Thursday, 18 December 2014

Flu is company & freeze a crowd

The usual winter bugs abound and everyone in the family has had a dose of flu, it really has been the gift that has kept on giving!

Earlier in the month I had a chat with a chap whom I have come to know via the youtube bloggers match and we decided to arrange a day spent together on one of my local waterways, the plan being to rove about on a crisp morning and see if we could pick up a few fish into the bargain preferably some chub.

Early the following morning my father mentioned to me  " it's a really hard frost out there mate and should make for an interesting days fishing".

That's the thing though, some little rivers feed very well all year round for the angler that is prepared to root about in search of his quarry and the Blackwater is no exception.

Michael pulled up the drive at 9am, stopping in for a cup of tea and a slice of brioche courtesy of mum, we had a good chat for about half hour before heading off to the river. On reaching the waterway it was as I expected, running lower than the loddon and with a tinge of colour, spot on for a bit of chub worrying. It was a crisp day and we slowly made our way to the upstream reaches, taking time to stop, pointing out swims at frequent intervals. There are so many wonderful little swims dotted along this river, which range from long runs that are perfect for trotting, to those typical debris swims where broken branches lay sunken and covered in flotsam, perfect for rolling a bait under, the choice of where to wet a line is at times quite staggering and you can find yourself skipping swims in order to cram others in during the day's fishing.

Michael targeting some marginal eddies

Not long after setting up, a dog walker who had passed by half an hour earlier with what I must say was a fine pair of ear muffs, no that is not code, I really do mean ear muffs and a vibrant pink pair at that, stopped to ask if we had perhaps lost an item of tackle and produced a top section of what turned out to be Michael's  Daiwa float rod, we was very thankful as this could have been a rather dire start to the trip.

It was a slowish start and took a while before we began to receive a few raps and taps, the first couple of fish being scale perfect chublets, however it was apparent that some of the better chub certainly weren't reading the script yet.

Further upstream fishing a marginal undercut I received some very delicate plucks, certainly not the kind of bites I would normally associate with a chub and at one point I did wonder if it was a perch toying with the lobworm. A light strike and I was into a better stamp of fish which tried to find sanctuary under the flotsam on the opposite bank, Michael kindly did the honours with the netting and a quick picture.

Lean, quite hollow and most welcome, I was a happy chap, if not more so to show Michael a tiny glimpse of the fish that inhabit this river.

On the way back downstream we stopped off in a handful of swims, one of those being a lovely long glide with a marginal bay, a perfect swim for a spot of trotting too, although that said we were both link legering, here I decided to have a sit down next to Michael and watch him fish a bit, not long after the bait was in the water he received a suitably confident bite as the quiver tip lunged round, it soon became evident that he was connected to a much better fish which got its head down in a bullish manner and steamed off downstream taking line as it went, I was overjoyed and soon standing ready with net in hand, then it happened a sight no angler enjoys, a hook pull, words were muttered by both of us some of which  sounded like "bar stewards"  or rhymed with rolex.

Despite this Michael was suitably buoyed to have been connected to one of the larger fish and after some careful consideration decided to feed the swim and give it another try. Ten minutes later and the scenario replayed itself, another very unlucky hook pull and after this no more bites were forthcoming.

By now daylight had faded but the air temperature was milder if tempered by a gnawing breeze, so we made our way back downstream to some of the swims I knew had produced in the past and was dearly hoping that Michael might get another bite at the apple. A few handfuls of mashed bread and maggot were placed into one such swim and it was left to settle before a nice juicey lob worm was presented under the opposite margin, just out of reach of the main flow. About thirty minutes passed before the first inquisitive tap was forthcoming, followed by another rattle and shake, more knocks followed in a more aggressive fashion and Michael was soon connected to a rather determined chub that tried to head off upstream under the near margin, giving a great account of itself as it did so. A few moments later the net was slipped under it and there was some happy words shared between us.


This was a brilliant way to end the trip and as we made our way back to the car it was safe to say we were both a bit knackered but content.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Swollen rivers - It's all gravy

It was a very late afternoon in November, a gloomy day and rather waterlogged affair, each footstep accompanied by muddy slurps and the constant search for balance as I slid my way to the riverbank.

The river swollen, a multitude of currents, debris dancing back and forth as if possessed, forced to dance a savage ballet before disappearing downstream. Swims that were once visible are now submerged and almost unrecognizable save for the landmarks an angler stores at the back of his mind.

Every so often I stop to fixate upon the river and ruminate a while, in some swims this is more protracted than others, I begin to talk to myself, thought processes tumbling from my lips as I reason with choice, taking time to debate my options almost to the point of argument.

