Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Curtain Call Vlog

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Perca - Sergeants pull rank

This fishing trip was from the 7th of March and I have saved posting it till now, as I wanted to take time to savour it and having allowed it time to sink in, relive it by sharing it with you all.

The close season was just over a week away and my mind was racing with thoughts of what to angle for in these last few days, one thing I really lusted for was a large perch and it was this and my love for chub that my mind was torn between, the outcome was eventually a split decision, so the choice was made, why not fish for both? Early next morning lobworms and maggots were packed along with a healthy helping of liquidized bread mixed with maggots, seed and a small amount of shrimp and krill meal, something to entice both species.

Arriving at the river the sunrise was simply stunning, yet like so many times this season the weather flattered only to deceive and that warm glow was soon shrouded in cloud and intermittent rain, after a quick look about I decided to put my all my eggs in one basket as far as swim choice went, opting for a swim that had been kind in the past. A light amount of maggots were trickled in upstream, along with a few chopped worms, feeder filled with a small amount of the liquidized bread mixture and the rod was soon being lowered into place.

Within five minutes a pluck was soon followed by a very greedy and solid tug, I struck, the fish immediately diving for the snags to my left, surging downward repeatedly, as I allowed the feeder rod to soak up its lunges the first thought that popped into my head was chub, after a very vigorous and as is usual in this spot rather hair raising battle, I slipped the net under a very solid fish.

As I peeked into the net, I could see the lobworm hanging from the mouth of a rather long and solidly built chub, which tipped the scales to 6lb. Well what a lovely start! I was rather happy to say the least and I decided to not rush proceedings, allowing the swim a good thirty minutes to rest and trickled some more bait upstream, the liquidized bread creating that trademark puffy trail of white particles, as it along with contents made their way downstream, slowly breaking down in the process.

A sip of tea and some reflection about that nice chevin, the rod was eventually back out, by now the rain was pattering down with more intensity, I have to admit the water colour looked good, with an almost green tinge to it and the current was not reacting too quickly to the extra rain.

About an hour later the confidence of youth shone through when I received a rather boisterous bite. Tap jerk, jerk, the rod tip surged round and I was soon playing a very lively chub, this chap was smaller and a very clean looking, young fish of 2lb 2oz's, fin perfect.

The friendly robin had once again kept me company most of the day, landing on my rod on numerous occasions,before venturing down for a maggot or ten, the romantic in me always looks at such things as a good fishing omen.

This trip in many ways cemented that feeling, when a couple of hours later I received a very tentative and delicate pluck, one which barely registered on the quiver tip, followed by a few more heavier tremors, the start of this bite was neither bold nor brash, my hands were poised on the butt of the rod, like some kind of wild west gunslinger, my eyes however were certainly more bulging than those narrow poised stares you see in the spaghetti westerns and my hands were telling me to draw, I waited, the quiver tip eventually pulling round, with a light strike I lifted in and the reaction from my unseen adversary was to plunge and make for sanctuary, thud thud, I was not in mind to give any line if I could help it and this is one spot where doing such thing can prove disastrous, holding the rod out as far as possible, I tried to give the fish freedom of the rods action only, it was during this and as I slowly gained control that the fish broke the surface to my left, on seeing her raised dorsal and tiger stripes my mouth went instantly dry and all of time seemed to then pass in super slow motion.

Never have I felt time move so slowly when trying to slip a landing net under a fish and when I finally did I was in a right state, a complete and utter nervous wreck. On looking into the net the first words that tumbled out of my mouth were "no way,surely not", followed by another look and me saying  "oh my days, you have got to be kidding me".

As I sat down to take it all in, the adrenaline overflowed and I just sat there with my head in my hands crying, I was well and truly overwhelmed with emotion.

But by golly at 4lb 2oz's what a beauty she was, full of spawn and replete with the most striking colourings and markings.

They really are without doubt the biggest fish of all, as I write this I am reliving the moment when she broke the watery surface, dorsal up and angry before powering back underwater, this is without doubt a trip that I will never forget and a perch that for me was all but a dream before setting off down the river that morning.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The curtain call

Final casts, the sand from this seasons hourglass slipping away, packing a light amount of gear I decided to spend the final day out on the Blackwater roving about, seeking that last river fishing fix until June and where better than this wonderous little river, since the very first time that I had wetted a line on it, fascination for this waterway has never left me, condensed with features that would raise a smile and warm the soul of many an angler. There is beauty in the shape and form that a river makes as it winds its way, seeking, surging with an urgency that it and only those who are connected to it can feel and understand.

As anglers what do we seek, to catch fish might be one answer, I would agree to some extent, but let that not fool you, we also seek a peace and to be at one, fishing allows this in many ways outside of all the connected and at times dysfunctional electronica, it is what helps to earth us, a steadying hand if you will.

