Saturday, 1 August 2020

Noddy goes Sea Fishing

“Fishing for Skate and Smoothound…”  It was Richard’s idea and before I knew it I was making plans to go beach fishing for the first time since the early eighties.  Giles was up for it and hopefully Trev too.  The major problem was I didn’t have any gear, or did I?  I remembered I had an old beachcaster at the back of the shed though I can’t remember how or why I had acquired it?  Then I remembered I had my Dad’s old reel, an Intrepid fixed spool, bought in the mid seventies which he’d used on very occasional trips to the local beaches and with more enthusiasm to catch Mackerel on family holidays.  It probably hadn’t been used since my very first attempts to catch Pike in the late seventies.  In fact I’m pretty sure my first ever Pike was caught using that very reel in 1979. 

The motivation was simply to do some fishing that was totally different but there was the chance to catch mini sharks in the form of Smoothhound and what is known locally as Skate, though I’m fairly sure they’re actually Thornbacks.  Rich had some inside information and a location where we had a good chance of catching these species.  However I didn’t really care what I caught and as I’d never caught a Bass I really fancied putting that right.  Best of all would be spending some responsible, sociable time with a couple of my oldest friends.  If we caught bugger all it wouldn’t matter much.  The emails pinged back and forth, baits and bits were acquired but the weather wasn’t looking great, very hot with a fresh south easterly.  Apparently this is the wrong wind for where we were heading but in the end we just thought ‘fuck it’ we’ll have a go anyway.

Thursday at work, I nabbed the friendly bait digger and picked his brains.  He advised fishing ‘ragworm on a long trace in the gutter’ if I wanted to catch Bass, and to use ‘dirty squid on a pennell’ if I wanted Rays or Hounds.  I understood some of this language but Google filled in the blanks.  So on the day before our trip I brought home frozen squid and some blueys along with a wrap of live ragworm.  Friday morning was spent hacking the garden before the heat got unbearable then I spent some time tackling up as I’d been instructed and getting together some bits and pieces to allow me to survive on a hot beach for a few hours.  Spooling up the old Intrepid with fresh line, the ancient reel was making a horrible clunking sound every few turns of the handle, would it survive the trip?  I cooked sausage and chunky chips for dinner, quick but substantial.  The designated time and meeting place could not come round soon enough.

In the car, just a couple of miles out from the rendezvous the phone woke up.  Rich was ahead of me and from what he was saying it seemed the hot weather had everyone in Suffolk heading for that particular beach, apparently the place was rammo and there was no chance of even getting a car parked let alone find space to fish.  After a bit of consultation we came up with a plan B just a couple of miles down the road, hopefully things would be calmer here though we didn’t have a clue what the fishing would be like.  The three of us; Rich, Giles and I, eventually met up an hour later than planned, it was busy here too but we could at least park and have a look around.  This car park was tree lined and shady, there were a lot of happy, slow moving, white haired people sitting on folding chairs, having picnics.  They were close to the beach but not within sight of it.  I realised I am now at an age where elderly people are no longer frightened of me.

It was a good job I was prepared for a hike because that’s exactly what we did, a good mile on tarmac, sand and shingle.  The beach was busy with families so we kept going past them all until we reached a bit of beach that was quiet and we’d have space for all the cock ups and disasters that would inevitably occur.  I use the word beach but in this part of Suffolk what this generally means is stones, there is very little sand and certainly no palm trees.  We found ourselves close to Bawdsey Manor which is where Radar was developed in the 1930’s.  Thankfully there were no other anglers around to mock our amateurish attempts to extract something fishy from the large expanse of murky water before us.  By now it had gone five o clock and we were fishing a tide than had been coming in for a couple of hours but whether there was any significance to this we had little clue.

