Thursday, 7 April 2016
I was going to post a written review of last season, however I thought that I would put together a montage video of some of the fishing trips from it instead, some also with friends.
Many of the clips are from trips where I didn't make a complete vlog.I would like to extend a big thank you to all of you blog regulars whom visit here and take time to read my musings and fishing tales.
Tuesday, 5 April 2016
Just a little up date for those of you whom visit my blog, you may or may not be aware that for quite a while now I have been writing for a friends online magazine, the latest edition is available to read and download by clicking the following link: Madfred Angling - Le Mag.
Fred has been editing and publishing this e-zine at regular intervals for quite some time and the feedback from the French angling community has been very positive, with each issue of the magazine being well received. Le Mag itself is quite different to your normal fishing publications. There is an even balance being reached between articles which contain some product placement and articles where the focus is on the atmosphere enjoyment and complete journey us anglers take during our trips, which is something I do find very refreshing.
If there are any other british angling bloggers out there whom would wish to submit their stories, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Fred via Facebook as he is always looking for people whom are willing to do so. All articles are translated by him to French so you need not be fluent in the language to supply an article.
Monday, 29 February 2016
Well not long to go now till the end of the river season and more is the pity, as much as I enjoy the refreshed vigour and groundwork that a new season brings, it is always with a serious touch of melancholy when moving toward the close of play.
A few weeks ago plans were put in place with a couple of friends that I had made during the youtube social match and they were to journey down from Bridgnorth to spend a day hunting along the Loddon and its sister the Blackwater in hope of a first chub or barbel from either of these waterways.
Meeting up with Robert and Richard we were greeted by very blustery yet mild conditions, both rivers carrying a reasonable amount of water along with tinge of colour, conditions looked good for them and I was hopeful that they might find the rivers in forthcoming moods (famous last words). After showing them around the venue and pointing out some of the better spots, we were soon fishing, Robert and Richard starting upstream, with myself further down, we agreed a meeting point for a lunchtime breather and chance to gather our thoughts on how the day was going.
Stopping in a couple of swims to leave some liquidised bread I headed to a debris strewn area of the river, in hope that a willing chevin might be lurking, chopping and changing between worm cheese paste and bread as I went. Alas aside from a resident pike that looked in a fairly keen mood to harass small fry and an unwelcome mink which cruised by rather nonchalantly, it was most quiet and I was starting to think that both rivers were going to throw one of their well known sombre moods.
Further downstream I found out that Robert had lost a chub which he had hooked under a tree, in a swim that was peppered with mink paw prints, moving on from this swim he mentioned to me that he had spotted a good chub that he had spooked in the shallows, one which had been feasting on some of the liquidised bread that I had left there. If anything It was becoming apparent that both waterways were in the mood to give all three of us a good lesson in curve balls. From my own point of view when having guests down, especially ones whom have made bit of a journey it is always with a sense of tension and hope that the rivers will show a kind face and welcoming hand.
During late afternoon Richard and Robert fancied a change to barbel tactics, their plan being to fish into evening time before heading home, I had pointed out a few of the good swims of which there are plenty along this river, however when she is in a sullen mood it can make not a jot of difference.
Robert set up in a fairly confined swim and fished just on to the marginal drop off, lowering his boilie and paste offering under some tired looking trees, meanwhile downstream of myself Richard had been getting some enquiries on cheese paste before finally making a change to boilie. An hour had passed when Richard walked down to inform us that he had a chub in the net and there was an almost audible sense of relief.
|Richard's first Loddon chub 4lb|
Richard was very happy to have caught his first Loddon chub and given the mood the river was in I was relieved somewhat and buoyed by this fish, hopeful that a whiskered friend would not be far behind for either of the guys.
Sadly it was not to be the case and as the wind increased during late evening the chaps decided to call it a day and head home. Despite how the days fishing had been it was evident that they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves fishing a couple of new waterways and were chatting enthusiastically about coming back down to my neck of the woods (next season guys!)
A few days later and around lunchtime I found myself heading to one of my Thames tributaries in search of a few of its larger chevin, keeping things simple using what nature provides, in this case lob worms and ok I admit my less than natural blue krill cheese paste mixture.
