Saturday 30 July 2022

Visiting the Past

Well, sort of. Any keen angler born in the sixties will remember a time when the Angling Times was a newspaper, rather than a Sun inspired "Ten Tips To Catch More Carp !!" rag.

I used to go up the shop every Wednesday to collect it and was devastated if it was late. First one I bought was eight pence.

I was talking to Waaak Baines of Bureboiblog fame about green visors that Ken Giles, Clive Smith, Ivan Marks and many 1970s matchman used to wear, you the ones that blokes in American ticket offices wear. Other names and places from the past we discussed were Ray Mumford ( The Kingston Pixie ), Ade Scutt the bleak basher, Austin Clisitt and, more pertinently, the Woodbine Challenge, a big match that was held on Denmark's river Guden every year. Well, I needed to fish that hallowed river, so after a good few sessions in Holland I pointed the camper north and put my foot down and reached a cruising speed of almost 55 mph. We go nowhere fast.

It's full of weed, proper nice weed though, ranunculous rather than silkweed and has a lovely flow even in a rain starved summer.

Me and Ga Ga fished off the pontoon in the middle of a scorching hot afternoon, trotting sweetcorn under a big Avon float and catching roach, hybrids, rudd and yes, my favourites, silver bream. Nothing big, but lovely fishing.

I tried for the big bream early in the morning but was "roached out". Ah well, it was a glorious morning, I can't complain. Parked up free of charge next to the river, little bog, water and fire pits. They even supply barbeques you can use and fire wood. All free of charge. Yes, really. Not quite the same in Old Blighty. The Danes really are a civilised bunch.

So, nothing spectacular caught but a nice few sessions and who doesn't like trotting a big float down a flowing river in the sunshine ?

I write this on the ferry to Sweden at 01.30 in the morning. I'm hoping to get out on a boat on a big lake in the middle of nowhere after pike and zander this week, all being well, but who knows where we'll end up ?

Monday 25 July 2022

We're Off !

Off on a trip around northern Europe, where and how far I don't really know. Sort of aiming to get to Sweden ( and maybe southern Norway ) via Holland, Germany and Denmark. 

Nothing booked, just a camper full of rods, tackle, bait, food and drink.

First stop a nice park up with facilities right on the river Ijssel. It's a brute of a river, re enforced boulder strewn banks, it's six foot down at the moment and still flowing like the Wye in full winter flood. 

First quick evening recce and I fished like a plonker, trying to fish to far out, messing about and  rewarded with a deserved blank.

Next morning I was out on the bank early, a bit more organised and very slowly working things out. Big 3-4 oz feeder stuffed with seed and corn fished no more than 20 yards out in about fifteen feet of water. Plenty of bites missed but I did have some big silver bream ( they follow me around these days ), a proper bream and a 2.5lb ide, my first ever.

I was using a very powerful fourteen foot feeder rod and all those fish put a very healthy bend in it, incredibly strong fish. I suppose they have to be to cope with flow.

I saw some big predators hitting prey fish on the surface at dawn and dusk. There's cats, zander, pike and asp present, all growing big. Best spring and autumn as you would expect.

Oh and barbel, though I didn't have one. Weirdly, the bream and silvers came in the very fast water, the ide however were mostly along the edge.

I fished four short sessions and had bream well over 5lb, ide to 2.5lb and some huge silver bream, the biggest three weighing 1lb 13 oz,  2lb and 2lb 2oz. Even the "small ones were 12 oz - 1lb ! And I managed a smeggy eel on sweetcorn.

One of the spots I tried was an area of slower water by one of the many groynes. It was, I guess, thirty foot deep. I moved from that spot after two casts ! A favourite area for the local zander anglers.

Moved on to northern Germany now, heading in the direction of Denmark. Hopefully.

I only scratched the surface and look forward to giving it another go soon.

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Cloud Nine.

Lots of the fishing I've been doing recently can be filed under "casual", "mobile" or "dicking about" and I've loved it, but the last couple of days I've been focussed on something that's a bit more of a challenge.

Indulge an old man will you ?

Those thick lipped mullet in the shallow bay of the estuary.  I failed yesterday but wasn't down hearted, they were taking bits of bread, just not mine, so as you might have guessed, I went back for another go.

These fish are so unpredictable, they disappear for weeks sometimes, don't like certain weather and wind directions and are generally difficult to get to grips with.

Today there were a fraction of the numbers there were yesterday, but the good news is that again, they were occasionally taking bits of bread. Cautiously again and certainly not "having it". I did have a proper bite which I of course missed, but then they seemed to drift off and as the tide advanced I retreated to where my gear was in the trees in about a foot of water.