Such thoughts were racing through my head during the afternoons roving, the sun playing a game of cat and mouse between the clouds, it was a very pleasant day, minnows playing with the bait in most the swims I had fished, no real bites with what to connect with, yet I was content, kept company by natures theatre which was unfurling before me, a kingfisher was darting up and downstream, wings low to the water, a blur of electric blue, a kestrel was perched on a nearby tree and had seemingly taken to following me upstream, perching near me on no less than three ocassions and with the aid of a local birdwatcher I was introduced to a Pallas's Warbler.

On the fishing front however it was a quiet afternoon and one which was slowly but surely melting into evening, after trying a few spots upstream I decided to make my way back downstream, covering other spots that I had either skipped or planned to fish on the way back, but try as I might, a fish was far from forthcoming in any of these. I wondered, should I beat a path downstream and try an area that I had not given much attention to? The answer was a resounding yes.

Making my way to this area of the river, the flow faster more certain with an almost arrogant assurance about its pace, the sun fading away in front of me as I cast lobworm and now cage feeder  downstream, it was the perfect evening, the scene completed when a violent bite shook the quiver tip to life, rod rudely awakened as it jerked to life. The angler strikes, hoping to feel a comforting resistance and dash for freedom from the other end and sure enough I did, the fight was intriguing as fish and current joined forces to aid and abet in its mission to escape.

The net slid under a welcome fish of 2lb, no signs of it having ever seen a hook before, clean unblemished, such is the beauty of rivers like this, the forgotten creating its own security and peace where fish can thrive.

I made my way back to the car, but not before trying a couple of other spots into darkness, but deep down I was whole and sated, at least until June and when the new coarse season beckons.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Subliminal messages - Turbulent Thames

This weekend saw myself and Jeff Hatt of Idlers Quest, finally meet to do some fishing together on a stretch of the upper Thames, we had been planning this trip since about November, but each time our plans were thrown into disarray by the very inclement weather and flooding that followed it.

However the weather seemed to settle a little bit and in fairness probably lured us into a false sense of security, so plans were cemented into place, Jeff coming down by train to Didcot station at around 8am and meeting with myself and very kind driver (mum). As the train pulled in, there was no mistaking Jeff as he appeared, rods on shoulder, seat in hand and rucksack on back, greetings and handshakes were exchanged, it was nice after all this time to eventually meet up with him.

A short journey later we was unpacking the gear and making our way to the Thames, unfortunately two days prior to the trip it had been raining solidly in my locality and the river was reacting in expected fashion, however despite the water levels being on the rise, the colour looked spot on and we was both confident of a bite or two, both planning to fish feeder tactics for the majority of the trip, with perhaps a lone rod out for the resident chub and barbel.

Jeff starting at the weir and myself dropping a little way downstream of it, chancing my luck in an area where the flow is broken by a tiny island with numerous bits of debris that had collected behind it, lobworms were the starting bait for both hopeful anglers, after about forty minutes I had a very light tap, a most miniscule bite, but a bite nonetheless, sadly a full bite failed to materialize, little did we know that this was going to be a recurring pattern throughout the day.

It wasn't long before Jeff past me by and informed me that some of his feeders had fallen victim to the weirs numerous snags and that there had been a distinct lack of bites forthcoming from this area, so he decided to try some spots further downstream.

I was going to stay and fish more static, as I really felt my spot could produce a good fish or two especially being adjacent to many nice features, but at around 11am the lock keeper came down and decided it was time to open all the sluice gates, the river reacted instantly, water rising and my swim starting to churn, I can't say that I was exactly overjoyed to see him at this time.

I decided to scrap the static approach and make my way downstream. It was at this point that the amount of debris left by the previous floods really hit home, broken kayaks, masses of plastic bottles, linen baskets and even full size televisions were sat on the riverbank, along with huge tree trunks, if ever you needed reminding of the force of nature then this certainly did, I must admit one of the plastic bottles did raise a smile and chuckle from me, the label containing an almost subliminal message.

Making my way to Jeff, I stopped and we had a bite to eat and chat, he mentioned he had a small perch but nothing else, however as is sods law, he had a more confident bite as we chatted, which took him a bit by surprise, especially given the lack of action most of the day, to all intents and purposes it looked like a chub bite.

We were both spurred on by this extra bit of activity and more hopeful that we might pick up more fish as the day went on, I decided to drop into a swim just downstream of Jeff, where there was a slight bend and some protection from the extra flow, with a partially submerged tree to my right, a larger amount of groundbait moulded round the lead and out it went, this area looked good for a bite and sure enough thirty minutes in I had one, the quiver tip jerking round and then motionless, nothing more or less, both Jeff and myself were a tad puzzled to say the least, we were coming to the conclusion that it was going to be one of those days where you would be scratching about for bites on the river.

