Friday, 29 June 2012


Come with me anglers, come to the lake with me....Through the entrance gate, lightly laden. The lush new growth of grass, fringed with bramble, rose and daisies, decorate the trail to the steaming mass. I can't see it yet, I smell it though, this aged and historic water. I feel blessed.
 Onwards, through ancient oak, hawthorn and willow, the sky strobing down through the canopy. Twigs snap underfoot, my attempted stealth advertised to the deer, squirrel and badger. Bramble grasps at my ankles as if begging me to stay a while, I proceed.
 Before me, this pool, a secret delight, a new world, with discoveries yet to be made, my angling future.
 Pigeons flap in low branches, a moorhen shreiks to break the silent spell, she strolls through rushes, repairing, fixing. A heron, stance statuesque, tries his early luck and 'fishers dive at abundant fry in competition with jack and 'swaggers'.
 I gaze past padded green, deep into the depths , the weed cables tickle the surface tension but can't quite push through. Insects and snails go about their daily routine hoping that today the food chain will spare them.
 From beneath an overhanging mass, tell-tale ripples decieve the presence of the carp.
 The sun breaks through intermittently and I sit, wait, watch. I find myself doing more sittting, waiting and watching than fishing, I like it that way. Tucked beneath a willow, with the red ants and woodlouse, I'm happy. The shrill sound of the 'fishers regularly bring me from a semi-meditative state. My eyes are tranfixed though, on a small side bay, next to the pads......a carp.
 He waddles around, searching the surface, that first tentative investigation of the bait. A swirl, then around again, his top lip just breaks surface as he quietly sucks one in. He's cagey, he moves out of the bay. The ever hungry mallards move in, hastily consuming the rest of the bait. I try to lure them closer and feed the off.
 The fish returns, more bait, more eaten. He's big, a mirror, I chance a cast. Free offerings taken, then again, again and again. He's in line with my hook bait....approaches, avoids, again, again and again.
 I know now that other fish have started to cruise the upper layers across the lake, I want this one though, so persist.
 An ongoing pursuit, involving myself, the fish, the ducks and two swans that are not really sure if I'm a human or a shrub.
 In front of me the fry are molested regularly by an unseen predator that strike fear into the tiny shoal at regular intervals throughout the day. A hoverfly drops down to eye level and looks into my eyes, he moves as I move as if spying on me, sent  by the damsels to case me out, no doubt.
 The day rolls on, my attempts of entrapping a cagey carp becoming more intricate and experimental, failure becomes cosy.
 He needs a friend to dine with him, some competition. It doesn't arrive, I persist stubbornly, happy with the futility.
 I have not seen nor heard a sole of humanity for most of a day now. For someone who talks angling all day, most days, the chance to actually partake, in silence, is a delight.
 I gaze at my rod. I've owned it for nearly twenty years. It has served me well, personal best carp, tench and barbel...all on this one rod. I know its limits, but most of all, it's capabilities.
 The day rolls ever on. I am aware that this evening there will be a work party, organised to clear some of the abundant weed growth. With the carp having won the day, and distant, boisterous voices growing louder and closer, I pack up for the day and set out to assist.
 I love the 'work party', a group of like minded soles, always a minority, who join for the common good and make things better for the majority.
 At first, banter, you know the sort of thing, "My rake's bigger than yours", then the striking of a bond, through real hard graft. That sense of achievement, a band of brothers.
 We managed to clear two or three swims of a lot of weed, it was done responsibly and efficiently. It's amazing what can be achieved with a boat, a bloody great rake and a winch....and teamwork.
 When it was all done, the aire was self congratulatory and high. One of the lads offered me a lift home, I'd been dropped off earlier by Lady Sarah. I went to collect my tackle......It was gone!
 Returning to the group I asked who'd hidden it, but nobody had. The aire turned to one of anger, bemusement and disbelief.
  We searched for an hour, or more. It was fruitless, my gear had be taken, vanished. Many theories retold, re-thought.
We reluctantly left, my day ruined, my feelings for this wonderful lake in tatters. I'd mistakenly been seduced into dropping my guard and made it easy for them. I am still angry as I type, that someone thinks it's fine to relieve a hard working individual of his belongings by just taking them with malice. God, I will miss that rod. I hope they rot in hell.....No photos... camera stolen.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Surface Success

