Friday, 29 November 2013

Another blast from the past

Charity by the Thames

I fished a private weir pool on the Thames yesterday, (16/10/2012) by kind invitation and in the company of Nigel Connor. I should clarify now that, and say it was a Cakey charity day auction lot that I won on Fishing Magic forum some two years ago.

Our home, being what seems to be as far away from everywhere, the drive took me what the usual close on three and a half hours. Setting off just before 8 am gave me time to arrive at our meeting place adjacent to the Thames at noon; in fact I arrived at 11:15.

We had been made aware that the fire brigade were due to carry out an exercise in the weir pool in the afternoon, but decided beforehand to go ahead with the day anyway and fished a couple of swims downstream under the willows. The water was up and coloured, they must have had a bit of rain further upstream.
All in all a rather unproductive early afternoon, but switching from pellet to an apple corer cut, core of garlic spam on a size 8 bought me a sharp bite, which I missed and assumed it was perhaps a chub. 

Half the core was still on the hook so I immediately put it back on the same spot, a sudden take and what felt like quite good fish in the current, turned out to be, to me, a sizeable eel. 
Having no idea of the scale of length to weight of eels, after removing my barbless hook with some ease, I put it in a plastic bag.... with some difficulty, and weighed it just out of interest, it came in at 2lb12ozs.
Pauline asked me later, when I reported in, if I was bringing it home for the pot, my response was in the negative, but I did think about it for a short while, before the thought of rarity and having no smoker at home, jellied and stewed eels are not to my taste, won me over. So I watched it sliver off down the bank at some speed, kick and swim off strongly.

The fire brigade moved off just after 4pm so we decided to move up into the weir pool, in the meantime I brewed a fresh cuppa Rosie Lee for us both from my Kelly kettle. I had forgotten the strainer, so the just in case standby bags of Assam were used.
By the way if anybody wants to buy Nigel a present for Christmas, he’s putting the Kelly on his list
I had already booked an overnighter in the High Wycombe Travelodge, which as it turned out proved to be a good investment of £50. We fished until late; I don't think I would have enjoyed the journey home after a tiring day of fishing.
Anyway, duly ensconced in the weir pool I decided to fish two rods for a while.
By the way, I took my two Young's John Wilson barbel travel rods, it didn't appeal to me to have my other rods on show overnight in a public car park at High Wycombe!
One rod down the inside with my Purist II, and the other with my 5010 out into the swirling maelstrom of the pool.
The inside line remained motionless, other than the constant tug of leaf debris. On the other rod, I decided to try out a new pellet to me, but a batch that had been in my garage for quite a while, Teme Severn Lamprey, rather than their usual for me, halips.
I had been expecting if I hooked into any a big fish, I understood from Nigel that smaller barbel were in short supply, but my fish at just before 6 o'clock surprised him, it came in at "only" 5lb 6ozs! 
These early mornings are doing my bags in!

I gave it a fair bit of wellie as Nigel had warned of a river bottom covered with zebra mussel, and was therefore surprised to see a barbel rather than what I thought by it’s fight was a chub.
Those travel rods do have some ooomph. 
In fact as far as I can recall this was my first barbel of the season, having not been in the right frame of mind to fish the rivers more than just a couple of times, but sticking to my pond “in the valley”.

Jeff Woodhouse turned up just after this for a fish, but mostly a chat, and he was standing with me when within the half an hour, the next big twitch occurred and I had my second. Again a "small" fish at about 7lb 6ozs. 

Just before darkness set in we had a break for a chilli, pre-cooked and reheated by mine host, along with a cold bottle of Adnams finest, Ghost Ship.
All very nice too, and a welcome change from my usual sandwich.
I did intend to make another pot of tea, but got so intent in adding to my haul that I forgot, sorry Nigel. 
Unfortunately, no more fish were caught by Nigel, Jeff or me, but I did learn that many a blank takes place on this stretch, so was quite chuffed to actually catch in forum company, a rare occurrence for me.
So saying our goodbyes it was off to Wycombe for a nights rest, and a surprisingly good sleep. This was even followed by something quite close to a good breakfast.
Then the drive home, arriving at about 11:30 to help Pauline shift our just delivered wine order from Laithwaites into a "safe" location, in the hope it lasts until Christmas...I very much doubt it will though. Then down the White Hart for a lunchtime, along the line four pinta followed by an afternoon kip!

Thanks very much to Nigel, I hope I get the opportunity to fish the stretch again, it was well worth the two year wait.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Did I ever show you this?

