One thing after the other (Entry 170)

I’ll keep this one brief. Theres two reasons for this. The first being to keep you all from falling asleep as you read. It’s fair to say it wasn’t the most thrilling of weekends. Like test match cricket when the run rate is barely above one. An hour. The second reason is because although I did manage to catch a few fish, on a second shorter session, I had an unfortunate incident with my camera. To say the back end of this year has been unlucky for me, both on the bank and off it, would be an understatement.

First up, those pesky perch. The canal fished very hard again this week. The wind still gusted, making fishing with light lures really hard, especially for someone as inexperienced as me. I had one very timid take that I connected with all too briefly, the fish didn’t feel that big to be honest, but I would have liked to bank it. It would have saved the blank that eventually played itself out and would have at least been a picture of a fish; something thats becoming all too absent from these pages.

Still, I thought as I drove home down winding roads, I should be able to wangle a few chub from the river tomorrow. A few hours presenting a lobworm into likely looking spots should see a chevin or two unable to resist. On the day the river was fining down, a little up on its usually level, and carrying a tinge of colour. It certainly looked good for a bite. Off I went to the first swim and presented the bait perilously close to a tangle of trailing branches. Two minutes later, the tell tale tapping of a inquisitive chub saw my strike meet with muscle, and a two pounder was quickly landed. A great start!

A fish at last!I got a photo too. It looks good doesn’t it? A blog with a fish picture! And more chub followed. In fact over the next two hours I caught five, of better size than the first, and all from different swims. So where are the pictures, I hear you say? Well, my lens decided to stop ‘communicating’ with my camera body. It wouldn’t focus, and even more importantly, would not allow the camera to release the shutter. Just my luck.

But I had caught some fish, whether you choose to believe me or not, and I certainly appreciated the tonic. I can still catch fish. Just not perch. Time to trawl eBay for a replacement lens or I’ll have to start presenting these updates with artist impressions and rubbish sketches.

Until next time,



Perch in disguise (Entry 165)

A switch from the unnatural to the very natural this week, as I continued to try to find an elusive, big river perch. The river has been almost at a standstill for the past few weeks, the lack of rain really becoming apparent, affecting not jus the speed of the flow but the clarity. Still, one thing this river does have in its favour is a good depth, which makes spotting fish quite hard but certainly must be in the favour of the angler. If you can’t see the fish then there is a good chance that they can’t see you. Well, less so. The margins would be fished as usual along with a rod further out, in the centre channel, where  fourteen feet of water waited to be explored.


After just half an hour fishing it became apparent that merely presenting a bait would be a hard task today. Large plumes of Pennywort, disturbed from upstream by workers clearing huge swathes of the stuff, began repeatedly catching the line and pulling any rig well off course. But these things are sent to try us. So are tiny perch, eating worms more than four times their size, snaffling them like a hungry child at a party, not knowing when enough cake is enough cake. Still, it really had turned into a beautiful Autumn day.

Four hours later, the sun slid behind a rather dark and menacing could. I willed the rain to stay up there. Just float on by without drenching me. A peculiar thing then happened. The float went under! And it started to rain. I struck, into solid weight, pleasingly heavy weight. This felt like what I had come to catch. And it felt huge! I played the fish gently, having previously scaling down to a much lighter hooklength and smaller hook, and as a result for long, long seconds the fish had the upper hand. Making it’s way out from the margin, diving down furiously into the deep water beyond, but certainly starting to tire. The lunges were becoming less pronounced with greater intervals in between. At this point I’d still not seen the fish. A few tails swipes later, a golden flash, still feet below the surface, my heart now in overdrive, sank. A chub. A swine of chub, masquerading as a perch, it certainly had me fooled. At nearly four pound it truly was a wonderful chub but it would have made an even more wonderful perch.

A sneaky chub

After that little bit of excitement, the rain stopped, and the sun came back out. I was left to calm down, whilst I drank a few cups of tea, and continued to fish the margin line with renewed optimism. More tiny perch babies followed. Pennywort did it’s best to infuriate. Optimism wained. Until one more confident bob of the float saw my strike met with something a little bigger. Not anywhere near the mass of the earlier chub but certainly better than the young whipper snappers that had been taking my worm for the majority of the day. A pleasing perch. Under a pound but a very welcome addition. A good time to leave the water. I’d say it was a draw. Points shared.

