Thursday, 15 November 2018

A bend in the rod

Today, the weather forecast was for good weather with a predicted temperature high of 17°C. This being halfway through November, I decided to try and get a day's fishing in before it really started to get cold. As it turned out, the sun stayed hidden, except for a fleeting glance in the afternoon and temperatures never did get near the forecast high. Even so, it was plenty mild enough to make it comfortable with the standard clobber adorning my now much lighter frame. I have lost over two stone over the summer and now my fishing clothes, which were tight, are now a more than comfortable fit. I used to look like a Teletubby, in my bib and brace, now I am starting to resemble a partially deflated Michelin man.

As last week's trip to Beaver was a disaster, as far as catching fish was concerned, I made a point of getting there early this week to get the choice of swims. I have not got up this early for a while, but it all went fine. I was feeling good and as I was not taking too much tackle, and the van is half full of boxes and other junk from the packing up of our house, I chose to take the car. The old, recycled, Swedish fridge is getting on a bit these days (it is even older than the van!), but it still does the job with flying colours.

The water today was dead flat at times. Just look at the refection of the rod in the water
A decent run meant I got to the fishery just as the gates were open and to my surprise, there was no queue. I had expected to be among a whole lot of people who had the same thought as me. After a bit of a catch-up with Andy, I paid my day-ticket money and set off for the back of Jeff's lake. I got there to find just one other person setting up on the far bank. The water was so still, it was like a mirror at times, ideal conditions for seeing the float. That might come in handy later, but for now, it is time to go back to what I know.

Today, I had made the decision to go back to method feeder fishing, using my tried and tested Two Dog groundbait as a feeder mix and Bacon Grill on the hook. I set up and filled the small 30g, Preston flat back method feeder, burying the hook-bait within the feed. This will generally give almost instant results on this lake, but not today. I persevered with this method for a while and eventually gave up, planning to revisit the spot later in the day.

Ah! A nice little roach, for a change
Meanwhile, I had been feeding a spot a few meters out to my right where I could drop a maggot-baited hook in with my short 5m tele-pole. A size 16 hook on a light rig was decimating the gudgeon population. I must have caught several dozen of them! Then, just for a change, I caught a nice little roach. Although I was catching fish this week, my total catch so far probably did not weigh much more than a pound or two at most. After getting bored with catching lots of tiny fish, I reverted to the feeder.

I had some Maggots left over from last week. I had bought a pint of mixed (colour) maggots. I have never used these before, and they are interesting to look at, even if the fish were not at all interested last week. Not wanting to change the rig I thought I would make a 'cocktail' bait by securing a punch of Bacon Grill on the hair, and a couple of the brightly coloured maggots on the hook. Having never tried this before, I was impressed when it resulted in a nice, firm take. For the first time in months, I was playing a fish that had some fight. The fact that it played dead after a very short fight confirmed my assumption that I was playing a bream.

That's more like it
Great! First decent fish of the day, I was on my way. I baited the rig again, and cast. Nothing. That was the end of the feeder fishing in that spot. I decided to go back to the pole and try some bigger bait to try and discourage the gudgeon. I tried at dead depth and nothing. After several attempts, using meat, sweetcorn and even bread, I was getting nowhere other than one perch that went for a piece of red (dyed) Bacon Grill. Even that was only a small fish. In desperation, I changed the hook to a size 10 and loaded it with a bunch of various coloured maggots, after buying another pint from the fishery shop. I also moved the float up the line so now I was fishing with an inch or so of line sitting on the bottom. That changed things dramatically.

The first put-in got a mighty tug. At this point, I realised the line was wrapped around the tip, and the elastic was still in the pole. Snap! The hooklength had broken, and I was left having to re-rig. Next put-in had the same reaction. This time the elastic came out of the pole until it bottomed-out and then snapped. I had brought along a second tele-pole with a stronger elastic fitted. That was rigged with a stronger line and hooklength. I put this in and again I had several strong bites that got away, this time I was just losing the fish. The gear, including the hook, sans bait, was holding up. Then I had another one on. It was playing nicely, and I was as gentle as I could be until it made a bolt for it and bottomed-out the elastic. This time the hooklength broke and the fish was lost.