I chucked a bit more bread in, the wind had changed direction and pushed the bread in amongst the trees and snags where I was standing. I peered along the shoreline, not much activity until I noticed a fish swimming around my legs ! Taking bread too.

I didn't dare move until it moved away, then baited the hook and lowered it in. It looked at it, nosed it and swam off, eating all the other freebies. Bastard. I had an idea. I slid a big bit of crust a couple of inches up the line and put a small pinch of flake on the hook, so it would be suspended just under the surface and again lowered it in.

Believe it or not, the fecker engulfed the big bit of crust confidently. Yes the bit on the line not the hook ! I couldn't bloody believe it.

I thought my chance had gone, but the fish didn't seem to be spooked so again I pinched some bread on and ever so gently lowered it in. It stared at it for a minute or more, motionless, then nosed it and engulfed it.

I struck with two foot of line out and the fish bolted off round a sunken log. All that bloody time and now I'm going to lose it ! I pointed the rod at the fish and wound the float hard against the rod tip and pulled the fish back. Unbelievably the fish came back  under the log and shot thirty yards out into clear water ! Very very lucky.

It fought long and hard but once I'd found my net ( long storey ) it went in first time.

A real lump of a thick lip which went exactly 5lb on the scales. I haven't been so chuffed with a fish for ages. I was shaking again, after forty eight years fishing it still gets to me.

I sat down on the tree trunk for several minutes taking it in before packing up and walking back " buzzing" as da yoof say.

I'm off in the camper Friday but I might squeeze another trip in tomorrow. The hunger never dies.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Phew, What a Scorcher !

Manningtree hotter than Madrid ! Blighty fries in the heatwave from hell !

The shape of things to come undoubtedly but what can you do ? The answer is go fishing in the estuary, where trees come down to the water's edge giving some shade, should you need it.

The first hot day I had twenty plus schoolie bass and a thin lipped mullet on the spinner, it was glorious, up to my waist in warm, crystal clear water getting almost a bite a chuck. I had to come back the following day, but for something different.

Thick lipped mullet. Big thick lips.

I had a good idea where to find them, a shallow weedy bay, along walk from anywhere. Had to be didn't it ?

I arrived just as the tide was creeping in to the bay and immediately spotted a stationary mullet sitting in the weed. At this stage of the tide there were only a few fish showing, but as I stood on the marsh, drip feeding bread in to the advancing tide, more and more fish appeared.

I can only describe some of them as fecking massive, perfect torpedo shaped grey ghosts, many being between 5-7lb I'd guess. And lots of them.

After maybe an hour I saw a fish take a bit of crust off the top. I spent the next two or three hours standing pretty much motionless, continuing to feed bread and shaking like a leaf.

Yes, literally shaking. Over a few fish. How it can get you eh? More and more fish started taking the bread, but cautiously, sipping, nudging and pushing at it.

I reckon I had a dozen or more fish mouth my bait before immediately rejecting it. Bastards. I was willing them to take it.

As the tide started to ebb from left to right, a seemingly non stop line of browsing, splashing fish started to leave the mud flats very slowly. Hundreds of them, a few still taking the occasional bit of bread. 

But not mine.

It was probably the best blank ever.

I'm going back this evening, I badly want to catch one of those feckers.

Thursday 14 July 2022

Nodding About, Part 326

Although I know the mullet mark has been netted, I keep going back and looking, hoping somehow that miraculously the fish will be there. Last Sunday , perfect conditions I managed two, but these were practically the only ones I saw, aside from small fish up to a pound or know the size that would swim through the net.

What was interesting though was that I had one on a dendrobena worm, along with some small bass. If they work well it will save the aggro of digging ragworm.

Similarly I was on the LRF gear using tiny bits of three week old gutted lugworm. Stuff that had gone from being fresh and firm to sloppy to firm again. It worked really well for the gobies, although they'd probably munch the paper the worms were rolled in.

I had a failed mission to catch a thick lip mullet in the marina ( the ones locally are thins ).

I had a plan but the fish weren't having it. It's private so I sat in a quiet corner flicking mash in on the sly, with my gear hidden in the undergrowth. I was tackled up and ready to go as soon as the mullet were feeding. Unfortunately the bastards wouldn't feed. There's always next time.

The quest for a bullhead and stone loach continues. The other evening I tried in a lovely side stream but failed again, although I did have some beautiful good sized gudgeon.

Yesterday I tried another, well it's more like a ditch than a stream, but it flows in parts and looks like somewhere you'd find a loach or bullhead. I say this knowing feck all about either.

Again, no good but surely they must be in there ? What do you reckon ?

The quest continues.

Sunday 10 July 2022


No not that kind of stalking.

