Friday, 7 June 2019

May (not Theresa)

After another session in early May spent sitting behind a rod pod, catching bugger all and seeing nothing of note, I fancied a change.  With so much water unfishable from the bank the only sensible option is to take to the punt and go looking.  So this is what I have been doing for the last few trips, spending at least an hour mooching around trying to find a sign but it hasn’t brought a change in fortunes.  Last year I managed to spot both Tench and Carp, even if I didn’t manage to catch them but so far this season I’ve seen bugger in the way of clues.  I’ve also gone through the ordeal of making the same mistakes; i.e. I really should remember that traditional groundbait attracts every silver fish for miles.  I like float fishing but it’s impossible to keep a bait in the water, even fake corn gets battered and the float is moving constantly.  If a proper fish took my bait I might not even know the difference.  I did feel the difference when a decent Pike grabbed a Rudd and swam past the boat and away taking my size 14 with it.

The way to approach the fishing would be to use the punt to drop baits into the holes in the weed, top up with a bit of bait then carefully row away, tie up quietly then sit it out.  That is fine in theory but in practice any kind of crosswind makes this much more difficult than it should be!  However with a bit of practice this method of presentation is manageable but it still hasn’t worked for me.

On a recent trip Isaac joined me; I didn’t intend to put a boilie rod out but brought it along just in case.  We spent a pleasant couple of hours messing about in a boat, which gave me a chance to look for any fish that weren’t scattered by the commotion of Isaac’s rowing.  We stopped for a while and fished with floats and corn.  We caught a few Rudd and had a few laughs then moved off again.  The water was crystal and we saw thousands of Rudd but still no sign of Tench or Carp.  No worries, being lost in the East Anglian countryside has other benefits, the Cuckoo has been vocal and visible for a few weeks now and all the usual wilderness residents have been putting in an appearance.  Isaac and I spotted a Bittern last time out. 

By the time I fish again I expect the fish will have spawned and the chance of a real BIG Tench will have passed for another year but you never know...

Sunday, 28 April 2019


I've had two attempts to catch Tench this spring and I've been met with two days of horrible weather.  The first time it was a raging easterly and the second a howling westerly with stinging rain at times.  In theory this can be good fishing weather at this time of year but on this particular water location which is usually difficult at the best of times, becomes near impossible.  In short I was forced to chuck it and chance it then shelter beneath the oval.  In between, when I couldn't fish, we had a week of warm settled weather, such is life.

I fished a bright yellow pop up on a chod rig to the far side, a combination that has worked before. The second rod was  fake corn with an open end feeder on a clear patch of hard bottom amidst weed that is already climbing towards the surface.  This rod was recast regularly but otherwise i sat staring at the water, doing nothing but rarely bored.  I don't know where my mind goes at these times, hours feel like minutes like I'm in some kind of trance.

The countryside is coming back to life, new reeds have pushed a foot and more through the marshy banks and most of the trees are showing a sprinkling of fresh green leaves.  I've seen the first swallows and martins of the year as well as swans, two types of geese, shelduck, crows, rooks, pigeons (that will please the farmers), reed bunting, kestrel, pheasants and partridges.  I saw a harrier hunting over the fields, a bittern landed in the reeds opposite me and vanished before my eyes and I saw hares in their boxing rituals.  One thing I haven't seen is any fish in the net.
                                             No longer boxing, just a Hare

Friday, 12 April 2019


A few days ago I attended a work party at a local club lake.  When all was done a friend and I took a walk around the water, discussing amongst other things, how lucky we are to fish such a beautiful water.  My friend, a lifelong passionate angler, has just returned to the UK after several years of living abroad and remarked how much things have changed, in particular the waters available to the angler.  He has quickly worked out that he has to choose between overstocked commercial waters that are crowded with anglers or the less popular natural waters which are far less prolific.  On this choice we are of the same mind, the natural waters will win 99 times out of 100.  We are happy to sacrifice bites for peace, God I never thought I'd ever think of myself as 'traditionalist'.

Things have changed dramatically in this vicinity.  When I was younger I had lots of choice with chains of gravel pits and a lovely little river within minutes of my home.  The river is saddest of all, abstraction has all but killed it, it is little more than a stream now and barely flows if we have a dry summer.  One of the groups of pits was turned into a commercial water nearly twenty years ago, fabulous mixed fisheries are now choked with Carp, the big Tench, Bream and Pike a thing of the past.  The club that controlled the other pits has suffered more than it's share of problems and has lost control of it's biggest gravel pit asset.  The waters it still controls are dominated by Carp, I know that's what people want these days...

