Saturday, 27 February 2010

"The Secret Swim"

If anyone knows what is happening with this wonderful forum,please leave a comment.I fear we may have lost it.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

More Fishy Art

One of my favourite artists,Melissa Haslam was kind enough to send me a version of this image "Girl with fish" as a gift with another purchase,I love it.She hails from Melbourne, Australia and has a fantastic blog which you can access via my "Sites I like" section.

Waste of Time?

The rules on the lake dictate that if you wish to fish at this time of year for Pike that you must use a single hook only,yesterday evening was spent digging out the 3lb TC rods and crimping wire traces to size 2 single hooks on which I tied a braid hair for the sea fish deadbaits I had aquired.This is all a bit of an effort when my workplace sell nicely made twin trebles that most people can use,most of the time,I mean,what are the chances of me hooking a Catfish in freezing conditions?Really?..Oh well,effort,as they say,equals reward,right?
It was perhaps not a surprise to find the lake frozen when I arrived,a buzzard circled above like some arbinger of bad news,the weather has been brutal and shows no sign of respite,so after a walk around,and knowing that the river is a raging torrent,I head for a local club lake.
It came as a relief to see that at least part of the lake was fishable,obviously there were no other anglers so I set up in an old favourite and chucked out a Sprat,a Mackerel tail and the feeder rod with worm as hookbait.It was cold and once again I found myself facing that relentless North Easterly,when will it change?After a couple of biteless hours I started to wonder what the hell I was doing,but,as always I thought"effort equals reward"....the bobbin on my right hand rod flew up and the buzzer sounded,I struck.........nothing....the Mackerel tail had bite marks,just about where the second treble would be on a Jardine Snap Tackle(incidentally,the same rules apply on this lake which also contains Catfish).
It started to snow and the heads of the Reedmace swayed in rows like drunken guards on parade.A single Magpie appeared,I thought"Not you again"as the snowfall turned to blizzard.I was getting cold..I have all the kit you need for winter but sometimes the weather still wins,I wasn't just cold,I was wet and cold.My fingers were so numb from the feeder that I was glad that I'd been prepared enough to bring a handwarmer.
I had a twitch on the quiver rod but am minded to think it was probably one of the many hungry Tufted Ducks,I'm no longer suprised to see how deep they can go for food.
The wind chill was immense,and I was out of tea and shivering,"Go home,idiot"I thought.It took me the best part of an hour to slowly pack up with numb fingers and toes.
So,does effort really equal reward?..The answer has to be that most of the time it does..but..not always.The other question has to be;Is fishing in such conditions as we have had recently a waste of time?..I think,maybe it is,but it is my favourite waste of time.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Wide Eyed and Restless

There are times and places that set the mind wandering,I'm not one to be afraid of the dark and all manner of night time wails and screeches are like water off of a ducks back to me.There have been visitations from ancient long gone anglers on old historic pools,gunshots in the dead of night,big cats,invasions by aliens from another planet!!! I've had them all and not batted an eyelid.Sometimes though,not very often,I have gone to that murky area in the old grey cells that says"Here mate,Do you realise that you're sat in the middle of nowhere,miles from your nearest and dearest and you haven't a clue what's out in the darkness,right there....right here."
It's the Summer,I'm sitting alone on a remote stretch of the Great Ouse,the baited rig has been cast and it's staying there until something happens,darkness is upon me and the river now has different sounds to the ones I heard just an hour ago.The reeds I sit amongst suddenly have all manner of bugs crawling around their upright stems and every now and then a bigger beast walks through,Mink? Otter? Tiger?? An Owl hoots,I stand up and look in the field behind,nothing but black.
It starts to rain and on goes the coat,all the nocturnal noises drowned by the torrent of a summer downpour,weird,wet,but warm.I sit watching the isotope on the rod tip,is that a twitch?Something hit the line..About half an hour later the rain has stopped,the air is fresh,my hearing is now more responsive,I look behind into the field.....nothing.
A rather large splash in the water directly opposite my position,a fish?...a big fish?Then something very strange occurs,the water in front of me,right above my bait rises about 2 to 3 inches in a bow wave as if something rather large is travelling(quickly) just under the water.My first impression is that a dog Otter has jumped in the river opposite and swam directly towards me and has now veered and is rapidly motoring off downstream,it unnerves me,I've not observed such an event before.I stand up look around,behind...nothing.
I sit and begin to think"Oh well,any fish in the vicinty are long gone" then,round the tip goes,twice in quick succession,the strike is met with resistance,I'm in,Barbel? the dull headtorch..Chub,a good Chub fighting so hard,as if he's thinking"That Otter had better not turn up now"..After the usual hairey minutes of madness and mayhem I wade out enough to net him,he's mine.
I leave the fish in the net whilst I set the camera for self-take,it's started to drizzle again,I find the sling and scales and do the honours 5lb-11oz,I'm happy with that.One quick shot of the fish,perhaps the worst self-take I've ever managed,release him back to his home,stand up,look around,behind..BULL !! GREAT BIG WHITE CHAROLAIS BULL with a ring through his nose no more than six feet away and staring straight at me,he's obviously been beamed down from somewhere not of this world and he is BIG.
OK,all I hear now is my heart beating..landing net pole ..yep..that's my only defence.I'm stood there wielding a landing net pole at 40 odd stone of prime beef and it's a stand-off.Maybe a little tap on the nose?,nothing...a bit harder? nowt..Ten minutes,ten long minutes,before he decides,on his terms, that I'm not worth the hassle and slowly plods off into the dark......the dark that I now have to walk home through.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A Different Day