Further downstream I find the area I'm looking for, a bottleneck with numerous bits of debris clinging to a tired looking tree, the current weakened by one of natures natural barriers. I slowly take my time to settle in the swim and despite trying to be as silent as possible, I'm still a bit too bearish for my liking. Eventually I'm at peace, listening to the rush of water on a rising river in the darkness, as time passes my mind begins to fill with colourful thoughts of barbel snuggling up under the tree roots in front of me, I savour this thought, lingering on each vivid
detail, for those roots are where my bait is placed and along with it a modicum of hope.

Late evening the rain finally abates, clouds melting away to reveal a blue canvas dappled by numerous stars, my breath now visible, thick plumes rising up, every exhalation illuminated by the light of a lopsided moon. A warming is called for, a short rummage around and the pungent smell of  stewed coffee is wafting invitingly under my nose, I'm soon heated from the core outward.

An owl appears out of nowhere and attempts to land in the tree next to me, pulling up in close proximity above my head, we startle one and other, eventually settling in a tree on the opposite bank. It's safe to say our feathers are equally ruffled, it stays for a while, perhaps to look across enquiringly at the rotund intruder into its world and then vanishes, leaving only the sound of wing-beats in its wake.

By now the rod tip is rocking back and forth in slow agreement almost admitting that it has become something akin to a washing line, debris strewn along its length, another nod soon follows, but this one does not exhibit the same repetition, it lurches forward and springs back into position, my digits twitch uncontrollably, urging me to ready myself, my more verbal half muttering to remain calm and reign in the building adrenaline. The moments that follow all melt into one as the hook is set and that intense connection between angler and fish is made. Powerful runs follow, each one aided by the swollen waterway, I find myself trying to swallow, a few hasty gulps are taken but no saliva is forthcoming. I move further down the bank to gain a better angle, palpitations follow as vibrations from unseen obstacles travel along the rod length, a swirl mid-water reveals a good fish and all types of possible disaster scenarios begin toying with my mind.

After what feels like far too long she slips into the waiting net, my nervous energy is all but expended and I find myself fighting back a rising urge to retch. After much recuperation, needed more for this angler than the fish, I calm myself and peer into the net, it's an old friend, a visitor I had during summer and in fine fettle she looks too.

15.6 personal best
An autumn gift, admittedly a recapture, but such things are quite immaterial, for such is the joy that has been imparted from fish to angler, to see her once again in fighting fit health and up in weight was reward enough. One powerful sweep of the tail and she soon disappears into the murky depths, I smile contentedly wishing her a safe journey.

As I pack up the river is still rising, the colour becoming thicker and like something you might pour over a sunday roast, not to matter though for here it is all gravy.

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.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Opening season trip compilation

Just a short video compilation of my first two trips at the beginning of the river season

Sunday, 13 July 2014

When a river smiles

To rove or be static, move and shake as oppose to sit and wait, I considered my options, a change to single rod was made and I decided to head out for the evening and fish a handful of swims hoping to connect with the first barbus of the new season.

The river was alive, the underwater jungle looking fresh and full of life, cabbage patches dotted here and there, juvenile perch playing hide and seek between the dense green folds. I headed to a narrower section of the river, one I fancied but had not fished as much, with good marginal coverage for chub and barbel alike and some deeper gravel runs, perfect for the crayfish to pay my bait too much attention.

It was a glorious evening and I was entertained by deer on the opposite bank bouncing about with their youngsters and two Kingfishers which kept chasing each other up and down the river, one of which stopped in the third swim that I was in and gave me a resounding lesson in catching fish before calling out its success with a shrill chirp and darting back off downstream.

A crayfish with claws like a lobster was all I had to show thus far  but I was sated, at peace with my surroundings and natures theater had put on a splendid show, I could not have asked for more. I decided to mosey on to my final swim, a slower area of the river, a small bait dropper was filled with seed a couple of times and lowered unobtrusively into the margins, thirty minutes later and a whittled down boilie wrapped in paste was lowered into the same spot.

As an angler watches the isotope so his mind can wander a little, I played out various scenarios in my head, how I would play the fish, what snags it might try to make for and many other little things. It was a clear night and by the time the dew began to patter down at regular intervals I had started to wonder if the final roll of the dice may have been just that,it was at this point that he isotope nudged slightly, not a lot but it had moved, I glanced downstream although I am unsure what I expected to see, but in that moment the warmth of hope was kindled and along with it an anglers chance to perhaps dream.

