December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

I'm not a total Grinch when it comes to the Santa Season, I'm just a tad cynical about the 'in your face' aspect of commercialisation. I hate having people shouting at me from the radio, TV or computer  and telling me to buy this, that or the other and that without the latest (insert name here) I'm a nobody and women won't want to touch my trousers.

I'm actually feeling quite Christmassy this year and have bought my best woman some gifts I just hope that Nicky doesn't find out - Ba Bump Tish! All is ready for the big day so there's no need for a last minute dash to the shops although I hear murmurs of a visit to the supermarket to see if there's any bargains though I feel it is more to sneer at the desperate 'leave it to the last minute brigade'. Oh well, I'll  tag along and grab a few liquid essentials.

Its been a funny old year in a totally non humorous sort of a way. The weather has been atrocious and it continues to rain but then I expect you've noticed that. I had all sorts of fishy plans for the year and most of them were abandoned due to the high water levels but I never really got my high-water head on and chose alternatives. Ah well, try again next year, it is only fishing after all.

Anyway, the best bit of news I can pass on is the remarkable road to recovery of my old mate Dave Mason. Many of you will know Dave, a big name in the barbel world and a proper fisherman. He had a massive stroke back at the start of the year and we all feared the worse, further complications left many of us thinking we would lose him and even that it may be 'kinder' if he just slipped away. But they make 'em tough in Oldham and few are tougher or more determined than Mase, he ignored all of the negative and decided to get back to the river bank as soon as possible.

I spoke to him a day or two back and, although his speech is still affected, we chatted for ages. He is a dogged old cuss and is walking short distances without a stick and is heading, according to the bemused medical services, toward an almost complete recovery by the end of 2013. Dave is hoping to have a week or so on the Wye in the summer and many of us will be delighted to see him with a rod in his hand once more.

Happy Christmas to you all, thanks for dropping by and here's to a great and hopefully dryer 2013.

December 01, 2012


I grew up fishing weir pools and its something that has never lost its appeal. Today I sat beside a very small weir situated on the river Test and the memories came flooding back.

Neil and I stayed in a pub overnight then set off in the frost to Dave Steuart's section of river for my annual day of pure fishing hedonism. The mist rolled off the water as we arrived giving the river an alluring atmosphere, we were eager to start but this is not a place to hurry. A drink and a long chat with Dave was the usual start to the day. When we finally began sorting our gear from the car Neil said "I could listen to Dave chat all day" which we all could but there was fishing to be done and given half a chance Dave would have carried on talking - trust me :-)

We decided to fish with cane rods, I was keen to get a bend in my Lucky Strike which I coupled with a Speedia that was owned by Peter Stone (name dropper) and Neil was using a Sabrina with his Adcock Stanton. I fully expected to give in and go over to carbon when the shoulder began to ache but we both stuck it out for the duration.

The river was going through at a fast pace as a few of the sluices were open and there was a fair amount of debris coming through, this coupled with the sudden drop in temperature meant that the fishing was going to be challenging but we were undeterred. We headed to the bottom of the fishery where I settled in by the little weir whilst Neil went to the opposite bank and fished below the main sluice, he hit and landed a trout of well over 3lbs first cast.

In front of me the current was all over the place as water hit the pool from several angles, I know the swim well and let the float explore for a while as I got used to the extra water. I hit something heavy that plodded about before slowly rising to the surface, it was a big grayling but it was hooked in the pelvic fin - then it fell off.

I lost a small trout before landing my first fish, another trout. Then it started to come together, the feeding was working and I began catching a succession of graying most of which were a pound plus and which fought hard in the boiling current.

Then it got to that stage. I became absorbed by the roar of the water and the hypnotic movement of the current, my world condensed into that few square yards of water and I was no longer looking on but part of that tiny microcosm. I knew where the float would dance to next, I read its movements, never deceived by the bottom or the current pulling it under but hypersensitive and alert for the animal movement of a bite. It dipped - I struck before the tip buried below the surface and again the rod bucked and bounced to the distinctive writhing action of a fighting grayling. I was in my element and loving it until Neil appeared at my shoulder and spoke making me jump out of my skin as I plummeted back to the real world.

We moved about and tried a few more swims catching in all of them, Neil even took his first ever salmon, okay it was only a few pounds, out of season and on maggot but he was well chuffed. We ended up where we began and for a while we even swapped swims and rods and still we caught. Yes, its easy there but what the hell, I love it.

The day ended when we were caught in a heavy shower and both agreed that we'd caught enough so it was back the house and another chin wag over a cuppa before the long drive home.

November 27, 2012


Saw my first Christmas tree in somebody's window today - you've never got a hand grenade when you want one.

November 18, 2012

Fifty Shades of Cane

Visiting a Vintage Tackle Fair is akin to porn for the emotions of lust and yearning it provokes. Today I was just a voyeur and I did not get 'involved' with any of the teasing rods flirting from the ranks of stands or the blatant flaunting of the tables full of seductive reclining centre pins - but it took some self control I can assure you.

I first visited the Redditch event a couple of years ago when I was a mere novice in the ways of cane. I was seduced on that day and took home a rod of great beauty to accompany my other cane rod that was waiting for some company. They now seem to have formed quite the family as I have added more and more during the last year or so, a thinning out must soon take place. I digress, to wander around so many stands where so many bright things catch the eye, the rods, reels, floats, lures, books oh the books! Too much to take in, too much choice. 

I did a lap, interrupted by meeting up with friends not seen for a while and new ones too, guys from various forums that converge on such gatherings. One guy recognised me and spoke - "Where do I know you from?" I asked, "We fish the same syndicate lake..." I'm useless when I meet people out of context, I've only ever seen Steve behind a set of rods or drawing up at the lake with a car loaded for a session. Still, we had a good chat. Then it was Kevin Clifford, I haven't spoke with Kevin for a while and it was good to have a natter, well, two natters. Gary, who I'd driven to the event was eager to meet Kevin so I sought him out and duly did the introduction, Gary grilled him on carp history for some time.

Trevor King and his lovely lady Lynn were there too, its been a while since we last met. His taxidermy, fish models and now his wood carvings (especially the perch) are just mouth watering, expensive but oh how I covet such perfection. He's also making hollow cane rods, an eleven foot barbel version just had to be flexed.

Andy Sliwa was there, which was just as well, he had a couple of rods of mine that he's been working on and I left him with another that needs his expert touch. I also borrowed his own 11' barbel rod which I intend keeping until its been well and truly flexed - best not tell Andy that just yet though eh ;o)

You know when you've had a really enjoyable day when you feel like smoking a cigarette and sleeping for a few hours when it finishes but as a non smoking designated driver I had to join the heavy traffic and wend my happy way home.

