Anglers Paradise; a beginning (Entry 207)

Six days of fishing. Not exactly wall to wall angling, but pretty close. The long drive, marred by a colossal tailback on the M5, seemed now so distant as I sat and watched the finely dotted float tip. I had only an hour of daylight left before it would be too dark to see, but I knew the before then, I would have captured my first colourful fish. Indeed, it took around ten minutes for the orange tip to vanish, replaced by a tench of similar tone, a golden tench of around two pound. It fought spiritedly, it looked splendid, and welcomed me to Anglers Paradise in style.

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After an evening of eating and drinking, and a later than intended nightcap (or three), I thought it best to make a leisurely start to the next day. A stroll to the local shop first to pick up some breakfast items, then at a sedate pace, I prepared for a day on the Float Lake. The Devonshire weather was certainly shining. A clear blue sky, deep and saturated, stretching as far as I could see, lifted my soul. The sun warmed my back as I made up two rigs ready for the day ahead. My cup of tea didn’t touch the sides. Neither did my bacon and egg muffin. I was going to enjoy this.

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With such warm conditions the resident koi were easy to spot. Plenty cruised in the upper layers. Their pearly colours dulled only by a few inches of water between back and surface. Tail fins occasionally created vortexes. Floating morsels were suck down with a sharp slurp. A fine float rig was set a foot deep and baited with slow sinking bread. Within minutes the koi began to fall. In the first two hours I caught twenty. From a pound to around five, they obliged, taking the bread without any hesitancy, and fighting like fish twice their size once hooked.

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By mid afternoon the fishing became a little tricky, but a steady rain of 4mm pellets catapulted regularly brought a succession of golden tench to the net, as they took the bait in the upper layers of a five feet deep swim. That’s if they beat the hordes of tiny rudd to the bait. I had over forty of these beautiful, hard fighting fish, each one unique, some with red fins, some with white. Some with black spots whilst others had none. They all shared a black button eye and the same dogged attitude of their green cousins. Along with a smattering of blue and golden orfe, some sizeable golden rudd to just under a pound and a few rogue F1 type hybrids, I caught on virtually every put in over the next three hours, amassing more than a hundred fish and savouring every second.

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By late afternoon I’d had my fill, my arm ached, and my second flask had long since run out. Time to wander back to the villa for some food and a hoppy beverage. As I packed away, at my feet, the koi began to forage in the margins of the lake. For a moment I was almost tempted to have an extra hour fishing for them. But I resisted. I had plenty of angling ahead of me. Tomorrow, I had a day on the Specimen Orfe & Tench Lake booked, and preparing for that now would ultimately serve me better than a few more koi on the bank. Or so I hoped. In less than 12 hours I would find out.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

How did I end up here? (Entry 200)

I couldn’t let it lie. Sat in my car having just bought a pint of red maggots, half way to the river, I knew full well I wouldn’t get there. No, instead I went back into the shop and purchased a packet of size eight hooks. I had everything else with me that I would need in order to bodge a makeshift paternoster livebait rig. Once more the cursed perch had won over, better judgement had not prevailed, or maybe a sixth sense had taken over.

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The canal looked great today in its rusty Autumn colours. Though it always looks good to me. Thankfully the floating leaves from last week had abated slightly and the water clarity had increased, owing to the cold nights leading up to today. If it was going to be hard to track down one of the big perch I wanted to catch so dearly, then it would be even harder to catch something to tempt them. This canal is notoriously tough when the temperatures cool. I fished fine and with a tiny hook. A single red maggot tempted a two inch roach after twenty minutes of angling. An hour later, my tally had not changed, so off I headed with my one bait. Off to a more perchy area of the canal, where the width narrowed, and beds of rushes on the near bank still cling on to life.

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After a change of rig, and a plumb up, I was ready to make a cast, a foot from the bed of rushes where the water was maybe twice that measurement deep. The roach bait settled quickly. Torpid perhaps. The float sitting still amongst the softness of the reflected grey clouds. Minutes ticked by, before the float abruptly lay flat, though only temporarily. In an instant it was gone, plunging from sight, savagely and definitely. I let a second or two pass before striking, upon which the most pleasant weight pulled the rod tip round. The fish jagged and plodded. It had no speed and simply lumbered under the rod tip. In the depth a flash. A perch, now rising begrudgingly toward the surface, where in a fumbled blur I thrust the net under and claimed the fish on the first time of it breaking the divide. I was over the moon. The perch less so thrashing angrily in its confines.

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A beautifully vibrant two pounder. Icy cold to my, only slightly warmer, hands. After the failures of the last few weeks this really was the most beautiful perch I’dseen. I admired it, taking in its blood red fins and sleek lines, before carefully releasing it a short way from the swim. And although I didn’t know it as I walked back to my chair, the number of perch I caught would not change, for try as I may over the next three hours, until the light faded in fact, I could not catch another small fish. It was a strange turn of events. The canal having total control over proceedings.

