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.