November 14, 2012

Autumn Colours

I squished down the rutted, muddy track through puddles and around fallen branches then crested that last rise before the scene opened before me, the lake in full autumn colour. There wasn't a breath of wind and nothing stirred the surface, the world and its reflection an invisible distinction.

Out went a trout and a lamprey deadbait. One was on a cane rod, I've not had a pike on the cane yet - no, hang on. I bought a rod out of pocket money and holiday earnings once. I couldn't quite afford the new fangled hollow glass rod by a few shillings so had to make do with a compromise. I selected a three piece rod with a butt and middle constructed from split cane whilst the tip section was hollow glass, it was light, soft and as I only ever caught small fish, ideal. On the first trip out I had a number of dace and small roach each bending the rod beautifully, I was happy with my day when I was suddenly attached to something much heavier and faster. A pike of three or four pounds had lunged at the small fish around my bait and had become caught on my little hook which was stuck to its pectoral fin. It was a mighty tussle which I won - it was my first ever pike.

Nothing moved, there was no signs of where or how to fish and the lack of wind meant I couldn't drift a bait around to explore the lake. I got out the lure rod. I love lure fishing and my newly acquired baitcaster reel performed admirably sending a variety of metal and plastic across the water. I cursed myself for leaving the spinner baits at home, I have ultimate faith in their gaudy appearance and have taken many pike and perch on them. I eventually found one in a tangle of lures in one of my boxes and attached it to the link swivel. Second cast and I hooked something that came off after a second or two, I think it was a perch.

By changing lures and moving up and down the dam wall I had another pluck and a swirl as a fish turned away at the last second. Still the floats were motionless.

Eventually I opened my 'Toby' wallet and picked out a copper and red design that has often provoked a reaction from a pike. I cast it across a shallow area of the bay to check out its action and thought it unusual that a small lure would create a large bow wave - it was of course a pike following it. Next cast and I had my only take of the day, a small pike that shook its head and tore around angrily but which never really tested the tackle. I was however delighted that I had caught something, the day had felt like it was heading for a blank.

My plan was to fish on toward dusk then have a walk around the small pond and spin for perch but that was rapidly altered when a fleet of 4x4's rolled past and a shooting party alighted. I don't think that Harvey would be very good around gunfire, he isn't the bravest of hounds after all and quite frankly, I didn't want my day disturbed either so I did the sensible thing and went home.

Whilst on the subject of Harvey, I've come to the conclusion that he's a little bit like owning a classic car. When the Mondeo or Vectra driver get's home he just locks the motor and leaves it by the road satisfied that it will start first time in the morning and every morning without much fuss. The classic owner with his old MG or Triumph will have to clean the car, chamois it off and place it carefully in the garage where it will need further fettling and greasing before the next outing - yep, that's my dog.

Because his hair had been allowed to grow we recently learned that he is a scruffy hairbag that is impossible to keep maintained due to his hatred of being brushed and his coat's habit of forming dreadlocks whenever he walks within thirty yards of a puddle. We had him clipped - well, shorn really. The poor girl that did it took much longer than expected and she looked exhausted when we arrived to collect him. He went from this,

to this......

and when I got home believe me he took a lot of maintenance!

November 10, 2012

Win Some - Lose Some

I've not fished for a while, I think I'm just sulking after a horrible summer and can't summon the energy to face a wet autumn. Also, to go pike or perch fishing will require a massive search for the necessary tackle and, well, I'll get around to it.

What I have been doing though is buying books and tackle, well it has to be done doesn't it? You don't need to use it, buying the stuff is great fun. So I am awaiting delivery of an Allcock Lucky Strike and have just received three fishing books. Then I went to the auction...

I love auction rooms but they do require the strongest self discipline as it is so easy to get carried away. The one I've been at for the last couple of days is at Ludlow and is one of the bigger tackle auctions around. I was there yesterday for the viewing which was followed by the book auction, back today for all things fishy.

I came home with lighter pockets yesterday having secured a copy of Redmire Pool by Kevin Clifford and Len Arbury. I've wanted a copy of this book for years and although I missed out on the signed edition, I was delighted to get one along with a very saleable salmon book so it could work out as a good deal. I also stumped up £15 for a ten book lot, one of which I wanted and the rest will be sold off. It could have all gone wrong though, I was bidding on one item and decided I had reached my cut off point and duly shook my head to tell the auctioneer only to find Nicky, sat next to bidding away like a good 'un. We did get our act synchronised eventually and it did get a laugh.

Today I had my eye firmly on two objects, a brand new multiplier to replace my ageing Shimano Bantam which is starting to rattle and a Sharpes, Scottie Impregnated salmon rod that looked perfect for barbel and carp work. I got the reel for a song, less than half the new price - which was a result but despite bidding beyond the top estimate for the rod, I had to sit back and watch another £60 get added to the bidding. I was amazed, it is a rod I've seen go fairly cheaply before and I thought I'd pick it up easily, just goes to show I suppose. The rate the lots were going at and the massive prices paid for anything Hardy was mind boggling, I don't think I'll ever be a trader.

Nicky and I won one and lost another hedgehog this week. Its that time of year when anything less than 500 - 600grams in weight is going to struggle to get through the winter so, when we found a little heggie on the lawn that weighed just 240 grams we knew it had to come inside. It was fed and kept warm for a few days until I could take it to the chap in a nearby village that takes them in. He had 32 under sized hedgehogs already as well as a few other waifs and strays, ours seemed in good condition and I am confident it will survive to be released in the spring.

Yesterday a neighbour found what I would imagine is a sibling to the first. It was wandering during daylight, always a bad sign and she brought it to us knowing that we'd have some idea what to do. Again, we gave it food and a bed but I was worried that it seemed lethargic and had little appetite. Sure enough, this morning I found the little chap had died. Its always a shame when this happens but I suppose if they all lived we'd be knee deep in hedgehogs.

If any of you find a hedgehog wandering during daylight or one that looks underweight, please take it in and contact one of the many hedgehog volunteers, the RSPCA or a local vet, they do need a helping hand.

October 19, 2012

The Viking

I haven't fished for the last week or so, just don't have the urge right now. The lake looks lifeless and never seems encouraging when full of coloured water from the streams and the river, well, its just been up and down like a tart's knickers and has been fishing very poorly.

Not so long ago, in circumstances like this, I'd have been on the river fishing like a little ferret in an attempt to find an answer to where the fish were and how to catch them but, at the moment, I can't be bothered. I'm just fed up with fishing in flood conditions.

