Friday, 18 April 2014


Now that the rivers are forbidden, we have to turn our attentions to lakes, pools and canals. There's a very small pool 5 minutes drive away which, despite living here for 17 years I've never bothered with. It's an L-shaped one with its width more akin to a canal and rumoured to hold at least 1 20lb + carp.

I've now managed 2 visits in the last 7 days. On my initial trip I tried a boilie on a light running ledger and a lobworm under a waggler to see if the pool held any perch. There were no takers for the bottom bait but by mid afternoon, when the sun was full on the water, fish were topping all over the place. Small carp were patrolling the margins and I saw a couple at my feet. So I adjusted the depth of the waggler to just 6" and soon started to catch golden mirrors of between 5 and 6lbs. Good fun.

There was no sign of doubles and the largest I had was around 8lbs. Maybe the 20lber had been "spirited away" some time ago. Still, it's early days.

Back to the title.
Nice though that is, it's not what I meant. (Do any other bloggers find that pictures appear on their blogs without them knowing how they got there?)

By chance I'd come across an ad for Gardner's suspender controllers and I thought I'd give it a go back at the pool. So off I went yesterday afternoon for a few hours. Sods Law, no sun and cold to boot. Still, I'd invested in a suspender so I was damn well going to use it. I did try a chod rig on the second rod as a back-up just in case.

Eventually after feeding floaters for an hour or so the carp got interested and I ended up with another half dozen of these little golden ones, the largest 7.5lbs.
Again there was absolutely no interest in the bottom bait although there were plenty slurping the freebies. Those I hooked gave tremendous fun on the lighter gear so an enjoyable couple of trips.

And I'm glad the susses worked.

Monday, 7 April 2014

End of Season, then Having a Flutter

Managed to get on the river for the last day of the season and found the Warwickshire Avon in fine fettle. The early morning mist and near-freezing conditions combined to give some lovely shots of the vegetation.

This went a little way to making up for the lack of fish! For me that is, Martin managed a couple of chub, here he's putting one back downstream so as not to scare the rest of the shoal - some hopes.

By late morning, the mist had been bunt off by the sun so things weren't looking great. We'd hoped for a misty, cold day to tempt the chub.

Amazingly Martin and I had the whole stretch to ourselves until mid afternoon when a lone angler decided to try last knockings. Not sure how he fared as I'd picked up my ball and headed off home by 4ish leaving Martin to get another couple of chub.

As the next day was the Grand National, it seemed to make sense to chose a venue which had some similarity to this big day in the racing calendar.  So it was off to the pond on Warwick racecourse where last year I'd had a memorable day with the silver bream.
Having been inspired by Mick Newey, I'd recently bought a Zandavan roll-over indicator which the eagle-eyed of you can see near my rucksack. It's that thing in a fetching red colour. (They were out of stock of something more neutral.) I was hoping for some of the big perch and fished a large prawn beneath a sensitive waggler as well as 6" plus lobs on a very light running ledger with my new toy. It did take a few adjustments to get used to the settings but eventually it seemed right. After a couple of perch just over the pound on the prawn, the arm of the roll-over clattered back and I struck into a fish which didn't feel too perch-like. Drawing it over the net I was a bit surprised to see it was a silver bream. A nice one nonetheless at 1lb 6oz.
I wasn't too sure if it wasn't a hybrid but Martin assured me it was a true silver. That was the only take I managed to hit on the Zandavan, missing several more. The lobs were coming back halved or even quartered. Maybe I was concentrating too much on the float, I'll try to be more focused next time.
Still, the prawn/float combo was proving fruitful and I finished with a satisfying mixed bag of perch, tench and even a chub. The only downside was that many of them had abbreviated top lips, a bad sign of anglers being less than respectful.

Late in the day Martin arrived and we spotted a small toad which was full of air struggling to make it to the reeds next to my platform.

As things started to quieten down for me, I looked up to see Martin's rod bent double. My first thought was that it was one of the carp which are hard fighters, especially on 3lbs line. When he brought its head up I could see a flash of silver and he yelled for me to come over and give him some assistance. It was a very good eel. Between us we tried to make a balls-up of unhooking it before Martin managed to get it weighed - close to 3.5lbs. A fine specimen.

