Tuesday 22 September 2020

A bleak future.

 The title should have been Set a perch to catch a perch but it isn't. Read on to find out more..

Out on the Norfolk/Cambridgeshire borders today and whilst county hopping I used my lunch break for some down time. Lovely warm equinox day, but you've guessed it, that bastard wind again. With nothing much above 10 feet above sea level for miles and miles it can build up some venom and today it was a facer which meant I needed to put the whole 4 metre whip out to get some baits for my intended perchy quarry and being by a lock the usually negligible flow (unless the Middle Level Commissioners are pumping the Bejesus out of it, reeds going from vertical to horizontal in a nano-second so I'm told) was variable as  the day barges came up from the main drain.

Small perch procured and out it went under my new favourite Loafer on a 1/0 Aberdeen still caked in  my blood from Sunday. Lesson for today. Catch your bait, and some more first, especially if the wind is tricky. It's not like sedentary dead baiting. But I manage to scratch  a few out, more even tinier perch, a skimmer, some rudd  and  a new species for me, a couple of bleak. I've never caught one  in over 50 years of fishing.

Back to the perch doing it's thing. I bought it in closer whilst the first day barge went past and as the boils and vortices subsided the Loafer  disappeared down it's own vortex but without the hoped for audible plop. It was a perch alright, and  a humongous one. How big? No point speculating but the sight of it sinking away after it spat the mangled tiny perch back at me will stay with me for  a while. And spur me on. Time was ticking and one last swing out close again with the bleak and almost  instantaneously the Loafer (or is it a Chubber) simply disappeared  with no surface disturbance at all. One of those blink and it's gone moments. No stripes or vast spiky dorsals this time, just a handsome little pike that managed not to injure me.

I'll be back...



Making hay

Annoying winds over the weekend. But then, what's new? I hate wind. It's like coots. Hateful and useless. Unless it's a big warm wind hacking into the bank, sending back yards of disturbed silt and goodies for the fish to pile into. Saturday's wind, on the Homestead at least was corralled by the big willows and though not warm not too unfriendly. Waggler again, and double corn. Bream Slayer has a theory that when the fish are right on it it's almost impossible to plumb dead as they dive right into the silt leaving big holes. Having seen the sonar pics of a Broad bed looking like an egg box I can get where he's coming from. I'm a bit lax in my plumbing which is why I'm not Beam Slayer. Didn't do too bad though with seven bream but nothing over 4 ish. 

There's always a few roach before the bream move in, and this was the best of the bunch. Bream Slayer was on the Lawns after some of its biggers and betters but with poor for him results 

My roach burst was rudely disturbed this lovely tench that really did try its hardest not to get in the the stink net, but the rod and the 3.2lb Drennan Float Fish soaked it all up. 

I was worried for it's safety though as down by my feet lurked crocodilian  menace in Greasy Limpopo stylee. A couple of roach had met a grizzly end as I slid them back and one of the hapless bream (all 3 lb plus of it) later disappeared into its toothy maw in a tsunami of scattered scales. 

One of the six proper un's that survived the death run. I had a hatful of skimmers and hybrids too..

A perch slipped up and after a long dour struggle it was contemptuously spat out by the aggressor, seemingly unmarked. One lucky, lucky perch.

Sunday's wind was spiteful and mean and coupled with a surfeit of  kayakers and paddle boarders I was in a foul mood. And I'd left my hoodie at home which made it worse. Though it was an upstreamer it was making control of the line from the centre pin to the butt ring difficult and good presentation was hampered as a result, and this was made worse by a hook (#16) that was blunt from the packet. Once changed bites became fish even with enthusiastic water sport activity. Plenty of roach and some that probably had a  different mother. I haven't had any hybrids  or true rudd below the next Mill but there is a mix in this stretch and above.

And another fish of dual heritage, this time a roach x bream (or the other way round?) hybrid. This stretch once was famous for it's big, dark, almost black bream with coral fins especially around the Royal  Confluence (Taylor, Bill: Bream Fever and The Competent Angler and Bailey, John: In Visible Waters). I've only seen one bream between the two mills but have had a hybrid above and now below this mill which  is almost at the upper end of our ticket.