So what do I do, wait for the river to drop - if it ever does? Wait for the lake to clear and become cold? Look for somewhere else to fish? I don't know, but something will turn up, it always does. I'm quite content to let the fish be for a week or two, I'm away with Nicky for a little break next week, when we get back I dare say I'll be gagging for some fishing action and that may well involve a pike or two.

Although I didn't wet a line, I was on the river yesterday. Johnny Jensen, international angler, journalist and photographer, who was over from Denmark for a short stay with his lovely wife Charlotte and their son Emille. Johhny has fished the Red Lion stretch for years, he loves the Wye and the countryside of the Welsh boarder. He is a pleasure to know with his positive, non judgemental outlook and great charm. He loves to remind you that he's a Viking and his mantra 'Let's fish and if the fishing's bad, let's get drunk' is straight from his Viking roots. I spent one evening chatting with him and Nigel Botherway but hark at me, the old name dropper :-)

We tried hard for a few hours yesterday but failed to raise as much as a bite - but I waited till the evening for the drink.

During the day and over a curry in the evening Johnny regaled us with tales of his fishing trips around the world. His accounts of ice fishing in Sweden and especially the journeys into the Amazon were particularly mouth watering. He has a new book out which chronicles just a part of his angling life, it is only available in his local language at the moment but may be reprinted into English as and when he can find a publisher. He very generously gave me a copy and the pictures throughout are quite stupendous.

To see more of Johnny's photographs and picture accounts of his trips, check out here

October 11, 2012

The Goose Quill

I bought some floats a while back, old ones off Ebay,  floats like I used as a kid and still enjoy watching as they send back information about the world below the water's surface. The perch bobbers were what I was really after, that and the large bodied cork 'Avon' floats for long trotting but they need a spot of tlc before use.

Amongst the assortment was a lone goose quill with a yellow top. I don't like yellow tops on my floats, my eyes are better suited to red or orange but this float seemed to cast a spell of some sort and I was smitten. I had a mind's eye image of it sat, surrounded by little ripples and bubbles in the margin of a lake. I wanted to see it lean against a lily leaf but most of all, I wanted to see it sink.

The waters at my disposal do not really lend themselves to this style of fishing and, when I read the accounts of others that were enjoying the sport I so desired on the TFF forum, my desire became a craving.

One such lucky so and so was Gary, he was fishing a couple of pools and catching good numbers of modest carp with that glorious accompaniment called blind ambition. One of these pools had only been open for a short while and the fish stocks are still a mystery, a good fish has been seen and who knows what lurks in the tree lined depths? The unknown is a strong lure and Gary was well and truly hooked. And he lives in Herefordshire - contact was made.

So it was that yesterday morning I met Gary for the first time and we headed to the new pool. Although only recently open to anglers it is a mature farm reservoir with a predictable slope in depths from just a few feet down to nearly twenty. There is a shelf around the edge and this is, in my experience, just the place to concentrate your efforts when intercepting cruising carp.

We walked the perimeter and saw a few fish near the top although they declined our floaters. I was attracted to a spot where I could either float fish the margin or put a lead on the edge of the small island which was overhung by trees. In the end I decided that temptation was too much to deal with and I put a rod on each although the island rod didn't so much as twitch all day.

However, the yellow topped goose quill sat beautifully in the margin over about 6' of water which was liberally sprayed with hemp, a few grains of corn and some worm pieces. My bait was a lob worm tipped with a grain of corn, a deadly set up for carp on many waters.

I had a wander after an hour or so just to see if there was anything showing that I'd previously missed, I didn't find anything. But, whilst I chatted with Gary and wondered at his choice of bait - prawns dipped in extra thick cream! his little float ( a fly angler's sight bob) sank and he landed a chunky little common of about 8lbs.

Back in my swim I noticed a few tiny bubbles around my float, the quill stood up in the water then, without so much as a ripple, disappeared. Heaven! I lifted my MkIV carp rod and felt it bend under the efforts of a small carp. I can go and fish for big carp any time but catching scrappy little commons on float gear is just a different game altogether and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

That first fish weighed a mere 5lbs or so and, when the float did the same lift and slide on two more occasions the fish were smaller, each was in perfect condition. I lost another that sank the float without so much as a bubble to warn me, it went off like a scolded journalist - that means something to Gary ;-) but the hook pulled after a few seconds. I had a wonderful time.

We packed at around 5.30 knowing that staying later would have probably meant more fish but that they will still be there next time. Gary was buzzing, telling me about the mirror carp he'd seen and that it frequented that area but he has yet to hook it. He will one day, of that I'm sure after all, what carp can resist a creamy prawn?

September 30, 2012

Bad Medicine

Haven't been out to play this week, I've felt unwell and it got gradually worse until Friday when Nicky read the bumf that came with my new medication. Maybe I should explain that I started on the new meds just a week ago last Thursday when my Doctor prescribed them during a consultation. The first choice magical cure came, he said, with a pamphlet. A pamphlet? I've never had tablets that came with a pamphlet before, I replied. Then his computer screen started to flash and he scratched his head, "Hmmm, can't have those whilst you are taking some of the others you're on". Then he said "Aha" and began telling me about an alternative. "Do they come with a pamphlet?" I asked. They didn't. "Is that a good or a bad thing?" I asked cheerfully, not one known for his sense of humour the Doc stared blankly at me, "give them a go for two or three months".

There followed a week when I felt awful and where I slept more than a hung over student.  Nicky read aloud, 'Possible side effects, can cause viral symptoms, fatigue, headaches, nausea, joint pains (the very thing it is designed to alleviate) etc..........'

Yep, that'll be what's doing it then, so let's read a little further. 'Can cause weight gain, can bring about anorexia'. Now I've heard of hedging your beds but this is ridiculous. The list went on.......and on.

Do you read this stuff? I don't normally as it is a short step from chronic hypochondria but these pills seem to be a possible cause for more maladies than living in a rat's nest. I've decided to put up with the pain for a while and hope that modern medicine can get its act together.


Not something I usually concentrate on but I felt that this one was worth bring to your attention. The first picture is of a boiled egg looking resplendent in its own little egg cosy - very chic.

The second is well know follically challenged Eastender and social commentator Monty Dalrymple out for a day's blanking after essox lucius whilst announcing his new winter skull warmer to the angling world.

Bloody Falstaff indeed :-)

September 23, 2012

Cold Days and Long Evenings

Once again we gathered at that chosen place with a view to catching a few barbel and enjoying a bit of a social. There were less of us this time, just a dozen of us made it due to family, work and financial issues or maybe the appetite isn't as strong nowadays?

