Thursday, 29 December 2011

Living the dream... slightly!

Someone once said "I have a dream", well so do I! albeit a little less world changing. My dream is not one that will profoundly change other peoples lives but one that would certainly be very nice for me, should I ever be lucky enough to live live it.

I dream of a small cottage clad heavily with years of ivy growth, situated close to a small well kept stretch of river in the middle of nowhere. Where early on Christmas day I would wake and slip out of bed to peer from misted windows to see rolling fields shrouded in frost.
Before venturing out I would stand and enjoy the sights further as I sipped steaming tea standing in a quint old kitchen eating an oak smoked bacon sandwich. My belly filled and body fuelled I step out in the sharp morning air rod in hand and begin my short jaunt down to the waters edge.
As I walked the frozen grass and leaves would crunch under foot and as I passed through  the small coppice picture postcard images of red breasted robins and cheeky squirrels would fill my eyes and warm my soul before I finally reached the bank and settled down to spend a short time casting for a precious bite on Christmas morn. Returning back to the cottage a roaring log fire would await me and the smell of roasting turkey would fill my senses.

But that is just a dream! and in reality I have yet been unable to shake the shackles of Christmas in the city where work holds me back, unable to realise my dream. But this year an Angel appeared before me and told me that as last year we spent our Christmas at my family's house, this year we would stay at home and instead invite others to us. Which did not surprise me at all, but what she said after this did!!! "So if you want to nip out for a couple of hours fishing feel free" It took a moment for this to compute and an another for me to shut my gaping mouth. But that was it! it was on. A fishing trip on Christmas day.

A strict curfew and common sense procluded travel. But with my car currently out of action I have been developing an acute appreciation of my tiny stream round the corner, down the hill and up the road.
So early on the 25th I lived out my dream minus the cottage, frost and southern chalk stream of course.

The water had a tint of winter green and I fished a few swims on my precious little brook. Bites were had at every stop but it wasn't until I settled for a while on a deeper looking glide and flicked out the ubiquitous pinch of bread that the fish began to flow as did the hooch from my hip flask.  

Although no monsters were caught every wonderful little fish meant ever so much to me on the dream realizing session and I ended up catching (sung to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas..!)

Three tiny minnows,

Two small roach,

And a chub of maybe a pound!

I hope you all made much merry over the holidays because I did and I wish everyone a happy new year where your lines are tighter more than they are slack.

Friday, 23 December 2011

A winter warmer

The total of my last couple of trips can be summed up quite easily with only a few lines and a couple of pictures.

On Sunday all I netted in four hours of fishing on the gin clear canal was about fifty pounds of ice!

On Wednesday myself and Andy had a ten hour picnic next to a massive wind swept gravel pit!

I think everyone still mental enough to be fishing here in the UK will agree that the fishing has certainly taken a turn for the worse since the winter has set in. And I for one will be re-evaluating my approach for the next few months to counter for this dramatic change.

- No more messing round on lakes, unless pike are involved.
- If I even suspect a venue may be frozen I ain't bothering.
- Stick to the rivers at all costs.
- Target only the species that can feasibly be caught (no chancing a rare catch)
- Use the two pound block of  stinking cheese paste that Jacky's been trying get out of the freezer all year.

Being a little bored I have been looking back trough my blog and dreaming of easier days gone by. Whilst looking through it I discovered that of all the posts I have done in the last few years, one has been the most popular and  most viewed ever since it was posted. This in turn reminded me that a while ago I had written a little tale which I had extracted from this post and expanded on it a little. And in this time of little action to blog about I felt this short may hold a little interest and warm a few cockles.

A knock out Barbel

A few years ago whilst targeting some very respectable Barbel on clear shallow section of the upper Warwickshire Avon  I went through what can only be described as a unbelievable run of comical disasters whilst trying to land even just one single Barbel, leading up to the crescendo that I will never forget. 
I endured numerous problems including; having a close friend spoil my best chance of the entire summer through a morbid fear of wasps, a rod snapping like a twig whilst playing a very nice double figure Barbel, which I subsequently lost; and having a mink dive in where I was fishing sending every resident of my favourite swim off for days. 
But by far the worst and final disaster happened on a surprisingly hot and hazy autumn afternoon. 
One of the best swims on the entire stretch of river had a mouth watering willow which had slumped over into the river. All summer long a huge mat of debris had built up around it making the perfect hiding place for a resident shoal of Barbel which ranged from three pounds right up to oh my god. 
Perfect as it was this swim had one major drawback. One of its bows supported it perfectly from the bed of the river and just happened to be dead centre of the entire hidey hole, which made casting baits under the raft from upstream absolutely impossible. In fact the only option was to cast a bait as far under as you dared from the side and then try and tempt the residents out slowly by trickling hemp under it from above. 
On this occasion I had crept into position being very careful to keep myself well hidden behind a small mound fringed with tall dry tufts of grass. I had for once made the perfect cast first time and after being cramped up against the trunk of a tree for two or more hours my gradual baiting had finally tempted a few fish to the edge of the shadows just under the mat where my hook bait lay visible on the bottom on a fantastic gravel run. 
Just as I moved back to my position after again peering through the grass, another angler very considerately crawled up behind me to ask how it was going. Whispering back to him I explained that they were just starting to come out to play and I had seen at least two good fish move out and then back in again. Both of us sat transfixed by the tip of my rod as it began to tremble. Knowing full well what could happen next I readied my hand hovering just over the rod just before it jerked violently over. I was to my knees instantly applying maximum side strain to keep the beast from the snag. With my heart thumping I somehow blurted my belief that it felt like a good one just before the rod sprung back violently as the hook pulled.
I just looked at the river with that forlorn look all we anglers get in that situation and waited for my companion to maybe utter a few words of condolence. But he was silent. Turning round I realised why... He was no longer beside me but was instead lying flat on his back about five feet away in the grass with little birds fluttering round his head and an Adam Ant style red mark straight across the bridge of his nose where my rod had connected with his face. After I helped him up and dusted him off and he stumbled off and downstream cursing me as he went. I didn’t even get the poor blokes name never mind apologise. So if he ever reads this “I am very sorry and I hope it didn’t have any lasting effects”. And if that was not bad enough I never did actually land one of those Barbel from that very special swim.

