Thursday, 29 April 2010

Full Of The Joys of Spring

The Intrepid Piscator There are times when one fishes which, fortunately for me, are joyous enough without the appearance of a fish.
I found myself aside a venue this week in search of a double figure Tench,which on the face of it,is optimistic to say the least.I haven't actually caught a Tench of any description this year,the blank being sometimes inevitable when one targets large fish on tricky venues.With excuses out of the way then,I have to admit to enjoying myself thoroughly.
It's always nice to catch up with the local anglers on a lake you haven't thrown a bait in for a while.I love the sense of kinship between fellow fishers, who have been on similar quests.
With the rods out,just to be sitting,eating and chatting with these seasoned piscators reminded me of the reasons,other than the fish,that we indulge in this pastime.
It didn't seem so long ago that I sat on this lake alone,freezing,trying to extract a fish from between the ice,and yet there I was,now,surrounded by the joys of Spring.
The Greater Spotted Woodpecker tapped out its manic percussion and for a moment my mind drifted back to the avian headbangers of France.After a while I was given the pleasure of my first (English) Kingfisher of the year as it flashed past my pitch,giving out it's high pitched call as it went,and I know that every other I see this year will give me the same joy.
As dusk drew in I was gifted a fine aerobatic display from the large colony of local bats, I'm no expert but there were two different species, one large(Horseshoe?),one small(pipistrelle?),feasting on the ever increasing insect life.
Then, onwards to sunset,they are all different and all special.A Tench rolled over my was to be the only one I saw.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Night Of The Julians & The Curse of Izaac Walton

The Intrepid Piscator After a mad Saturday evening dash after a day in the shop,I found myself beside the lake I'd fished throughout the Winter. This time of year, of course, there are a few more anglers present and I was one of eleven, not my ideal scenario but they are good guys and I settled in for the night.
My quarry for the next couple of months is to be the beautiful Tench. I find them to be most beautiful creatures,their scales tiny and smooth,the variation of colour from bright gold to almost black and those mysterious red/orange eyes along with it's alleged healing properties all add to its mystique.Even the latin name tinca tinca conjures up an image in the minds eye.
Now,although the lake is not famed for its Tench, and has, to my knowledge never produced one of double figures, there remains a viable population that occassionally grace the nets of Carp anglers.
I set my stall out with method feeder and mini boilies fished on the hair,fishing both rods in the margins. Soon the traquility was interrupted by the sound of an alarm opposite.My mate Birdy,also angling for Tench was in to what turned out to be a fair sized Julian (Bream). This turned out to be the order of the night with Julians caught in abundance from his side of the lake as they began to congregate for spawning. I myself managed to scratch out three,one being particularly big,but alas no Tench,or Carp all round.

This was the smallest one of my trio,but all Bream caught around the lake,forty in total, ranged from 6 to 10 lb.

One thing has been bothering me for some time now.It is now getting so serious that I received two phone calls from fellow anglers regarding it during the session.It would seem that I am cursed, the curse being that around 95% of the times I fish,it rains.Now let me show you a couple of photos from this session.When I arrived the lake looked like this... Lovely blue sky,insects buzzing,anglers in shorts enjoying eating and drinking al fresco and enjoying the balminess of a Spring evening.

Sometime later.....
Greying skies,heavy rain and anglers running for cover.I blame the whole thing on Izaak himself.

Readers of Chris Yates' ramblings will know that all things related to angling,be it fair or foul are in the lap of Mr.Walton and I fear I have offended his spirit so much that I have been cursed with a plague of rain.

Whilst on Redmire last year (in a small gap between downpours) I asked Izaak for a sign...the instant reply was the only clap of thunder of the weekend.Yes,yes I know all this is irrational,but so is spending masses of time,effort and money trying to catch fish that are promptly returned back to the depths soon after.

All comments on how to appease Izaak will be welcomed.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

7 Things You Should Take Fishing In France.

The Intrepid Piscator You've worked all year and you've booked yourself a nice trip to France for a weeks fishing.Yes,you have all the tackle and bait sorted,but what have you forgotten? Well here are a few items that may make your trip go a little bit easier.
1) A European Enabled Sat-Nav System - I know us fellas all think we can read maps and know the way everywhere,but trust me,when your going around The Paris Periphery,and it's rush hour with lunatic motorcyclists tearing about and you need to know what lane to be in.The Sat-Nav is a godsend.
2) A Bait Boat - Some call it heresy,but I reckon that even old Dick Walker would've used one in certain situations.On a trip to France you don't have months to build up a picture of the lake bed using a marker float.Bait boat,echo sounder a couple of hours...job done.Wether you choose to deposit your baits with it is entirely up to you.
3) European Health Insurance Card - Even if you have Travel Insurance,things will be a lot easier, quicker and possibly cheaper with one of these if the worst happens.Details here.
4) An Open Mind - Don't go abroad thinking you are going to catch lots of massive fish every day. You will only be putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. Go without preconceptions,chill out,enjoy yourself and then, just maybe, you might catch a whacker.
5) 'Entente Cordiale' - I have found time and time again in my travels abroad that a little diplomacy works wonders. Don't expect the French people to speak English.Even if you attempt to converse in their language badly,it will be appreciated. Take a phrase book to aid in such things as shopping for food, and a bottle of English wine for use when that friendly "Garde du Peche" fellow passes by. This effort can bring big rewards as I found out once when a local told me that there were huge Catfish to be had in the local stretch of river..(I caught one of 106 lb from the very spot).
6) Feeder/Float Rod - Carp and Catfishing can be a waiting game, and what better way to pass those runless hours than fishing for other species.Who knows what you may catch from Pumpkinseed to Ide. A piece of bread or a dug up worm is all you need for bait.
7) Good Friends & Family - Don't go abroad with a bunch of herberts you hardly know. It's no fun being a long way from home when you're not enjoyong yourself. Good mates,family,weather,food,drink,laughter and perhaps a few fish = good times.