The big 'lost' pit has been back filled to make it into a series of smaller pits and another commercial type water is under construction.  I noticed that this complex, which rarely if ever produced thirty pounds + Carp now boasts three or four over forty, where did they come from?  Although nobody is saying so they are obviously stocked fish.  I cannot understand how anyone can derive pleasure from catching a fish of that size that was obviously swimming around in a farm puddle slurping pellets not long ago.  But then again what does it matter what I think?  If the anglers catching these fish are enjoying themselves then good luck.  One man's meat...  However what has this done to Carp angling's "goal posts"?  Not so long ago a forty pound Carp was a monster and literally the fish of a lifetime, nowadays these target figures are meaningless in Carp angling.

It all boils down to choice and if you like Carp fishing or crowded waters then there is plenty.  If like me you prefer quieter, natural waters then the options are being reduced year upon year.  If the day came when I had to join the modern angling scene in order to fish then I'm not sure I'd bother?

And while I'm having a moan...

 Angling marketing has completely changed over the last decade, the well know and successful angler plugging gear through advertorials is actually dying out, which is no great shame.  Instead most companies are plugging their wares through social media which is relatively cheap and very effective.  Credit for this revolution should go to the vile 'Korda boys' who were gruesome enough before they created this monster.  I boycott their tackle on general principle.

Actually a lot of the videos that appear on Facebook are quiet entertaining, ESP in particular make some great films featuring the likes of Terry Hearn and Martin Bowler.  At the other end of the scale is Shimano who despite making some excellent gear which I like a lot, really lag behind when it comes to marketing.  My news feed (I know all the lingo...) is full of Shimano backed lads barely out of school (ie unpaid), struggling to grow beards and thrusting small Pike/Perch/Zander towards the camera at arms length.  It looks ridiculous, it is ridiculous and it makes Shimano look silly.

So here comes spring and summer when everything fishy should be easier than the winter we emerge from.  It never works out like that for me, I usually catch far less at this time of year.  However what I do catch will be hard earned and appreciated.  A big Tench or Carp that doesn't have a known history and a stupid name would make for a happy summer and in the winter a twenty pounds Broadland Pike will always be a fish to get the heart hammering and will never lose it's "worth" in the modern angling world.

Will I ever see one of these in my landing net again?

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Piked out?

It had been a week of gales.  The last Beech leaves, brown and brittle had been stripped from the hedge; it’s as bare as it gets now, another month and the first green buds will be opening.  As ever I’ve kept an eye on the weather but all it foretold was more strong winds.  I was planning to fish with Rich, one last trip to get rid of all the deadbaits but in the end he saw the forecast and done the sensible thing in calling off.  We’ve both had a decent Pike season and now we’re ‘Piked out’, in need of a change.  I looked at the forecast again, being thrown around in a boat while the wind tries to uproot trees didn’t sound like fun.  ‘Ah Fuck it’, I decided to load up some bank fishing kit and find somewhere close to home to chill out for a bit.  In truth I had little enthusiasm but knew that if I didn’t get the kit ready I’d wish I had in the morning.

As usual I was awake before the alarm and left home in the half-light around 0600.  The roads were very wet, it had obviously pissed it down in the night (such deduction!) but it wasn’t falling now.  The verges are showing the signs of spring now; white blossom in the hedgerows, green buds on bushes and flashes of yellow gorse on the embankments, I welcome it all gladly.  Except the early morning starts, by the end of the Pike season I’ve had more than enough of those.

I was fishing by 0645 with three deadbaits whacked across a strong South west wind.  A smelt to the left, float legered at the bottom of the shelf, in about eight feet of water.  In the middle I legered a mackerel, flung about fifty yards landing just short of a visible snag.  To my right I float legered a herring half way up a gentle slope.  With that all done and the mat/landing net organised I set about getting the Oval up and pegged down solid.  I’ve got the hang of this after about four years of use but in my defence it only comes out a couple of times each season.  I sat back in my comfortable chair with everything organised under my oval oasis.  With this level of comfort bank fishing actually makes a nice change!  The trouble is, with this amount of kit, once I’m set up I get lazy.

