Saturday, 21 December 2013
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
Chain mail wearing warriors, lurker of tangled roots, debris and undercut banks, blunt heads and thick set lips waiting for lobworm, maggot, cheese paste or bread to drift past them.
The rivers were running clear, the scene one of fallen leaves and naked trees, Pheasants can be heard their staccato calls breaking the silence at regular intervals and Blue Tits chatter infectiously to one and other.
I slowly make my way along the riverbank, a stick succumbs to my weight and breaks underfoot, I give it an annoyed look almost questioning why it had to make any sound at all and silently scold myself before moving toward a sunken tree, a few minutes later the rod tip twitches lightly and not long after I am met by the eager thud of a young chevin as it acts the rebellious teenager.
Knowing when to move and when to stay put is always a gamble, trying many spots is a very proactive approach and can put you on the fish, but equally it can move you away from them. Especially if the populace is lower and larger fish are present but in a less forthcoming mood, I personally prefer to try many spots and then pick a more permanent spot for a couple of hours fishing into darkness.
During one of my recent of trips this has worked well and resulted in a very short but stout fish and probably one of the nicest conditioned chevin that I have had the pleasure of catching, from a swim where I could not buy a bite earlier in the afternoon.
|Perfectly formed chevin of 5lb with the girth on it of a 6lb fish|
As is usual this time of year kamikaze trout are often about and generally doing their utmost to gatecrash swims, you can never mistake hooking one, especially once that all too familiar wiry tussle and trademark cartwheeling begins.
My most recent trip found me back out on the Loddon where I was hoping to connect with one of the rivers larger chevin. Planning to fish from lunchtime till 6pm and rotating a few swims in the process. Taking with me a small tub of liquidized bread mixed with some freshly crushed garlic and maggots, a couple of balls were placed into each swim and allowed to settle for half an hour before fishing commenced.
45 minutes later the quiver tip hooped round and I found myself on the receiving end of a rather bullish run, the fish taking line then heading off along the undercut bank and under the nearby trees. If this was what I was searching for then it felt like it was on steroids, after a few more fraught moments the fish finally surfaced and I could see that it was a very nice looking chub, once it slipped into the waiting net the relief was palpable as it was only lightly hooked in the upper lip.
|Give me a kiss|
I would also like to recommend a fellow angler whom has recently started writing blogs, a chap who has fished with me a couple of times and also creates some very enjoyable fishing videos on youtube too. Tom Aldous now writes regularly on his blog Hampshire Angling TV, he has an infectious passion for angling and this comes across in both video and the blog.
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
There is something rather refreshing and invigorating about not taking the known path, instead walking the one that is overgrown and unknown, my last few trips have really added extra dimensions to understanding new areas of the two rivers that I have been fishing on the last few occasions.
I found myself back out with single rod, landing mat, small rucksack and diary to jot things down in. Minimalist and all the more enjoyable for it, my choice to once again rove about, taking advantage of understanding different areas on these waterways and their winter bones.
Both waterways have a plethora of tempting features, each and every one calling out to you to try and tempt a fish from, however on this occasion the river was low and clear, the gravel runs clearly visible in many swims and the depth as low as 10 inches in some areas, but these were also complimented by deeper slacks and undercut banks.
Many spots were tried and the chub were being particularly shy and not very forthcoming. I eventually made why way into a lovely looking area, a copse no less, the river covered by trees that were shedding their burden at regular intervals, leaves creating a kaleidoscope of patterns and shapes along the riverbank. The area looked perfect.
A juicy lobworm was cast toward an adjacent, sunken tree and I sat back sipping a welcome cup of coffee. It had been a day filled with interesting sights,which included seeing a fox sat up in a tree, not something you see everyday and one I wish I had captured on camera!
What I dearly wanted was a chub though and this spot did not disappoint, this river giving me another of its perfectly formed fish, a fighting fit chub
By 3pm, daylight was fading rapidly as it does this time of year and I decided to try further downstream in an area with some nice features on both banks, the feeling felt right and the spot looked like it had the potential to throw up a better stamp of fish.