I hope that warmed you up. And if anyone else has any amusing stories get em posted on your blogs cos we've still got two or months of this freezing weather left and we could all do with a chuckle.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Remembering a good friend

Growing up in a non angling family left me rather short of influential figures in my younger years and as a result anything thing I learnt was glimmed from books or old VHS tapes. On top of that the travelling radius in which I could fish was limited that which I could walk or cycle, as persuading parents to drop you off back then was a no no.
It wasn't until my very end of my teens that two brothers came into my life who would step into the role an angling father would have held: both showed me there was a much larger and varied angling world beyond my own; both had a passionate love of the Norfolk broads having spent a large proportion of their life fishing amongst it's reed line banks. And this was something they have passed onto me. I don't believe there has ever been a single time when I had spoken to ether Richard or John when they failed to show interest in what I have been up to or what I have caught.

I have spent countless days cruising the broads with Richard and whenever we were looking for a mooring he would always be thinking of where we could get some good glides for us to trot down.
John on the other hand would pick me up early in the morning and transport me off to Northamptonshire to fish a small syndicate water he was a member of, that had a astounding stock of powerful and stunning carp. which I would go at like a kid in a candy shop until I was practically falling asleep sitting up. I once returned the favour and took John to a friend of mines secluded lake where he hooked what at first we thought was a small carp. Which as always morphed into something else in the net. Only thing was it turned out to be the single biggest chub I have ever seen. God I wished we had weighed it! cos I've seen a few six pounders and this thing made them look like tiddlers. But John just smiled and slipped it back.

Sadly John passed away some years ago suddenly which shocked us all. Happily I remember all the times we spent together doing what we both loved so much. But as always I still wish we could have fished just one last time with him.

John Bibb

Thursday, 15 December 2011

New hat new techniques.

Just lately I have been pondering the possibility of a new hat. Now to most normal people this would be a simple case of adding another hat to ones wardrobe, much as you would another jumper, but for me it's turned into quite a quest.

As you see I am in no uncertain terms a one hat angler; meaning that at any one time, barring substitute hats for winter when my protruding ears are at risk of being snapped off, I only wear one hat for fishing come rain or shine. Why this should be the case I am not exactly sure, but it is and that's why at this time of change I have found myself in such a quandary.

For the near entirety of my youth I sported what I often refer to as a Happy Mondays style hat which was put aside along with fishing from the ages of fifteen to nineteen whilst I was obsessed by chancing nothing but girls.

Early in my return to angling I won the only competition I have ever won in a fishing rag whereupon I received a black baseball cap with Kamasan embroidered on the front. This freebie stuck with me for a few years and was subsequently replaced with army green jungle style hat of which loved dearly and has served me well for a very long time.. until it went mouldy after being stuffed wet into my fishing bag.

The last hat in this abbreviated history of Daniel Everitt's hats is the one most people who have ever read this blog will be familiar with. The Hill billy chic camouflage baseball cap. Which I would like to add has driven my poor Jacqueline insane for some reason ever since it graced my head. Her constant pressure to replace it and annoying habit of whacking the peak in seeming anger at it, has driven me into a corner where my only option is new head gear. So for the past two months I have browsed every hat repository for fifty miles and tried on a multitude of hats including deer stalkers, other baseball hats, trilby's and even a bowler hat (which incidentally I came very close to buying). But finally I think I have found it.

The flat cap

 It's strange that I should have ignored this head wear for such along time as of all the hats available this one is what the men of my family have traditionally worn. My father occasionally dons one and both my grandfathers wore them. One of which wore one so much that up until quite an age I was convinced that this was what his hair looked like. I am sure that the flat cap goes back much further into my family history judging from the areas of the country that both sides of my family emanate from. But why have I denied my birth right for so long. Maybe it's an age thing, maybe I didn't feel old enough to pull it off. But now it's on my head it feels strangely comfortable and even a little reassuring. So I will give a go and maybe even consider getting a waxed jacket to go with and possibly a mutt. A whippet or a Jack Russell should set it off just nice.

So wearing my new hat and having a morning to spend fishing I headed off out into the beautiful English countryside so I could appreciate the resplendent wind and drizzle at my pleasure. As well as trying my new hat I also wanted to try a new method which I have until now never tried.

Long range maggot feeder fishing using helicopter rigs in winter has accounted for some very large roach in the past and as I've heard along the grapevine that one of our club waters is rumoured to hold some very respectable Roach indeed. It seemed the perfect place to have a go at it.
Even though I was hell bent on whacking feeders out through the stratosphere a niggling thought in the back of my head made me only half commit and take a float set up to fish close in. The idea being that one or the other line should locate some fish and I was right. The float line died a death after I caught a few small perch and soon after this the feeder line lit up so I swapped my float rod over to a very light feeder rig to maximise my chances.

