Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Cursed

My attempts to catch bigger fish this year has already been farcical so in hindsight buying a load of new gear was a foolhardy thing to do.  Going into the autumn I had an unreasonable amount of things that needed christening, with two new hats, two reels, a rod and some scales along with the regular, less expensive bits and pieces.  The new tackle curse has me in its grip as my Pike fishing has only seen a couple of small fish boated along with several near misses and a ‘one that got away’ story that I’ll save for another day.  Meanwhile ALL of my local fishing mates have been amongst the fish…

On a recent trip a Lamprey rattled off in the dark, a chance to christen the P3!?  I wound down but the fish had dropped the bait.  A couple of hours later the same rod was away again, the biter was singing and the baitrunner purring, what could go wrong?  For a second time I wound down and felt absolutely fuck all.  An hour before dawn a third steady take on the Lamprey but this time I connected and the P3 took on a curve!  I steadily pumped back a decent weight that did nothing aside a few unmistakably fishy thumps, ‘what’s going on here?’  The beam of the head-torch revealed a ball of weed with a bloody Eel hanging out of it, a decent eel but still an anti-climax.

I haven’t fished for Eels for over thirty years but I take a great interest in anything written on the subject.  The thought of Eel fishing really appeals to me and I’ve often thought a couple of my local waters would be perfect for a big uncaught fish.  However, when I actually catch an accidental Eel I realise the cold, hard truth is I don’t like the bloody things.  I wouldn’t consider myself squeamish and in the past I’ve handled and even photographed lots of eels but these days they totally repulse me.  At least this one did.  By the time I’d cleared the weed the Eel had unhooked itself but had left me with a great ball of snotty mess and a rig that needed redoing.  By my standards this was a decent Eel so I decided to be brave and fetch the scales and christen another bit of kit but by the time I’d returned to the net the poxy thing had made its escape.

I did manage a couple of quick photos after I’d cleared the weed.  The float in the picture is seven inches long (and the absolute best float for Broadland Piking but not my designso I reckon this fish was a little over three feet long and thick so I’m thinking between two and three pounds?  I could be miles out and I won't be trying to catch another one for a while.


So autumn is here and I’m doing what I love to do the most and though the Pike may be sparse other things make up for it.





Sunday, 1 October 2017

Let me at 'em

 Time has been sparse this month and the only fishing I’ve done is an hour of half hearted lure chucking on a lake that resembled a beach in Poland.  I followed this a couple of weeks later with a similar half-hearted effort at the same place.  Part of me wants to have a go at this water but whenever I go there I just don’t feel it…  But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, the decorating hell is almost over!!!  Hopefully everything will be cleared and I’ll be able to have a proper crack at fishing very soon…

I’m not long back from the fortieth anniversary PAC convention which took place at Kettering once again.  I enjoy it every year even though I’m mostly working, catching up and chatting with friends and colleagues is enough.  The 40th anniversary display put together by Eddie Turner was brilliant, it’s a shame we couldn’t have this at every convention. This year I actually made it to a talk as well.  I’d never seen Dave Horton’s show before so I didn’t want to miss him again, I wasn’t disappointed.  Dave lays himself bare, makes us roar with laughter and inspires with Pikey stories and awesome fish, top stuff.  During the day and evening that followed I picked up the latest issue CC4 from Rob and Martin on the Catch Cult stand, could have chatted all day to ‘the only sane man in Norfolk’ Stephen Harper, received financial and budgeting advice from the Smeltfather, not quite as mad as he looks Neville Fickling (bless him), ‘why red wine is good for you’ from Pete Haywood, ‘where not to drive a 4x4’ from Eddie Turner, loads of laughs with Dave Marrs.  Rich and Giles were wild eyed and on top form, Mark and Gary ate all my food.
I also bought some stuff so I’ve probably cursed my season now.  I picked up some spare ‘Boatbiters’ from ET, and another Boat rest from Neville.  I only buy rods when I need them (i.e. when I break them) often second hand bargains, but when I need to replace a Pike rod then I might as well get the best.  There are a few high quality rods out there but as I already had one of Dave Lumb’s Loch Tamers and know how good it is, I thought I might as well get another.  Now I just need a chance to use it!!!!  All of the traders mentioned can be found in the links on the right hand side.  My better half had been looking with disdain at my battered and weather beaten PAC cap and dropped hints that it was time for it to go.  I don’t remember how long I’ve had it but think it’s in the region of ten years and its been retrieved from broad or river on numerous occasions. It’s perched on my head in most of my favourite photos and has been covering my bald patch through some memorable days.  It may be retired but will never be discarded.  Believe it or not it was originally exactly the same colour as the new one on the left, I wonder how long it will take me to turn this one a mucky grey colour?


I forgot to take a camera but Dave Lumb was busy with his and you can see some of his photos here;

Thursday, 31 August 2017

In the air

August has come and gone (almost) and fishing time has been even more limited.  Four short sessions for Tench on the big water with just a handful of bait sized Roach to show for it but relaxing and enjoyable fishing none the less.  Summer is almost at an end and it looks like the monster Tench will elude me for another year as I have been struck by the ultimate curse for all anglers, unavoidable decorating.  This affliction looks like sucking up all meaningful time at the weekends and the evenings have suddenly shortened dramatically making an after work session more difficult.  Soon it will be Pike time and already I can hear the wind rushing through reeds in my mind and I can almost smell the autumn air…  This is double motivation, I’m looking forward to being out in a boat so this work must be done before the end of September.

Catch Cult 3 is available now and although I haven’t read it all yet, but I think it’s probably the best of the trilogy so far.  Best of all, Rob and Martin have promised another three magazines, at least and production of CC4 is well under way.  Catch Cult is a throw back to the old days of inspirational angling writing, don’t miss out get a copy here.


The 2017 PAC Convention takes place on 30th September in Kettering, this year the club is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary and the convention will be a bit special.  Doors open at 0900, click the link for more details.




Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Embracing Stage Three

Mid summer and I reach this point of the season having caught precisely fuck all of note.  This should come as no surprise because it happens every year without fail.  This could be because I’m totally useless at fishing for most species and there is certainly plenty of evidence to support this theory.  It could be down to other priorities resulting in fishing lots of short sessions instead of pitching up for a day and a night which is what I really enjoy doing.  Finally I do tend to pick waters that most sane people would walk away from.

