September 26, 2011

The Fish-in

Well, I survived another fish-in weekend pretty much unscathed. I certainly avoided any fish but, in my defence, I didn't fish too much (have I told you about my bad back?) but where I did fish didn't produce - even the bit I prebaited!

I started in a swim that has given me barbel on just about every other occasion I've visited it this year but, it was not to be. I only gave it an hour before I had to quit but that's usually long enough to at least get a chub.

I had a mooch around the fishery, visiting the motley crew that had descended. Everybody was optimistic and in high spirits but the river was in dour mood and it was, quite frankly, a bit of a struggle.

Carl landed this perfect little chap

During the evening we mulled over the catches and postulated on the coming day. Saturday is always the day when everybody tries hard so there was much planning and 'bagging' of swims. There was a period of oohs and aahs accompanied by much drooling as Des showed off his new cane rod but, as the evening the evening progressed, the conversation swayed onto other topics and some of the old stories were retold - usually by Carl - and we all had a great laugh. I left at around midnight but Conrad stayed at it until nearly 5am!

Saturday was one of those perfect autumn days, warm and dry with little or no breeze. The river, fining down from a little spate, looked absolutely cock-on for a great day's fishing - alas, it wasn't quite what happened. I met 'Trussers' on one of the syndicate beats where the fish usually gather at this time of year. I'd even pre-fed a pool for a few days and felt confident of action - it didn't come to either of us (sorry Keith)

However, I didn't really give it my best shot. After a few minutes of fishing I had a phone call about some poachers on the day ticket beat. Off I went only to see them just leaving having been given the elbow by Mike Joyce (bless him). Having moved I decided to have a look for casualties i.e. those with the worse hangovers. Last time we had one of these do's I probably saved Eelfishers life with a well timed tin of drink, God he was hanging. Serves him right for drinking so much :-) But this year most of the team looked in fine fettle, even the old night owl himself, Conrad, looked good on two hours sleep as he set about competing with Rich Walker - he failed, of course, but he did catch a few barbel and chub.

Elsewhere, Tony was fast asleep but then he's like that on a good day - poor old sod, he's getting on a bit you know ;-) I woke him up by repeatedly tickling his ear with a piece of grass, hiding behind him as he 'swatted' at it and looked accusingly left and right. I had to bite my finger to stop from laughing - I'm a rotten so and so but I know he'd have done the same to me.


I got a message from my lad Neil. He'd gone onto the day ticket section and had dropped into a good looking swim. A chap new to the water (not one of the fish-in), asked him for local knowledge so Neil suggested his second choice swim (he was going to try it later but was feeling generous), but felt miffed when, an hour later, his new friend told him he's had three barbel to 9.8. Neil finished biteless.

I made my way back to my tackle and fished for a couple of blank hours, even the chub, usually so plentiful, were absent. My back ached so I headed home for a bath and some stretching.

The evening was slightly more subdued than the one before, Scotty looked particularly sheepish as he'd really gone overboard last night and Conrad was almost sober when he left for an early night. Tales of the day's events were swapped across the room, the best fish being two perch of 3 and a 3.5 taken by two lucky chaps. Monty Dalrymple (Jason Speck) had taken a good nine pounder and Rich Walker had four barbel from the swim next to Conrad. Other than that it was bits and pieces until Paul's dad (I can never think of his name), came in late and related his catch of three barbel to 10.5 - the best of the weekend.

Lincolnshire's finest cocktail, Guinness with a Tia Maria chaser

Specky and Tony - man love is a beautiful thing

Another night of beer and banter followed. I love these get-togethers, the fishing really is ancillary -well, it is when you don't catch anything. We may all be getting that little bit older and bits may be dropping off but we will continue to meet up for some time yet and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

September 18, 2011


Its been way too long since Martin and I fished together. To be honest, its not something I would recommend to most, certainly not without a safety net as Martin is one of those people that attracts 'events'. His life is a collection of hilarious tales - all of which are true. The one about donning chest waders that had been laying on a red ant's nest then his hopping and dancing moves as he tore off tackle and clothing had me chuckling all afternoon. Between him and the other perennial victim Carl Salter there's a book just waiting to be written.

We arrived at the river early in the afternoon full of fried food and optimism. My choice of swim was all about ease of access but I put Martin nearby where I thought he'd be in with a good chance as that swim gave up several barbel earlier in the week. I put some bait in and hobbled around for a chat.

Back at my spot half an hour later, I lowered a pva bag in place with a long hooklink and one of Dave Mason's latest concoctions on the hair. Barbel baits are a mute subject but I'm always game to try something new and it was quickly accepted by a hard fighting fish. It was a chub with the look of a fish that has circumnavigated the block a fair few times. It was easily over 5lbs but I'd taken the batteries from my scales to replace the dead ones in my radio and, as Arsenal were losing - again, I didn't want to miss the action. I slipped it back and sat there wondering whether to rest the swim or fish on.