A fine end to the day

Thanks for reading and until next time,


The tea that got away (Entry 132)

The dim head torch supplied just enough light to pack away. I must remember to change the batteries. A triple check was observed to make sure I had not forgotten anything. Although later it turned out I had indeed forgotten something. I began the walk back to the car. A time to reflect on the day. It had certainly been a memorable session. One that I might have played out in my head before starting fishing. It would probably go something like this.

A perfect backdropI made my way to the area of the river I fished last week. Thoughts of chunky chub still firmly rooted in my mind. I hoped I might encounter another fat bellied chevin before the end of the season. The water was fairly clear and the level lower than my last visit. I was sheltered from a moderate wind by the high bank in front of me and the temperatures were on the up. On the whole then pretty favourable conditions. Once more I would use pellets. They’ve served me well so far on this river and there is always the chance of picking up a bonus fish too. I didn’t mess about this week. Straight away I fed two bait droppers of mixed pellets. I now had plenty of time to set the rods up, tie the rigs, and have a ritualistic cup of good luck tea.

The morning gave way to afternoon and although I had not had any visits from the chub, time had not dragged. I cast every hour and fed small helpings of pellets via the catapult on a more regular basis. There was plenty of wildlife to warrant my otherwise fixed gaze be shifted. For a few moments at least. Geese, mallards and a pair of swans drifted by on the current. Plenty of gulls and a maligned cormorant flew overhead. A kingfisher darted past twice and I even saw my first swallow of the year. Of course, it’s presence doesn’t guarantee summer but it is certainly a step in the right direction. By late afternoon a few clouds rolled in and the sun began to bow ever closer to the horizon. I recast the rods again and poured another cup of tea, holding onto the notion that the next hour might present me with a reward for my efforts. Secretly though, I resigned myself to simply enjoying the last moments of a fulfilling day spent in beautiful location. Cue the right hand rod hooping over. And the spilling of my tea.

A heavy weight hung across the river. In the deep water, it felt particularly chub-like, prompting me to take my time. Steady pressure saw the fish ease to mid river. Then into slightly shallower water but this was not to the fishes liking. A screaming clutch ended any belief that this fish was a chub. With a little pressure on the spool, the run was thwarted but not before the fish was pretty much back where it had started. I went through the process again. Steady pressure and deliberate movements of the rod. Coaxing the as yet unseen fish into the margins. Another devastating run. Pace and power. Unstoppable. Gradually the runs became shorter and I began to gain the upper hand. Energy sapped, a bronze and brassy flank revealed itself as a good sized barbel turned on its side, allowing me to carefully draw it over the outstretched landing net.

An immaculate near double figure barbelA beautiful, sleek looking barbel. Perfectly conditioned and full of fight. It was not the intended chub but I was not complaining one bit. My first barbel from the river. Certainly a fish to remember. Time for some quick pictures. It was then a case of resting the fish and sharing a few moments before watching it swim strongly back into its magnificent home. The sun had now dipped below the horizon. I recast the rod and waited for darkness, and maybe for the first time ever, I didn’t want to catch anything else at all. I just wanted to take in the moment under the burning orange sky.

Safely resting on the unhooking matThanks 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,


Not all doom and gloom (Entry 131)

After last weeks less than auspicious goings on I decided to return once more to the riverbank. My third session on this particular river. The excitement that built on the evening preceding, it could easily have passed as my first. After chomping down some eggs and bacon, I was on my way to the river full of thoughts and hopes for the day. The forecast was a wet and windy one and the river was sure to be carrying extra water from the deluge that had rained down mid-week. I was confident but still felt a little daunted by the place. My lack of venue experience giving me nothing to draw from. Still, with every passing outing, I was indeed building up said experience. Good or bad. And so far it had been more than ok. I wondered if today the conditions would get the better of me.

It didn’t take long to get there. Or to start hurtling across the field. Eager for glimpse of the river and possible peg. I passed two anglers on my way who informed me that the river was ‘dead’ today. Both had been on since first light and had not had anything. One of the anglers painfully shared with me that the river had fished appallingly this winter and that it was way past its best anyway. I could neither support or deny his opinion and merely offered words of encouragement in return. I hoped that he was just disgruntled due the the lack of fishy interaction and chose to ignore his foreboding prophecy.