More than a few dace too, and some bristling and boldly coloured perch which got me thinking so out came the livebait rod.  A Clubber float and a 1/0 Aberdeen to a fine wire trace, just in case. A small, deep hooked perch (now there's a surprise) swung out along the still verdant  cabbages. It comes to the surface in a vain attempt to escape, a lunge and a  boil and  the Chubber zips under. Wind down and fish on, this is no cannibal perch but a long, mean green killing machine. With teeth.

Said teeth connected with my thumb. Which was nice. Took about an hour to stop bleeding sufficiently for me to be able to decamp to the bridge pool for a last  blood caked half hour.  A  frito misto of small roach, dace, gudgeon  and perch followed by a lone signal cray. Entertainment for the dog walkers and kayakers.

And the last trot  played out to the gallery who were rewarded with an airborne (in season still ) brownie  that might have pushed the digitals to two pound and a bit . Fantastic.


Tuesday 15 September 2020

Sargent Stripes

Work had done me in. I had an hour to put things right. Half of which would be in the car. But half would be on the bank. Which seemed OK with me.

Dead simple, roll a bunch of worms around the mill pool which only had two indolents  (four short of  a rule of six gathering) basking briefly on the weir sill and to their credit they made for dry land once I parked my sorry arse on the old tank trap concrete block.

Lots of plucks and taps, and the occasional pull round and  a string of bright bristling perch were swung to hand/netted and one rescued from the jaws of  a pike. 

This one had more than it's fair share of stripes.

Two chublets too which is a good omen for the future. Lockdown has seen the whole village swimming in the pool which is a spawning area, and I'm sure there will be a year gap but these will be good back up. Very hard to keep your hands clean when you're using worms.

Mind repaired.

Saturday 12 September 2020

Crack that whip

Of for a quick dip on the whip with the Little Uns early doors, not for long, just to get them a handful each.

A vegetable stir-fry from the Prodigal Son then off for a few hours myself.

Waggler fished corn bought the usual suspects, decent roach, skimmers and a few nearly bream then in with worm and corn cocktail and bingo first dip a better bream, fairly grey in appearance.

And this lovey little tench which made me smile.

I had a couple more bream but only took a picture of one which is unusual. Might try a river tomorrow, or a new to me pit to try out the roach potential

Monday 7 September 2020


I spent an age in indecision before looking out at the gloom and wind and chucking everything breamy in the charabanc. Homestead bound. No indecision on the leg wear, shorts all day. I can't stand the feeling of trousers after  a spring summer and autumn without them (except for work and lets face it, what the Zoom camera doesn't see..) and if I become a postie when I grow up then nearly all year round it seems.

Of course, as soon as I pulled into the car park it turned out (too) nice again with barely a zephyr of wind and bright, hot sun. No really soup conditions but in for a penny....cream of tomato which is my fishing go to.

The Bream Botherer in Chief was in the Royal Box so Long Bank it was and the method rods were soon out. And not in much as it was a bit slow. Kingfisher antics, and some over here son, on my head shenanigans kept the boredom at bay. Mostly anyway. The fish were there but being a bit picky.

Three bream eventually succumbed and all as different in character as bream can be. Ponderous equally though, on the heavier 1.5 lb tc  12 footers

Neat and tidy

Dark and  a bit ragged round the edges

Thick set and fresh looking.

I'd mentioned previously pikey action but this one stumped  me. Some twitches  and then a decent butt ringer A good fish in , and sort of jagging/tail bashing like a smaller tench. Then a lunge, swirl and the feeder came flying back at me. With an addition. An impaled tiny roach. Scuffed up too. What ever took it really did not feel like a jack. Answers on a post card please .


Sunday 6 September 2020

Winds of change

Winds of change? Possibly, there is definitely a nip in the air today and it might not even be shorts on. Yesterday was a heads up for seasonal change down on the river anyway. Not sure the hordes of kayakers and paddle boarders would have suggested that but the odd "bite" from  shed poplar leaves might. I'd left the pellets and stuff at home and sallied forth with maggots and worms to see what the fishy gods might tell me.The first time I ever used groundbait was here and it was Winfield white groundbait from Woolies and I was sitting  somewhere on that bank under the poplars marvelling at seeing small fish swimming over the stark white patch on the almost bottomless to me bottom through the clear water. I caught too, gudgeon obviously, and perfect little roach.

Anyway, nearly 50 years on and my first trot saw the float dither and bury and this gorgeous rudd was my glittering prize, much golder than  the picture suggests and a lovely fish.