Time passed by, a vixens shriek faded into the distance, the hairs on my neck standing on end as if to acknowledge and salute this lonesome female. The next sound was of the little rod doubling over and clutch trying to keep up, the bite if it could even be called that was savage as the fish steamed off downstream in search of cabbage patches, sure enough she found them and the safety they offered, a steady amount of pressure was applied and slowly but surely it was free again, this time in mid river and heading back upstream.

I knew from the tussle that I was connected to something a bit special and by now I was more or less done in and nervous exhaustion was rapidly taking charge, had this have been intercourse then I would have in all probability climaxed way too soon, leaving a rather frustrated female by my bedside.

Slowly and surely I gained control, finally a broad flank broke the surface and was guided into the waiting net, I peered inside and jabbered something that was barely recognizable as a language, by now I had been reduced to a state of devolution and neanderthal man was beckoning, I could have honestly just pointed into the net in the dark, started muttering and painting on the nearby trees to describe the fish, as try as I might words were not being formed.

I sat down and recovered somewhat before weighing this fighting fit barbus, the scales settled on 15lb a new personal best, the moment was a surreal one and watching her disappear back into the river is a sight I shall not forget.

Monday, 7 July 2014

A nomadic puzzle

My first trip of the new season on the Blackwater had got me wondering about the carp, resident and the  freshly adopted escapees, last season I had caught a couple of them whilst link legering (both commons) and during the close it had been smouldering away on my minds back burner about targeting them.

So on my second trip I decided to take a couple of very compact carp rods along with my feeder rod and link leger setup, if truth be known I planned to fish most of the afternoon on link leger and switch to the beefier tackle into darkness.

It was another pleasantly warm summer day and the fish were very forthcoming on the link leger setup,vividly marked perch and handsome chain mail, adorned chub falling to worm over maggot and casters.


Midway through the trip at around 6pm a wide, bullish looking head appeared in front of my near margin, a common carp no less and proceeded to paddle by like flipper the dolphin, head right out up to its gill covers, before nonchalantly slipping back under the surface film. It was almost as if it was checking that the coast was clear, it is hard for me to describe it in words it but it was rather comical to say the least.

About an hour later I received an inquisitive bite on double lob worms, nothing aggressive just a steady almost chub-esque bite. I struck and this apparent chevin rapidly began to morph into something that was on a mission to head upriver, the clutch on my reel gathering pace, tick tick turning into zip zip, my hand dampening each run as much as I dared, before gaining some line in return, if fishing line was a currency then the exchange rate was very much erring on the fishes side.
Slowly if not too surely I gained control, "ping" the line clipped the dorsal, but all remained well.

Finally a common with a blunt head broke the surface and thankfully slipped into the net.


I was rather happy to have landed this steam train meets battering ram, as battered me it certainly had, I could have sworn that I had aged a good few years during the scrap.

After this I decided to setup the two stalker rods which at 9 foot in length are both perfect for some of these small river spots, these were both placed along the margins, with a light amount of free offerings inside pva mesh stocking. Within a couple of hours I had a slow and steady bite on my right hand rod, I struck and became instantly aware that this felt a larger fish as it bolted off for the weedbeds, perhaps being on the heavier tackle bred an overconfidence within me, or the fish was not so well hooked as I thought, but after a fair battle I saw the flank of what looked a very portly mirror, perhaps a scraper twenty and then the hook flew out behind me, the fish thanking me with a flap of its tail (almost a two finger fish salute) and it was gone. I looked at the rig swinging behind me and back at where the fish had been in disbelief.

Alas it seemed sods law to land one on the light gear and lose one on the more appropriate tackle and It remained quiet into darkness despite a couple of small chub on the carp tackle that was to be it. Nevertheless it had been a great trip and I had at least managed to locate an area they seem to visit and winkle one out, albeit on the link leger.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Back in the flow

How I have missed your tranquil embrace, cabbage patches and gravel runs looking so sumptuous, but at last the hiatus has finally abated.

Despite enjoying still water fishing, I do feel more of an affinity for flowing water, the sound of  rivers as they makes their way through the landscape is almost a language of its own, plucking at an anglers heartstrings. The heady aroma as mist rises from the rivers on a June morning, deer picking their way through the fields, foxes and their offspring tumbling about together until they rest in a heap on top of mum and dad.

My first trip out of the new season found me heading to the Blackwater in the afternoon replete with feeder rod and link leger in hand, along with a small amount of bait in my bucket (maggots,lob worms, sweetcorn). I was stuck in two minds, fish a few swims or concentrate on one only, the latter was decided upon,I settled down in a rather snug Borneo-esque swim that was alive with the chatter of Dormice and they did take a liking to one of my rucksack straps leaving me with a souvenir in the shape of a tiny nibble hole.

