Saturday, 26 January 2013

Snowy Banks & Armoured Flanks Vlog

Friday, 25 January 2013

Winter Roll Call

There is so many good blogs out there and very enjoyable ones at that, ranging from those that not only impart the reader with more fishing knowledge and ideas, to those whom weave a very enjoyable story along with it. So I thought I would make a post covering just a few of the many angling blogs I enjoy, I will be sharing more in due course.

I have been reading Jeffs blog for a while now and like a good wholesome meal, you feel satisfied and contented by the end. Jeff weaves his words not only with the skill of a well practiced wordsmith  but in an enjoyable and informative way too, covering many different topics and telling many an interesting tale and without doubt, remains one of my favourite coarse fishing bloggers.

You certainly don't need to be a fly angler to enjoy the msyteries internal. Erin writes very passionately and it truly shines through, covering her many fly fishing trips and taking in many different aspects that it encompasses, including life itself, I find her writing style refreshing enjoyable and so very evocative.

Dave shares many trips on his lovely river Wye and enjoyable forays to the river Lot in France to name but a few, as well as having a love for cane and pin, never a dull read as there is always something interesting, be that out on the river bank, or sharing his love for wildlife and birds.

Rob writes a mean blog, sharing his various trips, be that after roach, barbel or perch and he certainly has cauught some beautiful fish, always willing to share ideas, about rigs and species, as well as telling some very enjoyable fishing yarns, it has been a real pleasure to read his blog since it began back in December 2011.

I very much enjoy Nathans blog, covering many different rivers from the Avon to the Kennet and Loddon, be it trotting for grayling or after chub and barbel, every article is always a very good read and I wholeheartedly recommend it, certainly one that you should not pass by.

Russells tales from the towpath, is enjoyable and refreshing, sharing his trips on various venues, but what I really enjoy is reading his fishing trips on the Grand Western Canal, a place he really does seem to have an infinity with.

Dave Lumb, an exceptional rod builder, whom writes a long standing fishing blog and he certainly enjoys pike and eel fishing on local drains and lakes, to his roach and barbel fishing trips,as well as some superb photography and articles to help people take better pictures, this coupled with his rod building updates make for a very nice read.

Phil, needs no introduction and writes about many of his fishing trips, covering sturgeon,roach fishing in scotland, barbel and more. One of his recent articles recounts his record crucian capture and long awaited award. Always an enjoyable read and regularly updated.

James is as adept at fishing as he is blogging about it, showing a real forte with rod and pen, sharing some superb fishing trips from his local, urban waterway, I have only been reading his blog since December (I know!), but since that time it has become essential and entertaining reading.

Monty writes an interesting blog, that is a bit different to most and all the more enjoyable because it, covering his own fishing and with a bit of a sideways glance at all other things piscatorial, along with a regular, angling doppelganger feature, makes for quite an interesting and amusing blog.

Dannys angling blog, now I have a very soft spot for this, as he shares the fishing trips he and his  father spend together on the likes of the river Dee, as well as other stillwaters and brooks up north. It brings back memories of fishing with my father a lot and I especially found amusing, one of his recent video clips, showing his father not looking too happy with the local bovines.

Brian not only writes an interesting blog regarding his fishing exploits on his local river Wandle, but also targeting pike on the Wye and Thames, a very enjoyable read and one I certainly never bore of. He also pens a very amusing comic strip called Jacks pike which never fails to raise a chuckle.

Darrens blog really shines through, a person who enjoys his fishing as well as sharing it with other people, especially his passion to get involved with his local club and try to get more youngsters involved and back on the rivers, he regularly blogs about his trips on the river Wye, chasing down an elusive double figure barbel, his recent article covering pike fishing at Blenheim palace is also a very good read, if you get a chance do take a look at it.

I have been a fervent reader of Joe and his blog for a long time now and he really is an angler for all seasons, always a joy to read about his fishing trips, be that after old warrior chub in winter, or fishing for trout, barbel or tarpon!