By now, I realised that there was not much I could do to stop the fish using the small poles. They are excellent for small fish, but if anything of any size gets a hold of the bait, there is nothing I can do to stop it. By now it is getting on for lunchtime. I pulled the line out of the water and poured myself a cup of coffee to have with a sandwich and consider my options. It has been a while since I last fished this lake with any commitment. I did spend an hour or so on here earlier this year catching F1s on corn, but that was at the height of summer, and I was using heavier gear.

The multi-coloured maggots worked well with my Two Dog groundbait feeder-mix
After lunch I hit on the idea of just dropping the feeder in, charged with Two Dog and leaving a bunch of maggots just hanging on a four-inch hooklength. After all, that is not that much different to what I was doing with the pole, once I had started to fish over-depth. That worked! The heavier gear was easily up to the job, and I was landing fish after fish. By now the lake had filled, and I was fishing with seven or eight other anglers. Some were catching, but not at the rate I was. Again, the Two Dog feeder mix was calling in those F1s. I must have had twenty of them over the next few hours, along with the odd bream and a lovely crucian. At least I am reasonably sure it was a crucian. As I understand it, the way to tell the difference is by counting the number lateral line scales. This fish seems to be in the 32-34 bracket which makes it a crucian as F1s usually have more, in the 35-36 range. Please correct me if I am wrong, I am only going by what I have read.

A nice size crucian was my favourite fish of the day
It starts to get dark very quickly at this time of year, so by 4 o'clock I was beginning to pack up, and by 5 o'clock I was all packed up and well on my way home. A great day fishing and I learnt a lot today.

Ralph.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

John Wilson

Long before I was an active angler, I often watched television programmes about fishing. Jack Hargreaves was probably the first 'name' I can remember. His series on the long since defunct 'Southern Television'  was called Out of Town, and later, when it was picked up by Channel 4, Old Country. His soft dulcet tone was very easy to listen to, and his whole demeanour gave him a grandfatherly appeal to a young lad like myself, even though I was not interested in fishing as a kid. 

Later in life, as an adult, I would watch fishing programmes with Sue, my wife. Neither of us were anglers, but we enjoyed watching well-presented fishing programmes as entertainment in their own right. John Wilson's Go Fishing was one such programme. Like many others, we were captivated by John Wilson's genuine enthusiasm for the hobby. It mattered not that we were not interested in having a go ourselves, we soaked up the material on offer for the sixteen years that the programme aired on Channel 4 and then again as repeats on the digital channels in recent years. John Wilson's programmes had (and probably still do) an appeal, way beyond the angling community. 

Today, 13 November 2018, I learned that John has died, this morning in Thailand, after suffering a stroke on Sunday. He had moved there a few years ago to retire to the sun, but in recent months he had decided to return home to spend more time with family. Sadly this was not to be. Although I have never met him, I felt like I had lost a friend. When I took up fishing late in life, just four years ago, the first book I bought was a copy of his Course Fishing Method Manual. Now long out of print, being first published over twenty years ago, I managed to secure a second-hand copy.


The book was obviously well loved before I became the custodian of the volume. The original owner had scribed a declaration on the inside of the cover, stating that the book belonged to him. He had also added his undying love for his girlfriend! Even now, the book is full of the basic information a novice like me needs to further my fishing adventures. I am sure there is many an angler out there today who has learned a lot, and like me, are still learning from the words of John Wilson. 

John Wilson was voted the 'greatest angler of all time' by the Angling Times readers and was awarded an MBE in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours, For services to Angling.  

R.I.P John Dennis Wilson, MBE.

Ralph.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Finally, a day at Beaver...

Your days are numbered...
Today has been a good day. My first visit to Beaver Fishery since July. I missed most of the summer fishing due to one thing or another, although I did manage the odd trip to our local river and Tim's stretch of The Medway, as regular readers of my waffle will know.

The cold and dark of this time of the year did not inspire me to plan an early start, so a leisurely plod was in order. The van is full of boxes as we are in the process of packing up the house, so rather than mess about, I decided to go light and take the car. A float rod and a tele-pole, my comfy seat and a small bag of tackle was the order of the day that all fit nicely into the back.