Alas it was not to be on this occasion and as evening drew in I was soon making my way home. It had been enjoyable trip though and I was sure to be returning.
My next trip took me to the sister of this river, not much wider and with very similar features, but a little deeper.
The plan being to target perch and chub, this time however I decided to take a light amount of liquidized bread mixed with bran and to this I had included a small amount of almond extract for added attractant.
It was a grey day but mild given the time of year, I had decided to settle to one spot mainly and not rove as much on this particular occasion, link ledgered lobworm being the bait of choice and the swim was given a light dusting of groundbait.
It was a nice spot, just off the main flow and with some sunken tree roots, it looked good for both chub and perch and it was not long before I had my first stripey, small but perfection in minature, this was followed by a second that was slightly larger, certainly no monster.
Later in the day I began noticing the tell tale signs of something having a root about in the swim, bubbles were slowly but surely peppering the surface every so often, the first thing that sprang to mind was bream or carp.
It was not long before I found out either as I began to receive an almost relaxed bite, pluck, pluck pluck, the quiver tip curled round and then all hell broke lose, the fish powering off downstream with myself on the other end cupping the spool as much as possible to try and eventually halt its progress. After far too many heart in mouth moments and with one very dry mouth I eventually slipped the net under a well formed common.
After recuperating from this fraught fight on light tackle and having two very moody swans gatecrash through the swim, I thought it best to give the swim a rest and try a spot upstream, an area where there was a few bushes dotted along the river, likely looking spots for perch and chub, a couple of pouches of maggots were catapulted upstream and a cast was made. After quite a bit of unwanted interest from minnows, I eventually received a more confident bite and was soon playing a very lively chub.
By evening time it was becoming a bit nippy and I had decided to return to the first swim which had been well rested. It had been a very eventful trip and as I settled down to watch the warm glow emitted from the Drennan isotope, it was with a feeling of contentment.
Perhaps it is age or just isotopes in general, but stare at them for long enough and you either go cross eyed or end up with phantom bites, the isotope was beginning to play tricks on me as it seemingly moved very lightly to the left and then stopped, I rubbed my eyes looked again and sure enough a light pluck was apparent, this ballet of plucks continued for ten minutes before the rod tip finally pulled round, me lurching forward to strike.
Thud came the reply, the blue touch paper had been well and truly lit as this fish bow waved and tore off downstream, the reel purred into life and I had a fair idea that I had hooked another very lively river carp on steroids. I don't think I have been put through the mill as many times as this fish managed to and by the time I slipped the net under her I am pretty sure that it was I who felt worse for wear, feeling truly spent.
A little look into the net revealed another common, shorter wider and with more of a stomach to it.
Back at home I mulled the fishing trips over, both special for different reasons and proof that sometimes treading a path less worn comes with it some wonderful rewards.
Friday, 29 November 2013
Friday, 15 November 2013
Having read a post a while ago on Idlers Quest where Jeff put Guinness widgets to good use by crafting them into floats, this got me thinking about the widgets inside of Boddingtons and wondering if they were the same or perhaps different, after cutting a can open I was pleasantly surprised to find a flying saucer shaped widget.
The shape looked perfect as a body to an economical, bobber style float and with a central hole already made they looked spot on, just a case of using a few of our old barbeque skewers and find a size that would fit snugly once pushed through the widget.
Now they are almost complete and the plasti-kote was nice and easy to work with, I look forward to giving them a maiden bobbing at some point.
Thursday, 14 November 2013
These types of river also make perfect winter venues for the roving angler, so you could perhaps have called this a bit of an investment toward winter time,but then garnering knowledge on any new river is always an enjoyable affair.
The weather was windy and mixing itself up with a dashing of rain, the choice of swims and features staggering, each spot looking likely to produce a fish or two, missing a couple of good bites as I made my way downstream and then catching the odd chublet along the way, lobworm, maggots and cheese paste my main choice of baits.