The morning is gloomy but very mild and I have to shed the jacket despite the fresh wind.  Around me nettles are poking through the muck, I already have my first sting of the year from pushing in the pegs.  New green reeds are also showing, pushing through beds of pale cream Norfolk reeds.  Half an hour flashes by then all of a sudden the Micron pipes up; the left hand float is moving upwind.  A Pike of about seven pounds has a good go but is soon in the net and soon laying on the mat.  I re-hook the smelt as it’s the last I have and send it back out.

Another half an hour passes and this time I see the float move before the buzzer sounds (Do people still call them buzzers?  My circle of friends did so for a long time after they no longer buzzed).  It’s the smelt again and a similar sized fish but this one has a nasty scar; spawning damage or an escape from one of the furry bastards?  The smelt goes out again, will I get a hat trick?

0800, there’s a bit of brightness piercing the clouds now and as I’m rummaging in the bag for shades the Bluenose shrieks to tell me something has picked up the mackerel.  The first two fish had been on a ten foot boat rod so this twelve footer felt ungainly as it hooped over, unfortunately it didn’t stay hooped and I pumped a small fish back with no trouble.  An hour later, the brightness was just a dream but the wind is still manageable.  The odd gust is a bit lively but I’m still plenty comfortable.  The rod tips are bouncing nicely and on a couple of occasions I had to do a double take and found myself half out of the chair.  I’ve now gone an hour without a take, if I was in a boat I’d definitely be looking to move by now.  But in front of me is quite a large piece of water, there are still options, areas to search as the day passes by.

Almost 1000, the wind still isn’t as bad as I expected.  That’s a Micron!  The smelt is moving again.  I pulled into a fish that felt heavier, it was on for a minute and I still hadn’t seen it when it came off.  Bugger!  That’s the end of the smelt so on goes a Herring and I sat back swearing and chuntering.  1020 and the BBB sounds again, this time the bait is half a bluey.  The twelve footer flops over again but the resistance is minimal and a fish is soon in the net, I recognise that scar, it’s the same fish I caught earlier in the day.  It’s proper windy now, the waves are crashing past me and I’m actually glad I’m not in a boat today.  Another twenty minutes and the line is out of the clip again, is it the wind.  I wound down to nothing and retrieve a chewed bluey which was soon punched out to the same place.  It’s rough now but the Pike seem to like it.

As someone who usually moves a lot, it’s interesting to sit in one place every now again.  I had three takes in an hour first thing then almost two hours without anything before another three takes in an hour.  In normal circumstances I would have moved…  1110 there’s a lull in the wind, it’s almost tranquil at the moment but I can hear it coming, the sound of rage charging towards me from the south west.  Soon it’s roaring again, branches are creaking and the reed tops are bouncing.  I swear a Cormorant trying to fly upwind was blown backwards and gave up.  I really should jack it in and get my arse out of here but the Pike!  Do I really feel the need to catch more before I call time on the season?  Why is that?  The only important question is ‘am I still enjoying it?’ and the answer is still yes!

At 1145, after a quiet hour the rod cast to the snag is away and the alarm is screeching again, line is peeling off but I connect with sweet FA.  It may have been the wind but I have a feeling it was a take.  Will this signal the start of another little feeding spell?

By midday it’s a little brighter and the sunglasses come out again.  The alarms have shouted at me a few times, I check them but nothing doing, just the wind.  That is until 1225 when for the first time today, the right hand rod baited with herring is in business.  This fish is angry and feels like a good ‘un, I’m surprised when it shrinks at the net.  A couple of weeks ago it would have been a double but today it probably isn’t.  Half an hour later the same rod goes again, I quickly bring the smallest Pike in the lake to the surface where it shakes its head and chucks the hooks back at me.  Oh well…  The wind is still raging but the Pike are still moving.  Another half hour and another dropped take.  The float was sliding away until I picked up the rod when it popped back up.