I left just before 09:00, and to my surprise, the traffic was fairly light. Less than an hour later, I was driving into the fishery. By this time the office was locked, and the guys were out and about tending to the grounds. I could hear the sound of the fishery's Kubota pick-up and headed for the noise. On the bank of Jeff's lake, I found Adam trimming the margins. After a brief chat, we headed back to the office where I paid my day ticket and bought a pint of multicoloured maggots and a tin of hemp.

Maze Lake. The area inside the red box has now been in-filled
Last time I was here, the silted up arm of Maze Lake was being filled in and now completed, access to the 'fingers' is easier from the back of the lake. I decided to have a go at fishing from there. It always seemed a lot of messing about to get there before. I set up in a swim at the end of the 'finger' in a place I could not reach from where I have fished in the past. The spot looked good with open water in front of me and a patch of lily pads to my left at the closed end. The section of the map is taken from the complex map on the fishery's website, showing the layout of Maze Lake as it was before the infill.

The greyed out area inside the red box indicates where the lake has been filled and the red arrow shows where I was fishing for the day. I say fishing, I think in four years, this was the first time here that I blanked, not a sniff all day. The only thing to get dragged out of the lake was a signal crayfish laden with eggs. Even that was foul hooked! Needless to say, it did not make it back to the lake.

The view from my peg, looking out over the swim to the new grassed area of infill.
 The spot looked idyllic. Nice stretch of water in front of me, looking over to the bank that surrounds this side of The Major's Lake. My favourite place to fish is just the other side of that bank. However, the water level is still low in The Major's Lake and is continually being topped up from Maze via a diesel pump that can be heard in the distance. After a while, I forgot the noise was there.

You would think there would be a few fish around those lily pads, wouldn't you?
I was too busy trying to catch fish - unsuccessfully. I started off by cupping in a small cup of maggots and hemp while I was rigging my short, 5m pole. I plumbed the depth to set the bait right on the bottom and impaled one of the colourful maggots. Nothing. I fed a few grains of hemp over the float. Still nothing. After an hour or so, I gave up on the pole and decided to rig my float rod with a long waggler and see what was hanging around further out. Nothing. In short, I tried changing bait to corn, bread and even meat but it all gave the same result, absolutely nothing. I did not get a bite all day until the last few minutes when it was getting dark, and I was about to pack up. Both fish came off the hook and my total catch for the day was one, now deceased, signal crayfish.

This is very similar to a trip we made to our local river back in the summer. It had been raining all day yesterday, and I guess the rain has cooled the water down sufficiently to cause the fish to stop feeding for a while as they acclimatise to their changed environment. Mistakenly, I chose today to go fishing as it looked like the weather was going to be good, not thinking about the fact that it had been raining all day yesterday.

Yes, it would have been nice to catch the odd fish, but never mind, I had a day out in some nice weather getting some fresh air and was able to spend a good few hours without worrying about life in general, moving house and being ill. I think if the weather is not too bad, I might go and say hello to the fish in the weir pool on our local river over the weekend. I wonder if they like multi-coloured maggots!

Ralph. 
   

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Goodbye London and fishing on Thursday - Maybe.


39 years and 19 days after moving into our Victorian terraced house (that we bought as a first time buy back in the days when nobody wanted to live here) we have just put it on the market. Since we moved here the area has steadily become more desirable as the infrastructure has been improved and the surrounding areas have become far too expensive for anybody but the elite.

Now the multi-coloured, ten-year old Ford Cortinias and rusty Morris Marinas that used to adorn the curb have been replaced with Range Rovers, Porsches and Mercedes. Every road has houses being refurbished to high standards and usually with the addition of loft conversions, extensions and even basements excavated. Who would have thought, when we bought a house that had been converted into two flats, for no money at all, that four decades on it would be one of the most desirable locations in the road? Not us, that is for sure. Originally, we had only intended to stay here for three years.

Now after a lifetime of living in the smoke it will be a big wrench to drag ourselves away from all the advantages living in London can offer. This has been made a lot easier in recent years by the growing list of disadvantages for us. There is no doubt that a younger person making his way in life, the modern fast, twenty-four hour vibe of the metropolis can be the perfect place to live.

For me, all that is behind me. At 62 years of age, I have no intention of landing myself with a whole lot of stress I don't need. The thought of moving out to a place where I can just be, has become more and more appealing as the years chug by. Making the move now, before I get too old to enjoy the things I love, makes perfect sense.