The weather was pleasant but the wind one of those that nags at an angler, turning knuckles and digits into cumbersome appendages. Starting off on a nice glide with link legered lob worms and a little but often spray of maggots, I was soon receiving the odd sharp tap, almost dace like and a few strikes later I was still none the wiser. Another roll through the swim was called for, this time I allowed the bait to settle under a fallen tree on the opposite bank, surely a chevin had to be at home?
The quiver plucked a few times, this a more delicate bite but a confident one and after getting a boot full of river water I was soon netting a perfectly conditioned chub.
|A perfectly conditioned small river chub (3.1)|
As I gradually made my way along the river, dropping into every likely hidey hole it was evident that the wind was going to be in menacing form, strong gusts were now coming along at regular intervals and knocking the little feeder rod off its perch on multiple occasions, conditions were to prove tricky and bites were soon to be at a premium as I shifted between baits and swims to no avail. It's a funny game at times as an early fish can be the falsest of dawns, this was to be very much that scenario.
By late afternoon my cheeks were beaming from a solid wind beating and I was being treated to a beautiful winter sunset, the sky a mixture of golden orange meets fiery reds, It was at this point that I noticed a small, rubber duck looking most sulky in the muddy margins, those of you will remember my meetings with such ducks on this waterway in the past and on occasion providing me with divine providence (well that is how I like to see it!).
|A good omen|
Picking the little chap up, sharing a smile tinged with reminiscence I looked at the swim I had found him in, plenty of coverage but with room for a bait to be cast or rolled under. So after perching him on a fence post and thanking him for stopping this angler in his tracks, a good helping of cheese paste was soon working its way under a multitude of flotsam, which included fallen trees, the odd plank and even a fire extinguisher.
Despite the wind hardly aiding bite detection, when it came there was no mistaking it, that typical smash and grab of a large chub, followed by the thud and sprint, rod tip under the water as it tried to run me into the nearby snags. A broad head finally broke the surface, the embers of winter sun glinting off the back of a extremely well built chevin, a couple more mad dashes and she was mine to admire.
|A very thick set chevin and possible 6 in the making (5.06)|
Windblown and very contented would be a good way to sum this trip up, a friendly duck had once again shown the way, needless to say it made the journey back home with me and is now sat clean and happy next to the computer, the only thing I cannot quite work out is why it does not seem to be very fond of bread and honks when I give it a squeeze.
Six days later and I had offered Tom a trip to a waterway he was yet to wet a line on and an area that I had done an impromptu bit of reconnaissance, during that bit of groundwork I had spotted some plump roach that were possibly around the 1lb mark and of course a few trout bodyguards, it stood to reason that there had to be a few chub to be tempted too.
It was a brilliantly sunny morning as we set off down the river and this particular waterway was carrying a nice amount of colour to it, nothing too heavy just a smidgen. Reaching the top end of the beat we found a quaint pool, the river running under a bridge, its current increasing in pace before breaking into a section with a nice amount of coverage, with only room for one person I suggested to Tom that we started here and it was not long before his bread offering was gobbled down by a hungry brownie. As we moved downstream we both noticed how fast the colour was dropping out of the river and sure enough within an hour it was more or less crystal clear.
Downstream of Tom I had found a nice looking run, fast paced with lots of cover, a lob worm was cast towards a sunken tree and a few minutes later after some tentative plucks I thought I had connected with our first chub of the day, instead the flash of silver soon morphed into dappled markings as a greedy little pike had taken a liking to my worm offering and was putting me to the sword as it sprinted into the main flow, little did we know that this was to be a running theme with everything but chub taking a liking to our hook baits.
|A toothy touch, but not the species we sought|
As we worked our way downstream we came to an area where the river widened to a double bend this looked spot on, Tom missing a bite early on before connecting with a beautifully marked, slim Jim of a perch, we both remarked about how this fish looked underweight for its length, looking as if it needed a hearty minnow dinner or ten to fill it out.
As the afternoon sped by there was an odd quiet, despite many swims having superb fish holding features it seemed as if no one was at home. Meanwhile I had Settled in a narrow swim downstream of Tom, glimpsing back upstream I could see his rod was hooped over, this was followed by the parting of hook and line, as he made his way toward me it was done with a combination of hitting himself on the head with his cap repeatedly and high adrenaline chatter of "I have just lost the most golden chub Mark, it was gold as f*%*!"