When I woke up this morning and looked out of the window it was grey and drizzly,I can't really remember the last time I went fishing and stayed dry so I assembled the kit, filled the flask and made off to the lake.
I arrived at "Pampas Point",I call it by this name as it is planted with a large clump of Pampas Grass,no doubt it used to be in someones front garden and was "transferred" many moons ago.
I'd noticed on the journey to the lake that the river had been up in level by a couple of feet,we must have had a lot of rain in the night but the drizzle of earlier had abated and the sun was trying to show itself.There had been some run-off into the lake and parts took on a milky hue.
Confidence is something I do not lack when angling but after a couple of biteless hours on the maggot feeder and becoming ever increasingly perplexed by my lack of action,I decided to have a fling about with the lure rod.However,this came to an abrupt halt just ten minutes later when I lost the only lure I had on me!!
It's nice to see that we have a pair of Swans this year,they do seem to be the bane of the session angler but were very friendly,avoided my line and entertained the fishless hours.I've named them Vesta and Shot....should they have cygnets I will probably struggle to find anything more original to call them....maybe Upping and Sea City!!!
I also reaquainted myself with the Canada goose hoody gang and the Dark Destroyer Cormorant who seems to be a more successful fisher than I at the moment.Unfortunately,I have yet to see the Kingfishers that frequent this lake since the freeze up,I fear they may have fell prey to the icy unfishable conditions.
I made a move,I didn't think It'd do me any good but saw no point in staying exposed,even though the sun shone, a cold easterly breeze set my mind dreaming of casting to Springtime Tench with warm hands.
As I walked around I entered a part of the bankside known as The Avenue,the trees herein are a micro climate for various funghi and mosses.
I have no idea what they are called but imagine them to have fine old fashioned names like Fox Paw and Whores Arse!!
Having sat in the new swim for about an hour I saw the only Roach I was to see all day,out of the corner of my eye I noticed a flash of silver in the clear margin,a Roach of around 4oz motored toward the bank at some speed,a split-second later it was followed and engulfed by a Pike of around 10lb which promptly U-turned back to the depths.Something was feeding at least,I thought,so maybe my next visit will be for old Esox.
I packed up,left the swim and a Robin chirped away in a nearby tree;"Too late for maggots"I chirped back.
Why then was this "A Different Day"?Well I usually fish on "Choose-day",today is "When-sday" as in "When" am I going to catch another fish?!.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Wonderful Watercolour

I attended an art exhibition at Tate Britain a couple of weeks ago, and whilst there took the opportunty to peruse some of the glorious JMW Turner pieces that were left to the nation upon his death.I was delighted to stumble across the following watercolour entitled"Two Tench,a Trout and a Perch".Have you ever seen such a finer representation of our stripey friend?
Turner was himself a keen angler and I'm told he was a founder member of the elite Houghton Club in 1822 , around the date of this painting.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Car Boot Treasure

I braved the rain to go car-booting today as I've found them to be an excellent source of vintage tackle.There was nothing to be found amongst the knock-off DVD's and stuff that most would put in the local tip,but,every now and then a treasure can be found.Mitchell reels,centrepins and rods are relatively common.Last summer I bought the rod below for just £20.The sharped eyed amongst you will know it is worth a bit more.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Just being there?