So What has this got to do with fishing?


Lots. For a start I will not be able to do much fishing over the next few months while we pack up and sort out the best part of forty years of accumulated stuff. You know, there is furniture, clothes and kitchen utensils and all the rest is 'stuff'. We seem to have far more than our fair share of stuff, in fact I had no idea just how much stuff we actually had tucked away in this house!

Fishing gear comes under the 'stuff' category and again, it mounts up. My intention is to keep some to hand, but the rest will have to be packed up ready to move and put into storage for a while, along with a lot of other stuff. Now I have to decide what to keep to hand.

I could base it on what I take when going 'light'. See HERE. That covers float fishing, but I will add a couple of my short tele-poles and pole-rigs. I will also keep to hand my little telescopic rod that I use on the tiny rivers we have locally. That should do for the foreseeable future. All the rest will go into storage and will still be accessible if I do need it.

The weather looks good for tomorrow and that will give me a good excuse to try out the minimum gear approach. I have not been to Beaver for months, partly due to the moving 'distractions' but mainly due to not feeling well enough. I am really looking forward to a day by a familiar lake just gently fishing for whatever comes along. The last time I was there, the weather was baking hot. I think it will be a bit different tomorrow. Time to dig out some warm clothing and something hot for breakfast on the bank...

...Happy to be going fishing, but even happier now we have just had an offer accepted on a house we want to buy - all we have to do now is sell this one!

Ralph.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

And then there were perch!

We save all the trimmings from Bacon Grill punching
The last time we were down by our local river, here in Catford, it had just been raining, and it was running a torrent over the shallow weir and into the pool we have been fishing lately. Today, normality has been restored, the water was crystal clear, and the chub are cursing around looking for anything that might constitute food. We had no maggots in stock, so we took some Bacon Grill trimmings (the bits left behind after first slicing and then punching a whole can into hook-bait) that had been chopped up ready to use as feed on my next outing.

Having never fed these fish with meat before, I had no idea how they would react. It turned out they are partial to cured, processed pig fat and meat! I might try them of meat next time instead of/as well as Maggots.

As we were watching the chub, I caught a flash of stripes. Yes, the perch from downstream have also arrived in the pool along with the chub. Although not as bold as the chub, they were definitely interested and were patrolling the far bank, close to the pilings. Although they did make the odd excursion our direction, they would not move that far away from the far bank. I should have brought the small pole catapult as although the river is not that wide, it is impossible to get the feed over to the far bank without spooking the fish with my flailing arm.

Next time we get the chance, I will take willies with me and paddle over to the other bank, across the weir. The water passing over it is only a few inches deep, most of the time. Once there I can have a go at fishing from the far bank. With that in mind, I have some Bacon Grill punch that has been dyed red - it might just tempt a passing perch. I might even try dropshotting for them with a small plastic fish!

I would never have thought there could be so much fun to be had just a short mile and a half walk from my front door here in South East London. The more I study this small river, the more I like it and the more interesting it becomes. I really enjoy my short sessions actually fishing, but I am getting just as much fun out of trying to learn where the fish are, as there is no one to tell me. I guess this is what they call watercraft, or at least the learning of it.

Ralph.

   

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

No fish, but I got my spanner back!

The trees have been trimmed - time (and room) to fish
Yesterday, I got back down to Kent to fish with Tim. Having been stuck indoors for the past few weeks, I was really looking forward to a day fishing with the other bloke on The Medway, upstream of Maidstone town centre, attempting to catch a fish! Neither of us did. Since we first fished here, the trees have been trimmed, and the place looks completely different. At last, we will be able to cast with ease. We started off having a go at dead-baiting for pike, as Tim had bought a few frozen roach and skimmers. This was a big learning curve as neither of us had tried this before. Just trying to get the single circle hook through the body of the fish (now unfrozen!) was a bit of a palaver - it would have made a poor comedy sketch. None of what you see on YouTube is as easy as it looks, and this is no different.

Armed with a good few hours of experience, we need to go back to the virtual classroom and see if we can move on a stage. The bait was getting attacked, we were just not feeling a bite, or when we did, we were not connecting with the fish. Hey Ho. After a few hours of 'feeding' the fish we decided to pack it in and go back to float fishing and chatting - sort of what we do best, the chatting that is!