Stuart, someone who I do find a good read, whether he is chasing pike with friends in Ireland or back at home enjoying fishing for those lovely dark tench on a Cheshire mere.  He has taken to doing a lot more wildlife photography recently and does tend to post these on facebook a lot, some brilliant pictures  and a real joy to look at.

                                     The Newcomers

Ben Ward has recently taken to blog writing, a regular angler and one who has enjoyed some very memorable fishing trips, an all rounder who has now started sharing his trips with other bloggers, including some interesting bream and pike fishing posts, as well as a trip to a flooded Dorset Stour. Although he has only just begun, I really do feel his blog will go from strength to strength.

George Basham, is another young angler who originally started off carp fishing in Essex, as well as making his own fishing videos with Fred Philips, he has now started to write his own blog, although he has a passion for carp fishing, he has since started diversifying and has been enjoying some of his local streams and rivers. His first blog tells of his planning and eventual trip to hunt down a new personal best chevin.

Now if anyone thinks that I may have missed them, I can assure you I have not and will be covering more blogs that I enjoy at some point in the near future.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Snowy Banks & Armoured Flanks

Snow, the word resonates with so many different memories, snowball fights as a child, that explosion as a well rounded ball hits the back of your neck, trickling down, meeting the warmth from within your jacket.

Days spent sledging, dad and I doubling up on what was one of the best sledges I ever had, a deep blue, vaccum moulded affair, with room for father and son to share the thrills and more often than not spills, on the snow laden hills that surround Spencers Wood. Each trip down, followed by a sturdy trudge back uphill, like a surfer seeking that perfect wave, with high hopes for a faster, more complete ride on that next trip downhill. One of the larger hills that we favoured had a lovely hump midway down, this would often freeze over, creating the perfect ramp, the younger children and ones generally looking for props from their friends, would always try to hit this slap bang in the middle, it was almost a rite of passage.

I remember our best run down that hill as if it was yesterday, we had managed some nice rides that day, but still hadn't hit the sweet spot, father and sons faces set in a somewhat whimsical seriousness as we charged off downhill again, dad giving that extra boost before finally jumping in, acceleration, that cold rush of air stinging our faces, the light airy feeling as the sledge almost hovered, yet remained true and straight, the hump loomed, looking larger than ever before, we hit it dead on centre, the sledge making a crunching sound as it lifted, we was airborne, a feeling akin to the one you get as you drift off asleep and feel yourself falling.

I have no idea how fast we was going, but upon hitting the hump, we landed just short of the nearby  wire fence and stile, sledge jammed in the fence and us in a heap laughing infectiously, great memories.

As I made my way to the river, the snow crunched crisply underfoot, the area looking absolutely stunning in its snowy petticoat, the icey layer revealing pathways taken by various animals, deer rabbit and fox prints all showing up very easily, each one telling a tale of hunter and hunted.

The river had fined down a lot, running lower and much clearer, looking spot on for a fish or two.I had brought with me some bread so as to try and tempt a few roach, I know further upstream there has been some nice fish caught, but downstream is a bit of an unknown for myself, as although I have caught many species (dace, chub, trout, pike,perch, gudgeon, minnows), I have not caught any roach, that is not to say they aren't there, as I personally can't see why they wouldn't be, however I must admit that I did spend more time focusing on the chub, as I so dearly wanted one in the snow.

I decided to bait a few swims very lightly with a mixture of mashed bread, seed and maggots before sitting down to one of the most welcome cups of coffee I have had,  the birdlife were also out in force, accoustics of the snow amplifying each and everyone of their calls, I really wish that I had my camera to hand for each one that I saw, (kingfishers,hobbys,buzzards and kites) and a pair of herons whom flew by, their calls sounding similar to that of rusty metal grinding together.

Cage feeder and small piece of cheese paste making a splosh as it entered the far bank, I was at peace, there is something about small river fishing that just feels so very special, for me a place has to have that feeling, you know the kind that you get when you hear a certain music track, making the hairs stand on the back of your neck, sending a shiver down your spine and this river has that in spades.

During the day a friendly robin and his wagtail sidekick which I decided to aptly name batman, kept making returning visits to the twisted roots of a tree on the farbank.

