Simple fishing for simple creatures (Entry 185)

This week I headed to a small lake hoping for a few tench and crucians. And, to be honest, anything that fancied making the sweetcorn I had with me part of it’s breakfast. This would be an unfussy trip out. Simple fishing with time taken to make sure everything is appreciated and noted. From the darting dragonflies I knew would be hunting around the pool to the delicate crucian bites preceding their jagged, powerful fight. I just had to hope that the early morning sun hadn’t put the fish off or sent them skulking under whatever cover they could find. Time would certainly tell, and even if this was the case, there would be plenty to entertain me.

Off the mark with a tench

In typical fashion the first fish of the day would be the smallest I’d catch. An immaculate little tench with eyes bigger than its belly. Two grains of corn proved just too tempting, the float disappearing with such velocity, I feared I’d hooked a carp. Thankfully it was an olive green bar of soap, which was quickly followed by another, bigger this time approaching a pound. A good start. No, a great start, considering how hot the sun. I was ever so grateful the fish were even feeding. However, after just thirty minutes, it was time for me to go back to the car and apply some sun cream. I didn’t much fancy ‘going tomato’.

Pick and mix?

In the interim the swim was rested. I returned smelling absolutely lovely (which is more than I can say most of the time), and settled back down to some fishing. A different species this time came my way. The unmistakable thumping of a hand sized crucian, fighting every inch of the way to the net, and still contorting its body whilst being unhooked. They certainly are little bruisers. But pretty little bruisers. Even in murky water, fins glow vibrant orange-red and flanks shimmer a rich, buttery gold.

Crucian imposter in the shape of a brown goldfish hybrid

For the next few hours the tench kept on biting, their domination thwarted every now and again by either a crucian or brown goldfish. Occasionally a rudd would show a liking for the sweetcorn. I can only imagine what a two pounder looks like in the flesh. These 6oz versions were pretty enough and made for something a little different. I really must try and find somewhere to fish for some bigger specimens soon before the winter is upon us.

The final catch ready to be released

I ended the day with a lovely mixed net of fish. The fish finally succumbed to the heat of the sun just after ten o’clock. The rudd drifted to the other end of the lake to bask, holding still as statues just below the surface, whilst the bubbling tench were finally filled. The swim became lifeless. Covered in tench slime and with the flask drained, I thought it time to leave, but not before I was treated to a sparrow hawk hovering in the adjacent field. On this occasion it seemed whatever had caught it’s attention had made best its escape and the sparrow hawk soon grew smaller as it flew silently towards to the horizon.

Thanks for reading and until next time,



More crucian than not (Entry 184)

Although all fishing trips are fun, or rather they should be, there are some that can be enjoyed just that bit more than others. For me its escaping the usual routine for a few hours, either early in the morning or after work, and with minimal tackle revisiting places fished in the past, when my shoes size was smaller than it is today. There’s something almost other worldly about such trips out. A mixture of nostalgia and re-discovery. Buried memories flung back into the present to live alongside the now.

Crucian or imposter?

My visit was to a small farm pond, where the margins were thick with broad leaved pondweed, and the rudd were easy to spot. I set up where the rushes were least thick and set my float so the small pellet I would be fishing would just touch the bottom. Ideally I would have loved some casters but this was an impromptu session so the ever available pellet won over. It didn’t take long for the delicate tip to confidently sank from sight and after a short scrap the first of the days fish was in the net. A little crucian. A dubious little crucian, having more than a whiff of brown goldfish about it, but for the sake of this story, this was a crucian.

No doubt about this one

It was just like I used to catch. Though I remember them being much bigger. Probably something to do with my hands being smaller then. Or maybe it was because at the time I had caught precious few ‘crucians’ and each one looked absolutely incredible. And boy can they fight! For little fish, not even threatening half a pound, they can strip line from a centrepin when hooked with such ease. The session wore on. The fish kept coming. When I caught ten crucians I placed a split shot in a spare container. Easier on my old brain than counting singularly like I used to. For a change a small perch made and appearance and then a small rudd before I hooked into something a little more feisty than the rest. A pristine brown goldfish. Confirming my suspicions that these little ‘crucians’ are not little crucians after all. Still, they are more crucian than not, and I was having a fine old time.

Part of the final catch

In all honesty the fishing was easy, a pinch of pellet every now and again kept the fish in a most obliging mood, the float never settled for more than a minute before it was pulled under. If anything time passed too quickly, but with four split shot in the container, along with a smattering of rudd, roach and perch, I was happy to call it a day as a storm began to rumble behind the trees. Time to make a hasty exit. More memories to gather dust in the corner of my brain. For another ten years or longer but there ready to surface when the time is right.

