Friday, 3 July 2015

Why do you go fishing?




Such a simple question, yet one which I feel some anglers totally miss the point of and dare I say end up disappearing down a tunnel of blinkered thinking and a necessity to catch.


Let me explain why I enjoy fishing.

I enjoy the escapism and peacefulness, the latter being very much venue dependent admittedly, but that first look at a river or lake as you make your way along it, be it a new venue or one that has been inextricably linked to your childhood memories is akin to fresh wind filling the sails of a boat.


The wildlife alone is joy enough to behold and just being able to witness natures theatre is  wonderful. Treated to the sights and sounds of kingfisher, buzzard, kestrel, kite, owl, deer, fox and badger to name but a few, makes any fishing trip a joy on its own.


Granted we all like to catch the odd fish, after all that is part of the reason we go, but as I look more and more at social media I am seeing anglers comment with "I want big fish" , this along with other comments saddens me in more than one way.


The lack of being able to enjoy what you are catching, because angler A,B or C on facebook, twitter, instagram etc have been out and caught bigger. I am seeing a mentality that this creates amongst some anglers and is very much a seemingly one way ticket to having a certain outlook. I feel  they allow it to then encroach upon their enjoyment of their own angling and dare I say go off on one predetermined path.

I like to catch and target (loathe to use that word too) the odd larger fish, but at the same time still get as much enjoyment catching smaller fish no matter the species. If you cannot find that enjoyable I think you need to question if you really do get the same evocative feelings from this pastime any more.

There is also a lack of thinking outside of the stereotypical venues, this saddens me probably the most of all. Granted one of the rivers I fish is the Loddon and you could very much say that makes my statement a bit hypocritical, as it is an oversubscribed river on some club tickets due to the popularity of barbel angling. But I enjoy fishing other rivers which have had and still do have a tendency to be ignored, in some anglers eyes they are deemed not worthy of any attention.

One of my older articles touched on this very lightly. "more river and peace for yourself Mark"  I hear you say and that may well be true but at the same point the ignorance and one track thinking fills me with a non comparable amount of dismay and it would be nice to see more anglers looking at some of these little places as a goldmine in terms of enjoyable fishing trips and that they do contain some absolute monsters, some of which can rival rivers of a more grand scale.

Overlooked

Where has the enjoyment gone from catching a nice fish for a particular venue or for your geographical location? I think in essence media and other fishing programs have in some ways helped to nurture and feed a bit of a mentality of  "if it isn't big I aint interested".

This is not a rant or me trying to crow from some illusionary moral high ground and I do realise that I obviously enjoy using social media to upload and share my fishing vlogs (youtube & facebook). It is just me simply trying to say go out there and enjoy your fishing, don't read into too much on social media, avoid it skewing your thoughts and sending your angling and with it the essence and reason why you enjoyed it in the first place into a downward spiral.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Hamster wheels & opening day




Opening day of the season beckoned and it was fairly evident that quite a few anglers had commenced with a midnight cast, something which I have never been that fussed about, I have to be honest that most of the time I would probably prefer to skip the 16th and let the dust settle.

One thing I did want was my first barbel on the pin this season and so on opening day when I really should have taken the quiver tip rod I instead headed off to the river with the barbel tackle and Marco Cortesi mk2 in tow.  On reaching the river it was nice to find some swims had not been crushed down by the usual June 16th stampede.


I decided to fish a few swims using a simple link ledger and trundling bait along some likely undercuts and gravel runs. Sure enough it was not long before a group of barbel came into sight  right beneath my feet and all were rather preoccupied with only one thing on their minds. I considered my options. 1) Phone home and try to get the quiver tip, possibly risking a verbal ear battering. 2) Crack on and see if I could tempt some chevin.


The latter won easily, besides hardly fair on mum or my ears. I planned to fish a few swims and started off in a shallow area that gave way to some depth along the opposite bank, a few free offerings of slick sense boilie barrels were placed upstream before trundling finally commenced. It became evident early on that the water clarity combined with sunny conditions would make for a tricky affair, so a change of swims was made and I moved slightly downstream to see if I could perhaps tempt some from under a bush.

