May 27, 2013

Through the Eyes of Jacques Tati

If you are not familiar with the work of the late, great Jacque Tati then you are most certainly missing out. He was a film maker extraordinaire with his delightfully observed comedy based in his native France.
Jacques Tati
Tati saw humour in everyday situations and delivered those occasions in a subtle way that demands some work from the viewer. Nowadays we are handed a blatant build up to each punchline or pratfall which is then delivered in front, dead-centre of your screen. Watch then re-watch Tati and you will find humour all over the screen, indeed his film 'Playtime' is more like watching in real time rather than a movie screen, as the film arrives at its eventual climax and the grand opening of the restaurant gets under way, you have to scan the screen throughout to find each gem of hilarity. Its a demanding but rewarding watch but probably not the first one to look for. Jour De Fete is a great starting point, anybody that has lived in a quiet village will recognise many of the characters. Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Mr Hulot's Holiday) is another classic, set in Brittany the hapless Hulot (played by Tati), struggles with mixing with the other guests at a small beach hotel.

And it is Brittany that we stayed in last week, we had had to cancel the first week of our break but managed a shortened second week in an unseasonably cool France but still had a wonderfully relaxing time. I love just about everything about France - even the people which get an undeserved, in my experience, bad press from the English. But to sit and watch France pass you by you very soon find that Tati had a wealth of material to work with. Of course its the same anywhere and when viewed through Tati's eyes (which I tend to do quite often) even the dullest of places - and hospital waiting rooms spring to mind - can be filled with entertainment as each character has their moment in your own internal screen classic.

Some cool and windy days aside we still saw some sunlight, visited all of the places we wanted to go and managed to sample some of those things that make a French holiday special. Is there a better way to spend a long lunch than with a big bowl of Moules Mariniere as you overlook the Cote Savage? It was a return to an area we visited a lot in our younger days and has lost none of its charm. But I do wonder what Tati would have made of an overweight Brit in his late fifties, hopping from rock to rock as he explored rockpools with the same wide eyed enthusiasm that he showed fifty years ago. 

The rockpools were amazing like little worlds within our own and contain far more exciting species than you tend to find around much of our coastline. Plenty of crabs including lots of hermits, an assortment of fish that tend to dash between kelp and rocks too fast to identify although I did catch a couple of pipe fish, haven't seen those in ages. I found a brittle starfish, a couple of sea urchins and, at the very bottom of the tide, a host of sea slugs, I was in my element.

Sea Slugs


So, the moral of this blog entry is simple, don't take the world around you too seriously, there is humour everywhere and whenever you have a chance to peer into another world - take it.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

To those of you that may have read my previous entries (anybody? oh well....) you may recall that way back in April 2011 I had a week in Tony Rocca's flat in Spain. Whilst there I set about finding my revenge for his dastardly trick of attaching one of those little bite alarm bells (as used by sea anglers), to the back of my shirt so I looked a complete dipstick as I wandered around the supermarket. I therefore set about decorating his flat with a number of similar bells suitably secreted and he duly cursed me as each one was found. 

Whilst in France I received a text, I cannot quote from it as the wording indicated a degree of exasperation and dismay that had temporarily switched the censor button to 'Off'. But the gist was that our Tony had found yet another (and not necessarily the last) of my bells after over two years! I did chuckle. However, it says more about his cleaning regime than my ability to conceal items.

May 13, 2013

The Reluctant Rod

Regular readers will have gathered that having dabbled with cane rods for a few years, this last twelve months have been dedicated to catching as much as possible on this traditional material. I have become quite the convert and cherish each capture in a way I rarely do on carbon. It works for me and I'll stick with it for the time being.

However, I have found some rods reluctant to bend to the thrust of a fish. Cane rods can be a little like musical instruments and tooth brushes - don't ever let anybody else use them. Some have an understandable reluctance for generosity when it comes to a very special and treasured rod. I'm fine with this situation but what I don't understand is that when a rod is eventually proffered it will often remain straight for the duration. Take Neil's rod for instance. We had it made for him and he values it just below his life and just above anybody else's. Having caught a few fish on it he let me use it, I caught a chub. The next time I was allowed to use it I caught a barbel - job done. After that I borrowed it a couple of times and never had a touch on it.

Its the same with some other rods, either they don't like me or they need to be a little more convinced that I am worthy. Enter the stepped up MKIV carp rod. This magnificent rod was a gift that I had some difficulty in coming to terms with. I don't like feeling beholden to people but I soon understood that this was merely a gesture of generosity in its extreme and that I should take it in the manner it was intended. However, the rod evidently felt I needed to fully understand its true depth and it steadfastly refused to attract a fish, indeed I felt that it emitted some sort of negativity along the line as no matter where or how I used it, the result was always the same - zilch.

Add to this situation the slow start I've made on the lake this season and you can see how those little gremlins of doubt can creep through your thought process when assessing the fishing. But I was determined to come through.

Yesterday I made a rash decision to go to the lake rather than watch the football and Sir Alex's farewell.  
When I arrived I started to have second thoughts, it was colder than I expected and showers were forecast, hardly ideal stalking weather. I set up my stall in a familiar swim to me and fished the evening and night on carbon rods at distance. Apart from a few breamy looking twitches nothing disturbed the wait. The only 'action' came this morning when I retrieved my yellow pop-up bait and it was grabbed by the skinniest and tattiest looking pike in the lake.