Paddy stayed with me on Thursday night and was eager, as ever, to get to the river. He sat on a long pool with an equally long history of fine catches be they salmon or barbel. He was happy lobbing his enormous swimfeeders out, making a splash like a horse falling off a bridge! I snuck around the corner and sprayed hemp and maggots across then trotted through them with a large waggler float. Unfortunately it was just too far to fish with the centre pin and I was soon using a light carbon rod and a fixed spool but the float soon buried and a battle scarred old chub of four pounds plus came begrudgingly to hand.

I greeted one or two of the new arrivals as they passed before hitting another hefty weight. I was certain that this was a barbel as it plodded deep and upstream but it lifted in the water too soon and came in with little drama, another four pounder was returned. I can't remember if it was Richard or Hobby that watched me land that one but as I spoke to them I said I was amazed that no small fish like minnows, bleak, dace or little chublets had come to my maggots. I then greeted the long overdue Bunny (he always get's lost despite the best efforts of his Garmin) and set him up next to Paddy.  Back in my swim and I had dace after dace after dace, me and my big mouth. I went for a walk and watched Tony who had been missing bites - although I never saw his rods move once :-)

It was a struggle, the only barbel caught all day in the cold water, which had risen several inches due to reservoir run off rather than warm rain water, was foul hooked by Bunny and weighed about two ounces. But some chub were feeding, I went back to my swim and fished the lead, missing a couple of pulls from the wary fish. I shortened the hair and hit the next, a 5.02 chub.

The evening was the usual blend of anecdotes and alcohol, I went to bed at a bit after 1.30, the tireless Carl and Hobby were at least two hours behind but up ahead of me for breakfast.

Saturday was cold and bright, hardly ideal but with determination lightly tinged with apathy, we headed for the river. Everybody had an idea of where to fish including me, I was sure that we'd catch in a fast run next to a deep hole. I was wrong. So I went for another walk.

Chatting to the guys along the way it was obviously going to be another struggle but spirits were lifted when Paul's mate (sorry, can't remember your name), had a barbel of about six pounds. I eventually got sorted out and moved to the swim Bunny was in yesterday, Bunny was just downstream having taken a chub and a bream whilst Paddy dropped into a deep bend above us. I lobbed a feeder upstream to sink the line and hopefully outwit one of the highly pressured fish and about 20 minutes later the end of my rod signalled action. I was using the Mkiv carp rod that Bunny gave me a while back, I'd told him that as a rod it was wonderful and had taken chub (including yesterday's) to over five pounds and a personal best perch but tended it to avoid barbel for some reason. That changed as I hit a heavy weight that roared off. To an audience of canoeists that stopped to watch the show, I landed a 9.01 barbel.

The pressure was off but I still tried for more in vain. News started coming in of more captures and it was soon time to retire to the bar. We left the water to a backdrop of a blood red sun set.

 Half of us had barbel the best to Paul being a low double, Des had three and several of those caught were nine pounders. Rich Walker had half a dozen big chub to over 5lbs and a 9.07 barbel, there were smiles all around.

The evening was subdued, as guys got up to move it was accompanied by groans and careful positioning of limbs, despite all (apart from Bunny of course), being mere 'middle aged' gentlemen I think we were all suffering aches and pains of some sort. Even that beer machine Tony Rocca sat sipping a Tia Maria due to indigestion - where did that raucous bunch of nutters go? To prove the point, next year's 'do' has been arranged for July as, to quote Rocca, "it will be warmer then".

September 18, 2012

A slow week

During early spring our robin population is busy finding mates and the male birds can be heard singing their song of love and threats to any other male that may enter their domain which they will aggressively defend against all comers. Once they have their clutch to feed the robins are much quieter not wishing to draw attention to their location and despite a brief refreshing of their bond with Mrs Robin and a declaration of their new nesting area, they are fairly subdued until late August to mid-September when they make a lot of twittering sounds from the undergrowth. The birds by now have

recovered from the excesses of parenthood, moulted and are fresh and brightly coloured ready for their annual Christmas car appearance. It is now, at the later part of September, that you will hear that soft, watery song from the tops of trees as they sing their way through the winter. Why do they sing so long and loud at a time when they have no mate and no territory to defend? I have no idea but I have noticed that they are back 'on song' and will be a constant accompaniment throughout the cold and dark of the winter months.

Which probably hints to the fact that I've been on the bank a few times this last week yet have nothing to report in the way of fish. September should be the 'easy' month with fish coming on every trip, I've done all right of late and used the confidence of success to go and experiment in a couple of swims that have been under par this season. Apart from a couple of minute pulls from hyper-sensitive chub, I've not had anything to strike at. Time was I'd have gone back and worked out a way of fooling those nervous fish but nowadays I tend to think 'if they are that effected by the pressure of fellow anglers why should I compound their misery? Let them be and hopefully they will be a little more relaxed when I try again after the hoards have left'.

I also had a few hours on the tributary. The river looked much the way you would expect in deep winter, clear, cold and devoid of fish. I really don't know where they hide on this river, I only saw a single fish which was dark coloured and circled a pool three times, each circuit being a yard or two farther downstream than the last. It may have been a salmon, I'm not really sure. I do know that it was oblivious to my bait.

Looking forward, this weekend is the annual fish-in of the A-team (well, 'a team' of ageing blokes who enjoy a good laugh and a few beers - or Tia Marias), this is a high spot on the social/fishing calendar and will be enhanced by the addition of lifelong fishing buddy Paddy O'Hooligan and Methuselah's older brother - Bunny. I can't wait.

September 12, 2012

Fishing with a Legend

I've said it before but I feel very privileged to have met a good number of my angling 'heroes' and to have fished with one or two as well. I'm not one to gush over somebody just because they have caught a few outsized fish especially when certain anglers have access to a select number of waters where such catches are available but to fish with a genuine legend is a special day indeed.

I've fished with Dave Steuart before, I am proud to have got him his first ever shad a few years back and of course I have fished his private stretch of the Test several times but any time spent with him is a pleasure, he really is one of the biggest names in our fishing history. The catches that he and his late wife, the lovely Kay, made in the 60's and well beyond were astounding and he helped push forward the specialist angling scene in both coarse and game fishing. Dave actually wrote the very first book dedicated to the capture of carp and that enough should be enough to put him on a stamp.

