August 24, 2011


It happened about a week ago around the time of the full moon. One morning the air felt that little bit thinner, cooler. A look up and the sky was bereft of swifts, their three month stint of screeching and zooming aerobatics over for another year as they spend the next nine months in constant flight in warmer skies.

Over the subsequent week I've noticed that the sparrows have formed into busy flocks and the starlings are losing their first brown coats to acquire speckles which will in turn darken and take on that iridescent sheen. They descend upon the feeders like inner city gangs, looting all in their paths and driving the other birds away. Yet I love to watch them, whilst my neighbour bangs her window to scare them off, I enjoy watching their squabbling antics and their communal bath at my garden pond is always entertaining.

Yes, the first signs of autumn are here.

The river is still low and no doubt proving difficult but rain is due - soon. The new water will provoke an urgency amongst the fish as they recognise the change and feed hard to gain the strength and reserves to combat another winter. Next week the fishing will become easier and the barbel will be at their peak of condition.

Autumn is the time to fish. I have plans for chub, barbel, carp, perch and roach fishing, all to be crammed into the next six or eight weeks. I love this time of year. All I have to do is sort my back out again. I am confined to barracks and have been since last Friday, will I never learn? Picking your boy up when he is three is one thing but at thirty! Its my own fault, we mess around - horse play - but if I was a horse I'd be glue by now :-)

One last autumnal thought for now. This time last year I was amazed at the amount of berries on the trees and the portent for a harsh season ahead. Tosh and nonsense say some yet, what followed was the hardest winter for a generation. Look at the hedgerows as you pass, the hawthorn bushes for example, are bowing from the weight of all those red berries - I reckon we could have another cold one.

August 21, 2011

Sticks and Stones

I've always been fascinated by erosion. I love the way that stone steps can be shaped by years of use or the smoothing of a piece of wood, touched lightly by thousands of hands.

I also see shapes in inanimate objects. Our brains are hard wired to recognise faces and it seems that every tree or cloud has a face in it somewhere. Its all subconscious but I have found myself staring at a stain or scratch and can see it as something else, I am always on the lookout for the unusual. Its like a four-leafed clover, you have to look for them to see them and, if you have the shape of those four leaves in your mind, you will find quite a few.

So, as I wander the banks of the river or the sea shore I am constantly scanning the ground for anything of note. Nicky has a large collection of little stones, pebbles and shells that have come from everywhere we have travelled, each a little reminder, each a little bit different from the norm. There are a couple of stones that are almost perfect spheres, a larger, porous stone that actually floats, although that may be an eroded building block but it looks good in the pond.

Here are three of my favourites.

The first is a heavy piece of stone that looks like it has been melted and hardened into its current shape. It was lodged amongst other stones in a fast section of water and appears to have formed naturally. Either way, it is pleasing to look at and handle.

As is number 2. I found this just a few weeks ago on a shingle beach by the river Wye. It is beautifully smooth and must have taken eons to create. Any stone with a hole eroded into it is a good find but this one, this is just wonderful.

My last item of note is an oak tree that stands at the entrance to our fishery. Years ago a large bough fell or was cut from the main trunk. The damage has repaired, softened and has formed the most gorgeous shape. Known locally as 'The Bum Tree', it makes me smile every time I look at it.

Keep your eyes open, there's a world of treasure out there.

August 13, 2011

The promised rain hasn't arrived this week which suits me. I love fishing the Wye when its at rock bottom. Okay, last weekend, when Paddy was here, it was in a dour mood and reluctant to speak to me but, if you find the fish they are very catchable. I've found a few ;-) and, despite just fishing short sessions, sometimes less than an hour, I've caught on each visit.

I went again yesterday fully intending to drop into a little swim that is producing regularly but, on the way down to the river I gave Tommo a ring. I haven't fished with him for ages and we have been trying to catch up with each other for the last few weeks but we seem to live in opposite planes. Well yesterday we aligned.

I set up in a spot that would accommodate both of us but, having stopped for a chat, Tommo opted for a swim that has produced good fish for him in the past. I stuck at it and had a couple of seven pounders along with the inevitable chub. Then I heard a whistle.

I got to Tommo as he netted his prize, "Its a good 'un" he smiled. He was right. Ten pounds four ounces good in fact. I called him a few choice names but I was delighted for him, it was a beautiful fish.

August 07, 2011


Last week started well, the fish fed and it was almost easy, then my life-long fishing buddy Paddy arrived. Oh how things changed!

Thursday evening and unable to contain his excitement, I took him down to the river for a couple of hours fishing in one of those dead cert swims that you love to put your mates in just to see them catch a fish. Well, that didn't work. Paddy hooked something but it came adrift after a couple of seconds. Not to worry, plenty of time yet.

Friday - we found stacks of barbel but none that would feed. I had some chub but poor old Paddy managed just one fish - a gudgeon, taken on a size 6 hook and two pellets. Not to worry, plenty of time yet.

