Tuesday 30 December 2014

2014 and all that

 December rolled on with me far less grumpy than is usual for this time of year, ignoring Xmas works!  Three weeks into the month and we have the shortest days of the year to contend with too.  Despite this I managed to sneak out for a couple of hours fishing.  On the Saturday I wandered around a local pit flinging a few lures around.  I wanted to fish swimbaits close to the bottom but weed growth made this difficult and after much chopping and changing I ended up with a jerkbait.  A Cobbs Crazy shad to be precise which glided nicely above the weed and looked brilliant in the clear water but the Pike didn’t agree.  Nothing I tried got any response and I eventually became side tracked chatting to a brother Piker as well as dispirited by the cold wind.  I jacked it in after an hour but hoped to be back.

The following day I returned in the mid-afternoon, planning to fish into dark.  The children are of an age where they can be left for a couple of hours without killing each other so I can sneak off somewhere local.  I returned to the same pit with a couple of deadbaits as well as the lure rod.  I set up on the entrance to a bay fishing a float legered Bluey to some overhanging trees opposite me and a Paternostered Smelt was whacked out and twitched back towards me.  I also pinged my lures around and in between the floats as this may often wake up a Pike that will take a deadbait.  Two hours passed quickly and it was soon growing dark so I started rummaging around in my bag for a head torch.  The search was fruitless and I could picture it on the ledge beside the back door where I’d left it.  I had no sensible option but to pack up; fishing in the dark would be no problem but unhooking a Pike would be another matter.

Two sessions lasting about three hours in total haven’t produced any sign of a Pike but this is definitely not time wasted.  I will probably have time to pay another visit before the end of the month so I now have a few clues to go on and a method in mind that’s a little different to the norm….
 Christmas was quieter than usual with a nice stroll along the seafront before the children descended in the afternoon.  Boxing day was spent in the company of my favourite people, the house was jammed with family of all ages coming and going.  We all enjoyed Town getting a good three points away from home, the Adnams ‘Ghost ship’ and loads of delicious food thanks to Shelley. Isaac enjoyed ‘Mario Kart 8’. Madi enjoyed her Ipod.  That evening saw hours of torrential rain lashing the east, pounding on the windows and turning the road to a river.  Would it be enough to make the river burst and flood many of the pits?  Sure enough a drive along the river valley the next day revealed much of it to be under water.  I had one free day to squeeze a little fishing in but my options would be limited and the forecast didn’t bring any better news; cold and frosty with a light northerly breeze.  Just about the worst conditions for Pike fishing on gravel pits round these ways.  Unless of course you have a nice bucket of good sized livebaits but that’s another argument…

I was awake around 0630 but just couldn’t be arsed to get myself out of bed.  Scraping the windscreen in the half light was not what mind and body required at that point, I just didn’t have the motivation so I took things steady, had tea and toast before finally closing the gate behind me around 0900.  I drove to the far end of the lake where I planned to fish with the cold wind on my back.  Looking down from the top of the bank it was immediately clear that the water wasn’t, there was a definite muddy tinge to it but not so bad it would put me off fishing.  Whether I was concentrating on this as I descended the icey concrete steps I don’t know but a suddenly my foot slid from under me and I struggled to stay on two feet.  Somehow I didn’t go over but was sure my momentum would see me end up head first in the pit.  I don’t know how I avoided this fate, I only know I’m very glad to have done so.  Plunging into several feet of ice cold water laden with tackle would have been bad enough but there were also two good friends watching proceedings from the opposite bank.  My noisy stumble down the bank would probably have scared every Pike around so I decided to drive round the other side and fish close to Rich and Dave instead.  I figured conditions were pretty bad and I’d probably struggle so I might as well chill out in company and hopefully scrounge some hot tea and food along the way.

Rich and Dave had spent a frosty night bivvied up fishing for Carp of all things so I set up behind them in a deep tree lined bay.  I cast a legered Smelt along a tree line to my left and paternostered a Mackerel in open water.  This I intended to twitch back towards me every now and then.  On a third rod I float legered a bluey close in beside the trailing branches of a bush.  With three rods fishing and everything organised it was nice to catch up with the lads.  We all talk fishing most weeks but it’s rare for any of us to share each other’s company on the water. 

After about half an hour with a mug of tea each and the piss taking in full flow my close range float caught my attention, had something picked up the bluey?  I took a few steps towards the rod just as the micron sounded and the baitrunner began to purr.  I paid off a bit of line, took off the anti-reverse, wound down and… fish on!  I’d picked up a pair of Grey’s Pike rods months ago and this was only their second outing so this was the first Pike I’d hooked on one.  Whatever was on the end was heavy enough to bend it right through as it plodded around on a short line but when it made for the bush I turned it with no problem. I soon had it in front of me and pulled it over the net for Rich to scoop up.
 The hooks fell out in the net so I held her up for a quick photo before checking the weight on the scales.  It was a nicely marked mid double but showed signs of previous captures, a few marks, red around the scissors and also had a pelvic fin missing (that I only noticed when I looked at the photo).  There are lots of winter Pike anglers in this area and these Pike have few places to hide, a little wear and tear is bound to happen though how the fin had become unattached is anyone’s guess.  I was happy to have a fish under my belt in these poor conditions and this this also gave me more ammo to rib the blanking carpers.

