Monday, 29 December 2014

A Hamble Ramble...

Every once in a while a few of us Wallyboys get together for a day's angling. This was our Christmas get together held on the local river Hamble, home to a great variety of species. It's not a big river at this particular section, you could probably jump across most of it should you feel inclined. Our day though was more about the gathering, the camaraderie, and the tea.

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Thursday, 25 December 2014

Yet More Stripes...

I had the day to do pretty much what I liked. Just a couple of days before Christmas, and with most things done already, presents bought and wrapped etc... I was free between dropping Jessica at Nursery at 7:30 and picking her up again at 4pm. So, as you can imagine, I had the rods in the car. 

I left the Nursery and headed for Asda, there were a couple of things I had to take care of, as well as purchase some English Mustard to accompany the Game Pie I had for lunch. A quick stop at the tackle shop and soon I was on my way with a pint of finest extra wriggly maggots. 

After my recent success angling for perch, including a 3lber on each of my last two trips, I couldn’t see myself angling for anything else so my bonnet was pointed in the direction of my favourite perch pool in the hope that nobody else had the same idea. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Spikey Miracles....

What is it about big perch that makes them so very impressive? Perhaps it’s the fact that you just don’t see many of them. Take carp for example, spread all over the interweb, sprawled across the covers of magazines, big carp are everywhere. Apart from a few exceptions, the old good lookers, big carp don’t really float my boat, or cause me to say “Wow” very often. Big roach are very beautiful, and when over 2lbs, a dream fish and a target I’m yet to achieve, they are a much sought after specimen indeed, but even big roach don’t have that same impressiveness as a big perch. Big rudd, with their ruby red fins and 24 carat flanks, do come very close, but for me still don’t have the same wow factor a big perch has.

Perhaps it’s because as youngsters we caught so many finger sized perchlings, etching the fact that ‘no perch is bigger than your hand’ in your mind forever. Believe in something long enough and nobody will tell you different, but then one day you see a fish of a pound lying in the bottom of your net, how can this be? All reasoning is blown away, the things you always thought you knew to be true are shattered instantly, just like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy!

I think it’s a male thing too; we all wanted to be that tough boy at school, the one everyone respected and wanted to be around. Nothing scared him, nothing fazed him, he had his crew around him, and even if he didn’t, he could take care of himself anyhow. I think perch have the same characteristic, frightened of nothing, bold, respected with a do anything I want go anywhere I like attitude, and nobody can stop me. If we really think about it, if we could be a fish, we’d all want to be a big perch.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Fallon's Angler...

Having finished reading this, I thought it fitting, after enjoying it so much, to do a little review.

“A Melody of Piscatorial Prose”, sounds lovely doesn’t it, and it really is. The line-up of contributors screamed class, chapters from well know angling lyricists which could only mean one thing, that a veritable masterpiece was on its way, and it couldn’t come soon enough. I had made so many images in my mind, there was so much optimism and I was thrilled when it finally dropped through the letterbox. Upon opening the large brown envelope I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

A Return to Paradise

The haunting sound of the owls and green woodpeckers, although eerie, gave me a warm feeling of belonging; it was as though after my long absence the creatures of the pool welcomed me back with open arms. I had a battle on my hands trying to keep the Kelly Kettle burning as soon after lighting it the rains came making the kindling damp, but with much persistence on my part, along with lots of huffing and puffing, the shower passed and soon enough I was enjoying a steaming pot of tea.

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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Rich Crimp's Memorial Social

Rich Crimp was my friend, I guess thinking about it we only knew each other for 3 years or so, fished together around a dozen times and lived the best part of 70 miles apart, but you didn’t have to live in Rich’s pocket to be a good friend. Always available on the phone for a chinwag, perhaps you had something to get off your chest, perhaps just to chew the fat, whatever you needed, he was always there.

He had a way of making you feel at ease, perhaps he’d be telling you to stop being a silly bugger (or words to that description), he wasn’t one to mince his words, shot from the hip so to speak, but it was always sound advice, one of his traits I really miss. He was a great wordsmith too, his scribblings being enjoyed by everyone who took the time to read them, with each new posting being eagerly anticipated.

An excellent angler too was the Cap’n, a thinking angler who loved the Thames with a passion I’d never seen before. He knew his roots, and stood by them through thick and thin, seeking not to educate but to open the eyes of those who only saw the Thames as a once dirty river. They say all anglers have a book in them; well Richard’s would have been epic.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Surface Magic..

When the wife asked if I fancied going fishing after work today, I thought intensely for all of half a second, swerved past Dad’s to collect a rod and couldn’t wait till 4pm. The plan was to visit Carron Row, wander around with my bucket of dog biscuits and hope the carp were hungry.

