Saturday 18 December 2021

Back on the River

Back running and back on the river. Had a niggly injury that's been stopping me from getting out running properly, but, fingers crossed it seems to have cleared up.

I text Trotty and asked if he fancied a longish slow run and being the keenie he is he said yes. We started at the tidal end of the Stour and headed up river, we'd had plenty of rain so the water had flooded the meadows.

I took the opportunity of setting poor old Trotty up to cross streams and ditches that were thigh high in water..."don't worry, it's not deep" . He is the epitome of stoicism, uncomplaining and with a never changing poker face. Total opposite of me haha.

I bloody loved it running through the water and the mud, proper trail running and one of the best things about winter for me.

Looking at the river, up a couple of feet and pushing through hard, I reckoned that in two or three days it would be about spot on. Midday Tuesday the new chub rod was taken out of the bag and ready to be christened.

The river was still a day off perfect but I was still ultra confident of a few fish.

Bit of mash chucked in the first swim, then I baited a couple more places before getting ready to cast out. Big lump of bread flake, couple of swan shot swung out in to the steady water adjacent to some snags.

I expected a bite immediately and was ready when the new quiver pulled round as something unseen snaffled my bait. Strike. Missed. Same thing happened next cast. Poor show.

Third cast and I made contact and the rod hooped over in a pleasing curve before a chunky chub hit the net. Wunderbar.

I had fish out the first five swims and was on a bit of a roll. I've done alot of chubbing over the years and do think they're quite easy fish to understand and catch ( usually ) if you do certain things right.

Bait. You can't beat bread, on the hook and as feed. Don't give that old balony about your special recipe cheese paste being the doggies dooh daahs either. Seriously, I think bait is one of the least important things when it comes to chubbing.

I ended up the six decent chub before somebody pulled the plug at the downstream end and turned a near perfect river into a muddy torrent. I'd caught enough by then anyway.

Saturday 4 December 2021

The End

The end of 2021 that is.

December. Darkness creeping in by mid afternoon, feels like things are slowing down, drawing to a close.

It's been an interesting year. That can mean many things simultaneously.

I've spent a total of more than four months away in the camper and enjoyed every day. The GUC and Kennet-Avon canals in spring,  bass and tope fishing in north Norfolk, rock fishing and mini species in south Devon, chub and barbel in the Wye valley, the west coast of wales and an amazing couple of weeks on the Llyn Peninsula, a truly stunning place.  

On the very tip of the Lynn, running low on supplies and not being keen to move whilst the weather was gloriously hot and calm, I lived on barbequed mackerel and pollack for a week ( washed down with cider ).

Five of my mates came out for a few days fishing over the course of the year.

Turdous for tope fishing in Norfolk, Chris B for bassing and drinking ( "Shall we have another" ?  ), again in Norfolk. A huge walk across " the desert " just to reach the water, but what a feeling, standing in the surf with breakers crashing all round you.

Goozgog joined me in Dorset on the rocks in mid summer and then later in September. Lots of chat and loads of fish.

Trotty also came to Dorset, for trail running, not fishing. Let's just say he was not prepared for the severity of the hills. But he loved it. Finally, Wak Baines got a two day pass in October for a trip to the GUC , where he nabbed a cracking zander in the last chance saloon. As we always say, " Shining Times ".

By the end of the month I'll be on sixty species for the year. I got as big a kick out of catching the gudgeon, ruffe and mini species in the sea, as the big stuff. Perhaps more so. I spent endless hours in rock pools in south Devon, peering in to the gin clear water watching and catching various gobies, sea scorpions, and wrasse. I love it.

I spent over a week without moving in one place, the camper parked on the edge of the beach, watching and hearing the sea change and fishing every day. One evening meal consisted purely of fish and nothing else. Red mullet, mackerel and bream. Bit of black pepper and lemon juice and that's it.

I've missed loads of stuff but don't want to bore you any more than necessary, so to finish I'll give you a list of some more good things in 2021. 