Dreams of Adams Mill

As the first ice appeared on my garden pond yesterday I thought it was about time this, the first ever article I wrote, back in 2002 got another airing. 

It was aimed in particular, and built around product placement in angling writing, something that was being actively discussed on a Fishing Magic thread (where it was published) at that time, and still is today to some extent in angling media.

My expeditions to Adams Mill, MKAA's stretch on the Upper Great Ouse started in late November 2000 . 
Being only four miles from my home, and with all the media reports and comment in the angling press, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to go and have a look at this now legendary fishery. 
If the place was as crowded as reported, with people queuing to get in at the appointed hour, I could trundle down to another MKAA water at Ravenstone, another couple of miles or so into the Northamptonshire countryside. 
I've now made possibly 20 trips since that time, maybe more. 
Most of the time I was the only angler at the fishery but I didn't start a diary until this year, not a lot to enter in it, but on every visit the anticipation involved in fishing this water is unbelievable. 
I have never experienced anticipation to this degree before; you just do not know what may be lurking below your rod tip. 
On one of the days I visited, at the end of January, I spoke to a guy named Gary, who I think is a head bailiff with RMC. He travels the motorways for about an hour (on a good day) to get there. 
We had shared a couple of blanks and a passing chat on previous occasions. On the Thursday of the week before he had witnessed the photographing of an 18lb 13oz barbel, and was determined to get amongst them. 
Tackling up in a swim just above me and just below the weir, he was straight away into a 7lb barbel. On the next cast he lost one at the net of approximately 8lb. 
Then all went quiet for both of us. I blanked again. 
The next day was miserable, fine persistent rain, the kind that soaks you through. Only one other angler on the bank, who I later learned was Ray Walton. I witnessed him catch and assisted him with the photography of a 14lb 6oz specimen barbel. 
The fish and the sequence of the weighing was later to appear in his compliation DVD, Barbel. 
I didn't stay much longer after witnessing the fish, leaving at about 2 o'clock. I'd got snagged and broke off a few times and had left my backup leads in the garage. It needed quite a bit of weight to hold bottom in those flood conditions, conditions I couldn't get used to at the time.
Witnessing Ray's catch, the most beautiful specimen of a fish I have ever seen, a very stocky fish compared to my previous sighting of a good barbel, my first, and therefore my personal best, a sleek 8lb 9oz Throop specimen, caught in November 1972. 

The image of his great fish made me even more determined to have as many hours as possible at the Mill, until at least the 14th March, the sell out day, in an attempt, to match or improve upon the size of Ray's fish. 
Having taken 'early retirement' last March following 35 years of commuting into London as a property manager for the C&A retail empire, perhaps I may even buy a syndicate ticket from MKAA, I should be able to get my money's worth. That is, if my face fits. 
(It didn’t!)

My catches to date are two chub, 6lb12ozs and 4lb 14ozs, a barbel of about a 1lb ( demonstrating that some smaller fish were coming through) and a few perch to ½ lb. 
What is also on my mind is that I want to catch, and get a picture, of at least a 6lb 12oz chub, a personal best, having forgotten my camera when I landed it, on the 18th December last.
I'll never forget my camera again as it is now a permanent fixture in my  Double T carryall, although I my renew it because I do like the look of the FUJI Finepix S8000 .

A later AM chub at 5:14 with the Escort in the background

Anyway after a restlessness, almost sleepless night, the day started as normal with breakfast. This morning Walls dry cured smoked back bacon layered on thick-sliced white Kingsmill, coated with a sliver of Flora (I am watching my weight) and splashed with HP brown sauce, washed down with a big mug of Assam, from Tesco's Finest range. 
Having chauffeured the wife to Milton Keynes and her offices at Parcel Force it meant my early duties were over and I had the day to myself until dark.
 I arrived at the entrance road to Adams Mill at 8.15 am and traversed the potholes in my totally unsuitable Ford Escort 1.8 cabriolet
I shall have to get  a Skoda Estate, it must be more suitable for this type of terrain.
As experienced on previous occasions I was the only angler there. The river was just below its banks following overnight rain, but was still lower than when I arrived for the previous day's session, it was the colour of a milky Nescafe instant coffee. 
It was a beautiful morning though, the sun was shining quite brightly, so I reached for my Optilab's prescription polarising glasses. I was not sure that the Sundridge Nimbus two-piece I was wearing would be needed.  
Settling myself down in a swim on the bend just above the bridge,  where I caught my best chub, I was just in time to get my first glimpse of the kingfisher,I removed the Fox Barbel Specialist 1.5 rod from my Double-T quiver and fitted my trusty Shimano 5010 baitrunner, filled to the brim with 10lb Maxima Chameleon, to which I attached an ounce running Dinsmore's Arlesey bomb and a size 4 Drennan barbel specialist barbless  hook.
I decided to not  feed the swim with my usual mixture of Dynamite Baits hempseed and Green Giant sweetcorn, but to try a couple of casts without any groundbaiting.

