Friday, 21 November 2014

Autumnal feelings

So the clocks have gone back and it's dark around 5pm. Chestnuts have been picked and are waiting to be roasted.

I must say this season has been an enjoyable one and has found me doing groundwork on new areas of some of the Thames tributaries that I fish, most of these have been spent building up a picture of the features and general topography of certain swims, I often enjoy this part as much as the actual fishing trips and garner a great deal of enjoyment from them, they certainly whet the appetite and help to give you some idea of how swims might develop later in the season.

Mid September I headed to fish some of these new swims, where shallow gravel runs give way to deeper marginal areas, tangled tree roots descending into them like a half submerged octopus that is worried about wetting its tentacles.

A few small bait droppers of bird seed were placed in as quietly as possible and then the swim was left for about an hour before I gently lowered my bait into place.

The evening was peaceful and even though it was only mid September it was evident that the days were beginning to draw in that much earlier, it's hard to say how this makes me feel, on one hand I personally love fishing during autumn and winter, on the other it fills me with sadness to think summer is passing and with it the dense foliage will eventually wither and fall, leaving a bare landscape of woody skeletons, denuded and stark, branches reaching out upward as if to beg for their petticoats to be returned.

The owls began to call out in earnest, a pheasant caught me unawares as it bundled its way through a nearby hedge, its staccato call ringing in my ears as it ran off in abject horror and slowly but surely the mist developed, rising from the river, eventually shrouding rod and angler in its damp embrace.
It was to be a very quiet evening apart from a couple of taps early on, those whom fish this waterway will know what I mean when I say it has three moods, on,off and deadly. However all of these have their own allure and once you're bitten things are never the same, each fish is procured and very much cherished.

At around 3am I was pondering the rarest of things, having another cast when the rod tip thudded round once more, a gap between bites of a good few hours but a very positive sign, one hour later and the reel purred into action, the fish diving for the cover of tree roots and knowing exactly where it wanted to head, some steady side pressure applied and it cruised into the mid-channel before heading off upstream like a well toned athlete. A mixture of nauseous feelings welled up in my stomach as I felt the line grating on an unseen snag upstream, but thankfully the line did not part company and I was rewarded with a handsome double in the net.

It really was the barbus late show and the skyline was gradually showing that dawn would soon be beckoning, a kindly thank you was whispered to the river and I made my way home.


During September and October I met up with Tom once again, the plan was to do a short days roving and for him to hopefully tempt a personal best chub from the river Blackwater. The waterways perch populace were on fine form and I think I lost count of how many were caught, each one finely marked and healthy.

I had headed further upstream and lost what felt like a reasonable chub to a combination of snag and hook pull, so I suggested to Tom to try another swim just below me, one that had proven fruitful to another friend in the past, this nearly paid instant dividends as he hooked into a very good fish which made a powerful dash for some nearby cover, unfortunately it was not going to come back out from this snag and looked a very nice chub, a possible personal best, we were both rather crest fallen.

A few swims later, on a wider bend and after a few casts trundling flake through the swim he hooked into a rather lively fish, it was to turn out to be his largest Blackwater chub (3.12.5). A fish that had certainly been in the wars and had the battle scars to prove it, each mark on its body a worthy tale to tell.

A jubilant Tom

An interesting side note to this, is that on three occasions with friends on this particular river each one of them has had a chub of 3.12, which I find rather uncanny.

Tom was overjoyed and this fish went a good part of the way to making up for losing the larger fish earlier on. Another interesting couple of captures were of some rather nicely conditioned roach that we both caught and it has given me some serious food for thought about targeting the larger red fins that may inhabit this reach of the river.

This was a very enjoyable trip and on the way back to the car we could not help chatting fervently about the fish Tom had lost and both hoped he might see again.

Our next few trips together were alternated between Blackwater and Wey. 

One of these was during Toms birthday, it was a very crisp day, the first frosts of the year laced the ground, it was a brilliantly sunny affair with a good feeling of autumn about it, both Tom and myself had high expectations, some words of appreciation were passed to mum as she handed us a baked slice each and some cake for Tom before dropping us off at the venue.

We planned to fish until 5pm and see if we could winkle out some of this rivers pristine chub. The waterway was gin clear and it was a very still day, Tom said to me he wished to try some of the earlier swims on this particular stretch, an area where there is quite a few undercut margins on the opposite bank, I could understand why he was so enthusiastic to wet a line here.