There is no doubt sitting behind two light rods perched on indicators roach fishing is an odd sensation. As most anglers would be far more at home trotting or even ledgering for them rather than fishing what is essentially carp style with light rods.

At first the sharp tugs were impossible to hit. But as I suspected that the roach were just plucking at the three maggot baits. I pushed the hook link which was trapped between a couple of float stops right down onto the feeder to create a self hooking rig. And low and behold it worked with a roach first chuck of the modified rig.

One thing that continued to bug me as I fished was how long the fish took to get on the bait. So in-between casts I did a little experiment. After filling my larger feeder, I dropped it in the edge to see how long it took the maggots to find there way out of the feeder.

I was surprised at what I saw! From the moment the loaded feeder hit the bottom to when the grubs made this attractive spread took and gargantuan 17 minutes. It took nearly five minutes for the first one to escape then once he'd gone most followed suit. What the picture does not show is the large amount which wriggled straight under the feeder and disappeared into the sand. But after seeing this it all made sense. The bites took ages to appear after a cast and probably came about when the freebies made a decent spread on the bottom.

My decision to commit both rods to this strange technique turned out be the right one as by off setting my casts of each rod by 10 minutes meant for the final three hours it was constant action. Cast one rod out then then by the time that one was all set to go, the other one went off and after landing the fish I repeated the process.
The only disappointment was the size of the fish. Although I landed 25+ roach not one was over 10oz but saying that there was not one under 5oz.

So by those results I can happily say the method works. All I have to do now is find some bigger roach!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The forgotten stream

Xmas is coming and as per normal my spare time is dwindling. Like everyone, my family commitments and work seems to increase exponentially as the holidays approach and as result my chances of nipping off for even a half day this weekend were zero. Saying that I love Xmas, so it really wasn't that much of a hardship and a little lateral thinking got me two micro sessions back to back over the weekend.

There is where I live a tiny little river long forgotten by the local angling fraternity. I have heard that at some point in its life, not that long ago, it was more than just a focal point for the junior anglers. Apparently in its hey day it was common place to see trilby hat sporting men, perched on wicker baskets brandishing split cane rods as they trotted out some respectable fish. But this is now all history, and since then the city has encroached on it. Seventies style housing estates now sit on its flood plains and its silted river bed is strewn with fifty years worth of rubbish dumped by a myriad of idiots. It would seem that the majority of people that live close by are oblivious to this diminutive waterway and those who do know of it would fall over laughing if you were to inform them that fish still swim in that trolley filled brook. But they do, because as we all know, nature finds a way. She always does and she certainly will when we have all gone!

Day one: Validation

My time was to be short. So well before all those people with common sense had risen and the others with less than me had staggered home to bed, I was up and slipping out the door into the night. I always get a bit of a kick being out in the empty streets at night. It feels like the world is all mine to do with as I please as no is around to say otherwise.
Through the fluorescent lights I walk, slipping through alleyways and crossing roads at will. In one hand I can feel the cold aluminium pole of my landing net and in the other my 10ft super light quiver tip rod is banded neatly into three sections with the reel attached. This rod is perfect for this tiny river, short and sensitive. I know the river is low and the fish will be shy. So before I left I fitted a tip so sensitive even a passing water boatman could make it quiver. I carry only a tiny satchel, full more of bait than tackle as I will not need much beyond a few hooks, some weights and couple of tiny floats.

I know when I am nearly there when I see the suburban underpass. I always half expect to come across a gang of loitering droogs hanging out looking for some ultraviolence but as always it's far to early for that part of society to be up and out. So I pause to study the tribal writings on the walls and wonder is Becky as promiscuous as they say she is or does Dave really have such sub par genitalia. I ponder the enduring appeal of of 'ere over here and wonder why the people who scrawl on walls think that missing the H off saves time. 

I shouldn't waste too much time, as now half the sky is black and the other turning blue as the dawn rises and today time is precious. Last year I studied much of this stream when the water ran clear so I know where to begin. Even in the dark I can tell no one has ventured to this area for a long time as mine are the first feet to crunch the dry cowslips lying across the ground on my way to my nest of nettles which still have a shockingly venomous sting in the cold morning air.

Operating with no light I line my rod rings up against the sapphire sky and pinch a minuscule of bread onto my hook before swinging it mid flow. Rustling into my bag I pull out a small bag of bread that I ran through a food processor the night before, until it was more like a liquid than solid. Now I squeeze it back together in balls no bigger than fifty pence pieces and toss it out a little upstream of my bait. I know from experience that after it almost silently hits the water it will float for a few seconds before breaking up in a seductive cloud which can stimulate the most obstinate fish. 

There is no way I can see my rod tip so I feel for bites holding tension onto the line with my left hand. At first I can't tell if the tapping on the line is fish or the blood pumping through my hand but then the hair like line is ripped between my fingers and with anglers instinct strike into a fish.
I am careful not to strain the light line and let the rod do my work as my quarry ploughs around the river. It's not big but still it darts back and forth across the river until I hear it splashing out in front. Although I can't see it at all my net slides under it first time and I lift it from the water. Well away from the bank I turn on my torch and smile at my suburban chub.

The river is no more than than a good jump wide where I am fishing so my hopes of another are not high. But still I cast again just to check and moments later the line is again torn from my grasp as I hook the sibling of the first.

After the light rises I trot away my time catching some tidy roach and perch in between minnows as my float ambles along an eddy. Kingfishers dart round the bending little river and I get distracted for an age by a tree creeper darting up and down the tree at the end of my rod. I am satisfied that my original statement holds true and this forgotten stream holds more than the odd minging old fish just clinging on life by a thread. This place is well and truly alive with life.