Aldi Cheddar and Chilli crisps ( and their sea salt and black pepper ).

Woodgate cider.

The Man Utd soap opera. Especially the episide when they lost 5 - 0 at home to Liverpool.

Empire by Jeremy Paxman. Well worth a read.

Going to the first gig for eighteen months. The East Town Pirates ( singalong pirate punk ) and Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons. A great night, no face masks, no silly ordering by app on your phone. 

A Hero's Death - Fontaines DC

Singularity - Jon Hopkins - ANNA remix....yeeeeeahhhhh boiiiii

Holm Sound - Erland Cooper

Chaise Longue - Wet Leg

Anything by Bicep

There's loads more stuff but we'll be here all night. Pour yourself a glass of something, have a listen to those and then tell me yours.

Lots plans for 2022. Well, not plans, hopes really.


Sunday 14 November 2021

Brekkies, Buddies and Roaches


Lots of this and that this week. Whatever that means.

Bit of work gardening, walked there and back, a twelve mile round trip. I was channeling the pre Victorian peasant groove and oddly satisfying it was too.

I've been over the hooooge reservoir piking and roaching. Plenty of them there roaches but I really am having a tough time on the pike.

The shoals of roach are enormous, despite being hammered daily by hundreds of grebes, cormorants, herons, egrets and kingfishers. I've even seen an osprey twice this autumn, hovering and then crashing down into one of the bays. It's a beautiful place.

I also took Pezza and his dad Ken, two newbie anglers, sea fishing. They have both been out several times unsuccessfully. I knew just the spot, a little promontory in the estuary. With high tide falling on dusk I was confident of a few fish. Well, actually I thought they'd have a shed load.

For the first hour, not a touch. As expected with the clear water. " How often have you fished here and not caught anything ? " said Pezza. Tut tut, no room for negativity, all will be well as darkness falls.

The sun sank over the Essex marshes and within a few minutes the rod tips were rattling. For the next hour and a half carnage ensured as whiting came ashore two and three at a time. Some really chunky fish too. Job done.

Very enjoyable evening for everyone.

I also spent a couple of mornings "supporting local business" at the legendary Manningtree Station Buffet. Family run business employing local people, English breakfast with two coffees £4.50. And it's top quality stuff. Try it yourself.



Monday 8 November 2021

"It's Nice Just Being There"

├Łes and it's a bloody good job it is too because I'm not catching much right now.

The pike pit really is one of those places where that old chestnut is true. You can get well out the way of everyone and just take it all in.

My criteria for choosing a swim this time of the year is as follows....

1. Is it out the wind ?

2. Will it get the sun most of the day ?

3. Will it produce pike.

Ideally I want all three. Can't be getting cold these days.

To be honest I am catching a few, just not enough. Never mind, I'll keep trying. Hard life isn't it ?

I have cooked up a different plan for the next trip in a couple of days. Fingers crossed for a bit of success.

Tuesday 2 November 2021

More Poike

Yes, more poiking. Took the moon faced Bomber, Bazza along at the weekend.

He wanted to catch his first decent pike. I warned him of my recent run of one-fish-per-session. No worries he said, I'm happy sitting down waiting, chatting and cooking bacon and sausage sandwiches. Perfect.

I set the rods up, cast then out and ten minutes later Bazza saw the rod tip knock. Take it I said. He wound down, said it felt like weed and a few seconds later it surfaced thirty yards out, a ferocious explosion as it thrashed and then took off, ripping line of a very tight clutch. This happened three or four times and went as hard as any pike Ive had in ages.

It then kited round, a big head appearing on the surface and just as the head shaking started I scooped it out.

A fookin' clonker. Was he pleased ? Just a bit.

We then sat there all morning eating and talking with no more runs forthcoming. Not bad though, eh ?

More piking tales soon.

Thursday 28 October 2021

The Jumper

I thought I'd better mention it before you did. Before you take this piss further I'll have you know my mum knitted it. Makes my forearms look like fecking Popeye's.

