December 23, 2013

All I want for Christmas......

- is something to write about. It really has been slim pickings over the last month or two but hey, fishing isn't compulsory and never should be, what I don't do now I can make up for in the future.

I did venture out with Neil for a spot of pike fishing a few weeks back. The plan was for an early start but Neil couldn't get there until after lunch so I decided to wait for him. We opted for a lure fishing session and started bombing the river in a promising looking spot without a sniff. Moving to one of my favourite pike haunts, Neil took the box seat and had a follow second cast. I had to listen to his description of the fish's size and this was repeated when next cast he hooked it albeit for only a second or two.

Regaining some composure he continued to work his way through the lures I'd brought along which were mainly spinner baits of varying sizes and he soon reported a follow from a smaller fish. Meanwhile I didn't see any fish at all, not there or in any of the numerous swims I tried.

We had a think and moved a few miles to another productive spot. Again - nothing, but a few yards upstream is a cracking swim but, as the bank was steep and slippery, I gallantly stood back to allow the boy the pleasure. Two casts later I had to descend the slope to photograph a fine river pike of 13lb 8oz. I was delighted for Neil as pike have long been a bogey fish for him and this was his first from the Wye despite several attempts.

Getting up the bank was a difficult but hilarious experience and we called it a day.

I went to the spot where the two fish followed Neil's lure a day or two later but couldn't raise any response. As I thrashed the river to a foam I thought to myself "Why didn't you just bring some deadbaits?" And promised myself a change of method next time out.

A day or two later that old poacher Paul Ashton contacted me to say that his pike season had started with a flourish and that he had taken a fish of exactly 20lbs and one of 10lbs 4oz. I wonder if you can guess which swim it came from?

The back was playing me up for a while but I did promise myself another go as the low, clear conditions made pike, chub and grayling all catchable. Of course it rained overnight and I didn't fancy the slippery banks and the river was starting to rise, it could wait a day or two. Since then the river has come up and up and......

I have a grayling day booked for early January and a day with Dave Steuart in February and will doubtless find a moment or two to spend at the waterside in the mean time. There's even talk of another trip to a French river next summer but more of that later.

Its been an odd year for many reasons and it looks like 2014 will continue in that vein, I hope that a few fish grace the net or that I fall in often enough to keep you entertained.

Enjoy the Christmas period and thanks for taking the time to drop in.

November 14, 2013

Going Home

I've always held an affinity with Sedgemoor, its an atmospheric area steeped in a history of civil war, Judge Jeffries, bloodshed and attrition and long before that the legend of King Arthur and Camelot. But my inner feelings seem separate to the troublesome past, I feel 'at home' when I'm on the moor, a feeling that Nicky shares, we really did think we'd live there one day but instead we have been enticed by the spectacular hills and mountains of the Welsh boarders and its most glorious of all rivers. My family name a generation ago was Mears and surely emanates from a watery past, maybe my ancestors eked out a living on the black peat soil of Sedgemoor, my fishing instincts may be born from an ancient necessity rather than a modern pass time.

I'd have got there sooner but for a motorway journey from hell where it took over two hours to travel just two and a half miles but arrive I did. I was greeted by my old mate Bunny, now well recovered from his knee operation and ready to get his boots dirty again. We went out for a meal, put the world to right and slept soundly in anticipation of a day on the Kings Sedgemoor Drain.

I travelled ahead and was at the drain quite early. As I sorted my gear a couple of Polish lads arrived and gave me a sideways look as they nipped into the outlet of the sluice, my favoured spot. I had a chuck or two in the bridge pool and noticed that they were not working their way down the drain so I went past them for some spinning. I was using a Scotty 7' spinning rod married with my Hardy Exalta reel. I opted to use this rod as I thought I'd get the usual little jacks this area always used to produce, should I want to up the lure size or go after some bigger fish I had a carbon lure rod with a multiplier reel.

Three casts later and a flick upstream with a slow retrieve of my spinnerbait saw a gentle take. I hit it and at first thought it was the expected little chap but I soon reassessed the situation as the little rod hooped over and a decent fish charged off. I had to net it due to the marshy banks and an eleven pound twelve ounce pike was landed, the old cane twig performed magnificently. This impressed the Polish lads who came for a look, they'd been trying elsewhere for three hours without a touch and my immediate success was alarming to them. One said something about a photo but I assured him I appreciated the offer but I was happy with a ground shot, he then continued and I realised he wanted a trophy shot of his mate holding the fish! I obliged then slipped it back into the dark water of the drain.