Day two: Where others wouldn't dare

I repeat the journey of the day before but this morning the air is warmer and by no means still. This morning I can't see the stars as they are hidden by cloud and the wind intermittently gusts. Back in the same spot I chance my light rig again into the dark and instantly it is met with a sharp pull which I miss. A second cast ends the same. Maybe they are on to me, maybe it's the same fish again and they've learnt their lesson since yesterday.

As the light appears something feels different. The fish are more coy; apart from two tugs nothing has touched my bait at all, which is odd as the day before I got constant attention from little fish. The shadows of trees on the water reveal the truth to me. The day before the river had that strange green tinge almost like winter water but today it runs clear and I can see a speckled patch of white on the bottom down stream where my liquid bread has settled. If that was not disturbing enough I can see that no black shapes pass over it to indicate fish.

The decision is made I have to move on and search out cover or deep water where nervous fish would hide. I know upstream spots are limited but down I have spotted a few fine looking runs but there is an issue. A river chooses not where it runs and if it did it wouldn't run here for the the place where I go is not pleasant.
On a warm summer evening this place is a no go zone. It's like Beirut with Burberry and dirt bikes, and as I cross the field the burnt out motor bike in the bushes reminds me of this.

I am sure that most of the people that live here are perfectly nice but I also know they they aren't the problem, it's the kids that are. Walking along the river it is rammed with crap. The fallen trees of upstream are replaced with sofas and trolleys all forming ugly man made sculptures just inches underwater.

At the end of no man's land I reach the run I have seen before and my keen anglers eyes are right - between two reed beds the river narrows and deepens into around two and half feet for a good thirty foot. And although leaving time is very close I make a few casts just to probe out this run for another day.

Bang! First chuck the tip hoops and I feel resistance for a fleeting moment. I cast again but this time a million hungry mouths can be felt whittling away my bread. I give it a while before I reel in one of the culprits.

With this my time is up and I must make tracks. But even though this trip produced no more than minnow I now know this deeper run in the war zone holds better fish that are secret and shy. So I shall return another day while those angelic kids who rule this place still sleep.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Those reflective eyes and lights in the night.

People heading off for a quiet Sunday jaunt around the dog poop infested canal at Hawksbury junction, or those popping into the grey hound pub for a quiet pint, would be forgiven for thinking that the Midlands arm of the Rebel alliance were massing for re-enactment of the rebel assault on the empires shield generator on the forest moon of Endor, as the growing throng outside the pub were dressed head to toe in green and spoke a strange language where every sentence was punctuated with a type of fish.
It was in actual fact the meeting place for the local blog bunch, who were gathering in honour of Jeff Hatt's half century and for a the first ever canal roving Zander fishing match that I have ever heard of.

These fish socials as always are a great opportunity to meet up with old friends and new. And I for one always look forward to the banter and as per normal it started well before a single line is cast. Everyone was tooled up with a full array of tackle and raring to go. But my vision of ten plus anglers all racked up in starting blocks loaded with tackle as Jeff stood atop the eighteenth century iron bridge that spans the canal firing of a shot gun to signal go, was only a fantasy of mine. Instead we trickled out in dribs and drabs around 3.30pm. Some had intent in mind and shot off to favoured haunts whilst others wandered off a little glossy eyed in unfamiliar territory. 

I hadn't made any plans of where to fish and sat back a little with Andy to wait and see where everyone went. Surprisingly just about everyone went away from the area that we all know for sure has produced Zander in the past. Knowing full well it was available myself and Mr Lewis trundled the short distance round the corner to start where we knew they had once been and shot four float rigs out over the water.

The first area we fished was a wash out. Covered in the collective debris of most of Cov cut it was number one, barely fishable and number two, sans feeding fish. So we opted to start leapfrogging our way up the tow path.

This was a great move as in the very next swim the first action of the night came promptly. A sail away run form a small Zander, which Andy lost early in the fight signalled a hectic hour just as day rolled into night.
The next run was missed then the third got Andy off the mark with nice 2lb ish schoolie.

Working as a team I sorted the fish as he recast his rod so as to maximise any chances of more Zeds being around. The tactic worked a treat for us both as within minutes of casting out Andy was away again with a slightly bigger Zed of 3lb plus.

I was beginning to feel left out until one of my floats zipped off attached to a tiny pound fish. And although I the blank was avoided I was disappointed that my only fish so far could have actually been smaller than a few of the deads I was carrying in my bag.

The best for me was still to come when my other float which was a bit away from the hotspot buried instantly not to return. This one had to be a better fish as my rod was actually bending for this one unlike my first fish. I cannot deny the whole competitiveness of the match got to me a little as the Zed did it's open mouth thrashing bit in the middle of the cut and I demanded Andy net it as quick as possible. Which he did and a four pound fish brought me within ounces of Andy's weight.

Phil came walking through the dark just as we did the photo and was shortly followed by Merv and his grandson Curtis. As we stood in the murk anticipating more runs we all had a good old chin wag on the only subject on the cards when such a large group of fishing fanatics are out on the water for the night.

Even with more moves made the only other things to come our way a were other anglers as the time ticked away and in the end even the blunder bust approach of four anglers including myself, Jeff, Andy and Lee covering just about every inch of one section canal failed. As we met up with everyone at the pub it became apparent that all the action came in the first two hours just the light faded. Which can truly prove that the fish only fed in that tiny window known as the witching hour.

