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.