Wednesday 25 May 2022

The Gudgeon Pond

To be more precise gudgeon and fifty million small roach and rudd.

I flicked a few maggots in and the water boiled. How was I going to get through these voracious hungry pests to the lovely gudgeon ?

I fed a few maggots every minute or so well away from where I was dropping in with a micro worm for the gonks. It worked pretty much perfectly and my BB shot two inches away from the shot plummeted quickly through the shallow water.

They were on it in seconds. Hurrrraaaah, another one for the species hunt.

Monday 23 May 2022


Bazza was fed up not catching mullet on the fly, or at least not in the last few trips, so he joined me and Ga Ga for a couple of hours spinning for them.

We timed it exactly right, waiting for them just as the tide came flooding in and when it did it was follows, hits, lost fish, landed fish and everything in between.

Baz was having hits and hook ups but they wouldn't stay on, almost every cast resulting first in encouragement as he saw the bow wave following the spinner "Take it ! Take it ! Take it !" , then cursing and swearing. Most amusing.

As the tide flooded we followed them downstream and hit another group of fish that were feeding hard, twice having double hook ups.

As soon as the tide flow eased they switched off, the swirling, rolling and flashing stopping as quickly as it started.

Wading in the river, catching fish in glorious sunshine while having a bit of batter ( you love it Waaaaak ), what a great couple of hours.

Saturday 21 May 2022

Getting Stuck In

I wouldn't presume to understand these mullet for a minute. They appear, disappear, appear again and on it goes.

Previously ultra reliable spots have been fishless recently. I think it's down to low water levels from the freshwater part of the river. Absolutely no water coming over the weir which at low tide results in very little water. They like shallow ground but probably don't want to be left high and dry. This may be complete tosh, but the fact is they're not on the usual spots.

No matter, I've been tracking the feckers down. I've a good idea where they'll be and when at the moment.

They feed in very short bursts. You'll have nothing and then they'll turn on and it will be take after take for twenty minutes or so.

Last three short sessions have resulted in fourteen fish landed, several others lost and loads of follows and takes. This afternoon was mad for a while with follows almost every cast and knocks, taps and hook ups on a regular basis. And then it'll suddenly go dead.

You need to find them, watch carefully for activity and then fish hard while they're feeding. When it goes dead I stop fishing for a while and keep looking for signs of feeding.

Bazza was fly fishing next to me today and threw in the towel and begged me for a go with the Mepps. Bloody good fun seeing the big bow wave get closer and closer to the spinner before taking or, more often than not, turning away.

I'm having more of this soon.

Friday 20 May 2022

A Civilised Affair

Bully boy joined me for a species hunting session on the local pier yesterday and a damned nice day it was too.

Contrary to almost all my fishing this entailed a very short two minute walk to the spot, where very conveniently there was a bench we could sit on, a van fifty yards away serving top quality all day breakfasts and, as Bully is a man of a certain age, with a bladder to match, bogs just across the road.

In addition to this, Bully kindly picked me up on the way through, which was much appreciated. The drawback was that, as always, you could read War and Peace in the time he takes to unload his car, strap his cushion to his seat box, inspect his cool box, add a bag to seat box, remove a bag from his seat box, look for his flask, find his keys and finally load himself up like a miniature pack horse.

The fishing ? Well, the "normal" bottom fishing was very slow, just whiting, pouting, an eel and a dog.

But the LRF type mini species fishing was excellent, rock gobies, a black goby, another pollack ( very rare here ),a corkwing wrasse and a mini flounder. Really good fun.

A hour into the fishing and time for breakfast. Half a French stick for me, stuffed with egg, bacon, sausage, cheese and fried onions. Mmm bloody lovely. Bully was far more sensible, double egg in a Frenchie.

A great day fishing, sitting in the sun and chatting. Very enjoyable.

Home Rupert and don't spare the horses.

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Know Your Patch

The mullet have "got me" again. I really enjoyed the canal fishing, wish I had any one of the GUC, Monty or Llangollen on my doorstep, but as soon as I got back I went and had a walk to stretch my legs. 

Inevitably the walk was along the estuary. And on the flat surface were fins sticking up, bow waves and swirls. Mullet.

Of course, the next evening I was down there with the fly rod. Much of the time they are just mooching about and your chances of catching one are slim, but as soon as the tide turns, they queue up to push up river, waiting for the shallows to become deep enough for their passage.

I cast that smegging fly all evening over big groups of active fish without so much as a sniff. Enjoyable as it was I had a back up plan for the following day.