So the old bugger and his mate Dickie are staying at the Red Lion this week in an attempt to catch a barbel or two. Unfortunately Dave hasn't been feeling too well and got chilled in the stiff breeze yesterday, the fishing has been patchy to say the least and things were looking like a disappointment was on the cards. I'd given some advice on swim selection and that hadn't helped at all - so much for my local knowledge.

Today I took Dave under my wing and sat with him determined to get a result. "I know just the place" I promised and, having surrounded him with a shelter and added layers of clothing we set about putting a bend in his rod - and failed to get so much as a nibble. The mood was becoming dour but Nicky arrived with a flask of he homemade leak and potato soup to warm the inner man and Dave perked up. We moved.

We set up near Dickie who'd taken a couple of chub earlier but his swim had died. Out went Dave's gear and I added a few balls of my magic groundbait ;-) and, shock of shocks, a bite!

The first fish was a chub and the blank was averted - phew! The next one, another chub, came off as it neared the bank. Dave said it was my hook that was at fault, I said it was him not playing it properly, it didn't matter, we were getting action and we were having a laugh.

Then the rod went again and a heavy fish plodded up the pool. Dave's landed thousands of fish of all sizes and made short work of landing a beautifully conditioned barbel of just over 8lbs. I was elated, Dave thanked me whilst saying yet again that he doesn't mind if he catches or not - but he enjoyed it so it does matter and even Dickie told me "well done".

Then the rain started and they decided to retire to the pub and have a clean up before their evening meal. They have one more day and catch or not they will have another wonderful day on the Wye.

September 11, 2012

Balsam Barbel

Its that time of year when a walk by the river is accompanied with a liberal pelting of flying seeds as the balsam pods burst. Himalayan Balsam is an alien invasive species that has taken over large amounts of our river banks but it has proved to be an excellent source of pollen and is always surrounded by numerous white bees as they get covered in the light pollen. As invasive as it is it does then have a use.

But its the seed pods that make it an interesting plant as they contain a spring like filament which, when the pod is ripe and dry, coils at incredible speed and flings the seeds for quite a distance thus ensuring a well sown crop for next year. I can never resist pinching the tip of a ripe pod and often jump at the ferocity of the little seed explosion. Ah well, little things..................

But the ripening balsam heralds the peak of the barbel season and I shall expect to catch on every trip over the next month or so although this didn't quite work the other day. I visited the scene of a previous capture and prepped the swim ready for the evening feeding spell. I sat back and waited.......... and waited.

The bird life slowly changed from day to night residents and where I had been watching a blue tit fly out from a bush to catch flies on numerous occasions, it eventually flew past me and off to join the rest of its group that had passed some time earlier. As the light values dropped so the green of the trees to my left faded whilst those with their backs to the last of the sunlight were silhouettes. This caused a stark contrast of reflection in my swim and it was across this light/dark line that a kingfisher flew so low that each wing beat left little expanding circular ripples on the water surface, I don't recall ever seeing that before.

My line tightened - I tensed - the line relaxed and stayed that way. The owls were in full chorus as I left.

My next trip was to have a go at trotting a long glide but despite feeding bread and hemp I didn't get a touch but when I put a feeder over the area I had a little barbel straight away. This was followed by several chub that played with my shaved boilie bait before taking it. A switch to bread on the hook saw the rod hoop round several more times, the best going over four pounds.

Then yesterday my old mate Dave Steuart and his chum Dicky came to the Red Lion for a few day's fishing. Poor old Dave (at 82 he is definitely old), had taken an eternity to cover the distance from his Hampshire home due to hold ups but after a brief rest he was off full of beans and ready to fish. I put him in the swim I'd trotted the day before but although Dicky had a couple of barbel from a few yards upstream, Dave had to make do with chub and dace.

I had a mooch around the fishery and dropped into a favoured spot that tends to produce quite quickly, I saw fish immediately and set my trap, it took just three minutes to get a fish, a barbel of exactly eight pounds. I lost another due to the hook point getting turned in when I moved the bait over the gravel so I rested the swim. 

I had a chat with some other friends then returned a bit over an an hour or so later to my spot and within twenty minutes had a slightly larger barbel, that was enough for me.

September 03, 2012

Hooray, September's Here.

Its just a change of date but September is always a month full of promise so my mood has lifted accordingly. 

The sale room I mentioned in the last post, was the source of some entertainment. Auctions are a great venue to study human behaviour as well as holding an atmosphere of intense anticipation and drama, if you've never been I recommend it but sit on your hands! As I'd left a couple of bids on the viewing day I didn't buy a 'card' to enable me to bid on the day which was probably a good idea, the urge to have a punt is so strong it can cost an awful lot for those lacking will power. I did however miss a couple of real bargains but not to worry, I got my rods and was delighted. So I came home with a 'Sabina' float rod in very good condition and an Edgar Sealy Rover that needs some tlc but which shows promise, an absolute bargain at £47 the pair.

This evening I was very keen to give my 'new' rods a trial. I decided to have a short trotting session with the Sabina and finish the session with a spot of chubbing with the Rover. Of course I got to the river later than I expected but went ahead with the plan and set up the float rod matched with a Trudex centre pin that used to belong to Peter Stone. It took a while to get a bite but once I did it was one a chuck and I started to bring little chub and dace to hand. They were all tiny but I was enjoying myself and there's always the anticipation that the next bite could put a proper bend in the rod. It didn't.

I was going to stick to the float as the sun was dipping behind the trees but then thought, 'make the effort' and I set up the rover with a newly acquired Allcocks Delmatic. Now I'm not usually one to trust old reels but this one has a story which I may go into some time in the future, anyway, I set up the rod with a paternoster to a light lead and a size 8 with a couple of pellets. I cast it to where I'd been drip feeding pellets and set about taking a picture of my float rod. 

I looked up to see the rod tip bend and stay bent! I tightened into a heavy weight and I smiled as I realised I was into a barbel. Despite issues with the reel seat and straggly bits of whipping flapping in the breeze the old rod did me proud and playing that fish was a genuine pleasure although I was forced to backwind rather than use the juddery clutch on the aged reel. 

It wasn't a big fish by any means, just five pounds or so but one which gave me great pleasure and saw me pack up with a satisfied grin etched on my face. As I left the fishery I was treated to one of the finest sunsets of the year, a perfect finale.

August 30, 2012

August, who needs it?

August is a funny old month isn't it. As a kid August was the peak of the year, we had the whole month off school and I could indulge myself by roaming the fields, playing football or preferably fishing. It was the height of my summer and I looked forward to August more than any other month. This continued into adulthood and it became the time for family holidays to the seaside. But nowadays August has a very different feel to it.

