Friday, 9 December 2011


Thursday morning dawned, I had checked the weather forecast the night before and the forecasters pointed out with an unsettling conviction that there would be dangerous winds for the Northern part of the country, I scanned about and saw that there would be gusts of 50mph for Southern England, but the temperatures looked very nice, sometimes I am easily lured in without taking note of other factors,this could be said to have been one of those times. Some cheese on toast was made, along with  a flask of coffee, hastily packed into my rucksack and I was all set to go. Making my way to the river I was greeted by a flock of wooly jumpers, which made a nice change from the usual bovine inhabitants, which I find can be very inquisitive and a bit twitchy at times.

Bait wise I had brought a tin of Sardines in tomato sauce with me and was planning on fishing half of one, along with a feeder, filled with a mixture of sardine and light groundbait mix,many years ago as a lad this had always been a good bait for me and I use to catch some nice Chub and Barbel in the colder months on it. These days like so many of our waterways, using such a soft bait is always a risk due to the amount of Signal Crayfish that inhabit our rivers and lakes, these days this tributary is sadly no different and as I cast out, the thoughts of Crayfish nagged at me.I placed my other rod out on a small 15mm boilie freezer bait. This particular swim was a lovely glide, just below a bend in  the river, where the current was smooth and the area was quite a bit deeper compared to the usual average,with some nice pockets of gravel and the odd Swan Mussel.

The trees gave no sign of any wind whatsoever, but for  the faintest of breezes, the first thing that popped into my mind was "calm before the storm". But by 3pm the wind started to become more lively, coming and going in surges and at one point I thought that if anyone saw me, they would probably think that I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic and at that point I may have been inclined to agree. It was around about this time that I heard something break the waters surface further upstream,it sounded similar to a fish,but I was convinced it was a Mink, the culprit soon made itself evident as it paddled by me,a very stocky and healthy looking Otter, on seeing me, it turned tail, dived and was not seen again.

The afternoon was peaceful and uneventful on the fishing front, save for a Swan which was still wearing infantile, grey coloured plummage and the Red Kites which were making the most of the wind, showing their aerial prowess with an almost arrogant certainty, I watched on in mild  amusement as some Crows whom usually bully the Kites, tried in vein to keep pace with them in the wind, failing miserably, the Kites were in their zone, this was what they did best gliding, climbing effortlessly, making it look all so easy. If only the same could have been said for the chubby guy under his umbrella, I was having a nightmare, the umbrella was tethered down, bending and creaking in the wind which was changing directions rapidly, causing the the umbrella to buckle in, folding round me and enveloping me like a Triffid, it was one of these gusts that up ended it, nearly taking me behind with it and into a waiting Bramble bush, many bent spokes and holes later,the umbrella which now resembled something akin to a colander was back in use.

I had a few taps on the Sardine and on checking the bait, sure enough it had vanished, no doubt thanks to something wearing a shell suit, replete with a pair of claws, I considered my options, I had brought cheesepaste with me and maggots just in case of this, but out of sheer rose tinted, bloody mindedness and some idealistic attempt at rebellion, I decided to place another half of Sardine out again, this was how the evening went on, I simply could not get past the Crayfish,yet would simply not give in, as I to tried claim some kind of idiotic moral high ground.

By late evening and after some very heavy rain, the sky cleared and along with it the water temperature had dropped off, I was pondering calling it a day, when the boilie rod received a few tentative taps followed by a steady, slow, almost deliberate run, I lifted in and was met by a welcoming resistance, followed by sporadic kicks. I slid the landing  net under a Bream, upon lifting the fish out,I could see it was a rather chunky fish  and it looked in great condition, it weighed 8lb and was one of the nicest looking Bream I have caught from this tributary.

Not one of the most straight forward trips that I have ever had, but regardless of the unsettled conditions it was most enjoyable. However I now have a  growing pile of umbrellas that have either been damaged by acts of god or just seem to not last like any of the older models that I owned years ago, falling apart way to quickly considering what they cost, I am beginning to wonder if there is any manufacturers out there who still produce good quality umbrellas any more, as I have gone through many different brands over the years, oh well roll on a new umbrella,although it's anyones guess how long it will last.


