Monday, 28 July 2014

Tapping tips and fluttering wings.

The busy early summer period came to a close last weekend with the brilliant Latitude festival where Shelley and I spent five days and four nights of exhilarating hedonism whilst enjoying the music of The Black Keys, Royksopp & Robin, James and Goat to name but a few. (Who the fuck are Goat? Do yourself a favour and click this link ). 
I can’t describe the festival vibe but it gives us a sense of freedom, happiness and wellbeing. Latitude is without doubt the best weekend of the year, it may leave us in dire need of a wash but it cleanses the soul.  

A week later and at last we have spare time to spend by the water somewhere. I considered setting the bivvy up in the peace and quiet of the Marsh to try again for the Tench and Carp. Instead I opted to do something completely different, to head north and spend the day in the boat after the famous Broadland Bream. We got up at the crack of 0700, hit the road half an hour later with a bit of drizzle hitting the windscreen. By 0900 we were cutting through the waves, the north wind was breaking up the clouds allowing the sun to break through.

Forty five minutes on the engine took us to a spot where I was fairly sure we would find some Bream. While Shelley made herself comfortable I tackled up two simple feeder rigs with two foot hooklengths and a size 14 baited with two pieces of corn. Groundbait was a 50/50 mix of Gold Pro and brown crumb with a squirt of Brasem added to the mix. I expected to have a while to wait before the tips started knocking but fish were homing in straight away. The first couple of strikes hit thin air before I connected with a proper Broadland Bream of a couple of pounds or so.
And so the morning passed with bites coming in flurries punctuated by quiet spells where nothing much happened.  I kept recasting the feeders regularly, aiming at a large tree on the far side to keep the bait in a fairly tight area.  Occasionally I’d catapult out a few balls to top it up further.  I wasn’t just catching Bream but Roach averaging about half a pound too and even a couple of Perch. I missed plenty of bites which I’m sure came from smaller silvers with eyes bigger than their bellies.  None of the Bream were particularly big either, I hoped if I kept going I’d eventually find some better sized fish. 
What a way to spend a day!  Catching fish in a beautiful place with glorious weather, it was now sunny and bright but the North wind made sure it didn’t get too hot.  Plenty of hot tea and sausage sarnies to keep us sustained and Test Match Special on the radio; England batting on and on with Cookie finally getting some runs!

As ever the wildlife around us was fantastic with all the normal waterfowl putting in an appearance.  We’d passed a couple of harriers on our cruise onto the spot and seen Cranes over the reeds to the west.  The highlight today was something different entirely; the Swallowtail is Britain’s largest and rarest butterfly and we were blessed with a pair cavorting and tumbling around the boat without ever staying still enough for a decent photo.  All the times I’ve fished these waters this is the first time I’ve been privileged to see the Swallowtail.
 By early afternoon boat traffic was becoming annoying.  An elderly couple steered their yacht straight through my lines only yards away from us and actually looked quite shocked when I asked them how much Broad they needed.  Even though the tips were still tapping regularly we decided to wind in and head for quieter waters.  From a fishing point of view this was undoubtedly a mistake but where relaxation is concerned it was spot on.  I dropped down in another couple of spots; one was too weedy, not good for Bream in my experience.  The next produced a couple but bites were slow.  The final spot was warm and sheltered and gave us a good view of the setting sun but only produced Roach.  I realised I hadn’t bothered to photograph any of the Bream I’d caught, thinking I was bound to get a bigger one at some point but this didn’t happen so here’s a Roach instead.

As the sky began to darken we pulled up the weights for the final time and motored back to the slip.  This was the first time I’d managed to fish for any length of time for over two months, now I have lost time to make up for.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

In a rush

Working in the tackle trade has its benefits but when you spend Friday afternoon listening to other angler’s plans for the weekend, knowing you have no time to fish yourself, it’s frustrating to say the least.  However, an unexpected text freed up my evening, so I tried to get my mind in gear and make the most of it.  By 1915 I was at the Marsh with two rods fishing along its lily lined margins.  There were anglers at either end of the lake but this didn’t matter as the swim I fancied was vacant.  I’d walked the lake a couple of nights previously and although I’d seen bubbles everywhere, this particular spot had been alive with them.

On the left I fished a helicopter rig and a snowman set up with a PVA bag of crushed boilies attached.  The right hand rod was a chod rig and pop up boilie.  I scattered about a dozen freebies around each bait and fed a few handfuls of pellets every now and again throughout the session.  After an hour I switched the boilie on the chod rig for two pieces of floating fake corn.  I know the chod is supposed to be a boilie rig but the fake corn has caught me a couple of Tench in the past too.

The evening was cloudy and close with a gentle breeze from the North. Once again there were loads of bubblers in the swim and the occasional fish rolled but I think these were Bream.  As the sky grew dark my baited areas were boiling with bubbles.  On any other water you’d think a take was an absolute certainty but I’ve seen this so many times here, I don’t get too excited.  However I have a plan for next time!

Away to the west a local pub was starting its annual beer festival weekend, the sound of a live band drifted across the countryside, old rock & roll covers aren’t my thing…  By 2145 it was getting dark.  I’d remembered my torch so packing up wasn’t a necessity but a bit of drizzle was starting to come down.  I’d had a fix and was ready for home.