Many years ago I heard a quote that stuck with me, (google has attributed these words to an American, Edward Ringwood Hewitt,) “Anglers do, indeed often pass through three stages in their fishing lives: the time when they want to catch all the fish that they can; the time when they strive to catch the largest fish; the time when they study to catch the most difficult fish, caring more for the sport than the fish.”  At the time I heard this I was in the process of passing from the first stage to the second but couldn’t ever imagine I’d move on to the third.  Now I realise I’ve been in stage three for about a decade. 

So now I have a couple of waters at my disposal, both within a reasonable distance of home and both tick all the boxes required by this very fussy angler.  Of most interest to me at this time of year is Tench and both of these waters hold small numbers of Tench that grow to an impressive size.  Both waters hold fish that could shatter my current PB, however pursuing these fish borders on masochism.

The smaller of these two waters I’ve named “The Valley” and though I say smaller it’s still 18 acres and due to its nature seems much bigger.  The water is shallow, weedy and full of silver fish which will demolish most Tench baits before they even reach the bottom so I’m pretty much forced to fish boilies to have any kind of a chance.  Happily this approach also gives me a chance of catching Carp, there are a small number of these fish and the ones I’ve seen look quite big.  What’s more, as far as I know these fish don’t have names.

This lake has lots of inaccessible places and in the clearer areas fish spotting has proved difficult most of the time.  As time has gone on I’ve managed to identify a few areas which look likely to hold a fish or two.  I feel my best chance here is to fish when I have a bit of time on my hands, bait up a couple of spots then sit back and wait.  This approach nearly saw me crack the place at the first attempt but my luck didn’t hold…  In the handful of sessions since I don’t think I’ve even been close.  One last thing about the Valley, you can ignore the weather forecast because this place has it’s own weather which never matches what the BBC predict.

On my most recent visit I picked a swim which I thought looked the part and indeed had recent history of turning up a Tench.  I put three tempting baits into areas that felt right, put a little feed out then sat back.  The night was quiet but the morning was breath-taking, exciting but ultimately frustrating.  In short I had Tench rolling and fizzing in my swim but I couldn’t get anything other than liners.  Initially I stuck to pop ups, 10mm boilies and fake corn but eventually cracked and tried maggots and corn but caught only silvers, even with fake baits they just kept getting battered.  Eventually a 15mm pop up was away and I thought “At last!”  It was the biggest fish of the trip indeed but an 8oz Roach wasn’t what I expected.  I packed up in the early afternoon and as I stared into the water wondering how I had managed to blank, I noticed movement.  There swimming in the water at my feet was a Tench, what else?  It was a very small Tench and looked like it had recently survived an encounter with a Pike but at that moment I’d have done anything to have caught it.

The other water is the one where I occasionally fluke a few decent Roach.  This place is completely different, far bigger and much deeper it’s on a totally different scale.  However large parts of the water can be ruled out due to depth alone so in many ways, finding likely looking Tench swims has been easier.  Being there when the Tench are around is another matter.  There is a good head of all species in this water but they can be highly nomadic.  Here I can mostly use traditional Tench methods and baits as there are no nuisance fish that I would be disappointed to catch.  At the moment I’m mostly fishing regular short sessions which probably isn’t the best approach but it means I’m covering a lot of ground and building up a picture of the water.  I’ve fished this place, on and off, since 1987 and in all this time I have never, ever caught a Tench.

A few days ago I was back at the big water on bright breezy evening.  Even though I’m short on time I always like to have a quick walk around here and after ruling out a swim I’d never fished before I selected one that I had.  This one has a nice little bar stretching out from the margin, dropping away into water a foot or so deeper on either side.  I lowered two baits in, baited with pellets and corn then sat back with a brew.  As I gazed at the water there appeared to be bubbles streaming up, on any other water I’d be sure that was Tench fizzing, hang on a minute…  A few minutes later an alarm sounded, a jittery stuttery take but definitely not a liner.  I picked the rod up, the tip thumped over and then it was gone and all I retrieved a clump of weed.  The bubbling fizzled out after that.


I don’t know who first started using military metaphors to describe fishing but at one time it would have been unique, clever and actually pretty effective.  Nowadays it has become so cliché that most probably don’t even know what they are actually saying when they look through their armouries and plan their campaigns.  I always like to think of my fishing obsessions as journeys and at the moment I have two running parallel.  These trips are well underway so I can no longer use “just starting out” as an excuse for not getting into any meaningful fish.  I’ll just keep going and I have the advantage of pure bloody mindedness on my side.  I will get there because I won’t give up and when I reach the destination, hopefully I’ll stay awhile.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Flaming curses

Well the monsoon didn’t materialise this June, it’s just been getting hotter and hotter and there hasn’t even been the scent of rain but tonight its humid, it feels like a storm is on its way…  Fishing time lately has been limited to a few short evening sessions.  The first was a glorious evening after Tench at the big water, I fished a swim between two snags with 10mm tuttis on one rod and float fished corn on the other.  At no time did I feel a fish was likely but it was lovely sitting by the water. 


The next two were spent out in a boat with Giles.  On the first we worked hard chucking lures around on an almost still, flat evening.  Although conditions were a lot more comfortable than the last time we’d fished the Pike weren’t really up for it.  We had to work hard and only managed one take each despite covering a lot of water.  Both were Jacks but thankfully we managed to get both to the boat. 

While all this was happening England’s ODI team was absolutely rolling with three convincing wins.  Then they bumped into a Pakistan team that started shambolically but kicked into gear.  The semi final was an echo of the ’92 world cup, when they are good Pakistan are unstoppable and their bowlers always do well on English wickets.  The best team won the tournament.

A long very hot week later and we figured the water temperatures were just too high for Pike fishing so decided to float fish for whatever came along.  On this evening there was a surprising cool North Easterly and as we sat there was plenty of Pike activity!  A bit of groundbait brought loads of silver fish along too.  Giles caught consistently by switching depths and baits.  These were mostly Rudd but there was the odd Roach and a few Perch thrown in too.  I caught a few nice Rudd with corn float fished in mid water but spent most of the evening trying to keep a piece of fake corn still long enough to catch a Tench.  As usual my attempts to catch a slimy greenback proved fruitless.  I will be back!