A few minutes had past when I received a very confident bite and I was soon playing a chunky summer chub.

5.7

The first fish of the season and I was rather cheerful about it, a good scrap considering the barbel tackle. The day was speeding by, the air heavily laced with pollen, it was a hay fever sufferers nightmare, that said the bees were having a jolly good time filling up their pollen baskets.


By evening I had added a few chublets and a couple of greedy brownies that had taken a liking to the bait. I pondered a move back to the shady swim that had produced the larger chub and perhaps another couple of swims further downstream, one of these a rather debris strewn, shallow run with enough cover for a fish to have some welcome respite from the late evening sun.

Making my way back upstream to my first swim I decided to roll the dice and see if there were any more chevin willing to feed, a bite came quite rapidly, the rod tip thudding round and I found myself playing a chub that was putting up a really good tussle in this pacey water. A nicely formed fish with that dappled enamelling that makes them look like they have been given a fresh coat of gilding.

4.1

After a light snack and some welcome rehydration I decided to fish a couple more spots, one of these I had planned to leave and head home, after all I was fairly spent, but the allure proved too much and I found myself wetting a line in a deeper swim in hope of a barbel. Forty minutes later and the isotope moved in one direction only, before the pin crackled into life, a lively scrap from a feisty whisker ensued, this fish powering off downstream in an attempt to put me into the nearest reeds and flotsam that it could find.


A perfectly conditioned six pounder and my first barbel on a pin. I must admit I wholeheartedly enjoyed it, that said I am still not a fully converted pin user for them and certainly won't be ditching the fixed spool reels just yet.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A weclome distraction





It is only seven days till the rivers open and whilst I have spent some of the closed season looking at new bits of rivers which I have joined, I have also been enjoying a spot of carp fishing, far away from any crowds, surrounded only by natures harmony.

There is something to be said about lakes that have atmosphere, not all are blessed with it and some can be quite lacking in character, almost soulless. This venue ticks all my boxes, wooded mangrove islands, bays and a plethora of underwater features to place a bait to, the fish are in perfect condition, no damaged mouths to be found, consisting of quite a few Dinkelsbuehl breed, along with tench, perch and rudd, a nice mixture.

My last couple of trips have been in the shape of late evening to early morning sessions, getting down at dusk and usually settling into a swim as the Nightjar begins to call out in earnest. Keeping clutter to a minimum, a couple of four piece stalker rods, small baitrunners all which fit neatly into a compact holdall and along with a small but strong seat that has supported the weight of my derrière rather well over the years, not without a creak or two though.


It was a cool evening despite it being summertime and in the darkness the tell-tale sounds of clooping could be heard near some inaccessible margins, followed by a crash, the ripples eventually caressing my rod tips. The wildlife night shift had begun, deer running along the path, edging slowly closer and closer to my swim in hope of a drink, before realising that this particular spot was taken and running off into the darkness barking in shock, we both jumped believe me. Badgers could be heard tumbling about in the thicket behind me having what sounded like a domestic squabble, I was smiling contented to be in their company, ensconced in this little piece of heaven.

At around 1am my right rod let out a single tone run and I was soon playing a picture perfect mirror of 9lb.


It was soon slipped back and sped off like an angry teenager, I was rather happy as I was also using this trip to test out some baits from West country baits, namely their Lh1 boilies and barbel slick sense range which I also plan to put to use on the rivers once they open.


I know this might seem like a shameless plug and one which most anglers may have heard ad infinitum, but Shaun Hodges who is the main chap behind the company, knows a fair bit regarding bait having been involved with developing most if not all of the Hinders bait range during his time working for them. That on its own is very re-assuring and unlike some bait companies without any credentials that appear overnight and purport to be the best thing since sliced bread, anyway I have digressed somewhat.


Time ticked by far too fast and as the faintest hint of morning was appearing, my left hand rod fished  to a marginal gully let out a single bleep, the bright green led of the delkim reflecting off the water, a prelude to what was to become a bit of a scrap from a lively scamp that had a rather large paddle which it put to good use.


As dawn broke the Tufted ducks landed and they kindly spared me an exhibition of  their normally overenthusiastic bait diving.