Thanks for reading and until next time,


A narrow victory (Entry 146)

Bright green elastic melted from the pole tip. I eased the fish away from the tree roots to my left. At least I tried to; the fish hell bent on finding sanctuary. In the end I had no need to panic as suddenly my opponent changed direction and surged straight toward me. I can’t recall ever shipping a pole in so quickly. What was this fish? A supercharged genetically modified catfish? No, it was more likely just a carp, but playing any fish on tackle lighter than is necessary will always make them feel like a force to be reckoned with. I had been enjoying catching hand sized brown goldfish hybrids before the party was crashed by this outsized intruder.

Brown goldfish

I had unshipped, maybe prematurely, at the top kit. The fish now plodding around in the margin in front of me. With every swipe of its tail the waters surface broke into vortexes and I finally caught a brief glimpse as to the identity of this battler. A creamy back flashed tantalisingly for a second before the fish, that I would now confidently say was a ghost common, bolted on another terrifying run at such speed I could do nothing but plunge the pole tip underwater and grit my teeth. What was that about unshipping prematurely?

Up close

I was fishing in a kind of point swim. Water to my left, straight out in front of me and behind me, too. The fish had arched around full circle and was now running parallel to my shipped back and unattached pole sections. Oh dear. It had made for the far margin but the elastic had began to take effect. Quite how my two pound line had not snapped at this point I had no answer. Once more the fish arched under the pressure and in slow motion, headed straight into a small, overhanging tree. Disaster! I thought the surprise tench I had hooked mid way through the session fought well. This fight was something else.

The first bonus fish of the session

For a few seconds I stood in disbelief. I felt totally outwitted and outmanoeuvred. Though the fish had wedged itself in the snag, I could still feel it kicking. It didn’t feel a solid snag more like a bed of weed than the tree itself. I felt sure that if I could change the angle of pressure the fish would come free. How not to play a fish 101. I held the top kit in between my knees and proceeded to ship out the unused pole sections. In the confined swim, I had to perform a kind of three point turn to orientate the pole in the direction I needed it to be, but eventually the top kit was married to the bulk of the pole sections and shipped out. Once the angle had been changed I increased the pressure on the fish and hoped this hook would hold. Quite incredibly, the fish suddenly popped out from the snag and, sulking all the way, swam back slowly toward me.

Hardly a mark on it

I was amazed to be in with a chance of landing this fish. I had been totally out played by this fish and felt I in no way deserved to land it. But I wasn’t going to give up now. On tenterhooks I once more shipped down to the top kit. This time the fish felt much less like a coiled spring. I reached for the landing net and teased the fish to the surface. On the first time of asking a solid ghost common reluctantly admitted defeat. Much like the brown goldfish had been doing for much of the session. Their brutish, jagging fights tame in comparison.

One of the better brown goldfish

What a beautiful fish it was. Toned and bristling with attitude. A real wily fish and a tremendous encounter. One that I will remember for a long time. As I took a few pictures I pondered how the fish was not lost. On two pound line and a small size 18 hook, after a more than fleeting brush with a formidable snag, the fish was beaten. That last statement doesn’t quite seem true. It was I who was beaten. A few occasions at least. But or some reason the fishing gods were smiling on me and the hook didn’t pull. That sharp edged tree root narrowly missed the delicate line. The fish decided on the first attempt at netting it to succumb and not bolt off for a third time. For all the times in the passed where I had lost fish, be it my own fault or an unforeseen reason, I accepted the victory. It didn’t stop it feeling like a hollow one though.

The ghost common

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Supermarket sweep / comfort in familiarity (Entry 114)

An opportunity to go fishing had snuck up on me. Opportunities that I dream of materialising. The impromptu escape to another world. And although I was happily getting the tackle ready, I knew deep down I wasn’t heading where I really wanted to. The fish I would be angling for certainly not the ones I dearly wanted to be transfixed by. Why? I simply didn’t have the bait I needed. Still you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth (what a truly odd saying that is). Time for me to head to the Theatre of Last Minute Anglers; otherwise known as Asda.