The lads packed up around in the late morning and over the next few hours I gradually moved my rods in and out of their vacated swims covering new water.  By early afternoon the lake was busy with other anglers as well as people just taking a stroll.  Although I had enjoyed a couple of hours in friends’ company and one of the strollers was a welcome visitor, I am definitely not a sociable angler.  In fact if I don’t know people then I am probably a grumpy old bastard.  When strangers approach me on the bank my default setting is “you’re an idiot” but in my defence I can quickly change my mind if my visitor doesn’t talk bollocks.  Maybe my reputation precedes me as no other anglers encroached and I had my little section of bank to myself so I was able to fish without being disturbed by showers of boilies and crashing spods.  I dropped the static baits onto likely looking spots and kept the paternoster rod on the move.  I did have a few lures in the bag but just couldn’t be arsed to use them.  All day the lake had been flat calm and it was definitely a day for a thermals, hat and gloves.  The lake seemed dead, when conditions are this still it almost seems oppressive, you just can't picture a fish feeding.   I felt my best chance of another fish would come as the light faded but I’d had enough long before then and was back in a warm house by sunset.
 It was good to get out and avoid Xmas cabin fever but the fishing hadn’t held my attention, maybe if conditions had been better I would have tried harder?  I’ll be mostly fishing close to home for the next few weeks.  I know the standard my local Pike fishing is modest these days but I’d enjoy myself a lot more fishing quieter waters.  I’ll let the conditions decide where at the time.

 At the turn of the year I suppose it’s natural to look back and reflect on the one has just quickly passed.  The family is a year older and the children seem to be growing up in front of me.  Teenagers don’t want to spend so much time with Dad but mine have a lot of love to give.  Who’d want to be a teenager again?  Away from the bank I’ve had a quieter time than recent years.  The grim reality is money has been tight and certain luxuries had to be put on hold for a while.  Life always has its ups and downs but tough times don’t last, tough people do.  Things are changing for the better now, there’s a light…
 I didn’t manage to get to a cricket match this year, we had planned to watch Essex at the Colchester festival but the T20 was sold out and the Sunday was a wash out.  Elsewhere England had a mixed year in the tests.  After being embarrassed in Australia we were beaten by a decent Sri Lankan team before finding enough form to defeat India.  England were made to look good against India but just how good they are remains to be seen, I’m not convinced the selectors know what our best team is.  Next spring England travel to the Caribbean where they would expect to win.  Last time we toured there we somehow contrived to lose 1-0 but this low point led to a few years of England cricketing highs.  At home next summer we have New Zealand who look good enough to give us a proper test ahead of yet another Ashes series.  Twelve months from now we’ll know just how good England are and if the Ashes end up going south I expect Peter Moores will be out of a job.  Before the tests start again we have some mildly interesting ODI stuff including a world cup.  It’s hard to imagine England lifting that trophy but…
 We didn’t catch much live music this year either, circumstances were as much to blame as finances.  What we did get to see was brilliant starting with Eels on top form at the Royal Albert Hall.  This was an un-missable combination and we were not disappointed.  A few weeks later came the Latitude festival which is always the best weekend of the year.  The music line up was brilliant and we got to see fantastic performances from Goat, James, Black Keys and best of all Royksopp & Robyn.  We never want Latitude to end, coming back to the real world is always a pisser.  We had planned to see the Levellers in November but at £50 a ticket it just wasn’t going to happen.

So the Pike described earlier turned out to be my last fish of the year.  Thinking about it, I caught it from a lake I don’t often fish but where I also caught my first Pike of the year, another mid-double.  In between then the Pike fishing has gone pretty well, wherever I’ve spent my time.  In fact I'd go as far as to say that I have never enjoyed my Pike fishing more than I did in 2014 and long may it continue.  However the Tench and Carp fishing was a disappointment as I couldn’t catch either with any consistency in fact my best fish of the warmer months was a Bream.  I’ve fished ‘the Marsh’ for the last five years and although I enjoy spending time there the fishing has been a real head banger.  I’ve caught large Tench, Carp and Bream here as well as a few nice Pike but at no time have I ever felt I knew what I was doing.  It’s a funny old place and the difficulty adds to the allure but it’s time for a change so next spring and summer will be spent doing other things; different places for different species.  Until then, more Pike…

Thursday 18 December 2014

Ho ho bloody ho

I hate December.  People have been conditioned to leave their brains at home and act like idiots throughout this merry month.  I hate the noise that comes out of the radio at this time of year; that commercialised filth is not fit to be referred to as music.  Even the Pogues & Kirsty is starting to sound jaded and hearing yet another terrible version of “do they know it’s Christmas” doesn’t make me feel charitable, it makes me want to smash things.  I’ve got a decorated tree and a few strings of lights around the house but there’s no way on earth that I’d make my home become visible from space as some aspire to do.  It was “wear a Xmas jumper” day last week, well if people want to dress like a twat then fine but I reserve the right not to.  Why do people who barely grunt in your direction for eleven months of the year suddenly become super friendly “because it’s Christmas”?  The same reason is given when people pour even more alcoholic piss down their throats at this time of year.  Having done that to extremes myself I have more than enough reasons to opt out these days. All year we work for “them”, for a wage that is just enough to get us by and then in December we give what little we have left back to “them”.  I try to opt out of the whole thing but with a family it’s impossible so I’ve had to endure the town centre scrummage and give a chunk of my hard earned back to “them”.  Of course all of this means I’m miserable, according to the sheep.  For your information I may well be cynical and sarcastic whilst forced to mix amongst the brain washed masses but when I shut the door on it all I’m perfectly happy thank you.  I get what Christmas is all about but I think most of the western world has forgotten.

Another reason I hate December is I rarely find time to do any fishing during this month so I have to grab every opportunity.  Having escaped from the bedlam of the dreaded visit to town the lady suggested we go for a walk.  I quickly adapted this to a walk along the river with a rod and net so after a quick pit stop we were off and out.  We went to what is probably my favourite stretch of my local river, a place where during the eighties and nineties I spent loads of happy days and caught Roach, Rudd, Dace, Chub, Tench, Eels, Perch and Pike.  The stretch has changed for the worse over the last twenty years, I wrote about the neglect, abstraction and siltation a few years ago.  This area seems to have the highest concentration of Otters in the region too.  It’s still a lovely place for a walk though and I’m ever hopeful of a fish or two.  So with just a rod, a net and a pack on my back we strolled off. 