I set the rod up in the car park, just a size 4 hook and with my unhooking mat under my arm and camera over my shoulder I set off in search of ripples. I stood on the causeway and spotted some rings of water leaving the bank practically under my feet. I stepped back, looked closer and spotted a carp just under the surface between the fallen reeds.

With two mixers on the hook I gently lowered the hook-bait into position and only had to wait a few seconds for the take. As it rolled on the surface I clocked a wonderfully coloured flank with irregular scaling, it lunged off away from the causeway but I soon gained control and before long had her ready for the net.

Monday, 15 September 2014

TFF at The Moat

I’ve been lucky enough for a good while now to have been able to fish one of the most stunning fisheries I’ve ever had the pleasure to cast my float into. If it dips then great, if it doesn’t, then there is no better place to pack away empty handed. Over the past year or so I had shared my experiences, captures and photos with a group of friends on the TFF (Traditional Fisherman’s Forum), who very strongly expressed a wish to cast a line there themselves someday.

So, with this in mind I asked the question. Mark, Iain, and the rest of the gang told me they’d see what they could do, and came up trumps when they said they could help. So the date was set, with 5 club members each signing two guests each the opportunity was there for 10 TFF members to attend, and as you can imagine, filling those 10 places was never going to be an issue. Saturday 13th September was the date with a 7am meet for breakfast followed by an 8am brief at the moat before a day’s angling amongst beautiful surroundings.

Koi Pool....The Return

I fancied something a bit different, something I don’t fish for very often, and after a visit to the Koi Pool a couple of weeks back to show dad around, my mind was made up. I booked the Friday off work in the hope it might be quieter, when I pulled up and found I was the only one there I was bouncing.

The Bottom Bay
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The owner told me of someone who had recently caught some good perch, showed me the spot and left me to it. Float fishing prawns I caught 2 eels first, horrible things when you’re using fine lines, and how they swallowed those big prawns I’ll never know. Anyhow, the next cast after releasing a slimy resulted in the float dipping practically as soon as it hit the water, but this was no eel.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Prawns to the Rescue...

Dad wanted another day out, somewhere he could catch a few fish, and a variety of species not just carp. I had just the place in mind, somewhere that would be familiar to him as we used to visit there years ago, but somewhere that contains good specimens of most species, including some monster perch; so we were armed with a nice big bag of prawns, along with other favourites including maggots, worms, meat and corn.

We had to source our tickets from a local newsagent and then dash to the venue in the hope that not too many beat us to it, there were a few spots I had in mind that I hoped we could secure. We needn’t have worried though, there was one chap fishing opposite the causeway on the smaller pond and he was our only neighbour throughout the whole day. It was really misty when we arrived, and wonderfully atmospheric.

Monday, 8 September 2014

WIGG 2014

The Wallington Invitational Gudgeon Gala was in its second year. 2013 saw a group of friends visit their local River Wallington on a cold November’s day, and although spirits were high and many laughs were had, there was only one gudgeon caught. The trophy sat with Jonny for the ensuing year, and he wasn’t about to hand it over this year without a fight.

We are very fortunate, in as much as we have some of the most wonderfully intimate stretches of river right on our doorstep, the fish might not be massive, but they are huge in their own rights as this year’s event proved. So with an earlier scheduled event now taking place in early September, we felt confident that it would be a case of the largest gudgeon deciding who’d be champion, rather than if somebody actually managed to snare one.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014



On Sunday last I decided to stay local, so a visit to Lakeside was arranged and armed with 2 pints of fidgety maggots of red and white I headed to the point with the faint hope there was nobody already there. The sky was amazing, no less than three times I stopped before reaching my final destination just to take photos. The sun was just beginning to climb above the large white buildings of IBM Headquarters and eventually I pulled up in a(thankfully) very empty car park.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Bonefish of the Valleys - Part 2

Day 2 - Llyngwyn

A rather noisy camp cockerel woke everyone a little before 5:30am, an early start is essential to those ready to climb hills in order to find wild carp. Some sprung out of bed like kangaroos, some took a tad more persuading, but eventually and by 6am all were getting ready for the day ahead. As the sun began to climb through the trees and peeked over the hilltops the atmosphere filled everyone with the enthusiasm needed to complete preparations and engines were soon started.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Estate Lake Capers

Julian kindly offered to arrange a day at a private Estate Lake he often fishes, I’d missed out on the previous outing so wasn’t about to let this next opportunity go begging. The details of this paradise of his were passed to me via the private message system, suddenly I started to realise that this could well be something very special indeed. Preparations were made; the car was loaded the evening previous and with the alarm clock ringing at 4am I left at a little after quarter past.