Expecting Bunny and Paddy to arrive imminently I went back to the bridge pool by the car park. I bided my time with a few casts and changed to a plastic shad to get a bit deeper and bang, pike number two and a seven pounder was chinned out. Of course I got hit by the thrashing fish as I went to lift it but I always think of a day piking as one spent giving blood, its just part of the game.

The blood is mine!

Paddy arrived first and was eager to spend the day spinning, he set about it with his usual enthusiasm and soon lost a fish on the take. Bunny was fashionably late but then he always takes a while to get up to steam and having to return for his maggots didn't help. As he got himself sorted I tried float fishing the sluice but soon lost interest due to the extra water and swirling current making it tough work.

Paddy returned from his fruitless wanderings and we gathered for a brew and a sample of Bunny's cakes, I have to say he does cook well and the lemon tray bake and fruit cake were excellent. Duly refreshed I went with Paddy above the bridge to explore with the lure rods. Paddy took the hot area that usually produces the goods whilst I moved a few yards farther on. I swapped over to that old classic an Ondex and soon had a violent take that nearly took the rod out of my hands, a six pounder fought beyond its weight and was slipped back. I told Paddy I wasn't going to fish there any more until he'd caught so I went back to the bridge pool and set up a float rod whilst lobbing out a freshly dispatched roach on my nine foot Scotty salmon spinning rod and Scout centre pin.

Paddy ambled back down to the sluice bemoaning the lack of action whilst Bunny and I steadily caught loads of small roach, skimmers and perch. An urgent call from Paddy had me heading downstream, I got there just in time to see him swearing at the sky. A pike of about 12lbs (that would have been his pb) had managed to leave the hooks in the net whilst getting free. I offered my sympathies.

Soon after returning to my pitch I had another fish of about six pounds and immediately passed the news on to Paddy - coz I'm like that.

I was also delighted, as he returned to his car for an early finish, to tell him about a fifth at the same sort of size a little later, the poor soul was on call that evening and had to be at home and retired with a blank. It has to be said that where pike are concerned Paddy has never made the connection, they just don't like him I guess. I always seem to conjure a pike or two even when those around me struggle, I wish I was like that with big perch and roach.

Bunny and I finished the day with more fish but I had to break off to record the sunset. As the sun dipped so the starlings came by, six waves each containing thousands of birds. As they passed so you got the impression it was coming on to rain as droplets of starling shit drifted to earth, the amount had to be seen to be believed. We also spotted lots of lapwings, one flock being escorted by a marsh harrier. The sedge beds behind us are now home to great white egrets, cranes, bitterns and bearded tits along with a wealth of other bird life.

Day two was something of 'after the Lord Mayors show' as the pike refused to play. We still managed a good catch of bits but lures were steadfastly ignored. I had a token deadbait out for a while until mid afternoon when I had a deep urge to change to a livebait. I get these feelings when I'm pike fishing, it must just be the change in weather or light conditions but when I feel this compulsion I know to act upon it. I landed a four inch roach and quickly attached it to the single circle hook rig that had worked well the previous day. Out it went near the bridge wall and I walked the rod back to my position - looking up the float had gone. Expecting it to be me pulling on too tight a line I eased off some slack but it stayed under. I wound down and tightened into a heavy weight that released all too quickly and I retrieved a roach minus a lot of scales. With that the moment had passed and I didn't get another twitch from essox.

So ended my trip but before I left I cut a few sedges to dry over the next few months for float making. I thoroughly enjoyed my brief visit and am eager to return, I want to fish with Bunny again soon and watching Paddy blank never loses its novelty. The atmosphere of the moor is unique and always leaves me yearning for more. Although we fished next to the thrum of the road a short walk up or down stream puts you far enough away to melt into an ancient landscape and to feel isolated yet secure. I also want to make a winter visit to Shapwick where those incontinent starlings murmerate in their hundreds of thousands before dropping into the sedges for the night, as spectacular a vision of exotic wildlife behaviour as can be found and one that I have missed seeing for too long.

October 22, 2013

Fully Scaled

I've hit a bit of a wall with my fishing. The river has been well under par all season and although I know places where I will catch, it feels too much like going over old ground so struggling over long walks to do the same old thing lacks the appeal to get me off my ample botty at present.

There's the lake of course, I had a wander around it the other day and it looks just as beautiful as always but, with the recent rain and it having two streams and a couple of springs flowing into it, it will now be the colour of tea and in such conditions the carp are extremely difficult to temp. Likewise, my intended predator fishing there is also on hold.

