Saturday, 30 June 2012

Slugging It Out On The Loddon

The opening of the river season unfortuntaely didn't go quite as I had planned, the family car being stolen from our drive five days prior to the start of the river season, a few days prior another house in the road had their car stolen in daylight and to top this all off, a few days later a stolen jcb digger ram raided the cash machine at the local BP petrol station just round the corner from me. Never a dull moment in Berkshire.. Ram raid three mile cross

No thanks to the legalised crime that is car insurance, a car was eventually sorted out and I was off down the Loddon, armed with the new baits in hope of a Barbus. On arrival the river looked simply stunning and was looking in very fine fettle, dragonflies darting about before perching on stinging nettles as tall as me, although being as short and rotund as I am that really does not take much.

It was a reasonable day, sunny and mild with a blustery south westerly taking the edge off. I decided to place one rod out on the home made boilie recipe, which I have aptly named " red anchovy", due to the inclusion of anchovy and robin red as part of the ingredients. The other rod was placed out on a 12mm hinders crab and krill pellet, both rods to marginal features inbetween the jungle of streamer weeds. My first inquisitive bite was a rap tap affair on the pellet rod, which fell silent for a time, I pondered a while and began to change lens on my camera.

This is always the best possible way to promote a bite and I swear the fish know you can't possibly make it to strike the rod in time, sure enough with camera in one hand and lens in the other, the fish took this as the cue to wrap the rod round, camera placed down as fast as I possibly could, I was soon met by a thud followed by that weightless empty feeling of a fish that had now departed rod and line. Although left feeling a tad empty I was not disheartened, as I find a bite so early on can be a good sign on this river. The crayfish were proving a pain in the derrière as I found out during late afternoon when  two were reeled in on the boilie, both armed with claws the size of small lobsters. The afternoon past quietly and any activity that I previously had was duly killed by a cormorant that appeared right in front of me and commenced its underwater foray, a look of loathing was firmly etched on my face. The mosquitoes were proving to have an insatiable appetite as well, despite making sure to have eaten a good helping of garlic a few days prior, this did nothing to keep them at bay, an armada of dive bombers repeatedly tried to invade and bite me, succeeding no less than 25 times and I'm itching like mad as I write this.

As the portal between daylight and sunset was nearing, I decided to switch to the other freezer boilies I had made, these are the base mix from essential baits, known as the black snail, a lovely subtle meaty, snail aroma, but not overpowering.  

Night time ensconced angler and river as they became one and the barn owls began their calls in earnest, they are one bird I would dearly love to manage a good quality photograph of, but as of yet have not been lucky enough to. As the night grew long my boilie rod gave only the faintest indication,twitching once before nearly launching itself from the rod rest. I was into a solid and powerful fish, my rod arched over as the fish made regular runs into mid-water, the reels drag ticking away steadily as I allowed it to run. After a few more powerful surges the fish was sat resting in the net, the golden flank giving its identity away, the first barbus of the new season. A healthy looking  fish of 11.6.

I was very happy to have my first barbel of the new season under my belt, after a giving her a good amount of time to recuperate, she powered off back to her watery home. On picking up the bag of bait to trickle some more into the swim I was greeted by that soft, slimy, wet feeling of a slug, which actually turned out to be numerous slugs of various shapes and sizes, I don't recollect ever seeing so many of them, their silver trails covering my bait bags, rucksack and flask, from the miniscule in size to the giant, there was lots of them and they were literally everywhere, the first thought that popped into my head was "mmm perfect chub baits". 

The time was getting on for 4am and I had sluggishly (oh dear) packed one rod up, leaving only the boilie rod out, as I was sat back listening to the birds awaken, giving a wonderful early chorus a bolting take occurred and the rod was bent downward, line being taken downstream. The resistance  and power from this fish felt great as it made numerous attempts to get its head down into the cabbage patch further downstream, the line pinging in and out of the streamer weed beds, after a lively fight a feisty Barbel of 8.5 was sat glistening in the net.

This was the last fish of a very enjoyable trip and as I made my way home, thoughts of the Loddon and its other inhabitants swirled back and forth in my mind, the voice of the Thames was also calling to me, contented but undecided where my line will be wetted on my next trip, but happy to have such a choice.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Not Long Now

Ye Old Thames

Reels loaded, tackle checked and only a couple of days till the start of the river season and I must say  with the forecast for more unsettled conditions it looks like it might be rather good for a Barbel or two.  I'm looking forward to this season more than ever, as I will be fishing some new areas on the Thames that look to hold promise of a nice variety of fish as well as once again targetting that intimate and simply beautiful river that is the Loddon.