As I left the main roads and started the final leg of the journey through country lanes, I watched a faint orange glow transform into the most wonderful sunrise, so much so that I had to pull over a mile or so from my destination to capture it on camera. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but you can start to realise just how special a morning it was. Five or so minutes later I was pulling into the car park and greeting my companions for the day.

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bonefish of the Valleys - Part 1

Day 1 – Pant-Y-Llyn

After last year’s marvellous visit to mid Wales in search of the oldest strain of carp known, I vowed to return, so when Matt started making plans to arrange another trip this year I didn’t need asking twice. I love catching fish as much as the next guy, and when given the chance to get amongst such sought after and historically important fish it really is a no brainer. But when you start to realise just where these fish are found, among mountain ranges, high up above the clouds when sheep and buzzards vastly outnumber human presence, you begin to appreciate that a trip of this magnitude really is up there with the best angling experiences available. 

As with all good angling trips, the company is key. A group of traditional anglers descending upon a lake is always a delightful occasion, but a few days fishing such a remote wilderness with the added bonus of a couple of nights camping and socialising and you have the makings of a truly memorable outing. The plan was for us to meet in the afternoon of Friday at the campsite, kindly secured by Matt, and to split in to two groups, fishing Llyngwyn and Pant-Y-Llyn respectively over the weekend. 

Friday, 8 August 2014

The 'Association of Crucian Anglers' Fish-In - Abshot Pond

Abshot pond is a water close to my heart, it, along with Hilsea Moat, was among the first venues I fished for coarse fish, learning as I went using whatever tackle I could get my hands on, which at the time was minimal. Abshot went through some difficulties, namely topmouth gudgeon, so in the summer of 2012 it was drained, de-silted and restocked with more mild mannered angling in mind, I’ll explain.

It’s no secret that, since the arrival of king carp, true crucians are getting harder and harder to find, and where there are old fish present, the stockings of kings into their homes can only mean that the longevity of the pure breed is under threat. Therefore, what is needed is a shake up, less fisheries being hell bent on introducing fast growing carp into their ponds, and to think about the humble crucian. Act now and save this delicate little fish from what could end up being extinction of the pure breed.

Thankfully, there are folk out there who do care enough to do something, to take action before it’s too late. I’m pleased to say I’m involved with both, Portsmouth and District Angling Society (PDAS) and the Association of Crucian Anglers (ACA). PDAS decided that as Abshot was basically a ‘start again’ water after the draining, why not introduce those fish most of us started off catching, fish like rudd, tench, perch and the humble, but gorgeous crucian.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A Pleasant Couple of Hours

Having Thursday off work to go crucian fishing for the day, I was quite taken aback when Corrinna told me I could fish after work on Wednesday. I asked no questions, just said thanks and planned where to go.

Tithe Barn seemed a good bet, it was warm still, mid-week so not many folk would be around, and is just around the corner from work meaning I could get there just after 4pm. That I did, and found I was the only one on the venue.

Monday, 21 July 2014

"In the heat of noon day....."

Midday seemed to take ages to come. It was a few minutes before when I exited the building and headed for the car. A quick stop at Co-op on the way for a bite to eat and I was signed in and in position by half past. This time around I opted for a different swim, one with a little shade from the sun.

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I fished there next to the pads for about an hour, and although it was kind of cool with the big oak sheltering me from the intense afternoon sun, I caught one small roach and all the time pined for my usual pitch. Another ten minutes went by and as I starred at a motionless float I made the decision to return to where I felt more confident.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

One of those afternoons....

With bags to do and limited spare time I was delighted to find a few hours on Saturday afternoon to angle. There was one place on my mind when I knew I could go, the most at Sultan and another crack at those elusive crucians.

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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

A Summer Weekend Adventure...

I used to have plenty of time at my disposal, and no doubt someday I’ll get that time back, being free to meander from water to water in search of dreams. But, for now, I have to make the most of my time and plan trips carefully in order to get full enjoyment from them. This weekend was such an event, a weekend away with three great friends at a local venue with the makings of becoming a very special fishery.

I have known it in the past as Greenridge Farm, but the now called FLE Fishery at Ampfield, just outside Romsey in the heart of Hampshire, has recently undertaken a change which I’m sure with propel this wonderful haven into one of the most popular lakes in the south. The pool itself is around an acre in size with an island and a series of bays. There are 15 stunning carp present that range from 20 to over 30lbs, so when that float dips you can be sure whatever is hooked is certainly going to be a bit special.