After a quick chat about what might have been, Tom was soon back at his swim trying to tempt another chance. Half an hour later Tom was walking back to me, I figured that he might have got his string well pulled and have our third coarse fish of the trip and with any luck a chunky chub.
However this was not to be the case as I soon found out that he had hooked the golden culprit once again, it was actually a stunningly marked brown trout and despite us both not being overly fond of catching out of season trout, we both agreed that it was simply too gorgeous not to take a quick photo and some footage of.
|Tom with a perfectly conditioned brownie (3-14)|
We fished on till around 6pm, but apart from one very sharp, almost wary bite to myself and a couple more knocks to Tom it was to be one of those trips where the chub went undetected leaving us with unfinished business and plenty of food for thought for next season.
After this trip we decided to strike whilst the iron was hot and as it was the weekend of my 37th Birthday (middle age beckons) we made plans to do some fishing on the Blackwater, perch and chub hunting being the order of the day.
Meeting at around 9am we were both chomping at the bit in anticipation of some perca and chevin chasing, the river looked spot on with a slight green touch of colour to it and steady pace. Heading upstream I pointed out a couple of swims to Tom and dropped in one below him, whilst he headed for a tired looking bush that overhung the river, this particular reach is a brilliant zone for a few chub, due to a combination of undercut bank and sinewy tree roots that allow those armed with either link leger or free lined baits access to what I would call prime features and it soon showed as Tom was connected to a feisty fish that punched well above its weight as it combined a mixture of sprints and burrowing runs before it was ready for the folds of the landing net.
|Tom with his second largest Blackwater chevin (3-8)|
After giving our spots another ten minutes we made the joint decision to move on, heading to an area of the river which can be a bit of a pike zone, but does usually produce a few chub, at the time we had planned to skip ahead of this swim but passing it by I just could not resist casting a lob worm into it.
Perhaps thirty seconds later and the quiver twitched a couple of times before a brilliant scrap ensued from a spirited chub.
We were both very happy to be off the mark and I feel this always allows you room to focus a little better. One thing I will say is that Tom and I have never lost sight of the enjoyment of catching fish no matter their size and that is something I have always felt we have had in common. After this fish I suggested it was worth another cast and that Tom should run his link leger under the sunken trees. Unfortunately on this particular occasion a greedy Esox turned up and soon took a liking to his bait and rig in one fell swoop.
After a grumble about lost ssg shot and cheeky pike Tom was soon tackled up and we were making our way to an area where he had lost a good fish last season and probably a venue pb at that! I remember the moment with some chagrin, hearing this fish wallowing in the snags before the line parted company, it is one of those moments we always recall during our chats about small river chub hunting, in fact I think I still have the footage from my old head cam where we are talking about it being a good fish just before the line parted company, ever since this incident Tom has always approached this swim with an air of excitement and expectancy.
A couple of casts later and whilst alternating between bread and cheese paste Tom added three more chub to his tally, I duly did the honours with his camera.
|Tom wearing his game face whilst a young chub (2-7) looks on in abject fear of this chevin chaser|
Heading onward we chatted about how there seemed to be very little in the way of perch falling to any lob worm offerings, this despite the fact that water colour was more or less spot on for some of the better perch to have a mooch about, it was most odd to say the least. By now we had moved into a slacker area of the river, lots of near bank roots and undercuts, prime perch territory. Meanwhile Tom had gone ahead of me and was heading into an area which can be kind for most species, be that roach, chub or perch to name but a few. Back in my swim I was receiving delicate plucks which were followed by the lob worm offering being left untouched, this sections good for chub however I knew if this was a chevin then it would have probably found such a sumptuous offering hard to resist. A couple of pouchfuls of maggot were introduced upstream before another cast was made. Sure enough this time round the tip nodded with increased vigour and I was hooked into the first and what was to prove to be the only perch of the trip, a portly sergeant in the making and one that in future seasons may well attain its full ranking.
|A nicely conditioned stripey (1-2)|
We eventually came to a bend in the river and a swim that I usually call the "bermuda triangle" this due to the way that the chub in this particular spot have a habit of hitting your bait before surfacing in an all to snag ridden area, despite this it can be a very productive spot and one where it is not uncommon to have an instant bite or two and today was to be no different with Tom receiving interest straight away on bread flake. A quick change to lob worm and it all fell rather quiet, the last cast unfortunately rolling under a snag and lodging there firmly, in fact it was proving to be a fairly costly day on the link leger front, both myself and Tom using more than one tub of ssg's between us.