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It had already rewarded me I guess, and pretty quickly too, and was not about to allow me to plunder its stocks any further. What other, bigger perch were waiting to be caught that day, couldn’t have been any further from my grasp. The truth is thats the way it should be. Those bigger fish will always be there, lurking in the murky shadows, both of the water and of our minds. If not today then almost certainly tomorrow. Whenever that day comes round.

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In late autumn, the darkness rolls in all too soon, but not before the sun had poked through the clouds for the first time all day, a warm orange glow cast over the valley. Accompanied by a warming cup of tea, I took in this view, and breathed in the now chilly air. The wagglers’ tip dissolved. Blue-black enveloped. At that moment I couldn’t have cared less about the ‘whats’ and ‘ifs’. Only what had been in front of me just a few hours before.

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

Or nearest offer (Entry 175)

The door bell sounded. Instinctively, and much like some Pavlovian subject, I rushed from my seat to the door without hesitation. A quick glance through the ‘peep hole’ revealed the face of a man in his mid forties, distorted by the glass, and appearing as he would do in the back of a spoon. I opened the door to a more normal looking person, no doubt excited about the acquisition about to take place. Letting me know he was here about the fishing tackle I ushered him inside and proceeded to show him the bounty; a well loved and versatile float rod.

It had been mine for more than a few years now and had caught me many different species from a multitude of venues. I recalled first using it late one summer, fishing the waggler with caster for tench on a Cheshire mere. The day had been tough, not many fish were being caught, and around dinnertime the ashen sky began to darken. Brooding in the distance a thunderstorm. Umbrella put up just in time as the first heavy drops of rain fell from the sky. Over the next forty minutes the rig was reeled in. The rain so heavy it simply sank the float. Forked lightning streaked earthbound and the audible reply of the thunder vibrated, both in my ears and my chest, seconds later. It was disconcerting to say the least but also an amazing spectacle. Nature truly a powerful force. Once the storm subsided, I landed a lovely four pound tench on the very next cast, with two others following in quick succession. It christened the rod and cemented a memorable day firmly in my brain.

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“Yes, it will handle small carp and tench, perfect for lazy summer days,” I exalted, “but it has enough sensitivity in the tip to hit finicky roach, dace or crucian bites.” I wasn’t kidding either.

Cut to a particularly cold December morning on the local river. We were here at my Dads suggestion. The canals would be frozen over for sure, and although he expected it to be a slow day, he was confident of a bite or two from the resident chub. Again, I fished caster, trotting a light stick float down a lovely length of intimate river. I spent most of the morning in that beautiful swim but had no fish. It was time for a change. I climbed up the high bank behind me and walked downstream. The sound of the weir became louder; like someone turning the volume up on a television playing static. Once I passed the sill, where violent and turbulent currents lashed, the volume began to decrease and where the white, foamy water started to break apart and steady somewhat, I decided to fish. The current pushed my float very close to the near bank but it was ok. There was good depth here, eight feet or so, and I fed the swim with a generous helping of casters, waiting as long as I could before running through. I might have made it to two minutes. First cast and a six ounce dace was swung to hand. Next cast another dace of a similar size. Brilliant! For the next hour and a half I caught around thirty of these dace along with a few better chub mixed in for good measure. It really opened my eyes to the merits of roving on rivers and the pleasure of fishing with balanced tackle. A most enjoyable day with a stunning sunset to end with.

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“Well, it sounds like it’ll cover everything I need,” the man said, “I’m just a beginner so this should be perfect.” He handed over the rod tokens, all ten of them, and with a smile said goodbye.

On closing the door I suddenly felt hollow. That would be regret raising its head, I guessed. I realised I’d made a mistake. I felt like opening the door and running after him. Why had I just sold this rod? One that had been with me through the many trials and tribulations of my formative years. The rod who’s carbon had not just a few light scratches etched into it, but also a myriad of memories, successes and failures. A rod who’s handle had collected the oil and dirt of ten years spent nurturing a love and fascination for this most diverse and rewarding pastime. Maybe I shouldn’t have sold an old friend so readily.

There was one consolation though. All I could hope now was that it did the same for its new owner as it had done for its old.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Fries and mayo (Entry 173)

As I am in Belgium for New Year, the first post of 2016 is (I know its still 2015 but lets just pretend) a few days early and is something I don’t do that often; a look back at the past year. The triumphs and the failures. Fishing is a sport that gives, but it does have a habit of keeping you firmly grounded, as soon as you begin to build a little momentum. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Back to January we go.