Awake, alert, it was a day to idle a few stolen hours at the lake. No lay-in on my day off. I had to go. I knew where they'd be, and when they'd be there. I wanted one.
The lake is exactly two miles from my home, and with no transport today, I set off on foot, carrying everything I needed.
 Crossing the familiar river bridge, the air seemed as flooded with dampness as the plodding flow beneath. Onwards, I detoured the engulfed areas of water meadow with squelching footsteps, past white campion and wilting forget-me-nots. Up onto the canal, early boats chugging past still sleeping ducks, the smell of bacon from floating abodes.
 On I went step by step, no anglers, just everyday folk on their way to work and school children engrossed with Blackberry and I-phone.
 I finally walked down the little track to the gate. My heart sank. I knew that the lake had risen with the floods and that one, maybe two swims only would be accessible, but someone else was there.
 Through the foot gate,along the boundary fence the dog roses cried out to me," Please let me in, please".

I walked to the end of the track, to the swim I knew they'd be, there were people there, a couple. I knew they wanted to fish there, but they had no tackle. "This looks like the only swim fishable", he said " Do you want to go in it?" ..Having walked two miles with my kit, I didn't need asking twice . I did point the two of them towards an area were they both might be able to set up together, this eased the undercurrent of guilt somewhat.

The first thing I noticed was a pair of Kingfishers, I see them so often now that you would think I would tire of them. It is of course impossible, they are such interesting as well as beautiful birds and a sighting is always a delight. I sat and watched a while, no rush, now that I was where I wanted to be.
 It was then that my eyes settled on a familiar bow-wave, only one fish makes them like that...carp. One, then two, then three. I fired out some riser pellet and flavoured mixers. then set up the rod.
 A battle of wits commenced, I'd seen them. They had , for sure, seen me. There's always one though. He circled each bait, as if feeling for line. He could smell the mixers. and then, that first tentative taste as some lips barely broke the surface. It seemed he liked them and proceeded to consume more. All this, of course, provoked more fish into feeding and before long I had achieved a confident feeding situation. Nearly one and a half hours after arriving, I cast a bait.
 More fish moved in and as usual they took all baits bar the one with the hook in. The joy of surface fishing is the trade-off between frustration and excitement, the fish tantalising, yet cunning. You place a bait in an ambush position and they change course or they miss baits completely. The first bait and rig was being avoided, I changed to another method, re-baited and recast.
 It was about this time that I sensed I was being watched and turned around to see a fellow club bailiff. I had carp feeding very close in so signalled for him to be quiet as he approached.
 He fishes mainly for catfish so watching all these fish cruising and feeding had him spellbound.
 One of the greedier fish came around, bang on line with my hookbait. He sucked it in, the controller dipped, I struck, then fell backwards off of my bucket, headbutting the bailiff in the process. No resistance, no fish.
 The greedy one soon came around again, but this time, before he could take the bait, it was snaffled by a previously unseen fish which appeared from nowhere, I struck, this one pulled back and my delightful 1.75lb Shimano Twin Power arced over as the fish made haste away from the feeding fish towards the snags.
After a real tussle, and with the fish beginning to tire, a problem occurred. I would guess that it's more common than most of us admit. I'd snagged the rod tip on an overhead branch. Fortunately, the bailiff came to the rescue with my landing net pole, unwrapping the line from the twigs. After a few nervous moments the fight was back on and before long she was in the net. A beautiful common, rarely caught, she fought like she'd never been hooked. I hope she is the first of many.

With the fish safely returned and fish still feeding in the swim I added more feed and set about recasting. I quickly noticed two things, to opposing things. The fish I have previously named 'Black Cheeks', a koi, in fact a very big koi, had moved into the swim just as I noticed a regulation bird's nest in my reel line. The next few minutes were horrendous, as Black Cheeks proceeded to come within three feet, chomping on the surface floaters, searching out every single one whilst I failed to untangle the line. The fish ate every floater and I had no option but to cut the line and re-rig, just in time to see a koi with a full belly waddle off out of the swim.
 I cast past two feeding commons and slowly pulled the rig in front of one, it took the bait immediately and I was soon scrapping with another hard fighting fish. Fortunately for me it ran out into open water where it could be played out safely and with not much drama was in the net.