We both were pleased with the few hours we had and the surprise eel made the day memorable.
I'm planning trips to some of the commercials which are within a few miles of where I live, especially now we have the lighter nights. Maybe I'll get to grips with the Zandavan!

Monday, 13 January 2014

On a Perch Hunt 11.1.14

An early start for me after picking up a couple of saus. & egg McMuffins to keep me going. I got to Martin's still in the dark and followed him to the pool.

We arrived just after dawn and I half expected to meet one of these, but was disappointed not to.

There was just enough light to set up and as we had the pool to ourselves, expected/hoped to have some nice specimens soon on the bank. Unfortunately, with the dawn came the sun. It was going to be hard going.

I'd brought the usual perch baits, lobs and prawns as well as maggots to attract the small prey fish but after an hour there were no stripeys seemingly interested so I swapped one rig to a size 14 hook with double maggots under a waggler. Some roach would be a consolation until the perch decide to feed, although probably that would now not be until it got closer to dusk.

I started catching straight away, going from 1/2 to 3/4lbs down to a few ounces. This continued up 'till midday when it was time for me to cook us both some bacon sarnies courtesy of nice Mrs Martin! The morning had seen one Eastern European set up but then left when the bailiff pointed out that barbed hooks were banned here. Even when he was offered a couple of barbless he decided that he didn't like fishing that way. Eventually one other angler turn up so the place wasn't exactly crowded! I said to Martin that I was surprised as, with the state of the rivers - plus it being a weekend - I expected there to be quite a few on the bank. Cynical as ever, he explained that many weren't interested if they couldn't feel the sun on their backs and be pulling mouth-damaged carp out of the water. Although we had the sun, the temperature didn't get above 5 degrees, so those missing out would have got frostbite on their torsos rather than sunburn.

Despite the brightness of the day, Martin managed a consolation perch of around 1.5lbs.

Unfortunately no such fish graced my net, however I finished with a nice haul of roach going to about 3/4lb plus 1 solitary perch around 3 ".

Martin's added to this first fish as the light darkened and finished with a couple of 2lbers  and a couple going just over 2.5lbs.

We packed up at dusk and agreed that more overcast conditions would have aided our cause better but we were both pleased with what we did manage to catch.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Scratchin' the Itch

Some years ago I was lucky to get to fish the Test on some of it's fabulous beats, treating customers to days out! This was a completely new kind of river to me, someone who was brought up on the Warwickshire Avon and Severn. I loved it.
So when I had a phone call from Martin suggesting a day on the Itchen I jumped at the chance. He arranged day tickets for the Lower Itchen Fishery above Gaters Mill for Joe, me and himself. As I had done previously on our trip to the Wye, I opted to take a leisurely drive down the day before rather than get up at some godforsaken hour on the day. After a hearty breakfast at a proper caff (didn't want the pre-packed rubbish the Travel Lodge offered) I was on the water by 7:30 and had a good mooch before Joe and Martin arrived.

The river is a mixture of fast glides and some deeper runs.

I thought such a place desrved a little respect so set up my Edgar Sealy "Rover" with a centre pin loaded with 3lbs line. A cane and balsa Avon completed the outfit.

Being the gentleman I am, I waited for the others to arrive and even sorted out a comfortable parking area for both cars! We had a big bend in the river to ourselves and were able to rotate swims.

We were all quickly into fish, mainly small grayling up to 1lb.

When I changed from corn to maggots I started to attract the attentions of tiny parr.
After a few hours Martin and Joe decided to go for a recce upsteam and settled into a couple of likely swims. After about an hour I had a phone call from a breathless Martin urging me to get up there quickly with my camera. He'd managed to annoy a cock salmon of about 5.5lbs into taking his double red maggot on a size 16 hook!
Both he and Joe caught a couple of Sea Trout and I managed a Brownie of exactly 1.5lbs on double red maggots. It looked as if it had been in trouble with something as its tail had been munched. Either that or it was a fungle problem.
By mid afternoon, Martin had decided that he'd caught enough grayling and was going to go back downstream to the mill in search of some chub and I joined him. While he feeder fished the weir pool I stayed on the float in a nice little swim on the old mill race.

