Good organisation is not something this 'sometime' traditional angler is noted for, however, having purchased and wrapped presents with time to spare, and having a few extra early days off from the shop, I decided to snatch a few hours on the small river that is just a few minutes walk from my house.
The day has been glorious, weather wise, maybe a bit too bright, but what a lovely way to idle a few hours..I'd dearly love to catch a 3lb Perch from this streamy little river, alas, today would not be the day.
I was happy enough to wile away a few hours dangling a worm, listening to shrieking Green Woodpeckers and tapping Spotted ones, watching the squirrels bounding around and Great Tits eating the dried seed heads of the riverside plants. A spider came out to say 'hello' and sought sanctuary with me away from the birds.
In the distance could be heard holidaying school children shrieking and singing with pre-Christmas excitement, and inadequate dog owners bellowing at disobedient canines. I minded not, happy to be idle for while, fish or no fish the beauty of the winter sunshine not lost on me.
Ten minutes here, ten minutes there a world away from the seething masses of shopping centres.
Amazingly I did catch a fish or two, no record breakers, but seemingly adequate for a couple of hours 'dangling'....a wee little 'footballer'......
I told him to go fetch his Dad, but his parent must've refused the request.
He was followed by a Bream, a fit fish apart from a piece missing from its gill cover, the second fish I've caught from the particular swim with this injury or defect...
My stomach started to rumble and I put my coat on to walk home, just so I didn't have to carry it, I'd sat on it for the duration of this session and hadn't missed it at all.
I found a dead Carp in the margins of the lake whilst fishing last week, it had been dead some time and both tail lobes were missing. At a work party this weekend the fish was removed and confirmed to be the imaginatively named 'Cut-Tail'.
This beautiful old fish seems to have finally succumbed to it's injury, the result of a careless anglers handling some years ago. Infection seems to have slowly destroyed this wonderful creature's tail despite the wound being treated on subsequent captures.
She still remains the biggest Carp I have ever caught and her passing should be a lesson to all who pursue these majestic fish.
Conditions seemed perfect for a fat Perch today so I set out with my cane Chapman 500 rod, trusty Speedia, Perch bob float, far too many split shot and some pots of worms along with a few gentles. I knew the perfect place to find them too, the marginal shelf of an old sand pit, right next to a gnarly old bush that lays half in and half out of the water.
Dad came too, and Mum, both seemingly getting a taste for this Autumn angling lark.
Two cars in the car park, around twenty pitches on the lake, surely there wouldn't be.....would there?
Yep, Carp angler bivvied up in the intended swim...Hey ho..we strolled past, the path soggy under foot, the sun straining to get above the avenue of trees ahead.
The swim we settled in has by no means the Perch potential of the first choice but we were fishing and all was well in the world.
It could've easily been a September day, Buzzards soared, Robins pinched bait, Carp hurled themselves into the air and Pike prowled the margins.
Having adopted the big hook/massive lobworm approach things were slow, whilst Dad, on the other hand was charming delightful Roach from there homes with abandon on the small hook/double gentle approach, and enjoying it immensely.
Of course the inevitable happened and as the float sailed away I immediately knew that my cane was attached to a spirited Pike...they just love them lobs.
A titanic battle ensued, and just as I tried to gain back some of the 4lb line, the Speedia would spin off beneath my thumb..Dad attended, net in hand and Mum gave a running commentary, after much ado, old Esox was safely in the net, the good old Chapman's blank was easily up to the job.
Well with all this Pike activity, I daresay the Perch weren't getting a look-in, the Carp angler came down and I told him that they'd been my original quarry, he seemed interested at my approach, his eyes going just a little misty at the sight of my rod and reel. The kettle(Steve) was put on and after tea Dad started to get a few of his roach chased by a very feisty Pike. With this in mind he hatched a cunning plan which soon saw the toothy terrorist on the bank.
I did try a bunch of red gentles for a while but only caught small roach. If I'd set my mind that today was going to be a roach day, these beautiful fish would've made it. I did, however, soon revert back to the unsuccessful 'big lob, big Perch' tactic.
...And so it was, that the darkness and cold brought the curtain down on a Perchless day.......As we walked back, we stopped by the Carp anglers swim, the swim I'd intended to fish, after our chat he had set up a makeshift float set-up and had a pack of lobworms in his carryall, he was just returning a 2lb Perch.......oh well, "That's Fishin'".
Message for Mr.Hatt :- Production of a sky blue bobble hat is under way.
I received a rather cryptic text message a few days ago, it simply read, 'Do you want some good news?'...a couple of texts later I was offered a place on a syndicate water. I can say without exaggeration that I have been on the waiting list for nearly twenty years.
This Redmire-like lake is a small oasis of tranquility, some may call it paradise. It was certainly fished by Richard Walker and the Taylor brothers, back in the day.
The carp population remains a bit of a mystery but they are definitely there...of course I accepted the offer and today I went to have a little look as I hadn't been there for years.....
I found a few carp in this inlet, which was encouraging, can you see them ? They were in about a foot of water!
Nice.....isn't it?.....and peaceful. I will still have an eye on 'The Common' next year, but I think I will definitely be spending some quality time on this water, especially as the head bailiff is a cane rod freak......I'm glad my Mum knitted that lucky hat.
I searched all morning yesterday for the perfect stick, you know the one ? We've all used one at some point. That perfect natural rod rest.
You see I want one now for the river as a kind of escape from the stainless steel that accompanies my Carp set-up.