For a start, far from being the pinnacle of summer, August denotes its end. Just today I felt a coolness in the air that had a whiff of autumn about it. For me Summer is May, June and July albeit this year a very wet one, August is the start of the slippery slope toward winter. The summer birds have largely flown back toward their winter homes. I saw a couple of swifts the other day, they are stragglers and I hope they catch up with the throng that departed a month ago. The sand martins left early this year and the house martins were not long behind, its just the swallows that remain for a little longer before the air seems a duller place without our aerobatic visitors. Not only are the hedgerows quieter due to the loss of the warm weather visitors but the winter crowd have yet to arrive so, all in all, a dull period for bird lovers.

The fishing is usually pretty dull now too. By August my misanthropic tendencies are usually on full beam and I am fed up with all other anglers and their antics but, to be honest, I've not met that many this year what with being mobility inhibited so I'm not quite as bad. But the river does seem crowded in the summer and that situation continues into October nowadays. There is little solace on the lake as August is a a notoriously difficult month to fish for carp. On a recent trip I saw nothing moving at all so reverted to float fishing with little bits of bread on a size 16 and caught a bunch of roach. It was fun for a couple of hours but I was trying for a crucian carp and although I had little bubbles in the swim, tiny dips on the float and a nice fish roll almost on top of my float, I failed.

I notice that my fellow bloggers are keeping quiet at the moment, maybe they too are either finding the fishing hard or perhaps they are sitting on a sea front somewhere, trousers rolled up, knotted hanky on the head and dribbling ice cream down their string vests.

I've become more interested in the 'traditional angling' set up and see it as a perfect place to be at this time. I've been unable to fish 'flat out' this season and let's face it, the weather has been bloody awful making it a continuous round of high water tactics which I find boring. So, the idea of fishing old school methods and having a more casual view of results has been a welcome venture and one that will keep me happy for a while. Yes, I'll be on the lake soon with three carbon rods and all the electronics ready to pounce on the unwary fish but I'll also spend time stalking and trying to get my cane bent. I even visited a sale room today and left a bid on a couple more cane rods just for good measure - fingers crossed, but Nicky wouldn't let me bid on the stuffed pelican or the elephant's foot.

Roll on September.

August 21, 2012

A kid in a sweet shop

Ever walked around an antique shop or car boot sale and come across an old fishing rod or book? Do you like cased fish and find yourself absorbed by them? Does browsing through old tackle give you a deep inner glow of satisfaction? Answer "Yes" to any of the above and boy, have I got a place for you.

The Fisherman's Emporium, located just outside of Evesham ( is a little piece of heaven for any fisherman with a sense of history or just pure wonderment at the sight of so many cased beauties. There really is nowhere else like it that I have ever come across. I knew I'd enjoy looking around but it exceeded my expectations many fold.

I've been a lover of anything stuffed and cased since I was a child and discovered the glass dome filled with exotic, colourful birds in my grand parent's loft. There were other birds albeit not behind glass but I loved the opportunity to examine them up close without them flying away. The museum in Taunton had an impressive collection of stuffed birds and, as a child I used to be a regular visitor just to gaze at them. So, having dozens of fish, birds and a few mammals to peruse at the Emporium would have been enough. There was everything from gudgeon up to a 40lb carp (found dead not taken as a trophy) as well as a very early example of taxidermy a pike's head, a record roach .... I could go on.

Then there were the books, hundreds of them in excellent condition and all pleading to be bought. This really is a serious collection and if you are looking for a title I can recommend giving John Farey, the proprietor, a call.

I had a 'play' with a few of his cane rods too, each one mint and still sensibly priced but the old cane landing nets were quite steep. The only tackle he doesn't deal in are reels and lures but they have their own market.

Did I mention the art? Original Bernard Venables, Chris Turnbull and Gaz Farnham to name a few as well as plenty of old pictures that I'm not keen on but which trade for big money.

I suppose we spent a couple of hours mooching around and chatting with John an affable Essex lad who has been trading for just over four months or so. To be honest, there's so much stuff there I reckon he could charge an admission fee never mind selling anything. If you have any interest in fish or fishing this is definitely a place to save up your pennies and pay a visit.

I wasn't intending to buy anything but it was inevitable that something would come home with me, to this end we took Nicky's two-seater as there's no room for a stuffed fish in the boot but we did manage to squeeze a picture in and it will find pride of place on my wall very soon, a self portrait by Bernard Venables.

August 12, 2012


Was it really five years ago? Yes, I've checked my diary, I actually thought it was three years but five! Neil and I had been given permission to fish a private section of the Teme for the weekend and, as we sat outside of our bivvies we watched the greatest free show on (or from) Earth - Perseid, the biggest meteor shower of the year.

We had looked out for this phenomenon many times but, being England, it was usually cloudy yet here, on this cloudless night the display was fantastic. A bottle was produced and we shared a moment that will live with us for ever. Pity the fishing didn't match it :-)

And yesterday was the peak of this year's astral show but I failed to spot a single shooting star. Not that I fished into dark, I merely flicked a bait around a swirling pool for an hour or so beneath a sky that gave a portent of the heavy rain that would follow. A beautiful sky with broken cloud that looked like the scaly flank of a mighty dragon that flew into the sun. It was a time to touch leger and crane my neck to absorb the moment. Yes, I was twice disturbed, once by a barbel and again by a chub but it really didn't matter, it was all about the atmosphere.

August 01, 2012


Let me introduce you to The Beast

Possibly the worst centre pin that money can buy and barely worth the £10 invested by Paul Whiteing of the ABF but it has been given an identity and today I had my 'go'.

In short, Paul has taken a barbel on the reel - an 11.08 from the Trent - and then passed the reel on to the next person who caught one and so on. The reel is steadily passing its way through members and non members and a record is being kept of the fish caught. Each person that catches a fish makes a donation to charity to mark the event, good eh?

Now, when I heard about The Challenge I was eager to have my go and when last Saturday I was handed a fancy box containing the Beast I was genuinely excited. I see it as a little piece of angling history in the making, we are in the early stages but the challenge could continue infinitum well, at least until the Beast succumbs to the wear and tear of contact with our hardest river fighter. Be it ego, enthusiasm or just entering into the spirit of the challenge, I wanted a memorable fish, one that will stand out on the list. I started to plot my encounter.

All day the sky was leaden, a grey, ominous sheet that creates a special mood. Looking at the box that holds the Beast against the slate back drop of the stormy sky it brought to mind Hammer Horror movies and boney hands appearing out of creaking coffin lids. Something abut the day started my internal monologue rattling off superlatives and metaphors, today just had to be the day.