This stretch just screams Pike at you as all along it there is perfect Pikey habitat, unfortunately there appear to be few fish of any species in residence these days.  With the water at normal winter level and just a touch of colour it looked spot on so I clipped on my ‘go to’ lure, the Zoota Wagtail, sadly no longer made.  The first swim has overhanging trees on both banks and shallow water dropping off, though to not the depth it once did.  Large shoals of Roach, Dace and Chub used to reside here in the winter but not a sign of anything today.  Next swim down the river narrows up and once again there are trees on both banks creating a perfect bottleneck for an ambushing Pike.  A few casts saw no response and I was thinking of moving when the rod hooped on and it was fish on!  It was a small one that gave little resistance but I was forced to stretch out across the marginal reeds to net it.  Once in the mesh the fish done all its fighting and I ended up having to do a bit of untangling before the unhooking.  I held it up for the lady’s camera then slipped it back into the river.

We continued downstream passed loads of fishy features but with access greatly reduced there were many old holding areas I can no longer get a bait too.  A straight run I used to trot baits down has silted up to just inches in places and the old overhanging tree has now crashed down and spans the river.  The few swims I managed to fish all looked good but I failed to move any fish.  I swapped the wagtail for a homemade spinnerbait and we retraced our steps back upstream, I didn’t catch anything and didn’t care.  An hour wandering along a river was novocaine for the soul, I’d left home with little expectation so was happy with that little Pike from my local river.
1995 One from the good ol days.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Late Autumn

 The nights have grown longer and the temperature has steadily got cooler, we’ve even had a couple of frosts out here in the East.  Over the last few weeks I’ve watched the trees lose most of their leaves and the reeds have turned from green to sandy brown.  Autumns colours have faded into winter shades but happily the bright red floats have continued to move regularly enough.  I’d have settled for that at the start. 

 It’s interesting to look back on the autumn as many fish have come from areas I’ve hardly fished in the past.  Once again the most prolific areas have been totally different to where we’d found fish at this time last year.  What has been more surprising is we’ve been catching at different times of the day, food for thought.  Lamprey had been the number one bait for the last two years but this year it’s a poor third…

A few tweaks have made the boat even more comfortable than ever before and more organised for when a fish comes on board. It’s been brilliant spending time in the boat through all types of weather, chilling out in my favourite place.  It’s been much needed therapy getting away from the non stop lunacy of a muddled and hectic life.  People tell us “you must be mad…” but the madness keeps me sane. Now it’s time for a break and a rest as it really is tough, challenging fishing in every way.

The broads were hit with yet another tidal surge this autumn, once again salt water travelled many miles inland killing any fish that were caught up in it.  This seems to be an annual event nowadays but every time it’s different, no one can tell which river systems will be affected.  There are still plenty of Otters around but these don’t seem quite so bad when your miles from the sea and a Seal pokes its head up between your floats. Thankfully there hasn’t been a Prymnesium outbreak since the Broads Authority changed its dredging methods, one thing to be thankful for at least.

Elsewhere in the wonderful world of Pike fishing the PAC Facebook page has been buzzing lately, for all the wrong reasons. Facebook attracts the casual Piker far more than any forum, this could be great for a club trying to attract new members but unfortunately it also attracts morons, chavs and wind up merchants.  At its worst it has been an embarrassment and damaging to the club.  Happily things have improved this week with the addition of a couple of extra moderators, I expect they’ll be busy in the future…

Elsewhere on “The Pit” that big West Country reservoir has been providing plenty of debate.  I haven’t a clue as how it has fished this year only that a couple of friends caught some whackers.  I don’t recall hearing of a “Forty” this time around but I may be wrong.  Until one of the main protagonists spat his dummy there had been an interesting discussion on the merits of the latest fish finding technology.  Some are questioning if what the improved technology now shows the angler is crossing an ethical line?  Others say it’s the future, get on board it’s here to stay. 

To me the moral line must be drawn when technology is clever enough to make a poor angler into a successful one, when the ‘skills’ we learn through experience are replaced by a gadget.  As I understand it now, in order for the finder to show fish, the angler has to put the boat in the right place and that’s fine with me.  I have an old echo sounder in the shed but I’ve never used it, what I know about the places I fish I’ve learnt through trial and error.  I’ve enjoyed the experience of learning through blood, sweat and tears I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Fishing where I do, I don’t need or want a gadget that tells me if there are any Pike in my swim.  I only want that mystery solved when the float slides away, or not.  

That’s the thing with ‘specialist’ fishing; the only rules that count are the ones we make for ourselves.  Records and lists don’t have to be aspirations; to me they are just mildly interesting. Catching a fish is a personal thing and what it means to the captor is the only thing that matters.

Monday 27 October 2014

Early autumn

Autumn means just one type of fishing, Piking at the special place.  Nothing else will do, there is no other combination of season, species and venue that come anywhere close and I doubt there ever will be.  It’s more than a decade since I first went afloat there and it still ticks all the boxes.  Some things remain the same; the skies are huge, vivid and spectacular.  The views are beautiful and breath-taking.  Both the sky and the water are alive with birds, many are species you don’t see anywhere else. The fishing is always hard work but this is just the way I like it, if it was easier it would dilute the buzz, I love the challenge.  The Pike are awesome, special creatures that survive and thrive against all the odds.

Its not all just the same ol same old though.  Every year the system is subtly different; reedlines change year on year, weedbeds evolve and grow.  Places I caught fish one year may be unfishable this year or barren the next.  Always changing, always evolving; every year I catch Pike from places I’d never been successful before or fail to catch in places that were near certainties in the past.  This keeps the fishing interesting and fresh.
I’ve been really up for it this autumn, I’ve relished the challenge in the mostly mild autumn weather and it’s been a privilege to be out on the water.  I’ve managed to find a few Pike too. 

Friday 10 October 2014

Pure Pike Porn

Four years ago Stephen Harper’s “Fine angling books” published “Dream Pike”, a selection of thirty or so stories relating to the capture of Thirty pounds plus Pike, each written by a different author.  The books stated aim was to “entertain and inspire” and it most certainly did.  I reviewed it at the time …
The talk of a sequel to Dream Pike started almost as soon as the ink was dry on the original and four years on “Extreme Pike” is here.  