I fished on and soon the rod folded again. This time the fish ran upstream at pace and I instantly felt the weight of a good barbel. I bent into it and the rod arched into an impressive curve until eventually it stopped and I could feel the line grating against a sunken branch. I backed off to allow the fish the next move which was instant and I leaned into it again - this time I got the upper hand and the fight moved to open water.

Safely in the net and Martin came to photograph my prize. I was happy to swap the batteries back for this one, it went 10.1 - just over the magic number and I was feeling quite content.

Martin moved into my spot and I went to his. He got the better end of the deal with a smaller barbel later on whilst I sat writing my diary and playing Angry Bird on my phone whilst sheltering from the heavy showers.

Despite him staying for a second day's fishing, I wimped out and left him to it, I don't know if he's caught yet, I certainly hope so.

I doubt I shall get out again until Friday which sees day one of the great annual fish-in. The Northern and the Midlands crew combining to attempt to drink the Red Lion dry whilst catching a fish or two along the way. Being a sober, sensible type I obviously don't approve of such behaviour but I'll go along anyway, just to keep an eye on those naughty boys. ;-)

September 15, 2011

My Mistress

I have a mistress, I am not ashamed to admit it. I fell for her allure many years ago and more will follow. When I first cast eyes upon her I was in awe of her beauty, a beauty that reflected all that was radiant around her. She is a celebrity, famous and familiar. I summoned the courage to ask her a question and, to my surprise, she spoke to me in a brief but knowing way, I was smitten.
Since that day we have met on many occasions and I have learned much of her ways yet, I seem to know so little about her. I will tell you this, she is always in a hurry, frequently aloof and moody yet she sings with a voice like an angel's giggle although it can become a growling bark should she feel the need. She is always, always in control, I forgive her that.
As the weather cools she will don her winter garb and will hide her glamour from the casual eye, yet it remains, you just need to look a little deeper. Then, as she warms, she wears that light, flower patterned cotton dress that clings to her meanders, the one that lets the sun shine through it revealing a little glimpse of what lies beneath. Occasionally, when the light is just right and if you appear indifferent yet watch carefully, she will show you more. Is it a careless lapse or a flirtatious tease? I am never sure but there, deep down, a flash, a peak at her jewel. I am left spellbound and even deeper in love.
Then she is gone, sweeping her way toward her next victim, she may speak to him too and he will no doubt fall for her charms. We are all susceptible. I don't mind sharing her affections but I do have a wish that one day she shares with me her greatest secret.
My mistress whispers "Goodnight"

September 13, 2011

Tales from a suburban garden

God I'm bored. Nearly five weeks without fishing, crippled (again) with a duff back and as frustrated as a caged tiger. Have you ever seen that Laurel and Hardy film when Ollie has gout - that's what I've been like, I'm not a very good patient.

I've spent a lot of time looking out of the window -Rear Window, Hitchcock, a classic - haven't witnessed any murders but came close. A young squirrel came into the garden but set off at pace as the neighbour's cat sprang from the undergrowth. In police parlance, 'a high-speed pursuit ensued' which ended as the squirrel took refuse at the top of a lamp post where it sat chattering as the cat circled.

Nicky decided to intervene and shoo'd the cat off, at which point the squirrel took a flying leap from the top of the lamp post and with legs spread, 'flew' but landed with a heavy thump on the pavement. It must have hurt but squizzers are as tough as old boots and it ran down the road like it's tail was on fire.

It had been fairly quiet on the bird front, just the usual sparrows, starlings, finches and four types of tits. Late August and early September are doldrums in the bird watchers calendars unless you get a big wind and that is just what has happened. So, when Laura, (my cake making neighbour) knocked the door this morning, it was to see if I could identify the bird she'd found in her garden. It was a Manx Shearwater, a bird that spends most of its life out at sea and has absolutely no right to appear in Weobley some 85 miles from the coast.

I did some ringing around and it seems that this is just one of hundreds of birds that have been found or sighted well inland. Apparently, the wildlife centre at West Hatch in Somerset is currently home to over 70 other Shearwaters. Ours is on it's way to the vet and will probably end up with the others.

The accounts of rare birds has sent some twitchers in a spin and, one for Two Canes to keep an eye out for, there's even been an albatross off Lincolnshire.

Anyway, enough of the wildlife. I'm feeling more mobile so the walking stick can be replaced with a landing net handle and I'm off to the river for an hour or two this afternoon, I'll let you know how I get on.