This is about 1982-3 I reckon. Fishing a small very shallow area in early spring  with a "spratanoster" on an old ABU 223. Ten feet of light red fibre glass and mega through action, I loved it.

I can't remember the exact details but I do remember getting a fifteen pounder and another decent fish one mild day in March on the spratanoster.

The pit never has produced a really big pike, though there has been plenty of prey fish at various times. Poor genes perhaps ? Who knows.

Piking in the Old Days

The old days being forty odd years ago. It seems impossible but it is so.

Id fished the pit since I started fishing as an eleven year old "skinball". Anyone remember that charming phrase ? Pike started off as a bogey fish, I just couldn't catch one, until one day at the end of the season.

I'd walked right round to "Number 24" after school on a silent, damp, dank day in late February. This peg was notable for two things, a great place for roach and pike and a place where porno mags ( that's what we called them ) seemed to be dumped on a regular basis.

Obviously after setting the gear up I'd have a read and bank the images for later use as any self respecting adolescent would do. But not today. No, the light was beginning to go and although I'd blanked every other time I was strangely confident. I always was. And am.

The green and yellow plug was worked along the reeds, trees and any cover and then out of nowhere a whack and what felt like a bolt of lightning through the rod as a pike hit the lure. It thrashed, mouth wide open on the surface but soon succumbed to the pressure and was in the net and my first ever pike was landed.

Amazingly I had another two fish in the next five minutes before dusk fell and the mist thickened. I walked back to the bike with the only sounds the random calls of the resident coots.

The sweaty cycle ride up the hill past the burnt out church was hardly noticed as I peddled home head in the clouds high on success.

Tuesday 19 October 2021

This, That and Yes the Other

Last week I did a couple of days grape picking. Well, they can't get any foreign cheap labour now can they and those lazy British people just don't want to work do they ? 

Well, not when you tight bastards are paying 9.50 an hour for temporary work lasting a few weeks they don't. Anyway, it was alright to begin with. When I say begin with I mean the first hour.

Nah, I'm exaggerating for comedy effect. I lasted two days before bailing out and going fishing.

Piking to be exact. Another slow session, yet again one fish. That's five sessions in different areas with one fish each time. Bizarre.

A few days later I decided to try for a late bass in the river with GG. It's a low water mark and you only get two hours fishing, so you have to make the most of whatever bites you get.

First fish was a schoolie, followed a big slackliner which I missed, then a weird un-bassy bite, which resulted in a dogfish, the first ever this far up river. And in the next two casts....more dogfish. 

As you can see they weren't "returned unharmed", they're heading for the pot.

Today I've been doing yet another different job, a bit of garden clearance and maintenance. It was almost enjoyable, so much so that I'm going back tomorrow.
After that job is done I'm going back piking for a quick session and I'm having a multiple fish trip. Hopefully.

As you can see, it's a boooootiful water, which is just as well as at the moment nothing much happens when I go piking.
Moany old git.

I made a quite magnificent chilli with Turdy's venison mince the other day. The accompanying naan breads were thoroughly burnt and inedible. However, with a bit of imagination I managed to turn them into my version of Edvard Munch's painting " The Scream ".

Wunderbar, eh ?

More of this nonsense soon.


Monday 11 October 2021

Hev You Got A Poike Boi ?

I think I might have the pike bug back. 

At the back end of the river season I enjoyed some consistent, interesting sport on the local river, with some nice fish to low double figures.

So far, I've had two sessions on the "big stillwater" and had two good soized poike boi. No other runs but sometimes that's the way it is here.

It's an interesting place with the chance of fish to over twenty pounds. Not fished too much either which is a prerequisite for me.

Today I had a plump lump which ripped my thumb to shreds. It's still throbbing.

Had a nice chat with DD, who has good results doing it his own way and has done so for donkey's years. Good ol' boy.

Takes a while to get back in " the groove" but next time out I'm confident of some more action. Many of the takes come in deep water a long way out and I've a bloody brilliant idea on how to get a bait out further. Without a ridiculous bait boat.