Both the format and layout are almost identical to the original and on the whole the stories are equally as good as ‘Dream Pike’.  It’s refreshing to see a lot more of the less well known Pikers contributing this time around and fewer of Piking’s ‘royalty’.  I’ve now read the book from cover to cover and re-read more than half the stories, some more than once!  If you are a Pike angler you will love Extreme Pike, go and order a copy now (See the link on the right of this page).  That last sentence was for the benefit of anyone who can’t be arsed to read the rest.

 A few observations as I flip through the pages; I wondered why Malc Bannister didn’t fish his reservoir even with the low water.  I was faced with a similar situation a few years ago and found that with less water to hide in the Pike were easier to find and were fat having found their prey easy to find too!  Nick Beardmore may have alerted the Pike Police with his summer tale.  I loved seeing a father and son team share their stories, nice one Biggs senior and junior!  Ady Brayshaw is a person that I’ll never see eye to eye with but that is one hell of a Pike.  When I first heard about that capture a few years ago there was a sub plot… but I like to believe Ady’s version of events.  It was nice to read the story of Fred Bullers biggest Pike but a shame it wasn’t in his own words.  Having caught that monstrous Pike I wonder why Wyndon Coole felt the need to catch it again, but each to their own. 

Terry Hazlewood’s story was close to home, literally.  A thirty nine pounder must surely be a Suffolk record?  I remember hearing about this capture at the time and we wondered where it could have come from.  We tracked it down in the end but found it a closed shop, fair play.  Knowing the place I really doubt there were “several different thirties…” but you never know.  Pat Henry provided a great snap shot of how a successful Piker goes about his business in Eire.  Like Mr Henry, my friend Mark Skinner appears in both volumes and it is nice to see that Mark’s sense of humour transfers to the page.  You could feel the relief and elation of Jonno Myles capture and it was great to read the story of long time Piker Dennis Smith’s biggest Pike, one of two Chew forties featured in the book.  Probably my least favourite chapter is Phil Wakeford’s.  For me it seemed out of place amongst the rest of the tales which were out and out “success stories”.  Ian Forde’s was one of the most inspiring stories describing a brace of lure caught Irish thirties shared with his friend the late David Overy.

As always my favourite chapters feature Pike caught from the Norfolk Broads. Keith Quantrill’s story very is well told, the capture well deserved but overall tinged with sadness.  I never knew Keith although our boats must have passed each other, I have a feeling I would have liked him.  Paul Belsten wrote a very personal story that featured several renowned Norfolk Pikers and a real dream Pike.  I find Martyn Page’s writing a little flowery for my tastes but in this tale I felt like I was in the boat looking over his shoulder as he netted a Broadland thirty.  Finally I have to declare a bias.  My favourite chapter in Extreme Pike is a tale I’m well familiar with as its written by one of my oldest friends, Rich Gostling.  The trophy shot is an absolute cracker and once again the words on the page reflect the voice and bloke that I know well.  There are also a couple of my photos featured too.

Stephen Harper produces and publishes the very best fishing books, they are fantastic to read and beautiful to look at.  Extreme Pike is pure Pike porn.  After reading it I cannot help but feel the urge to launch my boat and set off on another Broadland adventure in search of an Extreme Dream Pike.  A thirty pound Pike is all the incentive an angler needs but who knows, maybe there will be another book in this series?

Meanwhile, the adventure is well and truly under way for another year...

Wednesday 24 September 2014

First frosts cobblers

1st October has long been the traditional start to the “Pike season” for many anglers.  Autumn is upon us and we get the call, ‘it’s Pike time’.  For some its unthinkable for people to begin Pike fishing before October, to them it’s almost cheating.  Then there are others who claim that its simply too warm to fish for Pike until the winter weather hits us and we’ve had a few cold, crisp nights and frosty mornings.  You can read this on forums and Facebook pages all over the web but I’m not sure where this opinion comes from.  Maybe these people are busy fishing for other species and don’t like the thought of Pikers getting in before them.  Maybe they’ve never fished before winter, so don’t know what it’s like.  Or perhaps they’ve just read and repeated someone else’s opinion from elsewhere on the net.  Whatever the reason behind the opinion, to say Piking before the frosts is somehow bad, is simply a load of cobblers.

In the past I have been a year round Piker, I fished baits through the colder months and lures when it was warmer.  To begin my lure fishing was mostly a bit of fun to pass time between cricket matches, I also used it as a way to search out new waters.  As I got more interested in lure fishing I took it more seriously but I learnt to be selective about the waters I fished and I learnt that when it’s really hot Pike are almost impossible to catch.  For me, bait fishing for Pike has always started in mid-September, when the daytime temperatures are in mid-teens, there’s a good wind on the water and it feels ‘right’.  At this time of year I’ve mostly fished stillwaters and can honestly say that the six weeks or so leading up to the first frosts are the most productive and most enjoyable time of my Pike season.

Let’s face it, the cold bleak days of January are hard work, just keeping warm requires extra effort, unless you choose to spend these days static, zipped up in a bivvy.  The waters are looking weather beaten too, gone are the vibrant greens, the trees are reduced to skeletons and the banks are often a sea of mud.  I must admit there is a certain charm when the banks are covered with a layer of frost however.  In autumn you wear less clothes and can travel lighter.  I love the sights, colours and smells of autumn, it’s a real joy to be out on the banks.  And the fishing is bloody good too.

If you know your waters then you’ll know where to find the Pike and they are usually in different areas to where you’ll fish for them in mid-winter.  They won’t be skinny and underfed either, often they are in better condition than they are at the end of the autumn.  They will also fight dam hard too but not so hard they knacker themselves and die as some internet experts will have us believe.  I find Pike will happily take a deadbait at this time of year and often I don’t even bother with lives until after the first frosts, could there be a clue there?  As I said, I’ve mostly fished stillwaters during the autumn but when I’ve ventured onto rivers I have found it a different story.  They are often too weedy and sluggish and I think these rivers do fish better in the winter.

