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


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.

Thursday, 22 August 2013


Just a short post as i have been so busy. I have been doing some fishing recently. The last time i was out i was fishing my syndicate lake with Pat. It was during this session that i noticed a change in how i approach my fishing. In the past, if I was not doing well I would often get frustrated and keep recasting to new areas. This time i knew that i had found a clear spot along side very heavy weed. I did not want to risk a recast and not be able to find the clear spot again. I did not overfeed but popped out about 10 boilies every so often. That was all I did. Pat and i did discuss moving as we were getting no indications. However, we did not move and my reward came in the shape of a nice 15 pound mirror carp. Discussing it with Pat later he said that if your in a fishy looking spot on a smallish lake it is sometimes best to trust that a take will come. Maybe i am becoming more patient as i get older.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Serendipity, a happy accident (or luck as some may call it)

We all like to think that as competent anglers we don’t really need lady luck to cast her magic upon us. We sneer at the non angler who says ‘good luck’ when they know we are about to embark on a fishing trip. We know its not luck, its about good planning, good watercraft, good bait, or good rigs or all those and many more things. When an angler sets out to a target fish of a particular size and then catch that fish we know its all about planning and getting it right on the day . But what about those happy accidents? I was reading a book by David Phiilps, in it he said that his pb carp came while roach fishing and his pb Zander came when pike fishing. I recently had such a capture when I caught my first Catfish at 44 pounds from my syndicate water. On the opening weekend after a 6 week lay off. I was fishing a short morning session for the carp with my friend Pat. Eager to be tight to a feature I cast towards reeds on the opposite side of the lake. My cast was far less that perfect and the rig dropped some way short and into deep water. With carp being caught mostly from shallower water it was unlikely that I would get a take from there. As my second rod was cast close to my own bank I took the lazy way out and said I would just leave if for a bit. “Well don’t blame me if you hook a Catfish” came the statement from Pat. Catfish were waking up after their winter’s inactivity and were known to prowl the deep water.

The take was slow, the battle hard and ferocious. The fish managed to weed itself and we had to wait for it to swim out. As it broke surface I was reminded of Loch Ness monster tales. With help we managed to get it on the bank. My size 6 hook well in scissors of the mouth and the coated braid hook length had stood up to the rigours of the fight. After being photographed and weighed it was slipped back into the lake. This was clearly a serendipitous capture but I would argue not exactly luck. True I was fishing for carp with a large boilie and not the catfish. However, it was Pat’s statement about the bait being in the spot for Catfish that was partly reason why I had left if where it was? Its not really luck more it was making your own luck. Louis Pasteur said that "Luck favours the prepared mind”.  Indeed Dunbar and colleagues estimate that between 30% and 50% of all scientific discoveries are, in some sense, accidental. Anticipating good fortune and being able capitalise on it if it occurs is as important in fishing as it is in science or business.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Ted Hughes – Poet and Angler

When thinking about what fishing means to me I often turn to Literature to see what glimpses into the pool of my soul can be found there. Among the sources for me are the writings of Ted Hughes. For those who don’t know Ted Hughes was one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century, he was poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998. His work regarding nature is often cited as showing the difference between poets of the 20th century as compared with nature poets of earlier times in that he did not idolise nature as Wordsworth might have but, having an understanding of evolution saw nature in the raw as the struggle for survival that is surely is. He saw menace as well as wonder in the natural world. In his poem Pike he observes
A pond I fished, fifty yards across, 
Whose lilies and muscular tench
Had outlasted every visible stone
Of the monastery that planted them-

Stilled legendary depth: 
It was as deep as England. It held
Pike too immense to stir, so immense and old
That past nightfall I dared not cast

Hughes was a regular fly fisher and campaigned for netting of Salmon to be restricted as well as contributing to the book West Country Fly Fishing for which all the proceeds going to the West country rivers trust. He also believed that children should have a chance to experience life in the countryside as a way of development of skills and so they had an understanding of the natural world.
Overall I think that Ted Hughes deserves a place in the hearts of all anglers as he was surely one of us. A select band of brothers and sisters who chase a connection with something greater than themselves in the watery world and on its banks.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Celebrity Anglers and What We Can Learn.

Celebrity Anglers and What We Can Learn.

I have always loved fishing programmes and over the years have watched all the great guys who catch fish for the camera.  I have been lucky to be able to meet some of my angling heroes like John Wilson, Matt Hayes and Mick Brown.  What has occurred to me is what these anglers can bring to our own fishing. It can be that we look at these guys and think they are so good we might as well give up as we can never be as good as that. However, I think that the opposite is true. I have always managed to fish off their confidence. Many years ago I watched John Wilson catch a chub from a tiny  river that looked no more than a trickle. Inspired I went off to the tiny river Wid armed with a quiver tip and some lob worms, to fish for chub myself. I followed what John had said and stalked some likely looking swims. Head high stinging nettles did not put me off. To my delight and wonder I hooked and landed a nice chub of just under 3 pounds. This started a love affair with stalking chub that I still have to this day.

With social networking there are more opportunities to engage with these top anglers.. One person has taken this to a new level. Adam Penning was the one of the main and best presenters on Thinking Tackle. Recently he has moved into guiding carp anglers. Adam’s knowledgeable presence on screen has already made better anglers out of many of us. Now taken to Twitter he readily makes himself available to answer questions and is very generous with his time. Carp angling can be daunting to us mere mortals who want to improve our PB’s. Advice that Adam gives freely on twitter is  invaluable and his guiding business should take off big time. Great communication skills coupled with a passion and deep knowledge is hard to come by and Adam has every quality that is required. Adam can be contacted on @@askpenners  on twitter and on Facebook

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Brentwood carp show January 2013.

Went to the Carp show Sunday 27th with Pat and Ian. I don’t really do fishing shows and this was my first one for 10 years, the last time was at the Go fishing show at the NEC. As Pat kindly offered to drive I really couldn’t say no and with strict instructions to keep a lid on the credit cards we set off across the flooded landscape of Essex to Brentwood. Two halls packed with exhibits showing off all the wonderful and new products and baits greeted me, as did the masses of blokes in green wandering around the show grounds. It was a chance for Pat and Ian to see old mates who they bumped into regularly. We also were able to hand out a few cards for Ians carp fishery in France, Etang de Vost. 

The great and the good were in evidence including Kevin Nash, Terry Hearn and Lee Jackson to name but a few. There were talks and demonstrations that we more or less avoided. I mostly went around picking up rods i could not afford, lying on bed chairs i had no intention of buying and going in bivvies that were big enough to live in.  I have to say i enjoyed the atmosphere and did pick up some new scopex and squid pop up boilies that i just know will catch me a 20 pounder. Overall the experience has got me looking forward to the new year and hopefully some big carp to show for my efforts. By the way Ian’s lake in France is very reasonable and he will even drive you there if you want, take a look here