Saturday, 3 August 2013

A long overdue post

My blogging has been a little on the quiet side for the past few months. Personal problems and a new job has distracted me from both blogging and the very thing I blog about. However some key things have changed in my fishing life that I will be writing about in more detail over the coming weeks:

1. I have joined an Angling club (everyone is really nice)
2. I smashed my personal Perch record
3. I took up Pike fishing
4. I am incapable of catching a Pike over 5lbs
5. I have given up on angling weeklies (FISH CAUGHT BY MAN ON ROD!)

Monday, 11 April 2011

The greatest fishing programme of all time?

With the season ended I find myself exiled to the local commercial pools and wondering what the next year on the rivers will bring. This strange half life has pushed me towards Discovery Shed and the regular stream of fishing programmes that inhabit the channel. The fact that the channel exists is a reason of great joy, the fact many people are excluded from watching, due to Sky's subscription fees makes me feel a little sad.

When I grew up Passion for Angling (my favourite) and Go Fishing was on the box, kids in low income households such as mine, could watch bearded men such as Wilson and Yates catch fish and be inspired to go down to their local pond. But those days seems gone, the BBC and Channel 4 do not seem to be interested in wildlife unless it involves something cute and furry (hello Meercats, Otters and Beavers) or a trip around the world with crazy CGI.

The one last hope seems to be Quest TV (and Sky), hidden on free view, with the ever present Matt Hayes (great angler and presenter, but lacks a beard) backed up by his partner in crime Mick Brown (thankfully keeping beards alive in 21st century angling TV).

The show has a high level of awareness amongst kids on the local ponds and helps open their eyes to a world of angling that does not revolve around carp. The production values may not be as great as Passion for Angling or Catching the Impossible (thanks to Hugh Miles excellent work) but the show inspires kids to fish. Is it the greatest fishing programme of all time? Probably not, but I can not think of a show that is seen by more people and therefore has a greater impact.

Maybe the BBC should give Matt & Mick a bit of money, a good production team and the license to make their ideal fishing programme. What do you think?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Annual Duckies Roach Classic 2011

Like many young anglers the place I caught my first fish (a tiny roach) and learned my limited water craft was my local council run pond. Located in Southampton the pond is a lily covered oasis, perched on the edge of the local council estate. Local fauna includes a healthy population of roach, rudd, pike and the odd wiley carp. This beautiful piscean ecosystem is supplemented by local alcoholics, teenage drug users and a raft of floating beer cans.

Any enjoyment you receive by landing a perfect little rudd can be destroyed by a drunken yob chucking bricks at the resident ducks. Despite these saddening diversions, we have decided to regress to our childhoods on the final weekend of each season and break our match duck at the same time - welcome to the 1st annual duckies roach classic.


Bait:          Maggot only, no groundbait
Method:     Float only, any other method fairly impossible due to silt/snags

Score sheet:

Roach:       1 point    Rudd:        2 points
Bream:      3 points   Tench:       5 points
Pike:         5 points   Carp:        10 points
Old boot:     -10 points

The match started with a late no show as Phil had to attend to cricket related duties despite the season being a few weeks away. Unperturbed by the reduction in our numbers Dave and I managed to secure the best swim on the pond and we gently cast our floats next to the raft of lily pads. In a matter of minutes our floats started to slide away and we were rewarded with a fine pair of roach.

This set the tone for the day with a steady stream of rudd and roach finding our grateful nets. Dave took an early lead and proceeded to hold it for the rest of the day. At any point over the course of the day I could have changed tactics, but this seemed somehow pointless, so I contented myself by casting my float into various trees that bordered our swim.

Phil popped by on his bike and sat by the waters edge, watching Dave swing in succession of stunted silvery roach. Phil's arrivial had the bonus of increasing the number of spectators by 1, to a quite staggering grand total of...1.

With this vocal support Dave consolidated his lead and I immediately meekly surrendered, with the final score in the first annual duckies classic 20 - 28.

The local pond had given us a brilliant days fishing despite the lack of care afforded to it by other anglers and the public. Local venues like Shirley pond are the life blood of the angling community and it is on waters like this where the next generation of fishermen (and women) learn their trade. I am proud that my license fee goes into the care of this water but I wonder if more could be done by the authorities.