We had planned to get down to a lake on Sunday evening too but a couple of massive storms washed away those plans.  Instead we had to settle for watching the first test meander to a draw.  There had been moments of drama and some good cricket over the five days but pitches like this do absolutely nothing for test cricket.  The test will be memorable for Jimmy Anderson’s maiden test fifty and I enjoyed this innings as much as any I’ve seen in recent years.  Mid-summer madness is about to reach its peak but after that things will calm down and hopefully I’ll have time to do some proper fishing.  I haven’t got anywhere near the Tench and Carp in the Marsh this season and I really want to put that right.  I want to get out after some Broadland Bream before the summer ends too.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Last weekend in June

Friday was busy and work couldn’t pass quickly enough.  After a lightning quick turnaround I was alone at the Marsh fishing with two rods by 1900.  I knew where I fancied fishing and set up so quickly that it was only when I sat down that I realised I hadn’t even bothered to look for signs of fish.  My swim had a large bed of lily pads within easy distance and I’d cast both rods to the edge of this.  One was fake pop up corn fished over about ten pouches of pellets, the other a heli/snowman rig with a PVA bag of crushed boilies.  Before long groups of bubbles began to erupt around the pads, there were certainly fish about; I was in with a shout.

So far the day had stayed dry but rumbles of thunder had me quickly popping up the shelter, grim clouds seemed to be passing away to the east, someone was getting a soaking but I was lucky, so far.  The storm clouds seemed to pass either side of the ring of tall trees that circle this old place but my luck couldn’t hold, could it?  The wind was freshening and blowing from the South west, the opposite to what the forecast had told me.  There were definitely fish in the swim, a large Tench rolled over the pellets.  I was definitely in with a shout!

One of the good things about getting older is seeing younger members of the family grow up.  My nephews are getting older and it’s good getting to know them as adults.  One of them pooped down for a brew, a chat and a laugh.  Unfortunately he brought the rain with him but it wasn’t too bad.  Still fish bubbled and occasionally rolled in the area, I began getting liners too.  Things were looking good.

The nephew left and as it got quickly dark I packed up the boilie rod.  The swim was alive with bubbling and still Tench rolled, surely I would get a chance?  With most of the gear packed up I stood in the dark giving it five more minutes which turned into half an hour as every time I thought about winding in another patch of bubbles appeared or another fish rolled.  At 2210 I realised I’d forgotten my torch and I really should pack up.  If only I’d had more time!  If I’d have been able to stay all night I just know I would have caught!

Saturday was spent at work, enough said.  Sunday morning saw a nice long lay in then Shelley and I took a midday day drive into another world.  For me to go to London there has to be a damn good reason and there was, but more about that later.  We had a hotel near Wembley, chosen because it was cheap not because of the location. At home a five minute walk takes us into the beautiful Suffolk countryside; fields, lakes and woods; Here we walked through concrete, derelict businesses and litter, with the North Circular road on one side and a septic looking canal on the other.  After an average meal at the hotel we crashed, Monday would be busy.

After another lazy start to the day we got the tube into the city, Kensington to be precise which is another world again.  Yes it’s concrete and steel once more but this part of town has money, nothing run down or derelict here.  People watching revealed thousands of tourists along with wealthy looking people who seemed more at home.  After fuelling up with a nice Lamb Rogan we visited the Natural History Museum, my first ever visit here.  The dinosaur exhibition is brilliant but my overall impression of the place was mixed.  On the one hand it’s fascinating but on the other it’s overwhelming; hot, crowded and noisy.  It’s just too big.  We left sooner than planned and found ourselves in the V&A which although less interesting to me was a much calmer, more relaxed experience.  We even found some paintings of the Suffolk countryside by Mr Constable. 

Our main reason for braving the capital was to see our favourite band in the world, “Eels” play at the Royal Albert Hall.  With a little time to kill we sat on a bench near the Albert memorial and tried to while away the minutes.  We’d seen Eels three times on the two previous tours and they’d been fabulous each time.  This was our first visit to the RAH though and it looked impressive even from the outside.  An annoying shower saw us head for shelter early.  Our tickets were standing, way up at the very highest point of the hall and we found our entrance and started queuing. 

With ten minutes to go someone opened the door and offered all of the handful queuing free ticket upgrades!!  There were a few seats unsold to the side of the stage and we eagerly swapped ours!  We went in, got a beer then wandered around, grinning with that “can’t believe our luck” feeling.  We entered the hall and “Jesus Christ!” what a place!  Seats were to the right hand side of the stage but only two rods back.  The view was different but brilliant.  Lights dimmed and… the support…  I can’t remember what they were called and I have no wish to find out.

Then came the Eels, could tonight possibly match the brilliant emotional nights we’ve seen before?  Yes they bloody well could!  Every Eels tour is different.  We’ve seen “Tremendous Dynamite” a blues brothers R&B show with a horn section then last year was “Wonderful Glorious”, just the five regular band members playing a hard rock and roll show.  This year was the regular five again playing a mostly acoustic set.  We heard many songs both old and new that we hadn’t seen performed live before and I can only remember 2 ½ songs that featured on last year’s tour.  Three tours, three totally different sets.  All of the band members can play several instruments and we were blown away by seeing them reveal skills we didn’t know they had.  There were many different arrangements of familiar tunes, all of them worked.  The set started slowly with what “Mr E” described as “sweet bummer rock” then built in tempo and swept the audience along.  Standout tunes tonight; “It’s a mother-fucker”, “Last stop this town”, “Parallels” and “I like the way this is going”.  “E” hugged the crowd, the band played a long encore then finally “Mr E” took over the massive pipe organ.  The sound was brilliant, the atmosphere fantastic and the hall was splendid.  However they decide to play Eels are the best live band I’ve seen in thirty years of gigging and the RAH was the perfect venue for this set.