Festival season is approaching so this was all the excuse we needed to load the car for a weekend of camping in Norfolk.  Of course this meant an inevitable change in the weather, gone was the hot, sunny and dry with more changeable weather on the menu.  Also on our agenda was a day in the boat, snapping photos and hopefully catching a few fish.  The Purple Princess and I studied the forecast, Saturday would be warmer but with the risk of showers, Sunday was said to be dry but a little cooler.  In the end we opted for Saturday and were afloat by 1130 in thankfully dry, pleasant conditions.

Forty five minutes after setting off I cut the engine and steered us into a bay sheltered from the south west wind.  Shelley’s camera had already been working overtime and was still clicking as I tackled up two rods.  Both had 30gm open end feeders fished on helicopter rigs.  The lighter set up of the two had a 16 hook and a short hooklength of about 4”, this was baited with three maggots.  The other had a longer hooklength, around two feet, with a 14 hook baited with corn.  The feeders were loaded with a right old Heinz 57 mix of groundbait then pinged to the same general area about twenty yards from the boat, lined up with a convenient tree on the far bank.  Having bought a new landing net a few weeks ago, I’ve been suffering a new tackle curse this spring and so far I haven’t actually had a fish in it.  Actually I should have netted a couple of Roach earlier in the year but as I was sitting right by the water I’d literally picked the fish out of the water and not used the net.

Often it takes a while for fish to find the bait but first chuck with the maggot rod and the tip bent round and I hooked a small Roach.  This happened on the next four casts with three more Roach and a Rudd swung into the boat.  The sixth cast brought another bite but this fish dropped off.  Things were looking good, plenty of fish in the area and surely it was only a matter of time before some Bream moved in.  Half an hour later and amidst all this action I’d failed to notice the wind had completely swung round to a north easterly and was starting to bump the boat around.  The forecast had promised winds from the west all day so this wasn’t at all in the script, the forecast had threatened showers too but could we trust it?  The sensible thing was to move the boat just in case so a few minutes later we dropped the weights in another bay sheltered from the new wind.

I used the same methods here but bites weren’t so quick in coming which at least gave me the chance to make a cup of tea.  After a while the tip on the maggot rod began to rattle again and I began to catch a few small silver fish.  After an hour on this spot the maggot rod bent over properly and I was into my first Bream of the day, it wasn’t that big but required the net and the curse was broken at last!  On the next cast the same rod produced another, bigger Bream and before I’d unhooked that one the sweetcorn on the other rod was taken by the smallest Bream in the Broads.  I switched both rods to corn and the bites kept coming, six out of the next seven fish were Bream averaging around 1 ½ pounds each, the net curse was forgotten.  While this was going on the wind dropped to almost nothing then a few minutes later picked up again from a westerly direction.  We were comfortable and nothing threatening showed on the horizon so we stayed put but a fishless half hour passed with barely a rattle on the tip.  Time for another move.


A third spot gave Shelley another angle for her camera and I started again from scratch.  Bites were slow to begin with and never came as regularly as the previous two spots.  I’ve caught plenty of Bream in this area in the past but today I only managed Roach and Rudd.  Bream may well have moved into the swim as the light faded but we didn’t find out because by then we were motoring back to the slipway.  The day finished with a seafood medley washed down by a couple of pints of ‘Ghost ship’ in my favourite pub in Norfolk.  While we were tucking into this the rain came and emptied the beer garden.  Luckily we were inside watching through the window, our timing had been pretty good today.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Monsoon season

Has June always been stormy or is it just recent years?  If, as I think, it’s a fairly recent phenomena; then perhaps it’s further evidence that a bunch of rich men have fucked the planet up?  They don’t give a shit because they’ll be dead soon anyway.  Whatever, today was as rough as guts, heavy rain and gale force winds, clouds as dark as Theresa May’s soul.  Ideal for chucking lures around in a boat, possibly not.  Fortunately the forecast said the clouds would break in the early evening and we might even see the sun.

I met Giles and we were afloat by 1900, drifting with the still strong wind and casting lures as we went, the sky was miraculously and mercifully clear but there was more gloom on the horizon.  Away to the north a flash of lightning and rumble of thunder, to the south a rainbow gives Giles an unlikely halo.  The lake looks fantastic, full summer greens lit by the longed for sun but it doesn’t last.  Cloud and gloom skids by but it stays dry, all things considered these are pretty good conditions for a late spring Pike.  As Giles was my guest I was on the oars, which was going to be hard work and would leave no time for snapping photos of the scenery, no matter how nice.

Tonight the Pike had read the script, kind of.  We had plenty of hits, as usual Giles getting the most but the Pike just wouldn’t stay hooked.  We both had fish come off quickly and as the evening progressed we got them ever closer to but not actually in the boat.  One jack which Giles managed to get fairly close threw the lure in the process of leaping a good yard clear of the water.  My killer Rapala which done the business last year provoked just one response early on while Giles had hits on a variety of lures, notably a spinnerbait.

Having enjoyed reading about Mr Lumb’s surface fishing I’d become inspired to chuck a topwater in the box.  I’ve only ever caught a handful of Pike on surface lures; I’ve rarely had the confidence to persevere for any length of time but now was the time to put it right.  I’m not even sure what lure I was chucking out either.  I think I bought it via the old P&P forum, it may have been made by Dave Greenwood from whom I got a few good fish catching lures but I have a feeling this one was made by Graham Slater?  Anyway I began chucking it around and working out how to fish the thing.  After a handful of casts I felt a sharp tug which may have been a take?  A bit of missing paint seemed to back this up.

The wind was still blasting which made controlling the boat and the lures a bit tricky and the row against it was a bastard but we kept going.  We worked out the best way to fish was to lower a mudweight which controlled the drift but even this eventually saw us too close to the bank.  I tried a couple more lures but ended up back on the surface thingy simply because I was enjoying fishing it.  I worked out it seemed to feel right casting downwind and bringing it back against the waves with a slowish, steady retrieve.  A boil on the surface signalled the fish agreed and I was attached to a Pike for long enough to actually think I might boat it but no!

A few casts later it happened again, I didn’t see the take but felt the thump and set the hooks, my luck held and we actually needed to use the pliers.  Just a Jack but at least we’d boated a fish.  We had a cold beer to celebrate and watched a bright red sun sink to the west.  After a few more minutes of firing the topwater out I decided I’d had enough and began a very slow, arduous row back against the wind.  Hopefully Giles would be able to move a fish or two on the way?  Sadly not, one Jack torpedoed out but missed the lure and vanished.
By 2200 my arms ached but we were back at the boatyard and it was still light enough to pack up without a torch.  Despite being thoroughly wind blasted it was a fun night that will hopefully be repeated soon.