The beer cans could be easily collected and perhaps signs could be put up to remind people that stealing rudd for their tea (as Dave sadly witnessed) is illegal. Not every angler can afford a season at the local carp syndicate so it is import that Shirley pond is looked after and incidents like this do not happen again.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Four Roach and a funeral

The weekend of the river season is always a bitter sweet event. A years worth of dreams and disappointments all boil down to a few hours of desperate endeavour. As we journeyed to the free stretch of the Itchen we had high hopes of achieving some of our missing targets. To date my main achievements had been to catch my first pike and Perch, both of which were far off specimen size.

On arriving at the river we noticed it was pleasingly empty of fellow anglers and we managed to secure the prime swims were tree debris had created inviting slacks, where the local roach hid from expectant anglers passing floats. After a short while building the swim, and landing some mighty gudgeon, our red maggot bait became attractive to nearby roach and chub. After landing several beautiful fish we moved on to the nearby bridge searching for rivers dace that had begun to show over the last couple of weeks.

After a few casts I noticed a couple of people appear behind me and watch. Nothing unusual there I thought to myself (anglers often have an audience). Then a few more people appeared, and then a few more, until there were around 50 people surrounding me as I trotted my float under the bridge. Starting to feel a little uneasy my gaze was suddenly diverted to a elderly Sikh gentleman who was walking towards me with what looked to all intents and purposes a casket in his arms. My shocked expression was broken by a polite man informing me that they were, 'going to put my mum's ashes into the sea'. Not wanting to intrude on this important family moment, or correct him on the difference between a river and the sea, David and I gave our humblest apologies for the intrusion and walked further down the river.

A little later as our floats skipped down the rivers flow, they were joined by a steady succession of flowers from the funeral further upstream. This beautiful and reflective moment was made a little more bizare by the three foot long wooden casket and large plastic bowl that floated by a few moments later.

The bizarre nature of the day continued when we started to fish near the Swan pub further upstream. Normally a haunt of specimen hunters the swim was now occupied by a large shoal of small goldfish. Despite our best attempt to hook (and net them) they remained uncaught. However the local kingfisher was having more success and a small fish was soon in his beak. The day was topped off by a mysterious balloon that hugged the surface of the water and swam steadily upstream (and against the wind). Yet again we tried netting the balloon but missed. I can only think that a hidden pike angler had used the balloon as a float before the bait fish/pike escaped (with the balloon still attached).

So the season ended, not with a flurry of fish but with a reminder of the strange occurrences that a river angler may experience in the urban environment.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

When winter become spring

After last weeks giant pike shennagins we decided to return to the local farmers ponds to see if we could prise the predator from his hiding place. But where as last weeks journey had seen a dark and windy February day, today we were greeted by warm sunshine. The bright sunshine seemed to affect the big perch who were consipicous by their absence but in turn the local carp seemed to wake from their winter slumber.

The morning was very quiet with no real bites on the float and our live baits remained untouched as the local pike slumbered. As the hours passed it became clear that a blank was on the cards so we packed up and moved over to the other pond. This pond is more heavily stocked with a good head of Bream in the 1-3lb range and resident Tench, Carp, Rudd and Perch. The lack of Pike mean that the fish are more numerous but maybe do not quite grow to the same proportions as on the first pond.

After packing up our Pike gear we float fished maggot, hoping to catch a few Bream and Roach. But as the sun heated the water and the odd bream found the net the water began to stir as larger fish entered the swim. Dave was first into a good fish, but just as it began to move up from the bottom it slipped the hook, leaving us with a fleeting glimpse of a very good tench. A few minutes later and my float slid slowly to the slowly to the left, almost crucian like in its' delicate nature. However my strike was met with a ploughing run as 3lb line stripped off my centrepin. At this point I realised I was seriously undergunned with my Roach rod not really the best tool to stop a rampaging carp. 

But the knowledge I have gained from watching fellow anglers play fish over the past 18 months made the difference. After a few hairy moments and some expert net work from Dave a small bullish carp of 7lb 8 was  soon returned to the water. This pattern of events repeated themselves over the course of the day with a steady succession of Bream and Carp (sadly no tench) finding the net,  Dave landed the days best fish, a carp at 9lb.

After the day started in started in such unpromising conditions, the spring sun ended up being the difference between a blank day and a good day.