I hadn’t fished off an English beach since the eighties, Rich hadn’t been for nearly two decades and Giles couldn’t remember ever fishing like this before.  But we got busy putting together rods and attempting to assemble it in a sensible order.  It took a while to get a rod in the water, I don’t think any of us wanted to be the first to crack off.  Rich and Giles tackled up with paternoster rigs baited with squid or bluey and were soon fishing.  Eventually I was ready; a six ounce breakaway fished as a running leger, a hooklength of about three feet made from 15lbs Amnesia then a size 2 Aberdeen hook baited with a Ragworm which I’d hooked as if it was a lobworm and I was after a chub.  I hurled this about twenty yards out then walked the rod back up the beach and rested it on the tripod which Giles had come up with.  After staring at the tip for a couple of minutes I slumped back into my chair.
By this point Rich was insisting we sample the home brew he’d made which was certainly drinkable and didn’t result in any disasters, as my own home brews had done in the distant past.  But I couldn’t take my eyes off the rod tips which were nodding and bumping, would I be able to even tell when I got a bite?  Then there was a proper rattle and I was on my feet again, that was definitely a bite, wasn’t it?   A few minutes later I wound in to find my bait had disappeared.  The next cast didn’t produce any obvious bites but once again my bait had gone.  What kind of creature was responsible for this?  I wouldn’t be the first person to catch crabs at the east coast.  My next cast produced another proper rattle and I was quick enough to pick up the rod and strike.  I thought I’d missed it but noticed my line was behaving strangely and when the lead started skipping over the shingle I laughed out loud as a tiny silver fish followed it up the beach.  To cheers from the lads I held my first ever Bass aloft!  It may have been the smallest fish in the North Sea but it was a first and I was delighted.

This galvanised us, if there was one fish out there then we must have a chance of a few more.  We watched our rod tips, mostly unsure whether the dips and rattles translated to a bite but every now and then came a proper indication.  I struck at one and winched in another Bass, this was much bigger than the first though still what would have to be classed as ‘small’.  Every time I wound in the old intrepid was clunking and grinding as if giving me a round of applause.   By this time Giles had switched over to Ragworm while Rich having caught a few bass in the past persevered with the bigger baits.  This sea fishing lark is quite busy, lots to do for anglers more used to chucking rods out and letting them fish.  I detected another bite like movement, managed to strike then completed a hat trick of Bass, this one bigger than the first but not quite as big as the second.  It wasn’t long after this when Giles’ rod which had a much more sensitive tip was rattling obviously, he picked it up and quickly winched in his first ever Bass which he held up for the camera, another happy angler.  No sooner had he got another ragworm into the big grey swim than his rod was rattling again with a proper unmissable bite and he made no mistake.  Unfortunately the culprit was a small Eel, something much more familiar to us and a source of more laughter as Giles wrestled with it.

The bites slowed up but I stayed on the ragworm for a while longer.  Around seven thirty Giles wandered off to his car for supplies leaving us in charge of his rod baited with ragworm.  This seemed a good time to switch mine to a squid, fished with a long trace and a 2/0 pennell rig.  On my first cast with this bait I was trying to wash the muck off my hands when Rich started yelling and I looked up to see my rod bouncing.  I struck and for the first time found myself attached to something that felt like a fish, it could be weed but I felt confident it would be something with fins.  I saw something flat and brownish in the surf so in the end I was half right, it was a fish but it was a Thornback and it didn’t have any fins.  This was another first for me and I once again I was well chuffed.

With that rod rebaited and recast I sat down again grinning but I’d hardly got comfortable when Giles’ rod baited with rag was bouncing.  Rich was busy baiting up and declined the offer so I picked it up and wound in another, slightly smaller Ray.  It now seemed like we could catch anything at any time and when Giles returned a few minutes later we were all confident of more bites.  However things didn’t so much as slow down as grind to a halt, there were the occasional rattles but no more obvious bites.  Things were more measured now, we were all fishing big lumps of squid or bluey hoping for something bigger and leaving it longer between casts. 

We moved our camp back up the beach for a second time, now sitting at the very top.  The beach was almost deserted now, the day trippers mostly heading home.  Way off shore was a never ending procession of ships heading to and from the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich, a few would be headed further up the Orwell to Ipswich.  One I recognised as the ferry coming back from the Hook of Holland, I’ve been on this boat several times, returning home after misadventures and other holidays.

As the light began to fade the ships were lit up and so was the sea as a storm travelled northwards.  We saw the lightning and heard the thunder at times but thankfully it didn’t come ashore.  By this time the tide was on the turn and it was dark enough for us to switch on head torches to illuminate the rod tips but these weren’t showing much movement.  Some other anglers had arrived at dusk and set up some way from us.  Thinking back to when we’d walked along earlier this was an area of sand banks and gullies, it looked good but was busy with people at the time, and it would surely appeal to the fish now the sea was covering all these features.  Maybe the fish had moved, the bites had certainly dried up for us but going into darkness we told ourselves that we were fishing for something bigger now.  Surely if a fish came now it would be a proper one? 