Yes, the pike season has begun.

Thursday 7 October 2021

Shining Times

The road trip to the canal started well, the camper chugging along steadily and uneventfully for three hours. Pitched up at the riverside campsite, kettle on, all was well with the world.

Things got even better when Wak rang. " I don't know where the fuck I am, I've done three circuits of Huntingdon and I can't work out how to get back on the main road "

This pleased me greatly.

This is Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, not the Yukon or Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter, but those old Norfolk boys do get confused moving into a county with tarmac roads and electricity.

Anyway,an hour or so later he made it safely.

After a cuppa we had a bit of a walk ( that's always how I describe a hideously long hike to buddies ) to a lock that was a dead cert (thanks Mick).

Conversations with Wak are a often a bit confusing, as he's a constant mumbler and you just have to pick out odd words and guess what he's just said, especially when he's loaded up with half a tonne of gear and winter clothing and is blowing out of his fat arse.

The dead cert was in fact a dead cert, as I drew first blood with a schoolie zander after missing a couple of runs.

The rest of the session was a bit unpleasant, with a cold blustery wind making things distinctly autumnal. A couple of dropped takes and that was it.

We were glad to get back to the van and tuck into some curry and a few drinks. We chatted the usual cak, all manner of subjects covered including the current mob in power ( let's just say Wak's not keen), old friends, Lidl-Aldi wine and cheese ( good ), fake rock bands ( yes, you Killers, Stereophonics and several more ) and " what was the best gig you ever been to ? "

I can tell you Iggy Pop, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Neil Young, Savages, The Fall and The Smiths were, in football parlance, " there or thereabouts ".

Next day a bit warmer and we had a bit more action. We met the The Canal Zander Guru on the bank, had a good chat and found out what had been going on during the past few months.

Nothing massive caught but we had several zander and a pike, so we were pleased enough.

A very quick session the next morning resulted in a small zander for me and an absolute cracker for Wak. We didn't weigh it but it wasn't far short of 5lb and made the long ( ger than necessary, sorry I can't help myself ) trip worthwhile.

All in all an enjoyable couple of day. Shining times indeed.

Oh, and he got lost on the way back too.

Sunday 3 October 2021

Don't Forget To Smell The Flowers Along The Way

The wonder of the world

The beauty and the power

The shapes of things

Their colours, lights and shades

These I saw

Look ye also while life lasts

I've been so lucky to have been to so many fantastic places and met so many great people. Best take time to ponder and acknowledge my good fortune.

There's no "best" place, they've all got their charms, from the understated gentle landscape of the canals to the wild splendour of the Atlantic coast. And closer to home too, those desolate mud flats and marshes of the Essex and Suffolk estuaries. I love them all.

So, hurry ye not, lean on that gate post, stop, contemplate, stare and reflect that in a universe of billions of uninhabitable stars, somehow you're here, alive.

Thursday 30 September 2021

The Big Bang

Well, the big bang as far as I'm concerned.

A dusty field in North Essex, sometime in the summer of 1974. 

My mum pulled onions, picked fruit and sorted potatoes in those fields, along with a group of other women.

We played in the bits of woodland, an old rusty tractor and built dens. You know the score. 

But today was different. My mate going to show me how to fish.  I remember this with perfect clarity.

He had a gold coloured solid glass spinning rod with an American style closed face reel. They were better " because they don't tangle ".

I had a bamboo cane ( but you know that didn't you ? ) a perch bobber float, cork coloured apart from the orange top with white border.

Ted's pond was a little irrigation reservoir full of roach, perch and what somebody said were bleak ( I don't think they were ).

What I remember mostly clearly was that after my mate packed up I carried on, missing bite after bite as those tiddlers struggled to get the oversized hook in their mouth. I finished with five roach and perch and I was....yes, hooked.

At the weekend, we got on the train to go to town to get maggots ( " quarter of whites please mister " ) and some floats and hooks. The station was barely two minutes from the shop so we could be back on the same train we arrived on ten minutes earlier.