I returned with the fly rod, but in addition I had my nuclear option, the deadly baited spinner. Two hours on the fly, couple of pulls but that was it. Very few fish showing too.

On went the No 2 Mepps baited with a bit of rag worm. Bang! First cast and a fish, not big, couple of pounds I guess, but welcome.

In the next ten minutes I had another couple of fish, before all activity died off.

This place is a low water mark, but the other day I followed them up river as the tide flooded. The trouble with this is that with more water as the tide comes in they're less concentrated. Also, most of the time they revert back to cruising about slowly and aimlessly and I've found them impossible when they do this.

A couple of hours watching for activity with a cast every now and then and I got the feeling that it wasn't going to happen, so I made my way back slowly, still observing and hoping.

I looked over some very shallow mudbanks and saw several fish flashing. Then another. Then a couple of swirls. That's more like it.

The bank stick-landing net handle was pressed in to service as a stinging nettle scythe as I made my way down in to the reeds.

First cast and would you believe it a fish. Second cast another. Then a lost fish.

I moved a few yards further down, made a long wind assisted cast and while retrieving saw the tell tale bow wave following the lure. A moment before I lifted the lure out the fish crashed into it with some force and proceeded to jump clear of the water five or six times. A big fish too.

I slackened off the clutch a bit and eased the fish into the net. A really long fish of 58 cm, weighing I would guess maybe four and a half pounds. A very big thin lip mullet. Well chuffed I was.

I ended up with five fish, including another decent one. The activity probably only lasted half an hour before they disappeared to wherever they disappear to.

A great little session made better by it being beautifully sunny and warm. You can't beat fishing in shorts and T shirt. Having to wear wellies and getting battered by stinging nettles is "part of the job" in these parts.

The Mepps strikes again.

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Ups and Downs

A mixed bag of a day indeed. I moved from the Montgomery canal to the Llangollen and found a great park up by the canal with an excellent cafe.

Had the full breakfast, eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, fried tomatoes, baked beans and toast. Top quality too and they gave 5 quid off because I've paid a tenner to stay overnight. Bargain !

Cafe only two minutes from the canal, so after pigging out I had a walk along the towpath to check out a few areas.

Couldn't believe how clear it is even with all the boat traffic. It flows like a river and most of it seems to have a gravel bottom. Never seen a canal like it.

The steep, shaded banks were full of wild garlic, an incredible sight ( and smell ).

I couldn't resist a quick go in the afternoon so set up in the busy turning bay. Not really my thing, being a grumpy git, people walking canoeing, cycling, boats everywhere manned by incredibly incompetent holiday makers revving and crashing  into the banks.

You'd think this would put the fish off, but no, I caught big dace, roach to over a pound and some decent hybrids. Oh and a perch and.....yeeees, a ruffe. Brilliant.

The only downer was I sat on my pole and split another section. That's two sections broken in two months. Absolutely pointless me buying an expensive pole. Clumsy bastard.

Pole calamity aside, a very enjoyable day.

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Fools, Poles and Tench

I thought it would be fun to catch a tench on the pole. This normally wouldn't be a big deal but I had two problems.

Firstly the elastic in my pole is no 7, "perfect for roach and skimmers" so I was told.

Secondly the swims are very snaggy, full of lillies and reeds and the canal is only about twenty feet wide. Obviously you need something with the power to prevent the fish reaching the snags.

Taking both these things into consideration you may think only an idiot would continue down the path of pole-with-roach-elastic. 

And you'd be right.

I baited a couple of swims, left it half an hour and then armed with my 5m pole with bristle tipped float, lowered the rig in between the lillies. The float slid away immediately, a decent sized bream. Next two chucks, bream. Easily handled on the pole.

Forth drop in and I hooked something that was definitely not a snotty. The elastic stretched and stretched and kept on stretching. In the end I was walking down the canal with about fifteen feet of elastic out,  hanging on the the very end of the butt. It was a ludicrous display of cretinous incompetence that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Eventually a decent sized tench ended up in the net, more by luck than judgement.

You will not be surprised when I tell you I had another slightly bigger fish on the same totally unsuitable set up. 

I did come to my senses after that though and had a couple more tench on more appropriate gear, the legendary Drennan IM8 Specimen Float rod, 4lb maxima, size 12 hook and a bit of bottom and only peacock quill.

This part of the Monty really is full of fish. I also had lots of rudd and bream, a few roach, perch and a rogue pike. Last session this evening before I move on I reckon.

Monday 9 May 2022

Mooching on the Monty

I approached the ridiculously steep hump backed bridge very cautiously, which was just as well, as I had about two inches clearance on either side of the van and a fraction of that underneath. Oh well, the hazards of of having a big old lump of a camper.

