Enjoying fishing.

Chris Yates one of the first celebrity anglers once said it is more important to enjoy fishing than to catch fish,a sentiment I only grasp as I advance in years.When I was a lad it was all about the number of fish,then it became the size of the fish,now it to me is as Chris Yates admonished,enjoy your fishing,I can remember some memorable fish over the years perch ,grayling,roach and tench to name but a few but the days i really can see vividly in my minds eye are the perfect days when the score didn’t matter,deep red sunsets over a pond stalking carp in the margins,trotting for Grayling on the Hampshire Avon on a crist February morning with the hot sun on my back,and the night session on Summer solstice seeing the sun rise over a lake shrouded in mist swans appearing and disappearing as the mist wistfully drifted by ,mallards shouting claim from across the water unseen but not unheard.

Today was a different day,little did i know but the day would see little in the way of our friends from the deep,but it was one of those days i will remember.

Charlie and I arrived late to the water today,it was shortly before Eleven in the morning and a good hour later than I had hoped for.This was our fist time fishing this lake,a warminster Angling Club water.

The weather was good,dry warm sunshine but a stiff northwesterly wind steadily moving round to the southwest as the day proceeded,sat on the lake side facing south the sun was beating down on us,the trees sheltering us completely from the gsts of some 16 mph.Both Charlie and I were down to our shirt sleeves within 20 minutes.

The lake itself was a bit coloured but give the heavy rain the previous 2 days it was not really surprising on a clay bottomed lake like this one ,to the right of us was an almost mangrove in the shallows at the end of the lake, a place i thought would hold some perch ,in front of us the open lake ,good banks level ground and a swim ideal for a son and his dad to fish.

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Charlie is getting to be a dab hand at setting up these days,can tie his own hooks on etc,understands how rigs work and how to make them,this frees my time up immensely to set up quicker and drown a maggot or two.today we had our lines in the water in no time at all,both feeder fishing on the bottom with lobworm hookbaits,to have a more pro-active method too we both set up for float fishing too,Charlie on the roach whip and me on my split can and mitchell 206,and of course we both had home made floats.

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We baited our swim with hemp,micro pellet and a home made groundbait,adding some dixed spam for good measure ,surely a scent no fish could resist along with a good amount of chopped lobworm in the mix.

As we settled into our seats and awaited a bite,we together sat bathing in the warming sun,listening to all around us,behind a woodpecker ratta taping on a bead pine interrupted by the chiff-chiff-chaff of the male chaffinch in the now budding hawthorn bush.to remind us it was still very early spring a robin appeared to our left sat on a log,twitching as he does and then darting ten feet or so to the base of the oak to grab some poor unsuspecting morsel of bugginess.Hovering rearby was a huge bee checking out the wild primroses growing on the dappled sunlight.

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A stick snapped behind us maybe a roe Buck making his way to better grazing on the far meadow,what ever it was it threw a male blackbird into a fit of rage,my Blackbird linguistics are a bit rusty but it wasn’t the kind of thing one should be shouting in good company for sure.

In Front of us over the opposite hill was a group of buzzards all catching a spring thermal  and making their magnificent cry as they make their sky dance,the lower birds being mocked by a corvid,I have never thought of corvids as being particularly brave but this one was mobbing for all it was worth,I am sure he made contact more than once,the buzzard carried on trying not to notice the insult hoping the loudmouth would get bored and bugger off and pick on someone else,after all didn’t he have a bin to knock over somewhere or a bi bag to pull apart?

suddenly our attention was drawn to a more piscatorial rucas,a sizeable carp launching itself out of the water making a huge slash and sending waves in all directions,Charlie was quick to point out the merit of long distant casting,something i managed to dissuade him from,filling trees with tackle is not my game for sure.

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We changed our baits and just enjoyed fishing,chatting and laughing whilst keeping a hopeful eye on our floats,seeing some fizz on the surface but not as much as either of us would have liked.

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My bits and bobs set in easy reach ,i like a bit of organisation even if others do not see organised!