"I think the baits are right here, lets do some diving!"

Now there are a few nice tench in this lake, dare I say they would certainly break my pb and it was going through my mind at the time that it was the perfect morning, the water was bath temperature with a nice mist rising from it and a light ripple in the morning breeze. What happened next was all in the blink of an eye, line melting from the spool and rod lifting upward as the fish came up across a gravel bar, as I tried to apply side strain the back of a portly, dark fish appeared. The sudden surfacing threw me off kilter and it did not take long to decide what it planned to do as it powered back down and headed toward some snags, alas it was having none of it and it cut me off on a gravel bar.

I kept mulling over thoughts of the raw power and the chance it could have been a good tench kept popping up in my head, I kept pushing them back, admittedly I was using a pair of carp rods and to some that might not count, but that did not make me feel any the better I can tell you that right now...

By now I had packed one rod up, its lone companion was still waiting for the chance of one more fish and it kindly obliged with a terrific scrap from a  pretty looking mirror (10lb), its middle scales looking akin to a sliced chestnut mushroom. I made my way home in a chipper mood.


These trips were fuelling me with a feeling I have lacked somewhat for still waters over recent years and I looked forward to another trip the following week. This was to be a later start and I had not set up till darkness had fallen. It was a cool night the and sky was crystal clear, the full moon was radiant as if someone had forgotten to turn the lights off. Conditions were perfect for hunters and it was not long before owls could be heard calling out to one and other, a stag called out into the night, its gruff bark filling the peaceful backdrop with a lonely ambience.


On this particular occasion I had taken my jetboil stove with me as you cannot beat a fresh cup of tea and it was not long after the first cup that I slipped a net under the first fish of the night, a small angry mirror which looked a double but scales said otherwise, a few thankful words were said and asked to send some of its older relatives my way.

By now the moon was directly in front of me and the lake was eerily calm, one more fish had  followed its friend to the net, yet despite this it had been rather still and there had been no signs of spawning activity on the lake either.


At 3am my left rod tore off along a deep margin and I was soon playing what felt a better fish, after a nice scrap there was a rather short, plump female sat in the net and it looked a good mid double, at least 15lb was my guesstimate. She had quite a distended belly, in fact it could have matched mine on a lesser scale and she was in perfect condition with a set of proud barbules, weighing less than I had estimated.

12.8

Morning broke and along with it a very rich dawn chorus filled the air, I had the feeling of contentment and timelessness. Although in reality it was not long before I had to be packing up.
All of the fish had fallen to my left rod during the night, the right rod which was placed on a gravel bar further out had remained quiet, a look at my watch told me I had forty minutes left and fifteen of which were allotted to packing up, enough time for a morning brew and maybe one last fish.

The stove was starting to steam as the right rod woke up, line zipping off the reel, thud followed by that slack feeling of a hook pull, sure enough the hook was partially burred, "hard lipped" did spring to mind! Compensation in the shape of a steaming cup of tea was soon to hand, I sat absorbing the gloriously sunny morning, part of me partially lost to this place, immersed in its aura, the other half being drawn ever closer to the heartbeat of running water.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Last two trips - Seasons end


A bit late to the end of season party compared to some of you other bloggers, but better late than never, at least I think so.

The end of the season would soon be upon me, where does the time go?  Needless to say that the weather was on the turn and there was without doubt a hint of spring in the air and I an itch that needed scratching. I'll admit now that I can be a bit stubborn with trying new things sometimes and lure fishing has fallen under this category, but a few weeks prior I decided to spend a frugal amount on some Sports direct jigs, total cost £7 for 110 haribo coloured lures and apart from the hooks needing a little sharpening it didn't look such a bad purchase.


Fast forward to a rather sunny day and I quite fancied a foray for perch or pike. The compact exage rod was grabbed along with a selection of jigs and I was soon trying a few swims. Various speeds of retrieve were interspersed with twitching and lifting the rod tip up and back down slightly, although I have to say I think the hardest thing for me was getting use to the retrieve.

It was not until I tried one of the lower beats of this river that I had my first hit, slowly retrieving the jig along a deeper margin until it was more or less parallel with my feet, an eager jack pounced on it and headed off downstream.