The roar of the wind is constant but I hardly hear it, it’s become default.  Every time I consider packing up I get another take.  At 1400 it’s a bluey cast towards the snag and another fish that felt decent at first but shrank at the net, they are all welcome.  After that I had another quiet hour, I’m sure that had I stayed on I would have had another fish or two but by 1500 I’d had enough and started to pack up.  Is this a sign that I am ‘Piked out’ at now?  Possibly.  I know for sure that I’ve had enough of howling winds, breaking ice, relentless grey and darkness and the alarm going off at an obscene time.  For a few months at least.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Hard waters

My last fishing trip involved getting up at 0415, meeting a mate at 0500 then driving for 75 minutes.  Half an hour to get the boat away then another half hour on the engine sees us finally fishing and settled with a brew at around 0730.  We go through this torture knowing that our chances of catching a Pike are very slim even on a good day.  On my last trip the weather was clear, bright and very cold which is the kiss of death on this shallow water.  That was actually an improvement on the trip before that, when we had to break ice to get to our destination and break it again to get back to the slipway.  

I spend a lot of time fishing hard waters, for all species including Pike, why do I do it?  Well it's not total masochism, I actually enjoy it...  Actually I think that might be masochism defined.  As I've said countless times in my witterings, I enjoy spending time in the beautiful places I choose to fish, being there is almost motivation enough.  I enjoy the company of a like minded angler with a sense of humour as warped as my own.  I enjoy watching the wildlife which is more evident in winter when there are fewer places to hide.  I also crave the anticipation; hard waters are big fish waters.  If my float slips away it could be the fish of my dreams...  It's all about the mindset, I know what I've gotten myself into, I know what to expect and I know I'll enjoy myself regardless.

It also helps that between trips to hard waters I am able to fish a few that are much more prolific and which I suppose are more interesting to read about...  

I know its January and it’s meant to be cold but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Looking at the forecast over the weekend and it’s set to be cold all this week, today looked like being one of the better days so I made preparations to fish while I still can.  I was up early but not silly early, the drive was a cruise with 'Fucked up' blasting out of the stereo, I was afloat before the sun came up and fishing by 0725.  I started off near a row of trees with the usual three deadbait rods, for some reason I didn’t bring the lure tackle?  The morning was cold with ice in the margins in places.  The sun rose into a clear sky and the wind was from the south and moderate.

I didn’t have long to wait today, a smelt cast to the overhang was picked up within ten minutes and I was soon unhooking a Pike of around five pounds beside the boat.  Twenty minutes later the same rod went again and I had another similar sized fish.  I was hardly settled when the smelt was taken for a third time and I bent into a heavier fish, unfortunately it came off and I wound in to find the hook point had turned over, bugger!!  I had a fourth take on smelt at 0820 but this time managed to strike into thin air.  A few minutes later a mackerel cast along the reedline was on the move but the bait was dropped before I wound down.  Dropped or missed takes are a feature on this water, it is prolific and there are plenty of small fish.

It seemed like there were a few fish in the area so I was loathe to move but an hour passed and I was beginning to tidy the boat when I had a sixth take, this time on Herring.  This time everything went to plan and I had a decent fish pulling back and boiling the water in front of me.  This was definitely a landing net job and the Pike looked like being my best from the water this season so I brought it aboard for weighing and a photo.  I guessed it at around sixteen pounds but it was a fat fish that took the scales round to eighteen, nice one!!  I gave this swim another twenty minutes by which time I had itchy feet and had to move.  By now cloud was beginning to build but it was still sunglasses bright.
I had an hour fishing a deeper area without incident then decided on a whim on a long row to a shallow area which had produced both times I’d ventured down there this season.  It didn’t let me down today either with a fish of around seven pounds on Mackerel at 1150.  A gave it a while longer then started making my way back to base.  A stop at a 'shit or bust' area didn’t produce anything – what is it about this spot?  It’s been poor for the last couple of years, at least I got to watch a Hen Harrier coursing over the fields.  I forgot to mention that when I moved I float trolled a deadbait between swims

At 1315 I set up on a slight bend, ironically after the trolling my next take came when I slowly retrieved a smelt, this was another decent fish which I guessed at about twelve pounds.   The afternoon was cloudy but still much brighter than the dull gloom we had for the first couple of weeks of the year.  I had another take in this swim which resulted in a jack on Mackerel then moved once more, back up to deeper water again.  Despite feeling confident and despite fishy signs (carp flattening the waves?) I didn’t get anything here.  At 1530 I had a decision, do I make one more move or do I get off the water and on the road before rush hour?  I decided to go home but trolled back to the boatyard without incident.  In the end I had 9 takes in 8.5 hours and landed six Pike, two doubles to 18.00 and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  However this is quick fix fishing and it doesn't excite me anywhere near as much as fishing for whackers on a hard water.  If I had to choose one or the other then it would be an easy decision.  