Upstream I had planned for revenge in a swim where I had previously lost what would have been a sizeable perch and easily a venue best when I had hooked a fish that I would have estimated at around 3lb, well I say hooked but at the time had no idea that I had actually hooked its three week old bullhead supper.... eventually amd just as the fish looked ready for the net the hook pulled and I was left with a rather smelly and unattractive bullhead as the booby prize! This also happened whilst during a trip with Tom and much like his large chevin which he had lost on this waterway this was easily one of the most wounding moments I have had. We both remember it clearly as if it happened yesterday, as I walked up to him cradling the most foul smelling bullhead whilst looking more sulky than a cat whom has been informed that there is no more milk in the fridge. I am sure he thought that I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic at the time, nowadays we always have a good laugh about it, but at the time I must admit that I was pretty inconsolable.
During our journey to our final swims Tom added another 2lb chevin to his rod along with a handful of chublets, meanwhile I had reached my waypoint and took my time to add a generous feed of maggot into the swim, slowly visualising how I would play the large perca should she still reside there, naturally each scenario concluded with me slipping the net under her. Half an hour later and I received a confident pluck followed by another, setting the hook I could have sworn that I was connected to a perch and that was when it happened, I was perhaps ten seconds into the scrap when the hook pulled, my face etched with a mixture of dejection and dismay, admittedly unlike that fateful day when I had got a glimpse of her I could not be certain it was a perch yet the brief battle had felt like it might have been.
Gathering my thoughts I rebaited the hook with a fresh lob worm, castimg toward the opposite bank and allowing the bait to roll under the flotsam. A few minutes later and a more confident bite graced my rod tip, a tussle of a different kind as a nicely proportioned chub made a good fist of trying to take me under the debris.
|The final fish of the trip (3-4)|
This was to be the last fish of our trip and it was an excursion that we had both enjoyed, dare I say that I feel it was one of our better trips and by that I do not mean in relation to fish that were caught, but the general feeling with how we clicked and enjoyed each others company, one thing was for certain we were both very tried by the end, but at the same time happy, if not only for such a good trip but also proof that time can indeed heal and some friendships can endure from both our perspectives.
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Friday, 29 January 2016
Last weekends trips were a rather contrasting affair, where the rivers showed their changeable winter moods. My first trip was spur of the moment, grabbing the gear and heading out around lunchtime there was an itch needing to be scratched, I planned to fish a more static approach, targeting a handful of swims before the water levels would rise once more, aided by the multitude of feeder streams and fields that drain into this waterway.
A spot of swim rotation with the blue krill paste and a light helping of liquidised bread was what I had in mind. On reaching the river it had a nice touch of pea green colour to it and the water level looked perfect. A continual helping of light rainfall accompanied me as I made my way to the first swim, a shallow bend with an undercut bank that had been deeply scoured and is sometimes home to a few too many crayfish. A hearty piece of paste was soon moulded to the shank of the hook and winding its way under the bank. A crayfish free half hour had passed by when I received couple of knocks followed by a good pull and a determined scrap from a well formed chub.
This fish had some wonderful golden tones to it and in the sunlight that had finally decided to make an appearance its brassy flank looked resplendent.
|A golden flanked chevin (5lb)|
After releasing her away from the area I tried a couple of other debris strewn swims, but aside from a one way discussion with a crayfish that looked like it had been training to become a lobster there were no more bites forthcoming.
At around 4pm I decided to set up the seat and fish the final swim for the last couple of hours.
This I have found to be a most interesting spot, with a smooth flow to it and lack of any turbulence but usually a good few snags along both margins and on some occasions can actually be an absolute nightmare zone for crayfish, but where there is an invasive food source and coverage then sometimes there is a large chub or two hanging around to make the most from it. Starting along the opposite bank margins and allowing the link ledger to roll down to a lop sided tree I settled down to scrutinise the rod tip.