Within the first twenty minutes Tom received a positive bite and was soon playing a very energetic chub, a fish that was intent on heading upstream to bury itself in some nearby flotsam, like a lot of the chub that inhabit this waterway this was a very bonny fish, immaculate and with a lovely slate grey meets brassy colouring, Tom was very happy, it was the perfect start to our trip and a birthday chub at that.

Welcome birthday chevin (3.8)

We made our way downstream to an area where the river becomes shallow, but has some very clear, deeper pools, a few trundles here resulted in my first couple of fish in the shape of some gatecrashing brownies, it's always a lively affair when you hook them, although the end result is usually a very spooked swim and has in the past cost us a chance at a nice chevin or two.

By now the sun had warmed up pleasantly and it was turning into a very mild day, Tom was just upstream of me and had picked up a couple of trout from an area that really has chub written all over it, a swim with some dense near bank coverage, deeper margins and sunken wood rafts.

As we ventured onward and after a few too many crayfish we decided to take lunch, I always enjoy these parts of the trips, nothing to do with my appetite of that I can assure you but it allows both anglers to gather their thoughts, share ideas and plans of action, although the food trading that takes place during these moments is rather enjoyable that I will certainly admit.  

We both felt confident and were quite positive as we had not had quite as many interruptions from trout as we had expected, that said despite the chub earlier in the day and the trout, we had not seen much activity from anymore chevin or spotted any on likely areas downstream, despite this fact I was confident and mentioned to Tom that I had seen fish that looked a good 5lb earlier in the season along here.

Tom contemplating

By now we had reached a bend in the river, there was some nice weed beds and a sunken tree on the opposite bank, it looked too good to pass up, no loose feed was introduced just in case there might be the odd trout lurking, instead a single lob worm was trundled along here.

A few moments passed and I received an inquisitive tap, followed again by another more determined thud, I struck and was into what felt like a nice stamp of fish, sure enough it headed for the safety of the weed beds downstream, Tom was in my swim and said straight away  "that looks a nice chub Mark!", he did the honours with a sound netting and there was another pristine chub in the net for us.

Tom chatted excitedly, "Looks a good 4 plus, maybe even a venue pb mate!".

At first glance into the net I was not so sure, yet earlier on had guesstimated Tom's fish to the ounce. Tom looked at me and said, "mate if that isn't a good mid 4 I will eat your weigh sling", this brought about a hearty laugh between us as I assured him that the weigh sling really was not that appetizing.

Sure enough he was right and this resplendent fish weighed in at 4.9  a venue pb.

A perfect bar of gold

With only an hour left we decided to try a few more swims and Tom tried to get the chub feeding on the surface with some bread, although there did seem to be a lot of dace that were also interested in this tactic, just upstream of him I had noticed quite a bit of disturbance along my near margin and began to follow this fish about, it turned out to be a chub of perhaps 4lb maybe a little more, very skittish and wary, by now I had adopted my teddy bear style stalking approach, this fish was having none of it and made for a quick exit back downstream.

Time always seems to pass at a rate of knots when fishing and as we made our way back to the car it was clear that today had been no exception to that rule, it had been an interesting days fishing and a good way to celebrate Tom's birthday with a couple of picture perfect chub, we did muse over how the fishing had been and just how many chub we might have passed by, although this is not an easy area of the river it no doubt holds some larger fish and I for one would not be at all surprised to see it produce a 6lb chub. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

A long catch up - Digging into my past

Well it has been a while since my last update so this is a fairly long one. During that time I have had a mixture of glass back syndrome and some personal issues, both of which  I wish to touch upon to a certain degree in this particular post.

I would just like to say thanks to the kindly mother who devotes her spare time to ferrying me about and picking me up and sometimes at rather odd hours, it is a fact that a lot of my fishing would not be possible without her assistance, taking her time to involve herself with my fishing directly chatting about venues and much more, I never mention it to you enough but I am forever indebted to you and also to dad for kindling my interest in angling as a child.