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Monday, 23 June 2014

The TFF Board Meeting 2014

It was time for the Annual TFF Board Meeting, which is about as far removed from a board meeting as you could possibly imagine. The only discussion about the forum is usually something along these lines….

“Forum’s doing well….”

And then the tea is poured, the cake is sliced and the fishing commences.

As always it was held at Fernhill Farm in deepest Oxfordshire, a venue central to all of us, with three of us all around 2 hours away it is the fairest way of choosing a location, it just so happens that Nigel is 3 miles away….lucky git.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

My June 16th Celebrations...

The glorious 16th June, never meant a lot to me before, just another summer’s day. This year it should have meant so much more having removed myself from coarse angling for 12 weeks, but alas I failed shy of the mark with only 6 of those weeks accomplished. Still something that I’m proud of, as an angler who ‘needs’ to fish and with limited time these days I think I did well lasting that long.

I’d already booked the 16th off work for the occasion so relished the chance to spend a day at my favourite local pool during a quieter week day to see if I could stalk one or two of the lovely carp that reside there. The initial plan was to arrive dead early the hope that one might slip up due to not being fully awake.

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I told the wife I was going to be up very early in the morning, to which she suggested I stay at my parents so I didn’t disturb her and Jessica, that worked perfectly for me, I did visit my parents, but grabbed a chunk of crusty bread, some tackle and headed for the pond. I arrived around 8pm in the hope of finding no other anglers, oh how wrong I was.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Lazy Summer Evenings....

Joyous Christenings....
Isn't it wonderful using,new kit and catching your first fish on it ? This evening after putting Jessica to bed I left the house and headed for the pool to meet my pal, Steve.

I got there about 7pm and after a chinwag left to bait up a few marginal spots with crust. The rod I was using was the 11ft barbel rod I recently purchased from Mickey and my new Cardinal 66.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

An Early Birthday Present...

Due to being a user of fine fishing tackle, rods of cane, vintage reels and nets constructed of ash and bamboo, I tend to lean towards favouring those smaller, more secluded pools. Reed fringed, tree lined havens with lily pads to place my quill beside and deep margins eliminating the need to cast too far. This does not make me a lazy angler, no, quite the opposite. So, with all that in mind, you can begin to realise that having a 15 acre windswept lake on my doorstep really isn’t much use at all.

Yes, its large stock of mediocre sized carp can be fun on light gear, at the right time of year you can employ various methods to catch them, but there are only so many 5lb carp one can catch before feeling the desire to catch something else, something bigger, maybe something prettier. I always knew there were other species in the lake, but with so many pitches to choose from it always seemed such a daunting affair. The smaller pools giving me the feeling I’m never too far away from my target fish.

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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Confessions of a Coarse Fisher....

Yep, it’s confession time. I really hoped I could see it through, and I was doing so well, so where did it all go wrong?

It started easy enough, a little dabble in the sea, there’s enough of it around me living on an island. I think the beginning of the end was the change in weather and the visits to the local moat to observe and photograph the carp there among the out of bounds section. A strong yearning to catch one resulted in a few hours after work just to get it out of my system, but two fish later (one being a mid-twenty common) meant that there was no going back. Like a smoker who says he’ll just have the one then going back to the habit he thought he’d kicked into touch.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Adventures of a rubbish Sea Angler!

Dawn saw me back upon the flats in search of those gentle worms. I call them gentle mostly because they aren’t the slightest bit aggressive. I’m referring to the humble lugworm of course, as opposed to its fierce cousin, the ragworm. Too often I’ve used ragworm and wound up with one hanging from my finger after sinking its fangs in. Yes, they wriggle more than lugworm, therefore when using them head hooked in flowing water with a long trace they come into their own, but for scent, juice and gentleness, you simply cannot beat a lugworm.

So, dawn. I arrived rather too early, dug enough worms to fish the tide up and bumped into a friendly chap who was out collecting crabs. We had a natter for ten or so minutes and as I bade him farewell I headed back towards the car. Even then the tide was still well flat and not moving. I did, however spend a few minutes watching a little egret as it quite comically darted around in the shallow water trying haphazardly to spear small fry.

Friday, 18 April 2014

More Seaside Ramblings...

I’ve been good for over a month, although I’ve been to watch carp and photograph them I’ve not felt too much of an urge to cast for them. Over the past few days that changed when I came face to face with some real gems, carp I photographed and shared with my friends, but deep down I wanted to catch them.