A few years ago the third weekend of September rolled round, the weather wasn’t too hot and it felt like time.  I fished my favourite water and was lucky to catch four fish including one very special Pike.  This one made me fight for every inch of line, at one point I thought I had her netted only for the fish to leap clean out of the net and start fighting again.  I won the battle in the end and hoisted her into the boat.  I removed my double hooks easily but peering into the mouth I noticed another trace with a treble hook stitching up the throat, someone had obviously started Piking earlier than me.  What should I do next?  Do I remove the trace or should I avoid stressing the fish out and just photograph and return her as quickly as possible?  I chose to remove the trace and after a rest in the Sladle she was weighed and photographed.  I was happy to feel her kick out of my grip and swim away strongly.  Later I found out this fish was caught at least twice more that season, weighing considerably heavier each time.  I done no harm by catching that fish on a mild late September day and done the right thing in taking the hooks out.  And here she is…

Thursday 4 September 2014

Old stuff, new stuff

It’s the time of year when I have to think about braving the shed, stashing the summer gear and getting the winter gear ready.  This isn’t quite as bad a job as it once was. In the spring I dragged literally everything out, dodged the giant spiders and removed the dead rats; I even chucked a load of old tat away.  The result is a shed which although still crammed is much easier to deal with.  I dragged out the bag and chair I reviewed last time for a photo, better late than never.  (I realised I’d forgotten to mention the pocket on top of the bag that holds scales and sling.)  With a bit of shuffling I also brought all the rods I currently use to the surface, is sixteen a bit extreme? 
 There are four Carp rods, one Tench rod, one feeder and one float that I use through the warmer months.  Then there are two sets of Pike rods, four twelve footers for bank fishing and four more that are ten feet for the boat.  I also have a couple of lure rods left that I haven’t managed to break yet.  Off the top of my head there are another seven or eight that I never use and a few more bits of busted ones.  As long as I have room I’ll hang on to my old or retired rods and reels.  I may be daft but there are memories wrapped up in them, not just the fish, people and places too.  Somewhere I have a classic North Western SS6, eleven feet of ‘fast taper’ glass fibre that hasn’t been used in years.  

I’m not bothered about particular brands so my rods are from all over the place.  I have several built on Tricast blanks dating back to the late 80’s which I used for virtually all my fishing for almost two decades but mostly use for carp these days.  My lucky rod is a 2.5tc rod made by Century which I bought second hand in the 90’s.  I have a few VFM rods from Middy that are cheap and cheerful but do exactly what I want them too; one Carp rod (which is actually branded as 30plus), along with two ‘Works’ rods I use for float & feeder fishing.  I have one Daiwa Barbel rod bought mostly for Tench that I haven’t used enough to have an opinion on.  I recently snapped up a pair of Greys Pike rods that I haven’t even used yet.  Isaac has a Fox Pike rod which is very nice, in fact one of my few unbroken lure rods is also from Fox.  My boat rods are a mixture; Normark, Fox, and one particularly nice one from Dave Lumb. 

I still have a couple of Mitchell 300a reels hidden away somewhere as well as an Intrepid ‘Black Prince’ that is still in its box, I’ve never used it so it doesn’t really count.  I have a pair of the original Shimano baitrunners from about 1987ish, line lay wasn’t great but they made good reels if you didn’t need to whack baits right out.  At the time the free spool facility was revolutionary and I’ve preferred bait runner type reels ever since.  I used these reels for over twenty year before the anti-reverse went on both within a few weeks.  By this time spares were unavailable but I managed to bodge one of them with a bit of trace wire.  Unfortunately it’s no longer silent but it still gets used from time to time.  Sometime in the 90’s I bought a pair of ‘Aero’s’ (without baitrunner) and one of these is still in working order too.  Nowadays I have a couple of ‘ST’ baitrunners on my boat rods, these are the cheapest baitrunners but so far two years without a hitch.  I also have a ‘DL’ which is a bit more expensive but has a stiffer baitrunner than the ST.  When I’m Piking I like my spool as free as possible, so the DL is only used on Carp rods now.  I have a feeling the newer Shimanos’ won’t last as long as the old ones. 

About ten years ago I needed reels and was short on cash so bought a couple of Okuma Interceptors.  I figured they would do the job until I could afford better reels, I’m still using them today.  I also bought a larger Interceptor primarily for boat fishing.  It cost me about £35, I’ve had it about eight years and it is still the best reel I own.  Earlier this year I took a punt on a Nash FR8 which was £35, (the same as the Okuma,) I haven’t been at all impressed with this.  I have a Fox Stratos which I’ve used for a few years in the boat but now sits on a carp rod because it just felt too small.  This has now been replaced by a Fox EOS which looks and feels a good bit of kit for the price.  A winter of abuse in the boat is a good test for any reel.  I have about fourteen reels still in regular use (all bar 4 have free spool) but I never seem to have enough reels.
My first free-spool reel and my most recent.

Thursday 28 August 2014

What next?

Bank holiday weekend loomed with the opportunity to spend another night at the Marsh, one I couldn’t miss.  The last time I fished I knew exactly where I wanted to be but on this occasion I arrived with no preconceptions.  Shelley was with me so we wandered around trying to find some fish and a comfortable swim we could both fish from.  Unfortunately the lake was busy cutting down our options considerably but we managed to find a nice swim that would be on the end of the wind, which was forecast to change completely overnight.

We were set up by 1300, sharing a couple of rods fishing boilies to a bed of lilies and a third baited with fake corn just of a point in the reeds to my left.  The two areas were baited with mixed pellets of all sizes and types, sprayed with a catapult regularly throughout the afternoon and evening.  I knew some of the pellets would be eaten by silver fish but any fish feeding was fine by me, hopefully they’d encourage bigger species to join in.  Meanwhile I’d quietly build up a bit of feed in the swim without causing any disturbance.  That was the plan at least…  I left the sweetcorn at home this week because I just couldn’t be arsed with catching silver fish, I just wanted to chill out.