The back has mended somewhat though and that was originally caused by falling down the stairs at home, partly my fault for leaving one of my hats tucked in the banister rail which then fell onto said stairs and took me on a mini adventure as half of me surfed down them, an amusing but painful sight. I thought nothing of it the following evening, just a little ache and twinge, so decided I was still fair game to head off fishing. After getting to my swim I was using my chair as a makeshift zimmer frame and I was feeling in pretty poor shape, shooting pain running into the lumber and down my left thigh, this was only alleviated by pushing back hard against my seat and leaning to my right, thoughts of how I was going to make it back were running through my head, thankfully I had brought some diclofenac tablets along with me and these did help alleviate the pain if not the problem.

This particular stretch of the river was intimate with some very nice features, sunken bushes and beautiful gravel runs and channels, spots where folding nettles to one side is more than ample to poke a rod through.

After a light amount of bait dropper work a single rod was lowered next to a marginal tree, a nice opening in the weed beds and a slight variance in depth, deeper but not by a lot, perhaps by an extra 12 inches when compared to other areas in the same swim. It looked the perfect spot for fish to either be sat under or patrol along and stop for a snack.

By now evening had faded to night and owls were calling out in earnest, every so often a pipistrelle  would dance in front of me, fluttering to and throw, thankfully picking up any mosquitoes that might have been contemplating feeding on me instead.

There was no real indication of the rather spirited 5lb barbus that sped off with my bait, just an all out bite and a tenacious scrap.

It was nice to see a younger fish as that is not usually the case on some areas of the Loddon that I fish, the norm being high singles and doubles. A couple of hours later and another feisty friend of a similar size joined this fish.

Fighting fit 5.4

This was giving me some food for thought, why was it this particular area seemed to have a larger populace of smaller/younger fish. Less predation? Perhaps a better habitat and spawning areas than on other reaches? Perhaps more stocking had taken place along this reach than on others? I am not sure on the latter and do plan on doing some research into this.

I was happy, but the way home, though short was arduous and in hindsight I should have never made this trip as it botched my back good and proper, ruining a trip that I had offered a good friend (Tom) the following weekend.

What followed was days of repeated hot water bottles, Ibuleve back rubs (thanks to mum and dad) and painkillers. The last time I had my back go badly was lifting a large computer monitor (crt) many years ago and that left me bed ridden,  my mind was swinging back and forth to that moment and I was subconsciously compounding emotion on top of emotion, with thoughts of having let a friend down, along with being an idiot for falling down the stairs in the first place.

After what felt like too long I began feeling better, certainly not like a spring chicken but better. I decided to have a rummage about in my rucksack and in an attempt to reduce any weight, although in fairness I think the weight needs to come off said person and not rucksack.

As my back continued getting better I opted for a couple of late evening sessions. I found myself heading to an area that I was more unfamiliar with, but one that had a rather enticing look about it with fallen trees and reed lined margins, ideal for a one rod poke, the two swims I had in mind were rather hit and hold and would prove interesting should I connect with any of the residents.

A few bait droppers of seed were lowered into place upstream in both swims, along with a miniscule  amount of broken boilie, I decided to start off with a thick set boilie paste only, so as to give off a fresh scent trail.

The night was clear, stars twinkling and aside from the bark of deer which penetrated the darkness all was calm. An hour or more had passed when I had the first indication of fish in the swim, the rod tip giving a rather fidgety nudge, followed by a pluck. The bite was most definitely more akin to a chevin.

Another thud and jerk followed, I struck, the fish bolted for the safety of a nearby weed raft, it was indeed a chub and a well proportioned one at that, broad and in rather pristine condition.

A brassy chevin (5.2)

I gave the spot another hour but started to receive some rather unwanted attention from the cray twins, the rod tip tightening up solidly as they played about with my bait, on winding in I applied a size 8 boot to the mini lobster that was holding firmly to the hook link and decided that a move to another swim was in order.

On moving to the next swim the rod was not in the water for long when the tip sprung round and I brought in probably one of the largest crayfish I have seen, one of its claws the width of one and a half of my thumbs, we eyed each other up for a second, thoughts of a boiling saucepan, some salt and side salad did spring to mind.

A change to boilie was made, two more casts preceded another two crayfish of similar size, a mental note was made to stop kidding myself that there would be no more after each cast to this undercut bank so I relocated to the main channel and a small opening in the streamer weed, by now pockets of mist were rolling in across the fields at regular intervals, enveloping river and angler, the only light coming from my watch as I checked it furtively, time was ticking down and with it the sullen feeling of having to leave the river was slowly but surely setting in.