Back in the pub, pints in hand, the presents and prizes were handed out as the libations flowed and the discussions reached their zenith. Andy took first place winning the prize of a ABU multiplier reel piping me to the post by only ounces and what can be described as an already well oiled Jeff was over the moon with the home made present and the worlds only example of Just for Jeff hair dye. That I must say does not have what could be termed as a reputable lineage ( think hard before you use it Jeff)

All in all I think it was quite a successful first go at this format of fishing match and it could have some serious mileage if we were to again maybe in more favourable time of the year.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

In honour of the humble worm.

The other day I happened across a small red book which had been languishing upon a shelf for quite some time. It had come to me amongst a pile of other books which had been handed down to me by another angler. I am not sure why it has taken me so long to peruse its pages - maybe because others filled with mythical stories and pictures of unobtainable fish have distracted me - but once I opened it and read one single verse I was hooked like a hungry fish! It is a compendium of writings and accounts by different authors and is compiled by a man who only refers to himself as BB. The stories held within in it's pages are nothing short of inspiring no matter how trivial a subject they be about.

As I contemplated in that place only a man contemplates, I read a short verse in dedication to the humble worm. Descriptions of every one of our native worms that an angler may be interested in are followed by detailed methods for collection and storage. This proved enough of an inspiration for me go out and obtain for myself a load of worms from the local bait purveyor and head down to my favourite perch patch to see if that now the weather had settled on cold they wanted to come out to play.

Stepping onto the tow path with enough fresh worms to prize out half the perch in Warwickshire I was in a good mood. There was no breeze to contend with, the air was full of mist and above it all the cloud blocked the suns bright rays. It all seemed just right for once.

Puréeing handfulls of worms into a lumpy soup may seem to most a poor pastime for seven o'clock on Sunday morning but quite honestly there is no better way to attract a hungry perch or two. Although I had to wait for them to arrive for a good hour or so, the first perch was more than worth it.


Oddly that two pounder was the only one to turn up to the party at my first stop of the morning so I moved on to another useful spot to repeat the same process. Again it took a good while for the magic ambrosia to take effect but it did in the end bring the fish in, where my almost free lined patented double half a lob worm snagged a couple more fine perch as it sank attractively onto the bottom.

I decided to try one more area before I left and spent an hour or so fishing close to the car. The sky had now cleared and sunlight was illuminating the water but contrary to popular belief the fish became a little more keen in the brighter conditions. Maybe visibility improved slightly, but a late slew of pounder's snatched more bait as it settled in the water and every one was hooked in exactly the same place.

With my time spent well for once I began to slowly pack away my kit just as a couple came walking past. They stopped to ask if I had been successful in my piscatorial endeavours and just as I casually replied, I squatted down awkwardly in front on the edge of the tow path to pick up a bank stick and heard that most embarrassing noise ever.


I knew what that was! It was the gusset of my trusty thermal troos going for a Burton.

They left snickering and so did I with a face redder than a perch's tail.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A new Day

As far as I am concerned there is no better way to spend a mild winters day than in the company of running water. I have sat back and pondered the current state of things and concluded not to try and force it, but to just enjoy time spent in the wilderness connected to the river by rod and line.

After stepping away from the familiar and dabbling with the unfamiliar I returned with an appreciation for what I know and as a result the Avon seemed nothing less than comfortable and beautiful to me.

Above the water and without the cover of  leaf, every resident of the river is exposed to the quiet and well camouflaged angler. Electric blue kingfishers flash like horizontal lighting, skimming the surface as they add alien colour to the brownish back drop. The methodical thumping of a woodpecker searching up and down the trunks of trees is no longer muffled. Flocks of field fares have appeared in the sky flitting from tree top to tree top, and higher up a Buzzard circles overhead on the thermals caused by winter sun.
On the water different birds busy themselves ready for frost. A pair of aloof swans rummage on the banks eating tender weed torn from the bottom and the shy little grebe repeatedly dives under the surface looking for who knows what, whilst a jet black Moorhen with her bright red and yellow beak picks over the debris hanging on low bows left over from recent raised water.

On a day like this I was not concerned with landing the biggest fish possible - though that does not mean I did not try! - but as I sat and gave that giant its chance I happily pondered the river, its residents and what's in store for both them and me in the months ahead.
I had arrived here with not only the intent to happen on big fish but also small, and the wriggling grubs residing in my bucket would have there chance to perform after I was finished with strong smelling meat and man made fodder.

Just after the last crumb of my sandwich was dusted from my beard I upped sticks like a beast of burden and strolled off downstream towards a likely looking run where I spied rings of rising fish as I'd munched my lunch.
Deep under the bank on a gravel knoll I watched to see exactly where between the reed lined banks those fish would rise and I would cast. For this run looked perfect for a plump old dace.

These fish had hunger on their minds, for the plop of my weight had barely reached my ears before the first enquire arrived. Silver roach with genes both myself and Jeff would appreciate were the first to befall my tricks, followed by small Dace then a rouge perch or two.
Too many maggots served only to attract masses of minnows so I cut back and cast more into the flow to avoid their attentions before a shoal of perfect gudgeon turned up, giving only a single clonk to indicate one had consumed my bait.

None of what I caught would qualify as a specimen, but every one was brilliant and welcomed by my eyes.
Late on I returned to were the day had begun. Casting under a bare old tree with a massive matt, where things that might make your eyes bulge could hide.

Before spending my final hour into dark I took time to sit beside another anglers who'd popped over for a chat earlier in the day. We both watched his line drifting away into the water as we exchanged stories and discussed issues regarding only one subject.