Interesting scales

I found a swim with an inviting deep drop off on my near bank. I was able to cast a lightish lead onto the crease and let the current drift my bait downstream into position. With all the thoughts of doom and gloom, I started cautiously. A singe pellet hookbait mounted on a short hair and wrapped in paste. I fed no freebies. An hour faded away. Much in the same way as the other two anglers, I too received no indications. But the conditions looked so good. I took a gamble. Two bait droppers of small pellets were fed on the crease with a few pinches of paste thrown in for good measure. Time for a coffee and to wait for the swim to settle. That was a lie. I had two coffees and by the time I had finished the second, I was sure I had just ruined the swim. Why the hell did I just pile in that amount of bait? Madness! Or Intuition? Oh well, spilt milk and all that. I may as well cast out and give it an hour. If nothing happened in that time then I would leave the swim and fish another until dusk, at which point I would return and fish into dark over the ‘mound’ of bait. By now the rig had settled pleasingly and I the rod tip began nodding. A comforting nod. Gentle and leisurely. Like the river breathing. In and out. Short, subtle motions interrupted by longer, heavier ones. A sigh perhaps? I’d still not had any signs after all.

This chub had been feeding well

Time drifted by. I couldn’t say how long. From nowhere, a delicate pluck on the rod tip. Possibly debris. But there, again. A delicate tap, tap, tap. Swiftly followed by an almighty lunge of the rod tip. Second nature sprang into action. The rod suddenly in my hand, thumping to the beat of a defiant fish’s tail. Its unnerving how you can be aware that a bite has occurred, yet for the life of you, cannot recall the moment the bite ends and the fight begins. In this case the fight was a short one. It had no hair raising moments. No panic. The fish simply came up over the ledge and into the landing net. Then it woke up. Thrashing around and trying desperately to dive down into the deep margin. Stopped only by a dastardly green mesh. It was too late for that, friend.

My biggest chub from the river so far

A superb chevin was my reward. A big framed fish. I thought is was an easy five pounder but in reality it was only just. What a difference an ounce can make. The chub had a most peculiar scale pattern. Caused by an old injury perhaps? The fine line between survival and, well, something much less fun. It goes to show how resilient fish are, and in a healthy environment, how well they can heal. After a few pictures, I walked the fish downstream to release it, where it soon disappeared into the blue/grey shadows.

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,


February’s expectations (Entry 129)

It’s a cruel month. February. I think out of the other eleven its the one I least look forward to. Cold, grey, and usually very hard to tempt a bite. Expectations are certainly lowered during this period. But I admit I enjoying a challenge. Tempting lethargic fish to feed with just the right amount of lose offerings. They make their way closer to my hookbait. A bait fished delicately enough to tempt them to take. Then if a bite occurs its time to hope that the lighter than usual lines, that have helped you get this far, will see the job through.

Time to return to the river I had my first session on last week. Once more after chub. Arriving at the venue around midday, for the first hour I explored upstream and downstream. Plenty of tempting and interesting swims. Conditions were polar opposite to last weeks stillness and mist. A glowing sun beamed down and the blue sky stretched on and on. The wind was much more noticeable this week. Gusting quite strongly at times and putting a real ripple on the water. Speaking of which, the water itself was still very clear, prompting me to start my session on small baits.

PVA bag and pelletsHaving not been able to get a supply of maggots I opted for some small three and four millimetre pellets. Because of the water clarity I didn’t fancy using a swimfeeder so the PVA was dug out of my fishing bag. In front of me, the river pushed heavily towards the far bank, the nearside much steadier as it dropped off into a deep pool. It was here I concentrated my efforts. I cast every 45 minutes or so as I didn’t want to overfeed, or spook, any fish present. On my second cast I had a knock on the rod tip. Quickly followed by a savage pull forward. The rod was grabbed and the hook set. What felt like a reasonable fish nodded in reply. I was most pleased to have had such an early result. The fish wasn’t on the bank yet though. On the other end of the line, the suspected chub had come close into my own bank and was making for the only obstruction in the swim. An old tree branch. For a second I could feel the line grating on it but luckily the fish swam free. A few seconds later I was admiring a brassy sided, clear water chevin.

A promising start to the sessionWith my confidence levels on the up, I recast the rig and sat back in expectation of some more action. The river continued flowing. The wind carried on gusting. But a bite never came. I’m at the bottom of a steep learning curve with regards this river, and I knew that my earlier ‘expectations’ were not really rooted in anything more than my excitement and ambition. I was simply happy to be sat in such a wonderful setting. Being well wrapped up against the elements, it was actually a fairly pleasant day. I spent an hour or so watching the birdlife and appreciating in the textures and colours of the swim. I spotted an old swimfeeder not far from where I was sat, half buried in the sand. I wondered if the feeder had been lost on a snag. Or if a large fish had dashed an anglers hopes of PB, as an unseen monster found sanctuary, and the line gave way. Fish and angler parting company. However the feeder had been lost the river had already started to claim it as its own. Another flood would see the feeder gone forever. Buried from view. A time capsule. A record of how someone had fished circa the year two thousand.