We stayed until after ten then packed up and trudged back along the top of the beach towards the car.  The other anglers were still in situ but we didn’t disturb them, I hope they had a good night.  Back at the cars we agreed it had been a bloody brilliant night getting out of our fishy comfort zones and doing something alien to us.  This evening it had ticked all the boxes; the very best company, a secluded beautiful spot, any unnatural sounds drowned by the crash of the waves and interesting fishing with a few catches that were significant to us at least.  Giles had set a new PB and I’d set two.  I will do this again!  I said this after I’d caught Barbel and I said it again after I’d caught a Catfish and so far I haven’t  but one requires time I don’t have and a long drive while the other means being surrounded by idiots.  This type of fishing is an easy drive, I can do it in an evening and I should be able to find myself a bit of space.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Golden Rudd and Slimy Buggers

There hasn’t been enough rain lately to make the river viable and I just can’t get my head round struggling down the Valley at the moment.  I fancied a change and I haven’t taken the boat out since March, partly through being housebound and mostly because we had the closed season.  So I spent Friday afternoon in the garden listening to England grind the West Indies down on TMS and sorting out some gear.  I tackled up two feeder rods with helicopter rigs to which I’d add open end feeders, tied up some short hooklengths and even found some groundbait I’d forgotten I had.  I can’t remember what brand it is bit it contained hemp and smelled pretty good.  I also found a couple of other bits and pieces that had been missing for a while even though I’d hunted high and low for them a few weeks ago.

I didn’t set an alarm the following morning but I was still awake early and on the road heading north before 0800 with ‘Dose your dreams’ pounding out of the speakers.  The roads were relatively clear and I made it to the slip in no time.   Whenever I’ve been away for a while I always anticipate trouble at the slip but there was none, the boat was on the water easily despite the level being as low as I’ve ever seen it.  Not only that the engine started easily without even using any choke and I was soon heading out into the wetland wilderness.  The day was mostly cloudy but still very hot even with a moderate South Westerly.  It was good to be back, the broads looked lovely in the full green summer uniform.

My first stop was a quiet weedy bay that I enjoy as much for its seclusion as the sport it provides.  When the Bream are here it’s a lovely place to spend time but the weed can make the fishing difficult.  As usual the area had changed significantly since my last visit and the clear channel I’ve fished in the past just wasn’t there.  After a bit of mooching about I managed to find a clear area so dropped a marker over the side and rowed a little way upwind.  There was just enough space to drop two feeders into the clearing, on one I used a size 14 hook baited with a grain of corn and one maggot, the other was a 16 baited with three maggots.  I was fishing by 1000 and bites came from the start, I caught a succession of beautiful Rudd averaging about 4ozs along with a single small Roach but no Bream.  In hindsight I’d have been better off fishing this spot with a waggler.

After an hour I’d had enough so rowed out of the bay through thick beds of Mares tail and set off exploring.  There’s another bay close by that I haven’t  yet fished in summer but today it looked like a jungle of weed so I decided to give it a miss.  I ended up tying up to the reeds and fishing the boat channel, a spot I know holds Bream but one I usually avoid because the boat traffic drives me mad.  For some reason I expected the traffic to be light today…

The good news was I caught a Bream of about four pounds after ten minutes or so but bites were slow.  I didn’t mind this as it gave me a chance to chill out a bit but the bad news was the boat traffic was as irritating as any ‘normal’ summer.  Most of the craft were no problem but there are always a few that either through ignorance or oblivion have you winding in frantically.  I stayed here for a couple of hours with Harriers constantly floating across the panorama and boated half a dozen Bream averaging a couple of pounds along with a couple of small Roach.   The trouble with Bream is they are slimy buggers and I must be getting squeamish in my old age as I don’t like handling the bloody things.  All were unhooked in the net, where I photographed one of the smaller ones just so I could post a fish on here.  Eventually the bites slowed up and the armada sped up so I pulled up the weights and headed off to quieter water.