I mulled this over yesterday's rainy morning and decided 'To hell with it, I'll stay at home and do something constructive'. I fully intended to as well but as I ate my lunch I was filled with that urge - I just had to fish. When this feeling hits me its akin to the feeling of panic that tells you to flee, it is irresistible. I threw some gear into the car and said a hasty goodbye to Nick then turned the ignition key and...'Click'. Bugger! After a few frantic minutes with jump leads and language that your Granny shouldn't hear I found it was just -just? an issue with the immobiliser and the engine fired into life. I was off.

I just needed to feel a decent fish, any fish on the end of my line. I had to catch something. I then made a decision that surprised even me and I headed for the commercial where James and I had recently shared a day. Generally I avoid such places as too easy/crowded/ugly etc but being midweek and knowing that the main pool is only ever lightly fished anyway, I set myself a target of a double figure carp.

At the pool there were a couple of lads fishing close to the gate in the obvious spot as it commands much of the water yet their carp rods were pointing away from the main body of water and into a narrow channel. They looked bored and restless, I carried on and settled into the end of the lake where the wind was blowing and which is fed by an outlet from a higher pool. Here I settled next to an alder tree so that I had plenty of water in front of me but could see no other angler. It also afforded access to a line of trees on the opposite bank that had evidently remained unfished for a long while as the banks looked near pristine.

Out went one and a half boilies along with a pva bag of mini pellets, nothing complicated needed here but a small plasticine back lead was added to sink the line. I catapulted a few free boiles around the area, slipped on my improvised bobbin, a boilie with a slit in it and sat back to watch the float on a second rod.

Improvised boilie bobbin

The area in front of me soon became alive with small fish that pulled and towed my float around but I was using a big enough bait to avoid them and only struck if it sailed away, which it did - twice. Once from a small bream then from something heavy that shed the hook as it ploughed through the overhanging alder branches.

Small but beautiful

As the rain increased so I packed the float away and concentrated on the bottom rod. I'd already had a couple of little fish the first of which was a spectacular little fully scaled carp. I craved the attentions of a certain fully scaled I'd seen earlier in the season but alas, those fish are afflicted with some sort of disease and their future is somewhat bleak so I haven't the heart to go after them now. But the sight of this little chap cheered me, they really are the loveliest of all the carp varieties in my opinion and, after a little mirror so another fully scaled came to the net. The day was looking brighter even if the sky wasn't.

The fish I'd hooked had all torn up the lake like turbo charged whippets. Lifting the rod little contact was felt as they swam right to left on a wide arc from me, it was only as they pulled directly against the rod that they fought with any weight which, due to their small size, was not that spectacular. However, the next fish to lift my boilie to the rod was met with a quick strike and again, it belted off and felt just like the rest. As I turned it back toward my position so it started to grow and after a minute or two it had gone from a nipper to something with a bit of bulk. My New Superb was well up for the task but this fish just refused to tire and made run after run. I knew it was a common as mirrors just don't seem to fight like this and when it eventually came to the net my arm was aching. It was indeed a common, a sleek fish with a broad back and although I didn't weigh it I'm sure it was my target fish which more than made my day.

Job done

I slipped it back and decided to give it a little longer as there were obviously a few fish over my bait. Another little fellow was returned but then the bites became finicky so I touch ledgered, something I just love doing. I felt a pluck or two then a pull worthy of a strike. This fish came in like a confused sack, it gave very little fight but flapped its fins in an uncoordinated fashion which was totally ineffective. It could not have been more different to the angry common but they all count and into the net it went. Of course, with all that unused energy it made a right song and dance of it on the mat but soon calmed and I took a couple of quick photo's of yet another larger and stunning fully scaled carp.


More than satisfied with my angling fix I crossed my fingers as I turned the ignition key, the engine started first time and I splashed my way home.

October 08, 2013

Misdirection, Cake and Reels.

Its been a hectic few days. The weekend saw a gathering of gentleman piscators each with a foot stuck well and truly in the past. That does not make them in any way odd, they just have a yearning for better times especially where angling is concerned. They represent this nostalgia by fishing with ancient tackle and by using traditional methods. Its a tiny, polite and typically English form of part protest part ideology.

