Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Winter 2018

Well the year has turned and it’s time to reflect on the first part of my winter fishing. To be honest I am only counting from November as October 2018 was really a continuation of summer, temps up to 19 degrees C during the day, sunny and warm so not like winter at all. November found me on the Waveney around Bungay. Pike up to 6 pound were in abundance using a wobbled deadbait. A session using a light quiver tip produced plenty of roach and dace. December I did a night session for carp in Essex on a gravel pit and was happy with a fully scaled mirror carp of ten pounds. Not a big fish but so beautiful. At the end of December I had a couple of sessions at Ellingham Hall lakes Norfolk. I fished with punched bread and worms as bait and fed liquidised bread. Plenty of roach and rudd along with small perch were caught as well as some small carp up to three and a half pounds.

I feel that in winter it’s really important for me to catch fish. In the summer I may take a risk and try some challenging waters as even if I don’t catch at least it’s pleasant and warm. Winter when you are not catching is hard for the soul. I am now planning to try rivers again and deciding what to go for is part of the fun for me. Happy New year everyone and tight lines.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

John Wilson – A Tribute.

The world of angling has dimmed somewhat with the sad news that the famous angler, writer, TV presenter and ambassador for the sport of angling, died at his home in Thailand aged 75.  For me along with many anglers, John was a major influence on my love of fishing through his TV shows, articles and books. Along with Izaak Walton and Dick Walker it’s hard to think of someone who has had a greater influence on fishing.

We will probably never see his like again. When he started his TV shows in the 1980’s there were only four channels, there was no internet or video games no box sets of TV to watch. Kids were still going out on their bikes to play football and go fishing. Adults would go fishing, enjoying the peace and being out in nature.

The afternoon I read the news of his passing, I went down to the river Waveney in Bungay to fish for roach in his honour. Since moving to the Waveney valley earlier this year I have often thought of John as I fished many of the places his used to fish. His autobiography gave an insight into his life and it seems to me he was a man who lived like he fished. If there was an opportunity he would embrace it. He gained knowledge and skill and was not afraid to take a risk and would therefore reap great rewards. He was always positive and viewed the natural world in almost childlike wonder while at the same time having a deep understanding of wildlife. RIP John Wilson thanks for your life well lived and thanks for sharing part of it with us.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Should we stop talking down rivers?

I remember about 20 years ago reading John Wilsons Book 50 years a fisherman. In the book he charts his career as an angler. In his young years he would travel up from Enfield to fish the river Waveney around Bungay in the 1960’s. He talks of the glorious deep river where there were roach to over two pounds and the flow allowed long trotting to be the most used method for catching these wonderful fish. Even the side streams were full of water and full of roach to specimen sizes. Along with the roach were pike willing to be caught. He talks, in the book, about how changes to the river caused by water abstraction and the appearance of cormorants and other predators totally denuded the river of its roach. The river was now little more than a trickle and unsuitable for fishing. The message I got from the book that its not worth fishing the river. 

This year I moved to Beccles near Bungay and joined the Bungay Cherry tree angling club, the same club that John Wilson joined all those years ago. It is true that it is not as deep and as fast flowing as described in John’s book.  Many side streams are only ankle deep. During the long hot summer of 2018 I noticed that it was getting very low and clear. However, I spotted many large chub among the fronds of reed and even caught the odd one late on in the summer. 

As autumn kicked in I started to target the river around Bungay and to my joy and surprise I found large numbers of roach and dace along with perch chub and pike. Of course the roach are not specimen size the largest being only 8 ounces but there are lots of them. After autumn rains the river is now carrying a tinge of colour and decent flow. While it’s true that rivers and their fish populations are under pressure is there an issue that angling writers are talking down rivers and that adds to their decline as people don’t bother fishing them?  With participation in angling now in decline I think that it’s a mistake to just talk about catching carp in gravel pits. We should be encouraging people to give rivers more of a try. For me the more people that care about river fishing the more likely it is that we can help protect them. So my message is rivers are great, yes they are under pressure but they are still worth it. Carp fishing takes up time and in our busy, on demand world, we often don’t have much time for our leisure. Yet a few snatched hours on a river in the morning or evening can be very rewarding. Give it a go you know it makes sense.

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!