My last stop of the day was back towards the slip and is a very hit and miss spot.  When the Bream are here it can be hectic but when they’re not it can be frustrating.  Once again I had bites from the off, mostly Small Rudd and the occasional Roach on maggots.  In the end I fished both rods with corn just so I could make a brew and I did catch a couple of small Bream.  When the big bowl of groundbait had all but run out I decided I’d had enough and slowly tidied up.  There was another reason for my trip to Norfolk; Maddie’s surreal university term has finished so she’s coming home for a week.  After a brief diversion collecting her from her house in Norwich the two of us were heading back to Suffolk.

I’ll probably do this again before too long, mostly because I just like being in the boat and exploring but fishing this way I rarely stay in one place long enough to get a bed of feed down and get into a proper catch of Bream, maybe next time?

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Looking for Gipping Barbel part two

When the princess left for work I hitched a lift and she dropped me in a lay by a couple of miles out of town on a cloudy, breezy morning.  We’d had a bit of rain during the preceding week and I hoped to find the river with a bit of flow.  To reach it I had to walk down a bridleway and through a bit of farm land, I passed a farmer herding cattle who returned my greeting but a second farmer completely blanked me, miserable bastard.  I couldn’t help saying “Well fuck ya then” which probably wasn’t necessary in hindsight.

I made it to the river which seemed to have a bit of flow but not as much as I’d hoped.  I barely know this stretch having only slung a lure around on a couple of occasions in the past so I explored a little before dropping my stick float into a pool below a weir run off.  I had bites straight away and was soon swinging small Dace to hand.  I could have made myself comfortable here and fished for a while but decided to move on before the farmer came back with a gun.  After that I proceeded downstream, dropping my float into any clear water that I could comfortably reach and I caught fish from most of them.  Most of these were Dace, including some good sized ones along with a few Chub, Roach and Rudd.  I saw no sign of any Gudgeon and as none of the swims I fished looked likely I kept on the move, even when I was getting bites.

There was one run in particular where I really fancied my chances.  I’d trotted a deadbait through it during the winter (unsuccessfully) and even then thought it would be a lovely spot to run a stick float.  All morning I looked forward to reaching this spot where I expected to be able to stand in the river and let the float run away from me.  Of course when I got to the spot it was completely different to what I expected, I could have stood in the water if I wanted but there was no flow and it didn’t inspire any confidence.   Half an hour later, having caught another Dace or two, I was wandering back along the concrete of the high street.  People look at you funny here when you’re wearing wellies and carrying a rod and net. 

By 1100 I was back home but still had a fishy urge so after a quick cup of tea I put the gear in the car and headed off to another stretch of the river.  This area was close to where I grew up, walking distance from one house I lived in and back then was an area where I would frequently catch Gudgeon.  I parked by a bridge on a busy road, a short distance from the largest and most unfriendly tackle shop in Suffolk.  I took my gear out of the car and went wandering but not for long.  Here the river barely flowed at all; in some places it was overgrown and soupy but in others I could see a sterile muddy bottom.  I made three or four casts but didn’t feel comfortable at all so soon loaded the kit back in the car and headed home.

I’m sure there must still be Gudgeon in the river somewhere though it’s become apparent they are far less numerous or widespread than they once were.  I won’t give up yet though but I will wait until the river is flowing before I try again.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Looking for Gipping Barbel part 1

Work has been nonstop since Monday but eventually Friday rolled around, my first chance to fish moving water this season.  I want to catch a Gudgeon (aka Gipping Barbel), that is a goal for the summer but I’m not sure they even exist in these parts nowadays.  The weather in the week had been kind to me, with storms on Wednesday and more persistent rain on Thursday.  When I arrived at the old millpond I stood on the bridge and looked down, it was nice to see a good flow, water poured over the weir creating the noise, foam and a smell I associate with fishing here as a kid.  Walking round the pool I noticed someone feeder fishing on the far side, what I planned to do wouldn’t infringe on him so I quickly put the rod together, fed a few maggots then commenced trotting with a stick float.  This was how and where I first learnt to fish but something I haven’t done in years.