We still blanked, not even a twitch. I guess Saturday's heavy rain had changed the river, that was the clearest I have seen it since we first fished here, back at the beginning of the summer. This part of the river is above the first lock, so the flow is governed by when the lock is opened or the rate water that is allowed to pass. Now, call me thick, but I have just realised that maybe we should be fishing this stretch of the river more like a canal than a river...

Although the fishing was not great, I did come home with a catch, not mine but one of Tim's. When the guys were trimming the trees, he borrowed their magnet-on-a-string and managed to recover the spanner I dropped into the river when we were removing the ladders. That was back on the 4th of August. The spanner had been in the river for a good couple of months. When Tim got it out, it looked in excellent condition apart from what looked like some light surface rust. When I got it home, I gave it a quick wash in warm soapy water and the 'rust' dissipated. It was just a build up of reddy-orange sediment that had deposited itself in the lettering and the jaws of the ring-end. If this is not a good endorsement of quality, I don't know what is. The picture below shows a brand new spanner that I bought to replace the lost item and the recovered spanner. Can you tell which is which?

The lower one has spent the past couple of months at the bottom of the river!
Next time we fish from here, I will be using a slider float and having a go with a long pole. As far as the pike fishing is concerned, I have discovered what we were doing wrong with the rig, I just need to go and find out how to use it! I will let you know how that goes in due course. All in all, it was a great day, with good company and fun fishing, even if we did not land a single fish.

Ralph.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Rain!

It has been raining all morning here in London. By about 15:00 it had stopped, and the sun came out. Itching to get out of the house, we went for a walk along the river and were surprised just how much water was flowing and how high it must have been a few hours earlier. Our usually tame trickle of a river was in full flow. At the confluence of the two rivers, the water was hammering down the shallow weirs with speed not seen all summer, at least not by us.

At the confluence of the River Ravensbourne and the Pool River, The water is flowing over the weirs with force.
From this point, the river flows down through Catford and Ladywell on its way to Lewisham and onward to Deptford Creek and into the River Thames, as the River Ravensbourne. Following our little river upstream to our favourite places, the river was very much higher than usual and carrying a lot of colour.

The camera has frozen the action, and the river looks almost flat calm - it wasn't!
Our little spot where we first caught a few fish last summer was almost unrecognisable as all the bank-side features were submerged and the water was flowing with some speed. In the picture above, you can see, on the opposite bank, where the vegetation has been flattened by water that must have been at least a couple of feet higher, a few hours earlier today.

Again the camera has taken the speed out of the shot, but as you can see, it looked a lot different today!
We continued upstream to the next weir, where we have caught a couple of decently sized chub this summer. Here the water was again barrelling over the weir, turning our usually calm spot into a raging torrent.

By this time we were a couple of miles away from home, and it was time to be getting back. It is Sunday today, and tonight roast pork is on the menu for this evening! There was not much point in trying to fish the river when it is this state as the rain will have changed the water temperature and upset the calm of the river, as we have discovered in the past. I will wait until it calms down a bit before I have another dangle in the river. In the meantime, I will investigate the commercials. I was planning on going to Beaver tomorrow, but with all the rain we have had today I think the fishing there will be harder than I would like, for a day pleasure fishing. It looks as though the weather will be a bit better later in the week, so I may well give it a go on Thursday - we will see.

Ralph.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Well, I tried...

After being stuck in doors for the last couple of weeks due to not feeling too good, I decided that I would at least have a go on our local river. Sue and I had found a good sheltered spot where we had seen lots of chublet and perch patrolling, a few week ago.

As the area is very overgrown in places and surrounded with trees, the visit was in some doubt, due to the prospect of high winds causing trees to be in danger of falling or at the very least, dropping the odd branch. As it turned out, at first, the wind was not as bad as it had been forecast. We had some work to do this morning, so an afternoon session seemed to be the most convenient. It nearly didn't happen at all, as just as we were about to leave the heavens opened. I am not that bothered about rain, but it would have made it less pleasurable, especially for Sue, who is just a spectator (and maggot thrower!) in all this. Luckily the downpour only lasted a few minutes and the sun came out again.

