Thursday, 3 October 2013

Sloe Gin, Long Walks and Green Thread.

With the blackthorn positively bursting with sloes this year it was time to forage . Tradition usually dictates that the sloe should be harvested after the first frosts. In reality most have been harvested by then. There is a fine line between allowing them to grow fat and ripe, and turning up late for the harvest.
 With this in mind, and with this years fine weather bringing the berries on nicely; Lady Sarah and I collected a tidy little harvest in just an hour or so. All this for the preparation of Sloe Gin for the winter hip flask and Sloe Vodka for the Christmas festivities.
 We kept to the  following recipe...
1lb Sloes
8oz Sugar
1.75 pints of gin/vodka

Of course we've seen variations to these quantities and ingredients, but this seems more traditional and if it isn't broke, we don't fix it.
All the sloes were washed and pierced a few times with a sterile needle. We then placed them, the spirit and sugar in a clean 2 litre bottle with the aid of a homemade funnel and closed it tightly. After a good shake it was stored in a cool dark cupboard.
 The bottle should be shook every other day for the first week and once a week thereafter. It should be good to strain and drink by the festive season.


It was time for a long walk, a walk that took me through mown meadow to reeded flow.
 In the distance, walking towards me, a brother of the angle .
 As our paths crossed in the midday sun I enquired  "Any luck?". He answered that he'd caught a few small chub and the conversation meandered through barbel to roach. It transpired that this gentleman had read this very blog and was pleased to be able to see a fellow angler's tales from the place he himself cast a line. Well I hope you are reading this post sir. It was nice to cross paths with you and I hope the rest of your day was fruitful.
 Walking down the beat I noticed just two other anglers and gave them both a wide berth, strolling further downstream.
 I eventually arrived at a likely spot.
 The river is low and clear and I dare not even chance a sneaky peek with the polaroids. Instead, a good plan seemed to be to have some carrot cake and tea whilst sprinkling the downstream area with caster and hemp.

My tactics here, in these conditions are simple. Three small soft-hookable pellets straight on a fine wire size 12 hook to 5lb line. That  is the joy of using forgiving cane rods.

You can see here that by using mono instead of braid and the lack of a hair, that the rig is not at all blatant.
  Having quenched my thirst and quelled my hunger it was time to cast. A gentle underarm flick to the baited area, then sit well back , and wait.

And wait............and wait!

No solid bites were forthcoming. With cunning stealth I'd set my traps, but the fish were wiser. After a couple of hours trying I reeled in and went for a stroll.

The river needs rain, for colour more than level. I did eventually find a swim with a bit of depth, chucked in some offerings, then returned for my kit.

Sitting amongst a mix of Himalayan balsam, reed and mind wandered to thoughts of the Redmire gudgeon, and a swim known as Cranstouns..The rod tip flickered, then jagged chub-like. I struck.
 It was as if I had summoned the beast from the depths, as there before me hooked fair and square was this lovely fellow.

I'd seemingly found a lovely space to sit and wait for monster gudgeon to snaffle my barbel baits..I stayed a while and caught some more, they made me smile..they always do.
Deep down, I knew it was time to take another long walk and then another short one, if I was to find a barbel or a roach....

Amazingly, I found myself  able to bag the productive swim of previous weeks. With an angler downstream I decided to stick with my simple leger tactic, alternating between caster and pellet on the hook. Caster were the the bait that scored first, a feisty small barbel, golden and wiry. 

Having bagged a baby barbel my mind became set on roach, so I upped the hemp input and stuck to multiple caster on the hook. Slowly but surely I am honing a method that I'm sure will eventually bag me one of the monster roach I feel sure are present.
 The method worked, providing a succession of quality roach. I guess it's not innovative angling really, but I'm learning and tweeking things as I go.

What a cracking fish this last one is, I don't think I've seen a more beautiful roach. A fish to make anyone's day, it certainly did mine.
 As I photographed the last roach a call came from upstream. The chap was beaming from ear to ear having just caught a near double figured barbel on meat. I strolled the fifty yards or so and helped with photos. Fortunately he had the same camera as me so there was no drama. We chatted a while about vintage tackle and the like and as I returned I said he'd soon be down to use my camera, as I was to shift my attention to barbel now.
 Having politely declined the offer of a couple of chunks of meat a move back to the small pellet was in order.
 The wait was perhaps an hour or so but as the light began to fade I received a savage bite, matched only by the fight of a fit barbel. It is the first time since using cane rods that I thought I might break one, but it stood firm and was eventually able to subdue the fish..Not huge, but very reluctant to be netted. My fellow barbel catcher duly obliged with the picture. You might notice that the Redmire beard is coming along nicely. I actually loathe it, but tradition is tradition.

My fellow piscator remarked that we had another half an hour before we had to be off of the fishery,"Enough time for another one" he said.
 Within five minutes I was indeed into another hard fighting fish. For their size they fight so hard, but once again everything held together for me to land her.

I probably had enough time to catch one more, but I have learnt to sometimes be happy with my lot and go home happy........which I did.


Well I received my whipping thread yesterday for the restoration of my new Allcocks SuperWizard, a rod that I have big plans for. I have gone for Pacific Bay Green in grade C for the rings and nodes and grade A for intermediates. The original colour whippings for the rod are red but I will be putting my own personal touch on this particular rod. I think that green will go better with the later green Allcocks decal and is also a nod in the direction of the original Wallis Wizard. I'll not be documenting the refurbishment here, but will post some 'before and after' shots when complete.


  1. Arrrggghhhh, reading this has reminded me Gurn that i had forgotten too collect a large bucket of Sloes from the tree on my fishery last weekend. I was reliable informed that they where ready too go!


  2. It's great to pick up our conversation since we met in the meadow and I'm delighted to see such glorious roach,in particular. I've been in California since we met and am just off the plane in body if not in mind. Reading your blog and enjoying the photos is a wonderful way of " nearly fishing " at times when I can't get to the water itself. Please keep it up and good luck with your walks, however long.