Sweetcorn the saviour

To purchase sweetcorn, the saviour of many a last minute fishing session, I’m sure. I did debate going after small river chub with a loaf or two of bread. Or maybe after perch using prawns. In the end the idea of waggler fishing sweetcorn on a small club water won over, especially with the thought of a grass carp or two taking the bait. Not long later I had arrived. At a very empty venue it has to be said. Arriving just before dinner, I expected to have a limited choice of pegs but as it played out I was the only angler there all day. Bliss. I set up a waggler rig that would allow the sweetcorn to flutter slowly through the water column; a tactic I have found to be a good one when after the grass carp. I had a few pellets with me also, and I do mean a few. These were fed sparingly alongside the sweetcorn. Just something with a little more flavour leak off and fish pulling power. I didn’t wait too long for a bite, in fact on the second cast I had a confident bite, resulting in a tiny crucian no more than three ounces. It’s buttery colour not too dissimilar to the colour of the bait it had been fooled by.

about 96% a full goldfish

A few casts later I was into a better fish. It fought well on the light waggler rod I was using and turned out to be a brown goldfish. Missing the top half of its tail. I wondered what had caused it. The fin had healed over well but increasingly more often I am seeing fish with similar injuries, both on still waters and on rivers. Our fish certainly have a lot of predators to keep them on their toes. With the fish returned I took a few minutes to have a cup of coffee and to watch a little field mouse eating the grain of sweetcorn I had left for him at the side of my peg. Delicate claws holding the feast of a meal. His tiny black eyes watching out for any danger. I kept feeding two or three grains of corn quite regularly, hoping to attract any one of the numerous better sized fish cruising in the upper layers. Maybe I should have bought that bread after all.

Another plump fish

Life wasn’t too bad though. I was catching a good amount of lovely, plump hybrids/goldfish/carp type things. Its a venue that seldom lets me down. Even in the depths of winter. Even though I tend only to fish it when other venues are out of action or I have a unexpected session, as I had today, it’s comforting to know that there is always a little slice of countryside that I can escape to. Wile away a few hours and even catch a few beautiful fish doing so. Still no sign of any grass carp today though. Where were they? The swim went through a quite spell.  Time to watch some of the fauna; tiny wrens and colourful finches. A sparrow hawk however over a field survey the land below. I still kept a little feed trickling in and cast regularly. From nowhere the float tip once more sank from view and a much livelier fish was hooked. It wasn’t the sought after grass carp though, keeping low and moving quickly, it had to be a carp.

A little common carp

Indeed it was. The first of a run of small carp. None of them bigger than two pound. Commons, a mirror and a handful of ghosties. But of the grass carp there was no sign. I persisted until dusk catching a few more small crucians and even an autumn tench of around a pound. When I could see the float tip no longer I had to accept that the species I most wanted to set my eyes upon would remain hidden. A symbol of what makes angling so great. Not being able to predict. Not knowing. Even with the odds stacked in your favour, and with past experience, it’s the fish themselves that have the final say.

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Until Next time tight lines


No time for patience (Entry 103)

I had to stop looking at the clock. Time wasn’t going to suddenly speed up. I was waiting for a delivery. A present for someone. This was eating into valuable fishing but I guess I had only myself to blame for leaving things to the last minute. For now, all I could do was think of the fishing waiting for me, out in the countryside.

The weather was dour. Damp, windy and miserable. For a split second I was almost glad to be sat indoors. Only a split second mind. Time for a brew. I put the kettle on and checked the clock once more. A full four minutes had passed. I thought about the pristine carp and brown goldfish that would be nosing around in the deep, gin clear margins. Looking for food. My patience was running thin. Before the kettle had chance to boil the doorbell rang, and in a flash I was answering it, signing my name (I could have singed anything at that point let me tell you), and ushering the delivery man back to his van. No time to check the package. It was time to fish.

A typical swim fished today

All this waiting around though had made me slightly impatient. There was no way I would be fishing just one peg now. Static. I’d lost too much time for that. Time to be active and make the most of what little time I had left. On arriving at the venue the rain began to hammer down once more. Undeterred, I started to creep into a few swims, looking for signs of fish. Be that actual fish or ever so slightly clouded water. A few small pellets and grains of corn were fed into four swims. I headed back to the car to get the rest of my gear. Namely rod, landing net, unhooking mat and flask. Oh and waterproof jacket.

As technical as it needs to be

A visit to the swim I fed first I could see all the bait still there. I stood for a few minutes and let my eyes adjust. No, there was nothing present here, so I headed to swim number two. On such a high bank I had to creep into position. In fact it almost required a crawl. I really needed to keep off the skyline. It was worth doing though. As I peered through the surface glare, five dark shapes were feeding with abandon. Not huge fish but that was of no concern. This was going to be exciting! I baited my hook with a grain of corn and slid my other rig component, a bit of rig putty, down the line about a foot. Four grains of corn were thrown into the swim which made the carp leave the area. Only briefly though. Just enough time to introduce my rig. I knew they would be back. Virtually at the same time as the hookbait settling the carp were back, dorsal fins bristling as they mopped up the pellets, and picked off the ‘sweetcorn cherries’ in amongst them.