In order to erase the urge I decided to fish this morning for wrasse. A pier at the eastern most tip of Portsmouth has been a good spot for me in the past, I wondered if they might still be there. At the crack of dawn I was out on the mudflats of Hilsea creek wading along the channel to where I used to dig lugworm as a boy. I smiled as I familiarised myself with yet another of my old haunts, I began digging and soon started to find a few worms around a fork’s depth in the sandy mud.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Beside the Seaside

The Hunt for Wrasse Part 1

My sea angling campaign started this week with a visit to Cornwall. Friends of ours have a caravan in Newquay so Rob and I decided it would be a good idea to explore the coastline whilst there, for one day at least. Rock fishing was what we had in mind, but instead of just heading off we decided to pop into a tackle shop in town and gather some local knowledge, something that has paid dividends for me in the past. I find that local tackle shops are happy to divulge to holiday makers perhaps a little more than the other locals, call it rivalry if you will.

So, with the post code of a lodge near the cliffs and a bagful of hooks, leads and floats we found it difficult to sleep on Wednesday night such was the excitement. I’ve caught wrasse before, plenty of them, but never more than a pound in weight; the wrasse living in the mark we were to fish had produced them to 8lbs in the past, with 3 and 4 pounders common place. I couldn’t wait. The downside was that the shop had run out of worms, but we were reliably informed that no end of limpet could be gathered prior to fishing, but to be sure and remove the black bit, apparently wrasses don’t like that bit.

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We didn’t get up mega early, opting to feed to girls before leaving; extra brownie points never hurt anyone. I guess we reached the spot around 9am, clambered around on the rocks for a while and soon prised a couple of dozen decent sized limpets from their home. The rock pools were amazing, I can explore them all day, but with enough bait for a few hours fishing we decided to get to the lodge and find those monster wrasse. It was already shaping up to be a beautiful day, the sky considerably brighter and bluer after just an hour or so of being there.

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We parked the car and headed down towards the water, but then everything got quite serious looking. The guy in the shop was half my age, quite obviously fearless and probably part mountain goat. The cliffs were sharp, rugged and steep. As I said to Rob, twenty years ago I might have been down there in a flash, but now, with a family and a little more sense I thought about it for a split second and decided it just wasn’t going to happen. The spot where we’d gathered the bait looked ok, so off we went with all of our faculties intact.

Exiting the car once more we looked at the possibilities of clambering close enough to fish, but still it looked too dodgy, one slip could mean the end, so once again we hopped back into the car and headed for a headland just a mile along the coast. This spot looked far more user friendly, it was still a bit of a climb, but we felt so much more confident that we could get down close enough to fish loaded up with our gear.

The rod I selected for the trip was a tatty Chapman 500 type rod and the reel a Mitchell 300 loaded with 12 lb line. I set up a basic ledger outfit, lead at the bottom and a flyer with size 1 hook a few inches above. On went a shelled limpet and I was very surprised, pleasantly too, to find a depth directly below me of over twenty feet. I held the line in my index finger and half expected it to pluck straight away, but I waited, and waited, and nothing happened. There might have been wrasse down there, but after fishing the tide almost to the top it was apparent that either the limpets didn’t work or the wrasse just didn’t want to play.

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With an hour of the tide left to fish I opted to try for a mackerel, attached a string of five tinsel decorated hooks and cast out into the sea. It went about 50 yards and stopped abruptly, I looked down to see why and then realised it was one of the shallow spools. Nevertheless, 50 yards was more than far enough, and this was confirmed when on my second cast something attacked my tinsel hooks and in came a pulsating mackerel. The fish was beautiful and just how I remembered them from catching them all those years ago.

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I just slipped it back when Rob mentioned taking it home for tea. Just then I had another flashback, just how delicious freshly caught mackerel were. I wasn’t too worried, catching one on my second cast obviously meant there were loads out there and that we’d soon fill a bag. How wrong I was. It took the next hour and a half to get another take, this time I had two at once, but one let go before we could hoist them ashore. So with one single solitary mackerel and time fading we headed home having had a fabulous day out to ready the frying pan.

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The Hunt for Wrasse Part 2

This morning I woke early and grabbed a glass float rod, pin with 4lb line and a bucket of bits. With the boot loaded I headed for the creek, just a mile or so away where perhaps 25 years ago I could sift through the mud at low tide and collect a few dozen harbour ragworms and fish the tide up from the sea wall catching small wrasse around the 8oz mark which gave excellent sport on light tackle. The creek looked delightful in the morning sun, this creek, in case you’re wondering, is the bit of water that makes Portsmouth an Island.