1-0 to the fluro orange jig

Later in the day I decided to head back upstream and try my luck at a sumptuous looking slack that I had tried earlier, It looked too good not to produce. Two casts later and there was an explosive eruption from the sunken tree on the opposite bank as a pike came sprinting out from cover,  mouth agape and lunging into the jig with gusto. This was a better fish and sprinted downstream on a couple of energetic runs, the little rod more than ample to cope with it, resulting in a nicely marked esox just over 7lb.

7.1

By now I was slowly getting into a modicum of rhythm and beginners luck, well something was working at least and that little voice in my head was starting to chirp away, asking why I didn't lure fish more and this was one example where talking to yourself does not always give you the right answers as there was no way I could deny that I was enjoying this.

On the way upstream I passed by another angler who had set up for a spot of chub fishing, he was rather hopeful that he would get his line tugged. I decided to give a couple more spots a few casts before heading home, it was at this precise moment I realised that I had not changed jigs during this trip, although I had lost one on a bush on the opposite bank earlier on and this gave me good opportunity to try something different, however I still foraged about and replaced it with an identical jig, I felt that if it is not broken don't fix it.

The final spot produced a rattling bite, just as I slowed down the retrieve and could feel the lure clipping the riverbed lightly. A perch was the reward, not a monster, but a finely marked fish that was in perfect condition.


I don't normally do final thoughts regarding a style of fishing, but such was my enjoyment throughout this trip that it has left me wishing that I had done a lot more in the past. Granted this trip like one Swallow does not make a summer, but goodness it was an adrenaline rush to see the fish hit the lure and I certainly won't be denying myself this enjoyment in the future.





The final day of the season had me pondering where to head and if I should perhaps head out again with the lures, but try as I might I could not tear myself away from the urge to end the season doing some link legering for chub.

It was a nice morning but the wind was rather keen to gnaw at my rotund figure, though that was my own fault for not wearing more than a couple of layers. I had decided to take some liquidised bread mixed with a good helping of Parmesan cheese powder, this had been purchased at a reduced price a good few years ago (2008) and is perfect to add a spot of scent trail to the mix, along with this I had krill cheese paste, bread, worms and a pint of maggots for hook baits.

I decided that I would try quite a few swims on worm for instant bites and in the other swims opt to bait with the Parmesan bread mix, fishing these swims in rotation. The first area looked good for a fish or two and had numerous debris strewn features, ranging from sunken branches to an uprooted tree which had created a nice hole off of the main current.

It didn't disappoint and a rattling bite was soon forthcoming from a young, clean looking chevin.


I decided to have another cast, this time tighter to the opposite bank, the water running smoothly here or least that is what I thought, on the retrieve I found that I was snagged solidly and had to slowly pull for a break and if there is one thing I absolutely loathe it is losing ssg shot, especially given how costly it is and how few you get per tub, I sat muttering about this to myself as I set up another link.

Moving downstream I came to a spot where graveled shallows gave way to a deeper depression and I decided to take off one ssg to allow the bait to trundle through the swim more naturally. On the second cast as the worm bobbed underneath the opposite bank and into the deeper water I received a thumping bite.

This felt a better stamp of chevin as it stayed low using the current to its advantage and gave a good account of itself. A portly, brass coloured fish with a glossy sheen to it. The chevins were clearly on the feed, although in some swims it was a case of one bite at the apple and then move on.

4.8

I found myself tempted by a swim I have not tried before, although I do question why not considering the amount of features which included a nice slack. This was one of a handful of swims that I had baited with liquidised bread and this can be a bit of a gamble, as sometimes it does spook fish that you might have taken by just dropping into a swim and fishing opportunistically with a single bait. Thirty minutes later and I was wondering if this was the case as worm and cheese paste remained untouched.

The current on the opposite bank was fast moving, not particularly deep but well oxygenated. However I had baited the areas that had extra depth. I wondered if perhaps a fish had visited the area I had baited earlier, fed and moved off or out of the slack water. With this in mind I tried a few trundles into the faster flow, this time the quiver tip bounced abruptly, almost like one of those wary bites where you don't expect to get another, this was not to be the case as the line went slack as the fish picked up the bait and moved toward me.