  1. Fantastic river bream there Mark, never had one even near that size from flowing water. Lovely.

    Sorry to hear about your crayfish woes. I hate fishing amongst them, especially in rivers when the current take s the sniff of food downstream and up they march. Put the bait in a new swim and in ten minutes you can't cast without them on it in seconds - groundbait is fatal I've found. Not nice fishing is it?

    We will have to learn to live with them. I'm thinking of putting a bag of mashed old kitchen waste and catfood out just below the swim next time I fish the river Blythe - let them concentrate on that. But it'll probably fail!

  2. Hello there Jeff,

    Thank you for the kind comment,I was very pleased with the Bream,one of the best looking Bream I have caught and as usual, pound for pound fight better than their stillwater cousins.

    Ah yes Crayfish,nightmare mate,I read your blog update after my trip and could relate instantly.

    Anywhere near gravel for me is more fatal,but the fish like to hang out where the Crayfish are sometimes,but they are a real pain in the rear,boilie stops,Korum bait stops,all extracted and stolen over time by the Crays,same for rock hard baits.I usually just grin and bear it,usually when the fish move in you find the Crayfish tend to move off.

    Long gone are the days when I could use soft baits on my local river and more's the pity.

    Thanks for dropping by mate.

    Kind Regards

  3. Great post Mark, I hate fishing in a heavy wind especially when it becomes a tug 'o war with the brolly.

    Nice bream too ;-)

  4. First off i have to thank you for your get well wishes to me on my blog
    Thanks for that Mark, What can i say you had a good catch, But when i was at the part of your write up about the brolly i found myself hearing your voice from a previouse post when the rain sounded like cooking bacon, I would have paid to see it drop around you mate haha and yes its happened to me as well, Great write up mark,
    All the best,
    Your old mate Paddy haha

  5. Thanks Dave,

    "tug 'o war" very apt.

    I agree, fishing in a strong wind, especially one that keeps changing directions isn't easy. Although the umbrella won the tug 'o war pretty convincingly. I hope that you are keeping well. Thanks for stopping by.

    Hello Paddy,

    glad to hear that you're feeling better mate,oh gosh yes, I suspect if you had been there and seen me
    smothered in my brolly, whilst holding on to it for all it was worth, you would have doubled up with laughter,it was certainly a site to behold lol. Cheers for popping in.

    Kind Regards

  6. Hi Mark.

    Lovely post.

    I'm getting to the stage now where I'm going to go back to trotting the float much of my fishing. Master the centre pin, enjoy being hands on and experience much less crayfish activity (although they have been known to take a trotted bait it's fair less frequent than static bait fishing).

    Spying an otter is a whole diffrent matter - very ominous. I been reading John Wilson's write up about the otter decimation of the Wensum in recent years - makes for very depressing reading.

    Keep blogging Mark.


  7. I've lost all faith in umbrellas, myself...if you find a good one, let me know! You write with such awareness for everything that's in your environment. I love that.

  8. Hello Russ,

    Yes a good plan, a bit of trotting on the pin, less chance of Crayfish problems and always a pleasurable experience.

    Hmm yes Otters, what can I say. Quite a few years ago as a lad I spotted two very young otters playing about mischieviously round the roots of a tree, maybe it's one of the two.It is ominous as you rightly point out and releasing an apex predator without stabilising the eco system first, is not a good move.


    Thank you for your kind words. Especially coming from someone who writes as well as you do.

    I seriously doubt I will ever find a good enough umbrella to share with you Erin,they are such fickle items these days and they are as fragile and as much use as a chocolate teapot.

    Kind Regards

  9. "as fragile and as much use as a chocolate teapot." -- that just may be one of the best analogies I've ever heard. Made my day.

  10. Why thank you Erin,

    glad that it tickled you.

    Kind Regards