With the sun kissing the horizon I returned to my spot what remained of my day again waiting for that brutal arch of rod a panicked fish can make. Just as the last crack of the sun disappeared. As if by magic monsters began to roll in the half light. Though none of them came across my bait. I walked away happy across the now dark meadow bidding my comrade farewell through the cold night air as I headed back for warming food and shelter.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

pastures new

I cannot deny that right now I am feeling disillusioned with the Avon . We had planned a trip to the Wye this weekend but that all fell through at the last minute and left us in need of a change of venue. So upon Andy's suggestion we procured the correct visas, tickets and guide books and took trip to fish the mighty River Severn.

Considering I don't live that far away from the Severn it's odd that I have only ever fished the upper Severn on the welsh boarders. In fact I think that the lowest place I have ever fished it is at the small Welsh town of Abermule. So until now the middle Severn has remained a total mystery to me, which in itself is amazing as the area we intended to fish near Bridgnorth has a reputation as some of the best barbel fishing in the UK. So why I have never been there before is any one's guess.

Previously I referred to this river as the mighty Severn and this was by no means an understatement. It is the longest river in the Britain, it also drains a very large proportion of Wales and discharges the largest amount of water of all our rivers whilst doing it. But until you first set eyes on it in full flow you have no idea of how power full it really is!

We had decided to start of in a comfortable area to try and get to know this raging beast with a little foreplay if you will. And straight away the power was obvious when I casually tossed out a 2oz maggot feeder towards the middle of the river, which never touched bottom until it passed into the slack water some forty feet down the bank from me. eep!!!

On the advice of another far more experienced Severn angler I stuck it out on the maggot feeder whilst it was light and fished a second rod baited with a chunk of spicy meat under any fishy looking trees. It soon became apparent that although our first spot was comfortable it was equally shallow, and although I was getting some regular attention form the local minnow population I was not converting nibbles into wriggles, so we decided to move down stream.

The next spot I opted for was much deeper and even more powerful due to a sunken tree pushing the river hard into a crease emanating from the opposite bank, which collided with another coming from my bank. The maggot feeder stood no chance here resulting in me fishing a single meat line close in again.
After a short while in this swim I began to feel that I just wasn't doing this right at all. I'd seen two or three fish roll out in the centre of the river and quickly casting my meat bait upstream of the area proved that even if I added enough weight to my rig to keep it there, all the debris caught up in the flow soon tore my rigs down stream inevitably finding a snag.

Feeling as if I was ill prepared to fish such conditions with an entire day of it ahead I decided to stop fishing, take a look at my map to see if I could locate some more fishable water to target.
After packing up my kit and spending a good ten minutes trying to get myself plus kit up one of the savage slippery Severn banks I dumped my kit behind Andy and took a stroll down stream in search of quieter water.
What looked like a five minute walk on the map turned out to be a half an hour hike around the edge of open fields.  Along the way I did find a few locals fishing and took every opportunity to try and find out how others were faring. This is normally an easy task of just approaching giving a nod and then asking if much is coming out but - and I mean what i am about to say next  in the nicest possible way - some of the locals who were fishing had some very vibrant and rich accents which if I am honest resulted in us having only half conversations. That meaning I could only understand half of what they were saying. And as I am too a midlander who lives not far away it is pretty insane that we barley speak the same language. Saying that I got by, and the jist of what they were saying was that a few days of over night rain in Wales had not done the fishing any favours here. So much so that even the locals 'cuuuldunt uven bost owt naw muggowts'.
After trudging all the way back up to Andy we had a quick brain storming session and came to the conclusion that rather than sit here fighting it out in an area we didn't feel confident in we would drop down a few miles to fish the Hampton loade section where Andy said he knew some deep holes under trees on our own bank would be fishable.

By the time we arrived it was nearly dinner time and luckily Andy was spot on with the info. So we settled in a couple of swims on the inside of a slight bend in the river that was bookended by a couple of over hanging trees.
My confidence soared when my first flick found a decent depth in slower water with a nice thump of hard bottom at the end of the cast. My maggot feeder rig even held nicely just on the edge of the main flow.

Straight away the tap tap tap of small fish husking out my maggots made the move to this area feel a great idea. My persistence I thought would pay off when I started getting some decent bites then I landed a small chub. (Which I never bother to photograph as I was convinced I would soon be snapping plump barbel later on.)

I did bag a few more micro chub and miss a very keen bite on the maggot but no Barbel came my way as I sat watching four Kingfishers zipping up and down the river in front of me whilst I the Severn valley railway chugged away behind me. Andy on the other hand did manage one barbel, fishing some rather savoury meat deep under a tree upstream. 
The thought that I still stood a chance on the pellet when the light began fade kept reverberating around in my head as the end of the day drew to a close. But the only surprise I got was when two sheep crept up behind me and simultaneously bleated at the top of their voices, nearly sending me into the river.

As I packed up I cannot deny feeling a little disappointed by the days performance. Especially as the middle Severn according to popular belief supposedly throws up barbel like commercial fishery throws up pasty size carp. But I suppose I can't judge a river by a single chilly session in November. So I will probably be back to try again. 

Monday, 7 November 2011

Frog blog.

I could offer a multitude of reasons as to why I think the fishing was so bad this weekend; suffice to say it resulted in my first blank in a while. So rather than bore any readers with the sordid details of my difficult relationship with the Warwickshire Avon, I thought it would be more interesting to post this picture of the large frog that resides in my garden pond; I happened upon this little fellow during his morning jaunt whilst I was grubbing round in my pumpkin patch a few weeks ago. Enjoy!


Thursday, 3 November 2011

A strangely satisfying day of mediocrity heralds a change in conditions.