The morning was a mixture of cloud and sunshine with a brisk south westerly wind.  I was surprised by the first bite but not the second and soon swung a small Dace in.  I fed half a dozen maggots every now and then and bites came frequently, mostly small Dace but a couple of Chub and a nice Rudd, each about three ounces or so.  I forget how hypnotic it is to watch a stick float going away from you downstream, even the female dog walkers didn’t distract me other than to return their greetings.  Then came one in full pink lycra jogging gear who insisted on running with her mutt, into the river just downstream.  I don’t think it affected the fishing but it was a bit daft, then what can you expect from someone dressed like a stick of fucking rock?

I was catching fish but not Gudgeon, despite shallowing up and letting the float run through the shallows at the bottom of the pool.  I used to catch them at this very spot but dredging in the eighties changed this pool forever and the current runs differently these days.  I waded out to try to cover the area better and almost managed to fall in; in fact I don’t know how I avoided it.  Despite all this I managed to catch a couple more nice sized Dace before another dog walker insisted her hound entered the water right where I was fishing.  A younger me would probably have had something to say but judging from the woman’s expression I got my feelings across with a smile and shake of the head.

Not long after that I moved on downstream to a slight bend where I used to often catch Perch, but today a couple more tiny Dace was all I found.  After wandering for a while I returned to the millpond and had a few more trots through the first swim, catching a few more fish; Dace, Chub and Rudd but still no sign of a Gudgeon. 

I decided to take a wander upstream, above the weir, not really knowing if I’d even be able to have a cast.  Thirty odd years ago I used to fish this stretch with a carp rod, eight pound line through to a float and a size 8 hook covered in sweetcorn.  I’d catch loads of chub between two and three pounds, the heavy gear was to bully them away from all the weed and snags.  Nowadays this stretch is thick with reeds and mostly unfishable including the pool bellow the rickety bridge where once an attempt to sail down the river in a cattle trough ended in a dunking.

Just below this was a deeper glide where someone had hacked a swim of sorts so I fished here for a while.  It looked promising, and I had a few bites, Dace seem to be everywhere today but it was ultimately disappointing.  However it look a decent bet for a winter Chub though, I’ll have to remember that. 

I had another pool in mind but when I got there it was all changed and unreachable due to reeds and a fallen tree.  Just upstream of this was a run that was a little deeper than I remember, we used to net Loach here; I wonder if there are any of those still in the river?  There was a nice fast flow and I dropped the float in at my feet, it didn’t travel a yard before disappearing and I hooked yet another Dace but a good sized one.  Over the next half hour or so I caught several such fish here as well as a couple of small Rudd and Roach but still no Gudgeon.  I wandered to the top of the stretch with a cast here and there but no more fish, I did find another winter chubbing opportunity though.

By this time it was midday and my stomach told me I needed to eat.  On the walk back to the car I stepped aside to let some walkers past and I didn’t even get an acknowledgement.  Then a bit further on I had to dodge another lycra clad cunt, this one on a bike.  Since when have cycles been allowed on rural footpaths?  I’d been out about four hours yet the time had flown by and I’d enjoyed watching the red dot sail away from me.  It was nice to be catching fish and nice having little idea what species would be hanging on the end but as usual I failed to catch what I was really after, this time.  It made a change but it’s not something I could do every week, not here at least.  Obviously the river valley has changed since I was a kid, houses and industrial units encroach every year and the river desperately needs dredging but there isn't the funds.  I'd been lucky with my timing today, the rain water had made a huge difference.

By 2000 I was sat behind one of those rod pod contraptions with three rods sitting on buzzers, back to the valley for a night after the impossible Tench/Carp.  Location is everything but I didn’t have time to go looking so set up in a swim that allowed me to fish a rod on an area I’d baited through May.  This was the best thing I had to go on.
The princess and I spent a lovely evening by the waterside watching the wild world pass by in fading light, and then we stared in wonder at the stars.  It reminded us of festival nights and we are gutted we won’t be doing that this year.  This will probably mean spending a few more nights here where I never catch anything but I can live with that because for some perverted reason I enjoy it.  I know what I’m doing wrong; I have to find the fish.

We crashed out around 0100 and I didn’t rouse again fully until just before 0800 by which time I knew my best chance had passed.  Sometimes I get up early and sit behind the rods but it hasn’t been worth it yet.  We had massive bacon sarnies for breakfast and plenty of tea, sitting in the sun with a breeze on our faces.