This is the unidentified topwater lure.  The tackle boxes are great, they’re really cheap and come full up with free ice cream!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Mr Blue Sky and who's Mr nice guy?

As expected May (the month, not the evil politician), has provided few fishy opportunities but I managed a couple of short sessions.  The first was more of a reccee than anything but I managed a solitary Roach.  This was the first visit of the year to a new favourite summer Tench haunt.  A second trip a few days later saw a couple of Rudd hook themselves on fake corn but I was on the water at the right time to photograph a well deserved PB Tench for a fellow blogger.  A beautiful big fish that provided a much needed confidence boost on a tricky water.

Saturday was a father and son day which meant ten pin bowling in the morning, a typical American game, all brute force and ignorance but I’d forgotten how much fun it is.  Neither of us are any good but that wasn’t the point, we had a good laugh and that was the only thing that mattered.  Back home for cow pie ‘Desperate Dan’ style then Isaac disappeared into his room while I spent the early afternoon sorting a few bits and pieces out for part two of the day. It's a bit of a drive to this water and as we raced along Isaac's 'Guardians of the Galaxy' soundtrack was playing.  We both sang our hearts out to "Mr Blue Sky" and the heavens responded in kind.

By 1630 I was rowing a laden punt into a weedy corner, the fresh south westerly wind made this a good work out and it took two goes before I was where I wanted to be.  A few balls of an Expo mix, laced with maggots and corn, were plopped out in front of us and we commenced fishing.  Isaac used maggots on a whip while I used a waggler with a grain of corn on a size 16.  After a showery day the evening was clear and bright but the wind meant a jacket was required.  Nothing happened to begin with so I had time to set up a second rod baited with fake corn and a 10mm tutti.  This was dropped into another clear patch and the area fed with half a dozen pouches of mixed pellets.  The baitrunner on the ancient Shimano would alert me to any interest while I concentrated on the float rod.

The session began slowly; Isaac had a little trouble controlling the whip in the wind to begin with but soon got the hang of it.  After half an hour or so fish began topping in our swim and soon after Isaac started getting bites.  At first they were intermittent but these became more frequent and he swung a succession of Rudd into the punt.  On my side things were much slower but the one Rudd to suck in my corn was bigger than most of Isaac’s.  Time passed, fishing for Tench from a punt on a late spring evening sounds idyllic and it almost was, except for the wind and the lack of Tench.  As usual we saw loads of water fowl, Cuckoos provided a soundtrack and a Marsh Harrier hunting the fields was the avian highlight of the evening.

An hour and a half into the trip and Isaac’s catch rate on maggots had slowed but mine on corn had increased considerably and what’s more my fish averaged 6ozs or so while Isaac was catching all sizes.  The swim was alive with fish rolling and topping and I hoped all this fishy activity would draw larger, more interesting species into the area.  This may have happened given more time but all too soon ours was up and I was rowing back to the boat yard.


Elsewhere in my fishy world it seems ‘Pike & Predators’ magazine will be folding this summer.  An announcement appeared on Facebook which disappeared very soon after but there has been nothing since that contradicts this.  The late James Holgate was the man behind this magazine which grew out of the ashes of ‘Pike Fisherman’ which only lasted for a year or so.  In the early days both these magazines were inspirational and it’s fair to say they played a major part in the rise of boat fishing and the realisation that lure fishing really was a serious method of catching Pike in the UK.  I only met James on a couple of occasions and he seemed a quiet, shy but thoroughly pleasant kind of bloke.

After James untimely death Neville Fickling took on the role of editor and after a dodgy start he done a decent job.  James Holgate managed to resist the blatant commercialism present in almost all angling magazines, but when he had gone this quickly took hold to the detriment of the mag.  In my opinion the content was a right ol’ mixture of very good, totally indifferent and utter shite.  Most months the best articles were those penned by the editor himself and it was Neville’s words that were read first and usually read again.

Unfortunately in the latest ‘Predatorial’ Neville has let himself down by penning a character assassination of another well known Pike angler with whom the editor has an axe to grind.  The angler on the receiving end is not named but referred to as ‘Ernie’.  Very few people really know the truth behind the stories featured, including Neville himself and this alone makes publication unfair at best and cowardly at worst.  I know both Neville and ‘Ernie’ a little and find them both to be pleasant, likeable people so I find this one sided war of words unsettling but its giving the little world of UK Pike fishing something to talk about through the summer months.  I think this piece would not have been published if there was any future for ‘P&P’ magazine.


In terms of decent angling magazines there is now only one Pike fishing publication available now and ‘Pikelines’ magazine has been the absolute best since Stephen Harper took on the role of editor.  This is quarterly and available free to members of the Pike Anglers Club.  ‘Catch Cult’ magazine is head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to an all round fishing mag and issue two should be available to order later this week.  This latest edition features an untold story of a capture of the infamous ‘Black Mirror’, possibly the most iconic Carp ever to swim in British waters.  Anyone interested in either magazine will find links on the right hand side of the page. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Stubborn

Everyone knows where the fish are, there’s absolutely no secret there and there’s room for a few anglers in the area too.  Two things get in the way though; complete stubbornness and the desire for solitude, could I overcome this?  I got as far as meeting Kevin at the ‘hotspot’, when I say meet I actually reversed into his car but no harm done to either!  To make amends I helped him carry his gear to his chosen swim, the stretch looked nice but not as nice…  Roach were topping as we stood chatting but still I just didn’t get a feel for it.  I went to my preferred area, will some big fish move in like they did last year?  One good one would justify my decision.  I blanked, Kev caught a net full.  Things are different this spring; the water is lower and clearer, the weather has been dry and cool too.  I shouldn’t expect the fish to behave the same way.  Sometimes being a stubborn angler is good because I don’t give up, the game isn’t over until I win.  Sometimes it makes me too slow to adapt. 


Still it’s been an enjoyable month chucking feeders, watching quiver tips and learning a little more about a species I’ve neglected for years.  Just the one photo worthy fish this spring, shame I was too disorganised to get the camera out.  In truth I assumed there’d be others.  Now I reach the time of year when my fishing gets frustrated, I want to be making plans for some spring Tench fishing but other aspects of life have to take priority.  My calendar is full for the next five weeks so any fishing will just be a few hours here and there for who knows what?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Moody

The Roach fishing seemed to have peaked early this spring, some speculated the fish had spawned and moved away early this year, certainly my two most recent trips seemed to endorse this.  The first saw just a couple of twitchy missed bites at dusk and the second a total blank.  The following day I still had the car loaded but as the work day wound down I still hadn’t decided whether to bother or just go home.  The weather was hardly encouraging, dry and bright but the North easterly wind was keeping things cool.  Should I turn right at the gate and head for home or should I turn left and fish? 