Half buried or half exposedThe fishing remained hard until the light began to fade. Half an hour before dusk the rod tip started to show signs of feeding fish. Little knocks and taps. It was only a matter of time before these taps became more positive and gave me something realistic to strike at. The culprit a small chub of about a pound. The next cast produced another chub of a similar size. There was then a little period of inactivity until the darkness well and truly took over. I then caught another three chub in succession. The only problem was that their size had decreased. All three fished cumulatively weighing no more than a pound. Good news for the rivers future but not for my hopes of a monster. It was time to head for home. Those bigger chub would have to wait for another day.

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


A time to acquaint (Entry 128)

There is an idea that we can only ever ‘live’ in the past. In the fractions of milliseconds it takes our brain to process the present, that moment we were in has already gone. It seems like the present but it’s a memory of it. I like that notion.

This week I made my first cast into a river I had wanted to fish ever since I was a small child. On the day the conditions were pretty horrendous. For fishing that is. It was cold. One of those colds that seem to cut straight through you. Later, as a gentle but northerly wind sprang up, the mercury plummeted even further. The rivers’ water was pure and clear. I could see for feet down into the deep margins. A heavy mist hung around all day. The tiny water droplets of which softened the edges of the drenched trees and completely masked more distant objects. It was just me and a section of river. Upstream and downstream, whatever I imagined them to be. Only to be proved or disproved by walking further. Leaving one perfect scene behind for another.


I was here to fish of course but by now catching had become secondary. Maybe even further away than that. Tertiary? I had minimal tackle with me and just one bait. Cheesepaste. A bait befitting of the setting and one so linked with the species I hoped to catch. Chub. I knew that my tactics would have to be adapted slightly on a river much larger than my usual small river haunts. The river a merciless stealer of lead that ‘wanders’ in the flow. Time to find a weight that would just hold bottom then. I began by presenting a generous lump of paste a third of the way across the river, just out of the main flow. With a generous bow let out the lead held no problem and I was confident I would not fall foul to its snags. But would the rig be a delicate enough presentation for wary chub? Would I get a bite at all? The prospect of not getting one didn’t disappoint. I was totally in awe of this beautiful river and the conditions I had first witnessed it in. Happy with the presentation, for now at least, I settled into my chair. Time to keep a steady supply of warm coffee coming and hide away behind layers of warm clothing.

Trying to keep warm

The afternoon flew by. As is often the case when you are lost in a moment. A long moment, I concede. I was really enjoying the ambience of the place. I felt at home as soon as I arrived. A few casts had been made to the same spot on the crease in the interim. I was sure it would hold a chub or two but no signs had materialised. In between I dreamt of the fish I hoped to catch on future visits. Brassy chub and powerful, autumn barbel. Dace and roach aplenty and maybe a winter pike or two. For now though these ideas were simply that. Ideas. First, I would have to build up a better knowledge of the rivers moods and idiosyncrasies. I would have to experience it in drought and in flood. In Winter and in Summer. It is something I am looking forward to embracing. Just before dusk one of these daydreams was rudely interrupted by a savage pull on the quiver tip. Followed by a much more pronounced movement in the same direction a second later. It felt like a shadow of me that made the strike. My first fish. Both of the day and from the river. A very plump and welcomed chub.

My first chub from the river

With the chub returned and the rod re-cast, the night quickly took over. All too quickly everything was plunged into darkness. Time to enjoy another hour or so soaking up the atmosphere, whilst secretly hoping for the rod tip to pull around once more. It never moved though and that was quite ok by me. My day had already been made. Not so much by the capture of the chub but the way the late afternoon sun illuminated its flank in an orange warmth. In stark contrast to the steely blue hue of the cold, clear water. It was the fly angler I had spotted wading in amongst the rapids and the mist on my arrival. It was planning how to catch the special fish I know will create future memories. It was the slight panic as I tried to find my way back to the car in the dark on this unfamiliar stretch.

Did I say unfamiliar? Well, maybe a little less so than it had been just a few hours ago.