Water clarity was wonderful and you could clearly see the gravel runs in some swims, thoughts of chub, perch and dace were never too far away and by late afternoon on my second trip I had settled in the swim pictured at the top of this post, it proved fruitful, I picked up many small perch and a rather feisty brown trout that did try to wreck the swim a bit.
It was most enjoyable and just as the sunset I moved further downstream, finding a deeper area of the river, my first casts were met by the unenviable claws of crayfish and by now the wind was howling, pieces of debris and well worn branches dropping into the river at regular intervals.
I eventually had a sweeping bite, one you could not mistake, the quiver thumping round and fish surging off downstream toward the security of undercut bank. A perfectly formed chub was soon nestling in the net and had given a very fine fight.
My most recent trip was back out on the Blackwater, a river that is rarely far from my fishing thoughts, it is as beautiful as the Loddon and equally alluring, plentiful in features and swims where one might forget the meaning and importance of time.
I had planned to target perch and chub, but it became evident on arrival that the recent rain had made the river swollen and very coloured, I decided to make my way along the bank slowly in search of a slack or two, the river was lapping over the banks in many places and made me did wish that I had brought my waders instead of normal boots, never mind..
I settled for one particular area, a bend in the river, a nice slack with a reasonable amount of flotsam but the ground in the spot itself was another matter altogether and akin to something from the Somme, I decided to chance my arm and see if I could still pick up a perch or two on worm, I did manage to pick a couple between a few small roach and chunky gudgeon, the larger being a fish of 14oz's which was in perfect condition with resplendent markings.
By evening time it was a tad chilly, the ground where my feet rested was partially submerged and it was evident that the river level had reached its peak, I had changed bait to a thumb size piece of cheese paste, the smell of crushed garlic, cheddar and blue cheese lingering on my fingers, I joked with myself that all I needed now was some crackers. An hour past and I had packed most of my tackle up and sat back down to slowly drain the flask of its remaining contents when the quiver tip plucked once and then buckled round, it was evident that I was into a very lively fish and one that had different plans to the angler above.
Powering off downstream, I could feel the line frequently clipping against snags, keeping the rod tip low so as to avoid this unwelcome tour de débris, I finally slipped the net under a very frisky chevin.
Saturday, 9 November 2013
Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Late October, the smell of autumn in the air, a mixture of earthy mushrooms and rotting fruit mingling between an anglers nostrils, a feeling of optimism filling the air and suggestion that winter is not so far off, bringing with it windows of opportunity for many other species to be enjoyed.
The river more pressured here but no less beautiful, the sun a golden orb, casting a myriad of colours and a steady breeze whispering a thousand words of welcome, a simply stunning day and one to cherish.
An anglers plan of perca, barbus and that quantum of hope that we all share on every fishing trip, that spark of what could be and with it the hope that thoughtful fiction can indeed become reality, that we might glance down into our landing net one more time and draw a breathless smile, whilst overcome by a mixture of adrenaline and happiness.
Cheeky plucks, along with worm stealing antics were the prelude, but when those tiger stripes and defiant dorsal broke the watery surface, blood red beauty was displayed in full, a masterpiece of colouration
Stubborn resistance felt, a moment of stationary calm, then as if someone had flicked a switch, that preliminary and testing run full of power, the tiny reel ticking away at an increasingly excited pace as 6lb line and angler are put to task. As each deep run is made, so the adrenaline increases, control needed lest it overspill, a necessity for a clutch moment and a benevolent smile from the river and its occupants.
Smile it indeed does as the net slips under her, angler dry mouthed as he tries to recover the nervous energy that has been expelled during this tussle.
A switch to a less nerve wracking setup is made, time passes rapidly and along with it clearing skies and moon appear, I make out the silhouette of a deer as it casually makes its way behind me, before picking up on my scent and vanishing like a ghost. It is nearing time to go home when the river casts its second spell over me and I am once more entranced as I admire a torpedo of a fish, replete with a Mako esque tail.
