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.