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,


Snow melt and sausages (Entry 127)

It was cold. Seriously cold. The wind hurtled in from the north, cutting through anything unfortunate enough to break its path. Unfortunately for me that ‘anything’ was me, walking as fast as I could toward a swim. I hoped to find a sheltered one but I knew by the wind direction there would be very few swims fitting that description today. Still, the pace I was walking at did help generate a little heat. As did the prospect of a winter chub. Although the conditions were not great. Snow melt in the river, her waters a disconcerting brown colour, and with a bright, sunny day forecast, I knew I was up against it. But as had been said many times before, you won’t catch sat indoors. With this in mind onward I trotted. A typical small river winter swim I looked for swims with slack water, preferably with a little depth, but anywhere outside of the main flow. The swim above is a typical example. The main flow of the river to the left and the slack, hopefully inviting-to-chub water, to the right. I fed a few tiny helpings of cheese paste on the crease and slowly set up a very simple link ledger. I debated using a smaller hook than usual, but I went with the idea that if the fish were going to move to the bait, I should offer them something worth moving for. In terms of size and nutritional value. So a size 8 hook opted for, tied on and the rig was finished. Hookbait; a thumb sized chunk of cheese paste with added garlic. I got comfortable on the floor, using my unhooking mat as a seat, and delicately flicked the rig into position. Holding the rod, I wrapped the line around my finger to feel for any inquisitive chubs investigative plucks that may otherwise go unnoticed on the tip. I had forgot how a steady flow resonated through the line. The pulse of the river; like static on a TV screen. Ten uneventful minutes went by; time for a re-cast. This time a little further down the swim. But before I had chance to reel in, the rod tip knocked slightly. I felt a steady, but delicate, pressure build. A chub had taken the bait. I edged the rod forward a little, giving the fish a little more ‘slack’ before striking. And when I did the rod bent pleasingly. Ear to ear grin. Then back to concentration. I needed to land this fish as in these difficult conditions, it might be the only bite of the day. A very welcomed 4lb chub The fight was a fairly short one but I was certainly not complaining. Fish number one was in the net. I gave it a quick weigh. A few ounces over four pound and in tremendously good condition it has to be said. A little washed out from the coloured water. I returned my prize well away from the swim and fed a few more lumps of paste. No point fishing it now though so for an hour I explored another two likely looking swims. Without success. By now the sun was at it highest and the wind still mercilessly swept in. Probably the worst time of day for the chance of a bite. That is, of course, from any fish. For me however it was a different matter. A cup of tea and a cheese and pickle sandwich. It was noticeable how little wildlife there was today. Apart from a robin, who had followed me to each of the three swims so far, it was eerily quiet. No finches, wrens or kingfishers. No woodpeckers pecking in the woodland. I hadn’t noticed any buzzards either. Sausages! After eating I fished a few swims. They had a little more pace than the first three so bait for these would be some left over sausage I had re-fried in turmeric. I fished slithers of them rather than sections, flicking the rig on the crease of the flow, and preferred to touch ledger rather than use the rod tip. It was fascinating bouncing the baits around the swims. Feeling the swan shots clatter over clean gravel and ‘fizz’ through sandier areas. It was now mid afternoon and I was still stuck on one chub. Time to find a swim to fish until dusk. Thankfully the swim I found was a little more sheltered than the rest of the river. As I settled in, enjoying a cup of tea, I introduced free offerings of cheese paste. I was in no rush to make a cast. I noticed how the thwarted wind had affected the temperature. It felt balmy in comparison to earlier. With my tea finished it was time for a cast. A big lump of cheese paste soon wafting in the flow. I had an almost instant response. The rod tip lunged round, dropped back, then lunge forward once more. Finger tips made redundant in this case. I swept the rod over my shoulder and connected with a solid weight. A very erratic fight commenced. The fish first dived for cover, then ran across the flow to the far bank before giving up. I was somewhat suspicious at this. At the net it woke up, making a play for the myriad of twigs and stems under my own bank. Typical chub. Dirty fighters. The hook held though and fish number two was on the bank. A hard fighting chubChunky chub number two. This time two ounces under four pound but sharing the same superb condition as the first fish. I was one happy angler. For the last hour I sat and held the rod. I tried various areas of the swim as the watery sun set in front of me. The pale blue sky darkened and became a deep purple. A fitting backdrop for my final cast. For some time after I felt for a bite. I admired the trees and fence posts as they lost their colour and became silhouettes. The perfect end to a thoroughly enjoyable, but freezing cold, winters day.

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.

Click here to go to the NorthwestFisherman Facebook page

Until next time,