Monday, 4 November 2013
I would like to convey my deepest condolences to Steve Stringers family, I cannot even begin to imagine the turmoil and devastation they are feeling.
As anglers we do regularly put our safety secondary and having fallen in twice this season myself, this recent event is a very sobering thought and a stark warning to all of us to be as careful as possible whilst out enjoying the hobby we love.
A collection is currently underway on Barbel fishing world for donations so that a wreath can be bought for Steve, the link for this can be found below.
Wreath collection for Steve Stringer
Having spotted a couple of fish moving along the river during October and unfortunately losing what looked like a nice mirror to a hook pull on one of those trips, this fish had truly lodged in my mind, sitting in the recesses of my thoughts, ghosting in and out before regularly prodding me, reminding me of its powerful midwater runs that it had made before the inevitable happened.
This was to act as a catalyst and I soon found myself making my way to the river with a mixture of optimism and a rather nasty throat infection in tow. It was a very pleasant October day, the surrounding foliage beginning to show signs of it being late in the year,a mixture of well worn limey green and the river with a touch of colour from recent rainfall, it looked perfect.
Opting for tb1 boilies as bait and small pva mesh bags clipped on to my run rings, containing a mixture of crushed boilie and a small amount pellet, this was then dipped in a light amount of Elips oil.
It was a peaceful day, a buzzard gliding in and out of view from time to time, the sound of a woodpecker merrily tapping away. An hour later and natures ambience was interspersed with the electronic warble from my Delkim as it one toned, the fish speeding off downstream. After some surging runs in midwater, this fish was eventually ready for the waiting landing net.
Not the fish I had lost on the previous trip, but a very nicely conditioned and solidly built common (15.2), I was absolutely over the moon, I sat back and celebrated with a cup of coffee and a tyrozet.
As evening faded I started shivering a bit, but it was not a cold night. I considered my options, to stay or instead go home for a soothing honey and lemon drink. I picked the former option and decided to stay for two more hours.
I was glad that I did, as it resulted in a very welcome barbel (10.1). By the time I started packing up I realized I had taken too many tyrozets, superb throat lozenges and they have an excellent numbing affect on sore throats, but to say I felt rather more aloof than normal as I made my way home would be a very large understatement..
Monday, 28 October 2013
I am still playing catch up with the blog and finally getting closer to bringing it up to date.
I would say that living in Berkshire has some positives and one of those is being central to a lot of different river venues, Kennet, Loddon and Thames are all local to me and I would consider myself very lucky to have those rivers along with others nearby.
It was a very wet September day as I made my way down the Loddon and a couple of thoughts preoccupied my mind, the main one being a promise I had made to a couple of young chaps whom I had fished with a while ago in Essex, they do not have any good barbel rivers in their vicinity and I had promised them a trip down to my area and perhaps put them on to a pb barbus, always a bit of a tall order when you put your river on the spot. My other thought was where to cast a line this time and I decided to head a way downstream to fish an area that whilst nice, does usually produce a terrible amount of crayfish activity at times, I was however hoping on this occasion that the extra rain would keep them from being too lively.
One rod out on meat and the other on a home rolled boilie was the plan, it became evident though that the meat was not going to survive the clawed encounters and as I had no bait mesh I decided to change both rods to boilie, just to survive the crayfish interest that bit longer, however this did not deter them.
Rain fell steady on the umbrella, droplets of water gradually finding its way in through the seams,a mental note of seam sealer and fabsil was made, although to be fair it has been a good cheap umbrella, bought at the time for £10 and fully in the knowledge that it would get used a lot and a bit mistreated at times, it has weathered bramble and hawthorns well.
As the rain finally abated and sun appeared, one of my rods signaled that something was going to snaffle the bait, sure enough the rod hooped round and a lively fight ensued as the fish charged off downstream like a headstrong teenager. The culprit a very pretty barbel (8.15) and it was in fin perfect condition.