The afternoon passed quietly but around 1700 a few patches of bubbles started to appear, although this is so common it’s ridiculous it’s usually encouraging at least.  At 1830 I had a twitchy take on the close in rod and hooked into a fish but what kind?  Once it became aerial it was obviously a jack Pike which managed to unhook itself and attach my rig to the lilies. The rig was tangled so it was a good time to change the fake corn for a snowman rig.  Shelley went off on the run to the chippy and I repositioned the other rods for the night, switching one from a chod to a helicopter.  The darkness began to creep over us, it seems to happen so early now, autumn is well on the way.  A decent fish crashed near the pads and the ever present bubbles were rising, things were looking nice.  Then a group of anglers arrived and proceeded to noisily set up in the swims behind us. Many of the swims on this water are so isolated it feels like you have the lake to yourself, no matter how many are fishing.  Our choice for tonight wasn’t one of them.  They were nice enough people but loud.  The ambience was shattered and for some reason my confidence evaporated.  
 It grew cool so we kipped down in the warm bivvy long before midnight, for once I fell into a sound sleep and didn’t stir until a series of beeps on the left hand rod cast to the pads.  By the time I reached the rod nothing was happening and I guessed it was a liner.  It was 0430 and the sky was beginning to brighten, should I settle down on the chair and watch the dawn or go back to the cosy bivvy?  I knew I should do the former but opted for the latter.

It was another couple of hours before another liner lured me from the bivvy, I put the kettle on then recast all three rods with fresh hookbaits.  The lake was still, hardly anything stirred, when would the wind change?  A quick look around revealed every single peg had an angler present, it didn’t look good.   The anglers behind us were stirring just as noisily as they had settled.  An hour or so later Shelley emerged from the bivvy and I put the stove on for breakfast.  The new wind sprung up and I began to see more and more bubbles fizzing on the surface.  Things now looked better than they had at any point since we had arrived but I couldn’t help feeling that it just wasn’t going to happen.  The morning passed without incident and with heavy rain forecast we were happy to leave the Marsh at lunchtime.  This week we got our timing right, it was so wet there wasn’t even any cricket to pass the time.

That might be it as far as Tench & Carp fishing goes this year, certainly at the Marsh.  I’ll probably have time for another night soon but I feel like having a change of scenery.  The Marsh is usually busy in the spring but quieter in high summer, this year it has been busy all the way through.  I don’t mind difficult fishing but I can’t stand crowded waters and after a few seasons fishing the Marsh I fancy a change for a year or two. 

It’s also getting on for the time of year when I start thinking about Pike fishing and I’m really looking forward to the autumn and winter this season.  What should I do before now and then?  

Good stuff.

I’ve been using a Fox “Specialist compact” rucksack for about 18 months now and it’s perfect for most of the bank fishing I do these days.  When I’m not fishing overnight I like to travel as light as possible so I can move quickly when necessary.  What I put in the bag depends on the season and what I’m fishing for.  The main compartment (35 litres) takes a large float tube, Flask, mug, camera, food, bait and any bulky items.  The front pouch holds a large, flat tackle box.  There are two small side pouches, one takes little tackle boxes of leads & stuff I need to get to quickly and the other holds tea bags, sugar, milk and a spoon.  The large side pouch holds a large rig bin and other bits & pieces, e.g. in summer pop ups & dips.  This pouch has elastic loops on the outside that carry bank sticks & forceps.  Basically it carries everything I need for a short, mobile session.  Loaded up it’s comfortable to carry and doesn’t give my back any grief, well padded with good thick straps and a belt that goes round the waist.  You can also get a matching ‘specialist’ unhooking mat which clips to straps on the top but I haven’t bothered as yet as I can stuff my folding mat in the straps anyway.

I also have a Fox “Specialist Adjusta level chair” which I’ve used for a couple of years if my memory serves.  It has simple folding legs, so there’s no faffing about with individual legs.  It’s very comfortable with good padding and I’ve managed to fall asleep on it when I’ve got up for dawn.  There’s also a shoulder strap that takes the strain and frees up a hand.  Sometimes the combination of rucksack and shoulder straps doesn’t work but with this combination I find it comfortable.  So when I’m travelling light I have rucksack and chair on my back/shoulders and my rods and net banded together in one hand leaving the other free for something useful…  Fox make some bloody good fishing tackle these days and these two bits of kit are well designed and show no signs of weakness after a good, sustained test.  If you scrolled back to the top of the page and squint, you might just about make out both the rucksack and chair in action, if it wasn’t for the sun in your eyes.  Alternatively click the link to the Fox website and have a little look around for all the info.


Sunday 10 August 2014

Trying to beat Bertha

For the first time since the middle of May I actually had time to spend a weekend at the Marsh.  I’d originally planned to arrive after work on Friday evening but a stormy forecast put me off.  The forecast for Sunday was dodgy too with the remnants of hurricane Bertha expected to cross the Atlantic and make its presence felt in these parts.  Saturday was looking good though; comfortable temperatures, a mixture of sunshine and cloud with a nice westerly wind.  So the plan was adjusted, spend a nice relaxing day at the lake then bivvy up for the night, hopefully getting away before the storm arrived on Sunday.

Shelley and I arrived in mid-morning to find our preferred end of the lake empty of anglers so dropped straight into a comfortable, familiar swim with the breeze in our faces.  On one rod I fished my normal helicopter set up with a snowman rig and PVA bag, this was cast to the marginal slope in front of a bed of Norfolk reeds.  We both cast Chod rigs, Shelley’s into the open water in front of us and mine to the edge of a snaggy area off the adjacent bank.  I then catapulted around half a kilo of boilies, spread across the reedbed slope and the open water.  On a fourth rod we shared a feeder set up baited with corn, this was literally dropped in front of the lilies in the near margin.  Maybe this is an unconventional way to fish corn in the margin, but it’s one way of slowing down the bait stealing Rudd.  Groundbait was ‘Special G’ spiced up with Chilli hemp and a sprinkling of Corn.  The plan was to keep building up a carpet of bait in front of the pads, hoping larger fish would move in eventually.