A long journey ahead that night inclined me not to venture too far from home in search of piscatorial action on my day off. I wracked my mind for days for something I fancied and in the end settled for club waters outside the city limits. It was to be a day where everything was much of a muchness or the pinnacle of mediocrity if you would, where nothing special graced my net. No dark brown bream or shining bars of pound plus roach. Just snow white skimmers and tidily roach, which all seemed rather insipid on a dull day. So much so as I never bothered to photo a single one, for their scales had no shine in my eyes!
Even though I cannot deny I enjoyed myself, as the aim of fishing is to catch fish, and that I did. But other bigger things inadvertently satisfied my angling urge.

Rain !

The night before I'd stood in the dark watching Diwali fireworks explode and light the sky in luminous colours. In between the flashes and bangs I could see the stars shining like pin holes in the sky and I thought to myself that it would have to go some if this weather front was going to come in over night.
In the morning I woke to the wondrous sound of rain on my bedroom window. It was finally here like Santa Claus at Christmas. But instead of presents the rain brings those wondrous gifts of coloured rivers and confident fish.

I could have ran excitedly down to the river just like a kid at Christmas. But I know better! For that first rise after summer brings misery as much as joy in the form of hundreds of tiny hunks of weed, torn away in small rotten pieces which drive anglers mad pulling rods round as they hang up on the lines, so much they spend more time out the water than in.
Restrained I continued with my plan and sat in the rain catching and watching excitedly as rain drops fall and fill  up low lakes and swell slow rivers.

In the few days where I waited patiently meditating on how the river would be when I finally arrived I managed to attend Andy's wedding reception, do a days work and spend Saturday afternoon following the Earlsdon Morris men on their tour of Earlsdon. For the first two I was stone cold sober, on the third I was not!

My good friend Windy recently rejoined the ranks of the Earlsdon Morris men and had informed us all of the impending tour. I was very interested to go and see this spectacle as here in the UK we seem to let  just about all our traditions slip away unnoticed to the masses, whilst only a die hard few keep them alive. Upon seeing the enthusiasm of them all on this tour my heart warmed that so many people should care so much and have so much fun whilst practising this ancient tradition.

Windy seemed to be having a good time fuelled by barley based power.

A second group, the Bristol Morris men had travelled over to join them in the tour and take turns performing outside many of the pubs we stopped at along the way. On one journey between watering holes I noticed the best use of a bit of Golf equipment ever.

The tour encompassed most of the pubs in the larger Earlsdon area and the Earlsdon lot danced between every one with a parade of  eager followers trailing behind ready to assault the next pub.

By late afternoon I for one was comfortably toasted. Enough so that Jacky repeatedly asked if I felt sick on the drive back. When home I finished the day off by topping of my beer filled body with a liberal helping of red wine! Lucky for me Andy had agreed to pick me up for a trip down the trickle the following Sunday morning.

It's hard to tell water clarity in the dark, but the amber glow from a nearby street light showed the colour of the Avon was at least enough to hide the streamer weed under the foot bridge we stood on. Both of us had Barbel in mind and four dedicated rods were cast out in total darkness.

I have personally just about had it with the local bream population. As I reckon I may have caught just about every one at least once this last year. So I cast off all finesse and left my sensitive tips at home and went for a fish by design approach. Avon tops and bait runners would see me not striking at little taps here and there as I waited for the hoop job as a lovely Barbel grabbed my bait.

Luckily for me a couple of bream did manage to do a poor impression of a Barbel by clicking line slowly off my reels or I would have had to endure the blank as no Babs showed again.

Unlike most days where the bright sun would have ruined our chances. This one stayed nice and cloudy all morning. So we stuck it out with hope that a bite could materialize at any point. 
Until... Andy called over 'Dan, I am in real trouble here' in that way that you know someone ain't joking around!
It took a few moment for things to compute in my addled brain and even after he explained his problem I still didn't fully comprehend it until I saw exactly what had happened.
Whilst pushing a baiting needle through a boilie the needle had suddenly shot through the bait right into Andy's index finger, well under the skin. As I approached and saw it for myself the poor chap looked a little peaky to say the least. As with all blokes we to think we are qualified surgeons whilst toting a Swiss army knife, but after ten minutes of twisting pulling and slicing, the barb of the needle just seemed even more embedded.

With the situation getting no better and my suggestion to shove it through being the final attempt at riparian surgery a trip down the local hospital was the only remaining choice. Only problem was we had two and a half anglers worth of tackle and the only insured driver had a large implement sticking out of one hand. In the end Andy ventured off alone to flag down a taxi whilst I packed up his kit then waited behind my rods for him to return.
I thought I was going to get an big extension to my fishing session as the normal waiting time at a UK hospital is generally three hours. But shockingly he was back in under forty minutes, after being the only person to walk into the A&E department with a foreign object projecting from his body that Sunday morning and was seen immediately.

When receiving a phone call heralding his return Andy asked me if I had had anything in his absence. Thinking quickly I answered that he'd find out when he got back! As soon as I was off the blower I pulled out my weigh sling and unhooking mat out dipping them both in the river before giving my landing net a good dunking and placing my scales prominently on the wetted mat and waited for him to return.
Soon enough Andy ambled along the back sporting a comically bandaged finger. It took him a few seconds to clock the wetted mat and sling with scales strategically placed on them. I can't rightfully type his reply as my blog may need some certification if I did. I tried to hold out and be coy for as long as possible but he soon saw through my rouse when I broke out laughing.

With the excitement over we headed off with no signs of barbel again. But at least the river is getting coloured and that infernal weed is starting to die away at last.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The game has changed.