Fishing the river is all about going light, super light. This particular spot is really close to us, less than a mile walk from our front door, through the streets of South East London. I don't like attracting attention by carrying obvious fishing gear around, so we have developed a compact and stealthy kit for such excursions. This comprises of a shoulder bag that contains everything we need including the rod, reel and even a rolled up unhooking mat. The only additional item is a small landing net, borrowed from our light lure fishing tackle.

Going light. Even the rod goes in the bag
Ready to go
When we got to the river, it was fairly obvious that the fishing was not going to be good. The wind had brought a few small branches down into the river and these were drifting down stream and collecting in various locations along the bank.
A Fuzzy rat!
The rats were in evidence, inspecting all these free offerings. I managed to get a shot, albeit a bit fuzzy, of one of the little beggars scurrying around as bold as you like.

Rats are not uncommon along the river, but today there were plenty of them to see. We continued on to our chosen location and had a walk along the bank, as far as is possible without getting involved in a jungle clearance scheme, and chose a swim that looked the best of what was a very poor bunch.

I had pre-rigged my little telescopic rod with a small float and a size 16 hook, baited with a single white maggot. Sue had been baiting upstream from the chosen start of my attempted trot down the river. I had plumbed the depth in a few places and it ranged from almost zero to 15-18 inches at best. There was a narrow channel about a foot from the far bank that was the deepest point, almost everywhere else the water was only about 6 inches deep.

The river was littered with small twigs and leaves. I was not feeling very confident about this. To add insult to injury, we had not seen a single fish or even any evidence of them. Although I knew in my heart I was on a hiding to nothing, I made a few casts. If I wasn't getting snagged on floating debris, my nine-inch deep rig was getting hung up on the bottom.

Not much point really, but I had to give it a go!
After half an hour or so, we decided that standing under a lot of trees that were swaying around in the now increasing wind, catching leaves was not as much fun as it would seem. Time to call it a day and maybe come back when the conditions are a bit more favourable. Still, we gave it a go and I did get on the bank for the first time in a couple of weeks.

Ralph.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Deep river, short rod...

Tim's personal best skimmer bream out of the river to date - made his day!
Well, what a daft day yesterday was. The plan was to visit my brother and repair the jetty that had become rotten where the ladders had been. We decided to remove the ladders a few weeks ago as nobody was using them and, from our point of view, they were in the way. I had recovered what was left of the end support timbers and replaced/refurbished them here in the workshop. Refitting them was much easier than I had expected, as these things usually throw up the odd unexpected problem, but for once, the job went exactly as planned. Now for some fishing.

Even Tim's roach was not that small
It was at this point it all started to go wrong, at least for me. Tim has his rods hanging on the wall, made up and ready to go. All he has to do is pick them up and walk the few yards to the jetty, and he is fishing. Me, on the other hand, more intent on filling the van with the gear to repair the jetty, had just thrown a couple or three rods, along with a good selection of tackle in the van and left all my floats behind. Oh dear! (or words to that effect) That's a shame, I will have to borrow one of Tim's. This was a real pain as I had intended to have another go with the Polaris, slider floats. Undeterred I decided to have a go at straight ledgering, using a hair-rigged pellet.

After an hour or so, this was not showing any signs of success. I retrieved the lead and hook-bait after a bit of a tug. It was buried in the silt. I need to seriously rethink this approach. Maybe some kind of buoyant bait and a longer hook length... More pondering for next time.

That's a nice looking perch
Meanwhile, the other bloke has hooked a pretty decent perch. To say he was feeling a bit smug was an understatement. "Wow! That is a nice looking fish" I said. Have you noticed how hard it is to speak, smile and look happy for someone while clenching one's teeth?

I had given up on the ledgering and thought it might be fun to try out my new little telescopic rod, I had brought down to show the other bloke. It didn't take me long to realise that a rod that is only five feet long is not very useful when fishing a twelve feet deep swim. After agreeing that it was not a good idea, 'Little Brother' had another good sized perch on the hook and was now becoming just a tad irritating.

Okay, you have made your point...
Time to do some proper fishing, no more messing about, I rigged a float rod and proceeded to plumb the depth - twelve feet deep, give or take a bit. It was at this stage I started to have problems. It is still impossible to cast a long length of line from the jetty at the moment. Even though a lot of the overhanging trees have been trimmed, there are still some branches left. This will be rectified by the end of the month as tree surgeons have been booked to pollard the remaining trees that are in danger of collapsing into the river.

