February 29, 2012

Back on the trot

With the weather so unseasonably warm I just had to get out and enjoy the sunshine for a few hours. I bought a couple of pints of maggots and headed for the Lugg, travelling light taking just a trotting rod and the bare essentials of tackle. The rod is a slightly heavier one than I used on the chalk streams as I was fishing in tighter swims and had an outside chance of hooking a barbel. I have two bottom sections for it and opted for the 11' version.

After a long walk I stopped in a favourite chub swim, the current picks up off a bend and runs alongside a steep bank before cutting past an overhanging bush then hits the opposite bank beneath yet more foliage. It is a classic chub spot and has never failed to give me a fish or two.

I trickled maggots in as I tackled up, a 3 x AAA float, 5lb fluoro hooklink and a size 16 Guru QM1 hook - my secret weapon, sharp and devilishly designed to stick into a fish and stay there. They work a treat but, being barbless, they often fall out in the net once the fish is landed.

It took about twenty minutes to get a bite, just as I held back at the tail of the swim, a chub okay, not a monster at only 2 pounds or so but a good scrap in the fast water. Nothing else happened so I moved on to the next swim and the next and so on, seeking out action but, I presume due to the high sun and clear water, nothing came my way apart from a few sucked maggots - probably through the attention of minnows. I did however, meet several mad women walking their dogs, they were all cheerful enough but well, let's say a little eccentric in their ways. Its occasions like this when I like fishing with a partner as it gives me someone to pass them on to but today I had to smile politely whilst being introduced to their pampered pooches.

I ended up where I'd started, feeling tired and with an aching back but I was determined to give it a little longer. I soon had another small chub then something that came in like a dog on a lead to begin with but then woke up and went berserk, it was a brown trout of about two and a half pounds, a bit of a surprise really. The last fish was a slightly better chub of around three and a half pounds, again not a monster but great fun on a light rod and a bit hairy with so many snags nearby.

Happy with my modest haul I left as the sun was thinking about setting and when, I am certain, the better fish would have moved in to feed but I know when I've had enough and there is always tomorrow.

February 28, 2012

Almost there

We may not be quite there yet but a sure sign that Spring is almost upon us is the sound of frogs around the pond at night and a discovery that never ceases the thrill in the morning.

February 26, 2012

Satisfaction guaranteed

What better way to get back on the river bank than to have a couple of days trotting chalk streams for grayling? I was joined for the two day stint by that miscreant of t' north Tony Rocca who I knew would appreciate a bit of angling culture. He nearly didn't get there, the road closure above Newbury tested his patience and found it lacking somewhat. Guided only by the setting sun he took to the 'pretty route' and seriously contemplated looking for the North Star and heading home. When he arrived after seven long hours of teeth grinding and frustration it would have been reassuring for Tony to have a sympathetic ear in which to release the tension of the day but all he had was me and I just laughed!

Next morning and it was all just a bad memory, the day was mild and dry and the river, when we arrived at Dave's place, looked absolutely perfect. But there was no rush to begin, first we had a chat with my old mate Dave Steuart who lives right next to this most illustrious river and owns the beat on which we were to spend the day.

For those who do not know Dave, he is a genuine angling legend. There aren't many that can carry that title but Dave has been at the forefront all his angling life and I grew up reading his thought provoking exploits be they about salmon, carp, roach, pike or any one of a hundred fish from foreign waters. He and his late wife Kay are universally respected. He's a lovely bloke but he could talk all four legs off a donkey :-)

We went through the first job of feeding the trout in the 'out of bounds Pets Pool' a spectacular sight as fish to about 8lb + snatch bread from the surface.

At my first swim I hit into a shoal of good sized grayling the average size being over a pound, those and a couple of small roach started the day off well. We then moved about the fishery catching freely at every spot. The fishing is not exactly difficult on Dave's stretch, however, there are always targets you can set and ours was to find some of the big roach and at 'Kay's' swim I lost one at the net, it looked close if not over the magical 2lb mark and I had to have a little walk around to calm my shattered nerves.

I went on to take loads of nice grayling and a bunch of nuisance trout that insisted on beating the surface to a foam, I did however, lose the biggest I hooked that was over 6lbs. We didn't see any of the big browns during our trip, they do move up and down the river and were possibly up in the shallows. I didn't mind, I was hardly kitted out to play 15lbs of thrashing fury on my light float rod and they are out of season anyway, give me a roach any day.