Despite fishing a a few hours into darkness there was no more activity apart from pesky crayfish which seemed hellbent on wrestling my baits off, I was very happy though, a fish from a spot that does not always produce was more than welcome, especially one in such glorious condition.
I will admit now that I do not fish with many people, maybe I am a bit of a loner, but those few whom I have fished with I do enjoy their company, both George and Fred would fall into this category.
It was a few weeks later when they made the journey down from Essex, we planned on fishing into darkness and then early morning switching rivers to do a spot of fishing on the Blackwater. As we made our way to the river, the air was filled with enthusiastic chatter and a few laughs along the way.
My mind was thinking where to put us all, too close and it would be too much pressure, to far apart and the trip would feel less like a social, but I dearly wanted at least one of them to have a chance at a fish. I eventually decided on a middle ground whereby I could get to either of the chaps swims quickly should they require any help, but at the same time maintaining a bit of space between each of us.
It was around 4pm by the time we all got set up and it was not long before George was tucking into a tinned curry and Fred was into his first fish on maggot, a lovely roach of 11ozs, not a mark on it, a perfect bar of silver. As evening drew in the conditions were perfect, cloudy and so very mild, so much so that the three of us were in either shirt or light fleeces. I had my fingers crossed that the lads would get their chance and sure enough at around 11pm I heard the sound of action in George's swim, he had a barbel on, this fish had charged downstream and weeded him up a couple of times, I grabbed the landing net in anticipation, only for us to both see this fish slip the hook and swim off. Gutted was not the word, I let out a few expletives and said to George "sorry mate, that looked like a pb too".
In the back of my mind I wondered if he would get a second bite of the apple. At around 2am he did and this time the fish was sat recuperating in the net, George was elated.
|One happy angler|
A couple of hearty handshakes and the scene was completed as we watched her swim off strongly. The rest of the night sped past as it usually does in good company and after a pleasant result, by morning, apart from a rogue pike making off with Fred's rig, it was a quiet one as we all packed up.
A quick trip back home for a welcome cup of tea and biscuit or two and we was soon ready to be off along the Blackwater. I have to say I was a shattered to say the least and was glad we had picked the start of the weekend for this.
So many spots to try but not so much time as Fred's parents were due to pick him and George up at around 5pm. We roved many spots and plenty of fish fell to a mixture of link ledgered worm and maggot, including chub, perch and some super sized gobio.
Between us we also had a couple of better chub, which were brilliant sport in the steady flow, the first one taken by rolling the link ledger under some far bank debris, which resulted in a fairly savage bite and a really good tussle (3.4). Thanks to George for doing the honours with his camera.
Later on I decided we should move downstream, I really wanted Fred to pick up a decent chub and the area has given up fish to me of over 5lb. Fred had a very good bite in one of these swims, but unfortunately the fish snagged him in debris and the hook pulled. I could see he was disconsolate at the thought that he may have lost a good fish and I truly felt his pain.
A call was heard from another swim and it became apparent that George had landed a short, stocky fish that was in beautiful condition (3.12)
This was the last fish of the trip and as we made our way home we was pretty knackered, but very happy and still chatting infectiously about fishing. My sincerest apologies to Fred, I really wish you had got that pb chub you so dearly wanted mate, but there is always next time and we can try again without a doubt guys.
Sunday, 6 October 2013
Writing this and thinking about one of my trips back in September feels a bit surreal now. I was having some enjoyable fishing trips and trying to tempt some of the larger barbel from the Loddon, two of my prior visits had been a combination of blanks with and without crayfish nightmares thrown in for good measure.