As you can see from the photo, I'd packed away the traditional gear in favour of a 15' trotting rod. I scaled up from size 16s to a size 10 which carried a big chunk of Hovis's best. What chub could resist such a prized piece of processed white loaf? Well, these could. But as a consolation prize a 2.5lbs brownie decided it was time for a late lunch.
To finish off a most enjoyable day, I spent some time watching a grey wagtail on the far bank and a typically cheeky robin munching my maggots.

All 3 of us had good bags of graying mixed with some more exotics like salmon and sea trout so a great, but tiring day out. I would say in the peaceful Hampshire countryside, but upstream we had the planes taking off from Southampton airport 800 yards away and at the mill we had the M27 traffic thundering 50 yards away!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Why the Wye?

Well, it's been over 30 years since I fished the river. Then it was upstream where the Wye is more of a tumbler-over-boulders sort of river. Having had the Wye & Usk Foundation booklet for the last 2 years and reading and re-reading it many times over, I decided that a trip to the lower reaches was in order. As soon as I mentioned it to my wife, she immediately asked which towns I was considering (which translated meant, "where is there good shopping"). We decided that a couple of nights based in Hereford would allow a day at a huge outlet centre in Ross followed by a day wandering around Hereford itself while I tackled a stretch of the river just a few miles outside the town.

A journey of merely 10 minutes from our hotel next to the Cathedral brought me to Sugwas Court. A beautiful spot, made better as both Martin and Joe decided to drive down for the day and the three of us had the whole stretch to ourselves. I had made a bit of a recce the afternoon before and offered to show them the upper and lower beats but when we met at the upper of the lower (does that make sense?) they were happy to start there and forgo the short drive upstream.

Much of Sugwas Court is what I would describe as having "difficult" swims, well for an old git like me, whereas the stretch we settled on was a long meadow with quite a few "easy" swims. It was a walk of just 140 yards - according to Google Earth - from the lay-by to the river bank and there were both shallows and deeper holes to chose from. Walking across the field, through a herd of Herefordshire cattle, we saw a couple of very interesting large residences on the opposite bank. One in particular reminded me of Satis House where Miss Haversham lived in Great Expectations. I saw no-one throughout the whole time I was there - spooky!

To the fishing. Joe had found a cattle drink which allowed him to wade out and long trot.

He wasn't going to give that up easily so Martin and I settled in 2 swims lower down which had, in Martin's case, a deep pool and in mine a run up to some shallows.

Soon Joe was into a shed load of small brownies which snaffled up his maggots and then got into a couple of chub, one of which didn't want to play and took him straight into some tree roots. Not wanting to loose either the fish or his float he walked downstream and attempted to net the chub.

He retrieved his terminal tackle if not the fish.

At one point the two of them decided to take a look at the upper stretch and walked though an apple orchard full of cider (NOT Cidre!) apples.

After having his fill of brownies, Joe moved to a deeper swim and feeder fished, still with maggots. Both Martin and I had persevered with a pellet approach, I also had tried meat without success. Eventually Martin switched to maggots and started to pick up some hard-fighting chub between 4 and 5lbs all of which he had great pleasure in bringing to me for photographing!

All while I stuck with pellets. In the end Martin kindly offered me a box of maggots and I was able to start to catch more regularly, ending up with some chub (but only babies of around 2.5 to 3lbs) and a lot of brownies.

The rain which was forecast from midday until late never really materialised, we had just a shower for about 1 hour which allowed Martin to wear his new designer camouflaged lightweight waterproofs. You'll have to look really carefully in this next pic, see if you can spot him.

So a great day on a stunning bit of river with a couple of good chaps (I have to say that!). If you haven't looked at the Wye & Usk brochure I strongly recommend it. For the ticket price (£20), having the stretch to a maximum of 4 anglers - although they limit it to 2 or 3 if it's a group of friends like us - it is a good deal.

Finally I have to thank Martin for offering to take my large rucksack back in his car so I could get all the purchases my wife and her sister made over the 2 days in the boot!