The pictures were taken when we had that nice hot spell of weather (seems a while ago) and this is one of the areas on the Thames that I will be fishing, a lovely stretch with a plethora of features that all look very tempting. With the current rainfall I suspect that I will be looking for some nice slack marginal areas, I have to say I can't wait to sink my teeth into this season and I hope everyone else who has been looking forward to the opening day has a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Anyway I'm off now to triple check my tackle...

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Keep On Rolling

After considering how much I wanted to use more fish based baits this season yet at the same time try to avoid the unwanted attentions of crayfish on soft baits.

So I spent yesterday evening pondering a fair bit whilst working on a recipe, the end result was a a fish based boilie that works out around £3 a kilo, I also hand rolled a seperate smaller bag of barrel shaped and round baits in various sizes, just to break up the variation should the fish become wary, which they no doubt will during the course of the season.

Bag of allsorts

Circular, cylindrical and pillow shaped

The object to the right is the camera lens cap, not the boilies shadow

I made sure to roll a few kilo of another bait, one which I have used regularly and found quite reliable, just as a back up plan of sorts.

I rolled a total of 5 kilo of the above bait, thank heavens for rolling tables, but on another note I really must look into getting an electric caulking gun, as using the manual type leaves me feeling
like not wanting to be shaking anyones hands anytime soon.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Cobwebs & Memories

A clean of the garage has been due for a while now, cluttered is an understatement, I was not amused by the sight that greeted me as I lifted the door up, only to be met by piles upon piles of boxes and some gifts kindly left by the family cat. I would rather have been out doing another recce on the  rivers, but there's the weekend for such things.

Half way through cleaning and tidying, I caught a glimpse of some old rod bags covered with dust, cat fur and cobwebs, in one was an old, very short but strong, pistol grip rod, replete with a bakelite green butt. I remember being given this as a youngster, the tip at the time had been broken and needed a spot of repair, I duly obliged and the end result was something akin to a heavily bandaged big toe, excessive amounts of whipping followed by an unhealthy helping of selotape.

I can remember my dad at the time being absolutely creased with hysterics at my effort and this ended with me going off in a right old sulk. The memories of us fishing marinas with breadpaste for Mullet came flooding back, I remember one time fishing tight to one of the mooring areas, a long rod was of no use in this situation,  so "the bulge" as it became affectionately known was employed.

I can remember us both being sat there, well  out of view of the fish and watching intently as the little float bobbed lightly, before sliding away and all of a sudden I was connected to a wonderful fight.
On light tackle I do believe mullet are pound for pound one of the best fighting fish. The feeling was akin to electric and pulses of vibration as the bursts of energy from the fish surged through the little rod, eventually after many hairy moments where I thought the hook would be shed, a Mullet was slipped into the waiting net. We spent many days fishing for them, through the cloudy wetter days, where they would be seemingly almost suicidal, to the sunny windless days when they would flatter, tease and perplex you with their nervous, half hearted takes.

As I ventured further into the recesses of the garage, I came across an old Efgeeco landing net pole that my dad had kindly given me many years ago, at that moment guilt gripped me, the thought that I had let it stand alone in darkness, shirked for its more modern, carbon clad cousins, was something that really did not hang well with me.

Paintwork chipped about, but still strong and sturdy, something that todays modern tackle manufacturers should take notice of, I recalled that I stepped back on it many a time and it had forgivingly bent and was duly straightened, something I would be lucky to get away with when using the carbon poles that I use nowadays

Near where I found the landing net pole, was a grey, faded and well worn, cloth rod bag, the label at the top read, Edgar Sealey, I slowly popped the buttons on the bag and untied the brittle cord.
What greeted me was a lovely three piece float rod, named the black arrow.

On showing it to my dad, he reminded me that it was one that he use to use when he fished with his younger brother Ted and recounted to me how they used to go hemping on the Highgate ponds, using matchsticks as micro style floats and told me how he would regularly fall in the Thames and Ted would have to rescue him, as he didn't swim, to this day he still doesn't.

The tidying of the garage had led to this other path, one strewn with all these old tales to rekindle and reminisce over, but just as the cobwebs had been removed from these items of tackle, the times that they had lived through and memories still remained, deeply engrained within them, good times, boyhood energies for father and son alike, different generations, but the same passion to angle and enjoy.