On setting the hook I was connected to a chub that was convinced it was a distant relative to trout as it attempted to tail walk multiple times. It was obvious this fish had been enjoying the smorgasbord that I had baited with, as once it was on the unhooking mat liquidised bread poured from its thick set mouth.

4.6

As darkness began to set in I moved to a new swim, one with bushes either side of the opposite margin, a juicey worm was soon placed between them and whilst waiting to see if this swim might have someone at home I was drawn to thoughts of how quickly this season had sped by and I recounted the enjoyable trips, chuckling about the mishaps that had happened along the way.

By now the wind was easing a little and I could just make out the silhouette of a fox on the opposite bank as it padded its way through the field when the rod thudded twice before springing back into position.

What was to follow was moments of multiple madness, bites coming at regular intervals and it was evident that I had found a shoal of fish that were grouped up around these bushes and willing to feed very confidently, most of these falling to worm with the exception of the 3.12, which took a liking to the krill cheese paste.

3lb


3.12


4.1

The bites were slowly drying up and my eyes had started to fatigue a little, I did consider a move to another swim, but instead of doing this I decided to drop a little bit more Parmesan bread in and rest the swim for thirty minutes, giving me some time to rest my eyes and have a drink, I must admit I was feeling really happy with how the fishing trip was going. A quick look at my watch showed it had gone 10pm, the bait had been in the water for twenty minutes when I received the most delicate of plucks, followed by a real tip rattler, this seemed a very edgy bite,  no surprise given that I had taken a few fish from this swim.

The worm proved too tempting as the rod lurched forward and I was instantly connected to what felt a larger fish, head down, bullish and making a powerful dash for the sanctuary of the bushes, I had no intention of giving any quarter and allowed the rod tip to soak up as much of these sprints as possible whilst slowly coaxing the fish toward me. Once in the net I could see the broad flank of one of the bigger, bush swim inhabitants. 

5.10

By now it was pushing on for 11pm and I fancied wetting a line in one last swim, the kind that if you didn't know it was there you might easily pass it by and with just enough room for one rod, it was not so much of a cast as a underarm lowering that was needed to position the bait on the marginal gravel gully.

The river had been extremely generous during this trip and each swim had increased my excitement and expectancy, which was in itself unusual as although I am very optimistic when angling I always set out with a low expectation and like to take something from each trip that is enjoyable or can be used positively in future trips.

During this period I was drawn into deep thoughts about the new friends I had made this season thanks to angling and also those whom I had parted company with due to their lack of integrity. Thoughts of the latter hurt a great deal as we had spent some great trips together which we had both enjoyed, I had shown them swims, shared locations and techniques which apparently meant very little other than them using any venue info as a bartering tool with a well known angler who shall remain nameless, this amongst other issues that came to light unfortunately damaged our friendship.I guess you could allow one or two sour experiences to easily skew your view on friendship, but why let one or two bad experiences ruin the chance of other friendships from flourishing?  Although the cynic in me says that is a lot easier to type than it is to do.


I was brought back from chewing the cud by two very light plucks to the tip, followed by it sweeping round, I was met by what at first felt like a chub as it swam toward me, but the pace soon quickened and if this was a chevin it was most definitely on steroids. Off it surged downstream, the clutch on the little reel clicking away manically whilst I tried to cup the spool every few seconds and halt this fish from making for a snag downstream. Thankfully it decided to change direction and I made the most of this opportunity to gain some control and after more than one attempt slip the net under it.

8lb

A healthy boris was my reward, probably one of the best looking barbel I have ever caught for looks and colour, the paddle on it had certainly put me to the sword and nearly got the better.

This was to be final fish of the trip and as I waited for mum to come and pick me up it was with a  thankful gaze fixed on the river and a mind that was filled with evocative emotions, as final days go I could safely say that I was well and truly sated.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Brassy brace





Saturday lunchtime saw me heading out for a spot of chub hunting on a new reach of river.