With a reasonably deep margin in front of me I decided to start by lightly feeding a mixture of maggot and corn slightly upstream. Downstream of my near margin there was some perfect coverage that simply screamed chub and it was here that I intended to let the link leger trundle down to.

The first trundle resulted in the first fish of the new season in the shape of a brassy chub (4.4) which gave a good account of itself.

A little and often approach with the feeding and I was soon picking up chublets, gudgeon and perch at regular intervals and a smile was fully cemented on my face. Into the evening the bigger fish started to show and after a very agressive bite and scrap saw a rather short, but deep bodied chub try to ditch me in the marginal foliage, I slipped the net under the first 5lb+ chub of the season, this fish was rather hollow and looked like it would be a good 6 come winter time.

I can assure you I have not knelt in something nasty in this picture, unfortunately my landing net had decided to break, the metal thread coming away from the plastic spreader block, I was not amused to say the least and spent a good hour trying to repair it, in the end I had something that was sturdy enough yet looked akin to a sawn of shotgun meets the mummy from one of those hammer horror films, I was only too glad to get it repaired once home, but I guess that will teach me for buying a cheap net.

I fished on till late evening, switching to sweetcorn in hope of picking up one of the rivers bigger bream. At around 9pm the quiver tip pulled round steadily and I was into what looked a rather wide slab which gave a great account of itself, slipping it into the mummy of all landing nets I could see she was in very nice condition and my first Blackwater bream.

8.9 of healthy river Abramis

Metal thread into plastic what a great idea... not

This was to be my last fish before heading off home,it had been an excellent way to start the new season off on this fabulous little waterway, however back at home a healthy amount of glue was awaiting said spreader block...

Friday, 11 April 2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

A time for reflection

I must admit to being fairly late to the party with this particular blog update, I did intend to do it the first weekend after the rivers closed but some other plans did get in the way.

I say plans but it was more a case of multiple amounts of brownie point building with my rather generous driver (mum) whom I owe a lot regarding my fishing and being able to get to and from venues. Although I have been repeatedly looking at driving lessons and every time I get to the booking pages I end up bottling it, this despite having spoken with a few people who have given a lot of encouragement, I guess time will tell if I can manage it or not.

The last of my remaining river trips found me targeting a few different species and despite the flooded and coloured conditions I did find it very hard to drag myself away from perch fishing and decided to have a couple more short sessions after them, their markings are simply beautiful, some of which were perfection in miniature.

One of the trips  resulted in a very plump fish (3.3) this was an immensely pleasing note to end the perch fishing on. Looking back it had been very enjoyable albeit rather challenging in the mud pie conditions.

I decided to have a trip back to the banks of the Loddon, the best way for me to describe this waterway would be "timeless" and it is one of a handful of waterways that has really attached itself to my emotions along with the many moods it shows an angler during the seasons, it is a lifeblood to me and has calmed and soothed me when I have been far from either sometimes.

Saying the floods had changed the topography of the river somewhat would have been a gross understatement, the waterway was full of new features and snags to relearn next season, with many fallen trees creating new havens for fish and wildlife alike.

It was a pleasant afternoon, just nice to finally have some respite from the rain and some sunny weather, it was chilly as the evening drew in and just one trout falling to my link legered lobworm tipped with maggot.

I decided to switch rod and bait to boilie wrapped in paste, which was then placed out to a nearby depression, quite late on (around 11pm) not too long after I had drained the dregs of coffee from my flask and my cold toes were hinting that it might be time to head for home I received a confident bite and eventually slipped the net under a fighting fit barbus (7lb).

This was a most welcome capture after the floods, especially as I had heard that a friend on another stretch had found a dead barbel a few metres up a tree after the floods had receded.

With the weather coming right and not much of the season left, myself and Tom decided to meet up once again for another roving trip, a mixture of fishing and exploration for both of us.

We have fished together a few times this season, during that time we have got to know each other quite well and both of us enjoy roving on smaller rivers, however on this particular occasion Tom had to be home at 5pm so we was rather limited with both exploration and fishing time, but the river kindly smiled on us, rewarding us with a couple of perfectly formed chub, both falling to link legered lobworm.

A pair of very happy chaps and brassy chevin (3.8 & 4lb)

It was an enjoyable short day spent together and talking nothing but fishing, at least we know that we won't ever be able bore each other eh Tom!