Half an hour later I had two rods out in a sheltered swim, surrounded by tall trees.  As fishing for Roach was obviously hopeless I decided to change things, instead of identical rigs fishing the same area I decided to drop one in close and bait it with corn.  Before the splash of the feeder subsided I chucked two handfuls of corn on top and another two of maggots, then I left it to its own devices.  Ever the optimist I had Tench in mind on that one.  As usual the other was dropped down the shelf, baited with maggots and recast every ten minutes or so.

Once settled down with a brew I felt content.  In all likelihood a blank was on the cards but I was in a lovely spot watching Grebes, Mallards, Tufties and a Swan.  There was plenty of birdsong coming from the newly greening trees, Blackbirds, Green Woodpeckers and a Pheasant squawked away to the North.  When all is said and done this is a pretty good place to unwind on a spring evening, even if the wind did mean the heavy coat was required.   However if tonight is another total blank should I reconsider my future plans?
1930, an hour has gone.  The pheasant is still noisy, Pigeons and Crows have joined the chorus but there are still no fishy signs in the swim.  A week ago this wouldn’t have bothered me, it’s still early in the session but now the doubts creep in.  This is a moody water, stuffed with fish of all species but they are highly nomadic and this is one of those times when you wonder if you are within a mile of one.

2000, the wind has dropped briefly and the swim is calm, revealing nothing.  A week ago I started getting unhittable rattles about now but not yesterday and I’ll be surprised if it happens tonight.  2010, A faint but definite rattle on the tip!  I’m all attention now…  A couple of minutes later I wind in maggots that look untouched…  Was it a liner?  My optimistic side wonders if a nice Tench has brushed the line on its way to my baited spot in the margin.  Another prolonged gust of wind makes me glad the Catch Cult hat is pulled down tight over my lugs…  Was that another rattle?!  If so I’m too late again, sure enough the maggots have been chewed!  Its growing dark now and I untangle the head torch, there’s a splash under the tree near my margin rod, was it fowl or fish?  Shortly after the recast the tip thumps round and it’s unmissable!  But I missed it… this has happened a few times this spring. 


By 2025 the bats are out, my hands are cold and I’m hungry. I’ve run out of groundbait and it’s not really worth making more so I start tidying up.  It would be nice to end on a tale of a big fish against the odds but I finished with the blank I expected.  If I’d been a bit more positive I’d have probably fished better but at least tonight brings a bit of hope.  There are still fish around, I should have known better as it was hit and miss last year.  I just have to stick to my guns and keep going whenever I can, there’s still a chance this spring.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Good Evenings

By the time the Pike fishing season finishes I’ve usually pushed my luck with the family as far as it will go and actually feel like a rest from early mornings and physical fishing.  However I still need to get my fishing fix so what I really need right now is some interesting (that word again) short session fishing.  Luckily a year ago I stumbled, almost by accident, onto some good Roach fishing so right now this fits the bill nicely.  Once upon a time I would have laughed at the thought of finding myself fishing for Roach but apart from being interesting (!) it ticks the other boxes too.  The water in question is quiet and beautiful, the fish grow big.

As I get older I realise the benefits of keeping an angling diary too, I was able to go back a year and remind myself exactly how I went about it from location to groundbait mix to hook size.  This time I felt confident enough to tweak things a little.  Open end feeders, helicopter rigs and short hooklengths, my set ups would still make a proper Roach angler weep but I’ve gone a little lighter all round without breaking my philosophy of not wanting to get a bite if I can’t actually land the fish.


Since the Pike rods went to the back of the shed I’ve fished three times, all short evening sessions covering the last couple of hours of daylight and the first hour of dark.  Already a pattern has formed, during the early period it seems as if there isn’t a fish within a mile of my baits but this gives me an opportunity to soak up the sights and sounds of the birdlife which is constant.  When this subsides at dusk the silence is stark and the flight replaced by bats.  I recast regularly to keep the feed going in and half an hour before the bats come out the Roach switch on.  This also coincides with the dropping temperature requiring warm head gear in the form of my new ‘Catch Cult’ hat.  Of course it could just mean that the new hat is a lucky one.  So far I’ve caught a few Roach and missed a few too, only one required the scales and if I’d have been a bit more organised I should have used the camera too.  To be honest I’d have settled for this but I’ll be back soon, hoping for more and bigger!
Talking of 'Catch Cult' the new magazine has been very well received and actually sold out!  Well done Rob and Martin, roll on issue 2!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Friends.

Once the New year turns the Pike season disappears at an alarming rate and all too soon its mid March.  There was no time to get back to Norfolk before the river season ended but I did manage to fit in a couple of social trips on stillwaters in the days that followed.

The first of these saw four of us sharing two boats on a dull, breezy day.  I teamed up with Giles which was nice because despite socialising often our fishing paths haven’t crossed for a while.  In the other boat was a particularly motley crew consisting of Rich and Jason.  Our venue hadn’t been on the regular radar for a long time and there was much to learn again.

Both boats began in the same area and kept mobile, Giles had a fish early on and I missed one.  In the other boat Jason and Rich reported similar.  The fish didn’t seem to be where we thought they might be so we split up and went looking.  Plan B brought a Jack for me but this was the only reward for a lot of searching.  We crossed paths with the other boat and after the mutual hurling of abuse ritual we learnt they too had only had one each.

In the early afternoon we finally found a group of fish in an area which surprised us.  Things started to happen, Giles managed a succession of fish to double figures and finally I had another that might have scraped.  For a while it was exciting fishing as every cast was made with confidence but after a while it seemed we’d caught all that were willing to feed and it was time to move on.
Back at the car park we compared notes, our boat had the bragging rights, thanks mostly to Giles but things could have been different if not for the one that got away…


A few days later I was in a boat with Rich on another away day.  I was knackered and Rich was ill so we couldn’t be arsed to get up for the crack of dawn and only had the boat away by 0800.  It was another good Pike fishing day, mostly cloudy, brighter at times and with a good westerly blow.  With this in mind and with no clue as to where to find Pike we decided to troll on the oars, with the wind, until we found some Pike.  This took about half an hour before three quick takes saw Rich with a fish and me lose one.  We’d found some Pike so dropped the weights and started fishing with lures and deadbaits.

