Wednesday 31 March 2021

Who pays the ferry man?

Pre-Easter temperatures soaring, a couple of days off and what to do? None of my local club waters or day ticket options open till 1st April so I hit the much travelled commute route to  a lake the other side of Fakenham, that should have warmed up a bit. Stopped for a coffee to get some change for the day ticket but card only.  Never mind, they must have change right? Stopped for a bit to drink my coffee. Pleasant spot where the Glaven is forded. Let's hope that blossom does not foretell a blackthorn winter cold snap, though snow at Easter is not that unusual event.

Down the flinty path and on to fairly firm sward though any further might even trouble a Discovery. Ticket person arrives as I unload the charabanc, a bit miffed I'd only got  a shiny 20 to hand, with no change. Anyhoo, I was allowed on my way with a return visit with change promised. I found my usual quieter spot tucked away in a corner and set about the pre-season prep I hadn't done whilst I soaked up the welcome sun. If  I'm after mud pigs it's usually the sleeper rod, with a ready made braid braid hook link and a small pva bag of  pellets  more of an anti-tangle device with a bonus of a small amount of goodies round the bait, which is usually a Source wafter. I had a few bags pre-tied up from the autumn, and just needed to load up the applicator for a fresh injection of interest.  ( I'm sure that's happened in many bivvies that have sprouted up since the 29th....just how have we anglers got away with being able to do outdoor sport during recent lockdown and now stay away from home overnight since  Monday?). Spot the tub aged variant.

I'm not one for sitting behind motionless rods so I would be also using a small method feeder to at least have a few casts and hopefully jangling alarms. As written above I usually plump for this swim, in truth as well as being tucked away it's usually (or because of?) productive with margin and open areas to go at. Once the  fish are active and homing in on bait and feeders I've found I can get them going well about 25 yards out with plenty of fizzing and bites with the sleeper rod over by the reeds under the alders, quite tight in but not exclusively. One bonus of the over wintered bags impregnated with spicy sausage was a quick recast  could just about be managed if needed. 

As it happened the method rod was just an interest  maintainer with five good takes from the sleeper. rod. Three slightly better mirrors got off near the net but on long enough for the thrill of the fight and the sight of them twisting and turning in the clear water. Two made it to the oversized net, another mirror and a common.

All in all a pleasant few hours and as a bonus a beer and an escape before the ticket money was extracted...

Sunday 21 March 2021

Duty calls

Must have done several of these over the years, can't remember doing any of them though. Anyhoo, we have six at home so double bubble.

Monday 15 March 2021

Off up Cyanide Straight.

Saturday and still big blustery bastard wind. Sat in the charabanc for  a while but it wasn't gong to ease so shouldered the gear and slid and slipped along the muddy path, up Roach Straight and through the gate. The Royal Confluence was calling but with a strict curfew I trudged to the head of Cyanide Straight, my decision taken due to the absence of  otter tracks in the muddy margins, usually it's thick with them but not today. 

Cyanide Straight? Well. It has been incredibly kind in the past, with a memorable last day, many moons back  that featured this donkey of  23lb, several doubles 


One of the doubles

and makeweight singles before a diversion to the pub, three pints, peanuts and even more fish from further down. into dusk.  Other times it's produced barely a squeak, but more so since otter times hence it's name. But, as above no otter tracks today. Umm, plenty of old spraint though.

Undeterred I set about my business, and experimenting with popped up baits give the level of weed and cacky chod still about. These Fox lifters have been in the leads box for several years unused. This attempt failed as the lifter came adrift.

This version stayed put and the prototype will be refined I think. No baits came back with weed on even though the leads did, and generally just sat up from the tail or nose and wafted about, in this case with half blueys no need for an anchor shot.

Just What's Apping the Essex Loafer when the float was away.

No mistake on setting the hooks and after a mad, dashing scrap this littlish feller was on the mat. Impressed the dog walkers who happened round the bend just at the right time. Big enough for them.

It had it's revenge too, gill raker rash, something I haven't had that much of this last season.

Sat out this approaching and vicious hailstorm before the sun broke again to light my way back, drenched but happy to the charabanc.


Sunday 14 March 2021

Got them back end blues.

That single roach from the last outing had me hoping. The weather forecasts not so much. More bastard wind and more bastard rain.  Glimmers of hope each day from 4ish. By that the forecast meant a drop from 45 mph to 23 mph with an 18% chance of rain. DIY impinged, needed to get and fit replacement shower screen. Up onto the Cromer Ridge to perform the click and collect formalities then on to the  Georgian  market town ( no market) of Holt to get  a non clock and collectable tin of white matt Revell modelling paint. Quiver tips never get a full length matt white finish these days, some never at all.

As I was there, and I needed to pee and re-hydrate it made sense to stop for a now permitted take away coffee and cake on  a local bench. Lovely it was too. Cross Street Union. Worth a stop I'd say.

Brightening up, so stopped en route home  to use the conveniences (again, its my age and gender) and look at the pier from afar before tooting the friendly customer facing person of the House of Mammon on the way past, his head full of podcast and material for one word book reviews. 