My rod tip nudged slightly before arching round, this time it was evident that it was no crayfish as a welcome scrapper (4.9) took me on a short and energetic trip through the weedy channels.

Perfection in miniature

I headed off home happy in the knowledge that this new area had produced a couple of very healthy looking fish.

The next few days thoughts about heading back down the river were interspersed with the trip I had planned with Tom and what area of the river we should head to on the day.

The following evening and at the offer of a lift to one of my venues I decided to head out, not reaching my chosen location until darkness had started setting in, a swim which had garnered my interest in the past and looked like it could indeed be fruitful, not so much dense weed beds here, but enough adjacent features to suggest that fish would travel through this area, however due to the lack of rainfall the water was low and very clear, the marginal gravel gullies clearly visible with my headlight as were the crayfish and minnows.

A light underarm cast was made toward a gully on the opposite bank, small weight and pva mesh creating a light ripple in the moonlight, it was a mild night with a light amount cloud cover, the only sound that of mice trying their best to get to my rucksack via the undergrowth, it was a strange night in that respect as there was very little owl activity despite conditions looking perfect for their hunting sorties.

At about 10pm the crunch of feet nearby told me that there was another solitary angler seeking a fish or two, their headlight dwindling off into the distance as they headed back downstream, it was not long after this that the rod thudded round, shunting forward in the rest, I was soon connected to a very lively fish that ploughed off upstream as it tried putting the reeds on the opposite bank to good use. Once I slipped the net under it I could see that it was in cracking condition with a large paddle, vivid colouration and fighting fit.

8lb with a rather mean paddle

It was a very pleasant way to commence the trip and I would have to say this has to be one of the most immaculate barbel I have had the pleasure of catching.

A quick cast and the rod was back in position, about half an hour later and I could hear movement on the opposite bank, my first thought was a mink but this animal didn't seem quite as agile, the far bank foliage rustling as it seemed to tumble headfirst through it, followed by the odd gruff sound, all became evident when my headlight shone on a badgers head which was poking through the stinging nettles, I don't think it was overly impressed to see me, making a disgruntled sound it ran off in that rough and ready style that only badgers seem to have.

By now I had rummaged about in my bag and found a pack of choc orange digestives, as I set about tucking into one or five of them the rod tip shook violently, seemingly a tad too heavy handed to be a crayfish.

The second bite was equally cagey with just the one sharp tap, this fish building up confidence to a more aggressive take which followed ten minutes later, the rod wrapping round to the right, fish heading down the gravel gully for the safety of the bushes upstream, some side pressure was applied,I heard it break the surface, it sounded and felt a reasonable fish, as I drew it closer to the bank it decided to play possum, looking well and truly ready for the net, this was not to be the case though as it sped off downstream, line steadily ticking off the drag.

After what was a very good scrap I had what looked a nice double in the net and the scales did not disagree settling on 11.12.

This was followed not long after by a perfect little barbel over 2lb which in hindsight I should have taken a picture of, given that it is the smallest I have seen in recent years on this waterway.

On returning home I chatted to Tom about the following days fishing and had high hopes for him to bag his first barbel from this river and maybe first double.

On meeting Tom in the club car park it was evident that he was rather excited to wet a line on a new river and his company is always very congenial, those that know me will be perhaps be aware that I don't have a great deal of friends, those that I do have are mainly inside the fishing community and Tom and I have grown a great deal as friends, in the past we have not always seen eye to eye with certain things, but we have worked through those moments and also shared some amusing trips together, unassuming and enjoyable to fish with, it is nice to be able to call him a good friend.

We made our way slowly past swims, stopping frequently to draw breathe and for me to share some information regarding certain spots with him, confidence was high and conditions looked good, nice cloud cover and very still, even if the river was a tad low and clear. We eventually stopped at an area I felt would offer a good chance of a fish to either of us.

Tom tackling up

We opted to fish a single rod each so as to not pressure the area too much, the day past by fairly uneventfully with only one sharp bite coming to Tom and I did think this was going to develop into something a bit more convincing but alas did not,much to my malaise the crayfish were proving to be on fine form, taps and plucks coming at regular intervals as they toyed with my bait.