We were on fish and Rich was soon in again boating two fish to low doubles.  I also had two takes but managed to bugger one up and the other was dropped.  Then it went quiet so we began moving and searching.  The first spot brought no reward, was it going to be one of those days?  Surely I can’t end the season with a blank?  Thankfully I managed to get off the mark with a nice fish on deadbait in the next swim and unfortunately it was Rich’s turn to drop one.
After that things kind of clicked, every move brought a fish or two, mostly on deadbaits but a couple took lures and as the afternoon lengthened we got a couple of fish that required the scales and camera too.  We trolled back and Rich caught the final fish of the day bringing the scores level with a total weight well into three figures. 


This Pike season has passed too quickly, I don’t want it to end which is a sure sign that I’ve enjoyed myself.  Despite some seriously hard fishing at times I’ve still managed to catch plenty of Pike from different types of water.  There have been several big ones but a proper lump at the back end eluded me, there’s always next year.  I shared boats with nine different partners this season, which must be a record for this anti social git?  Sadly there were a couple of friends I didn't fit into the hectic schedule but we'll put that right next year.  After nearly four decades I enjoy Pike fishing as much now as I ever have and as I get older I appreciate the whole thing more.  I have an affliction, maybe an obsession at times but definitely an addiction.  I’m very glad to have it and there's no harm in sharing it.



I know many people share my addiction or hits of their own and angling bloggers are lovers of real angling writing, which is exactly what you will find in ‘Catch Cult’ magazine.  Catch Cult has been put together by friends Rob Shallcroft and Martin Mumby, two people with a passion for real angling.  The website is up and running you can order a copy here;



Please watch the trailer below it's brilliant.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

It is what it is

I was all set for what should be my last trip to the special place, but I managed to right off my car...  My fault, no one hurt.  Thankfully I had my priorities and with help from a good friend I made it to the boat yard, hitching a lift with Rich, top bloke!

It was raining when we got there but this had cleared by the time we set off.  After that it was glorious and a pleasure to be out for a day, a night and a day.  Conditions were pretty good too, if we can find some...

 Perfect setting to soothe the soul and get the shit out of my head.  Things could have been worse...


 Small victories




Another tough season comes to an end.  It is what it is, there's still nowhere else I'd rather spend my time.


I don't think I have any photos of my boat from the outside, apart from this one.  It's scruffy but I love it!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Inspirations?

My friend Rich is a keen summer carper and has lent me a few carpy books over the years.  In particular Dave Lane's two books are as good as anecdotal writing gets.  An old favourite of mine is Rod Hutchinson's "The Carp strikes back" which surely was an inspiration to a teenage carper and once again features superb anecdotal writing.  It is said that Rod isn't in the.. "best of health" these days and his last book was published in 2010.  This book is called "Carp Inspirations" and Rich recommended a chapter on weather conditions, so with a diminished reading pile at the time I ended up reading the whole thing.

The book is not Rod's usual brutally honest "fishing stories..." type of thing but more of a technical piece about how he goes about his fishing after a lifetime of experience.  The title comes from the guest chapters throughout the book which are written by anglers who have inspired Rod to chase Carp all over the globe.

The book opens with a great chapter by Walker's cohort Maurice Ingham and followed by another member of the Carp catchers club.; Fred J. Taylor.  Both are really interesting covering the early days of specialist carp fishing.  This is followed by Jim Gibbinson talking about his pioneering winter fishing and this is another really good chapter by another author who inspired me as a youngster.  Fred Wilton's original articles on his high protein bait theories are really good too, I'd never read these before.  I bet he didn't have a scooby doo how lucrative his ideas would be for others.

A little deeper into the book, Lee Jackson writes about plastic baits and although I know they work I can't get my head around Lee's take on why.  Len Middleton's original article about 'the Hair rig' is reproduced and this was another i'd missed first time around.  Alan Smith writes a sensible chapter about weed fishing, good commonsense stuff.

Towards the end there is a chapter on Carp leaping by Albert Romp which didn't convince me and there are two chapters by old school angler Brian Mills.  The first is about the neglected art of float fishing for big carp, something I know works but definitely don't do enough.  The next is about weather conditions and is the reason for Rich lending me the book.  It's pretty good and makes sense to me and sits alongside pieces written by Barrie Rickards.

Obviously Rod Hutchinson himself writes his share and his chapters cover just about everything you'd expect in a book on carp fishing.  Rod's use of particle baits was groundbreaking at the time and he was one of the first players in the bait trade.  All told there was a bit too much about bait for my liking, all the theorising and experimenting was great at the time but now we just have to pick up a bag.  There was loads of good sense though, Rod can break through the bullshit of carp fishing and simplify things.  The theme throughout is a little bit more thought and going against the grain will catch you more fish.  this applies to all types of angling at times.   Rod Hutchinson is much better at telling stories than writing a 'how to' types of books and it does get a bit jumbled at times.  For an occasional carp angler this book was OK but not great.


Talking of fishy writing I got my hands on a 'Special edition' of the forthcoming "CATCH CULT" magazine.  Why me?  Because I've written something for the mag and I'm really proud to see it in there.  Don't let that put you off though, there are excellent articles covering the whole specialist angling scene (even carp), my favourites being Richard Wesley's article on Perch fishing and Danny Taylor's brilliant story of a night of urban Eel fishing.  Theo's pitch is a great diary piece from an experienced and successful angler and lookout for Mr Crabmeat, a future Icon in the making.  CATCH CULT is different to the advert driven crap fishing mags we have to put with, it looks and feels different too.  Well done to Rob Shallcroft and Martin Mumby for pulling it together and good luck!  More details about CATCH CULT to come...
Image may contain: 1 person, standing and indoor

Fishing...  I  found myself with a couple of days to spare and couldn't resist the pull of the marshy wilderness, for once the weather was mild and dry too.  Actually with decent westerly winds it was pretty good fishing conditions.  Things didn't go to plan, when do they?  It didn't matter though, I had a fantastic time in my comfortable boat, floating around the most glorious place in the east.  The fish made me work hard but this always makes it sweeter in the end.  Life will allow me one more visit before the season ends and I can't wait to get back.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Enough

Fishing lately has entailed two days in the boat.  The first in the company of Mr B, who has been catching big Pike for longer than I’ve been alive and has shared boats with legends.  I first met him nearly thirty years ago but it’s only been the last few when our paths have crossed more regularly and this was the first time we’d fished together.  We survived a near calamity at the boat yard and later a hook in the hand incident.  We also endured a day of darkness, gloom and drizzle, yet another time this winter when the sun hasn’t shown its face.  We had a day of constant chat, Pikey tails from through the years to brighten a dull, gloomy atmosphere.  We also found a few Pike, Mr B started with two fish to low doubles, I equalised with a pair of jacks in quick time then Mr B pulled away with two more small fish before the end.  It was a nice day and we’ll do it again sometime.