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

A week in January

2nd January 2019
My fishing year began with a 6am start and a journey east in the damp and dark, thankfully the world hasn’t woken up yet this early in the year so the A14 wasn’t too bad. By 0700 I was afloat on a familiar stretch, the commuters were forgotten.

I started off with a long row down to an area that is rarely as productive as I feel it should be and was fishing by 0730. The sun crept above the slight hill in front of me then burst out briefly before being sucked into the low cloud. It had been 5*C overnight and rose to 7*C during the day. Water temperature was 5.4*C at 0700 and as usual was clear as tap water. Wind was light and from the North west so I positioned the punt in the shelter of the reeds.

Tactics for the morning started off with three static deadbaits spread around the swim and on a fourth rod I cast lures around my floats at intervals throughout the day.  At 0818 a mackerel cast along the near margin was on the move, the baitrunner purred but the bait was dropped before I picked the rod up. I gave this swim probably too long but was glad I’d broken the routine and fished away from the 'normal' areas.

The previous evening I had been trying to convince myself to make this more of a pioneering session and stick to areas that rarely get fished.  A couple of fishless hours could have dissuaded me but for once I took a gamble.  
I adjusted one of my rods and float trolled down to another rarely fished spot but got there without incident, finally setting up at 0935. This area looked spot on with loads on ambush points which surely must be to a Pike’s liking? Well the answer today was yes! I had two takes; at 1010 (on herring) and 1020 (on mackerel) landing two small fish that fought hard amongst the reeds. When this swim went quiet I rowed further down and had another small fish on Herring almost straight away at 1110.  Half an hour later I was moving again and the float trolling rod was in action once more. I rowed back towards base but stopped short of my normal areas.

1255 I’d been fishing here for half an hour and was half way through toasting a sandwich when a Herring cast to the far side was moving . This fish felt heavier and fought well but fell just short of double figures. Twenty minutes later a tiny smelt cast across was taken and I hit into what felt like a better fish but they all fight well in this clear water. I unhooked the fish in the water and it was a low double, the first of the New Year. I gave it a while longer before I upped the weights for a final move, settling into one of my regular haunts. I had a take on a big lump of Lamprey at 1430 but this was dropped. I probably could have squeezed in another move but felt sure fish would switch on as the light faded but time looked like proving me wrong. I ended up recasting regularly (never a bad thing) and at 1600, within minutes of chucking a bluey well out of the area  I finally had another take which resulted in a nine pounder that pulled well above its weight and had me reaching for the net. Tonight’s sunset was unspectacular. I gave it another half hour before heading for home.

6th January 2019
On Saturday I spent a fair bit of time getting the fishing gear ready, tweaking rigs and sharpening hooks.  I had everything sorted and ready, if I had any sense I should get an early night in.  If...  Sunday saw me falling out of bed at the ridiculous time of 0430, Richard picked me up twenty minutes later and we started a slow drive to a special place in Norfolk.  Limitations on this water meant we had to share a boat but this would make a nice change, a chance to yarn and have a laugh.   

Three hours after getting up I finally cast my deadbaits around the boat, Rich did likewise and we settled back to enjoy the scenery at the very least.  We were under no illusions, we knew were fishing for ghosts in less than ideal conditions but were determined to enjoy yourselves come what may.  We were in the midst of a long period of high pressure, this was yet another gloomy, dull one with no sun and a light westerly wind.  The temperature was the mildest for a few days at 7*c but otherwise poor conditions really.  Would New Moon get things moving?

In short, no.  We moved around a bit, new water to go at always gives the confidence a boost but didn't find anything willing to have a go.  The nearest thing to fishy excitement was when the boat swung and a little line pulled off the baitrunner causing a few seconds of hope that was soon dashed.  Instead of catching fish we enjoyed the wildlife and solitude, drank lots of tea and kept the sarney toaster busy.  We were daft enough to fish until the sun was long gone before commencing the journey home.  I got back shortly before 2000 and was totally knackered.