I'm not what people would call a "tackle tart", well some would, but they'd be wrong. The main criteria for my carp gear is that it won't break so stainless suits just fine.
However, for the river, the goalposts(no pun intended) are moved to lightness and portability, which both probably mean the same thing, and if you throw in a bit of stealthy natural camo (no not that realtree stuff for me thanks) then all the better.
I had designs on finding the perfect fallen branch. Fennel would have us believe that hawthorn and yew are the best wood to use and I thought a rummage in some ancient woodland would see me emerge triumphant with the chosen stick held aloft like Excalibur..I didn't happen, my quest was fruitless....but I know that perfect stick is out there somewhere, it shall be mine.
Talking of the river, I'm still waiting for a bit more rain to fall. I have however heard encouraging reports of some large Chub being caught on a local stretch so I daresay it won't be too long before I'm tempted out.
A friend of mine has been having a few nice fish using a bait called Envy. I'm not one to blatantly plug products on this blog but this stuff really seems to be doing the business for him.
Strange really, because I've always thought envy is a terrible thing !!!
Talking of which, may I take this opportunity to congratulate my mate Jack Brown for catching not one, but two 50lb+ carp this week. Unfortunately it seems the talented lad has been taking a peppering from people who have nothing better to do than have a faceless pop at someone from behind their keyboards. Like I said, terrible thing envy.
So a fellow strolls into the shop with an old rod in his hand, I take quick glance and clock the transfer on the butt section."That's an old rod you've got there bud", I say.
"I wondered if you had any rings for it,I know it's in a bit of a state but I'm thinking I might do it up" he replied.
I take another look and say,"No mate we don't sell rings for them, they're a bit more specialised, I know a couple of websites you could try, or you could save yourself the hassle and sell it to me."
I then ask him where he got it from and he explains that it was in a mates shed and he was thinking he'd hang it on a wall or something.
"Yeah, nice, Guides'n'Blanks or Chapmans Blanks mate, that's where you'll get guides for that mate, I could give you Chapmans phone number."...He thought a while..."I'm not really one to use a computer and don't think i'll do mail order....Did you say you'd be interested in buying it ?" he said, "How much would you offer me?"...It was now my turn to think a while, I figured I'd pay a certain sum for it and then halved it thinking he'd barter...I told him the halved amount..He immediately held out his hand as if to say "Bloody hell, show me the money" and the deal was done........and this is the true tale of how old Gurn became the proud owner of an early Gold Oval Label Lucky Strike for less money than the cheapest rod in his shop.
My father took me piking on the Tring reservoir complex as a child, it's something we both enjoyed immensely. It's no surprise then that around this time of year he suggests a trip out after these beautiful predators.
I'd thrown my mother one of my rather random requests recently. You see I've always hankered after the marvellous 'lucky' bobble hat once worn by Jack Hilton...this one.
After some research and some great help from the fellows on 'The Path By The Water' a photo emerged giving us the colours...
Green and White stripes, white bobble..."Mum, can you knit me a Jack Hilton bobble hat please??"
Bless her, after I had sourced some wool she was straight on the case and here is the fruit of her labour. I am delighted with it.
What better way to try it out then and test its 'luckiness' than a day out with the folks in search of Pike.
The chosen water throws up a challenge, that in view of its Catfish population the use of treble hooks are banned. Wire trace is allowed from October 1st. I therefore made up some single hook rigs with size 2/0 Gold Label Tackle Penetrator hooks. I crimped a loop and ring to the hook for the attachment of bait 'hair rig' style.
This being more a social occasion than a 'specimen hunt' we opted for an easily accessed swim and I soon erected the shelter for the day (you know by now that it always rains when I fish, today was no different) and duly cast a mackerel tail, a smelt, and a roach. The two outer baits to the marginal shelf and the middle rod at range. The parents soon made themselves at home.....
They really seem to embrace the outdoor life. The bailiff seemed quite surprised at the bankside family reunion, but with sandwiches, tea , sausages rolls, more tea, soup etc.. we were warm, dry, fed and happy.
We were even happier when old Esox took a liking for the margin fished roach...
.This fish appeared to have had a scrape with a Catfish at some stage in it life, a scar on its back (near my hand) suggesting it was grabbed in ones vice like pads.
About an hour later my Dad landed a jack on a jelly lure.
This feisty fish was incredibly angry, tail walking and darting around like a lunatic..it definitely had delusions of grandeur.
Dad seemed to take to fishing with a lure really well..In the past he'd used spoons and hard lures but never the modern shad type..He persisted with the lure rod through driving rain in the hope of another take. It's strange how things turn full circle, I put the kettle on and told him tea was forthcoming,"Just another five minutes" was his reply.
Soon it was the turn of the mackerel tail to get chomped and another beautiful Pike was landed....Dad got in on the action with this one.
My father remembered the lake as a working sand pit and was amazed at the transformation into a scenic haven for wildlife, Mum loved to watch the green woodpecker, and hungry flocks of goldfinch and long-tailed tits as they swarmed around the willows.
Soon the mackerel rod was away again and Dad was straight on to it. The fish (photo-held by Mum to follow!!)
was soon subdued and rounded off what to me was a most enjoyable time. Dad and I shared the spoils with two fish each and it can be noted that all three pick-ups on the single-hook rig were landed successfully. I know the folks loved it just as much and I look forward to the next family Pike pursuit.
I also got to christen that hat and it truly was 'lucky'. Thanks Mum and Dad, I had a fine day.