I still had some maggots and had brought the float rod; I didn’t bother to change rigs from what I’d used in the river and still caught loads of Rudd in no time at all and could have caught many more if I could be bothered. 

The next week looks dry, bright and hot which won’t suit the river but might be an opportunity to go looking for these bloody Carp with some floaters?

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Late Spring

After six weeks of confinement we were let out into the countryside again.   At the beginning I didn’t fish for a few days as waters were busy, even the wild places where I like to spend my time.  I saw footage online of around forty cars queued up to get into a popular southern carp fishery which was fucking ridiculous.  As were some of the comments urging for the clip to be taken down so angling didn’t get halted again.  Thankfully most of the commercials in this area were run in a much more sensible manner.

When I did start fishing I had a plan for the impossible Tench/Carp.  Instead of flitting about fishing here, there and everywhere I decided to concentrate on one spot, where I’d seen fish before and prebait it.  I really don’t like fishing in this way but as I’d tried everything else I thought ‘what the hell?’  So this I did, depositing around twenty kilos of pellets over a two week period and fishing regular early morning sessions.   On my first trip I saw a fish roll over my baited spot which gave me confidence but in the end it made no difference, I still caught fuck all.  Not then nor the subsequent half dozen trips.  On my final attempt I cracked and started throwing a lure around.  One hour and three Pike later I’d had enough.  I could have easily caught silver fish at almost any time but I just couldn’t be arsed.

But this spring I learnt a little more about how to approach this type of fishing from the punt.  How best to lay things out and keep the space organised and comfortable.  It’s a bloody shame nothing pulled my string so I could put the theory into practice.  It was wonderful to be back out in the wilderness again and I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching the birds and animals which included rabbits, hares and a fox.  The sky and water was full of all the usual suspects but also a Red Kite, the first I’ve seen this far east.

So after a few weeks of blanking I decided on a change of scenery and visited a commercial that I’ve never fished before.   My motivation for doing so?  Just to actually catch a summer fish that pulled back for once!  I got there a few minutes after the gates opened but when I saw the amount of cars parked up already I nearly turned around again.  I took a deep breath, loaded my gear onto my back and went for a walk.   I saw a carp poke its head out and found a swim within reach that had a nice tree I could sit under/hide behind.  Surely I’ll get my string pulled today?  No, I blanked again.  In fact of the nine anglers on the small lake only one Carp was caught.  It was one of those days when fish were mostly cruising around on the top, not even taking floaters.

I was amused at the antics of some of my fellow anglers though.  I couldn’t help wondering why anglers needed a full barrow of kit on a water where night fishing isn’t allowed?  Why would anyone set up a bivvy on a dry windless day?  Why use ‘distance sticks’ to cast to an island about twenty five yards away?  And after that how did he manage to land his cast five yards short?  I shouldn’t criticise, I did blank after all.

So that was spring and now we are limping towards summer, although nobody told the weatherman, soon the rivers will be open and it’ll be time for something completely different.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

And breathe...

The shackles are off and in a couple of days we can all go fishing again should we choose.  I expect lots of people will do just that and many waters will be very busy for a few days before things return to a level of spring normality. 

Stopping angling was the right decision, back in March there was already lots of fear, confusion and many grey areas.  Legislation has to be made with the most stupid members of the population in mind and let’s be honest, many of us have our fishing blighted by fucking idiots at the best of times.  If anything the ban, like the lockdown should have come earlier, it’s worrying to think that the Football Association reacted to this pandemic quicker than the government.  But now does seem to be a good time to lift the ban and allow us to clear our minds by the waterside, which after six weeks or so of confinement I’m sure many of us need.  The angling trade has missed its busiest period of the year and will be desperate to get up and open again but that doesn’t seem so cut and dried to me, we can live without tackle shops for a while longer.

It’s been incredibly frustrating having all this free time without being able to fish and with no cricket either!  To be honest it probably hasn’t affected me as much as it has many people, I’m quite content within my four walls, being a reader helps and I’m never without a book on the go, often more than one.  Also I live in rural Suffolk so I only have to walk for five minutes in any direction and I’m out of town and in the countryside so my daily hour of exercise has been a pleasure.  I’ve walked round the town lake and seen Rudd, Roach and Bream gathering ahead of spawning as well as Pike and Perch waiting for an easy meal.  I also regularly saw Carp in the same place, these would have been easy to catch and I found myself mentally rehearsing their downfall.  If they had been bigger fish I may well have been tempted.  I’ve also walked miles of river and sadly seen next to nothing apart from the medium sized Chub in the same pool I’ve seen them in every spring for the last seventeen years.  Few clues for my Gudgeon quest which hasn't been forgotten.