As they had gathered at the Red Lion and as I knew a good few of them, it fell to me to show them around. I was more than happy as I too have been using old cane rods for a while now and I too have turned my back on the high pressure sales technique that our favourite pass time seems to have become. I too am looking for respite, for quiet waters. Unlike some I do not embrace Chris Yates as some sort of deity and you will never catch me in tweeds or moleskins, perhaps I'm just a tad too cynical for such things.

Anyway, I eventually found Stuart, I'd given him minutiae instructions on where to fish but he had found a different area that looked good enough and had taken a chub. He did move to my suggested spot and he did lose a barbel but Stuart has a very itchy bottom and he cannot sit still for long, he tried elsewhere and again caught chub. He also had issues with the resident livestock and was uncomfortable with their 'looking' at him offering "There's a whole pack of them". He was referring to cows by the way.

The river was on the rise, I winkled a chub out then mooched around looking for new arrivals eventually joining the throng in the pub during the evening. All talk was about location and, due to the fast altering conditions, I did my best to put everybody on fish. Bob especially as he was getting over an illness so I again spelled out the finest directions known to man and pointed him to a going swim just fifty yards from a car park.

Next morning I found Bob half a mile beyond that swim. "Is this it?" He asked. "Err, no" I replied, wondering how far he had walked before guessing he had passed the spot? Oh well, whilst he had got this far I put him in the suggested spot that Stu had been in just a few yards beyond. You can tell a hunter by his eyes and when Bob saw the crease before him they sparkled, he couldn't get into position quick enough - he caught barbel too.

To be honest the river did not fulfil its promise and the fishing was hard but everybody got on very well, the sun shone and we managed to spend plenty of time chin wagging and eating some wonderful plum cake.

With the weekend past I was determined to get a fish or two for myself. I hadn't wetted a line on Saturday or Sunday and Monday was spent doing homely stuff so today I wanted to get out before the weather changes. I have found that although I love the feeling of a fish on a cane rod I am not that impressed with the older reels. I have some wonderful centre pins and age makes little difference to their performance but fixed spools, well that's a different story altogether. My Abu Cardinals are smooth and beautifully made and my Hardy Exalta is a miracle of engineering but they all twist the line to a point where I just don't enjoy using them that much. On Monday I bought a brand new Fox Eos Baitrunner.

Tucked under a high bank this evening, watching the cattle silhouetted against an evening sky and listening to the strangled cries of the jackdaws as they settle in their roost I had an urgent pull against my finger and my Chapman 550 took on its battle curve. The modern reel complimented the set up and dealt with the demands upon it with ease. I don't care what anybody thinks, old rods and new reels will do for me and I soon had a veritable torpedo of a fish in the net, long, pointed and with a huge tail. Why couldn't a few more like this have appeared during the weekend?

September 29, 2013


If you ever doubt just how much you know about fishing then take a novice for a day. It is amazing just how many little things you do instinctively that have to be carefully explained and demonstrated - its exhausting.

I've guided people who think they know a bit but were hard work but today I spent with a real learner, my neighbour's lad James. I've taken him a few times before and today I wanted him to get his first carp - not a big one, one step at a time and all that, but a carp anyway. He's a lovely lad who sadly has Aspergers Syndrome which makes for some challenges in his life but he's very intelligent, witty and loves to fish. He's fine with a rod and line but does need to do things in an organised way, once we had that sorted he was away and flying.

James won't use a live bait so we fed a few pellets, bread and then some luncheon meat that I'd defrosted ............... but which floated! I was hoping to use small meat cubes as our main line of attack but now I was struggling and to make it worse I'd forgotten to bring another tin. Using the ol' noggin I mixed a paste out of a few slices of bread and the meat, the resultant ball of paste quickly accounted for a number of bites and when James eventually connected with one he had his first ever crucian carp. He was happy, I was delighted as I didn't even know there were any in here. It got better when the next bite was struck and hooked with no help from me and a pretty little mirror of about two and a half pounds was landed.

The paste was getting stolen more often than not by the hoards of roach and rudd in the swim, we changed to corn and James had plenty of silver fish and the most beautiful little linear carp. I had a few slightly larger carp up to four pounds or so, by casting a pva bag across to the far bank and one by floating a crust right under the near bank.

In all we had great fun but the close of play was signalled when James had tried to sort a minor tangle at the reel by winding backwards. The result was a bird's nest of prodigious proportion that meant we either start again or go home. Both tired and happy we packed vowing to return.

There are many ways to enjoy fishing and sharing a day with James is certainly one of them.