A perfect little common carp

With no idea what was in front of him, this beautiful little common carp vacuumed up my hookbait in around twenty seconds. The fight the fish gave was something else. Only three or four pounds but on light tackle it was a joy to catch. The fight had invariably disturbed the rest of the shoal and it was a case of introducing a few more morsels of bait before looking forward to seeing what was in swim three. The time I had been robbed of in the morning was now a dot in the back of my mind. Funny what a fish can do.

In swim three another lovely little carp came my way, a little smaller than the first. This was a feisty fish, not so much when in the water, but once on the mat it simply wouldn’t stay still. Better to think of the fishes wellbeing in a situation like this so it was returned without being photographed. The next swim produced another fish. A different species than the previous two. When the fish approached the bait it looked like another small carp. However, it was far more cautious. Once within an inch of the bait, it hung in the water motionless, observing the interesting yellow morsel. But would it take the bait? Nope. Several times it backed away from the bait only to return, and stare, before repeating all over again. On around the fourth or fifth time, I decided to move the bait slightly. Hoping to induce the fish into making a split decision. It worked a treat. Instinctively the fish grabbed the bait and I struck. A short, determined fight later, this deeply coloured brown goldfish was posing for the camera. A fish around two pound in weight. Lovely chestnut browns and deep bronzes, with hints of yellow and gold. An often maligned species, especially where crucians are concerned, and I can understand why. But in their own right they are a stunning looking fish.

A feast of bronze, browns and goldWith the rain getting heavier it was time to pack away. Three fish caught in 90 minutes on a method I absolutely adore. I was more than happy with the result. I don’t think I would have fished as actively with more time on my hands, especially given the conditions. Maybe the late delivery man did me a favour. No, not maybe. I know for a fact he did.

Such wonderful colours

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Until Next time tight lines


Freelining fun (Entry 89)

With the last swim fed I made my way slowly back to the first. I had fed it twenty minutes previous and hoped that when I returned there would be signs that some carp had been feeding or at least investigating the tasty morsels lying on the lake bed. It would take me a further five minutes to make my way back to the swim, and I would need to set up the rig too. It should’t take too long to tie a hook onto the mainline though. Oh, and wrap a little tungsten putty a foot back from this. Really you couldn’t get much more simple.

Carp feeding here.

With the rod set up and the net readied, I took the tub of bait from my car, along with unhooking mat that would double as my seat for the next few hours. As I neared the first swim I had fed I became aware of my heavy footing. Herd of elephants didn’t come close. Tentatively I took a peek into the depths but could no longer see the bottom. The gin clear water now cloudy with sediment sent up, I assumed, by hungry carp. This now posed a problem. I would’t be able to see my bait, and perhaps more importantly, couldn’t see if there was any fish still in the vicinity. I thought it best to feed more and move on to the second swim instead. Hopefully a little quieter on my part.

Cheap and cheerful bait

Thankfully in the next swim I saw three carp and what looked like a crucian feeding. They picked up a few grains of corn and then casually sank back down the shelf. Only to return a few minutes later for more food. Perfect. I waited for them to vacate the area, and carefully lowered a double corn hook bait into position, hid as best  could behind the one long grass stem in front of me, and waited for them to return. Tense minutes passed. Tense, fish-less minutes. Had I spooked them? I didn’t think so, they were feeding happily before they ghosted from view. I just need a little patience. There, just where the visible water met the dark, hung a dark shape. I could just about make it out. As it edged up the shelf I could make out its size for the first time. It looked to be a scraper double. A common too. Eyes on the fish, eyes on the bait. The fish certainly knew those kernels were there. It probably knew I was there too. Inch by inch the fish glided nearer when suddenly the hook bait vanished. But the common carp had not flared its gills! And then I remembered the crucian from earlier.

This one certainly tricked me!

Regardless, it was a lovely fish. Not a crucian in the end but some kind of goldfish-crucian-fantail hybrid. ‘Heinz 57’ but the first fish of the day and very welcome. With that swim now disturbed, it was time to re-feed and head to the next to repeat the process. A few minutes later I was nearing it, and even before I had made my way down the high bank, I could see a few dark shapes grazing over the pellets and corn. In fact when I was at the waters edge, they were feeding so confidently, I chanced flicking the rig in before they had moved off. This worked to my advantage as no sooner had the double corn hit the bottom, a plump carp decided to take it. The fish don’t grow that big in this venue but they fight like tigers. I quite honestly have never felt fish fight as hard for their size and they don’t give in. In the clear water, every powerful surge, every twist and turn can not only be felt, but seen too. And what an amazing sight it is. A tiny flick of the tail can propel the fish metres. Effortless in their environment.