But my third trip was a bit too eventful for my liking, having packed up my rods I went to drop some broken up paste into another swim, a little bit of a future investment if you like. Not happy with my position on the bank, I instead decided to hold on to a branch from a nearby tree. The voice in my head was echoing warning words, "branch dead, wouldn't take your weight in a thousand years if it was still alive". I foolishly ignored this and grabbed hold of the branch, as I began leaning a little over the river the inevitable happened, "crack!" and that was it I was clutching thin air and doing a good impression of a cartoon character before falling in yet again. A thick mixture of silt and mud, along with a sinking feeling is not something I would recommend any angler to experience at any time, be that day or night and has to rank as one of my most scariest mishaps, as I did genuinely think I was not going to get back out again, had this happened during floods then I would have been in serious trouble.
Sitting in the car on the way home was an interesting affair, mum mentioning asking at regular intervals "Mark why do you smell like s*%t". I have to admit that I did not divulge anything about falling in until I was back home and still don't think I have lived the incident down, Once back home with my clothing in the washing machine and a hot cup of tea inside me, I sat thinking over what had been a bit of an unpleasant experience, trying to work out why I had decided to ignore my inner voice and put my safety at risk on the river, there was only one real reason and that was a mixture of over confidence and total idiocy on my part.
Not having any of my usual baits I opted to put together a mix that had done me well in the past as well as some matching paste with which to wrap round the bait, along with this I had made up some luncheon meat broken into irregular shapes and then soaked in some Sharwoods Thai curry sauce.
A few days later and I was making my way to the river, it was a very pleasant late summer day, a light breeze and nice amount of sun. On reaching the river there was no mistaking the fact that it was running very low and looked a bit stale. Two thoughts were in my mind, either target a deeper area, or try to place some baits along the weed and cabbage patch areas of a shallower spot.
I decided on the latter, one rod placed upstream, just shy of cabbage patch beds and with one of the fresh boilies which I had decided to trim down, glug and wrap in paste. My other rod was placed downstream where there is a slight difference in depth and a lomg trench where food particles do tend to collect. It was not long before I started receiving attention on the upstream rod, followed by a slow, meandering run, which turned out to be a very well conditioned bream of 5lb.
I was buoyed by this early fish and rather happy, a quick cast back out and check of the luncheon meat rod showed that crays were indeed about, not wishing to risk being pestered I switched to the same bait as which I had taken the bream on. The rod had perhaps been in the water for forty five minutes and started receiving light plucks and taps, certainly not the usual tug and static hold the crayfish give. An hour past by and during that time there had been a good few plucks but no committal, no full blooded bite was forthcoming. As I sat wondering if perhaps the fish were in a far to apprehensive mood, all hell broke loose, the rod arching round and baitrunner purring.
As it plodded downstream it was fairly evident that I was playing a rather hefty fish and the rod did not disagree as it bent round, a game of give and take began, me giving and the fish repeatedly taking was how it began, a wind of reel handle, followed by steady "tick tick" of the clutch.
When my prize was finally beaten and I slipped the waiting net under her I could have jumped for joy, it was a beauty, long wide and a powerhouse of a barbus, with one very powerful paddle.
At 14lb it was a new best for me from this river, words failed me as I looked upon its bronze flanks, it is moments like these that are really special and a grin that could last quite a few years was etched on my face for the rest of the evening.
As night time crept on, the upstream rod which had been very quiet since the initial bream, did not give any warning as it tore off into mid-river and after quite a nervy battle which saw this fish head under some sunken tree trunks and back out again followed by diving into two different cabbage patch beds, I finally had another barbel in the net, this fish had a slight amount of dorsal damage, perhaps from being kept in a keepnet at some point?
Unfortunately I only have the video footage of this fish as my battery packed up on me and I had left my spare one in the charger at home. Weighing in at 11lb 2oz's it was another nice fish and the cherry on top of what had been a very special fishing trip.
Once I had packed up I decided to sit a while, taking in this trip and to give a long look at the river, thanking it multiple times. The relationship of angler and river is an interesting affair, one I would call a passionate love and each waterway has different reasons why it attaches itself to you. I have many wonderful memories of my father spending time teaching me to fish on this waterway and if he had not, would I be having the mishaps and fishing adventures today?