Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Excalibur - A Rest For The Lucky Strike

A quest, a quest to find it forked
within a native tree
A noble quest indeed to find
A rest for my Lucy

Let me hark back to a post I made before Christmas. I have felt uncomfortable using modern rod rests for my cane rods for a while, it just doesn't seem right. A wooden fork just seemed the natural partner for 'Lucy', my Lucky Strike.
 I have searched ancient woodland that once belonged to kings, hedgerows and the periphery of every water fished, in search of the perfect forked limb. I've always believed that 'the one' will be given up to me freely, so, upon seeing many perfect forked branches actually growing, they have been overlooked. To remove them forcibly, almost an act of sacrilege.
 I've become obsessed, looking at every native (for it must be so) tree and shrub in a different light, searching for my very own Excalibur.
I happened to be angling at my beloved river Ouzel the other day, I had a wonderful day, it was perfect in every way. By the end of the session I was relaxed and content and I slowly packed up, having fed the remainder of my bait to the swans.
 I turned, and there, just feet from where I'd sat, lay a pile branches, willow branches. One of them was looking at me, it was indeed 'the one'...and so I walked to it,  and held it aloft triumphantly, my quest was over,


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Hot To Trot

With the arrival of the cusp between winter and spring, the time is nigh for the concluding chapters of the traditional river season.
I always use this most special time of the year to just get out and enjoy getting out, I actually don't even care if I catch any fish, which sometimes is just as well!
 Arriving at the little plot of a farmer's field that the controlling club would have you believe is a car park, I carefully took out my gear.
 On closer inspection I realised I'd brought along my Chapmans 500 instead of my, as yet, unchristened Lucky Strike. I was intending to do a bit of trotting, oh well, 'keep calm and carry on'.
 I was on the bank of a little river that has a big place in my heart, the Ouzel, a tributary of it's more famous bigger sibling the Gt. Ouse.

With so many swims looking like they should have a sign saying 'A Big Chub Lives Here' I was almost tempted back into specimen hunter mode and to chance my arm.
 After a short walk I found myself sitting aside a nice trottable stretch with a nice snaggy area downstream. "That'll do nicely", I thought, and the sun started to rise up enough for me to feel a little of its heat.
 These days mean so much to me, I talk to anglers all week at work, about baits, methods and product, each has so much to say. Today I'd hear nothing about angling, I'd just be angling.
Having baited the swim with a few maggots and a tiny bit of crumb down by the 'killing zone' and being reluctant to fish straight away, hoping to give the fish some time to find the free offerings, I made tea.
Up and away from the swim I gathered up some of last years dead nettle stems for kindling and. with the help of some firewood I'd brought along, within no time at all the Kelly kettle was starting to 'rattle and hum'.
I wasn't too far away from home and work, but my mind was.
 Laying on my  back in a field looking up into the welcomed blue of early spring, what a treat. Things just happen at times like this, memories are made, so how delightful that four Red Kites soared above swooping and rising on newly found thermals.
Truly majestic birds, they really seem to making a comeback in the Chiltern Hills area, I felt blessed to see them.
 Back in the swim with tea beside, I tendered a first trot. That first cast is usually one I send out with trepidation as it gives a clue to way the day might progress. Today, to be honest, I only really cared that I might not happen to find that overhanging branch with my end-tackle.
 After a satisfying 'plop' the float set off on it's merry way and it was not long after that it bobbed under. A first cast fish, a lovely little Perch, he looked at me, as if to say, "Nice to see you, thanks for the free maggots, can I go home now".

He was soon back home, none the worse for his excursion.
 Then, suddenly my first Kingfisher of the year arrived in the swim, shouting about like an adolescent punk rocker, he even snaffled a small fish from my swim,
 I didn't mind sharing, and neither did he...I went on to catch quite a nice amount of Perch and Roach, none of them big, all of them welcome and appreciated.

These days have a grounding effect on me, they calm and recharge me..What more could we ask from a pastime. I fed my remaining groundbait to a lovely pair of Swans and headed off home.

After such a fine day, feeling the heat of the sun on my face and not  speaking to a sole,  I felt that it couldn't get much better. It did though........I found Excalibur...Some of you will know what this means, I'll write of it in a future blog.
 As I strolled back to the car, I pondered that I was a lucky man and that I might be back next week, with Excalibur....and the Lucky Strike.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Fennel's Journal - A Review

It lay on the kitchen table for over a week before I picked it up and looked inside.....
In issue 1 Nigel 'Fennel' Hudson reveals the beginning of a chain of events that led him to produce 'the journal'.
It seems that Mr. Hudson, embroiled in the alien, greed fuelled rat-race that most of us have encountered, had lost his way. Putting behind him, the values and beliefs he held inside, suppressing them, in search of fortune. The stress of, and his commitment to this life, lost him his fiancee, job, and ended in breakdown.
It seems that only then did the way of life he truly believed in start to emerge from a pipe dream, to something that was possible.
 The writing meanders river-like, straying up tributaries now and again, before re-joining the main flow. We wander through the months of the year as 'Fennel' gives us a snippet or two of the rural idyll.
 I find myself being second-guessed, my cynicism being rebuked.
   A few sentences on the different stages of an angler ring true to me and I feel myself being reeled in, 'Fennel' gives out a rallying cry for to the traditionalist and I find myself wondering just why was I so busy that this journal was left unread for a week
 This is an emotionally purging venture for Mr.Hudson. Will I be following it? Am I in?..For the time being, I think, Yes!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


The conditions for fishing down on the beautiful little River Ouzel really couldn't have been much worse.There's been no rain to speak of, a hard frost last night.
The sun was rising as my mate John and I pulled up on the grass verge and opened the farmers gate.
 Dropping the tackle off in the first swim, we set about baiting  swims with the stinky cheese paste I'd made the night before, Chub being our quarry.

The glory of these winter mornings, the tingle of the fingers, the frosty sheen of the fields and hedges. Sheer beauty.
 John headed towards the weirpool and I wandered downstream, every swim looked inviting.
 When I finally started to fish, I received a visit..Now, I don't mind sharing a piece of paste or half a lobworm, little fellow......

.....but please keep your dirty feet off of my rod.
The rod in question today was my Chapman 500, with a vintage quiver tip attached and my trusty Mitchell 300. Five pound line, size 6 Super Specialist hook. Paste or Worm. Could I fail ? The swims cried fish.

I met up with John for a progress report, no fish. We ate and drank, then moved on. I returned to a jungly swim I'd baited and positioned myself down by the cat-ice. A cast was made into an area of around two square feet among the snags. The rod tip went around and it was fish on. In such shallow,confined conditions I held on, just enough to see a chub of around two pounds shake off the hook and dive back into the tree roots. 

Strolling back upstream, I took time to take stock of my surroundings. How fortunate I was to be able to take up a rod and angle, away from the masses, at peace.

Every baited swim had 15 minutes with paste and another 15 with worm, I strolled on, breathing the cool air and shielding my eyes from the low sun, even though I had my polaroids.
I eventually found John, back at the weirpool, he was fishless. We smiled and chatted, ate and drank. Recalled times past and future plans.."We'll give it another hour", he said optimistically. I cast a worm into the pool and was able to sit on my seat for the first time today.

Just as the water over that weir, the time rolled on, we weren't going to catch today. John called time and we gathered up our tackle for the short walk to the car. John smiled again, and we both looked over at that weir again.

You see, my mate John had a heart attack three months ago, it was the first time he'd been out fishing since then.
 We didn't catch a fish, it's true, but as we strolled off, we both shared the same feeling..We were glad to be alive.