Tuesday, 17 July 2012

"Stop and smell the roses"

I said I’d not update the blog until returning from Redmire……..but today I have found inspiration so will pen a few words….

Today it is summer; I’ve just been outside, felt the sun on my face, warm breeze on my skin and smiled. After what seemed like endless weeks of rain, strong gales and unseasonal conditions which I thought would never end it is nice, pleasant and welcome. It may be short lived, but we live in hope. Suddenly everything is much clearer, trees, hedgerows, flower beds, things that were overlooked due to shielding from the elements, elements that go some way to mask our vision.

I have recently discovered an interest in trees, they are lovely grand things, most have been here much longer than any of us and I’ll bet they have a few stories to tell too. Whenever I fish, actually all the time, I have trees around me and wonder what they are, what species. I shall purchase a book, a guide to help me in my quest to understand them. I feel it will help with my writings to inform the reader of what tree I was leant against, slept against or sat under whilst writing in my diary.

As the tools of my trade change, my outlook on the world around me will follow suit, I can feel it happening already. Gone are the days when I care about nothing more than to catch as many fish as possible. Yes, I still yearn to be successful, but success comes in many forms. To capture a kingfisher on my camera would be seen as a great success, to witness a rainbow over my favourite pool would be seen as success and to bump into a friend on the bank and share a few stories and a pot of tea would also be seen as success.

I think I will be more content with watching, observing, taking it all in. I will make that cast but in my own time, there will be no rush to do so, I’ll get around to it when I’m good and ready. A friend once mentioned the phrase “Stop and smell the roses”. Before now it was a case of “What roses, I didn’t see any roses”. All the time I was too busy hurrying to the water, and once there scanning the water for fish. Trying to work out where they’d be, how I’d catch them and all the time ignoring the important things. Instead of thinking “I wonder if there are carp under that overhanging tree” perhaps  I should have been thinking more along the lines of “I wonder what type it is, what colour the blossom will be, how long it has provided shelter to the water beneath it”. Thoughts that would enable me to unite with my surroundings and, in turn, discover more about what’s above and below the surface. It may sound a bit cliché and worn out now but to get closer to your surroundings has to get you closer to your quarry, I strongly believe that, even more so these days.

Since recently discovering Fennel’s Journals I have discovered a writer who had already been to and documented where I am going. With a stunning website (www.fennelspriory.com) and a series of Journals, some released, other in the wings, it is quite possible to explore how it should be done. He takes the reader to a special place, a promised land he has imagined a long time but which has become reality, and his passion for wanting to share it and take you there is deserved of the praise his writing receives. If you haven’t already discovered The Priory I suggest you do. I was caught in the middle of a transition between two places I had strong feelings for; The priory has helped me decide which path to take and has lit up a runway which has enabled me to do so smoothly and in the knowledge that I embark on this journey in good company.

Swan at Redmire April 2011

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Silver Tourist and Tea with Chris...

Every so often a weekend occurs that you just know will remain with you forever, this weekend was special ion many ways, I’ll explain. Traditional Forum friend Garry was due to fish the Kennet on Friday, as he’d come all the way from Manchester he decided to make a weekend of it, stay over and fish with me on the Itchen on Saturday morning. As Garry is old buddies with Chris Yates, he’d also arranged to pop round for a couple of hours for tea and a catch up in the afternoon, and I was to tag along! 

River Itchen..
I was to meet Garry at the river at 8am, but a lack of maggots meant I had to sit outside the tackle shop until 8:30 for them to open and for hundreds of gentles to find their way into my bait box. Why tackle shops fail to open before 8:30 in beyond me, all the best spots are gone long before then! Perhaps there should be some kind of law invoked whereas all tackle shops must open at 5:30am on weekends but may stay closed until 10am on weekdays; I think everyone would be happy then. 

So after the shenanigans at the tackle shop I arrived at the river at a little before 9am. Garry was already setting up in his swim and we chatted for a while, shook hands and he gave me the box of books he brought along for me. We spoke about his new Wizard rod, the rod he received the day previous and christened that very day with a pb barbel almost ten pounds! 

Friday, 13 July 2012

After Work Today...

A few opportunist hours were planned for after work today, I didn’t know how the local lakes were looking or fishing but with the stalking gear loaded I set off just after midday in search of carp. I arrived at my first destination, Tithe Barns, and took a slow stroll around the top pond. Recently have enjoyed looking for and finding fish to cast to/trick rather than just picking a spot and fishing blind, I always like to have some kind of sign that lets me know there is something down there. The top pond was high, very high with all the rain we’d had, and also very coloured. I couldn’t see much more than an inch into the water and could see no fish or any signs of activity. There was nobody fishing the pond which was a good thing but the lack of visual made me want to jump back in the car and head for Carron Row, so that was just what I did.