My first bait of choice was a chunk of Spam, about a quarter of a big tin. 
I would probably follow up with a couple of lobworms supplied by Willy Worms if needed.  

I threaded my offering of Spam onto the hook and gently cast out, letting the bait settle just off the current.  and placed the rod in the rest which was set up high enough to keep the line out of the torrent, the baitrunner facility I left off, and then settled down into my Fox Adjuster level chair. 
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the distinctive Ray Walton arrive, we gave each other the acknowledging wave. (He seems like a nice bloke). Good I thought, at least I would have a witness this time - you know that inner feeling you get sometimes? 
For a few minutes I sat there with my first John Player Special of the day contemplating life and my retirement, when I noticed a good twitch of the rod tip. 
Rather than wait as usual, I reached for the rod, hands poised ready, at the same time the top pulled around. I was sure there was no need to strike, although I did so automatically, and my quarry was on. 
The fish headed into the current. 
I was unable to judge its size, but I thought it was a chub. It then moved to my left towards the overhanging bush. With plenty of side strain, I had control, it didn't feel a bad size fish, but the current was deceiving. 
After a short battle, without any scares, I netted the fish, it was, as expected, a chub. 
From the weight I felt when lifting the net it was heavier than my usual 4lb/5lb fish of the Ouse and appeared to be about the same size as my personal best.
A brace, each just under 4lb
I pulled out my Double-T weighing sling attached my Reuben Heaton Waymaster scales and set them at zero. 
The fish was in great condition and weighed in at 6lb 12ozs. 
Is it the same fish, I wondered? 
Some time passed ,another JPS was smoked, and I watched the world go by. 

That kingfisher was busy ....and was catching from the fast receding flooded dip to my left. 
Then it happened, as usual, just as I opened my Thermos flask for a warming cup of Heinz tomato soup, the rests rattled and I lurched forward to grab my rod as it leapt towards the murky depths with a three foot twitch! 
Thankfully, I'd remembered to ensure my rear drag was adjusted and had a bit of give, because, as I leaned into the fish I knew this was bigger than anything I had hooked on this river before. 
I'd got trouble, the fish was heading off downstream towards an overhanging willow and potential disaster. I'd put all my weight behind the Fox Specialist, struggled for a while until the fish was held. 
I now knew I could trust the rod, previously thinking it may be too light for big fish. 
The  quarry then started coming back towards me at a fair rate of knots, but the 5010 kicked in and was equal to the fight, keeping me in touch with this unseen leviathan. 
Ray was now at my shoulder, and was giving me good advice. 
Just to my right was a reed bed, below the current water level and unseen, it was good job I'd fished this water in most winter conditions and was aware of the potential snags. 
All was going well. 
I was beginning to feel I had the upper hand and we then got our first sight of the fish. 
It was definitely a barbel, and it was big, I wondered  if it could be the 20-pounder that everybody was suggesting would come out of The Mill this winter? 
Excitedly, with heart thumping, I reached for my Ray Walton Whitlock folding landing net, slipped and slid on the bank, that only the day before was underwater. 
My Country Concept 4X4 Fellsman boots gripped firmly (another good buy) but the slight slip had done the damage, it felt like my long suffering sciatic nerve had become trapped. 
I was in agony. 
"Oy you!" 
"I'm trying to get some sleep, will you stop fidgeting”. 
My wife's voice? What was she doing on the Ouse? 
The dream faded, as I rubbed my back, I realised she had given me a good kick. I told her to push off, or words to that effect.

I lay there, for sometime, my heart pumping, feeling sorry for myself and waited for Sarah Kennedy's dulcet tones on the radio alarm, so that I could start the day……and dreading the anticlimax that is almost certain to happen. 

"Do you want  boiled eggs or  Special K ?"

Friday, 15 November 2013

August 2014

A new challenge

With 2013's monies still coming in and exceeding so far £2500, the boys are planning another!!
Four  fishing the Northern Rivers and a slight change in the team for four to fish the Southern rivers. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Upper Witham
I had a 4 hour afternoon session today. Walking the stretch from close to the top end down to about half way.
The river looked good and it was a bright afternoon, turning colder on the breeze later.
Our first frost last night before rain moved in, feels like another one tonight.
The chub weren't having it at all today, just a few few nudges that may well have been leaves!
My stilton was just too soft to use on it's own so I had to make up some paste on the spot with the small homemade loaf I had taken along for flake.