It was "Chooseday" again,so-called because I can choose to do whatever the whim dictates,when I "have my head on" it usually means I'll be sitting by some watery delight trying to extract its occupants.
The Roach in that lake had been calling me all week,so it was there I headed.
I was delighted to find the place without an another angler present,it was mine alone,hopefully all day.Along the path I trudged scattering the rabbits that abound,white tails bolting off in all directions,a solitary magpie making a noise in a nearby tree which I tried to know why.Further along the path a family of Canada Geese stood in my way like a gang of hoodies wanting to mug me,there psuedo-stubborness was just an act though and they soon scarpered as I drew close.
Here I was then,same swim,same tactics...It was blowing a North-Easterly,I was happy that for once I'd remembered gloves and hand warmers;although gloves aren't of much use to the feeder fisherman.
As I poured the first drink from my flask I noticed a very territorial Crow harrassing a Red Kite.Now ,to me, as a gent known,on occassion, to have a flutter at the track ,I was sure that my money would be on the Kite,one of Englands most majestic birds of prey and truly on the comeback trail.I'd have lost my cash...he was sent packing as the Goose gang shouted their praise for Mr.Crow from a safe distance.
It was now that it started snowing......
....slowly,to begin with,the birds knew what was coming,they had all vanished!
Within minutes I was sitting mid-blizzard with large flakes settling on my knees,I'd even remembered the umbrella but there was no point erecting it as the wind was gnawing at my face,blowing white blobs horizontally and making my eyes stream.A small unhooking mat was held on my lap for protection and insulation,my fingers the colour of roach fins.
Respite came within 20 minutes as the winterness abated and Sergeant Mallard gave the all clear for the birdlife to re-appear,alas no Kingfishers here today;I do worry about them on stillwaters in such conditions as we've had lately.
I retrieved for another cast..I'm guessing that there is a method for stopping a double maggoted hooklink turning into a prop shaft(the double maggots being the propeller) and twisting as you bring it in when not using swivels,but I'm yet to discover it.I know,I thought,I'll put a lobworm tail on.
The wind died down,the sun came out.I hadn't seen a sign of a fish,but something had;a Cormorant glided overhead,where was that Crow when you needed him.The Dark Destroyer landed on the lake and swam around for a good hour in that strange half submerged fashion,disappearing under now and again,myself hoping fat Roach wasn't on the menu.
Behind me,the rabbits were getting used to my presence and becoming slightly bolder,probably keeping one eye open for the Kite.I watched them gnawing away at the greenery out of the corner of my eye but still trying to watch the tip of the rod as well.
The day wore on,"Perhaps they want white maggots today "I thought.Another bait change,another cast...then in came the hail,like someone firing a BB gun at you 2000 times.Cold,so cold,but them fish,I soldiered on.
Some time later,as the sun appeared again a woodpecker made that call,you know the one that sounds like he's laughing at you.There comes a time when all the signs say"Go home mate"...that pesky Magpie..................I hadn't had a bite all day!!!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

"Here be giants".........probably!

There is a small section of the great Ouse that over the last ten years has become legendary for producing massive Barbel,indeed one of it's residents "The Traveller" became the British record.This place is Adams Mill/Kickles Farm.
If I'm honest,I'm not overly fond of fish having names.These fish were captured many times before the travelling circus of "faces" came to town on the coat tails of real anglers.Obviously,for the next decade it was difficult for real anglers to get a look in on this Barbel boom,if of course they wanted to.
What is left of this place then?,in these days when most of those beautiful fish are long since departed,apparently predated by the Otter,oh the Otter,let me say that I like Otters,I also like fish,I'll say nothing else for now on the subject.Well the farmer at Kickles apparently had enough of anglers thinking they owned his land and stopped inviting them and the Adams Mill syndicate is run by that old stager Bob Church.There is a small syndicate for the opposite bank on Quarry Hall which I was fortunate to join this season with friend Birdy.
We spent much time walking the river,searching for undulations in its bed and clear areas to present bait,we saw very few fish and only one small Barbel.Adams end is streamy and Kickles slower and deeper,we decided the area between the two was a good starting point(the area I am standing in,in my title pic).It is perhaps a good time to tell you that probably it's most successful angler,Tony Miles once described Kickles as "a blank waiting to happen";it is, however, a beautiful place to be.
The bottom of the Ouse has been covered with an algal bloom this season and we decided to clear a couple of very small areas to present a bait.On that first evening I walked my baited rig out to one of these spots and dropped it through the clear water onto the gravel with a handful of free offerings so that I was 100% sure of my presentation.Waded back to the bank,tightened up to the back lead and waited in the early season warmth.
I have seen Otters on this stretch but that evenings entertainment was provided by a family of Water Voles who marched boldly under one side of my chair and out the other.It is these times that remind me why I fish,I'm truly part of nature and the anticipation of a first evening on a venue is unbeatable.
After just forty minutes I got a savage "four foot twitch" and was into a hard fighting fish,before I knew it I was standing mid-stream fighting the beast which was by now thirty yards downstream.This fish gave an amazing account of itself and surged off in all directions before coming close enough to see in the sunset lit crystal water that it was a fine double figure Barbel.When finally subdued it was netted by Birdy who was now standing in the river next to me.
It was special to catch such a fish from this venue with my old fishing buddy,we were the only two there.
So what does the future hold for this stretch?Well one angler from the Adams Mill syndicate told me to "make the most of this capture because I may not get another bite all season"...He was right,I've had Chub but no more Barbel,nor have I seen one.
Bob Church assures me that a fish around the 20lb mark has been seen this season,maybe there are giants here still,but I'm inclined to take advice given to Birdy by Trefor West..."Lifes too short mate,go catch some fish"