A few days later I was back again with my Nephew Josh, the unluckiest Pike angler around.  The weather was an improvement with occasional glimpses of blue sky along with the light rain which always seems to make an appearance when we fish together.  We set off in good spirits and with a few clues to where the Pike might be, confidence was high.  This was one of those frustrating days where we found Pike but struggled to actually boat any.  Every time we dropped the weights down we got at least a take but every time the fish dropped the bait before we could set the hooks.  This happened three times before Josh at last managed to put a proper curve in his rod, just as I was reaching for the net his cursed luck stuck again.  The fish thrashed on the surface and threw the hooks.

We moved around and kept finding Pike but they were still dropping the baits, even after a slamming take to a float-trolled bait was spat before Josh had taken up the slack.  So why were the fish dropping the bait?  I’m not going to blame the set ups or baits as they were exactly the same as had worked earlier in the week.  Some stretches of this water get a bit of pressure bit I don’t think it’s enough to make Pike all over this water react the same way.  Some days you just have to accept that the Pike just don’t really want it.  Eventually I managed to hook a fish and succeeded in bringing it alongside the boat where I easily nicked the hook out with the pliers.  I’d been lucky to land this one, just the bottom double had been nicked in the scissors.

Would you believe we actually saw the sun today?  Late in the afternoon it dipped below the clouds and was bright enough to have me reaching in the bag for my sunglasses.  We rowed back, float trolling again, trying to break Josh’s jinx but it was not to be.  We’d laughed loads today and my nephew enjoys the fishing whatever and it’s only a matter of time…

I’ve had a very enjoyable midwinter period and have managed to catch loads of Pike for a change.  It’s also been a long time since I’ve done much social Pike fishing, for the last few weeks all my Piking has been shared with another angler and it’s been really good fun.  However it’s time for a change, I’m starting to get the urge for something different yet familiar.  As enjoyable as this fishing has been it doesn’t get the juices flowing and doesn’t keep me awake at night.  I don’t find myself drifting off into mad thoughts and theories about where to find a monster.  I’m missing the special place and I’m missing my bigger, much more comfortable boat!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Glorious defeat

For nearly two weeks I’ve been scraping the windscreen every day.  At first this was OK because I couldn’t go fishing anyway but as time ticked on it became apparent that it wasn’t going to get any better before the weekend.  I’d arranged a day out with Rich and we were both fairly confident that due to its nature, our venue of choice would be fishable, even though our local stillwaters were frozen.  Early Saturday morning I was pleasantly surprised to find a frost free screen but as the day progressed it just got colder.  Still we were ready to give it a go the next day but decided against getting up silly early.  The following day would be good and I went to bed looking forward it.

Loading the car just before seven it did feel bloody cold!  I’m not sure how accurate the car thermometer is but it read -6, surely not?  I was in no hurry on the road that’s for sure; Rich and I agreed we wouldn’t be expecting any early action anyway.  We turned left and the track ran alongside the stretch, it was frozen…  It could well be clear further down?  It wasn’t.  After poking around for half an hour or so we found some water the Swans had kept clear.  When they started to bugger off the clearance grew a bit more.  We had a starting point and a chance to get a rod in but we’d need to clear some ice first and it would mean bank fishing.  Could we be arsed?  With the sun rising above the mist, revealing a beautiful white winter landscape it was a lovely place to be, we’d done the hard part by getting out of our warm beds and we were here so why not?  A plan was hatched but it hinged on the old weed rake I’d seen laying around, was it still there?  Yes it was.

So we set to work, taking it in turns with the rake we started to smash ice and clear water.  After a while we got into a rhythm; Rich was hurling the rake and I, with the waterproof gloves, would haul it back in.  Thrashing the rope around was also smashing the smaller chunks of ice even further.  None of this was the slightest bit subtle!  We’d definitely be able to wet a line but the rake was landing short of the water cleared by the swans.  If we could just break through that we’d have a lot more space.  Rich set up a rod and clipped on a big lead, with this he was able to crack the ice and drag chunks of it back towards the bank where I could easily smash it up with the rake.  By 0930 we were ready to fish and the exercise had warmed us up nicely.

We had room for a couple of rods apiece but decided to settle for just one each.  We were under no illusions, a Pike showing up was unlikely but we talked it up.  We had time on our side and maybe the disturbance and the stir up might actually make a fish want to investigate?  The best spot we were able to reach was to the right and I offered this to Rich, he said no we’ll flip a coin for it.  Without any change between us we had to settle for a gripper lead, we agreed one side was shinier than the other and I opted to call “shine”.  Rich flipped the lead into the air and it landed and stuck in the frosty grass on its edge!  When we’d stopped laughing the second time the lead landed shiny side up so I flicked a smelt out to the right and Rich put a Herring out to the left.  We then sat back with a well-earned breakfast washed down with a cup of tea, we were fishing and we were happy.  After about half an hour Rich looked at his watch and with a grin said “Nothing’s happening mate, fancy a move?”

We had decided to fish for as long as we were enjoying it, a couple of hours at least, with great company and flowing conversation the time just drifted by.  A Buzzard soared overhead, a Kingfisher zipped by looking for a place to feed, somewhere a Bittern boomed.  As always our thoughts turned to the ‘special place’ our favourite water.  We remembered the good days, chuckled about the bad and made grand plans for the future.  Whatever state the system is in, for us there’s nothing else like it in fishing.  Time passed, we stuck to our single rods but moved them around and switched baits, trying to make it happen.  Then in the early afternoon Richard’s rod tip thumped and his flat jerked.  Something had definitely happened there but Rich wound down to nothing and there were no obvious marks on the bait.