It has taken a while for our rivers down south to have a proper flush through, but the last bouts of heavier rain over the past few weeks have helped and apart from the odd stick or branch bobbing by the flow was relatively clear. Stealing a look at my watch and realising I had an hour left I decided to roll the paste into a spot on my near margin, although this is a bit of a risky manoeuvre given the broken boughs nearby. Twenty five minutes later I received such a faint bite, if I hadn't known better then I would have said that this fish was sampling the cheese on a cracker alongside a bottle of vino, the bites were that leisurely. Finally they became more decisive and with its final tug at my cheese board I was met with a bold resilience and headstrong scrap.
|A solidly built chub with the odd battle scar (5-15)|
An ounce under 6lb, not that weight matters with such well proportioned fish, she had a circular scarring on her flank and certainly had a bit of history about her, these scars melting into grey and burnished gold scales, I was rather thrilled. My journey home was one of silent contentment and one that looked forward to getting back out after some more chub over the weekend and plans were made to head to the Loddon.
Sunday morning and I was making my way to the Loddon in hope I might bump into some more chub. A few swims into the trip and I was getting that distinct feeling that she was not best pleased with me and perhaps doing a feast of famine routine, very much the latter on this particular occasion. Despite the river looking good if a bit coloured and weather being very mild, each spot I tried did not wish to relinquish any of its gems. I have seen it many times over the years with this waterway and it usually makes it all too evident when it has a cob on.
By late afternoon and having got a good helping of liquidised bread in the eye, the cheese paste had yielded a couple of chublets, probably no more than 6oz's in size, the river either had a mood on or my chub radar was off the boil. I had moved into an area of river I have nicknamed the mangrove due to the coverage on the opposite bank, a mixture of brambles, trees and bushes. A switch to worm was made and I started running the bait close to the features on the opposite bank, by now I had been rubbing my eye with regularity and setting up an uncomfortable infection. On the third roll through the swim I had a good bite and even better scrap from a chub of 4lb.
On closer inspection this fish looked very much worse for wear and I could see what could only best be described as a large blister or wound on the back of its head, the scales round this region were soft to the touch, feeling just like a crayfish that was shedding its shell. It looked immensely sore and inflamed, I could only surmise that it was a predation attempt or some kind of ailment.
Despite this the fish swam off strongly, but I can't help feel that such a problem might not bode well for its future. By evening and having suffered from a few crayfish along the way I did wonder about heading for home, however my stubborn side got the better of me and I decided to try a couple of swims into darkness. Despite a few half hearted plucks no more chub were to materialise, although I suspect they were there lurking if unwilling.
It had been a mixed couple of trips, although I wouldn't call the latter of the two trips dispiriting. After all If we didn't have such contrasting trips then I very much doubt the special ones would really feel the same.
Wednesday, 27 January 2016
I have thought long and hard whilst composing this blog post and do realise it is not exactly a fishing related one, at least not of the fishing trip kind. However it is related to the friendships I have made via fishing, some of these have been very pleasant and have lasted and there are some that I wish I had never had. The kind where you can be as far from pretence or deceit as possible, only to find out that the person involved simply cannot help running others down behind their back. I must admit that I don't believe a friendship that is based around a shared passion should feel like the person you are sharing your enjoyment with is constantly laying traps all the time or bartering with your information and selling it on to curry favour with others, only to move on and do the same to those that they have shared things with and I have felt like this has been the case regularly with certain individuals.
I admit that I am far from perfect and come across at times as being rather stilted when socialising and dealing with the intricacies associated with friendship. Although I am finding there seems to be a running theme with some people to be disingenuous with others as well as usually applying a good helping of double standards and duplicity toward their friendships, yet at the same time repeatedly trying to either befriend or re-friend you, wearers of two faces and if a wildlife comparison was drawn then I suppose the term "social Hyena" might be put to use.
Maybe I take friendships too seriously but when spending time on the riverbank it is nice to feel you are sharing it with someone whom has a kindred spirit for our pastime without them being judgemental or allowing other malevolent emotions to manifest themselves, whilst still gladly taking with one hand and silently slipping a knife between your shoulder blades with the other.
The question I have mulled over the most would be how many second chances do you give another person before you become a doormat and is twice once too many? Being able to forgive and work through a rocky period of a friendship and giving it a second chance is something that has to come from both parties. They have to be willing to look at each others faults and failings working on understanding each others weaker areas, rather than reviving the friendship only to continue to make snide derogatory remarks to others.