Evening passed into darkness, it was a calm night, barely a breeze in the air,  just the sound of owls and a rather attention seeking deer barking out its gruff call for the best part of an hour. It was becoming fairly evident that the gentleman's river was going to do what it does best with a Jekyll and Hyde moment, as early morning came and we slowly packed up I mentioned how unlucky we were given the conditions and how fickle the river can be at times, but Tom was not fussed or put off by this and on making our way home he was already chatting about having another trip.

A few days later I had been giving some thought to trying another spot in this general area of the river and I also had other things on my mind, one of those being an appointment to see a psychologist. If I sat here typing this and said it did not play heavily on my mind I would be lying and my mood was a sombre one during this trip, filled with thoughts of what to expect with the upcoming appointment, but the river helped to take the edge off this, as did the reward of a healthy and energetic barbel (6.10)

When the day of the appointment finally arrived I was moody and agitated, it was safe to say that I had worked myself up somewhat and ended up having a bit of meltdown prior to it, as well as acting very negatively toward my father, given that he was trying to be supportive I cannot really forgive myself for doing that, but at the same time I guess I felt rather prickly.

My mother remained present as she was to be there to chat about what I was like as a child through to my adulthood and so on. A lot of the questions that were put to myself and mum were in relation to autism and to help the psychologist gauge it, I will not delve into everything as I find it painful enough typing about it, but at the same time feel that I need to unload some of it in this blog.

Many topics were covered, including how well I socially interacted with other children when I was a toddler, through to primary and secondary school, how many friends I had and such. The amount of friends was probably one of the easier questions to answer, as I could count those on a single finger.
I explained how I never really interacted socially with other children at primary or secondary school finding it all too awkward, the trouble is when you are deemed different to the "norm" you are then picked on more and I spent a lot of my schooldays being bullied, which created an immense loathing for school, especially secondary.

Questions were asked if I would realize that I was boring someone when talking continuously on subjects that I enjoyed such as fishing, I did admit that I would continue chatting on the given subject. My parents are well aware of this, but despite that fact always try to be very accommodating and at the same time remind me when I am harping on a bit too much. I must be rather exasperating and very trying at times.

Other subjects were touched upon such as hearing sensitivity, smell and whether I had a good imagination or not, also how my eye contact was when speaking to people. Whilst eye contact is not  something I have ever been good at, over the years I have come to force myself to maintain it during conversation, although I still find it easier to do so when chatting on subjects that I am familiar with and in surroundings where I am more at ease. Social interaction has never been easy, that isn't to say that I don't enjoy it on my own terms.

Questions were asked if I ever felt depressed. Going into detail about how i generally felt from day to day and what things brought me to a low ebb, sharing this with a person you don't really know from Adam and a person whom you do, yet don't share those parts of your personality and mental state with was not the greatest of feelings.

Many more items were covered in detail which also included any female relationships, this felt awkward and immensely uncomfortable to chat about and admit that I had never had a relationship.I suppose the general thought for a man of my age is that my mum should perhaps see me with my own family or at least in some kind of relationship and I guess this is the shape life would normally take. It is not an easy subject for me to touch upon as I know deep down this affects her, especially as she sees acquaintances and their children growing up and starting families, myself left in stasis.

With regard to this subject, I do have the most uncomfortably realistic dreams, the kind where you might awaken to think it was real and believe you are in a relationship, only for it to become starkly apparent that it was indeed only a dream and it is these that I dislike the most as they cause me a lot of distress.

But do I actually want a soul mate? You know the answer to that is a rather mixed affair, I guess part of me does, but the other part does not feel it right that I should inflict myself upon another person who is more functioning than myself and have a negative impact on them and their lifestyle.

By the end of the appointment I was feeling almost numb and totally spent, it is not everyday you get to rake over the coals from two different perspectives and still find them too hot for comfort.

The more I think about it all, the more I realize what a let down I must really be to mum and dad, I know they had to think long and hard about having a second child and when they did decide to they were bestowed one that didn't cut the mustard, not even half a jar. Such are the ways and weaknesses of genes and how they meld, you might think that easy for me to say, alas if only that were the case.