Roach followed, the smaller ones even  deeper backed than this one and a sure sign of bountiful years to come. And a good autumn and winter once I've found a few more spots, away from the greyer haired than me acolytes led by the National Treasure down in Nirvana. (Unless their backs are turned).

I'd intended on trotting small lives for perch and pike but when I turned to ready the Avon rod for a first run down with an obliging perchlet I discovered it was still in the charabanc. Never mind, I did have some cat and mouse games with a jack that had taken up station just down stream of my landing net. A few dace had also moved in on the loose feed and this was the best, and I decided the last of this short session before any more got chomped..  

Essential tool for pin fishing, well ones that have a screw release for the drum, sometimes for tangles but in thus case a worn fitting on the footplate which needs regular tightening. 

Nice isn't it?

It's my last full day off today for a while and the brood have buggered off for the day, not sure if the next blog will be from the Homestead  for a full on bream blitz or more river meandering with live bait rod remembered. Soup may feature along with a ginger beer.  And probably trousers for the first time since we were released like pent up springs from fishy lockdown.

Saturday 5 September 2020

Gonna roll with it.

Stuck in a rut? Loving that comfort fit? Fill yer boots? Making hay while the sun shines? Or you never know what's round the corner? Winds of change and all that. So, inevitably it was off to Dangling Indirect to stock up on dwindling supplies then down to the Homestead with just two plans bouncing around my skull. Open all the bait buckets (yes, three) to discover the treasured method pellets were still at home, excepting a few in odd packets. Enough for a go later? Maybe but not enough to get excited about. So, plan B it would have to be. Create a tight feeding area with 
cupped- in balls of thick black magic, laced with succulent goodies. Or in my case some not so black magic (they had none in Dangling Indirect), rather a less sweet smelling lighter version, haphazardly strewn about the place and corn on the waggler with pellet and corn as a top up at characteristically irregular intervals. 

First to the party were the on the drop bandits, roach, skimmers and hybrids which filled a happy half hour or so.

Should have perhaps weighed this  one as it was very solid indeed. Need to find  away to target these without the rest of the lake joining in, back in the day if you applied yourself in a half decent manner with  maggot or more likely caster and hemp 20lb plus bags of dog roach were always on the cards. There are still old warriors left, much bigger in frame but thin and light to hold. These though are bright young fish. 

Activity over the spot and the on the drop bandits seemingly pushed put by a better stamp of fish, and a classic slight lift  as the fish below levelled up taking the weight of the two number 1's  deployed to get the bait down a bit quicker then sinking into the depths and  bream on. One of the red finned variants, weighed out of interest at 6.03.

Bubbles can be deceptive, huge sheets of  bubbles usual indicate a fish turning or bolting, and quite often it seems striking pike. Rather than a shoal of mud grubbers up to their pecs in it. Either way, seemingly classic bream bites can also be from pike. Three times I had to give line to a deep irresistible force, the first I did consider might have been a mud pig after the #14 B560 pinged back at me but it became clearer the next time a green and primrose spotty thing leapt out of the water, a serious fish which eventually severed the line at my feet after all the hard yards and the next, even bigger also. I'm sure the tiny fine wire micro-barb hooks will either work out or grow in, certainly less harm than a set of trebles being left in which always leaves you with a dreadful feeling in the pit of your stomach, even if it's thankfully its such a rare thing with proper pike tackle, regularly checked and replaced and good bite indication

Another red fin

Time for  a slight bait change, to the classic worm and corn cocktail (in fact all three pike took it) and one that can be even deadlier if you give it  a twitch, often with instant results. Need to get some more #12 B560's but seem to be hard to get.

Tench definitely love a worm and another male which deserved  a weigh at 4.11. They really don't know when to give up do they? My favourite fish I think.

This one had crossed ventrals which is something I don't recall seeing before and the reddest of red teddy bear eyes. Think it's gone  on a cleb diet too, just like Adele who seems to be growing into her new face at last.

My normal drift beating set up, two number 6's which usually copes with what can a significant tow down at the Homestead.

9 times in all the stink net was graced by bream, along with the tench and lesser skimmers, hybrids, those two better roach better and some swinger-inners,  that didn't need it. A very satisfying afternoon indeed. I can't get multiple grid pics on this interface so here are most if not all of them.

Classic matchman hold

And this one ate my last worm.