Sunsets

There was plenty of evenings staring at rod tops at the start of the year, and with backdrops like the one above, it really was no hardship. I started to get to know a river much bigger than any I had ever fished up to that point. It’s fair to say it was a slow learning curve but I managed to catch fish, and was rewarded with some beautiful chub and my first barbel from the river, a week before the end of the river season. Just as the venue really began to take hold and get under my skin came those long three months apart. What is an angler meant to do?

A great goodbye gift

Fish for tench of course. But the spring was a long and cold one. For me, the tench turned up later than usual, and only the odd bream made an appearance in between. Better than blanking though. Eventually those tincas woke up. Beautiful green battlers. And then the weather got hot. Seriously hot. The fish spawned. Then they wallowed in the upper layers of lakes and ponds everywhere. It was more than a little frustrating. Though opportunity was still there. It just required a little thinking outside of the box.

Tinca time was a little late

Crucians came to the rescue. Big ones. Ones I never dreamt of catching. In fact, at one point, I remember becoming almost complacent on a day I only caught two or three. Just two or three specimen crucians was a bad day. Wow. They fed well either early in the morning or late in the evening, all the way through these stupidly hot conditions. and it was a brilliant experience. Only now am I really coming to terms with how good it was. For many different reasons.

Big crucians are very easy to look at for a long time

Through July and August I fished the river I’d left too soon a few months before, both for barbel, and trotting for roach and dace. I nearly caught my first double figure barbel – just one ounce short – had run ins with otters and witnessed some spectacular weather conditions. When I turned my attention to roach I caught many fish but a few big pound fish were the cherries on top. Old, wise river roach, requiring the bait to be presented just right. Not necessarily with fine tackle but certainly having to look natural to the conditions of the river on that day.

Old and rare fish

Then came the perch. Those frustrating perch. I was brought back down to earth with a bump after early success on the canal, and learnt that sometimes you have to accept that its just not your time, and fish on, for anything and in any way you chose. The harder you force the issue, the harder it gets, and the the winning line gets further away and much more blurred.

Perfect.

As the sun sets on another year so a fresh one begins. Another years worth of experience has been accrued. Venues seem more like friends than acquaintances.  I’m really looking forward to this year. I think it will be a good one. As long as there is time to spend on the bank; how could it not be?

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

No fishing (Entry 168)

I’ve had some nasty virus or other over the last week. It actually stopped me going fishing. It takes a lot for me to not want to go fishing, I can tell you. As I sat here, trying not to think about the fact I should be fishing, I felt the need to do something angling related. So; just what do you do when you can’t get out to the bank?

Check Facebook wall for updates on people who are actually fishing. Maybe even catching. Click the like button many, many times. Start to feel a little depressed. That wasn’t too great an idea. Something else then.

Next stop; YouTube. The thing with YouTube videos is that you can quite quickly end up watching something thats so far removed from fishing, you’re left scratching your head as to just how you ended up where you are. I started watching videos about sturgeon fishing, but was soon trying to hold in the laughter, as a variety of cats become severely startled by stationary cucumbers. I don’t even like cats. Or cucumbers.

Look back at old fishing photos. On the computer and actual printed ones. I still have some tucked away in envelopes now yellowed with age. They’re certainly not very well framed, half of a photo containing nothing but undergrowth, but these are really exciting pictures to me. In many way they are records of the very moments that really cemented a firm love for this pastime. A pound sized chub from the canal caught seemingly from nowhere or a modestly sized tench hooked and held from a weedy canal not far from where my grandparents used to live. Such excitement overflowing, that the photo and what is contained within it, were secondary. The fact that this photo needed to be taken at all was the most important thing. Hence the rushed framing and often blurry results.

Tea breaks. Every half an hour. On the dot. Interspersed with a biscuit or two. A slice of cake mid afternoon. Doesn’t have the same satisfying thirst quenching or stress relieving qualities as it does on the bank though.

Browse eBay, fishing forums, and other such purveyors of fishing bargains, and find tackle deals too good to miss. But don’t buy anything. You really, really don’t need it. You wouldn’t be buying anything if you was out fishing. Would you?

Sort out the tackle boxes. Usually for me it’s the smaller ones that get messy. Hooks get mixed up, link swivels where there should be run rings. You get the idea. It’s quite mundane stuff but sometimes there is pleasure in the simple tasks. Especially ones that are not taxing and keep the hands, and mind, from idling. You may even get some surprises. I completely forgot about this float. Good job I didn’t buy one earlier.  A welcome rediscovery and I think it might get an outing soon. It looks perfect for some caster fishing on the canal this Winter.