 I finished off the last hour or so with bread flake fished straight through,with a quarter ounce lead down the inside of a deep bend for the roach, I had a good few to keep me happy, they were all about the same size, just about fitting in my hand.

Avon Roach Project 
In excess of £7000 was raised at the annual weekend Auction and Avon Fish-In at the end of October.

Tesco job!
After spending untold amounts on my Tesco Bank credit card this year, most of it on holidays, I have stashed £130 of vouchers.
 The good people at Tesco have just allowed me to double them up, so I now have £260 to spend on their Finest wines, Christmas is looking up already.
Goose this year, and we may well be on our own and at home for the first time for some years.

Sunday, 10 November 2013!

Oz here I come ?

I have family in Exmouth and Perth, Western Australia, my brother Ted and his wife June took their 3 daughters and son out to Perth about 25 years ago.
We've visited once afew years ago, and have been promising ourselves and them a return visit.
My 65th birthday is next year in March, but cyclones are active about that time of the year so I've been trying to make up my mind if I should have a late celebration out there.
Well, my minds made up, as Ted's youngest daughter Vicky's husband Jeff,has bought himself a boat.
Jeff is a keen angler, as are their sons, they keep asking us out there,so maybe.

Photo: New baby is home ... Half fits !!! Hey baby???Photo: New baby is home ... Half fits !!! Hey baby???Photo

Christened with a sailfish.

I'm being missed
I received a message so had to have a look incognito, Fishing Magic has had two threads headed up in my name and supporting me. .Both heated enough to be locked!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Ashes to ashes

Drilled punched or countersunk!
A phrase often used by the guys I used to deal with when at work,those who looked after the property maintenance of all the shop properties I've ever  been involved with.
For me since coming back from Russia, that's just about what's been happening with not enough hours in the day.
Either that or I've forgotten in nearly 11 years of retirement how to manage my time.
I've also been pretty knackered a lot of the time as a result of the chesty cold I bought back from the cruise.
Not enough sleep with a hacking cough that would just not move off my chest. I'm not going to count back but after 5 weeks it's nearly gone, just the occasional tickle.
Anyway what have we been up to?
Well, not fishing I'm afraid, but sorting out Jim's house and making sure I know how his heating system works. The insurers are happy to carry on covering an empty house, did I tell you it's going to take 9 to 12 months to sort out the Probate? Anyway the insurers wanted me to completely drain down the water/ heating system, or ensure the heating was maintained at 10 degrees through the winter months.
I've set it at 14c after working out how to use the remote timer that Jim had recently organised.
Fortunately the fuel dealers carried on delivering propane gas by a top up system I didn't know existed, and we now have a full tank, luckily there was enough to pay them from the solicitors client account.
Still a lot to do with the house, we've had the valuers in, but can't get rid of any of the chattels until Probate is sorted, so clearing out at least 15 year's of accumulated "just in case" stuff,and cupboards full of charity requests and general junk mail. Don't ask me why he kept it!
Fortunately I remembered the loft space yesterday, had a look but there was not anywhere as much stuff as I expected.
Stacks of clothes, to give to charity, but I haven't given that too much thought, another job that should be done soon before the moths get hold.

Not all work though.
Jim asked me to organise a dinner for his closest village friends, and those that had helped him out over the last couple of years in particular. So I did, and chose what would have been his 81st birthday last Saturday to take seven of us along to one of his favourite spots.
Very good it was too, a three course dinner, with plenty to drink and an 8 seater cab there and back.
 A popular location in a Best Western Hotel on the way to Grimsby.

Caught in the Act
I decided on Wednesday to have a little break, and went along to see Bob Roberts and Stu Walker make a presentation of the latest two dvd's in the series of four.
Put on by Nottingham Piscatorials at an amazing venue, with a crowd I'm told of around 350 anglers, it was indeed up to their usual standard of presentation.
The Dome at Kelham Hall
If you're into dvd's of fishing, this is a must have to add to your collection. From just the excerpts it's easy to see that they put a great deal into making this angling spectacle, it's even better than Barbel Days and Ways.
Well done both.

Shop Header christmas special CITA option 2Caught in the Act

The Ashes bit
Today, without getting a reminder, I picked up Jim's ashes,  of which I had been instructed by him to spread around the Lincolnshire countryside. A job to be done soon, on a dry windless day and around his favourite hostelries in the area.