I guess you could say I am a bit focused on them at the moment, admittedly I have a very good choice of rivers in my locality when it comes to the species, although some are more overlooked than others, waterways which are verging on almost neglected or ignored altogether and where a bit of homework can lead to some fruitful fishing.


It was a blustery day, but more mild than it has been of recent and without doubt a hint of springtime judging by the bird life activity, there were woodpeckers dotted about in pairs, the sound of them merrily hammering away at trees reverberated around me and at one point I had a Sparrowhawk land on a bough next to me, we shared an impromptu stare, his with a touch of disregard almost looking through me, before swiftly vanishing upstream. I tried to reach for the camera which I always have ready for a wildlife shot but alas it did not hang around. Not too long after this a Male Roe deer and his female companion sauntered into view, they looked content as they picked their way through the grass and had a good feed, she even stopped to poke her tongue out (that is what I like to think).




I had opted for a spot of link legering, chopping and changing between lob worm and a cheese paste recipe that has been catching me a few fish, a mixture of mature cheddar, blue cheese garlic and krill. Three perch later and I decided to make a change to the paste, a healthy piece was squeezed on to a size 8 hook and the bare minimum of free offerings placed downstream, sometimes less really is more and the scent trail this paste leaks off is akin to fermented shrimp combined with a pair of smelly socks!

Late in the afternoon as the drizzle set in I received a confident bite, the tip thudding round, this fish was rather bullish as it headed off toward a sunken branch on the opposite bank, a bit of coaxing and it was eventually back in the swim and ready for the net, a fine fish, long and chunky (5.1).

I pondered my options, I did not wish to release this fish back into the swim lest I spook any other chevin, so decided instead to keep it in the landing net and see if any others would be forthcoming. Twenty minutes later and that question was answered with another confident bite, this fish nearly had me in a snag, the line grating as I tried to stop it from making a headfirst dive into the undercut bank which had a few too many sunken snags for my liking. Sure enough it was a chunky fish, weighing a pleasing 5.10.

A brace of 5's (5.1 held and 5.10 resting on the mat)

Despite a few more inquisitive rattles no more fish were forthcoming and as daylight faded the blustery wind was soon accompanied by heavier rain, this was my cue to head off home. It had been a fine afternoon, the wildlife alone would have been reward enough, but this brassy brace was the perfect way to cap what had been a most enjoyable fishing trip.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

perch-plexed - Dying light fix




Red fins and stripey black markings, angry dorsals and flaring gill plates, the subtle plucks as they tentatively pull the quiver tip round and bold tussle they give, dorsal raised like a freshwater marlin, I don't think there is a finer species that reside in our waterways and I do like a spot of perch fishing for all of these reasons.


A couple of my recent trips found me confronted by pike that were bullying the perch out of the area. Esox that were intent on snaffling up my worm hook bait and putting a bit of a bend in the quiver. It was fairly evident that no perch with an ounce of common sense would be seen hanging around whilst the crocs were on the feed and midway through the second outing a nagging doubt started to seed itself in my mind, partly due to having a mink pop its head up in the swim.

I thought things over slowly, were the pike dominating this area of the river? Had the perch fallen foul of  predation by mink or otter? Or maybe the fish had not fully moved into the area for spawning yet?

The last idea seemed a reasonably logical one, as did the first and I must admit that I have seen only mink on this waterway no otters as of yet. I decided to try a side channel, an area where small fry are normally harassed by perch. A light scattering of red maggot was placed over link ledgered lobs and I waited in earnest for any signs of activity, I was thankful it wasn't an overly bright afternoon, light levels were what I would call perfect with a healthy helping of cumulus.

As daylight gradually diminished there was no signs of activity, no plucks not even the faintest of twitches, my first thought was to stick it out, the other to move further afield and try a few other swims, the stay put and "all in or nothing" won out.

Daylight had almost retreated as I began to question my timing, swim selection and wondering if it would be wiser to leave targeting them till nearer the end of season, when I saw the tip move a fraction, the faintest nudge, followed by those guitar style, strumming plucks that seem synonymous with a finicky perch bite. Setting the hook there was a reassuring response, thump thump, followed by a proud dorsal breaking the surface. The perfect lime green flank and blood red fins slid over the net cord.