For those who came expecting to read a blog solely about fishing and found something a little different by the end of it and might feel that this angler is one card short of a full deck, to hell with you, after all this blog is my party and I'll cry if I want to.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Pastures new - Part 2

After our recent trip I was chomping at the bit to get back down and properly reacquaint myself with some of the carp that I had spotted on a recce after my trip with Tom.

I was set up and wandering the banks by 2pm and it was another scorching July afternoon, in fact I cannot remember such a settled July in a long time.The river was low,crystal clear and it was not long before I spotted a group of three chub skulking under some marginal cover and acting rather apprehensively toward my bait, a quick change of hooklength material was made as I switched to preston powerline (5lb 14oz b/s).

After a quick trundle with the link leger I had picked up a couple of perfectly formed chevin on worm, not monsters but in great condition and no sign of a gatecrashing trout anywhere, although that was soon to change when further downstream I picked up one from underneath an overhanging tree and another from a glide at the end of a bend in the river, both fish scrapping like bucking broncos, combining a mixture of tail walking and lively runs.

I stopped for a bit of respite under a nearby tree, sitting down to rehydrate myself, gosh it was hot and it was slowly getting the better of me. I carried on downstream trying a few likely looking areas where the river slowed and banks were more undercut, crayfish one a chuck were reeled in, the usual  size one might find on the Kennet or Loddon, a size 8 boot was duly applied, I pondered whether to change from lob worm to a more buoyant bait such as bread, but decided to stick with it and try to see if I might be able to find a swim where the crayfish were not so at ease.

A little further along and I found a nice spot, the far margin covered by an overhanging bush, it looked too good to turn down, a few taps were soon followed by a full blooded bite and I was into what felt a better stamp of chub, it was not long before a lively 4lb fish was sat in the net replete with a stunning brassy sheen, it was probably one of the nicest chevin I have caught 

Small river brassy bar

Come evening time the sun was growing long and the call of a Barn Owl could be heard in the field behind me, the setting was perfect, during this time I had been watching the coming and going of a carp along my nearside margins, the odd large swirl giving away its presence.

This is was my chance, a rapid change was made to more beefier tackle (10lb Yo-zuri) and a size 6 hook with two juicey worms were hastily cast just short of the area that this fish was patrolling, after a few subtle plucks the tip swept round, I knew immediately that I was in for a scrap as this fish bow waved off downstream for the safety of a sunken tree, the only option to apply steady pressure and turn it away from its haven of choice.

A dark common broke the surface before powering off into the weed beds again, by now I had the landing net in position and was beginning to develop a slight foam around the mouth caused by thoughts of losing said fish, thankfully after a couple more runs she was wallowing in the net and looked a good double.

A perfectly conditioned common from a small waterway

Weighing 11.9 she was in perfect condition, with a vivid gold meets bronze coloration,I was most overjoyed that she had picked up my bait and after an impromptu video and stills she was swimming off, leaving a very contented angler in her wake.

I carried on fishing till around 10pm, by which time the crayfish had switched on to manic levels and were doing their utmost to annoy me, but I was far too happy to care, it had been a very good afternoons fishing and one where time spent on groundwork had paid dividends in the long run.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Pastures new - Part 1

A change is as good as a rest, or so the saying goes and I must say that whilst barbel fishing has been whispering to me and lurking in my thoughts, I have been enjoying not targeting them during the majority of this season, in fact I have fished the gentleman's river only twice this season and that has made for a rather refreshing change and allowed me the chance to head to a waterway that I only really started fishing thanks to a friend whom has also fallen in love with it.

It shares many features of my local waterways, beauty, intimacy and a resounding feeling of timelessness, in fact the two trips I have made to this particular river have both sped by far too quickly.

After quite a bit of groundwork and google map pondering, Tom and I decided to head to a new area of the river and do a spot of light roving. The day in question was a hot one, blue skies in every direction and pushing 30c, I came prepared with a nice thick fleece and even though I really did not fancy the idea of baking like a pig in blankets it would at least allow both of us access to the more overgrown areas of the river.

It became evident straight away that the trout were going to be very active, almost suicidal in their attempts to save any of the better chub from picking up our baits, mine especially as I had decided to opt for a mixture of link legered lob worm and maggot as my main approach and it was not long before two trout including a tail walking maestro graced my net.

