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.