I realised that my four years of fishing experience had not included any deep (relatively) water fishing. I had either been fishing shallow commercial lakes or small rivers. The river here was going to take a bit of experimentation and a considerable learning curve.

Tim was happily fishing away, and although it was not easy, he was catching fish and managing to land them. Me, on the other hand, I was having a nightmare day. I was using Tim's floats, none of which I was happy with, and no matter what I did, I could not avoid getting in a mess. Moreover, I was having trouble getting the line out of the water. I did catch one tiny perch, but it was caught on the drop, almost by accident. Furthermore, its size would have been a poor candidate for inclusion in a can of sardines!

Now, call me a bit thick, but last night I woke up and realised what had gone wrong. The rod was too short. For some reason, passing on this information at 03:00 AM, to the missus, did not go down too well...

It just had not occurred to me, I know, obvious, but I have never been in this position before, and I was thinking of all the other reasons I was having trouble. I had packed a 'Carp Waggler' rod as I was planning to use heavier gear and a slider float, but as I said above, I had left all the floats sitting in there tubes, displayed nicely on the work surface in the fishing room - Grrr! This rod is only ten feet long. With a depth of twelve feet, even if the fixed float is against the tip ring, the bait is still a couple of feet below the butt even when the rod is held vertical, risking getting the tip caught in the trees.

Standing up helped but I was still getting in a mess. Frustrating it was, but also got me thinking and planning how I was going to sort this out. For a start, I will be using a slider float next time I use this rod. I must look into how to use an 'ordinary' float and stop knots to make the fishing easier. I do enjoy a challenge. Next time...

The day was different, not much in the way of fish on the bank for me, but Tim had a good day, landing some nice looking perch and a PB skimmer bream. He also discovered how slimy bream can be and why you need to wash your landing net out. As he said, "My net looks like it is full of wallpaper paste!"

We finished the session with a hook-tying session ready for next time. Tim had not tied any of his own before, so I had made him a length gauge from an off-cut of walnut and some modified panel pins, looked a bit posh, but it does the job. After that, it was a quick change and off to town for a meal to celebrate his birthday! All in all, although my fishing did not exactly go to plan, I had a perfect day discovering my shortcomings and opening up another opportunity to experiment with my technique.

Ralph.  

Monday, 3 September 2018

Four years today!

This day, four years ago, (maybe not this early!) I scribed my first post of this blog. I had not even held a rod at that point, let alone handled a live fish. I was 58 years old and was looking for something to do jointly with my brother, who is the best part of ten years younger than me. At the time, we lived fifty miles apart and only saw each other at family get-togethers, weddings and funerals.
Me and the other bloke, ten years ago at a family do. We have both slimmed down a bit since then, and Tim still gets that excited every time he catches a fish. Now, I can't remember what we were doing that day... I should have written it down
As kids, the age difference was a problem, what eighteen year old has that much in common with an eight-year-old sibling. As we got older, and the age gap became less critical, but the physical distance became greater, and we were back to 'visits' or the odd emergency call-out - "...the wheel bearing nut won't come off", "...my power has gone off!" or even "Can you help me change the inner back wheel on the 7½ tonner?"

Fishing was seen as a way of getting together 'outside' the formal family setting. As you will have noticed, if you have been following the blog from the beginning, that dream did not go exactly as I had imagined. I ended up having the time and the interest to pursue the hobby in full while the other bloke was having a nightmare of a time trying to get his work-life balance on track. Although it is all sorted out now, he went through a couple of years of hell, where fishing was just not a priority.

Thankfully all that has changed now, and he has sorted his life out. He and his wife now live a fair bit closer to us, and he now has a river at the bottom of the garden. There have been several recent posts about Tim and his stretch river. In fact today, I am off to his place, along with Sue to do a spot of fishing, and a spot of jetty repair - another 'call-out', nothing changes!

I have no idea where that four years have gone, but what I do know is that every trip has been recorded in this blog, as well as any other fishing related stuff, like recipes, repairs, new tackle and techniques. I am so pleased I started this blog as I read parts of it from time to time and I realise just how much I would have forgotten if I had not recorded it here.

I am off to fill the van and head off to Tim's place. I will let you know how I get on!

Ralph.