I upped sticks and drove about fifteen miles to another Fenland river, which really is in the middle of nowhere.

Big field to park the camper for the night right by the river, perfect. The silence, apart from the poplars swaying in the breeze and the screech of the swifts overhead. Oh and the occasional monstrous American bomber taking off from a nearby airbase.

I had a recce along the river. Blimey, overgrown is an understatement, it was impenetrable. There were a few gaps where I spotted fish, rudd and loads of them. The were also private ( very private ) moorings with lots of No Fishing signs and the obligatory Alsation dog. It seems mandatory to have one of these beady eyed aggressive feckers if you live in The Fens, no doubt to  discourage wrong'uns.

I continued my walk and came to a slightly more accessible stretch and came away excited at some of the big rudd I'd seen. Oh and covered in scratches from brambles and legs tingling from the bastard stingers.

Back with my gear late in the evening the huge shoals of ravenous rudd were on the prowl. How the hell was I going to get through to the bigger fish ? I waited and waited until the light faded, cast in and the bread was torn to a million pieces.

Then I had a idea. Not perfect but a chance it would work I thought. I put a huge lump of flake on the hook with a quite hard bit closest to the hook, cast in and the hordes of small rudd tore into it, knocking bits off, but the hard lump stayed on long enough for a much bigger fish to nail it. I struck the rod hooped round and I unceremoniously hustled the fish in over the and through the weed and lillies. A cracking golden rudd.

Next cast resulted in another a bit smaller,then I headed back to the camper.

I was greeted by a barn owl calling ( hissing and screeching more accurately ) from owl box I stupidly parked next to. I really didn't notice it.

I didn't get up early the next morning and by the time I got to the river the sun was beating down and amazingly there was not a single rudd to be seen anywhere. Weird.

However, I did see some discoloured water close in ( I had the previous evening too ) and gazed into the water looking for the perpetrators. A few minutes later I spotted a couple of bream, decent size too.

On went a bit of flake underneath a bit of peacock quill and ten minutes later the float slid away and a big old slab came to the net. 5lb4oz, not bad.

One was enough though, I wanted a big rudd so the hunt continued.

I found a lovely looking swim with an overhanging tree and weed rafts. I chucked a few crusts out and the rudd appeared. Mostly small, some a bit bigger and hanging back by the snags and cover some much better fish. One I thought was a chub, it was enormous, but rarely came out in the open.

I tried to pull the litluns away from the bigger fish with more bread then chanced a cast. Seconds later the float disappeared and a clonking rudd came sstruggling to the net.

What a glorious looking fish. 1lb 13oz of Fenland perfection ( I'm sounding like Bureboi now ). But look at it. Pristine.

I had a few more after that one but it was a bit late in the day and I left a very happy man.

I had to leave after that but have hatched more plans for another Fen trip very soon.

Friday 8 July 2022

Mad For It

Or as I call it "In The Groove". When I'm off fishing in the van I get in to a sort of routine. A very very enjoyable routine.

Up early go fishing. 

Get back, have huge late breakfast.

Out on the bike/walk for a poke around 

Go fishing in evening.

Get back, cheese ( Stilton and crumbly West Country Cheddar since you ask ), biscuits, cider-wine

Repeat for as long possible. And no, I don't get bored with it. It gets better and better.

This morning I was on the bank at 04.30, back fishing the slider, quite successfully, bite a chuck, rudd and perch over a pound, a 1lb 5oz silver bream and stacks of others, skimmers and hybrids.

In the late afternoon Waaaaak joined me for a short social session. He parked at the end of a typical Fenland track, dusty, overground, single house out of the way with crap everywhere. Place where a proper rum'n might live.

Short fifty yard walk to the swim, lovely.

Waaaak unloaded his gear from the car, enough for a weekend session as usual and staggered to the swim. 

We had plenty of fish on our not-quite-right feeder rigs and many bites were missed. Waaaak sensibly changed to a smaller hook and immediately improved his catch rate.

A very old mate, Leo, who died years ago used to say "we all fish differently " and he was right. 

I'd forgotten what a ham fisted bloke Waaak is, he catches plenty of fish but it ain't pretty to watch.

He fishes like he's been on the beer all day, crash, bang, wallop ! And that's what happened to an unfortunate silver bream he wound in, misjudging the amount of line he had out and winding in at a hundred miles an hour as he swung it in it crashed into the wooden board on the bank with a thud.

"Returned inharmed". Er, probably not.

As usual we chewed the fat. Topics included the Boris and Nadine love in and what a bunch of turds are in charge right now, carp anglers and their gadgets and women's football. Considering what a right on chap he is his views on the last matter were what you might say reactionary. Shocking.