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Another brace..with added stripes.

What do you do when it's your day off and you're intent on getting to the stillwater after them Roach but your road is closed and a dirty great road mashing machine is blocking your drive?Well you walk with your kit to the nearest fishable water.
About a ten minute walk from my home runs a small tributary of the Great Ouse.
Despite being in this handy location, until today I've never fished it.
The day was cold,grey and raining,the sort of day when even your bones get wet and because I was walking ,the brolly stayed at home.The spot I started at has a path running alongside and I have to say that it wasn't long before sniffing dogs and loud owners started to grate...I have nothing against them of course,but I'm not used to sharing my bank time with such interuptions(this is before I'd even wet a line).
I had tackled up with a feeder with red maggots(roaching gear) and had managed to get some lobworms for the size 12 hook.
That first cast,that most important cast went out to the far margin,the rain worsened and I realised my chair was hovering above a dog turd....deep joy!!
Nothing happened,the rod tip stayed still,not even a floating stick hit the line to make the old ticker miss a beat.The rain continued and I'd got to the stage where I may have been drier in the river!!The feel of the water that had penetrated my undies and the smell of dog crap was making me question my sanity....(this is where most writers put "when suddenly............").Still nothing happened.
I moved,and refilled and recast...of course I'd not brought food or a towel,oh the simple pleasures.About 1pm the rain stopped and the tip snatched around resulting in a "Julian" thats a Bream to you but they do look like their name is Julian and I'm told there's a guitarist called Julian Bream.
The rain re-started and after another hour of nothing I moved again.I cast between a snag and an overhanging tree and immediatly got a bite and was into a fish,as I was playing it the rain stopped and a shaft of sunlight fell on me for the first time today.
After a spirited battle a rather nice "footballer",or Perch was in the net and I weighed it at 2lb 4oz...then something happened that had never happened before...I asked a passing dog walker to take a picture of me holding the fish and was met with a firm refusal,maybe I looked dodgy all wet and bedraggled,anyhow the fish was photographed in the net and returned.
I have found over the years that Dick Walkers advice to"first find your fish"is a very valuable piece of info because within ten minutes I had another fine "footballer" of 2lb 13oz on the bank.
Out of the glare of the now full sunlight came a sight that I never tire of,that flash of blue of a fellow fisher,the Kingfisher,the day had turned into a fine one.Of course this most beautiful of birds was scared off by a passer-by who hadn't seen it,nor probably cared to.
I had one last cast for another Julian before resting on my laurels and trudging home,wet but happy with my two braces,bream and those mint Perch.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Frozen in time

There's an old estate lake in the middle of an ancient wood not far away.Edged with mighty Oaks and Scots Pine.It's now half ruined boathouse conjours up visions of long since past men in straw boater hats rowing or punting their sweethearts on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
I still remember the first time I gazed upon its muddy,leaf covered expanse on one of my very first fishing trips as a boy..I would've been about three years of age and apparently gazed in wonderment as my elder brother caught a Rudd,nearly fell in,got a welly full of water,took it off and peered in(looking for fish).
The lake was well known for its specimen Tench,pristine and almost black..I actually caught my first one here,bizarrely,not on the bottom but on a grain of sweetcorn fished no more than four inches under a porcupine quill next to some lilies.It weighed all of three quarters of a pound and I'm ashamed to say that I was so excited I kissed it.
I have been drawn to this lake ever since and visit it in every season of every year.It's Tench,marvellous golden Rudd and large Perch are long since gone and the lake is now used as a farm for the now 'en vogue' commercial fisheries,and as such is stacked with small Carp clones.
As the site has SSSI status the angling stopped many years ago,not that I would wish to catch its current occupants.I do however still get lured to this beautiful place,frozen in time,frozen in my memory.