Which brings me on to the most important task of all; plan the next fishing trip. Plan a dream fishing trip. Just plan, plan, plan. Make promises that might take years to fulfil. It really doesn’t matter. As long as its fishing related, and provides an escape, then it’s all good. My short term plan is to have some trips to the local canals once the weather turns chilly. Fishing for roach. There used to be some very good fish to be had when I was young and I wonder if there is still the same opportunity. I hope there is. My long term plan would be to visit Canada and fish on the mighty rivers they have there, amongst stunning scenery, with the chance of catching fish of a lifetime.

It should more or less be evening now by now. Time to finish the day off with a few chapters from a good fishing book or journal. A drink of whiskey to warm whilst doing so. Then sleep.

I hope I can get out next week. I’ve never eaten so many biscuits in my life.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Another fond farewell (Entry 133)

Well the rivers have now closed. All to soon its time to start thinking about carp from the surface, tench fishing dawns and crucians rolling in the margins. I did head out on the river for the last day. It turned out to be a tough and frustrating one. Busy banks and biting easterly winds. It took an age to find a swim and when I did there result was not kind. Not a sniff of a bite. But thats ok. I’ve had a very enjoyable few months fishing running water and a day with limited action gave me a chance to reminisce. What a backdrop I started things off on a tough little river, fishing evening sessions and the odd early morning one. I was after a bite. Just a bite. Thats how tough this little river can be. At least for me. Apart from one heart stopping moment, where I narrowly failed to hook a barbel I had spotted feeding in the shallows, I caught nothing. Enjoying my time there none the less. Minus the failure, that was entirely down to bad angling, obviously. Autumn chub I spent the summer fishing for bream, crucians and tench, not venturing back on to running water until October. The rivers were so low that to say they were running was a vast overstatement. Still, by fishing small baits under a float, I caught some wonderful chub and my first grayling over the magical 2lb mark. It was a fantastic memory and one that will stick with me for a long time. My first 2lb grayling More recently, I’ve taken the first few steps in getting to know a much bigger river. Very different to the small rivers I cut my teeth on. I’v enjoyed the challenge and the river has already gifted me some super fish along with some wonderful sights. I’m sure that with time there will be plenty more to come too. The tip of the iceberg so to speak. Lovely conditioned fishI’m glad the last day was slow on the fishing front. It is good to stop and take stock of your own recent fishing history. It’s easy to get lost planning for the future and simply forget. I’m amazed how a little flick through the photos or fishing log brings these memories back with such vibrancy. But for now, its on to different styles of fishing. Different methods nd species. The lasting joy of angling. Always new challenges to take on, places to see and experiences to form. It’s going to be an interesting journey. What a place to be fishing! One last thing before I end this short update. I must say a huge thank you to the eagled eyed, honest angler that tied my ‘misplaced’ reel handle to a gate on the stretch of river where it was last seen. I couldn’t believe my luck and it did go some way to taking the edge off my ill fated last day. We’re a good bunch! Now thats a sight to behold. Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Plans for the next year and beyond (Entry 82)

If you are following my Facebook page you will have spotted last week that I, along with a few other angling bloggers, attended a meeting with Matt Hayes and Richard Lee. This was to discuss an exciting venture I am pleased to be a part of. One that proves to be very informative. On Saturday, Team Fishing Hut was formed. It’s aim is ultimately to promote angling to as wide an audience as possible. Maybe to inspire newcomers to the sport or to re-ignite the flame for ex-fisher people. I have since begun working on some ideas.

When I started ‘Northwest Fisherman’ just over a year ago, it was merely something to get my creativity going again. Since I left university it had dropped away drastically. I had studied fine art and after graduation, became quite disillusioned with certain things. One day at work, I thought about how much I love angling and all that goes with it. The sights, the sounds, even the smells. Cooked hemp anyone? Why was I not sharing this with people? A week of messing around on WordPress and Northwest Fisherman was born. And I’m glad to say that my passion, both for fishing and this little corner of the internet, continues to grow.

So what about these new ideas? Well, I suppose the one I am most excited about is the step into making videos. They will not be versions of what I already do every week in my blog. Instead, I hope to create short films based around a theme. This could take any shape and right now the fun is coming from getting varied ideas down, seeing which ones are workable and which are not. Hopefully, they will all explore the indeterminable things that get to the core of any angler. As I’ve just said, I am only just in the planning and writing stage but one or two of them are taking shape nicely. I expect it to be hard work but I am not put off by this. In fact, I find it helps spur me on. Inevitably there may be some weeks where filming takes over fishing and I may take these as opportunities to update you on what stage the videos are at, rather than report on a lost fishing session.

I’d like to say once more; Thank you all for your support. I can’t wait to get my new ideas up and running. I hope you will keep stopping by every once in a while to share in our appreciation of all things ‘fishy’. Also in the ‘Links’ section I have added the other sites that are a part of Team Fishing Hut. Why not check them out?

So, did anyone pick up on the ‘Spinal Tap’ reference?

Tight Lines

NorthwestFisherman