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.