Go now,relax.....enjoy.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Chapel Lake,France (The last night)

The Intrepid Piscator The last night was upon us,we'd caught many fish of a certain size,lost a leviathan (we are all convinced it was a very large Carp,not a Catfish)..I'll be honest,the wind had blown into my bivvy door all week and I was glad to be heading home the next day.
However,there were obviously massive fish in front of me.I decided to fish completely different and place a bait in the middle of the lake in about 6 feet of water and 15feet of smelly black silty goo.
I was tempted to tie the much-lauded Chod Rig but as I've never caught a fish on it,I opted for the trusty 360 rig which I have much more confidence in.
The bait was a bouyant boilie whittled away so that it balanced perfectly,this was placed mid lake with groundbait laced with flavours and oils to mask the smell of the lake and a few boilies.
Sitting back to enjoy the evening,I drank fine wine and watched Water Voles swimming in the margins as darkness fell.
At around 2:30 am I was awakened by the screech of the mid-lake rods alarm,a belting run,no need to be locked up,no snags, just the half submerged lily beds that I'd noticed in the area whilst out previously on the boat.
I struck,standing in the crisp night air alone,my bivvy and mat taking a frosty lustre,my breath visible like smoke.The rod did take on a satisfying curve,but the tip and line were in the branches of an overhanging tree.Curses ensued,the fight continued and the line pinged through twigs and lilies,the fish stayed hooked and plodded as I slowly gained line.
Some time later,as I shivered with cold and adrenalin the fish was beaten and below me,the line still through the trees preventing me from landing the fish,I called to one of the lads to assist and after some effort it was in the net.
On lifting the net he exclaimed "this ones a bit bigger bud"....the fish was retained safely until the daylight hours, and here it is,I was delighted with this capture and felt that I truly earned it.

In conclusion ,Chapel Lake is by no means easy but the rewards are there for those that want to make the effort.The lake is beautiful and owner Tony is very accommodating.More details can be found here.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Chapel Lake,France (part three)

The Intrepid Piscator By daylight the biting wind had blown up again despite the sun shining.At one point waves were lapping against our bank and although the scene looked nice,it felt more and more oppressive.A Kite soared above and a Hare ran for cover in a nearby field.We all sat together beside the vehicles in relative cover.

The resident herd of Limousin Cattle came down for a morning drink and the kids went off to explore dungeons and search for treasure.It was at this time that something happened,something I will remember for a long time.
I should point out that one of my friends lads is left handed and he'd set up a rod,with the reel in such a manner.The lad,as I have said,was off exploring,and my friend having a shower.
The rest of us had taken charge of the rods.
Suddenly his lads alarm sprung into life.The nearest of us immediately grabbed the rod and went to strike,whereupon he muttered something along the lines of"Oh goodness me,it appears that the reel has no handle"..of course what he really said is not for repeat here!!
Instead of winding,he walked backwards with the rod,not really knowing what to do next.Another of the party started to operate the reel,so we now had two on the rod.They both exclaimed that it was a very big fish.What a bizarre sight.The fish did exactly what it wanted,chugging up and down the lake.The fellas were under no illusion that they were in control.I peered on in marvel.
Now I can tell you that all of us have caught large Carp but this was a bit different and after about 15 mins. when the hooked pulled,we all felt gutted knowing we'd lost something special.
I caught another smallish Mirror in the night,but we decided that due to the inhospitablity of the weather,the next would be our last...It was time for a drastic plan.......

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Chapel Lake,France (part two)

I set my swim in sight of "The Chateau", apparently the residence of one lone,elderly lady who owns most of the valley.OK, lone isn't 100% true,she has a few Donkeys,Shetland Ponies and Chickens for company.

Beneath this spectacular building lies a cave, seemingly natural, we were told it was once used as a dungeon (possibly for the benefit of the kids) although I suspect it has seen more action as a wine cellar.