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Down on the mud I was 12 again, with my fingers I sifted through the mud very gently in case there was any glass present. The first thing I came across was a £1 coin, quite bizarre but welcome nevertheless. Then I found the worms; they were around 6 or 7 inches down where the mud met the slipway, just where they used to be. I dropped 2 dozen into a bucket of shallow water and after cleaning myself off headed for the bridge and began to set up a small float rig with a size 16 hook.

I found the exact same deep hole I used to fish all those years previous just along the wall. Plumbed the depth, shallowed up a few inches to avoid crabs and threaded one of the worms onto the hook. The first cast landed spot on and after just a few seconds the float trembled and slid sideways, much like a perch bite. I struck and find myself attached to something very small. I swung in the most delightful little goby, I’d almost forgotten they existed, how rude of me.

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The next cast produced a slightly bigger goby, and as wonderful as it was, I began to wonder if I’d catch them all morning and whether the wrasse still lived there at all. I needn’t have worried, as the next cast produced a sail away bite and I could tell by the shape this one certainly wasn’t another goby. It was a b wrasse, albeit the smallest one I’ve ever caught, but it was beautiful and a target fish caught. The colours were awesome, even the small one can be as colourful as their larger parents and grandparents. A spiny little wonder I associate as the perch of the sea.

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I went on to catch three more wrasse of similar size and then spent the next hour or so doing something else very familiar, chasing the ghosts of the creek, mullet. I think that could be another adventure, the mullet of the creek are a whole different ball game, they just don’t eat!! Next weekend I have a few other spots in mind, might get a bigger wrasse, chance of a bass, perhaps some mackerel for tea. Can’t wait!!!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Last Day Success...

Last day of the season, for me anyway, for this season I’ll be hanging up my coarse fishing rods, packing away the creels and for three months I’ll spend any fishing time chasing bass in the creeks and harbours local to me. It feels good too, to let the rivers and lakes I love heal themselves after nine months of constant pressure. So today was originally going to be spent fishing a river with a good friend, but at the final minute the trip fell through and I had to make other arrangements. 

Right up till this morning I still wasn’t sure where I was actually going to fish. I thought about Waggoners, I thought about the clear pond I’ve been fishing for big perch and dark scaly beasts, but with a cold and foggy morning I opted not to travel too far, thinking that it wouldn’t be until the afternoon when the sun shows its face that I’d get any action. So Tithe barn was settled upon, and after a quick visit to Tesco for bait and Handsfords for hooks I made my way to the venue through an extremely misty Fareham. 

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I couldn’t see from one end of the ponds to the other such was the thickness of the fog, and it felt very cold with it. The first pond had a fellow angling the far corner, so I left him to it. The middle pool was devoid of anglers, but the surface (what I could see if it) looked deathly still. When I got to the top of the top pond and scanned the weed I saw a couple of pieces starting to move, the carp were stirring. 

I set up the 10ft Sharpes Cane Stalker, added a Mitchell 300 and a size 4 hook was about as complicated as the rig was going to be. On went a chink of tin loaf and with a quick dip in the margin I hoofed it out as far as I could, which landed with a plop about 15 yards out. That cast was wayward and went the right distance but in the wrong direction. I quickly wound in, cast back out and this time got it spot on. I gently teased the crust back to where the fish stuck its nose out and waited, and waited, the fish had obviously moved on. 

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I stood watching for a while but it went quiet. I walked the rest of the pool looking at all the likely spots but the fog seemed to be slowing things down. I decided after an hour of searching to have a drink from the flask and revisit the middle pool. On the swim opposite the island I spotted movement in the weed just a few rod lengths out. There were a handful of fish visible all working the weed trying to sniff out some breakfast. With a chunk of soggy crust on my hook it was just a case of which fish to cast at. 

One particular snout looked to be quite substantial, visibility still wasn’t great but I could certainly make out carp noses pushing up through the weed, which still hasn’t died off since last year and is still top to bottom. The cast I made hit the channel on the other side of the weed; I drew in back gently but too far as it dropped into the channel my side of the weed. I thought for a second about winding in and trying again but the carp came out of the weed, through the channel and after a few seconds under the crust moved forward and sucked it in. 

I knew from the off it was a hefty fish, very powerful were the lunges but by keeping it on the move I avoided letting it get stuck fast in the weed. Surprisingly it was ready for the net quite quickly, for which I was very thankful, and upon netting it she came to life beating the hell out of me on the bank. A wonderfully framed fish a little over 25lb who behaved tremendously for the self takes. I released her and dipped back into my flask. 