I have been out a few times in the last few days and on all occasions the fish have been rather finicky due to the drop in temperature.

Last weekend myself and Jeff visited the Avon early. As we crossed the river in the dark the water surface steamed where it contacted with the cold night air. I would be lying if  I didn't say that I for one thought it was going to be a real special session. But I was very wrong! Nothing fancied it at all. No babs, no zeds, Jeffs roach made a slight attempt at feeding but they never really got into to it.
I was lucky to land one solitary bream a short while after first light which helped me avoid the blank but honestly this not what I was after. All morning Jeff gave a running commentary on the water and air temperature which is where my thoughts on the current fishing situation have come from. With air temp of around 3c and water temp of 10c+ to begin with, both dropped as the sun rose and as it did so did our hopes of catching.
By 9am I had given up on Barbel and Zander and now chanced lobbies into slack clear water for perch. It seemed the drop in temp had affected them too. As the best I managed was a few trembles of the tip. Only a month ago that same worm wouldn't last two seconds on the bottom in the same area before it would have been engulfed by one of  hundreds of tiny perch.

Although last Sunday on the Avon hadn't been a resounding success I wasn't that down about it. We all knew this was coming and so now the game is changing so must we players. For there is no point trying to catch Crucians on frosty mornings. With that in mind I thought carefully about what to do on my impromptu mid week foray. I had hoped the liberal downpour we had on Monday may have added a hint of colour to the river. Then I would have gone after barbel, but it never touched it! My back up was to go down to the land of the giant perch and bag a few two's.

Turned out they too were suffering from early winter lethargy. I moved five times before I got a bite and had been through the whole repertoire just to get that. All our normal spots felt very exposed to me and I wondered if the fish felt the same? so around dinner time I settled snugly behind a tree and fished tight to a rusting old narrow boat.

It took an age for the bites to materialize and the first one looked suspiciously like a crayfish making off with my bait. My slight strike intended to pull my bait from it's nippy claws was met by solid resistance. Not that 'holy shit this is big' resistance but that 'ah crap I've hooked the earth' resistance.  
I hate pulling for breaks but I had no choice. But as I did, what ever I was connected to began to move. I pulled it right into the edge before it stopped when the trace hit the tip ring, then I grabbed the line with my hands. I didn't notice the group of walkers standing close by until one said "what is it?" thinking it was a fish. I knew what I thought it was, but no one wants to hear 'it's a bin bag full of dead puppies'  or 'it's a severed head wrapped in clingfilm' do they? Turned out it was neither when a handle slowly rose through the water.
I had to laugh as I pulled a dripping golf umbrella from the canal and politely asked it belonged to any of them.

Strangely the removal of the brolly didn't ruin the swim, as it's hard to ruin a swim that ain't fishing. Turned out that recovery the stinking silt covered brolly was a sign. When rain began to dapple the surface I thought this is all I need. But things took a strange turn... The rain actually brought bites. The first run on my dead rod resulted in a bait sized Zander and the second yielded a nice plump canal schoolie of 3-4lb which went berserk once hooked.

After this the perch showed, if only for a short while. I landed a couple of pound plus fish in the tail end of the rain. But once the rain stopped the bites to dried up.
This made me wonder. How often do you think you are sitting there not getting any bites when under the surface there are unseen fish within millimetres of your bait that are not prepared to consume it because of some external factor like the weather.

My third trip of this tale was one that has been brewing for a while. I have what can only be termed as a strained relationship with this moody ancient estate lake. Coombe fishery is literally only minutes from my front door and it really has potential to throw up some very special fish... if only you can get one out.
I have seen carp over thirty pounds under my feet, I know for a fact that Zander inhabit this water that are so close to the British record, that one good meal could push them over it and there is so much water that monsters of any species that reside in it may have never seen a hook.

BUT! as I explained to Andy before we went. It is a brutal water that nine and a half days out of ten will do you over and on that half day she tempts you to come back for another nine days of spanking.
The amount of times I have done that sorrowful walk back to the car park and sworn I will never return is unbelievable but here I was again pike rods in hand and a pocket full of hope.

It's not hard to see what attracts me back! She is as beautiful as she is hard.

We did locate some feeding pike close to the slipway that trickles out into smite brook. Their slashing at the prey fish was enough to keep us entrenched for a while but once again coombe gave up nothing of what it had to offer.
My time to bang my head against the brick wall that is coombe was limited today, as I had a prior appointment to attend. One I was in no uncertain terms to be late for! And yet I was late. And yes, I did incur Jacky's wrath for being late.

About three years ago myself and Jacky decided we would like a pet and as we both work long hours it would have been unfair for us to get a dog or cat when we knew it would spend most of it's days locked up in our house. So we got a ourselves a pair of guinea pigs of which Jacky had lots of experience and I had none. Over time I have really grown to love these hilarious little animals which have as bigger characters as they do appetites (very large) Unfortunately one of our pigs called Bubble suddenly passed away a short while ago and I have no qualms in admitting that I for one was heart broken. After a short while, where we let her housemate Squeak settle down, we began to look for a suitable partner for her.

Three year old female Dutch Cavy 
with First floor luxury apartment,
country retreat on lawn and condo in shed 
seeks similar female Cavy or 
youngish neutered male for munchies and friendship
Stinkers may not apply!

It took a while but finally we found one that suited at re-homing centre and after passing the home check we took our little piggy to meet her potential new friend. After a very successful meet we got to bring him home, and here he his:


And he loves ripping the Angling Times to shreds.