What a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon, sat in a comfortable chair by a lovely lake, sipping tea and listening to TMS on the radio.  The occasional Rudd or Roach disturbed us by hooking itself on the feeder rod but the boilies remained untouched.  In the cricket, England’s batsmen played carefully at first then with 70+ scores from Root and Buttler, powered away from India building a lead of over 200.  The only downside being an injury to Broad which meant he probably wouldn’t be able to bowl.  In the end he wasn’t needed.  Anderson and Ali done the damage with the ball then Jordan tidied up giving England a comfortable innings win inside three days.  We’re starting to look just a couple of players short of a good side now, on the other hand India were awful, a truly gutless display.

With the test match over and done with, Shelley popped off to the chippy to pick up supper.  While she was away I recast my two rods, both landed bang on first time, then pulted out another half kilo of boilies.  After cod & chips and another mug of tea we got Shelley’s rods sorted for the night then settled back once more to watch the sunset.  Just after nine o clock my rod cast to the reedbed sounded a steady take, I connected with a fish… but only for a second before the rod straightened and the line fell limp.  I told myself it was a Bream because I didn’t want to think I’d lost a Tench or a Carp.

An hour later with bats swooping and Tawny’s hooting the same rod was away again and this time I connected with a decent weight.  After getting briefly stuck in weed, the fish plodded around in open water before giving up the ghost and rolling into the net.  The weight in the net was a surprise, it was a Bream and a good sized one at that.  Laid out on the unhooking mat I became convinced I was looking at my best ever Bream and the scales agreed.  It may not have been the species I was after but I was pleased none the less.  Over the seasons I’ve caught several Bream from the Marsh in this way, sometimes when they pick up a carefully positioned bait in the middle of the night it can be a pain in the arse but when they’re as big as this they’re very welcome.
 After getting the bait back on the spot I’d hardly sipped the celebration tea when the same rod was away again.  This time I expected another Bream and I was right, what’s more it was another good fish just a few ounces lighter than the first.  With the line marked and clipped getting another rig and PVA bag back out there was easy and before long I was back in my chair finishing my tea.  Shelley was wondering when it would be her turn!  We sat chatting till gone midnight by which time the wind had died but the cloud had built ominously.  A bit of rain was forecast in the early hours before Bertha battered us in the afternoon.  I wound in the rod cast to the snags as the risk of a fish getting in there before I got out of my sleeping back would be too great.  Knowing there had been Bream around, I decided to top up the swim with a few more pouches of boilies then with drooping eyes we retired to the bivvy for a bit of rest.

My alarm clock awoke me.  Except it wasn’t my alarm clock, what was going on?  There it was again, that bloody beeping sound…  I scrambled out of my kip bag, groped for the head torch, stumbled into my shoes and wasn’t aware of anything until I had a bending rod in my hands.  The fish had run away from the reedbed into the open water and it was just a case of pumping it back to the net.  It was another Bream and another good sized one at that, worth taking a quick snap on the unhooking mat before slipping back.  I looked at my watch and couldn’t believe it was 0430 and the sky was growing lighter.  I recast the rod and decided against getting back in the kip bag, instead I’d sit up on my chair and try to keep alert as the next few hours gave me the best chance of a Tench or Carp.  Before settling down again I recast the rod to the snags and landed it bang on first time, I’m getting good at this!
 The early morning period saw the usual cauldron of bubbles from unseen bottom feeders and thousands of feeding Rudd dimpling the surface.  It also saw a couple of light showers which saw me take shelter in the bivvy again.  It was during one of these damp periods around 0830 when I was sat in the bivvy with my eyes closed and breathing heavy that the reedbed rod rattled off once more.  I was up and on it within seconds but not before the culprit had run towards me and got itself stuck in some lilies.  I managed to free it and started to battle with something in open water.  It didn’t feel heavy but managed to charge into another bed of pads in front of me, annoyingly just out of netting range.  I could see a tail which looked like… surely not a Tench?  Steady pressure on strong tackle freed the fish again but it refused to give up and fought every inch of the way into the net.  Yes it was a Tench, a male that looked like it had been through more than its fair share of battles over the years.  It had scars, split fins and had a miserable look to its ‘face’, a real character of a Tench.  I have a feeling it’s a fish I caught a couple of years ago at half a pound lighter than it was today.  Not one of the monsters of the Marsh but any Tench here is a good one and well worth photographing to capture the memory. 
The commotion saw Shelley finally emerge from her sleeping bag and after a revitalising cup of tea she recast her rods.  The sky was still cloudy, the wind had swung to the south but there was no rain and for a while it was pleasant being by the lake, devouring a fried breakfast.  A couple of large fish rolled off the snags and there was still loads of fizzing, it seemed as if the gloomy skies would prolong the morning feeding spell.  I told Shelley things looked good for another fish or two.  Then almost without warning came Bertha, a couple of hours ahead of schedule.  Within minutes the wind had freshened and the rain came sheeting down accompanied by crashing thunder and lightning.  I don’t find holding twelve feet of carbon much fun in these conditions.  Neither of us wanted to spend the day huddled up in a bivvy so with Shelley under shelter I braved the wind and rain to get the gear packed away and the car loaded.  In these conditions staying dry was impossible and all the gear will need drying out when the sun shines again.  The session had to be cut short but it had been fun while it lasted.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Pure Fishing...

Pure Grumpy

Saturday evening and I had a little spare time so quickly loaded the car and headed off for a couple of hours fishing.  I pulled into the club lake to find it was thick with weed in some places and thick with anglers in others.  I didn’t even get out of the car, just turned around and pointed myself in the direction of the Marsh.  On arrival here things didn’t look much better, at one end two anglers were considerately taking up three swims and at the other, another two were bivvied up and were sprawled out, shirts off sinking cans of beer.  I had a quick look in a couple of the free swims but I must be getting old and grumpy because I just didn’t feel like fishing amongst this company.  So I went back to the club lake, parked up and took a long stroll around trying to find something inspiring.  A few anglers were packing up and heading off leaving just a couple of groups of sullen looking teenagers and a cluster of bivvies.  Forty five minutes later nothing had inspired me so I was back in the car and on the verge of going home but thought “sod it” and decided to try my luck at the Marsh after all.

