Just enough time for excuses (Entry 214)

Three hours fishing. In the morning, before most people would even be thinking of venturing out, I would have already been and be on my way back home. Stolen time. I started fishing in darkness, before the birds started their dawn chorus, using a pole float I had made for just such occasions. A small isotope makes a fantastic beacon for tentative bite indication but on this particular trip, the fish made me wait until the sun had rose, before making their appearance.

It seems like this is happening a lot at the moment. To me at least. Early starts are generally not rewarded until much later in the day, mid-morning being ‘early’, whilst sometimes the float doesn’t move until early afternoon. The weather is up and down, low pressure is in control, the winds are high and the rain is cool. This angler is looking for excuses and its almost too easy.

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I fished caster today, feeding little and often, hoping to excite and attract some late summer tench or crucians from an old estate lake. The first success came in the shape of a mint conditioned, and deep bodied, little common carp. Double caster proving just too much to try and ignore. He fought sedately and never threatened any snags. Quite a lazy little thing really. My second fish, just moments later, was a beautiful three pound tench, that in comparison to the carp, fought tremendously hard. This tinca found weed bed after weed bed before diving, eventually, into my net.

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Then the lake just switched off. The small fish stopped topping; the rafts of bubbles appearing in my swim dispersed and were not replaced. Even the birds, a moment ago in full swing, seemed to now muffle their morning song. It all began to feel a little eerie. The clear sky had filled up, lost to heavy clouds, laden with that thing that clouds are famous for carrying. And it poured down. Buckets of the stuff. Rain so heavy, that at one point, my little pole float could not keep its head above the waterline. For forty minutes there was little point in doing anything else than stop fishing and take it all in. The coolness that wrapped around me and raised goosebumps; the fine mist born from rain drops shattering into a thousand fragments as they hit lush undergrowth.

It was spectacular in its own way. Though whether it beat being cosy in bed is another thing. I am glad I experienced it nonetheless.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Counting on carp (Entry 139)

In between the tench blanks, it’s carp that have been my saving grace. In what little sun we have had its carp that have been encouraged to have a mooch around. In the upper layers, on the surface or in the shallower margins. From small ponds to deep pits you can count on them. And when you can see them it’s exciting fishing. When windows of opportunity are in short supply, wandering around with minimal tackle and trying to spot fish takes some beating. Its simple, yes, but that doesn’t make it easy. Especially when you are as heavy footed as I am. I sure could do with some anti-gravity boots…

One night in the week after work, I headed to a venue I have fished many times before. One of clear water, deep margins and obliging feeders. The fish present are not huge but I really have learnt a lot from fishing for them. Seeing how small groups of fish feed in crystal clear water is invaluable. Especially for the times when you can’t see them and wonder just what is going on in your swim. I arrived to find the place empty, which was not really a surprise, given the moodiness of the water early on in the year. Into three lovely looking areas, ones with plenty of cover and a fairly clean bottom, I fed a few palmfuls of pellets along with a few chunks of bread. I really like how visual the bread is, both to the fish and to myself. It’s buoyant too, taking only the tiniest of slurps, to make it fly at a rate of knots into a fishes mouth. Or so I hoped. I’d been here getting on for an hour and of the fish I had seen no sign. Not in the swims or even out in open water.

Attractive morsels

It had been a dull day, a little chilly on the whole, and I wondered if I was pushing my luck a little. Maybe the fish were just not in a feeding mood. I kept at it though, patrolling from swim to swim until eventually, I caught sight of what I was looking for. A few dark shapes cautiously approaching a baited area. Three common carp and a dark, metallic ghostie. They did a fly by, swimming straight over the bait and back down into the deeper water, vanishing from view with an unnerving ease. I set my unhooking mat down and made myself comfortable. A few minutes went by before the same group of fish came back to the area. This time the three common carp began to pick off the chunks of bread whilst the ghostie watched on from a way back. I’m sure they could smell the pellets but they seemed interested only in the bread. Once gone they dropped back into the depths. Time to re-feed the swim. I really do enjoy this part of the procedure. The way a nervous fish can be transformed by simply feeding, and with no apparent danger nearby, their confidence can be quickly won.

