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 .
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
Well what a days fishing we had yesterday,I fancied a bit of grayling action on the Hampshire Avon,instead of choosing a stretch familiar to me like Stratford sub castle or the nadder at harnham i decided to fish a bit that had a good reputation years ago,Lords Walk in Amesbury,the highest coarse fishable stretch of the avon before it becomes the abode of the dryfly snobbery.
back in the day it was a half mile of council owned fishing which meant anyone with a rod license could fish it,known for its grayling and wild brown trout you would think all the fish would have been taken for food but it didn’t seem that way at all,the banks were clear and trees manages.
Oh how things change! in the intervening years the council had given up managing the rivers they owned and had let them to a local fishing club,two things happened,the swims became neglected and the fish disappeared,like it isn’t bad enough that the only free fishing up that far on the Avon became the property of a club but for them to let it get as bad as it is now is terrible,there was no bailiffe,i saw 2 club officials who had never seen us before and didn’t ask to see our tickets or memberships.
Still we managed a couple of small fish,i managed a small brown trout ,too small for a pic but charlie did much better.
what a lovely bit of weather today! an edge of high pressure keeping the lows over the continent,this can only mean one thing……fishing!
So Sarah dropped myself and charlie over to gillingham on a stretch of the stour downstream from our last foray.The stour has many faces,last week where we fished the stream was not more than four feet across in places,today it went from 8 feet across to 30 and from 6 inches to six feet in depth.
This part of the stour has seen little attention by the fishing club that own in years looking at it,many willows fallen across the river here and there,a lot of overhanging branches ,snags and the odd trolley,but here and there there are a few fishable places,one such was a small deep pool where the water circles I was sure this would hold some fish.
We set up eagerly ,charlie getting the hang of setting himself up now takes the pressure off a bit,today he was trotting with a home made goose quill trotting float weighted with 3 BB shot and tipped with a size14 hook with red and white maggots,my set up was pretty much the same but my float was a vintage Hardcork trotting float from the 1960’s.
We fished the pool for a couple of hours in all,it was a nice spot we were north facing with the hot sun on our backs and good shelter from the cold wind,the temp was 6 deg c but to be honest i think it was a jumper warmer that i needed and almost contemplated taking a layer off.
It would appear this short section of the stour was a sort of nature reserve,the odd bench here and there with clearly defined paths.Opposite us was a light copse mostly willow and Alder,the trees were full of small birds,titmice of all the varieties a few robins in need of anger management classes and a few territorial but quiet blackbirds hopping around in the lower branches.The occasional splash caught our attention as a coot or moorhen entered the water calling as they went .
There was on the river a light hatch of Caenis flies which had the smaller fish feeding occasionally,one or two leaving the tell tale bubble of a grayling or two.
Charlie was the first to bank a fish today ,a nice Roach ,the sun glancing off its silver flanks was stunning,a super fish and after pics were taken it was slipped back into the pool where it made for the depth in quick order.Whilst the bites were frequent hooking the fish seemed difficult for both of us,i assumed either the hook was too big for the fish or we were to slow on the strike,i suspected minnows,confirmed minutes later when charlie successfully hooked one of them,soon followed by another Roach.
It was a bout 20 minutes before pick up time that i actually caught i fish ,it was thiiiiiis big,sadly the picture didnt come out ….lol