I ended up dropping my gear into a swim I rarely fish, it looked good with the nice southerly wind blowing in.  I catapulted a few pouches of boilies in front of a reed bed and down the slope into open water.  I cast a snowman rig with a PVA bag of crushed boilies close to the reeds and then a chod rig at the bottom of the slope then sat back to chill out.  As I sat back in my chair I noticed yet another angler setting up across the lake, he was using a dreaded bait boat to position his baits along the lily choked margins into spots it would have otherwise been impossible to present a bait.  I don’t know how he expected to land a fish from these areas but gave him the benefit of the doubt, surely he had a plan?  For some reason I just wasn’t feeling the fishing buzz tonight but tried to gee myself up, the swim looked good with the wind pushing in and the occasional patch of fishy bubbles breaking out.  Then again I always say that don’t I?

Time passed.  At the western side of the lake the sound of a bite alarm caused excitement and panic as the wandering angler scrambled back to his unattended swim to investigate, there was no fish attached to reward him.  Meanwhile at the eastern end one of the beer drinkers was flat on his back, on the ground outside his bivvy where he remained for some time.  Opposite me the guy with the bait boat was in a bit of a fluster as it appeared his vessel was stuck in the weed, either that or he was really taking his time to get his rig bang on ‘the spot’.  In my own swim absolutely nothing was happening and to be honest I was bored as well as grumpy.  I’d had enough and packed up with plenty of daylight to spare.

 Pure Fun

A couple of days later Isaac, Shelley and I ventured off for a couple of hours fishing in the midday sun.  We headed off to a club water, not the usual one but a small, narrow stillwater purposely designed and stocked to see anglers getting a bend in their rods.  This isn’t your usual over stocked, carp puddle type water but one where you never know what will be on the end when the float goes under.  We began by watching Isaac fishing corn close in on a whip.  I fed a little groundbait and a handful of pellets every now and then but bites were few and far between to begin with.  After a while Isaac got a little frustrated and wandered off so I sat down for a while and sure enough managed to hook a fish, a small but very welcome Tench.
 Isaac returned to the hot seat, more determined than ever to bank a fish or two.  Bites began to come more regularly, a couple of fish were hooked and lost but eventually he banked his first fish of the day, a beautiful little Mirror Carp.  A short while later he landed another equally lovely little Carp.  While this was going on I was watching another, larger Carp cruising around on the surface.  After a while I couldn’t resist setting up another rod with a float for casting weight and an 8mm pop up boilie for hook bait.  I flicked it out and carefully wound it back into the path of the cruising fish which slurped it down without hesitation.  After a short battle I pulled a nice little Common over the net and Isaac scooped it out first time. 

 This commotion didn’t disturb the swim for long, once again Isaac’s float dipped and this time the strike connected with a larger fish which tried to get into the weed.  The attempts were in vain, Isaac kept the pressure on and soon I was netting a nice Tench for him.  I think this might be his first ever Tench but Isaac is sure he’s caught one before but we both agreed this must be his biggest.  After that Isaac was satisfied so it was Shelley’s turn on the whip.  She was out of practice with this style of fishing so we had a laugh watching her strike thin air a few times.  Eventually she set the hook and a nice little fish stretched the elastic until I scooped it out with the net.  Proper Crucian Carp are rare these days but Shelley was fortunate enough to catch her first ever today.  With all three of us content with what we caught we returned home for lunch.
Pure bad luck?

My time with the kids ended that evening so when they went to their mums, Shelley and I went down to the Marsh to make the most of the fine summer evening.  We fished a rod each for Carp and Tench; Shelley cast a chod rig into open water near a snaggy tree while my helicopter rig landed a little closer to trouble.  I baited the area with a few pouches of boilies then left the rods to fish for themselves.

We’ve grown accustomed to sitting behind motionless rods here so I decided to put a little groundbait in the margins and fish corn on a waggler over the top.  I stopped fishing like this at the Marsh a couple of seasons ago and had forgotten the reason why.  Not catching fish is obviously frustrating but after a while catching too many can be equally annoying.  I had been hoping to relax while watching the waggler but it was impossible to get a bait to the bottom because every single cast saw the bait intercepted on the drop by a Rudd.  I gave up counting at twenty, they were all beautiful golden fish with vivid red fins and averaged about 4ozs each.  Very nice but not really what I was after.  To add to the frustration my groundbaited area was absolutely fizzing with bubbles.  On a couple of occasions my sweetcorn managed to reach the bottom and I was rewarded with a Roach, the biggest of which was about half a pound.

After an hour or so with the waggler rod I’d had enough so packed it away and we spent the rest of the evening chatting and putting the world to rights.  One of the reasons we like fishing on a summer evening like this is we can just talk without any of the distractions of life.  The sky grew gradually darker and we were lost in conversation when we were suddenly interrupted by a most unusual sound, a bite alarm.  It was Shelley’s rod and with my encouragement she was soon bent into a heavy fish.  Shelley has caught loads of fish over the last few years including Carp to around seven pounds but this was clearly much bigger.  Unfortunately this fish took her by surprise and made straight for the thick beds of lilies and became stuck fast.  The old trick of slackening off and putting the rod back on the alarm never works for me but we tried it anyway.  Would you believe it, after a few minutes the alarm sounded and we were in business again.  Sadly our hope was short lived before the fish was back in the lilies and everything seemed terminally solid.  The slack line trick didn’t work a second time.  I considered stripping off and going in for it but it was dark and the margins were deep. Eventually I tried to pull but the hooklength parted and I suspect the fish had been long gone for some time.  It may have been down to a lack of experience on Shelley’s part or it may just have been down to pure bad luck.  That’s fishing…

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdIR5VLEyQU ). 
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.