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With the day made I fished on with much less urgency. If the day had ended right there it would still have been a success, but minute by minute the fog lifted a little more and the sun finally started to shine through the haze warming the morning nicely. I revisited the top pond hoping the carp there would have woken up a tad, but all was as quiet as before. On the way back I spotted a carp in a weed gap through a small stalking gap that occasionally works for me. I cast the crust, drew it back and with no hesitation the carp took the bait down, I watched as the line crept across the surface, struck and was puzzled as all that came back was a bare hook. 

Back on the middle pond I spotted from my earlier pitch two carp swim towards the inlet in the far corner. With net, bread and rod in hand I tiptoed round to investigate and saw the two fish join three others. I threw out four small crusts to see their reaction; one common came up twice but turned away both times. As the shoal moved a lone mirror happened upon the free offerings and swiftly gobbled down two crusts. I quickly attached a chuck, swung it in the carp’s path and after one more freebie disappeared the hook bait was taken. 

In the water the carp looked a scraper double, which was very confusing as once it was hooked it doubled in size and gave me a right old run-around. Thankfully there is no weed in this corner, it’s usually stuffed with pads, but they aren’t up yet, so I had plenty of room to play the fish out and gradually draw her closer and closer to the awaiting net. She glided in nicely and took quite some lifting ashore. I half expected another twenty, but the needle settle a few ounces over 19lbs. Another corker of a carp, I was over the moon!

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Soon after I had lunch which consisted of cheese and pickle sandwiches. Whilst enjoying lunch and the day I removed my jacket, the sun had really started to get warm and I was licking my lips at the thought of just how good the afternoon would be. Unfortunately the second half of the day never lived up to expectations, but I couldn’t complain, I’d already had a day to remember. I did have one more chance, at the opposite end of the pool where another area usually covered in pads had a handful of fish cruising around. Most fish were low in the water, but an immaculate fully scaled mirror was milling around looking well up for a crust. I cast too close to the fish and spooked it, and that was my final chance gone. 

It was around 5pm when I packed away and loaded the car for the journey home. The temperature had started to drop and the fog returned. I closed the gate behind me and closed the door on another season, only this time I’ll not angle for carp, crucians or tench throughout spring. I’m sure it will be hard at times, especially on nice days, but spinning for bass is a challenge I’ve been meaning to take on for a while, and this year I’ll get to remedy that.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

An Unbeleivable Send Off...

With just a couple of weekends left of the course fishing season I knew exactly where I was headed, the land of the scaly beasts. The morning was set to be overcast and the afternoon bright, so the plan was to fish for perch early on and switch to carp later in the day. Being Friday I hoped there wouldn’t be many anglers there before me, or throughout the day for that matter. The venue lends itself well to being able to bait up multiple swims and to fish them in rotation. To be confined to one swim would be to miss out on a lot, but with it being 1 hour’s drive away, beggars can’t be choosers.

I left early, not as early as I used to when I wasn’t a parent, on this particular morning I had to wake Jessica, dress her, make her breakfast and drop her off at my parents on the way out, so I was en-route sometime around 8am. I pulled into the venue car park to the tune of four cars, not ideal. The first angler I came across on the way to the perch swims was a carp angler who’d been there all night. The next angler was someone I knew, my old friend Bumble, to be honest I knew it was him from afar, you can’t miss that hat.

To my delight his fishing partner for the day was Mr Proctor, it was good to see the pair of them, and it turned out I’d just missed all the fireworks, as Mr Bumble had just returned a perch of 3lb 2oz. Well done that man. With the best perch swims taken I decided to have a look into a few along from them but found no fish. Then I moodled up to the fallen tree which was back towards the car park and after wading out a few feet across the flooded banks I peered into the margin and saw just what I wanted to, a dozen or so dark scaly carp drifting from one side of the fallen trunk to another.

As calmly as I could I revisited my tackle and after a brief conversation with Bumble and Gary I was back at the tree in double quick time, laying my gear high up the bank away from the water and was tackling up the Sharpes 10ft Stalker with a small Aerial reel loaded with 8lb line and attached a size 6 hook. I deposited a few broken prawns to the left side of the trunk opting to use this side to angle from; the other side was a little too snaggy for my liking. I observed the fish for a while, let them get used to me being there and just as soon as they started to show an interest in the loose feed I swung the prawn out in an arc mindful that it would swing inwards and onto the gravel before me.

I watched the prawn hit the surface with a gentle splash, gently flutter through the water and before it reached the gravel a carp shot out from the tree and snaffled it. I struck and immediately ran to my right in an effort to increase the distance between the fish and the tree whilst being mindful of line stretch. Steer the fish to safety I did and after a few minutes of watching a perfect carp twist and turn in the crystal clear water I guided her over the net and claimed my victory. It all happened so fast. I carried my prize to Bumble who congratulated me and took a few snaps for me.