What happened during one of their visits was simply jaw-dropping, I was sat watching the quivertip,when all of a sudden I heard high pitched birdcall emanate from upstream, from then on everything happened so fast, a bird of prey sped by, skimming past my rod with its talons outstretched, both the little birds making shrill calls in abject fear, the wagtail escaped becoming breakfast by inches, I believe the bird was a Harrier, but I am not sure which, at first I thought perhaps a Marsh harrier, but have since been informed that it might have been a rare winter hobby.

The first bite was a bold affair, the rod tip stabbing a couple of times, before jerking round, the welcome resistance of a hungry chevin was felt, head down, spiritedly attempting to make its
way to a nearby snag.

A most welcome snowy chub of 2lb 7oz, I was rather happy and in fairness I could have perhaps winkled more out from this swim, but I felt the urge to move in an attempt to warm myself up.

By now the wind was becoming quite blustery, cutting into me like a set of sharp knives. The wind chill was really starting to kick in, my hands agreed with this, turning from lobster red to a slight blue tinge, my own fault really for not wearing gloves, but that is something that I have never been able to do, I'm the same when tieing my shoe laces, I simply can't stand feeling too constricted, I could go into more depth as to why this, but I have perhaps already digressed too much.

My flask was nearly running on empty when a very confident bite occurred, I was met by a reassuring thud as I struck, the fish moving in a bullish manner to the far bank and not being to willing to come back straight away, the steady flow helping it in its quest for snag seeking freedom.

It was not long before this fish was sat in the net and looking rather frisky, a short but chunky and well filled fish and a new Blackwater pb of 5lb 4oz. My hands and fingers felt like very painful stumps, but this was all forgotten in the moment, I gave it an appreciative peck on the head before  slipping it back.

When I got home and started to defrost I recounted the trip, it had been superb, the lovely widlife, the close call with the hobby, beautiful surroundings and two snowy chub, what more can an angler want for?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Breadcrumb Trail

Flowing water, a living entity in its own right, myriads of shapes and patterns, sculpting features and carving landscapes in its path, creating a vortex of emotions within an angler. From summer through to winter a river evolves, new areas become accessible and old spots have new snags waiting to part angler and hook of their prize.

It was mild and the Loddon looked good again, a touch of colour still and a steady pace, the air filled  with a rich intoxicating aroma. After my last trip out after the chub and that trout making a cameo appearance, I decided to chance my arm again and see if I could pick up a few more chub on cheesepaste and feeder. The banks were slippery and akin to treading on a softened fudge cake, my waders slipping and sliding about as I made my way downstream.

Having got to the spot, I realised I had left the baiting spoon behind, I have a memory like a sieve at times and today was no different. The spot being so tight was not an easy proposition, so I ended up leaning to the edge of the bank, rod held far down the butt, before letting the feeder trundle downstream slightly.

It was a quiet start and I had yet again brought my barbel rod along with me, but like last time there was no room to use another rod, once again it was to remain a spectator as the days events unfolded. It was around lunchtime that I had my first bite, a jolly pluck, followed by the quivertip sweeping round, I struck but met only thin air, my face taking on a quizzical look. The paste had pulled through on the strike fine and the Drennan size 7 hook was pin sharp. a fresh egg shaped piece of cheesepaste was applied, cage feeder refilled with a mixture of bread, maggots and birdseed.

An hour passed in a heartbeat, the rod tip moved ever so slightly, a miniscule tap and then swept round, I struck, the same result nothing, no resistance, no healthy kick or bullish thud from a chub, I was perplexed, were they perhaps being a little cute? Maybe so.

About half an hour later, I was dragged harshly back to reality, five workmen turned up, wearing high visibility clothing, high pitched yelling and banter could be heard, birdlife began to scatter, all but the friendly Robin, who seemed to recognise me now and had taken to regularly landing on my rod before stealing the odd maggot. The nearby commotion carried on till dusk, the sound of their quad bikes eventually drifting off into the distance, but the swim was deathly quiet, I pondered should I move swim? Twist or stick?