Spot the television in the distance

A variety of spots were tried, some with the odd half hearted bite forthcoming, many with not so much as a pluck, Jeff meanwhile had ventured further afield and was fishing downstream, with one other rod out on cooked mussels, whilst trotting a float with his other.

Daylight was now slowly but surely fading away and any hope of adding to that one small perch along with it, so we decided to move to a slower area, usually good for a nice mixed bag of fish, this time the bites began in earnest, Jeff having taps and plucks on bread straight away, the same for myself on lobworm, it looked promising, but the fish were only flattering to deceive and soon enough the bites dried up, popping down to Jeff, we compared notes,  "I was getting bites straight away on bread, but they have suddenly stopped"  said he, " same for me on lobworms and loose fed groundbait" I replied.

We pondered, shared biscuits and mused. It had certainly been a real head scratching trip, but just as we was going to pack up, I was saved from a blank by a baby chub of no more than 7oz's. A welcome fish on a most confounding day. I really enjoyed fishing with Jeff and some of the conversations that we had were very amusing and interesting, that is one of the things that I really enjoy about blogging, being able to share ideas, read about other anglers trips and also now getting a bit more used to meeting up and fishing with a few of you chaps, it really is something that I appreciate a lot, even if the fishing was a bit of a damp squib on this particular occasion!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Where the gravel path leads

It was a cloudy and breezy Saturday morning, single rod ready with a tub replete with liquidized bread, bird seed and krill mixture.

Today was going to be a slightly different day to my normal lone ranger fishing trips, as I would be playing host to two very welcome guests, Carl and Alex Smith, a pair of very keen anglers who share a burning passion for fishing and make some wonderful videos which can be viewed on their website at Carl And Alex Fishing.

I met up with them at around 11am, their trip down from Sussex had been a very straight forward one and they had made good time in getting to the Berkshire/Hampshire border. Having not seen them in ages it was nice to finally meet up again, setting eyes on Carl I commented on how much he had grown as he towered over me, although that doesn't take a lot when you're as short as I am!

We eventually made our way to the river, the Blackwater was running low and rather clear, but I felt confident that we might pick up the odd fish by roving about and being as opportunistic as possible. Carl and Alex had decided on a combination of link ledger and cage feeder approach and settled in a swim downstream of me, a nice bend with some far bank coverage, an area where I have had many chublets and the odd dace in summertime. I moved upstream and settled in a spot where the boughs of a tree sank beneath the river, debris hanging on to each and every tendril.

I had taken quite a few smaller chub here in the past, the majority falling to maggots or lobworm, this time I decided on the latter as bait, lowering a well filled cage feeder and juicy lobworm into the water just above the sunken bough, the river is marginally deeper here and there is also a slightly undercut bank, a perfect place for fish to rest up and food to collect. I must have lowered the bait right in front of a waiting chevin, as a bite was forthcoming instantly, the rod tapping a couple of times before bending round, on striking I was met with a rather powerful run upstream, the fish trying to get into the tangle of branches and debris, keeping the rod tip sunk low, letting it absorb each and every lunge I carefully gained line and after a few more surging attempts to make for the snags, a handsome looking chub was resting in the net.

It was a well formed chevin 1oz from being a 4 pounder and most welcome. I have to say though since fishing with other anglers and being the guest on my trip to Essex with Fred Phillips and George Basham, now being a host and catching, don't get me wrong it was nice to have caught, but it didn't feel right at all. Especially as I wanted both Carl and Alex to experience the fishing that I have had on this wonderful little river. I suggested to Alex to have a go in this very same swim, as where one fish can be caught, sometimes another is not always far behind.

We ventured further upstream, trying a few areas where I have had success in the past, in one of these Carl had a very good bite, the rod tip thumping round as he held the rod, a typcial chub bite, alas the connection between fish and angler was not made, the maggots looking very sorry for themselves and showing every sign that a chub was the culprit.

Carl link ledgering
Meanwhile Alex was trying his luck in one of the swims further downstream, where the river takes on a smooth and steady bend.

Alex trying his luck downstream

As is the case with a river such as this, there are so many beautiful little features each and every one which has an angler wondering just what might be waiting to pick up their bait. Every bend and glide with a new story just waiting to be told.

At around 4pm we stopped for a late snack before heading further downstream, I was so dearly hoping that one of the chaps would connect with a fish here, as it is a very good area, with swims that I would almost call bankers.

Time really is the fire in which we burn and it had certainly sped by rapidly today, it was not long before we was all being treated to a wonderful sunset, by now the breeze had dropped and it didn't feel too cold, you could almost be forgiven for thinking there was a hint of spring in the evening air.

It had been an enjoyable days fishing with both Carl and Alex and if I could have given one of them my chub then I gladly would have done so. Alas there is no set script in fishing, there are no guarantees, the unknown is what makes it such an enjoyable pastime and to be able to spend a day in such very good company meant a lot to me.