Saturday, 4 October 2014

New fishing, new me

Well that didn't take long. Finally I've semi-retired. And guess what. I have been able to rediscover my love of all things piscatorial. Four days after walking out of my work place for the last time and I was fishing with Pat on Soapers syndicate for my first proper session of the year here. I discovered that, the mixture of high pressure and the usual heavy weed accompanied with the fact that this is a hard lake, had resulted in very few carp over the recent weeks. Some very large Catfish have been out but carp were spooky and coy. They were not keen to put in an appearance. Needless to say we all blanked. 
My next trip, two days later, was to a private stretch of the river Stort for float fishing with maggots. Very old school to watch a float bob and weave down flowing water. The dip of the float resulted in nice small silver fish. I had mostly small chub but a few roach and perch also put in an appearance. I also had a surprise pike that decided to grab a small fish that was on the end of my line and ended up in my landing net. It was nice to be reacquainted with this old river and the fact that the owner has a café nearby doing great all day breakfast was a bonus.

Well it’s late in the year to do my first night session but that is what I did a couple of days later. The bivvy was set up on Soapers, which was doing its level best to pretend it was devoid of carp. It was an unseasonably warm still night and the lake looked great in the gathering expectant gloom. I did manage to catch a large bream which took a liking to my coconut boilie. There is nothing better than the first cup of coffee in the morning after a night on the bank and Pat duly provided this so thanks mate.

A few days passed and I had a day session on Broads Green Lake near Chelmsford. Part of the Chelmsford AA portfolio of waters. I used a snowman rig to good effect casting to where carp were showing themselves, with the other rod casting short to over-hanging trees to my left. In all I had three carp all low doubles (one mirror and two commons).  Andy popped down after he finished work to see how I was getting on.


So now it’s about planning my fishing trips with the occasional day working. Whatever happens this first couple of weeks has been about getting back in groove as an angler. Looking forward to more trips to venues near and far. And even Soapers must give up her carp sometime soon shouldn’t she?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The In and out group phenomenon

I am struck by how anglers are not immune to the phenomenon that human beings have in deciding who is in the IN group and who is out of it in the OUT group. I expect it of football supporters. If you support a particular team, you’re part of a tribe that other supporters are not in, they are in a different tribe. What I am often surprised about is exactly how deep this stratification goes in fishing. Match Anglers v Carp/Specimen Anglers is an old chestnut that goes back to the 1950’s. Fly anglers v coarse anglers goes back to 19th Century.

Recently I have become more frustrated about this as different groups seem to claim they have the “soul” of fishing.  For me the “in group” are Anglers and the “out group” are non anglers, yet we seem to stratify ourselves and downplay other branches of the sport. Recently I read the first chapter of a Diary on traditional angling. The whole first chapter seemed to me a tirade against modern Carp fishing, outlining that with all the mod cons and obsession with size, Carp angling as now practiced has, in some way lost its soul. Only cane rods centerpin’s and floppy hats should be considered. It’s almost like these anglers are part of a historical re-enactment society. If everyone fished like them the tackle industry would have gone belly up years ago. And if there are no tackle shops anymore because you are still using your 1962 Grice and Young centerpin where the hell are you going to buy your gentles from.


On the other hand I abhor the attitude of some Modern Carp anglers that every other angler who fishes for ‘lesser species are not ‘proper anglers’ and I have heard the term Noddy used to describe anyone who does not chase big carp with silly names. In my experience while there are some very expert Carp anglers there are plenty who have all the gear and no idea. It’s not rushing out to buy matching Delkim alarms to go with your 3.5lb test curve Infinity rods that makes you a carp angler, its old fashioned things like time patience and watercraft.



The term fluff chucker is often used to describe fly anglers and so it goes on. For me, as an all-round pleasure angler I cannot understand this attitude.  As long as you are a considerate angler and competent enough to not cause damage to the environment, it does not matter what you fish for or how you do it. It must be remembered that Izaak Walton no less did make these arbitrary  distinctions and with his friend and co-author Charles Cotton, describe the beauty of fishing with bait and fly for many species of fish that they found in the rivers of old England. Do what feels right for you but please don’t slag off those who, find their own path to piscatorial heaven. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

When just being there is enough

After a winter of wind and rain a brief respite in the weather coincided with some time off. Over to the syndicate lake I go with pike gear and dead baits. To be honest it was really too bright for any real chance of success and I started too late. However, sometimes it’s all about being in with a chance. Small silver fish broke the surface and I was sure that this was caused by a pike or a perch.  The bare trees swayed in the gentle breeze and bright sun caused me to feel drowsy. Further down the bank Pat and Tyrone were carp fishing and I was called by Pat early afternoon to see Tyrone land a beautiful mirror carp. Maybe I should have been carp fishing.


