October 28, 2011

An autumn day

I woke with post concert tinnitus ringing in my ears. Nicky and I had done the 300 mile round trip to see Lenny Kravitz at the 'ammersmiff Apollo - not a bad show (appreciated more by Nick that me), the band all had their instruments set to 11 and everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves. A black girl danced in the aisle next to us moving like a hunting snake which I seem to recall noticing momentarily out of my peripheral vision ;-)

The biggest draw back was that it meant setting foot in London a place I abhor. I worked in Bristol for years and visit other cities quite regularly if unenthusiastically but I find London a charmless place and I avoid it like the plague.

What I needed today was to get myself to a quiet place, to redress the balance of my being. So I went fishing.

The river was up but not as high as I'd hoped. Had it been higher I would have adopted my two day flood approach which has produced some big fish in the past but, alas, there was just over 2' on so I had to look for a suitable swim for the conditions.

I fished a long crease that gave me a great feature to fish as well as deflecting some of the debris that the river carried. Out went a big feeder filled with broken boilies and a bit of groundbait to hold it together for the cast. Below that I fished a second rod, something I haven't done during the summer, with a pva bag of 10mm DT Baits Oily Chicken boilies and a couple on the hair. Its an approach that has done me well many times before.

Sitting there in the weak sunlight I was at peace. The air was keen, the sky bright with puffy white clouds (a Simpson's sky), with few birds to be seen as we are between the mass autumn exodus and the winter influx of visitors. The river burbled and gurgled over a sunken log the pitch rising and falling as the river surged, I cannot help but look up toward the sound every time it happens. The only sounds of mankind were of distant traffic and the occasional aircraft, I was content.

I worked at building the swim for a couple of hours, then the phone rang. I was happy to chat with Phil and hear the excitement in his voice as he prepared to make his first trip to his winter carp venue. The call was abruptly halted as I tightened into a fish that pulled hard in the heavy flow. When it surfaced it was just a scamp of a barbel with delusions of grandeur but was welcome on a cold afternoon.

I stuck at it for another hour or so but the sun was getting low and I was wishing I'd put on an extra layer or two of clothing. The rod twitched again and was in my hand as it bent toward the running fish. This one was slightly larger and had a very fat belly (I can talk), but, I noticed, a withered pectoral fin. Other than that It was a fine autumn barbel and was slipped back into the coloured water. That was enough for me. Rather than sit it out for a dusk fish I packed and headed home for a hot meal.

It was then that I noticed that my ears were clear - job done.

October 23, 2011


Now I don't want to cause alarm and I certainly would need to see a little more proof before sending the balloon up but I found something today that has sent a shiver down my spine. On the banks of the river Wye, whilst walking the dog, Nicky picked up an item that could have far reaching repercussions - a claw.

There can be just one possible owner for an appendage such as this - the dreaded Signal Crayfish.

Of course, it could have been carried there from some distant location in the mouth of a bird, it may have been left there by some visiting angler with a warped sense of humour (if it was, I doff my hat to you Sir), or there may be some other perfectly logical reason for the remains of one of our least welcome alien species being on my patch, I just don't know - yet. But take a look again at that picture, the claw is massive! If anybody reading this has any idea what size of beastie a claw of this magnitude would belong to then please, tell me.

I have heard of signals on some of the upper stretches but nothing around Bredwardine due mainly to the bed rock which prevents burrowing, hopefully this is a freak incident - hopefully.

October 13, 2011


My season took a sharp nose dive when I screwed my back again, all of my plans were abruptly shelved and my momentum was lost. As one who frequently needs a sharp toe cap in the trousers to attain a modest degree of motivation, this was a serious hiatus and I knew I would need to be jump started back into action.

Mixed metaphors aside, as my mobility improved I found that I wasn't as eager to fish as I should be, I needed a goal. I was reluctant to target barbel for now, the Wye season rapidly comes to a close as the weather chills and I wanted to spend this time of the year after perch and roach. So, that is what I opted for and off I went to my carp lake armed with float gear, feeder rods and a mixture of baits.