I pulled in to a lovely little campsite on the banks of the Montgomery canal which was surprisingly deserted.

Very little boat traffic here and on the stretch five minutes walk away, absolutely none, as that bit is classed as unnavigable. The difference between the two bits is amazing.

The unnavigable bit full of reeds, lillies and generally overgrown and the adjoining part is well, like a canal. As you might expect.

You can guess where most of the fish are.

No signs that anyone had been fishing this part so in the evening I chose four swims and put in plenty of seed, corn and mash . Putting bait in overnight is always a strange one, will the fish clear it up and then bog off elsewhere before you arrive in the morning ?

In my experience this doesn't normally happen, they seem to linger around hoping for more or are after any remaining morsels.

About six ish the next morning first drop in and the float shot off. Foul hooked bream. Then another. I changed to the lift method, purely to avoid false bites. If the float lays flat something MUST have lifted the shot. It does work.

With that adjustment I started catching bream, not what I wanted but a bit of action.

After a while I let the hooked fish plough about the swim hoping it would scare the others and give my intended target, tench, a chance to get on the bait. Strangely enough this seemed to work, about twenty  minutes after the bream vanished the float laid flat and my first Monty tench was boring around the swim leading me a merry dance. A litlun but in immaculate condition.

As an aside, Field Marshall Montgomery splits opinion amongst military historians. Many feel he was far too cautious, too defensive, not gung ho enough.

Others think he was a meticulous planner and took the well being and lives of his troops very seriously. Which is probably why is men liked him.

Everyone seems to agree he was an insufferable, egotistical little twerp.

What has this got to do with fishing ?

Anyway, I was well chuffed as I always am when you go somewhere new and get what you wanted.

I love this type of fishing, little pressure, space to rove about, using a bit of  observation to work out where the fish will be. Working it out for yourself.

Putting a bit of bait in an hour or so before fishing really does improve your chances. Often you get a bite first chuck as the fish are settled and feeding.

I had several more tench and far too many bream before heading back to the camper for cheese, cheese, cheese and a damn fine glass of Fitou.

Friday 6 May 2022

The ( not so ) Grand Tour

Posh Victorians used to do "The Grand Tour", checking out Europe's top cultural cities like Paris, Rome, Madrid and Florence.

I'm doing something similar at the moment, a tour of English canals in a 25 year old camper that stinks of fish, farts, cheese and  clothes that should have been washed days ago. Anyway, I'd rather catch a few fish than check out Michelangelo's David.

First stop the good old GUC. I love this section of the canal, you just don't know what's going to turn up. I fished for a couple of days and as usual was tempted to stay longer, the campsite is the dooh daahs too and right by the canal. In addition to being a stone's throw from the water, it's got the best worm heap in the midlands and fresh eggs. I'm a man of simple pleasures as you may have guessed.

I had a nice tench of 4lb, some clonking hybrids to 2lb 4oz, two silver bream over a pound, best 1lb 5oz, lots of decent perch, plus the usual rudd and bream. Not a single roach. Spawning perhaps ?

I wouldn't say it's an easy stretch of water but at the moment it's about my favourite.

As I say, I was tempted to stay on a few days but for once I showed that old fashioned British discipline, the bulldog spirit that made this country great, blah blah blah ( refer to the Daily Mail for more of the same ) Anyway,  I upped sticks, gritted my teeth and headed the van north westwards towards the Welsh borders, next destination the Montgomery canal.

Stay tuned for the next thrilling instalment.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

A Mullet on the Mudflats

I've been walking past the mullet mark every day for weeks. They're strange fish, most mornings you won't see a single fish at the moment but come back later in the day and it's loaded with them.

I dug out my fly gear, a nice five weight brook rod, an old Intrepid Rim Fly and a NEW fly line....."mill end" of course.

When I arrived they were there, sitting on the shallows with their tails out. Lovely.

Bit rusty on the casting, I drifted the fly over them in maybe eight inches of water. After a while I had a take, the fish simultaneously jumping as I struck. Missed, damn it. 

Encouraged I carried on and ten minutes later I hooked into a nice fish. It bored around doggedly until I beached it on the mud, a clean looking fish around 3lb.

I really don't buy this "British bonefish" tag that they've been given. They go well and offer unrelenting resistance, to my mind similar to barbel but very few of the fish I've had have torn off on long runs. That's not a complaint, just an observation.

They disappeared shortly afterwards and I walked home with the smug glow you get on such occasions. Or I do anyway. Well chuffed.