One of many chub bodyguards that were caught

After a few trout and some very apprehensive chub that really were not in a very forthcoming mood we decided to head downstream, the river slowing in pace and once again crystal clear. By now I was overheating to the extent that you could have nicknamed me chitty chitty bang bang, a welcome bottle of liquid refreshment (thanks Tom!) was downed and instantly sweated back out.

Tom suddenly motioned to me to join him, he had spotted a carp laid up in a sunny marginal weed bed and kindly offered me a cast, a quick flick and the link leger was settling just above said fish, its reaction was one of casual disinterest as it decided to drift off downstream and rest in a shadier area.

We decided to stay in this particular spot a tad longer, Tom deciding to try and offer this fish a piece of link legered bread, the next moments were filled with that tension as an angler waits to see what happens next, all of a sudden the river erupted, Tom shouting "yes Mark I've got her!". The fish bolted off downstream before diving into a nearby weed bed, by now I was next to Tom and wondering if this fish had found a bad snag downstream, thankfully this was not the case and with some steady pressure she came free and was soon resting in the net.

I smiled  "feels like a double to me 10 maybe 12lb mate".  Sure enough on the scales she went 10.15 Tom's first river carp and he was clearly overjoyed. Warm comments were aplenty and a hearty pat on the back was given.

A triumphant and elated Tom with his perfectly conditioned  river ghostie

By now the swim had been well and truly disturbed so we made for another area of the river, both of us really wanting to pick a few of the better chub up along here, but alas they were acting rather wary and not wishing to come out from the confines of snags and bank side coverage, I gestured to an area of the river with a nice bit of flotsam, suggesting to Tom that he might chance his arm there with a piece of bread and after a few wary taps he had slipped the net under a healthy chub of 2lb.

Meanwhile I had headed downstream and made a cast to some overhanging trees, the link leger skimming in underneath them, this resulted in a near instant, full blooded bite and what looked a better stamp of chub, but alas resulted in a hook pull and me letting out an anguished cry of "argh noo!".

We moved on and found this area of river to have denser weed growth, it looked perfect for any chub to hold up in such bright conditions and looked worthy of a cast, so one was made to a tiny gap in the weed, my fingers settling on the line, waiting with suspense for any subtle plucks.

Sure enough there was the odd pluck but this was very noncommittal, so I decided to tweak the bait in hope that the extra movement might tempt this weed bed occupant to take a more decisive course of action, it did and the rod tip lurched round violently with fish heading off downstream, this felt like a better chub and after a healthy scrap resting in the net was a nicely formed chevin and more the kind of stamp we were seeking.

A hard earned better stamp of chub (3.4)

After this fish Tom and I decided to stop and have a bite to eat under some most welcome shade, food was shared and swapped as we recounted the days fishing, it certainly had been a varied and enjoyable trip thus far and with a few hours fishing left we were rather looking forward to what we might uncover next.

The river became shallower, in places no more than 18 inches deep, the water gurgling as it caressed the gravel runs, riffles giving way to deeper pools, the kind of features that gives an angler too many options that he might be tempted to cast to each and every one.

I quite fancied one of the deeper pools along here and whilst Tom was upstream unhooking a trout I decided to roll the link leger through and see if anyone was home, pluck pluck came the positive reply, as I set the hook the events that then proceeded were a bit of a blur as a rather powerful fish simply steamed off downstream, my tiny reel purring in despair as I tried to slow said fish down. Sadly it made for the next bend in the river and across some stoney shallows, the inevitable happened hook and line parted, I had a pretty good feeling that I had just lost a carp and conveyed the news to Tom.

As we chatted about it we spotted another carp moving up past his swim, Tom tried a couple of casts toward this fish  but it became fairly obvious that it was not going to be hanging around, instead skulking along the opposite bank before disappearing upstream.

By now evening had come and it found us fishing a slower reach, Tom and I were both thoroughly exhausted but content, we sat together and chatted as I chanced my arm in this slower area of the river.

A subtle tap here and there slowly transformed into a more positive affair, the rod tip swinging round, little did I know that deja vu was about to strike, I was met with a large commotion as the water erupted, followed by fish bow waving downstream, I had little to no chance and little had just about left town! Within a few seconds of the clutch going into overdrive I was left sans hook and a tad gutted to say the least, a mental note was made to come back with the option of some stronger tackle on the next trip, as it was now becoming fairly evident that there was some larger fish lurking in the shadows.