I decided to stick with it and change bait to a healthy bunch of maggots, by now the rain began to patter, gradually increasing, I sipped a welcome cup of coffee, the steam teasing my nostrils. The rod tip pinged round sharply, before resuming its motionless state, less than five minutes later, the rod lunged forward, quivertip burying underwater and butt beginning to lift,  I extended myself just managing to grab hold of the rod butt, I could already feel the power of this fish before even lifting the rod, as I did so the rod took on a serious arc, I cupped the reel in an attempt to at least slow the fish and its progress downstream, I could feel everything as it tried to bully me, slowly I played it back, till it was unseen beneath me, rod doubled over.

Shimano do state that their river purist feeder rod can handle barbel and this was to be a true acid test, as yet again the fished powered off  upstream, but the rod reassuringly cushioned each and every lunge it made, my mouth was like leather and I was praying that the 6lb line would hold, as I could feel debris clipping my line and to top it all off, the line got trapped around the isotope as I played her.

Finally I slipped the waiting net under her, tail slapping as she slid into it, a beautiful barbel. After allowing her a good rest and myself time to recuperate, I slipped her out on the mat and realised she was a very special fish, a gold bar, replete with a wonderfully powerful tail, a streamlined, golden torpedo, weighing 13lb 7oz's and my largest Loddon barbel.

After a good rest she was released, I punched the air with delight, my face wearing a very daft grin, when I got home I noticed my hands were still shaking with adrenaline, but boy was I over the moon.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Need For A Flowing Fix

With the settled weather and not sure how long it would last, that urge for flowing water was ever increasing, my mind did not take long to make up, a trip to the gentlemans river was planned. Freezer raided of its cheesepaste supply and I was ready to head off.

On my way to the river I had a chat with one of the local farmers and he mentioned how badly the flooding had affected him, to be fair the area looked in a right state, his field more like a boggy marshland and not looking like you would even get a 4x4 vehicle through it. After passing through some very waterlogged areas, the river was finally in view,  it had fined down, but with a fair tinge of colour still.

I had brought two rods with me, one being a barbel rod, but in fairness I had no plan to put it to use, I did however have trouble making my mind up when leaving home, so it ended up as a companion to the quivertip rod.

After some thought a swim was picked, hawthorn and bramble tendrils everywere and I must admit that I was rather glad to have brought a bait spoon with me, so as to lower the cage feeder into the spot, even then it was a tricky affair to say the least.

Thirty minutes later, a solid thud to the rod tip was followed by a thumping take and I was into a fish that was very keen on giving me a whistle stop tour of every bolt-hole that it could find. The tip was buried low to the water as I slowly and warily played the fish. Eventually a grey shadow of a chub  appeared and after one more enthusiastic sprint, it was resting within the confines of the landing net.

It was in great condition, more or less scale perfect, weighing 4lb 7oz's , I was buoyed by this early fish and decided to let the swim rest, trickling in a few more pieces of cheesepaste and maggots, before finally easing the cage feeder back into the same spot.

During the the course of the day, I was kept company by a friendly, brazen faced Robin, whom regularly returned to feed on the odd bit of liquidized bread and maggots, a bird which epitomises a british winter, so bold and with a very hearty character.

Not long after one of its visits, I had a seemingly light plucking bite, which developed into a lurching take, as soon as I struck, this fight felt different, less bullish, but it was to be literally cut short, feeder coming back sans hook, the line showing signs of bite marks, possibly a small pike. I did contemplate a move downstream, but thought to myself that I may be better to stay static and fish this spot until evening, seeing if I could perhaps trick a few more grey lips from the shadows. Whether the pike had spooked the swim I am not sure, but there was no more bites forthcoming, I decided to attempt the age old fishing trick, sandwich in one hand, cup of coffee in the other, in hope that I might tempt a surprise bite with this ploy, but no, all remained calm and peaceful, save for the call of a Buzzard overhead, whom is usually bullied by a group of Red Kites.

Pluck pluck pluck came the next bite, on striking all hell broke loose, the fish bolting downstream, line being taken rapidly, holding the rod at an angle whilst trying to avoid the limb of every outstretched branch, I slowly gained line but the fish ploughed off again, this tug of war continued before I finally saw a silver flank flashing beneath the surface.