Oh to be able to travel to places like this with ease of conscience outside the strictures of essential work and retail and bladder emptying. As long as we minimise. Not long now.

Set about the shower screen but thwarted by over tightened self tapping screws with easy to burr heads and low profile. Bugger. Off to the river to ponder and wait for the wind to drop.  A glorious spot to ponder I'm sure you will agree with the glorious sound of the mill race pounding away..

The contractually obliged yearly selfie  and the pounding mill race.

Up to Roach Straight, though a bit more sheltered I went for flake on the tip to give me a bit more DIY pondering time. 

Don't use bread as often as I should and never know whether to go larger gape fine wire or standard eyed hooks. And that nagging, and frankly ridiculous  "is it still on?" 

As it was the bread did say on, but the tip wasn't troubled with a bite till I put on a two halves of a broken dendro. Not troubling enough to give reason for  a strike and that was my lot. Home to ponder some more about the recalcitrant screws and paint my tips a paler shade of white. 

Then set about the  Newky Brown. And why not. It's not McEwan's Champion, or Abbot but it'll do (and it's got an extra 50ml).

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Thanks for letting minnow....

The fishing has continued to be a grueller. Until yesterday I'd fished 3 stretches of my very local river, and 5 areas, trotting without a bite, or a sign of a fish. People I spoke to suffering similar fates. Bad weather  incoming for the end of the week. What to do?

I had business a bit further afield yesterday so on the way back stopped on the Wensum. Much milder, no big coat required. Chose a location just in the city limits so free fishing. The non tidal Wensum is a gusty, ballsy river, much stronger than the Bure I'm used to. Settled on a bend with a smoother glide. Buzzard a bit incongruous on the edge of one of Norwich's biggest estates, a flash of iridescence from a kingfisher and two distanced herons stalking the flood plain. The constant hum from the chemical works. once home to May and Baker and a legacy of heavy metal contamination down the Wensum and the Yare which it eventually becomes at Trowse, home to heavy metal of a different sort, the marshalling and depot yards of Crown Point.

First run through to check the depth and a bite. I'd almost forgotten what to do but the slightest flutter down the line and I knew what it was before I squinted to see it. A minnow, indeed a very fat minnow. Another one for the small so far 2021 species list. Not one I'd be likely to add to from the bits of the Bure I fish anyway.

And where there is one....

I tried a few more spots, with similar results. I soaked up some sun, and had a celebratory ginger beer whilst pondering my next move. I drove round the City looking for a spot to pop out and see if it might be worth a tidal trot but baulked at the 80p  first 15 min  fee, the free spaces being taken for Covid  vax  and test kit collection  before more dosh for a longer stay (how much diesel did I burn doing that?). Back to the Bure for a wander before a late doors trot.

White water training mean the gates at the downstream non tidal limit had been fling open wide, this lot (more out of shot) piled out of a long wheelbase mini bus before donning their water survival kit, mask free and minimal distancing. I know outdoor viral transmission is unlikely but... 

Faced with a torrent I headed up to the furthest stretches my ticket would allow, a fellow roacher had had only a brownie to show for his efforts. Not another flicker on his tip from what was a very productive area before Christmas. Looked over Noddy train bridge where the dace had been showing and not one fish on the gravels or in the lee of the bushes but I did see that the flow down the side leat had dropped so perhaps they'd headed up there to spawn. Chastened I headed up to Roach Reach, taking the big coat just in case.  Double reds and a bite, then another hooked. Just love that feeling as the rod takes on a better bend and the roach pulses and kites below the gunmetal surface. A netter and that's always a lovely feeling too.  An almost scale perfect roach, silver flanks, blue back, red fins and that lovely back end plumpness. I could tempt no more but one did roll in front of me. I haven't tried flake on the lead yet this season but if the rain and sluice gods allow......

As I walked back down past the thunder of water told me the sluice gods had decreed that the forecast day of rain meant full on gates open. Thursday and Friday will be very windy but dryish. Depends on how much rain we get today.

Friday 5 March 2021

Slimmer pickings

Whilst it didn't rain and was a lot brighter today it was as cold, if not colder today and my mood was worsened by sinus/wisdom tooth bother. I stayed longer though. Was in the dace slack and though they were there it was hard work as the down streamer was making a loop of line from pin to butt ring and many of the bites were almost straight after swinging  the 5AA  Avon out whilst I was sorting the loop out.  I've got a pin with a removable line guard on order for just these conditions. 

Mostly dace with just two small roach for variation. A small shopping bag's worth, not a bin liner full. I'd hoped for a nice bag shot, even if it was a smallish bag. However, the landing net got swept in as I got the camera ready and on retrieval only two occupants remained, not even enough for a long life net veg bag shot.

Thursday 4 March 2021

Back down with a bump

Out on the flood plain after pike this afternoon. It was cold, wet and I packed in early. Doesn't help the confidence when every gap is an otter slide. Not a touch, not even from a crayfish.