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Amongst my newly acquired bits and bobs is an early Milbro ‘maggipult’ a bait catapult that certainly didn’t get the numbers made that the better known milbro  greenhouse breakers of my youth and is subsequently a bit desirable,here’s my catty:

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Charlie noticed a steady stream of ripples from the bank of the swim to our right  and went over to see if it was a nice fish supping on emerging flies,Charlie excitedly called me over to ‘see what he found’. Well i guess it must be spring then,in the margins were a dozen or so frogs laying spawn,along with our rarer Toads,all the spawn was returned once it had been poked and prodded gently.Charlie managed to get a fantastic photo of a frog:

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Charlie with some fresh Frog spawn:

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Charlie with Toad spawn:

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As the sun made its slothful journey to the west it became clear that today was not a day of fish,in fact 3 bites between us,but what a day,one of those days that its more important to just’enjoy fishing.

 

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Another thing I like to do: float making.

As anyone who knows me will know i like to make things and one of those is making fishing floats,personally i love all the retro stuff,split cane ,old mitchel 206,a centrepin and ot forgetting floats,often i use vintage float patterns as inspiration.

Over the last 150 or so years there has been a plethora of designs,from razzle-dazzle camo on pike floats to simple pirch bobbers,materials as diverse as peacock quills,cork,balsa wood,bamboo,oak-galls,reeds and porcupine quills have all been utilised in making floats.

So amongst my fishing posts will be fishing related tackle that i have made,from floats to swim feeders to lures and flies.

So without further ado may i present todays piscatorial delights.

A pair of Trotters……

I call them Del and Rodney….lol
This is a pair of trotting floats ,my eyes aren’t what they were a decade ago,i struggle to see the shrews whiskers painted orange that pass for floats with many so these two are just the job, big bright and a black tipped for the days when the skies are bright.( And may there be more of them!)
the materials are :
Body (for both): Balsa hand carved not turned.
Stem (Orange trotter) : American walnut.
Stem (sable trotter) : Bamboo.
Both silk whipped.
8 Coats of varnish.
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To be or not to be?

Yesterday was to be fishing day,all planned,we were going to go to a Warminster club water i had visited but not fished before,the night before we pre baited a swim just to help things along.Cut to yesterday AM,charlie and i eagerly packed the kit on and in the car ,we set off early hoping to pop into Steves Tackle on the way for some bait ,about 2 miles out from Warminster my good lady wife announces that the car doesn’t feel right,that sinking feeling set in ,we decided to see if things would pick up as they do with old cars,it didn’t.
having pulled into the supermarket car park in Warminster i took a look under the bonnet,po and splutter,i knew it was firing on three cylinders but that was as far as i knew,having cut my teeth on old jap and brit bikes a lifetime ago modern electronics are another language,one i don’t speak.
5 hours later and £150 lighter the RAC chap had us on our way,sad to say far too late to get to the bank for our planned fishing trip.
So today having left the car packed we set off early for our days fishing,the weather was spectacular,bright and warm with a mild southerly wind blowing warm mediterranean air across the south of the country.
Once set up charlie and I settled in enjoying the warm sun and both down to shirts bfre long.charlie using a float on a roach pole in conjunction with a swim feeder and i set up with a feeder rod and my cane rod for the float.
As i said earlier this was our first session at this venue ,its proximity to the railway line was annoying but in reality there were few trains and what there were charlie enjoyed watching.
The wildlife was something else,over the far side of the lake was a heron stood in anticipation of a fish or two for his breakfast,he didn’t seem to be doing well…..
Over the other side to our left we could hear two woodpeckers hard at work,the hammering interrupted by a parliament of rooks in the pines shouting insults at each other .
Well to cut a long story short we tried really hard but that heron should have been seen as a sign,there were no fish about,maybe the cold of the recent weeks has put them down in the deeper water,one thing was for sure they were not feeding on anything we had and we had nive lobworms and fresh yummy maggots from steves shop.
As the sun fell slowly towards the west we packed up,a little disappointed that we had blanked but the wonderful bright warm day made it not really a big deal,a day well spent and bonding time with charlie is never a waste.

Bob Bob Bobbin along…..

27th December.

Boxing day was my planned day out fishing,I got up early looked out the door and after taking in as much grey damp foggy weather that i could bare said sod it and promptly went back to bed. the end……

However the following day was a completely different kettle of fish.A high of 9C virtually no wind at all and what there was was from the south west,a mist hung low to the pasture across the road from my cottage ,i took in a deep breath of air and declared today to be fishing day!

Three of my boys were off doing voluntary community work first thing so I was without a ghillie today on the upstroke my dear lady wife was willing to drop me off at my favorite local pond for a bit of piscatorial therapy.