September 20, 2013

Meeting Folk

I suppose that most of the people I know have been met through fishing in some way. I am often reminded by my lovely wife that our world rotates around the pursuit of sub-aquatic creatures and that socially we seem restricted to an angling based list of functions, friends and associates. She, of course, says it rather more succinctly that that. Anyway, here's who I've spent time with of late.

Imagine a shaved Sasquatch - go on, 6'5", size 15 feet - you're getting there. Now give him a quiet and affable demeanour then sprinkle some calamity dust over the result and you are getting close to Richard.

Richard stayed at the Red Lion where, before breakfast, he had spilled coffee over his Kindle, wallet, radio etc, gone to the bathroom to get tissue to wipe it up and banged his head, turned back to the bedroom and walked straight into the door. A normal procedure for one so afflicted.

I put him into a swim with difficult access but provided a rope and good wishes, "You'll probably get a quick fish there", I offered as I left him to it and I was right. After dropping the feeder in twice to get some bait in, the third drop was instantly yanked almost from his hand but the strike failed to connect! How? Well, these Korda hooks come with a little plastic point protector so, having then removed said item Richard cast again. Ten minutes late and jobs a good 'un as he caught a plump seven pounder.

The rest of the day was a struggle as it rained and cold water entered the river, I didn't even have a bite. Exiting the slippery swim at close of play was, by all accounts, a bit like watching a Manatee trying to scale a greasy slope. I found the hapless Richard gasping and bruised and looking forlorn as his brand new bankstick remained at the water's edge goading him to try and retrieve it - he didn't.

Next  morning and the day was bright, the river had dropped and Richard was to discover the joys of standing up to your nuts in a cool river whilst trotting a float. Before we began I shimmied down the now dry bank and recovered the bankstick.

In a swim just too beautiful to describe and with a trot just too perfect to imagine Richard soon got in the swing of holding back a little, feeding regularly and hitting bites from long distance. It was a pleasure to see somebody coming to terms with a method and river and the rewards came late on when the bigger chub started to appear, we retired content with our day but during the evening Richard admitted that he had again left his bankstick behind. We decided that The Wye wanted it more than he and so it was left to the river Gods.

I've had a long standing offer to up my personal best perch on a productive lake compliments of Colin, aka Bumble who I met through the friendly and interesting Traditional Fishers Forum. My best perch to date is 2.8 but I have a curse where perch are concerned and I usually arrive at a venue just as the last fish has died. But I went and first had a night's B&B with a most interesting chap.

I would not necessarily recommend the accommodation as it was a large, old and somewhat dilapidated house with more cob webs than the Munsters place. But there was such charm in the old man who, alone is doing his bit to earn an extra bob or two as well as have some company I suppose. I immediately warmed to him and despite the very basic nature of the room I was fascinated by his history and his wonderful art. He had a breath taking marble statue of a boy that was in fact his grandfather and was sculpted by his great grand mother, she must have been extremely talented, I was genuinely moved by her work.

Anyway, dawn came and Colin and I set off for some perch. I collected from him my new Milward Wizard, a rod that will become an extension of my right arm I am sure. We set up either side of an overgrown gap between bank and an island and fished worm and prawns over loose fed maggots. Colin struck first.

Just to rub my nose in it he landed a fish one ounce bigger than my pb. I took it on the chin and promptly landed a 2.2 but the weather became squally and placing my bait in a narrow pocket between overhanging trees on all sides led to me retackling more often that I would have wanted. I eventually settled for a sliding float in order to get all the casting weight of float, shot and bait as close together as possible and, when the line didn't stick to the wet rod, it worked well...... until I lost the float in a tree.

At close of play I'd had three perch each smaller than the one before, a couple of roach and a pair of small bream and had lost an unstoppable lump. It was an extremely enjoyable session made special by meeting up with Colin and I even forgave him his second perch that was also two pounds and nine bloody ounces! That along with a few more perch, roach and bream. He also took a carp on a sleeper rod and ended the day with a common of about ten pounds on his float rod, a Craftversa, which is not really made for carp fishing but it did a great job and made his wrist ache.

September 08, 2013

The Month So Far

September used to be the barbel month for me but the last few years it has been less predictable, so what would this year bring?

Well it started with a short evening blank where my rod top remained motionless in a couple of swims that I felt should have produced - oh well. I'll be honest, I wasn't at all put out by the lack of action as it was a beautiful late summer evening and I sat mesmerised by a changing sky that culminated in the best and biggest sunset it has ever been my pleasure to witness. Neil and I just stood agog as the ever changing spectacle formed and died around us like the summer bleeding out, sacrificed to make way for autumn's advance.