" A packet of Model Perfect size 10s please " my mate said. 

" What you fishing for " said the tackle shop owner.

" Little roach " was the reply.

" You don't want size 10s, you want 16s " he said.

We took the size 16s, moaning as we walked back that he wouldn't give us size 10s.

Down the pond with the small hooks and five fish turned in to twenty or thirty. Mow how did that happen ?

Forty seven years later the fire in my belly burns as brightly as ever.

Monday 27 September 2021

Fishing With Goozgog

I was in deepest Dorsetshire, somewhere in the Purbeck hills. After a week of  "wild" camping the relative sophistication of campsite bogs and showers was most welcome. I won't elaborate on that.

My oldest buddy, Goozgog, was coming to visit and fish for a few days. When I say oldest I mean I've known him since we were kids, not that he's ninety years old.

I remember when I was ten and a mere beginner Goozgog was the guv'nor. He had an East Anglian Rod Co Ivan Marks float rod and Mitchell Match reel. He'd been in the Angling Times with a 6lb bream from Alresford pits and had caught a hundred fish from Ted's pond in one day. Oh yes, he was the guv'nor for sure.

Since then he's regressed so much that right now in 2021 he is a proper noddy. Where did it all go wrong ?

Anyway, who cares, he's a top bloke and great company. First session, a quick two hour trip on the rocks with light float gear at a place he'd blanked on his family holiday.

I did my usual micro management, barking out orders on what to do. Hugely irritating I'm sure but I can't help it. First cast he was in, a little corkwing wrasse, then a tompot blenny, more and more wrasse until he ended up with over forty fish.

A great start eh ? After an evening of chewing the fat, eating, listening to old chuuuunes and drinking we decided on a day nodding about on the pier.

Plenty of action from the off with various mini species, three types of wrasse, including several ballions, dragonet, pout, pollack, two types of goby and a beautiful tub gurnard for Goozgog and a plaice for me. A lovely day.

The next day we had an evening on a rock mark with "difficult access". I had a new drop net to christen,  so we were on a mark after an undulate ray. On a mark seventy foot above the sea. I forgot to mention that to Goozgog.

Suffice to say it was crap, with only three conger to show for our efforts. No pictures of those turds.

The long hike back in the dark was interesting. Shall we leave it at that ?

On the last day we decided to fish for the pot at the eastern end of Chesil beach. The forecast 7 mph SW wind turned out to be more like 15-18 mph, which made fishing difficult. No matter, there were fish about, big mackerel and black bream, ideal for the barby.

Just before sunset, the beach was filled with amazing soft orange light. I stood staring in wonder and managed to get a few good shots in between catching fish.

On the last cast I put a big mackerel head out in the surf no more than ten yards out, hoping for a bass. This tactic has worked well in the past for me and just as we were starting to pack away the rod whacked round as a bass snaffled the bait. It wasn't massive, but good eating size, a good way to end the evening.

A great few days fishing and putting the world to rights with me old mate. Can't beat it.

Saturday 25 September 2021

This Much I Know

I'm struggling to catch much at the moment but This Much I Know.

1. I have an absolute hatred of small conger. They are the stinking turds of the fishy world. I was hunting an undulate ray last night and these little shits made it impossible. 

2. In fishing, you can't get it right all the time. Or even most of the time.

3. The hunger for fushing is a fire that never goes out. It may die down a bit but always comes comes back.

4. Marc Riley has the best show on the radio.

5. As a former news hound who read a paper every day and listened to the news, one of  the best things I ever did was remove myself from trying to keep up with that shit. I totally ignore it now and feel liberated and distanced from it. 

6. Arsenal are a second rate soft touch and have been for ten years.

7. There are approximately 30-40 million too many people in this country. Too busy, congested roads, over development, etc. 

" Good for the economy ". Ah, that's alright then.

Bah, humbug.

8. I am a grumpy old man.