Carron Row was a different scenario altogether, cars littered the car park and anglers sat on almost every peg. I walked past a few on my way to the third pond and was surprised to see nobody fishing it. Perhaps there was something they weren’t telling me! I did the usual tour of likely spots and found a couple of fish near the pipe by the pads. They semi spooked when I saw them but were milling around the pads and didn’t go too far. I deposited a little Bait on the spot and wet off for a stroll. The other pond was fishing slowly with only a few tench coming out all day. After a few brief chats I returned to the swim and gently crept close enough to see if they were tucking in. I couldn’t see too much at first as the water was the colour of chocolate milk but a few bubbles later I knew there was something have a munch.

I set up the Chapman and Leeds centrepin, a small float and baited a fairly large hook with a chunk of luncheon meat. Every so softly I lowered the rig on the spot and lay the rod on the ground with my hand hovering over it half expecting it to be away straight off. I sat for somewhere near an hour and only had one tremble at which I struck and reeled in a twig. It was pleasant sitting there though, it’s a favourite spot of mine where you can see right down the pond and observe all that’s going on. Two Canada geese were patrolling with their single gosling, almost in adult colours now with just a little fluffy stuff still showing. I felt for pond two in the hope that some of the swims had been vacated.

At first it didn’t look great, but after fishing a dodgy looking corner for twenty minutes I saw a guy start to pack away in the bin swim. By the time I wound in and got round there he was gone. There was a lovely undercut with brambles shielding the entrance just to the left of the swim quite close in, a spot that has produced for me in the past. I sprinkled a few pellets and a couple of chunks of meat on the area and plumbed the depth. It was quite deep here, around four feet, so you don’t get much indication that the fish are there, but the float knocks around when they are so I guess there is still some form of warning system.

I was fishing for about twenty minutes when the float sat fat on the surface, I waited a second or two and it gently up righted itself again and started to slide away, I struck and missed. A new chunk of meat was attached to the hook and I lowered the rig back into position. Another ten minutes passed and the float did exactly the same, only this time I connected and the old Chapman transformed once more into a living thing. I saw quite early on that the fish was a common, and not a particularly big one, but a very spirited fish which hung on for somewhere near fifteen minutes. In the net she looked lovely in the sun that had just broken through. I did a quick matt shot and slipped her back into the margin.


I continued angling the same spot for a further half hour, at 4pm I decided to get myself home as dinner would soon be ready. Plus I was back out fishing early in the morning. I’ll tell you all about that trip later......

Monday, 9 July 2012

Shy Biters.....Hard Fighters

A change from the norm we were to meet at Bury Hill fisheries for days crucian fishing. I love crucians and so do the members of the Traditional fisherman’s forum, little bars of gold, can be shy biters but once hooked they try every trick in the book to free themselves. And on the bank, well Gold is all that can be said, pure Gold. Jeff had arranged the day, one of the many organised meets the TFF have throughout the year where likeminded souls can get together, fish, drink tea and talk about their favourite pastime. I was looking forward to this one very much; crucians and tench with the chance of a carp or two, the day couldn’t come soon enough.

I left home fairly early, around half 5 and followed sat nav along the A3 and onto Dorking. I arrived and found Jeff and his boy Connor already there. We said our hello’s and headed to the tackle shop/café to purchase our tickets and any items of tackle or bait we might need. The extensive range of bait and tackle on offer was very impressive, and the adjacent café served food and drinks all day. Coupled with a very nice toilet and shower block I see this as the perfect venue for a few days away. Once everyone had arrived we took a stroll to Milton Pool, it was pouring with rain and didn’t much look like stopping any time soon. The pool was beautiful, shaped with bays, reed lined, an island in the middle and classic lily pads. It just screamed crucians and tench and I couldn’t wait to get started.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Waggoners Revisited

It was a very early start, especially as the previous day was spent angling and stalking which takes a lot out of you, much more than just sitting. It was the long awaited return to Waggoners Wells, only this time I was hoping to capture one of those stunning carp on the traditional tackle I now possess. Apart from my very first trip to WW, I have kept a 100% record landing at least one fish on every trip, a record I was quite proud of, but without the modern wizardry at my disposal, I wondered if I’d be at a disadvantage and whether the fish would get the better of me. Whatever happened, it would be great to use the kind of tackle the likes of Chris Yates and Chris Ball used when they fished the venue, so I felt I was in good company.

The alarm sounded at 3:45am and I arrived at a chilly Waggoners Wells just before five. It was 12 degrees when I left home but as I got deeper and deeper in to the countryside the temperature dropped, it was down to nine degrees on arrival and I was thankful of my thick jumper. I left the car in the lay-by, passed the first two ponds and arrived at one of my favourite places all alone. I’ve written before about those first couple of hours, never the most productive but the atmosphere is second to none, chilling yes, but it’s as if I now have a bond with the place, and that morning it welcomed me back after my absence. It was still and quiet, the breeze was to come later but for now everything was at a motionless stand still.