Saturday - new day, new ideas. Paddy fished a good low-water swim whilst I went for a mooch. I started getting some nice chub and, eventually, Paddy moved in next to me. I kept catching but..... well, I'm sure you've guessed. It was about then that the first of a flotilla of canoes passed. I don't mind canoeists that slip quietly through your swim but these (and there were lots) were all in fancy dress and out for a jolly. What would people say if you walked through a golf course dressed as Marge Simpson and making a complete racket?

During a lull in the armada I went for a walk and found a good fish in a difficult position off a high bank. Paddy - who caught a chub at long last, came along and, despite the difficulties, got his first cast exactly right and we sat, expectant.

Enter phase two of the happy boaters and the fish responded by departing.

Back at the swim, I tried for another chub but a canoe upturned just ten yards above me and the occupants made a big disturbance getting themselves sorted out. It was only as they passed me that they even acknowledged my presence.

Earlier, we had seen a canoe go into the bank up where Paddy had left some of his tackle. On our return to collect his gear he found that they had stolen his rod rest! Charming!

We moved down river and again, I sat Paddy in a really productive summer swim whilst I went farther to a spot in which I had yet to catch a barbel. I soon had a nice chub not far off of 5lbs and, just as the sun dipped, a barbel of just over eight. Convinced that Paddy would be next, I packed and went up to him, he'd just had two bites but missed them both. He was getting a little down hearted but, plenty of time yet.

Sunday and the rain, that would have improved the river, hadn't arrived - ah well, at least we were dry. We set up in a swim that I thought ......................... It didn't. It also didn't help that another canoe tipped over right in the middle of that swim and that the accompanying canoeists all stopped to 'help', then had an impromptu and very noisy gathering.

So, off I went again, bag of bait and my polarised glasses on, searching. I found some big chub and, as Paddy was comfortable, got my rod. On return to the swim I saw a barbel on the gravel. Twenty minutes later it was in my landing net. After all the effort of the last few days and this capture was as simple as you like.

After resting the swim for a while we returned, this time it was Paddy's go. The simple 'lowering the bait, and feeding the fish to it' routine worked again and, after just ten minutes, Paddy's rod hooped over. Of course, being Paddy, nothing is simple and he found his line snagged just in front of us. The fish was still there and he had no option other than to go 'in' after it. Well, the other option was for me to go in but that wasn't going to happen now was it?

Off came the boots and trousers, in went Paddy and out came the camera - well you do don't you? I managed to record him hand-lining the fish away from the snag, the fight and get some fine images of my good friend's spindly white legs as well. At last, a barbel - I felt enormous relief.

He later took a chub from a nearby swim but the barbel didn't want to come out and play any more. What a gruelling few days but, at least everybody else seems to have been struggling in the same way, we actually did quite well by comparison.

It was great to catch up with Paddy and the banter was, as always, constant and unprintable. Despite the somewhat challenging conditions, its been a good weekend.

August 02, 2011

This 'n that

Since I've been blogging I've had a few emails offering paid links for advertising but have ignored them. So, when Fishtec contacted me about linking to their site I was suspicious and initially said 'No'.

They'd emailed before, some time last autumn, to say that I was one of their 'featured blogs', which was nice. They did the same again a few weeks ago before the email and I was flattered but the idea of a commercial link was not to my liking. However, they made contact yet again and I'm now happy with the arrangement. So, I am now blogging on here as usual but every now and then, I'm re writing a blog or two in a different style which allows links to certain products etc. That's no hardship, I enjoy writing and doing it in a different way will be a challenge and hopefully enjoyable. In return I get some discounts and may be asked to do a few reviews.

If you want to view any of the blogs, articles etc featured on the Fishtec site (and they cover all forms of angling) then have a look on


On the fishing front, I had an evening with Neil the other day. I had a drive around the fishery in the afternoon intending to find a quiet spot and put some bait in. I headed for one of the beats that sees little pressure with a mind to look at a couple of spots there. Of course (and it happens so many times), there was someone on each of them! One of them went on to take ten barbel - another near miss.

Plan B was to find another swim which I did and in went a mixture of boilies and pellets. This we fished for a couple of hours and pretty soon I had a rasping take. I landed a barbel of six pounds or so and immediately, Neil's rod went off. We then had an opportunity to take a 'double shot' with us both holding fish but could I get the damn camera to allow me 10 seconds delay? Could I heck!

Next best thing was a shot of each of us with the two fish, not really what I wanted but it will have to do until we next get a double hook-up.


I had a couple of hours on the Lugg this morning. I got some fish out of their hidey hole and soon they were chomping away. Then I scared them off with an atrocious cast but eventually they came back. Long story short - my first Lugg barbel for many years and very pleasing it was too.


My old mate Paddy is coming up for the weekend, I cruelly keep texting him to tell him how well the river's fishing - he gets so excited about fishing I know that he won't get any sleep this week.

I'll let you know how we get on.