At 11am I had a meal and wondered what to do to provoke some action, at this moment a carp decided to crash out and tail-slap the water on the opposite side. I don't need that sort of invitation twice. Grabbing the MkIV and the minimum of gear I made my way the half mile around the lake and marsh to the spot where the fish had showed, it was one of my intended stalking areas so I was geared up and ready. Out went a couple of bits of broken boilie on the hook and a few more scattered around, I sat back and waited.

It was barely half an hour before I had the take and I made a quick strike, swore because I'd forgot to put my hand over the loosely set spool, tightened it and struck again. It was still on and I felt the action and power of the rod at last. The only negative about the experience was the tepid fight from the fish, it just flopped about and didn't seem to know what was going on and apart from one short run it was soon netted. 

So there we had it, after a struggle for fish and a reluctant rod I was sat with a seventeen pounder on my unhooking mat and suddenly everything feels good again. I just hope that the bond between angler and rod is now created and the next fish is a little sooner in coming.

May 08, 2013

Blanking and loving it.

When I first crossed the boarder into the Badlands, found the gate and negotiated the bumpy track to the secret lake, I had to pinch myself that it was real. A piece of paradise and little old me had permission to dangle a line - I must be dreaming.

That dream was very nearly tainted beyond redemption when I had immediate success. That may sound  bizarre but for me angling is all about work followed by result - hard earned fish live longest in the memory. The 'easy' start was the reason for my fishing it little and half heartedly, I was having a good time but I was allowing myself only to enjoy it in little pieces, snacks between meals, I wanted the hunger to last as long as possible.

Spring at last

Then this season arrived. I've fished the lake more often than before and have caught just one carp and a bream. Others are taking a few good fish but both Neil and I have struggled. Neil has found the fish each time out but, with a succession of terrible luck, has managed to avoid landing anything. Its not a new phenomenon, he went through the same thing on another lake to the point where I thought his head would explode. But he stuck at it, rested for a few weeks then went back and caught the biggest fish in there. It will come good for him.

But for me? Well, the lake has given me a nudge, it is saying 'Don't treat me lightly, I have hidden depth" and I am learning more about its secrets each time I visit.

Having Neil there has helped, his enthusiasm has dragged me out of my comfort zone and we have spent a lot of time teetering on branches and peering into the water for signs of our quarry, and we've found them too. Neil found a small group of fish cruising in a quiet place and if his wide eyed description of the largest is to be believed (and I have no reason to doubt him), we could throw a saddle across its back and ride it around the lake.

I have just returned from a couple of night's there. Sleep was difficult as every roach in the lake decided to visit an area of tree roots near my swim and spawn loudly for the duration of my stay. I've never watched roach spawn before, apparently they attach spawn to weed fronds but maybe, with the lack of weed due to the cold start, they are using tree roots instead.

The area I set up in had been full of fish but having settled in, the wind changed and the fish switched off. I moved around fishing here and there and missed a good take in a silty corner. Neil, fishing in a tiny swim, did battle with a mid double common to score his first success of the term. I'd like to have gone to his aid and taken a photo but, sat in the sun, his shouts for help were drowned out by the sound of someone snoring..... okay, me snoring.

A Silty Corner

Last evening I came close. We had just eaten and were tidying the pitch when I had a run. I hit a fish that immediately felt heavy, unusually for here it ran away from me and into some trees but I managed, with a lot of pressure to turn it. It fought hard and deep, much harder than any carp I have ever encountered, it just hugged to bottom and made my strong rod look puny. The evening before I read 'The Old Man and The Sea', a classic tale about an encounter with an unseen monster. Okay, I wasn't being dragged out to sea by a giant marlin but I was having my own battle with a fish that was calling all the shots, Neil even accused me of having the clutch set too light - if only.

Eventually it surfaced, a mirror with a dark back but I didn't get to see the body. I had its head out of the water and figured that was it, a mouth full of air and its job done. I stepped back to allow Neil to net it, it floundered five, four, three yards from the net.... almost. Then, with the slightest shake of its head and the hook flew out of its mouth - gone!

I actually laughed. After Neil's difficult start it was my turn. Ah well.... next time.

I'm finding it hard to get fish, I'm having to scratch my head and look at every aspect of my tackle, bait, methods and location. Its an uphill struggle and do you know what? I'm loving every minute of it.

May 03, 2013

A Picture of Spring

I've had a wander along the river bank for the first time in a while. Its good to see a bit of green on the trees and, as the sun was bright and the temperature up, it was pleasing to spot a few chub and barbel.

 Can you see the chub?

Harvey attracted the attention of a few residents

Harvey wanted to hide in the car.

Then today I went for a walk around a certain well known Herefordshire lake. It was my first view of Redmire despite knowing it almost intimately through the writings of the many legendary anglers and the renown episode of A Passion For Angling. My first thoughts were the same as many before me "Cor, ain't it small".

The water was quite coloured but we soon discovered that this was due to the vast number of fish truffling in the shallows and sending a cloud of red silt down the lake. There were fish visible everywhere, nothing very big, in fact most were very modest fish, I would think it could do with losing a few to be honest.

Something stirs the silt

Jacuzzi time

Out of focus but definitely a Redmire carp 

The controversial fallen oak. Despite differing opinions it is to be removed soon. I have a ferrule stopper on my stepped up MKIV made from the wood of this tree.

Before you decide to set a course for Redmire and a casual stroll around its hallowed banks, I was there with the express permission of Les Bamford and was ably guided by one of his assistants St.John. I express my deepest gratitude to both of these fine fellows for the opportunity to have a look see and I am certain they shall both be visiting my local stretch of the Wye in the summer.