8th January 2018
When Maddie came home from university before Christmas we spoke about doing a little fishing during the holiday as she had enjoyed herself on the Broads this summer.  With her return imminent it seemed we would run out of time but thankfully we both had a few free hours on Tuesday afternoon so hastily made plans.  As we were short on time and the wind was howling I decided against using a boat, for once I actually opted to fish from the bank!  This entailed burrowing into the depths of the shed where I managed to find two twelve foot rods already rigged along with a couple of bite alarms.  I grabbed one of my boat rods too; sharing three rods should be enough for the two of us.

This particular water was unfamiliar to Maddie so after showing her around we unloaded the car and were settled under shelter with the three rods fishing by 1250.  Today was a total novelty as for the first time this year the sun was out and shining brightly, sunglasses an absolute necessity.  No time to reflect on this as one of the rods was away already, a bluey cast along the near margin was steadily moving into the deeper water.  I wound down steadily and pulled into… fresh air! Oh well.  

I forgot to mention that today I was actually using a leger rig for which I set up a ‘backbiter’ alarm, something I haven’t done for a while.  There had recently been a spirited debate on social media over the correct way to set up one of these devices.  My set up today wasn’t ideal so I expect the Pike police would be chuntering but no matter, ten minutes later a Pike pulled the line out of the clip and I wound into a nice little fish which charged up and down a bit before I chinned it out.  This one picked up half a herring cast to the far bank.  It did feel a little strange using the longer rod and I’m not sure I like it or need it?  It had been a long time since Maddie last saw a Pike so enjoyed inspecting this one through adult eyes, even a small Pike is an impressive fish when you haven’t seen one for a while.

Although it was nice in the sunshine the wind was fierce today, thrashing the beds of Norfolk reeds, some of the brittle leaves broke off and sailed across the water.  I was glad I dragged the oval brolly out of the shed but regretted forgetting to bring a second chair as Maddie had claimed the one we had.  I spent most of the time standing up and scanning the water so no surprise that I was first to notice Maddie’s float jab and then slide off upstream.  She eagerly left the chair and with me spitting instructions she picked up the rod and wound down.  Despite my advice Maddie managed to set the hooks expertly but as she is only used to catching silver fish these days she was surprised by the power of a nice Pike trying to pull back.  Whether she heard my advice or not Maddie managed to gain control and gradually pumped the fish back to the bank, where I scooped it up with the net.  This fish was in lovely condition and although no monster it was Maddie’s first Pike for nearly a decade and we were both delighted.

Maddie’s first cast of the day had been perfect but her recast went backwards.  The next attempt was much better but had hardly settled before a Pike was pulling the float across the swim.  Unfortunately this time the Pike didn’t stay hooked although as far as I could tell Maddie had done everything right.  By now the afternoon had clouded over and my sunglasses were now redundant, it felt like the sunshine had just been a dream.  Although we had planned to fish through dusk the clouds looked bruised and threatened rain so with a Pike each to our credit we decided enough was enough.  I quickly packed up before any rain could dampen our day and we were driving back along the track by 1530. 

Soon it will be time to get back to the routine and we’ll be heading out on another road taking Maddie back to uni.  Once Christmas is over I usually manage to find a reason for justifying the whole thing and it’s usually spending time with family, this year more than ever.

Monday, 31 December 2018


Christmas came with much over indulgence, Christmas went with more of the same.  The days were grey with little sign of the sun, one blending into the next, what day is it now?  Cabin fever looms... Even my teenage son was growing weary of his bedroom full of technology and eagerly agreed to a morning by the water to break the routine.

We didn't get up silly early but were still first to the water and afloat before it was fully daylight.  By 0730 we were relaxed and fishing with deadbaits scattered about the boat and friendly insults scattered within it.  Before long a convoy of cars arrived as expected, at least four anglers would be lining the banks today.  I always give the bank anglers a wide berth and usually enjoy a chat with most of them, never any friction.  I was surprised to see two anglers appear in the swim directly opposite us showing intentions of setting up.  Both Isaac and I had a recast, an unsubtle signal which had the desired effect, after a bit of muttering the two anglers separated to other swims but given the choice available they were still too close for comfort.