I moved up to the end of the lake where Pat and Tyrone were fishing. Pat later moved to where I had been earlier as he was told, by another member who was walking the lake with his dog, that there were carp moving down the bottom of the lake. I sat in the swim and huddled against the strengthening wind. Tyrone came into my swim for a chat. This was interrupted by the sound of his bite alarm and a smaller dark common carp was soon in the back of his net. Tyrone has put in the hours over the last few weeks so really deserved to be rewarded with two such lovely fish.

I left late afternoon although I probably should have stayed until dusk. I had a nice day and as I had not been fishing for weeks it was great to be back. Next time I might even catch a fish.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Fishing Review of the year 2013

January started with a trip to the Brentwood carp show. So much stuff it was hard to resist throwing money around. I bought some pop ups that I thought would later account for some very nice fish. Pat and Ian were able to catch up with old pals. All in all a very interesting day was had by all.
With Pat showing me that carp fishing is not as hard in the winter as i had previously thought we decided to try our luck at Cuton Lakes near Chlemsford on a freezing cold February day. I learned that accurate casting to a feature and corresponding accuracy in feeding could bring about success. Despite the cold causing the landing net to freeze up we caught carp and I managed my biggest winter carp of 14 pounds. I would have been happy with that in the summer on most years.
March and brother Andy and I decided to fish a very flooded Tuffnel mere. I cast to some sunken trees with the new pop up boilies and was rewarded with a couple of small carp to 7 pounds. I knew those boilies were a winner.
April and i had my first proper session as a member of Soapers syndicate lake at the end of my road. A poor cast on my part meant i landed short and the rig was in very deep water. “Don’t blame me if you catch a Cat fish says Pat. One hour later the buzzer was screaming and the bobbin lifting. The fight was as hard as anything i had felt before and what broke the surface reminded me of the Loch Ness monster. A huge Cat fish that took two people to lift out. On the scales it went a shade over 44 pounds. This is a fish of a lifetime that i will be hard pressed to match let alone beat.

May found me night fishing on Soapers and my first session of the year on Wicks despite much of the lake being out of bounds due to unstable trees, i did well. On wicks i had a Carp of 19 pounds 8 and 16.10. A night session on Soapers led to me catching a Carp of 19 pounds 4. Surely it was only a matter of time until i had one over the magic 20 pounds. A feeder session accounted for some bream and small carp at Tuffnell with Andy.
July lead to me fishing a night session on my own. This was my first time flying solo so to speak as all my other nights were fished in the company of others. It was a warm night and i kept the bivvy door open and laid on the bed chair drifting in and out of sleep. At 5 in the morning i watched the dawn break over the lake, mists were coming off the surface of the water and at around 6.30  the sun started to break over the trees. At 9.00 am I had a carp in the net. It was a very pretty 13 pounder.

August found me having a couple of nights on Blunts mere near Chelmsford. I was able to witness my brother Andy Catch a lovely 21 pound 6 ounce common carp and i had yet another 19 pounder.

September found me mostly on Soapers and for the most part I was blanking except for a lovely 14 pound Mirror Carp. It’s a hard lake at the best of times and I can’t moan with the quality of the fish I was able catch, even if they were slow in coming. One day fishing on Soapers with my brother resulted in one missed run for him and silent buzzers for me. Well that’s fishing.
Autumn was nothing to write home about and to be honest a combination of work weather and home commitments led me to being away from the bank side.  Apart from a nice Jack Pike on my light spinning rod and an 11 pound carp caught on Pat’s rod my very few sessions were not memorable. A nice session with Andy on the Folly led to no Pike for me and no Carp for him but we had a nice catch up nonetheless.
When I look back I realise that 2013 had a very “Specimen” look about it going for larger fish and suffering the blanks that come along with this approach. I have learned lots and it’s been fun. As I write I am unsure what 2014 will bring. Soapers has been sold so we will have to see. So not going to plan too much yet, just keep my powder dry and see what happens.