Having caught these two wonderful fish, and having seen the rest drift away, I thought I might go home, then I thought I might not, thinking maybe I might get one more chance.
 The sun went in, and despite persisting with feed for another hour and a half, I never happened another cast. The fish had wised up to my presence and the lake had offered up two of it's treasures to me, and given a tantalising glimpse of what may come.
 I finally strolled off home happy with my lot, my first fish on the new syndicate. Every thing is coming up roses.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The All-England Angling Championships, Ely 1912 Footage.

Here's a nice little link to some fantastic vintage angling footage and a cracking website.....Those weighing scales look decidedly dodgy.

Link Here.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

"Study To Be Quiet"

© The Art Archive/Corbis

I had the chance to grab a cheeky overnighter on the new lake on Saturday. It would be my second night on there and though I try to avoid weekends it was too much to resist.
  Lady Sarah, who has taken a shine to joining me, and I arrived at an empty lake. Our solitude didn't last long as soon another two syndicate members turned up behind us as we passed through the secure gate. They stopped to chat to each other and we sloped off to bag a swim at the windward end of the lake, a swim in a hardly fished corner.
 It was some time later that a car passed behind us down the track to other end of the lake. One angler remained though, dwelling. We set up quietly, I had a lead around and found the swim was dense with weed except for one small area, just enough room for the placement of my two hookbaits. It was then that the slamming of a van door began, my swim being near to the gate being within direct earshot,. Slamming, crashing, over and over.
 The chap in question then proceeded to make several journeys to a swim directly opposite me, speaking very loudly on is mobile as he went. It was only once he'd concentrated all his kit in the swim that he noticed me. I saw him ponder, he then had the decency to allow me the water in front, but only moved to the next swim, still loudly conversing to a family member in TriggerHappy TV style! He had the rest of that side of the lake, but no, he thought he'd stay at my end. He then proceeded to stroll around to me and bellow that it was OK as he was only staying till midnight.

 I suspected that he had blocked me into my corner, but at least he had the decency to move from the opposite swim(above), albeit to the swim to the right, he's a good guy though and I thought I might get an opportunity after midnight.
 I endured quite a bit of inter-family chat from the other bank until that time, whereupon my bivvy became illuminated by sporadic bursts of his overindulgent headtorch, followed swiftly by a couple of direct hits through the bivvy door. Much noise ensued and at least six slams of the van door completed his blank session and I was at last in peace..Within an hour a fish rolled over my baited area and another two hours later my right rod was away to a single toner. I was soon holding the rod, but, on the strike, instead of connecting directly to the fish, I struck through thick weed. I felt the fish, definitely a carp, for around twenty seconds before the hook pulled. I was gutted.
 Sometime later, I was abruptly awakened to the sound of two very loud voices. They were catfishing for the day and by the time they had unloaded the car, made their way, three times there and back to the swim opposite, dumped their kit, malleted their banksticks in and cast either side of me I knew their names, what bait they had and how long they were staying. I have to say I have never witnessed such a selfish display in all my years angling and I lost it. I yelled at them to please be quiet, I actually said something a little different to that but I won't write it here.
 They did oblige, that is, up until the time the spod came out.

This fella, bless him, proceeded to place baits either side of mine, whilst his mate whacked another three to my right margin, he's actually spodding to his mates area here!!..They had the whole of the rest of the lake.

His mate, having cast to the snags on the far side, then went and sat in his swim to smoke a cigarette of dubious nature whilst the rods fished for themselves (probably not locked up) in his swim. Needless to say, I finally had enough and reeled in, strolled round and had a word in their shell-likes, they genuinely had no idea that they were doing anything untoward. Let's just say that they were 'educated' quite vigorously despite their reluctance to 'study to be quiet'. Lady Sarah, a non angler, has more stealth in her little finger than the other 'anglers' on the lake that night.
 In conclusion, I had a small window of opportunity in which to catch, I got the bite, I lost the fish. I may have re-evaluate the merits of weekend angling.