Cutting to the chase, I have to say that results have been modest. I've caught dozens of fish but nothing of specimen size and the main lake has seemed almost devoid of life. I did contemplate a carp session but it seemed like a lot of effort - I guess I'm just lazy.

I have tried a couple of times for perch on the river but I'm fast coming to the conclusion that targeting them is quite hard work. Better to be equipped with a standby rod or spinning outfit and grab an opportunity should it arise as each time I've targeted a known perch swim they have been absent or at least they have not been chasing the fry to any degree.

The other day I was given some information about an enormous pike that grabbed a 4lb barbel as it was being played. Now that is motivation but there's more to catching fish like this than just having a clue to its location, but I'll try.

I went to the river today with an open mind. I had a selection of baits with me, left overs from the last lake trip. I was amazed at how warm it was today, hardly predator fishing conditions but I decided to split my attentions between two rods. The first was sent downstream a few yards with a pva bag full of small cream and pineapple boiles, well, conditions were great for a barbel so I would be daft to ignore the fact.

In front of me I fished with a feeder baited with soaked pellets, hemp, maggots and chopped worms, on the hook went a lobworm. My cunning plan was to draw all manner of fish to this smorgasbord which would hopefully mean one of two things. First, loads of small fish would gather around the feeder which, in turn, may attract a good perch or two and if not, then a decent chub or barbel may grab the worm. Second, any fish attracted to the scent would pass the lower rod and the boilies should sort out a fish or two.

I was bothered by tiddlers trying to steal the worm but nothing could get it into it's mouth. The boilie rod was untouched for an hour and a half so I changed to a CSL boilie. Five minutes later I had a bite! The fish fought hard and stayed deep in the strong current. It went about seven and a half, maybe eight pounds and was immaculate, Wye fish are beautiful in the Autumn.

I carried on but slowly, I could feel my back seizing up. I sat back, reluctant to move as conditions just felt right. I knew another fish was coming it was just a matter of when.

In the mean time I watched the changing colours in the sky and listened to and watched the various bird life going about it's business. I saw a sparrow hawk swoop at a kingfisher! The raptor got wet feet and the kingfisher the fright of it's life but tranquility was soon restored.

Light was fading, 'how long shall I give it?' I was asking myself when the downstream rod folded around and line poured from the spool. This fish stayed deep like the first but it felt bigger, there was always a sensation of weight and, for a fish of its size, it had plenty of energy. When it eventually surfaced and slid across the edge of the net I was happy that it would go nine plus and I nearly left it at that and slipped it back but I had a look as I unhooked it and decided to put a number on it. I was glad I did, it went 10.7.

More than satisfied I packed and went home. I still don't know what I shall target on my next trip but that pike is in my thoughts ;-)

October 05, 2011

From the Web

Not much to report of the fishing side of life, I've had a day or two drowning maggots and catching stacks of small fish, a perch of 1.10 was the best of the bunch but it was thin and weighed less than its head suggested.

The news of the day is that Nicky (my lovely wife) was bitten by a False Black Widow spider in the garden at home. Now, I've seen one or two of these around here before especially when turfing out the garage (an annual chore). I looked them up on the Intergoogle then and was aware that they have settled in parts of the UK due to the climate increase. I thought they were harmless but Nicky disagrees with that supposition.

Pulling ivy from the fence she recoiled in severe pain claiming to have been 'stung'. Nicky is allergic to wasp and bee stings but there was no sign of a sting just a tiny drop of blood. I investigated and soon found (after gingerly peeling the leaves back), a small, insignificant spider not much bigger than my index finger nail - including the legs. I recognised it for what it was and took a couple of pictures.

According to the Net the False Black Widow does have a painful bite, one chap spending three days in hospital after a meeting with one. We were the talk of the day at the doctor's surgery where antihistamine and pain killers were prescribed. There was much breathy inhalations through gritted teeth and heavy exhalations accompanied by Anglo Saxon utterings for some time after but, and much to my chagrin, Nicky is showing no signs of developing super spidey senses and has yet to make a web or walk along the ceiling. I remain watchful and will inform you of any change.