With that came renewed confidence but this proved false hope.  There was no point in staying into darkness so we tidied everything up but were still reluctant to wind our rods in.  “Fifteen more minutes?” I asked; “Yeah what the hell” came the reply and even then we could have stayed longer.  We did the sensible thing and finally packed up before dark and before things started to freeze. It was good to get into a warm car and I turned the stereo up on the drive home. Some might see a fishless day like this as a waste of time and effort but in all honestly today was enjoyable as any time I’ve spent fishing this season.



I often moan and one of my favourite subjects is the general crappiness of good fishing magazines, even Carpology, formerly one of the best seems to have got more commercial and less believable.  The one notable exception is “Pikelines” which since Stephen Harper became editor has become a work of art, full of great articles.  Recently Phil Wakeford’s “Iconic” series has been very good and Chris Betts has done a brilliant job with his “Back to basics” articles.  This type of writing is usually a bore to someone who has been around the Piking block a few times but Chris has made it interesting.  Mr Harper even printed some of my guff.  To make things even more impressive “Pikelines” is a club magazine produced by volunteers.  The magazine is worth the membership alone, without all the other benefits of PAC membership which you can find out about by clicking the link on the left of the page.  Actually I’ll make it even easier for you;


Before I got side-tracked I was moaning about magazines…   Well hopefully I won’t be moaning for much longer as a new magazine will soon appear and this one will be a little bit different.  “Catch Cult” is being produced by experienced and successful anglers Rob Shallcroft and Martin Mumby.  It will feature proper writing from proper anglers and even me.  The magazine will cover all species, even Carp and a bit of sea fishing too.  It’s produced by anglers, for anglers.  Just like the magazines used to be.  More details to come.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Early January

With the Christmas nonsense over for another year January usually sees me with a little more time to fish but I'm not a fan of the short, cold days.  Still a few hours on the water beats the hell out of sitting in the house twiddling my thumbs so when the opportunity arises then out into the cold I go.

My first trip of the new year was in the company of my nephew Ollie.  To be honest it was no surprise that there was no sign of him when I called to pick him up, twenty year old lads like their bed!  No problem, I woke him up and he scrambled himself ready and off we went.  We still had the boat in position with five baits scattered before it was fully light. Methods would be the usual float ledgered deadbaits, Smelt and Herring had been consistent catchers in recent weeks and I also chucked out a Bluey.  The gloom gradually lessened and the floats were clearly visible bouncing over the slightest of ripples, it was a pleasant day to be out, despite the murkiness.  

The Pike have been switching on a bit later here in recent weeks so it was no surprise that takes didn’t come straight away.  It was the regulation forty five minutes before my Herring was picked up and I found myself winding into a fish.  The rod started to bend nicely but before I could really judge what was attached it became unattached, the fish was gone.  Bugger, or words to that effect but I didn’t have time to be disappointed as another rod was on the go, a smelt cast along the near margin was on its way down stream.  This time the rod stayed nicely bent and I could see a decent fish in the clear water, it didn’t do much and in no time at all I had my first Pike of the year in the net.  This was a scales and camera job and with the hooks removed in the net I hoisted her aboard, the weight was recorded, a couple of quick pictures then she was released, none the worse for the experience.  While this was going on Ollie had a fish swirl at a bait he was retrieving.  His repositioned bait was taken within seconds and he was briefly attached to a Pike but this too came adrift, maybe a bit of inexperience? 
 We stayed on the same spot for another forty five minutes or so before the first of many moves.  Firstly it was further down the stretch where we sat fishless for 45 minutes.  Next we began retracing our steps back upstream but our next move was rather an extended one.  Just as I was getting itchy feet Ollie had a take and second time lucky he set the hooks into a nice fish.  He’s not caught many Pike before so struggled to begin with but soon steered a fish of seven pounds or so over the net.  Once again the hooks came out easily and after another photo opportunity this one was slipped back.  Ollie had his Pike so it was mission accomplished for us both.  Things were working out nicely, two takes each and one fish each.  We decided to stay put a little longer and took the opportunity to toast a few sandwiches but by the time these were finished it was definitely time to move.
Next stop was back to my normal starting point, this time I took the boat to the opposite bank and fished the area from another angle.  We’d only just got set up when one of my rods went sailing downstream.  I wound down tight and felt another nice solid lump on the end.  At first it felt like a good fish but shrank at the net, still it was twelve pounds or thereabouts so happy days.  One thing I’ve noticed in the last couple of trips is that during the middle of the day we only seem to get one fish per move so didn’t stay on much longer on this spot.  The next spot, just upstream yielded nothing but we were able to observe Roach topping further up and our next move was in this direction.  As we dropped the weights down there were two Pike strikes with accompanying showers of Roach so our baits were sent out with confidence.  At first nothing happened, I’ve come to expect, but after half an hour there were a couple more strikes.  Shortly after these Ollie’s upstream rod was taken and he was into another fish.  He looked a lot more comfortable this time and was soon steering his Pike over the net.  This one was around nine pounds so he’d upped his PB a little.

After that we had one move short stop a bit closer to the boat shed but nothing happened here.  We packed up by torchlight then rowed quickly back to base.  For once the fish had been fair, we’d had three takes and boated two fish each.  Better than that we’d chatted and laughed all day and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  That’s what fishing is about!


A few days later I was back in the boat, this time in the company of Mr N.  We started the day fishing some of his favourite areas then we visited some areas that I have caught from but Mr N rarely fishes.  We picked up fish in ones and twos throughout the day, I say we but in reality Mr N caught five or six while I had to settle for just the one.  We only fish together three of four times a year and it's always a good day sharing experiences and opinions on fishing and just about every other subject under the sun.  Speaking of which, we actually saw the sun today!  My recent fishing trips have all taken place under a blanket of gloomy cloud.

In the days that followed I racked my brains as to a reason why I had been so thoroughly outfished.  We were basically fishing the same deadbaits on similar float leger rigs, our traces at the business end were very similar.  The first obvious difference was line; was Mr N’s mono less visible than my braid in the clear water?  I began to think about using some kind of leader or uptrace, I don’t want to revert to mono as the advantages of braid are so great.  In the end another less obvious difference became apparent when I though a little more about bait.  As Mr N was catching steadily through the day it stands to reason that he was changing baits regularly. My only take of the day came to a Lamprey head fresh out of the deadbait bag.  I think that when we dropped down in new swims Mr N’s deadbaits were fresher and smellier than mine and were therefore found quicker.  In future I should change bait more often!