I had a physio appointment and as the sadist did her stuff so the skies opened and the rain poured. I followed the storm north as I returned home, had a quick meal and gathered my tackle. As I left for the river the clouds had cleared and a blue sky accompanied me on my journey. I was almost disappointed as I had enjoyed the drama in the sky of earlier but, as I set up my gear the threat of rain was upon me and I thought I was about to get wet.

I saw a big barbel the other day as it intercepted a sinking pellet in the way that the chub do in this swim. They are canny fish and not easily fooled but I felt that such a fish was a prime target for the challenge and set about its downfall. My long hooklink was 'nailed' to the river bed with rig putty, a plasticine backlead ensured everything would sit right. I mounted a 15mm Blood, Fish and Orange boilie on the hair and tied two four boilie stringers on, one on the hook the other on the lead. With a gentle swing with my cane rod I lowered the gear into the perfect position and settled the rod down. It was 6.32pm.

The storm had left the clay river bank in a real mess and the ledge at the base of the bank was swimming in ankle deep mud, just standing upright was difficult and all of my movements had to be slow and deliberate. I lobbed a few pellets around the swim just upstream of my trap and watched the chub greedily take them before they reached bottom. Past experience has shown that this usually brings the barbel out and they are generally easier to dupe especially with the rig I had in place. The rod twitched.

I picked it up and waited. It had been either a line bite or a chub had lifted the bait and spooked, either way, I was tense and full of expectation - then I felt the weight of a taking fish and struck! It was 6.42pm.

The barbel screamed out into midstream, I let it go as there are no snags there but it then turned and headed downstream with a force I have rarely felt from a fish, it just felt 'angry' as it bored deep and long. I hung on grimly watching my precious rod bend through to the butt, so far in fact that the reel became detached! I turned it and it swam past me toward an upstream snag but I knew I had the beating of her and just let the rod do its job and absorb the last lunges, she soon tired and came meekly to the net. I had done it, a Wye double on the Beast and, incidentally, my first on a cane rod. I felt elated.


Slipping about in the quagmire I managed to weigh and photograph my prize, 10.13 and in very nice condition with no other hook marks, a very satisfying capture.

With the fish back in her domain I struggled up the bank and took stock, I was caked in mud up past my ankles and my trousers and shirt looked like I'd just played a game of rugby. The rod, reel and camera were all in need of a good clean along with the unhooking mat, landing net etc. Could I summon the effort to do all of that and find another swim? Could I heck, ten minutes in the right spot is all it takes, I'd had my sport - and some, so I packed and went home.

After a dab with a damp cloth I returned the Beast to its box secure in the knowledge that many other will enjoy their own personal encounter.

July 31, 2012


Had a session on the Wye down at Bishopswood at the weekend, it was the Wye Fish-In with the ABF (Association of Barbel Fishers) and a group of us met to raise a few shillings for charity. Typical of this sort of do the fishing was secondary to the overall event so none of us was too bothered by the extremely hot, bright conditions. We were a tad miffed at the actions of some of the canoeists that streamed past during the day, quite why adults, when placed on water, should act like children I don't know. I resorted to bouncing a pellet around the swim and had three chub whilst those either side of me had barbel, funny that but hey, I was chub fishing anyway ............... honest :-)

Having to drive home that evening I avoided the rather thirsty side of the get together but it was good to meet up with some good mates and to put faces to some names of group members.

On Monday I intended to fish all day but really couldn't summon the energy. I went instead during late afternoon and opted to try a pool that has been all but unfishable this season due to the high water. Conditions were just about perfect but I had to go back to the car for a fixed spool reel as it was a mighty chuck to the hot spot and my Wallis Cast falls way short with the pin. As I set my gear up I noticed that the line from the reel spool had come away from the clip and that there were a few yards 'missing'. I started to wind them back expecting it to stretch back from whence I came however, the line came from the direction of the river, then over a grassy bank and eventually pointed to a certain hairy mutt called Harvey. I wound down to him and sorted the mess out. There was line wrapped around three of his legs and he seemed totally oblivious. I know you shouldn't compare but Buddy would stop and step over his lead if it got under his leg and any line wrapped around him would see him stop dead and wait for me to free him, Harvey however, with his thick curly haired legs............... well, it took a while.

I eventually made a cast at about 5.30, sat back and almost immediately everything felt heavy, I tightened to a running fish and landed a lovely mint barbel of about 6lbs. A good start.

The next cast saw me hooked into a snag which turned out to be a length of mono stuck fast at the upstream end and stretching into the pool. It was festooned with twigs and, as I tried to handline my gear in, claimed my end tackle. I sat and quietly mumbled a curse or two as I re-tackled.

My next cast settled and I thought about making a phone call to a mate to check on his progress but the clutch whined and I was straight into a second fish, this one ran hard and I could do nothing with it until it came off! I wound in but found I was again enmeshed with the length of line I'd previously hooked. This time, when I had it within a few yards of the bank, I waded out (alas I wasn't wearing waders) and pulled as much of it as I could but still left too much of it behind.

Tying a new hook I decided to return in a day or two with appropriate gear and footwear and remove the rest.

I obviously did enough to stop fish from seeking its sanctuary as I had three more pristine shoalies before deciding that I shouldn't be greedy and packing up at 7pm. I think I could have caught a fish a chuck for quite some time but, like my last trip down on to my home stretch, such actions seem a bit greedy and ultimately prove nothing.

I'd like to think that more people would fish with a conscience but I'm afraid that there are few with this attitude. There was a large group fishing together on the stretch and they had managed very few fish between them but I didn't feel that I could point anyone to this swim as I know what would happen, it would be hammered for days, possibly weeks as its reputation gets passed from resident to resident and I don't want that to happen through me. Any competent angler would spot it from a mile off anyway.

July 25, 2012

Ups and Downs

Dry weather at last, great, that means I can get on to the field at the carp lake and maybe have a night or two after some carp! Then the temperature rose and I thought 'uh oh', I have a sneaky feeling the carp will be doing some summer lovin'.

But I went anyway just for a look around and with a few baits (mainly floaters) in my bag. I saw plenty of fish, loads of them in fact but, as I suspected they were somewhat preoccupied with procreation. I sat in the shade and flicked dog biscuits out onto the water and watched as he carp trailed around in procession and the bream drifted in mid-water. Then I heard a splash.

Closer investigation revealed a good fish eating the floaters. I fumbled with shaky hands to set up my rod and tie a hook and returned to the scene of the action - where it was all quiet. Over the next hour or so I had one or two fish lazily suck a morsel from the surface film and one scamp of a fish took quite a few as they drifted under an overhanging tree but, each time I introduced a baited hook they simply sank away or swam around it ignoring it with a blatant disregard.

