Monday 31 December 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 23 December 2018

Saturday at last

Every autumn I make sure the car is full of CD's so I have a good soundtrack to while away the hours in the car.  On the way to the water the music is hardly heard as my mind runs riot with the possibilities for the days ahead, 'where should I start?  Will I find them in the same place?  What's plan B?'  On the way back home it is usually something upbeat which will hopefully suit my mood...  Maybe some euphoric dance music, some chilled out reggae or angry, punchy punk.  Some examples are included;

For once this December I had time on my hands but at some point the decorating demons had crept into my house and made loads of work for me to do.  Or so I was informed...  I don't mind painting but I'd much rather be fishing.  When that was done I had furniture to move in and more to move out.  I ended up tired, battered and covered in paint and was then told I still had to go shopping before the end of the week.  I took this blow in my stride because the media tells me everyone shops online these days so the town shouldn't be too bad.  To be fair it wasn't but I can only tolerate crowds of strangers for so long and by the end of our spree I was definitely getting cranky.  The day hadn't gone too badly so far but the journey home was a bastard.  The roads were busy, yes that much should be obvious but it's not weight of traffic that causes the problems it's fuckwitt drivers.  We all see cheeky, impatient drivers nosing out of a junction or roundabout but when the line of traffic isn't moving all they do is block the traffic coming the other way.  This happened several times, even at the same junction and on two occasions the culprits were buses.  It was a good job I wasn't driving...

Meanwhile the bastards that run the country are still taking the piss, how can these inept cunts getaway with being so shit at their jobs?  Why isn't there anyone in a position to sack them?  Not at the next 'election' but immediately, no one else gets away with being so shit.  Breathe...  I'm actually going fishing tomorrow!!

Friday was windy, damp and horrible.  Sunday’s forecast was dark, wet and horrible.  But this was Saturday, mild and dry with a fresh westerly, for once the weather was in my favour.  Today I had company, Mr B is a former colleague from a younger generation but despite this we have much in common.  It would be good to catch up; I hadn’t seen him since we’d shared a boat this time last year.

We were loaded and away in the dark and soon anchored in a favourite spot, setting up slowly by torch light, by 0700 we both had three deadbaits each soaking in gin clear water.  The sun crept above the fields and shone orange through the trees, the sky was clear but we should be getting a bit of cloud later.  The sun crept higher and the day lightened by the minute, it’s the best time of the day, optimism and expectancy at its highest.

It was just at the point when the doubts begin to materialise (isn't that always the case?) that my herring pinged across to the far bank began to show signs of life.  As I wound down the float picked up pace, running back towards me.  I asked Mr B to duck while I swept the rod sideways, successfully as it stayed bent.  Strong tackle and no quarter, the first of the day was in the net in no time.  A nice double figure fish quickly unhooked and returned.  On this water one fish often brings two or three so we sat up straighter and watched the floats with renewed expectation.  I was content to have a fish under my belt and hoped my guest would catch one soon.  It didn’t happen though so forty five minutes later we were on the move.

The first ‘hot’ swim had been underwhelming but no worries, we were soon sitting in another under the now bright sunshine.  A move always gives the confidence another boost but an hour passed without incident, the cloud hadn’t materialised and it looked like we’d face a day of bright sunshine combined with water that could have come out of a tap.  Another move brought a small improvement when a Pike struck at a bait on the retrieve but still we had no proper takes. 

By 1145 we were tied up in our fourth spot of the day, the sun had progressed to an angle which meant the tree lined bank opposite us now cast a bit of shade on the water.  Half an hour later a Mackerel cast into the shade was picked up and I soon had my second Pike of the day.  I say ‘soon’ but it had been four hours between takes…  No time to ponder, Mr B was away at last and into his first of the day so my job as ‘guide’ was successful, all pressure off.  In the next half hour we had another fish each, the best a low double to Mr B and all four were caught from the shaded far bank.  With the boat returned to normal we decided it would be a good time to toast some sarnies and have a cup of tea.  We had planned to move after this but another fish to Mr B delayed things, once again it came off the far bank.  We considered our options which were limited by the arrival of a couple of anglers.  Our next move at 1500 wasn’t ideal but we could still cover a fair bit of water without encroaching on anyone.

At 1530 I had another take from the far bank on a mackerel and quickly wound in the smallest Pike of the day.  With the sun sinking lower in the still clear sky my confidence was increasing in proportion, I was sure the next hour would see a few Pike.  By 1600 I was beginning to wonder but ten minutes later I saw my float twitch, this time it was a smelt dropped close to the boat and which I’d baited with chopped leftovers.  This one had a little more weight to it but as it was hooked on a short line it did most of its fighting in the net.  When the commotion died down I unhooked my biggest fish of the day.  In the next twenty minutes Mr B had two more fish to low double  to bring the final score to five each, the last couple were unhooked by torch light.  We packed up when we could no longer see our floats. Of the ten Pike boated all bar two had come from baits fished in the shade and those two had come after the sun had set. 

It had been a relief to get back into the wilderness after a couple of weeks of incarceration, good to catch up with a friend, we’d stayed warm, dry and comfortable and we’d caught a boat load of fish.  Perfect.