tell me that isn't a sign.

Plans are being made.

June 04, 2010

Drama at the carp lake

Well, I actually got around to doing an over-nighter. I'm not the most organised of folk and find it an ordeal to get everything in place and ready for a session. Getting the gear ready is always a nightmare especially when you find all those little problems you had with it last time out.

I had the lake to myself which is such a bonus. I paid through the nose for my ticket but the solitude is worth every penny, plus there's nobody to see me make a dick of myself - like when I fell out of a tree a week or two back........... ow!

The drama was not really carp related but involved a grass snake which entered the water a yard or two to my left and swam right across the water. It headed straight for a family of coots! A confrontation was inevitable. The snake and what I presume to be the male coot, spotted each other at the same time and the coot moved in for the attack, albeit with a huge dose of caution. The snake decided that discretion was the better part of valour and headed off at quite a lick with an angry coot in pursuit, pecking at its tail. As it passed under the overhanging branches of a tree the snake attempted to climb out of danger. It extended its body up and out of the water with as much as a third of its length above the water, but it could not get purchase and had to dash headlong into the marginal Flag Iris.

Its a violent and cruel world that we live in and this sort of drama is unfolding around all the time. Those coots are obviously doing well and there is plenty of food for them, were there not then the mother would perform an act of 'biting' the heads of the chicks. It won't be actually biting them, it will be measuring them and the largest head, which equates to the strongest and largest chick, will be saved whilst the others will be dispatched, one by one, so that the biggest chick has the best chance of survival.

But, as I said, the lake is full of food, there are greylag and canada geese, each with a sizable brood living the easy life alongside the coots, moorhens and mallards. I watched the mallard chicks chasing flies last evening, a magical sight.

Anyway, I had a 14.12 common at midnight and at 10am stalked an 18.14 mirror. Not a bad trip really.

June 03, 2010

So another man has gone 'postal' and the roads of West Cumbria run with the blood of the innocent. What makes a man snap? When does it all get too much and the urge to kill takes over?

They all seem to follow a defined path as their break down becomes apparent and with hind sight, avoidable. This bloke killed his twin brother! That is fucked up.

But today the news media has column inches and air time to fill so we will be subject to 'expert' analysis and theorising as to how such tragedies can be avoided. The first and loudest suggestion has already been the subject of debate - ban all guns!

Well it a nonsense and I just hope that the government avoid the same knee jerk reaction that Dunblane provoked after all, we now see handgun deaths on a regular basis on the streets of our big cities. Banning handguns hasn't saved a single life.

A professor has suggested that us gun holders be allowed to keep our guns but that we go to a central point and collect ammunition as and when we need it, each round being accounted for. Hmmm, there's a man with a strong understanding of the countryside then - not! Even if this asinine suggestion was undertaken would the person collecting his ammunition be subject to a psychological examination on each occasion?

People kill people, it happens. Guns are dangerous which is why they are licensed. If somebody's mental state deteriorates to a point where they want to go out and kill at random, they will do it. What if he had killed his brother and a few others with his car? Ban them?

There are still 2500 people killed each year in road deaths. That's 7 people a day which, were they killed with guns, would create a shit storm of reaction. People still drive like idiots, we have crowded roads that are nowadays left unpoliced except by speed camera and our driving test is an absolute joke. Do we hear the voice of concern on our news shows? No, of course not.

So let them bury their dead with dignity. Let them look at where the 'system' failed poor Mr Bird and move on with our lives. It will happen again because its what being a part of the human race is all about.

June 01, 2010


Having bemoaned the winter let's have a few words about the spring.

Spring never ceases to amaze me, how trees and plants that appear quite bereft of life one day can suddenly burst into life the next. The rate at which the colour green can regain its dominance over the countryside is staggering. I imagine the trees groaning from growing pains.

This year I took a ticket on a couple of small pools that hold carp. I have spent many hours walking around one of them in particular and have fallen for its charm. At three acres, surrounded by trees and with the obligatory island, it is a magical place to get to know.

My early trips were spent peering into the water for any sign of a fish but as the water eventually warmed so I occasionally saw one or two of the inhabitants. I didn't visit for a couple of weeks whilst I sought barbel in Spain and on my return I was greeted with a lush green world as life returned. The carp were now there in abundance, cruising in the warm water with fins on display or silently drifting over the blanket weed in the shallows. Getting them to feed was still just as difficult though but a trip was planned.

I decided to have a walk around the lake and introduce a few baits before starting my session the following day. Alas, I was greeted by the spectacle of spawning carp. I say 'alas' but who could really be disappointed at the
opportunity to watch such a sight? Carp really are noisy lovers and to see a 20lb fish thrown out of the water by the antics of its passionate fellows is always worth the time and effort.

Ah well, it means I'll have to delay the trip. I don't mind at all, I've got all year to catch some of the fish that inhabit the pool. There's nothing much bigger than a mid-twenty in there although the inevitable rumours of a big original thirty abound. I'm just happy sitting in the tranquil setting of an English lake.

However - carp have been getting to me over the last few years. I have a growing need to catch them...

Two years ago I started to concentrate on a one acre pond during the river close season. My lad - Neil - and I had fished it the year before and had taken a few carp but Neil had been frustrated by a number of lost fish, often through hook pulls. He got it right in the end and took one of the biggest inhabitants at 26.7, a fish that came after much effort and was a worthy result.

On my first trip I took a beautiful 17lb common and followed it up with the same big 'un that Neil had caught only this time it was a little smaller (something I am constantly reminded of) at 26.3. To my credit, I took it on an Avon rod, centre pin and size 8 hook, off the top on a dog biscuit. As the pictures show, that fish had quite an effect on me.

Last year I decided to 'take the lake apart' and to venture further afield in an attempt at upping my pb. I failed. The pond refused to play and all I and most of the regulars, caught were little commons up to about 13lbs. I think that some of the larger fish had gone either through otter predation, a regular problem there, or to poachers. Unfortunately the pond is near a main road but is secluded. I know of carp anglers in the area that are always on the look out for an addition to their own syndicate lakes, they are greedy morons of the lowest order and I wish them pain and misery.

But even that is a slightly better option than to be lost to a ravenous mammal that will eat only its heart and liver or hungry Eastern European. Our friends from the other edge of Europe abound in these parts and for them a fat carp is a meal - nothing more, just food. I shall say nothing more on this subject for now.

But carp are still featuring in my thoughts. The new river season begins in a couple of weeks but I am in no rush to start, there will be better sport in a couple of months time. Having said that, there was an earlier spawn this year so at least the fish will be recovered unlike the last couple of years when they have spawned after June 16th. I will no doubt have a dabble on the river but I shall also spend some time after carp this year and who knows where it will take me; I have plans for a venture that could be life altering. More of that later.

There was another pivotal moment in my angling life, a carp moment that occurred whilst in Spain last month. I shall focus on that next time.