So I took out my camera and took a few shots and some video.

A change of plan was needed and the arrival of a new cane rod was the only provocation I needed. A thought struck me. The second knot most of us learn to tie -after the Granny of course - is the bow. Sat on a step, tongue out in deep concentration as stubby fingers manoeuvre lace ends over and around until success! A loose bow is tied on your shoe only to come undone a few paces farther on and the process starts again. But its a beginning and us anglers certainly become adept at a wide range of magical twists and turns of thread or rope in order to secure our hooks, leads or boats, yet the bow will always have a significant place in our being. The bow becomes the string on a parcel, the ribbon on a gift, the final barrier of sensual clothing.... Untying a bow is like unlocking a chest, it reveals.

And so I fought through yards of parcel tape and staples to gain access to the rod tube and there it was - a rod bag secured by two bows. The first one, half way down and less interesting, was dispatched with little thought but the second, the bow that would reveal the rod that lay beneath, this was pulled seductively apart, the moment savoured and the hidden gem revealed. I was not to be disappointed, the rod, beautifully restored was assembled. In the hand it felt light, responsive, arrow straight and simply delightful - I needed to go fishing.

Nicky and Harvey decided to come too but we waited for the temperature to drop for all our sakes, no point in frying after all. So it was 7pm when I swung the first cast across and into the main flow. This was the swim in which I blanked last week but then the river was like cocoa and much wilder, this time it was just about right. I soon lobbed a second feeder full of damp pellets and crushed boilies onto the same spot, I like to get a bit of food in at the start. On the hair were three or four small pellets glued along its length, this subtle approach often out fishes the blatant large bait used by so many. I sat back, the evening air was warm but fresh, the scenery perfection and the mood optimistic. I decided to celebrate the moment with a photo of my new rod and moved it to a better angle for the shot but the butt fell off the rucksack it was leaning on and I wondered why until I saw the tip, it was pointing downstream and bending further by the moment. I quickly tightened into my first barbel just fifteen minutes after I had made the first cast.

The fight was an exciting affair as the fish hugged the bottom then used its fins against the fast current but I am pleased to say that the rod was more than capable and an eight pounder was duly landed. I sat back content with the world, I don't find the river in generous mood that often and a quick fish often signifies a long lull afterward but I was satisfied, I'd christened my rod, what more could I ask.

Well, over the next hour I had two more, the second capture being video'd by Nicky which is a first for me. These last two fish were like peas from a pod at about seven pounds something in weight, it didn't matter, they were great fun on the gear and, as I slipped the last one back to fight another day I felt totally sated and decided to pack up. This may seem strange to some of you especially those with the 'catch at any cost' attitude but I had taken my fill, anything else would have been greedy and would have felt disrespectful in a weird way, so we left.

July 22, 2012


My first memory is of seeing my fingers playing with the coloured beads that slid up and down on a metal pin in a panel on the side of my cot. Red, green, yellow and blue, each faded on the edges from the action of my fingers as well as those of my brother and sister before me and, quite probably of other children before my parents bought it. Conversely, when I  leave this world there shall be "hands and tears on wood" as I once wrote about a close friend's funeral, it is an ever present in our lives and deaths.

As a youngster I would 'play' at fishing in my back garden. Canes from the rows of beans were never satisfying as they would not bend properly and broke as soon as that fighting curve was achieved. No, it was hazel branches that made the best rods, pulled from the hedge and with string attached and a weighty piece of wood to act as the fish, Paddy and I would sit beyond the vegetable patch under the dead tree where the barn owl would sometimes perch and catch pretend roach, chub and maybe even a barbel just as Mr Crabtree did in that Holiest tome from the pen of Bernard Venables. Sometimes we dared to catch a specimen 2lb roach or 5lb chub never believing that it may one day come true.

My first rod was cane, cheap and very nasty and it put me off the stuff for a long time. I 'progressed' to solid fibre glass, surely one of the worst rod materials man has endured, then, because I couldn't afford a hollow glass rod with my savings, another cane rod which became the mainstay of my fishing life for several years.

Having afforded hollow glass rods I turned my back on cane and when carbon fibre became the norm I saw no reason to go back and that's how it stayed ......................... until I read the books and articles of Chris Yates.

If ever a man has influenced the lives of fishermen then Chris is right up there at the top. His beautiful prose about secret carp pools or hard fighting barbel im crystal rivers, all painted against the backdrop of bent cane and screeching centre pins, what man could fail to be moved. I yearned for the feel of cane once more.

It took a time and, having taken the plunge, a number of cane rods have come my way and I have learned to enjoy the feeling of one bucking in my hand as it attempts to straighten itself against the pull of the fish. It is a spiritual thing.

But I have found my rods lacking. Most cane rods are light in their test curve to anything comparable in carbon, who amongst us would contemplate barbel fishing with a 1lb test curve rod? Yet the traditional Avon style cane rod rarely exceeds that. My rods have been under-gunned on the Wye where the fish fight hard and long in a strong, fast river. I need to upgrade. And what of the carp? I want to take a twenty pound plus carp on a cane rod. The weight should be immaterial but it is a self imposed ambition and that is all that fishing is when you get down to it, a series of goals and ambitions that we set ourselves and, once achieved well, we just set another.

So, I now have a heavy Chapman 700 which will not fold and cede to the runs of a stout carp in a weedy estate lake and, should that fish be close to or beyond the immense thirty mark, well it will just roll up its sleeves and do the job. I am also negotiating (with a certain Mr Wood) the acquisition of a Chapman 550 with its pound and a half test curve, much better suited to the barbel and the occasional carp from clearer venues. Add to this Andy Sliwa has promised to return to the 'Lab' and conjure up another magic wand, as identical as possible to the one he made for Neil and that is something that I will have to wait for no matter how impatient I feel.

But I am not a Traditional Angler and nor am I about to go shopping for Edwardian garb and a bloody Kelly Kettle. Unlike many that enjoy the sensation of cane in their hand I have no compunction about fitting an old rod with a brand new reel either a pin or a fixed spool, and most of my rods are fairly new anyway. No, I'll carry on with a mixture of ancient and modern, cane and bait runners, cane and Delkims it matters not a jot to me.

I have the cane bug and am out to enjoy myself, tomorrow I shall head for the lake and a stab at my goal, then, if my new rod arrives in time, I'll be off to the river whilst still looking out for a rod or two to fill the gaps in my arsenal.

Anglers, hopeless romantics or gullible fools?  You decide.