Last knockings 2lb perca
This solidly built perch had really left it till last knockings, but it was like a shot in the arm and my confidence was fully restored. Perhaps some of its parents will come knocking next time, who knows.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Mixing it up





My last few trips have seen me chopping and changing between species. Perch, pike and chub have  all featured. I am certainly not an angler whom targets pike a lot and that much is very evident on this blog and my vlogs, each season I promise myself to set time aside for said species. Don't get me wrong I do love them, but I get rather sidetracked and before you know it the season is over and promise fallen by the wayside. So a plan was made, a spot of static dead baiting on a diminutive waterway, one that is full of character and has some rather pretty predators.

It was a cold January morning, the breeze a tad chilly, a refreshing wake up call to the mind and soul even if body did not agree. The river level looked good if a bit coloured, I was soon setup and the first roach was cast across the narrow channel toward the opposite margin. Having had them in the freezer for over thirteen months I must admit they were not the freshest of fish but did seem to be holding together reasonably well.

An hour later the line pinged out of the drop back indicator and I was playing a lively, dappled scamp that bolted along the near margins, the first fish of 2015 .


The end result was a fish of 4lb 5oz and a nice way to start the new year. A short rest in the net and It soon sped off to tell any others that it might meet to avoid those less than glossy eyed roach. I can just see an image of two pike sat on the bottom, one checking an imaginary sell by date and claiming to its mate "I am telling you it has a touch of freezer frost!!"

It was an enjoyable day and I was kept company by Jenny Wren, whom kept returning and having a good chatter to me, for such small birds they are filled to the brim with hardy character.
 

Come late afternoon and not long before it was time to head off home to defrost I had a very confident take, I knew straight away that this was a better fish as it made a forceful sprint for the marginal snags, a quick bit of side strain was applied to halt its progress, the fish came instantly to the surface and proceeded to tail walk three times, it was a high adrenaline but short lived scrap. A lovely looking esox was my reward, not big by some anglers standards but for myself a personal best.

10.7

I was overjoyed and at the same time left questioning myself as to why I never allot a sensible portion of the fishing season to target this species.



Just prior to Christmas a neat parcel turned up and I pondered whether to leave unwrapping it till Christmas day, however curiosity got the better of me and the package was soon opened, inside were some very finely crafted floats, the glossy lacquered finishing and attention to detail was superb, I could not thank Philip enough for being so kind.


One float in particular really called out to me, an elegant avon with grey body and black whippings. I could already feel a sentimental friendship growing and if it could perhaps survive some snags, trees and a spot of dodgy wallace casting I was sure it would soon have a few tales to tell.


A few days after my pike trip I decided to put the float and speedia to good use with three hours of lunchtime trotting. Grabbing the nearest landing net, tubs of maggot and worm, I was soon off to chance my arm for a fish or two and perhaps a float caught perca. On reaching the river it looked nice but was in reality far too coloured for perch, I was nonetheless game and trickled in a steady flow of maggots at a little and often pace.

I must say having not trotted for many years it was nice to get back into it, slowly but surely a rhythm was found and as I worked the float along the various currents I was fully immersed, mesmerized by each jostle and nudge. Two hours later I had managed to miss a couple of good bites, both fast affairs and it was apparent that I was rather rusty, the Grey wagtail that had kept me company much of the afternoon would have agreed in earnest.


By now the sun was out and despite its rather watered down appearance it was most pleasant, a brief break was taken to rest my eyes and warm myself with a shot of coffee. A glance at the watch told me a few more trots and I would have to be off home, on about the tenth run through the float buried solidly, I struck and the response was instant as a  healthy dogged sprint followed, if this was a perch it was a darn good one, but I could tell this scrap had the characteristics of a chevin, sure enough the water boiled as a broad, blunt head broke the surface.


As I slid the net under it I could see it was easily my largest float and pin caught chevin. The scales read a very pleasing 6.5, I could not resist a speedia and chub picture.


These off the cuff fishing trips always feel quite wholesome, perhaps due to just grabbing the basics and getting out. I had finally christened the speedia and thanks to Philip's very kind hearted gesture I had got back into trotting, I headed home most content.