To myself friendship has always been a curious thing, perhaps even more so when it is combined with a passionately shared hobby, does it become more unstable because of that, indeed should it? Surely not, if anything it should give a firm foundation and the building blocks toward an extra cohesion between two anglers, strengthening their friendship and resolve.
Who knows, maybe I am not finding the right people/persons that I click with. Perhaps my friendship radar is askew, the latter would not surprise me, although I can't help feel that part of me no longer wishes to suffer fools gladly, but at the same time something another person said to me also sticks in my mind and that is not allowing one or two friendships to convince you to isolate yourself away from the chances of others which could perhaps flourish.
So blog readers I wish to ask you a straight question as I am interested to hear your replies and in doing so try to use them as a bit of a guiding hand. How many of you anglers have fishing friendships that have stood the test of time through the ups and downs, if so how have you gone about keeping that friendship strong? Have any of you fallen foul of friendships you wish you had distanced yourself from and perhaps felt you had made the mistake of attempting to reignite a friendship with someone whom will never be a sincere friend. Perhaps there were areas where you feel you may have been partly the cause of a loss of a good friendship. I would be very interested to read your views on this topic in the comments section and look forward to doing so.
I also promise to be a bit more back on topic in my future blogs.
Wednesday, 20 January 2016
It was a crisp sunny morning, peering out the kitchen window I could see Blackbirds perched upon frosty roof tiles, these were accompanied by steam being vented with regularity from the neighbours central heating, it was the first proper winters day we have had.
The multitude of different mugs rattled away as I hastily liquidised a loaf of bread before setting about to tinker with my cheese paste mixture, as the rivers were likely to still be coloured I wanted to try to create a slight clouding effect, so whilst mixing a new batch of the blue krill paste I included a liberal helping of powdered milk, the idea being that this would leak off a creamy textured cloud and prove inviting to any inquisitive chub.
A flask of coffee was soon stashed away and I was eventually ready to make my way to the riverbank for a mornings chub searching. It was brilliantly sunny and it did not take long for the rod blank and eyes to start freezing up at regular intervals. Bread flake and lob worm were to be the willing accomplices to cheese paste today and in the first few swims I started with link ledgered bread, it did not take long for minnows to find the bait numerous fibrillated taps soon followed.
By now having tried a good few swims, a pacey area of river beckoned, not the deepest of runs but with a welcome undercut to it, the limbs of an old tree outstretched into the river, its sunken boughs inviting me to run a bait through. A few minutes later and a confident bite was missed, a fault of my own making as digits responded with lethargy and cold clumsiness, they had asked many times for the solace of my jacket pockets but I had resisted lest I miss a bite, ironic that it should backfire.
It was late afternoon when I made my last port of call, as the sun gradually dipped behind the trees you could feel the temperature dropping, a change to touch ledgering and a switch back to the cheese paste was made, the addition of powdered milk was working better than I expected, providing an added colour and leak off to the mixture a component which I felt it lacked before.
One final cast turned into four more, each one supposedly the last. That final roll of the dice, bail arm open, line paying out as bait and with it hope rolled downstream, there is something wonderfully tactile about feeling a bait move through a swim, as it rolls into place, followed by dislodging it and allowing it to carry on in search of its quarry.
Eventually lowering the rod onto the front rest and popping the lid of the flask for that final cup of coffee I was smiling, sure it had not been a straight forward fishing trip but you seldom learn anything if every trip has a set certainty to it, you can be focused but still enjoy the day for what it is, a chance for escapism and inner peace. Looking over the flask lid I noticed the faintest of plucks, something was playing the harp with the paste, picking up the rod and feeling the line a couple more delicate taps soon followed before the rod tip thudded confidently. Welcome resistance and a sprinting dash for cover, angler fuelled with exuberant adrenaline, a concoction of caffeine and the pulsing sprints of what felt a good Cephalus. Those final moments as broad lips break the surface, thoughts about hook holds tumble from mind and become verbalised, wondering if a final head shake will see the days prize slip from view.
|A hard won chub (5-12)|
A long brassy flank my reward and a good deed is done, the removal of another anglers hook, a chance to wonder if it had also been their last cast, a final hope and spirited scrap before hook and line parted company, leaving an angler with alluring thoughts of what might have been.