We watched the kingfishers again, had a good chat and laugh and caught plenty of fish. You can't beat fishing with an old mate can you?

Best Laid Plans - Part 2

I had a bee in my bonnet about catching a big bream off the Relief Channel in the Fens.

Camper packed with food and bait, off I went. Stopped at the tackle shop and got chatting to a bloke about the Relief Channel.

Yes it produces big bream but not in the area you're staying he said. And it's fishing crap at the moment. And I've had six blanks on trot. Oh dear.

Having got this information, do you....

(a) Ignore it and carry on as planned ?

(b) Take it on the chin and go somewhere  else ?

Being a bit of a div I normally go for option (a) but this time I was sensible. Quick look online and I found a campsite next to the Middle Level. That'll do for me.

Went for a recce in the evening and saw lots of rudd. Very small rudd. Nothing rolling or splashing over a swim I'd baited. Nothing. Even on dusk. 

I didn't set the alarm as my enthusiasm had took a bit of a blow, but got down there and started fishing about 7 ish. Feeder cast out and the tip immediately bounced about, liners I guessed.

After a couple of casts the tip went round and a nice silver bream came to the net. The first of many, almost all decent size too. 

The bites continued throughout the morning with many missed, mostly silvers, hybrids, rudd, some good ones too, a few perch and a solitary bream. That'll do for starters.

I baited up in the evening ready to come back early in the morning.

This time I did set the alarm early and I was fishing by 04.30. I immediately had a big rudd on freelined bread which unfortunately spooked the shoal.

I set up a slider rig to fish about 15-20 yards out in about 13-14 foot of water. Took a while to get the hang of it but was great fun.

I was reeling in a bream of about 8 oz when an enormous perch followed it in. It was huge, no less than 3lb, maybe more. A couple of fish later it did it again. Blimey, I'd like to catch that ! The next fish reeled in wasn't so lucky as a double figure pike nailed it with some ferocity and hung on to it for a minute or more.

It's a lovely spot and in between the fishing I watched a pair of kingfishers diving and carrying the prey back to their nest and also a family of kestrels doing whatever families if kestrels do. Cracking start all round.



Sunday 3 July 2022

A Greedy Fecker and a Big Mullet

The downs first. Bazza had it confirmed by the EA that our mullet mark had been netted by a local greedy bastard who had been setting his nets against the sluice.

The EA had had a big barney with him about it. The sluice is where all the fish have to pass to get up river. I'm sure he had bass and sea trout along with the mullet. Wanker.

This morning was the first time in a while that I'd seen a few fish so we grabbed the rods and got down there to get on the first of the flood tide. I hooked and lost a fish in the first five minutes and things were looking good.

Ga Ga then had a smashing take from a stonking thin lip that fought long and hard, taking line again and again when it saw the net. When she finally got it in it went 4lb 8oz on the scales. An absolute corker.

I really thought we were going to have plenty of fish but after that they disappeared. Bazza stayed on and fished all day and ground out three fish to just under 3lb but we left after an hour for food and drink. I get bored quickly sometimes.

After a nice curry I decided to continue the quest for a Stour ruffe in the evening. It was stunning, the sun was out, it was beautifully quiet and I was catching fish. The wrong fish. Perch. Loads of them. Fun on the Noddy rod though.

Trouble is, as far as i can make out a ruffe spot is a perch spot. Deeper water, lock cuttings, shade, you know the type of stuff. I was convinced I'd have one hard against the lock, but the perch had other ideas. It then went dead so I continued and as I went to wind in, yes, a smegging ruffe ! At long last.

That's species no 26 from the Stour ( and estuary ) this year. Well chuffed. Ridiculously so, but whatever floats your boat eh ?

Having a few days after a big Fenland bream this week so wish me luck. What do you mean you thought I hated bream ?


Friday 1 July 2022

Bits and Pieces

Yesterday I joined Bazza for a go at the mullet, but despite conditions being spot on they weren't really having it.

Bazza was first in, but somehow his float-spinner rig  snapped and the fish powered off. No worries, I cast over the float and snagged his line, gingerly played the fish in and Bazza got his gear back and I claimed the mullet. Good eh ?

Bazza had two in the end, I had a bass but it was a bit of an anti climax really.

Home for a monster brekkie.

Back out in the evening with my six foot five gram Noddy rod. Lots of small chub and perch snatching my worm baits in the quest for a Stour ruffe.

To be honest, I didn't realise how many perch there were in this stretch, nothing big but anything goes well on the light stick.

After dusk I peered into the crystal clear water with my headtorch and amongst all the roach and mini gudgeon, yes, a nice sized ruffe.

I know where he lives.