On the fishing front,a minor disaster occured as one of my bite alarms gave up the ghost, despite major on-bank surgery we failed to revive it and I was down to two rods on the first day.
The remaining two rods incorporating a snowman/blowback rig set-up were placed over on the far margin and very soon a fine looking Common Carp graced the net.I was off the mark but that North Easterly wind blew hard.

For a few days it blew and the other lads had other fish of the same calibre as mine.

As the wind subsided on the third night I pondered the large beasts that swam in the depths outside my bivvy.I slept,cold, interrupted sleep,an Owl called out,his mate answered, a Fox sent out a blood curdling screech.the stars shone bright in the unpolluted sky...time rolled on in semi dream.An eternity later the sun rose over the trees,I wondered what the day would bring....

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Chapel Lake,France (part one)

"There we sit on Cowslip banks,hear the birds sing"

The Intrepid Piscator In the heart of France, in the region of Limousin lies an ancient lake,locally known as Etang de Saint-Martial,but to U.K anglers it is Chapel Lake.

At a size of around 18 acres it lies in an almost impossibly beautiful valley,with a small feeder river at one end and a weir at the other.
We had been invited to fish by the kindness of lake guru "Westy" and owner Tony who met us at the delightful village of Saint Sornin-Leulac.

As we arrived at the lake the first imposing feature in sight was The Chapel,this was to be our lodge for the duration of our stay and was fully kitted with an open fire,fridge freezer for food,bait freezer,oven,microwave,table,chairs,utensils,cutlery,toaster,kettle,excellent shower,WC and sink and UK sockets for charging phones etc.The area is so safe and secluded that the door stayed open all week.
We were guided around the lake,shown all swims (most have their own boat) and wished good luck,before being left to our own devices.

The tranquil atmosphere soon took over as we set up camp beneath Lichen covered Oaks intermingled with Willow,Birch and Spruce trying our best not to trample the many Cowslips and Violets that grew below.

Spotted Woodpecker hammered out their territorial rites as Swallows ducked and weaved at the insect life.

Great and Long Tailed Tits fluttered aside Wrens in the bankside shrubbery,a Mallard Drake sat atop her eggs.

Amongst all this, one thing bothered me ,the North Easterly wind was blowing,softly at first,sometimes not at all,but seemingly creeping upon us.

We went out in the boats using landing net poles to get a feel of the lake bed and depths.The far margins were firm with depths of around 3feet,the more you ventured into the lake middle,the siltier it became with depths of around 5-6feet.Therefore,the margins seemed an obvious place to put a bait..........

Friday, 9 April 2010

En Vacances- An E-Postcard

The Intrepid Piscator All being well,at this present moment I will be sitting aside Etang de Saint-Martial in the Limousin area of France.Knowing my luck it is probably raining.Hopefully we will be catching a few and I hope to share the photo's (if there are any) on my return.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Friday, 2 April 2010

Steve...My Kettle

The Intrepid Piscator Laurel had Hardy,Morecombe had Harris had Orville,all trusty sidekicks.
I have been angling for more years than I care to remember.Rods,reels,even fishing methods have come and gone.The people I fished with have come in and out of my life.Pastures new arrive and I find myself on different venues,all in the pursuit of that 'special' capture.Like the seasons of the year,this pastime of ours changes gradually day by day.
However,throughout all of this,there has been one ever-present,my kettle Steve.There have of course been pretenders,he has a rival,Kelly.
Why Steve? Well it started off many years back when Nottingham Forest had a somewhat mediocre player named Steve Chettle,his name lent itself grandly to 'Mockney' rhyming slang for 'kettle'..the rest is history.
He carries many a scar from past battles,not least, the time when he was knocked clean off the stove by a cracked-off 4oz lead that arrived briskly from the other side of the lake! There was also the time that he was washed out of the bivvy by a torrent of water following a massive Summertime electrical storm and was retrieved sometime later 30 feet away.
He's old,battered and bruised (since this photo was taken he has lost his whistle),he even dribbles a bit, but even though I have been lured by the delights of Stainless Steel,Gunmetal Grey etc.,he's going nowhere.
Raise a grubby tin or thermal mug to my mate Steve.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Sorting...Not Reporting!

The Intrepid Piscator With the rapid encroachment of the trip to France I guessed that I ought to start sorting my Carp fishing gear out this week, it hasn't been used since late November.The ground sheet of my bivvy was still caked in Redmire mud and I took it outside to be cleaned, I returned to find some dodgy builders from next door walking off with it.They were met with a loud "Oi" and it was duly retrieved.

The home looks like someone has thrown a grenade into the tackle shop and I am gradually discovering that I already have all the items of tackle I have purchased in the last week or so at home.
Bait has been delivered,rigs are being tied and weather reports are being studied.

All this,and the return of the rubbish weather has meant that I was unable to fish this week.I did walk around the lake on bailiff duty,you guessed it...empty..not an angler to be seen,although it wasn't very inviting with large black clouds above.

Oh well,back to it,mustn't forget to pack the kettle (or Steve,as I call it !!)