The next time the fish entered the swim, again the commons fed with gusto. The ghostie however continued to watch. They are super cautious fish it would seem. I wonder why this is the case? Still, with the shoals departure soon after, it was time to introduce the hookbait. You guessed it, a large, fluffy chunk of bread. It took an age to sink and settle. The fish took a little longer to come back this time too, but when they did, it was the ghostie that homed straight in on my hookbait. Incredible! Almost out of body, I watched myself watching it. With a waft of its pectoral fins, it came to a halt. The angler poised. It’s mouth extended out, creating a vacuum, and the hookbait had no choice but to do what physics dictated. The angler had no choice but to do what instinct dictated and strike. Into nothingness. A bemused angler and an equally bemused ghostie. With a casual air the fish abled out of the swim. A slack jawed angler look on in dismay. The chance had gone. For the common carp too. Time to re-compose and start again.

Perfect common carpJust fifteen minutes later, and now in a different swim, I was rewarded with a fish. A perfect little common carp sporting exceptionally lovely colours. A second chance served up and taken. Freelined bread over a few free offerings. In the clear water it is always a joy to see the fish swim strongly back to their home. Almost as much as it is to see them make their first mistake; a little too much curiosity for those fluffy white morsels laying temptingly on the marginal shelf. Next time, that ghostie will be mine.

Back homeThanks 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

The staff of life (Entry 135)

With last weeks lesson still bouncing around my mind, I headed once more toward stillwater, keen to employ similar simple tactics in the hope of seeing a bright orange beacon vanish. It was a foul day. A swirling and gusting wind. Gale force at times. The moderate showers that were forecast would no doubt be made to feel much more wintery by the airflow. Raindrops pelted at right angles against the umbrella. Would the umbrella even make it until the end of the session? Bait choice was an easy one today; a trip to the local shop for a freshly baked loaf. Something to put on the hook and something to nibble on in between.

First things first; secure the umbrella down. I picked a swim on the back of the wind, which is not only where I expected the fish to be, but also gave my umbrella that bit more of a chance of survival. Next up was a cup of tea. I fed a few pellets I had left over from a previous session whilst I drank. A quick plumb up revealed the depth and the first cast was quickly made. To my surprise the float stayed in place pretty well, a fluke on my own part when placing the shot. It’s always appreciated when things just work. The wind really began to howl. Cutting through the towering trees bare branches. Hitting the far bank and deflecting downwards, creating all kind of interesting swirls and waves on the surface. I looked back at the float tip just in time to see it stutter a little, glide left and reluctantly dip below the ripples.

The business end of a hungry common

The rod hooped round as it met with the culprit. A carp fought in a typical fashion as it made a bid for freedom. In the shallow water the lean carp explored every bankside obstruction and root before finally succumbing. A really exciting tour of the water. It was a lean common. The fluffy bread proving too tempting to pass by. Just twenty minutes had passed and a fish was on the bank. Another heavy rain shower began to fall.

First fish of the sessionI was really enjoying fishing with the bread. I only left the rig on the water for a few minutes, striking the bread off before reeling in. A way of feeding the swim a little and keeping active. A heavy grey sky made it feel like it would be better to tuck myself at the back of the umbrella and hide away. But that certainly wouldn’t do. I stuck to casting regularly and hoped another carp would oblige. It was interesting, and sightly eerie, to note the absence of any birds in the strong wind. One of those details that goes unnoticed for a time but then once you become aware of, you can’t ignore. Very quiet indeed.

Vibrant winter coloursI did get another take. It took some time but was certainly worth the wait. A mirror carp this time, carrying some beautiful warm orange and red hues. In immaculate condition and fighting every inch of the way in. It was a particularly deep bodied fish. A miniature thirty pounder if ever I have seen one. I admired the perfect row of scales that lined its back and the similar cluster of scales dotted about its flank.

The second and last fish of the dayWith the fish returned I continued to fish on. A gust of wind hit the umbrella. I expected its force to lessen. Instead it grew in intensity. I held on for grim life, expecting to be blown to somewhere in the next county, instead the material parted from the rib. Rain rattled in. The wind followed suit. My enthusiasm began to drop the wetter I became, and without any waterproofs, I cut the session short. It had been surprisingly pleasurable considering the terrible conditions. I suppose it is only right to be exposed to familiar landscapes in less than welcoming conditions. They certainly change in them. Somewhere that can appear a welcoming place can quickly turn into a bleak one. And then turn back again. In the blink of an eye or in the shadow of a cloud.

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

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.

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

NorthwestFisherman

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

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

NorthwestFisherman

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.

Solid!

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

NorthwestFisherman

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

NorthwestFisherman