I chose my usual swim facing south,face in the sun ,i was down to tank-top in no time,this was warm in the sun but the fog everytime i breathed out showed otherwise.

A slight mist sat upon the surface ,a slight breeze moving it too and fro,the peace disturbed by a splash and customary call as a moorhen entered the water through the reeds the other side of the pond.

This was near the perfect morning for winter fishing for me.

Soon i had set up and cast out a small home made cage feeder and a hook baited with some fine dendrobaena worm ,rod place on my stix and strike bobbin fitted in place. I hoped the remains of Alans secret groundbait would serve me as well as last week.

After what seemed an age the bobbin twitched as it always does as a coffee is being consumed,i continued to sup the welcome hot drink,then the bobbin shot up and the rod bent around falling from the rest as it did so. I spilt my coffee all don my trousers as i set the cup down with one hand and grabbed the cane rod with the other setting the hook,i held the rod erect waiting to feel if there was a fish or not,then bang bang bang as a fish nodded its head in a very carp like way.line was both begged and bartered i didn’t want to put too much pressure on the light 2lb hooklink,after a short while firstly i saw the swim feeder surface followed by a glint of light off the flanks of a nice fish.Photos taken this piscatorial delight was returned to its home.

This seemed to be it! a good hour and a half passed with little to no bites,the bobbin remained still .Maybe a bit of float fishing would prove better,so i switched to a homemade float set at five feet or so baited with worm.As i settled i realise the sun was glinting off the water very brightly now it was above the tree line,the sort of light that when you look away all you see is green blotches! so i tried the hand,arms ached,i tried squinting through one eye,that hurt too after a while,what could I do? eureka! i made a small shade out of an empty hookling packet attached it to my hat ,now i coud peer with one eye shading the suns glint with the packet! I could now see the float .

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After missing some bites I finally connected with a fine winter carp,not sure of the weight but i was very pleased with it all the same,pictures duly taken and the fish returned to the deep of the pond.

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things went slow,i set up the top two sections of the roach pole and set it a foot from the bank,i thought a bit of fingerling fun would be amusing,the light reed float dived under with even the smallest perch,i must have caught 20 or more ,as i watched the float again start to slip under the surface i struck,immediately i could tell this was no fingerling,after a brief but fraught time i had landed a lovely small carp,quite the surprise really.

My dear lady wife duly arrived to take me home,she had a quick go bashing mini perch,finally she caught one bigger than the hook so i took a picture!

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I am not lying when I say it was good to get into a warm car,as we set off i mused what a wonderful days winter fishing it had been ,as we made our way up the farm track we paused to take a picture of the suns last second before night fall.

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A Cyprinus yuletide.

19th December 

 

Its less than a week till the big day,the weather was clear the temp a barmy 10 deg C with little or no wind so we were up early for the last session before christmas,Charlie was not feeling too good so Samuel volunteered to be my ghillie for the day.

Once we arrived at the pond i set Samuel up with a small roach wip ,a homemade balsa and quill float and a size 12 circle hook baited with maggot,today i set up with a goose quill and wood float hooked and baited the same as sammy and a drop of 6 feet or so.

We baited our swims with a blended groundbait,we waited and waited for the tell tale bubbles of methane to be disturbed from the bottom by feeding fish,the cold was not helping much and it took a full hour and a half for the first fish to be landed,sammy landed a lovely perch fingerling and this started his continuous catches for the rest of the day,all perch and all fingerlings,he was best pleased but was hoping for a carp apparently.

It took a bit longer but eventually my float started to wobble and after a short pause then it gently ducked under the surface as i struck into the fish.Clearly this was no monster but fought well all the same and within a just a short while my pint sized ghilli was netting my fish,a small but pretty common carp.

I baited up the rig again adding a handful of ground bait and waited,and waited and waited,no bites but there were clearly fish feeding in the baited area.Time to switch tactics,this time an arsley bomb a #12 circle hook and a homemade strike bobbin to show bites as the sun was glaring off the surface of the lake making it difficult to see the tell tale twitches of the rod tip

No sooner had i set the rod down and clipped the bobbin on the bobbin shot up signalling a take.I struck and connected with a fish i could tell it was not a huge fish but by the way it was fighting i knew it was a carp of some sort,in no time my diligent ghilli was eagerly netting this fish again,photos taken it was gently released back to the murky depths,little did i realise this wasn’t to be the last time we met that carp today,in fact i would land this same fish three times in a row,its distinctive 2 scales missing being its identifying feature.