Apart from walking and books I’ve found some good entertainment on YouTube.  I don’t really like the angling films in the John Wilson/Matt Hayes mould, where a producer sets out to make a program and a lot of what we are seeing is staged and obviously fake.  I much prefer the video diary type thing where you see people fishing warts an’ all.  However whatever Terry Hearn puts out is brilliant and his latest film about Carp fishing on the Thames is excellent.  I thoroughly enjoyed part one and the second half is due out any day.

Also another old school Carp angler, Dave Lane is one of the best angling writers there is.  When I read his first two books I hadn’t Carp fished in years but loved them regardless.  If you like anecdotal writing Dave’s books are as good as it gets, the species is irrelevant.  Since we’ve all been confined Dave has been talking us through his first book “Obsession…” with a series of Vlogs.  These are great and Dave often goes off on tangents that take us miles away from the waterside and very often involve pubs.  I think he’s up to episode 19 now and they have become essential viewing for me these past few weeks.  He’s getting towards the end of the book now, which is pretty good timing all things considered but when we’re finished I’m actually going to miss them.
Anyway episode one is here and I really recommend them to all anglers, not just Carpers but if you don’t want to go through the whole lot, start at the Wraysbury section which is the best part of the book and so far the best part of the vlogs.

I’m sure there must be some good Pike angling video stuff on YouTube somewhere I’ll have to have a search sometime but before that I’ve got to get some tackle sorted because I’m going to have a cast before the end of the week!

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Closed Season Blues

This year for the first time in a very long time we’re having a closed season. Was it around 1995 that the tackle industry managed to do away with the closed season?  I wonder if we'll notice a difference when we compare whatever is left of this summer to future seasons?

As I’ve been unable to catch fish I’ve had to replace this addiction for collecting pieces of nature.  This spring I’ve gone back to what I always used to do in the closed season when I was a kid, which is to wander off bird watching (when I was a bit older I’d usually be hungover).  In truth, back then it was another excuse to spend time at the waterside and I suppose there’s an element of that again now.  So far these last few weeks I’ve seen 35 different species of bird many have been either in my garden or flying over it, the rest on my daily walk.  I’m lucky to live in the countryside; I don’t have too walk far before I’m out of town and away from people.  I’ve walked less familiar stretches of the river, the weed seems to be growing freely despite the winter floods but I’ve seen no sign of fish.  I hoped to see Chub but nothing until I got to an area close to Town where they usually group up ahead of spawning.  Even here there were no real big ones, a few years ago there were some proper fish in this area but I never did try to catch any.  I did find a couple of stretches that look the kind of environment that may produce a Gudgeon, when I can fish the river again, but as these are remote I expect I’ll try other spots first.

This break has come a bit tough, I can’t remember the last time I went a month without casting a line and there’ll probably be another month to go.  I’m missing it, not so much catching fish as I don’t usually do a lot of that in the spring and summer anyway.  It’s the sitting by the water, becoming part of nature.  It’s the plotting and planning, the mental side of things, preparation.  It’s having something to think about, plan for, and aim at.  A target?  That’s a very clich├ęd word in fishing nowadays.

But we will get back to the water sometime soon, it may seem a while away but it will pass quickly.  In the meantime, like all anglers, my tackle has had a good sort out.  All I really need to do now is tie some rigs and sort some bait out.  When the restrictions are lifted I could literally be fishing within an hour.
Twenty five years ago when the closed season first disappeared I would have spent my time throwing lures around, catching Pike.  From memory this was around the time of the last big lure fishing boom, largely promoted by P&P magazine.  I was trying to suss out these new big lures that were appearing and also y because I wanted to suss out various waters ahead of the winters.  In those days most of my summers were spent attempting to play cricket, I had no time for ‘summer species’.  Who knows if anyone will have any time for summer species this year, my next attempt at catching fish could be in the autumn and if you offered me that now, I’d take it!