Tony fluked a couple of decent roach at the sluice but decided to operate an early release policy on several more, that or he was using a rubber hook. He claimed his best was a 'two' but declined the offer of scales so I reckon it was no more than 1.14, not that it matters you understand (much) You'll have to check out Tony's blog for pictures and draw your own conclusion :-) He also landed a big 'un but Dave and his mate Richard were on hand to declare it a hybrid (Tony Two Species) so it didn't count.

I poached the opposite side of the pool that Tony was in and took several roach but none over 12oz, there were a few perch there too. It was reminiscent of my childhood, fishing the worried waters of a weir, the roar of the water and the bold bites that can come from anywhere along the trot, of course, as a kid I never caught fish of this quality but the essence of the fishing was the same and I was totally sated at the end of the day.

Friday was even warmer and sunnier and, as we walked across the field to the Wylye with good friend Mike Perry, the birds were in full Spring song calling for mates and warding off rivals. I even found my first Lesser Celandine of the year, this little yellow flower is one of the first indicators that Spring is upon us.

Tony seemed quite taken by the lovely little carrier stream we fished and soon had a few fish from a tiny weir pool. But no swim needs to be fished for long as there were miles to explore and we searched for likely spots as we headed upstream. I had my first fish from a 'deeper' (about three and a half feet) pool and landed a grayling which is as big as any I've had. I didn't weigh it, just took a quick picture and slipped it back.

It was one of those days when I didn't really feel the need to fish much, just being there was more than enough. Mike cooked us some steak sandwiches at lunchtime and there was no rush to get back to the river. Mike had saved his special pool for last and, having warmed it up by catching a few, I made way for Tony to settle in and enjoy its delights. He had switched over to a cane rod and soon had it trembling in his hand as yet another pound plus grayling twisted in the current. I grabbed the rod as soon as his back was turned and had a couple on it, the soft, forgiving action again brought back memories of my youth and those fish gave me tremendous pleasure. Its strange but from such a relaxed day I came up with a possible solution to the number of lost fish when grayling fishing. We all know that their strange twisting action can throw hooks when they are being played and to minimise the number lost I have, for some time, used the excellent Guru QM1 circle hook when targeting grayling. However, there are still a few losses but, with the traditional soft action of the cane rod at one end and the ultra modern hook at the other, I don't think that Tony dropped any. Ancient and modern, there's a place for it all on a river bank.

February 19, 2012

Retail Therapy

Had a day out at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry yesterday, not to watch a lowly positioned football team but to submerge myself into a fishy environment for a few hours as they staged a Carp and Coarse Show.

It was really busy when we got there but soon thinned out and the numbers attending looked a little low considering it was a free event with free parking unlike the old rip-off days at the NEC. However, talking to some of the traders, they thought that by making it 'free' it attracted too many browsers as opposed to people determined to claw back their entrance fee on a few bargain purchases. Consumer psychology - you don't get that on many blogs :-)

I recently bought the first three Rob Maylin books Tiger Bay, Fox Pool and Basil's Bush, all reprints as the originals are fetching silly money. Rob was there and did a talk about his latest couple of books and I was fortunate enough to win a copy of one of them. He then did me a deal on the other so my book shelf has yet more weight to bear - result!

Apart from Neil and I buying a load of bits and bobs it was really good catching up with a few old mates. Martin Ford is the guy that showed me how to put a magazine together all those years ago and I met him for the first time in an age. We caught up and I have been given an invite to have a night or two on his fishery which sounds awesome; he showed me a picture of an old, black mirror that would look just perfect in my landing net, I shall certainly try to make that happen.

Stef Horak was there, I went to the counter to get some coffee, turned and saw that Stef was sat next to Nicky give her his best chat up lines, "I'm divorced now y'know", so he hasn't changed much. We had a good chin wag like you do, I told him I hardly recognised him without a barbel or perch in front of his face, readers of Coarse Angling Today will know what I mean.

A day of total immersion therapy does a power of good and I am looking forward to the end of the week when I'll be spending a couple of days trotting for grayling and (hopefully) roach on the Test and Wylye. Then I may just get back to writing a fishing blog.

February 08, 2012


The sea was grey against a backdrop of a dark, rain laden sky, a vista without contrast but with beauty in its bleakness. Small waves grumbling against the shingle beach with each vane exertion to push water onto the hinterland. The stiff breeze made us tuck our chins into our collars but the chill and the stone grey environment in which we walked felt invigorating, the extra effort needed to walk on a shifting, sinking floor made our legs ache but it was rewarded with the feeling of being alive - very alive.