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It was another of those carp you just don’t want to let go, beautiful colours, massive plated scales, not the biggest carp in the world but possibly one of the best looking. I released the incredible creature into the margin and poured a cup of tea from my flask with one almighty smile on my face, my day was made and I’d only been fishing five minutes.

After the capture I revisited the spot but, as expected, the coast was clear. I popped to the other side of the trunk and peered into the water spotting three good carp skulking among the snags. I looked and the channel of entry, worked out what way the branches laid, tested the strength of the branches which confirmed they were brittle and made my mind up that I could quite easily extract a carp from there should I hook one.

The first free-lined prawn I send down was taken immediately, but by a small perch of around 6oz. The next time down attracted a couple of mirrors who pushed up face to face with the bait but turned away at the last minute sensing something was a bit odd. A small common was next on the scene although this one showed no hesitation and was swiftly hooked. I steered the rod away to the left and had the fish clear of the snags very quickly, but to my utter surprise the hook slipped and all fell slack.

It was just bad luck, these things happen; I was gutted but felt sure I’d get another chance. It took a while but another opportunity did appear, I had switched to luncheon meat and a dark mirror with big random scales looked, swam round it then sucked it in as if just to have a taste, that was good enough for me and in no time there was one angry carp trying to rid itself of the hook I’d just stuck into its lip. I had to apply more pressure to clear the snags than the last fish due to sheer size, and just as soon as I’d cleared the danger the rod fell back once more, only this time I had no hook.

Perhaps the line had grated against a branch, perhaps I never tied the hook on properly, it could have been a number of things, but after licking my wounds, switching to the Mitchell 300 with 12lb line and attaching a larger size 4 hook I was back in action. Another hour passed and whilst waiting for the carp to gather confidence once more I strolled along to Bumble and Gary and had a brief chat along with checking a few more swims for signs of carp should mine dry up.

When I got back to the tree they were back, including a very strange orange and black koi linear. I dropped the meat down and held it mid water for a few minutes, out cruised a mirror that took the bait and swam off as if nothing had happened, until I struck that was. With my beefed up tackle I had the fish in open water quite quickly, and there it gave me the right run-around almost reaching the snags a few times before slipping into the net.

Yet another gorgeously dark scaly mirror carp was lying on my unhooking mat looking splendid in the first of the day’s sunshine. The young lad to my left did the honours with the camera and after admiring her for a few minutes we watched as she swam off to re-join her friends. After two loses it feels great to finally put one on the bank. After this capture the tree action dried up and it was time to move on, but not before catching another perch of almost a pound.

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Most of the rest of the afternoon was spent watching carp cruise through the swims I stalked but without actually getting any of them to stoop down and feed. A couple showed an interest in the bait falling through the water but the sun shone brightly and the increased visibility meant that the 12lb line I was using stuck out like a sore thumb and I was reluctant to scale it down any.

At tea time Bumble and Gary left, we said farewell and the first thing I did was squeeze into the stalking gap Bumble was using and look for carp. They were there, five of them, and after fetching the rod I lowered a prawn onto the spot they were laying in the hope one would suck it in. They didn’t, but a good sized common to the left did as the bait fell through the water. I pulled into the fish and felt a powerful lunge as it tore off at speed. It was such a battle, none of the carp I’d caught there fought that hard, diving under the bank and then back out in open water again, with me nowhere near getting its head up. Just as I thought I was getting somewhere the hook pulled. More bad luck, it happens I guess.

That loss hurt, I’d made amends with the last mirror but this score needed settling once more. With the fading light and my time on the bank dwindling away it didn’t much look like it was going to happen. It was soon after that I heard a splash at the top of the pool where the water runs in. I looked up and saw a ghostie leap. That was good enough for me and ran round to investigate with rod and net in hand.

There were carp cruising through the channel caused by the in-rushing water, they seemed to be playing and not feeding, but I thought it well worth a little cast or two. It was through the gap in the trees I caught my first carp from this venue, so I knew all about how tight it was, but nothing ventured and all that!

As I flicked the prawn out it drifted round in a circle enticingly, and on the third trot a mirror shot through and grabbed it. It was an epic battle in the half light but finally I’d made up for the loss of the common and landed the final fish of the day. It might sound a bit cliché but I had been well and truly blessed by someone up there, the three carp I’d landed were nothing short of marvellous. The young lad was still there so did the photos for me.

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As the carp was released I broke down my tackle and headed back to the car. I saw my first bats of the year flitting between the tree tops and as the sun sunk beyond the horizon I said goodbye to carp fishing for the next three months and felt delighted that they’d given me such an awesome send off!

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