Roving about was how I decided to spend the last trips of the season and I had offered Mark Pilley to meet up and go for a spot of fishing on the Blackwater, he kindly offered to also pick me up on the day in question and when we finally got to the venue his first words were "this looks my kind of river".

It was however a very sunny day and we met a handful of other anglers who had been roving about from earlier in the morning and not had a touch, I must admit I found this odd on a river where you can more or less bank on an enjoyable bit of mixed fishing. 

Both Mark and myself had a good variety of baits with us, ranging from bread, maggots and worms to luncheon meat and the ever faithful cheese paste. I was hopeful that we would get a fish or two between us, more so for Mark than myself as he had traveled from Surrey and I wanted him to get a good impression of this intimate waterway.

We decided to give each swim twenty to thirty minutes before moving on to the next, fishing leapfrog style.  It was around 2pm and after spraying maggots at regular intervals upstream to gain the fishes confidence that I trundled the link leger through a likely looking area of undercut bank, near to some tree roots and was met with a lunging bite and the spirited sprint from a chevin.


A nicely conditioned chub was soon recuperating in the landing net, it was a welcome start but had me wondering about that fishing jinx when you have a guest down and catch yourself, I wanted Mark to connect with a few of this rivers inhabitants but the river was running clear and there was not a cloud in the sky, it has to be one of the mildest March days that I have ever witnessed, in fact I spent the majority of the trip sweating in my windproof jacket.

Not long after another spot and its snags had laid claim to my link leger Mark phoned to tell me that he had his first Blackwater chub in the net, which had fallen to his cheese and garlic paste.


It was in tip top condition and I was very happy and even more relieved to see the river had given up one of its chub to him and I probably did did mention this a few too many times to him.

Being in my comfort zone certainly helps put me more at ease and Mark was very approachable we shared some good chats and a few jokes, he added another chub of 2lb later on in the evening and I picked up a few more chublets and the odd small perch.

The company and weather had been great, the fish could of perhaps been more forthcoming but we finished the day very content and we probably spent  a good thirty minutes chatting infectiously in the car before Mark set off for home and it was a real pleasure to have met up with him.

My last couple of trips were spent  hunting chub. I was looking for a 6+ from a small waterway and having had a few others over 4lb I felt there was perhaps a chance of this.

A chunky fish (4.11)

A chevin that has lived a bit (4.9)

The reason why I enjoy fishing intimate rivers like these is because they fit a mental checklist of mine, they are unsullied and have a certain atmosphere about them that builds to a rather breathless excitement within me, I'm sure you all know what I mean.

On my final trip I headed out late evening and my first cast was met by a new snag,  "snap" ssg's and myself parted company. I absolutely abhor loosing fishing tackle but the cost of a packet of ssg particularly annoys me considering how very few you get in a tub, so I was a tad vexed to
say the least.

Five swims and a few small perch later, I was eventually settling down into the sixth and final swim which I had previously fed with a light amount of breadcrumb laced with krill and mixed with maggots. I decided to go the cheese paste route and one hour later started receiving springboard like bites, lightning fast, the quiver arching round and springing back.

Something was about and it was evidently rather apprehensive, so I decided to introduce a few more small balls of bread & krill and rested the swim before trundling the bait down back down. I also decided to switch back to lobworm tipped with maggot to see if I could perhaps get a more confident bite.

A combination of crayfish, wary bites and a few trundles later, the bait settled just nicely under the near bank margin, I suppose it was there for ten minutes before the rod tip buckled round and I was connected to a bullet train which was heading for the snag populated city of "where the hell it likes".

The current was fairly fast and that added with seeing this fish break the surface with the hook just lightly nipped in its upper lip was the stuff of dry mouth and slow motion netting sequences and just as I slipped the net under her the hook pinged out into the mesh, the relief on a scale of one to ten was probably an eleven, but I had my prize in the net and she looked glorious, a bar of brass replete with a rather plump belly and blunt brutish head.

Small river bullet train (6.12)

She was the perfect send off to a river season that despite the floods had been immensely kind to me and I was deeply overjoyed.

So now the close season hiatus is here, a pause for reflection, what was and what might be, here's to next season and piscatorial friendships old and new, some memories shared and smiles etched firmly on faces.


Unfortunately the Angling Times did make a bit of a hash of things and misreported the capture as a Thames fish, despite me very clearly stating to them that it was from a tributary of the Thames. Ben Miles however did kindly reply and apologize via email for the mistake that one of the staff had made which was good of him, but I can't help feel that such misreporting is at times par for the course with some of the angling media and does not always do them or the angler in question any favours.