The season's change was underlined by the cooler evenings and a sense that the fish should be feeling that rumbling in their tummies as they pile the weight on for the long winter ahead. Just as well as Paddy was visiting for a few days and, as always, he expects a fish or two as reward for the long drive up from West Somerset.

On his first day I made certain he caught. There's a swim I have kept on the back boiler, its done the business on every visit by me and Neil although we have not abused it, fishing it when a fish is needed to cheer the spirit during this challenging season. Paddy settled in and I announced that I would chub fish elsewhere as I felt my chances of a barbel were limited in these low and clear conditions.

I soon had a bite and hooked into a solid fish that declared its species by plodding straight toward an sunken willow tree, a chub and a heavy one at that. I leaned against it and pumped then pumped again. I felt I may have done enough to steer it clear when it all went solid, it was firmly stuck in the snag and nothing I could do would shift it, I went through the whole repertoire of slack line, steady pull, swearing...... the line broke.

The next bit came from a chub of well over four pounds which I handled with ease, okay, it did swim upstream rather than head for sanctuary but I am convinced that the first fish was a very good cub and I shall be back.

Paddy had a couple of barbel and was looking content so I visited another swim for the last hour before dusk and had three more chub.

Day two and I declared it was my turn to have a barbel. I dropped into a quickie swim and, as Paddy watched, I got a few barbel to show before setting a trap. Just five minutes later I was fighting a lively fish that had a look at the other side of the river before heading for a snag. I leaned against the fish and snap! It was gone. I inspected the line and found the last four feet to be chaffed, there's definitely a sharp rock in mid river where these fish know they can weaken the line. I've now lost three fish from this swim whereas I think I've only lost one there in the last ten season! Its just been that sort of a season for me.

So we set up in the famous Cock's Comb, a swim that has probably produced more double figure barbel than any other on the river. Unfortunately it is now nothing like as prolific as its past but it still holds a few barbel and lots of lovely chub. We sat side by side, chewing the fat and winding each other up all day in the same way that we have done for forty seven years now. A really enjoyable day and I rubbed Paddy's nose in my five chub haul even though he insisted in under estimating the two fish that were a few ounces either side of five pounds. He blanked.

Which meant that today I had to let him fish the going swim again lest his teddy land in the river and frighten all the fish away :-) He had another couple of barbel whilst I snoozed the afternoon away only waking when it rained and then when a chub dragged a yard of line from my Cardinal 66. I was entertained by an upper double pike that mouthed my lead as I retrieved and then settled in front of my swim, menacing the minnows and dace that had been feeding on the titbits I'd given them.

I've another busy week on the river ahead, I just hope I can shake the fish losing monkey off my back and have a few barbel - we'll see.


Before I go, here's a picture of our modern world and how a once essential facility now stands abandoned and surplus to requirement. Nature slowly reclaims all.

August 25, 2013


Determined to catch some more crucians I decided to improve my set up. The cane rod was just too heavy to hold in a 'ready to strike pose' all day and I figured I would miss bites as my arm got slower as the session progressed. I dug out a 6 metre whip from the back of the garage and converted the tip to take 30" of pole elastic, I then bought a couple of pole floats and off I went ready to sort them out.

A few hours after the session started I was well aware of why I had to give up my 11 metre pole some twenty years ago. I was involved in a car accident that screwed my neck up and that, with ongoing lower back problems, became very apparent very quickly. I grimaced and stuck at it for a while catching lots of roach on bread, corn and cubes of meat but, although I am convinced they were on my feed some of the time, I failed to see another crucian carp.

The effect of that day was to put a crimp on my fishing activities and general mood for a while but I still went and did another ouch. I was sat in an uncomfortable swim that I tend to fish for short periods at a time. Its one of those 'if they're at home you'll get one' swims that rarely produce if nothing's shown up in the first twenty or thirty minutes. This time it took just two minutes and I stood quickly to connect with the fish banging my hip on something protruding from the hedge to my left. Adrenalin and concentration make us ignore such inconveniences and I quickly slipped the net under a listless chub. It had the head of a big five but the body of a tadpole, I weighed it and it barely passed the four pounds mark. A lot of the bigger chub look like this at present, I wonder if they are carrying a disease or parasite. There are plenty of fit youngsters coming through so I can only hope for a bright future.

Twenty minutes later and the rod twitched then bent upstream in the direction of a hefty snag, I leapt into action and completely forgot about my previous encounter with the protrusion - OW! This time I hit my waist and it fair took my breath away but not enough to prevent me landing a small barbel.