Happy new year!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

October Storms

Some of us remember the great storm of 1987. This week we were promised a repeat. To be honest we have had stronger storms before and since but why that one is remembered is the damage it caused. The reason it caused so much damage is that it occurred while the trees were full of leaves. The normal winter winds are from December to March when the trees are bare. The Sunday before the ‘Great Storm of 2013’ I had a wander around the syndicate lake with a pike rod. Apart from a dropped run, I did not connect with a fish.  Still it was nice to be out. I bumped into young Kenny who was bivvied up. He was Pike fishing during the day and planning to Carp fish through the night. Apparently he got through the night unscathed and had a carp as well. The storms passed and I decided to have a go on the lake and went a few days later. I decided to go for a Pike and fished next to Pat who was Carp fishing to the reed line. His approach is to put the rig as close to the reed line as possible as we were seeing the reeds move alarmingly. Pat’s optimism was rewarded when he connected with a very nice common carp of 14 pounds and it looked lovely in its winter colours.
To prove it was no fluke he winkled out another one, this time a mirror carp slightly smaller. It has to be said that he has fished the lake for 16 years and retired so when not fishing he is often walking the lake looking for fish.

 But even as he walked round to pick up his lunch from his wife his right hand rod was away and I had no choice but to land a nice 10 pound ghost common. Pat did not mind and joked it was appropriate to catch a ghostie on Halloween. He went on to catch another one himself.


 I had one 3 pound jack pike to show for my efforts and all in all a very pleasant day it was to be fishing and actually catching fish. My winter fishing starts here and I am sure it will be full of twists and turns as usual. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Where are the British Rock Bands?

Instead of writing about fishing, this week I decided to put down some of my thoughts regarding the state of British Rock Music.
When I think of the Breakthrough Rock Bands of the last 15 or so years that have become major players in the making and selling music I think of Foo Fighters, Black Keys, Shinedown, System of a Down, Green Day, The White Stripes and The Killers. The first thing to notice is that they are all American. Where are the British Rock Bands? Where are the modern day Kinks, Stones, Blur or Radiohead? A look at the Brit Award nominees for 2013 makes for sobering reading. The nominees included, Mumford and Sons, (good but not really a rock band), Muse (ok but more of a synth band and not what i would call rock), and One Direction (God Forbid). 
 Now I enjoy going to see bands play in local pubs across East London and Essex. I have seen some great Rock bands made up of fantastic musicians. They mostly play covers because, let’s be honest that is what the crowd want. Now and again you hear some original work. Steve Forward has a few self penned songs in his set made up usually of the Rock standards. This music he has lovingly created and is really breaking new ground. Other bands worth a mention are Anthem, Turbulence and Expose.

Will these Bands make it on the Album charts and sell out the O2 arena? Well probably not. Why not? Because of the pernicious influence of Simon Cowell et al. X factor never has a real Rock Bands on, and if you’re not on X factor you have little chance of making it. Ever since Stock Atkin and Waterman the idea of instant success without having to put in the hard yards has become so alluring to the businessman. The gullible general public lap it up along with other awful imports like Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus. The British public get told what to like and no recording company is going to take a risk a bunch of hairy musicians who have been working away for years. The time to get them to be big will take too long and time is money so it’s a no for now.



Some of you will disagree and say ‘oh there is this or that band’ ‘they have an album out and get played on BBC 6 music’ (a channel that was under threat not long ago due to a low listenership).  I would argue that although this is laudable they are still in the shadows and not evidence that Rock music is in a healthy place in the UK. I would love Steve Forward to become the UK’s Joe Bonamassa. Lets live in hope for now. I will continue to get my Rock fix from listening to US bands and old UK artists. I hope that one day the British music Industry will learn that music should be created and not just manufactured. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

AS THE WEATHER GETS COLDER

In years gone by as we enter into October my thoughts have turned towards the usual winter species. Pike, Perch and Chub are occupying my thoughts and swimming, capriciously, across my mind. However, after last winter’s experience, carp are still firmly in the ascendency. I learned that large carp will still feed even in cold conditions, especially when the weather is settled. The weed on my syndicate water is starting to look limp and less full of vigour than it did a few short months ago. Rain has lashed down and wind from a north east direction has tested the potency of my fence.   As yet we have not had any frosts so it seems that the obvious choice is to target the carp. Location as always will be important and I plan to spend time on a reconnoitre of likely looking spots. I will also keep my ear to the ground to make sure I hear any carp gossip about where and when the carp are being caught.



Cutting down of free food items may be a good idea and what does go in needs to increase in smell. I am tempted to go for pellets as the water is still not so cold and they will still put smell into the water. Fish-meal boilies or 12 mil halibut pellets are the way i want to start off but tutti-frutti boilies might come into their own. I know that last week coconut cream pop ups were doing the business and carp to over 20 pounds were coming out. It might be advisable to have a tub of these in my tackle bag.  I fancy a one rod stalking session perhaps early morning or late evening. I think this may be the way to go until its gets really cold. At that point perhaps the idea of fishing for Pike may take over.