My first words were, "that's certainly not a chub" and sure enough it wasn't, it was an out of season trout of 4lb 4oz's that had taken a liking to my garlic and blue cheese hookbait, admittedly I have caught Trout before on cheesepaste, but regardless of that it always remains quite a surprise.

Come late evening and after a Cormorant had made quite a commotion as it erupted from the adjacent swim, the river fell very quiet, I had a couple more half hearted taps but decided it was time to head for home, an enjoyable trip and I am hoping for a few more on the rivers before the season ends, lest the heavy rains return.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Tank Traps & Pillbox Sergeants

It was nice to see the weather forecast had changed to a much more settled outlook, a chance for the rivers to calm somewhat and water table to return to something akin to normality. My thoughts however were elsewhere, thinking about why I have never done a great deal of canal fishing, over the recent weeks I have been looking forward to making amends to this.

When I finally managed to get out on the canal, the place was simply beautiful, as I made my way along the towpath, remnants of times past appeared, tank traps dotted here and there, along with the occasional pillbox.

My plan of action consisted primarily of a quivertip rod, lobworms, maggots and a good helping of  hope that I might come across a Perch or two. The day before I had taken time to reorganize all the tackle I felt would be unnecessary, leaving me with everything fitting into a small canvas rucksack, I was hoping to move around a bit and see if I could actively drop on to the fish, although I must admit that thoughts of perhaps moving off the fish when using this approach did plague my mind.

The first spot I settled on was a bit of a bottleneck, the canal narrowing before widening slightly either end, I quite liked the look of this area and had planned on fishing it for only an hour before moving on.

Not long after having set up I could hear the swish and splash of paddles, a canoeist was slowly but steadily making his way to me, formal greetings were made and fishing finally recommenced, however the spot remained rather quiet, save for some sporadic half hearted plucks. In all fairness I still feel this is a good area, but I ended up staying here much longer than I had expected, three hours too long in fairness, the reason for this was because I was still stuck in two minds, part of me feeling I should perhaps stay put until daylight began to fade, the other wishing to stick to the original plan and move further downstream, thankfully the latter won.

Further downstream the canal widened into a sweeping bend, the far bank bare and without any real marginal coverage, every so often the calm of the watery surface was broken, small fish giving themselves away as they flitted about, the perfect place for a predator or two to lurk about shadowing the shoal.

Deciding to start out on maggots, the first cast resulted in a small Roach, one of its flanks showing signs of an old predatory bite, it certainly would have made for a perfect livebait. I decided to spray the area with a more generous helping of maggots and revert back to lobworm, in hope that more silverfish would home in on these and the Perch would then follow in on the silvers.

As daylight began to fade, a Barn owl flew right down the middle of the canal, it was a breathtaking sight to behold, but I don't know what it is, I seem to never have the camera at hand for these birds, or as in this case the daylight simply was not good enough to get a good picture, they remain a bit of an achilles heel for me.

A few minutes later the quivertip thumped round, I struck and was met by a firm, reassuring tug and then nothing, angler and prize were parted, the hook slipping. I felt absolutely positive that I had just lost a Perch and began going through the motions of mentally kicking myself. Another couple of lobs were placed on the hook, but deep down I felt I had really made a hash of it and blown my one and only chance, surprisingly though and not long after, the quiver plucked twice, before arching round, I struck, thud thud came the reassuring reply.

I played this fish tentatively, applying only a light amount of pressure, eventually the tell tale tiger stripes and dorsal broke the water, peering into the net I smiled broadly, it looked like a very nicely conditioned fish and a possible pb.

Opening my rucksack, I began to rummage about for my scales, the rummaging continued, no they weren't there, in all the chopping and changing to save weight I had accidentally left them at home.
"You bloody idiot!" I muttered to myself.

A phone call later and with many thanks to one fantastic woman, I soon had a set of scales, as well as a new pb Perch of 1lb 9oz.

I went home a very happy chap, thoughts of other sergeants that might patrol this tank trapped waterway filled my head and I cannot wait to return.