I packed up soon after and went to sit with Neil who'd also had one of each in a far more comfortable spot. I said I'd sit and chew the fat but he insisted we share the swim - as long as I sat upstream of him. I put my rod together, cast out and say back with an audible groan into my reclining chair. Three times I had to move, tutting and grunting like some geriatric as I did so. Twice for barbel and once for a chub. Poor Neil managed one more chub from the best bit of the swim before we called it Beer O'Clock and retired to the pub.

My bumps developed into outstanding bruises. When does that happen? When young your body shrugs off injury with a spot of blue before fading after a few days then, when you reach a certain age, bruises go black and purple and hang around for ever. Our bodies never miss a trick when telling you you ain't getting any younger and mine's been shouting all week.

Despite my grumpiness I joined Neil for another session and had my eye on a particularly uncomfortable swim that, when we arrived, I reluctantly declined in favour of an easy access. Neil jumped in to it and had three fine barbel to eight and a half pounds whilst I sat and watched a static rod all evening. The strange thing about this is that I didn't really mind. The last couple of seasons I've been setting up in a swim only to find that I'm restless, losing concentration and interest and considering either a move or packing up. A look at my watch has often surprised myself when I realise I've only been there about thirty minutes. However, I seem to be past that, I am more content and am happy to stare at the rod, watch the world go by and, in the case of this trip in particular, watch the Blue Moon rising. I haven't listened to my radio whilst fishing since before Wimbledon nor have I read a book or done a crossword. I seem to rediscovered the simple pleasure of contemplation which, despite the odd bump, bruise or prolapsed disc has been extremely satisfying.

August 09, 2013


August is an unusual month. Its a time when nature has generally peaked and the steady decline from frantic reproduction and bloom toward the sublimity of autumn is underway. There is less birdsong in the air and the fish are somehow less intent on feeding hard, it is a hiatus in the natural world when even we humans tend to take a long break from work and toil.

This change of pace effects our fishing plans and I have always found it to be a month of promise with little result. In a season that has been inconsistent already I am perhaps a little over cautious of my choices as to where and when to fish, I've had more than my share of disappointment already - a guy can only take so much you know.

Barbel, carp, grayling or that lake full of wildies I keep promising to visit? Decisions, decisions. Then my phone developed a mind of its own and began ringing people apparently at random whilst in my pocket. We've all 'pocket phoned' before but this was so random and then developed a number of obscure faults so that I thought it time to throw the damned thing in the river but it is due replacement and it did settle down - eventually.

One of those called sent me a text asking what I wanted, I politely replied on a stuttering mobile and we had a little to and fro. He's a member of my carp syndicate and we told each other of the lack of fish etc but then he dropped the bombshell "I've had some nice crucian carp to 1lb 11oz". Game on.

There are three lakes on the estate one of which was stocked with genuine crucians a few years ago. I was led to believe they may be as big as a pound in weight but my attempts on that pool resulted in roach by the net full, perch and the occasional bream but as yet no crucians. I knew they were there, the tiny bubbles, the delicate bites - so far unhittable, I just hadn't given them a proper go. Here then was my chosen species for the next trip.

Its a little pool, very weedy and overgrown. I chose to do it 'old school' and used my Lucky Strike rod, Trudex reel and fished under a float I'd made myself a long time ago. I perched on a little platform that takes you over the marshy, reed strewn bank. Here I sat, leaning forward, rod in hand trying to zone out the world about me as I concentrated intently on the quarter inch of red tip above the green water. Liquidised bread and corn was fed in small balls and bread either punched or wrapped around a size 16 was the main bait. I also used small grains of corn and a few hookable pellets, I caught on each of them.  Roach after roach came to hand, all small which was a shame, this pool does some decent fish but not today.

I learned quite a bit over the next few hours. My reactions are nothing like as sharp as they used to be for one, those little carp can sip a bait off the hook with barely a twitch on a float set so sensitively it would move if a stickleback sneezed. Also, concentration is harder nowadays. I won't moan about my aches and pains but the medication definitely takes the edge off so I sat poised and as alert as I could, eyes fixed on the red tip, ignoring everything outside of my narrowed field of view. It wasn't easy, there was just so much going on. Butterflies, Dragonflies, Hornets and a thousand other insects flew by and I steeled myself to ignore them once they'd left my peripheral, I didn't even look up to spot the sparrow hawks that were bringing food to their noisy chicks just a few yards away. I was serious.