This friendly picatorial buddys appearance paused by a nice crucian carp which is always a nice appearance,a sturdy solid fish photographed and returned gently to the lilies they like to frequent.

Within a little under 20 minutes the strike bobbin stood to attention signalling another bite,upon connecting I immediately i knew this was not a carp and i suspected that the bream had come on the feed,and i was right,instantly my giggling ghilli was grabbing the net making comment of ‘oh not one of those slimeys!’

Within a short while our lift home had appeared and it was time to pack up and head off home,it was starting to get a little perky as the sun set towards the west in a watery yellow yuletide sky.

There were no excited recollections to his siblings from sammy,as soon as he got in the car with the heater on he was asleep with a little cheeky grin of satisfaction of a good days fishing on his face.

Leviathan of the Dorset Stour.

11th December 2018

it has been relatively dry for a few days and the river levels are dropping so i thought it would be a good opportunity to visit the Stour at highbridge mill again today,the temperature was hovering around 12 deg centigrade,the wind a mere breeze from the wsw,ideal conditions.
given that the river was still quite coloured i decided to fish on the bottom using a size 10 circle hook and a swim feeder,for bait it was some European flat worms aka dendrobaena.
being a bit muddy and not having a seat i collected an armful of reeds from the bank and fashioned a crude but effective mat to sit on,then it was down to business,opposite my swim and a few yards down stream was an over hanging alder,i knew if i could get my bait under that without snagging the tree it would be a good spot.
After an hour or so of steadily feeding the swim bites started to show,tentative and infrequent,i assumed it was roach and sure enough after a short while i was landing a nice bar of silver of about 10 ounces,off to a good start.
I cast out again,getting the bait right under the branches and into the slack water,i tightened the line and placed my split cane rod on my antler topped rod rest,nothing….then i started to pour a coffee and there was some small twitches ,probably a minnow i thought,shrugged my shoulders and poured the coffee,with that the rod tip pulled around as a fish hit hard,after a scalding only a chap could appreciate i struck into the fish,bang bang bang,fish on! i started reeling in and some line stripped,then the line went slack,the rod stood to attention,the fish was off,disappointed i reeled in to find half a minnow!
clearly in this swim was a predator,maybe a perch? or a chub?
with an amount of eagerness i recast a nice big worm under the tree again.After just a short while the rod bent again,this time it was hooked well,again line stripped and i was sure i would get to see what was there,sadly this leviathan of the stour was having none of it,it dived deep and into a submerged snag,again this fish eluded me.
within an hour again the scenario played out again ,fish in the snag! i couldn’t believe my luck,then suddenly and unexpectedly the fish came out of the snag,the beast stayed deep and went up and down the swim nodding left and right occasionally stripping line.After a fishers eternity my nemesis was tiring and as it did it came closer to the surface,a bar of gold,it was a chub of about half the size of its fight just shy of 4lb,soon it was netted ,pictures taken and then gently released back to the dark depths of the stour.
I fished for another 2 hours picking up a few nice roach and a bream each time i struck into a fish i was hoping it would be another chub but alas today it was not to be.
A fine days fishing,i am eager to get another day on the stour soon,maybe a barbel next time?

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6th December 

We had about three hours spare today so charlie and I returned to two counties lake.The weather was mild and a 12 mph south-west wind was blowing in our faces,the odd spot of drizzle but nothing too bad.when we arrived we found we had the whole lake to ourselves.
We soon set up,today choosing to use swimfeeders on the bottom and a size 12 circle hook baited with big juicy European nightcrawler worms,basically a small lob worm,a killer bait for most freshwater fish.
Today we had our own made groundbait too,a mix of breadcrumb,digestive biscuit and pureed worm,it had to be a good groundbait,the water was cold and the fish lethargic.
To say it was a slow few hours would be kind,we managed just a couple of bites between us , however late afternoon my split cane rod bent round hard and i struck and connected to a small yet beautifully scaled mirror carp,no sooner had I put it back then Charlies rod bent round too hesitantly he tightened up the line and connected to a very fine hybrid crucian carp.
A quiet day topped off by two great fish and smiles all around!