The remainder of the session produced another few carp of similar size before fading light drew a close to play. It was more than enough for me though. Plenty of walking and watching. Learning how fish feed and how they spook on various sounds and movement. Also, how once feeding, this same caution abates. I reckon I could have done a jig in neon clothes at some point and the fish wouldn’t have noticed such was their intent of finding every last pellet amongst the gravel. Every fishing trip is a learning curve but some are more eye opening than others. This was certainly one of them.

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 tight lines


Keep calm and go waggler fishing (Entry 88)

As I set the rig to the correct depth, in this case just an inch over, a golden flank rolled a little behind where I had fed. You couldn’t ask for a more positive indication. Definitely fish in the area. But what were the fish I was attempting to catch? Well, quite honestly, I was happy with anything. Today was just a few hours fishing on the float with no great concern about what came along. I hoped maybe some brown goldfish, crucians and tench would featue. Maybe a small carp or two. There was the outside chance of a grass carp if I was really lucky. One thing was for sure, I was looking forward to wiling away some time and getting lost amongst the ripples.

Initial feed for todayI had fed the swim with a mixture of small pellets and some corn. The pungent fishy aroma of the pellets and visual nature of the corn would ensure the attentions of any nearby fish would be focussed. As I usually the swim was given ten minutes to settle and for any feeding fish to gain confidence. The small patches of bubbles appearing with increasing regularity told me that the fish were indeed getting their heads down. A single kernel was slid onto a size 16 hook and the remaining dregs cleared from my flask’s cup. With that, I gently flicked the small peacock waggler out, sank the line and waited. Hopefully not for too long.

Not a bad start to the sessionThe float bobbed and waved almost instantly but I knew this was the small rudd pecking at the float, shot and bait on the way down. I had to wait for a positive bite which developed just a few minutes later. The strike met with that classic thumping sensation typical of ‘crucian type’ species. One I will never tire of. Within seconds though, a handful of solid gold was in the net and a content grin etched across my face. Only a small fish but it need not matter when the fish are as pretty as these, and the fishing as intimate. Once returned, another kernel was hooked and the float sent out. Once more, instant attention from the tiny rudd as the rig fell through the water column. A few minutes passed before another fish was on. Again a chunky crucian ‘wannabe’ maybe a little bigger than the first, certainly plumper, if not longer.

They were getting biggerThe swim went through a little quiet spell after this. I sat wondering if a bigger fish had moved in and pushed the smaller ones out. As yet though there was no signs of that. No sooner had those thoughts popped into my head, than swathes of pin prick bubbles were sent to the surface. I seemed that a tench, or maybe two, were feeding in earnest. The float was surrounded by tiny reflections of itself and I knew it would only be a matter of time before the tench caught sight of the sweetcorn nearby. Until then, the float tip teased me before eventually dipping and then sinking from sight. The fish bolted for the nearest snag, a tree to my left, but heavy side strain saw to it that its roots were never reached.

Fighting fit spring tenchOn light lines these fish were really giving a good account of themselves. The light rod I was using, whilst not only cushioning any lunges when the fish were within netting range, also allowed me to feel every twist and turn of the fight. There’s one thing I don’t like to do and that is fish any heavier than needed. As long as I know I’m not putting the fish in any potential danger, why would I want to ‘mask’ the thing that is one of the best parts about going fishing. The tense moments of playing a fish can sit long int he memory.

After the commotion of the rogue tench, it took a while for the swim to settle. When the fish returned I caught a succession of brown goldfish, a solitary tiny crucian and three small common carp all around the pound mark. Three hours had passed by all to quickly and I decided that after with the next fish I would have to leave. In true fishing style, it turned out to be a lovely fish. Dark, bronze and brown colours. A deep bodied fish with a liking for pellets and corn. It gave the float rod a real work out as it circled defiantly in the margins before turning on it’s side and conceding defeat.

A cracking fish to finish on

Around two pounds of stunning conditioned brown goldfish. It capped of a wonderful session of close in waggler fishing. The conditions had not been too great. A strong wind causing problems with undertow but extra depth added to the rig soon sorted this out. There was a few sharp showers but even they couldn’t dampen my enjoyment. I’m glad spring is here. It means there’ll be plenty more sessions like this, all the way through summer too. I can’t wait for more!

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 tight lines