Nicky (bless her) had given me a chocolate bar that morning to 'eat when you've caught your crucian'. I felt bad about it but as I took a coffee break (and pain killer), I figured a sugar rush may help and, whilst expecting to have to buy a replacement on the way home and practice my best innocent face, I devoured it.

Back to the fishing and first cast the float dipped positively and I was into my crucian carp. It fought in classic style, plenty of movement but little direction and the Lucky Strike absorbed each lunge with ease. I slid it across the weed and into the net feeling an enormous sense of elation and relief. Okay, I didn't weigh it but I doubt it made more than a pound and a quarter but it was a result and probably my biggest crucian to date - its been a long time since I had any that's for sure.

I shall go back for some more crucians but next time I will use a light rod or even a whip, but I know that as the month progresses toward September so will the chances of some decent carp, barbel etc and I'll have to pick my targets nearer the time.

July 29, 2013

Another Lost Weekend

The boys were back in town over the weekend, earlier this year 'so that its warmer' and warm it certainly was. The river is at rock bottom level, the fish are nailed to the snags and the fishing was damned hard work - not that it mattered one jot, we all had a laugh or two.

I've spoken about our collective lapse into the advanced middle age before but this year even the normally unstoppable Carl looked a bit jaded come Sunday. To add to this, apart from the usual complaints about a few aches and pains we now have a number of genuine conversation piece illnesses and conditions amongst the throng. I'm serious, we are talking life threatening conditions that were explained, in true northern style, as 'Summet t' deal with but tha' can't let it get yuz down'. Add to this dear ol' Bunny, who couldn't come, was struggling to come out of his anaesthetic after having some bionics implanted. We were all medically aware by the end of the first evening. Thankfully everybody is having treatment and Bunny is on the mend - what a bunch of old farts we are becoming.

I had a stroll around on Friday and chatted to most of the crew explaining that to add an element of competition to the proceedings an award was to be given for the 'Most significant capture' of the weekend. The prize was to be a painting of 'A Typical Wye Scene' and despite nobody getting moist with excitement, I was later informed that the eel that woke Tony from his slumber was 'significant', so I knew there was an edge to everybody's fishing.

Incidentally, Tony managed to join his lie in, siesta and afternoon nap into one long zzzzzz as he slept for about five hours! "It was the antihistamine tablet I took" he proclaimed but those of us that know better think he is either narcoleptic or half dormouse.

Andy Ross sat with a large group of hungry barbel feeding in his swim. This was amazing as its the only place I've seen significant feeding activity all season and the biggest was at least twelve pounds in weight. Despite feeding them all day he blanked - which made them that little bit heavier for the next day when Carl would fish there.

I think that only Ian and Carl caught barbel on day one. I lost one as did one or two others as they were only feeding close to (or right in) the snags. There were quite a few chub though with Richard Walker (honest!) taking some nice fish on the float and a lump to Neil who was wading in trainers and shorts (as were several of us - the water was bath tub warm), but he didn't have scales with him so he let it go and got a soaking from a mighty kick of its tale - significant? we'll see.

Curious clothing was on display as the masculinity of certain members was questioned, Hobby just told us it was a gift from Thailand so we left it at that. I think he looked lovely.

On Saturday most looked pretty spritely so it wasn't too late a night. The fishing was intense and Ian had another couple of barbel. Eelfisher spent the day in his underpants happily fishing the bushes on the far bank which meant any captures wouldn't count due to 1. They were from another fishery and 2. He had upset every canoeist that passed him - hang on, that should go in his favour.

I had a resounding blank and Andy managed only to catch a couple of scales and a barbel hooked in the dorsal fin, he was having something of a mare. Carl mean time had jumped into the swim full of fish and somehow managed to land five of them to 10.02 They must have been lulled into a false sense of security by Andy's heavy feeding the day before.

Bits and bobs taken elsewhere were discussed in the evening but the award committee (me) came to the conclusion that Carl had to win the award if only to underline Andy's short comings. He opened the picture and was moved by the touching scene it displayed.

It has been mooted that maybe the picture should be awarded each year and passed on, this suggestion brought mixed reactions with the overriding opinion being that if there's a chance to win it then perhaps nobody would bother to attend in future - the miserable sods.

On Sunday Andy fed the barbel and chub again whilst Ian caught yet another barbel. He sent a text proclaiming his capture and stating that he was the only person to take barbel on each day - and that he didn't want the picture thank you very much.