Meanwhile I looked up to see one of my floats zipping along the surface, I quickly wound down but the fish dropped the bait.  Still where there's one there is often more.  Half an hour later the same rod, baited with Mackerel was moving again, this time I made contact with a spirited fish that I managed to unhook alongside the boat.  That would do for me, I just wanted Isaac to catch now.

It must have taken an hour for our neighbours to get set up, I watched with a critical eye, they looked to me like once a year Pikers using their carp gear.  A few more deadbaits splashed down into the area which made it a few too many.  We decided that we'd have a move as soon as we'd eaten our breakfast toasted sandwhiches, the ridge monkey is a good bit of kit!  With the stove cool and packed away we upped the weights and moved off, as I rowed away I noticed one of the anglers leave his swim with baits in the water and wander off to chat with his mate, my expression of dismay was ignored, as were the curses that followed...  This water has a lot going for it but access to ignorant muppets isn't one of them, there have been signs of poor angling for as long as I've fished here.  When Isaac caught his PB I removed his trace along with two others.  The rules are printed plain as day but are obviously being ignored.

We recommenced fishing on a narrower, shallower stretch.  This was a 'shit or bust' move, sometimes the Pike are here in numbers but other days it just seems dead.  More than anything the choice had been made to avoid other anglers.  By 1100, after a couple of moves it seemed we'd shit out as nothing had disturbed our baits.  We decided to pack most of the gear up but leave one rod so Isaac could troll a deadbait, just one more Pike would round the morning off nicely.  I rowed as far as possible upstream without a touch then turned and headed back towards the boat yard.  

As we rowed through one of the spots we'd already fished Isaac's float stabbed and slid away but as he wound down the float popped back up, bugger!  We circled round to cover the area again and were mid turn when the float once again plopped under but for a second time the bait was dropped.  The joey Mackerel was looking chewed but still whole however I switched it for a small Smelt, if Isaac got lucky again then he'd be able to strike instantly.  We were almost through the swim when the float slid away once more.  This time Isaac set the hooks quickly and soon bullied the smallest Pike in the water into the boat.  With honours even we were both happy to head for home.

Another year of the post truth age has flown by...  The world went mad some time ago so I find it best to try and ignore all of the bollocks that makes the Ten o'clock news (I am mostly successful but not always) and concentrate on the things that make us happy, Adnams beer is high on this list.  Family comes first and thankfully everything is fine in my world, mostly happy people doing well and also healing where necessary.  Pray it continues...

I love to read, on average I go through a book a week and this year really enjoyed books by Kazuo Ishiguro, Ali Smith, Ian Rankin, Mick Herron and Haruki Murakami amongst many others.  My favourites of the year were "How I killed Margaret Thatcher" by Anthony Cartwright - if only... "Fingers in the sparkle jar" by Chris Packham was surprisingly good and very moving and "Dead man's trousers" by Irvine Welsh a brilliant continuation of the 'Trainspotting saga'.

Then there's cricket which was anything but joyous early in the year; outplayed in Australia, embarrassing in New Zealand and woeful at Lords against Pakistan.  Having leveled that series things got dramatically better with a good win against India including those emotional scenes at the Oval and a very good win in Sri Lanka.  After a couple of turbulent years the test match team is starting to come together again. We also have the best ODI team in the world, next year they have to prove it.

I was spoiled with lots of live music experiences this year, the best were Eels at Brixton Academy which was almost perfect and the Killers at Latitude which was part of a mad, over indulgent festival evening.  Other good shows through the year included The Charlatans, James, PIL, The Vaccines, The Wailers, Wolf Alice, The Levellers and Fucked up who I'm seeing again next month.

Then there's fishing which has been much the same as most years. Pike fishing started steadily in January but the horrible arctic weather ruined my grand plans for a spectacular seasons end.  A bit of Roach fishing went okay but the BIG fish seem to be a thing of the past now.  Apart from an early spring Carp my warm weather fishing would be described as an anti climax if it wasn't so predictable.  The start of this Pike season has been a hard slog but ultimately rewarding.

My fishing highlight?  This time last year I wrote about losing what would probably have been a lure caught PB.  A few months later I had a rematch with another Pike on another water with a different lure and this time, despite getting my landing net snagged, I managed to somehow win the battle.  I was delighted to add a few pounds to the 19.08 I caught on a Suick Thriller in 1999.  But the fish in the photo below isn't either of them.  Happy New Year.