Gear is drying out, not sure about tomorrow. Might try and build up a good bag of dace, or possibly head to a local commercial though the cold might have put them down even there. Could be worse, I could be at work....

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Making the most of it

Bugger off fishing I was told. So I did. Cold enough for the thermals but dry, and minimal wind, though when it did occasionally sneak up it was very mean spirited. Only a brief session and for the first time for a while up at the top of the syndicate stretch. Hard work searching the pool with double red maggot for any interest, and just the one bite, from this very spirited brownie, probably not quite a pound and three quarters as not very plump for it's length. Been recently got at too in the tail. Looked more like otter claws than pike teeth. A lucky survivor either way.

Loaded the charabanc up again  for the short trip down to the pike pool from yesterday to fish the  glide below. Found the dace a long way down the trot so ended up picking one or two off at a time rather than building up steady bites. Best of the bunch this lovely spawny hen. Float just about visible in the gloom at 5.45.

Monday, Monday.

First day of the last week of home schooling and the natives were restless. Very restless. But Dad, you promised we could go fishing. (I hadn't). But we posted the letters and you said we could go fishing (well, when Bozza says yes and it's warm and the lake is open). But you said we could go fishing. 

So we did. Cold, wet , muddy and fastish river. No 3m whips to hand today. Half a bluey, nailed down in any suitable slack. Which conveniently was about 20 yards from the charabanc. Now girls, we might only  catch a crayfish, not a pike. Just watch the float, the rod tip and that buzzer thing. Gosh, fishing is complicated when you think about it. So they watched  and listened intently.

For about 2 seconds. Which in this case was nearly long enough. Daddy, it's nodding. It's buzzing. It was. Crayfish-like for a bit then off into the flow. Wind down to set the hook then let them hold the rod for a bit before getting it in the net. How's that for your first pike. Their dream pike.

And they only went and got another one and netted it as well like pros. Easy isn't it this pike fishing lark. Think I'd better check the butt section for damage.....

Monday 1 March 2021

A bit more Saturday then some Sunday

Very bright afternoon so thoughts of roach cast aside and out with the pike rods headed up to the church reach and probably the last hour in Bungalow Bill territory. Bozza's lock down 3 or is it 4.0 has seen a massive increase in walking and the flood bank saw an almost constant stream of passers by.  A halved bluey static up and down the near margin then across was my tactic for the afternoon.

It wasn't till I hit Bungalow Bill territory, just above a s-bend that the float and rod tip signalled any sign of interest, along with  a few chirps from the buzzer. A bit too much movement for a cray so I wound down  into a brief contact then nothing. Definite pike teeth marks on the bluey. And that was that. I'd noticed quite a bit of weed on the baits so I'll think about popping them up next time. Certainly won't hurt cray avoiding wise.

Arrive with rods made up or tackle up meticulously on the bank? I do travel made up and banded which saves a lot of palaver when I get to the swim, even more so as I often fish shortish sessions. I wonder if my tackle takes a bit of  a beating because if it.

Despite the bright Sunday sun I calculated a quick check on members (or otherwise) permits and to check the river level/flow would give the sun a chance to drop behind the trees on roach reach. Unfortunately one (non) member got a bit terse on challenge, and though he did leave I didn't feel it  safe to leave my car there so headed off to the dace slack. Which wasn't a bad plan as the dace and  roach were ravenous, a simple swing out. Nice battlers in the current as I bought them in from the slack too.

Spawny hen dace.

And leaner sandpaper rough males.

I was getting chilly under the bridge, and the local yooth were intent on sharing covid laden bodily fluids on the nearby bench so a quick snap of some of the fish that didn't miss the secondary net and off I went, bidding the local colour good evening, as the dew began to fall.


Friday Night, Saturday Morning

No kitchen sink drama, or Prick Up You Ears here Buh. Though I did like A Kind of Loving on the telebox with Joanne Whalley before she got Kilmered. So, here's my stab at Friday Night, Saturday Morning. Work done, and conveniently ending on the coast road, a flint pebble throw from the Staithe at the eponymous Burnham Overy Staithe, I'd been through Chelsea near the Sea on the way, and still floods on the Green. The reason for my brief  Staithe-side  stop? An unfolding anti-cyclonic sunset, that's what. Tide making, oyster catchers peeping and Discovery Evoque's purring. Bet many holiday home owners were watching it too, hunkered down away from the prying eyes of the Curtain Twitcher Stasi Snitchers. Until their braying draws the attention of  the local plod, and getting sent back home with several 200 quid fines per Discovery and a stern talking to, at a suitable distance and through the standard blue mask. Rozzers do love a nice Bimmer to drive don't they?

I watched it unfurling in my rear view mirror as far as Blakeney where a pull-in was required to check late emails, keeping it all legal.

Scratchings and beer. Definitely a sign the weekend has begun.

Saturday morning and strictly local. Now, this is nowhere near a full English  but it was a most satisfactory start to this Saturday.

To the park with the Little Un's, and an unmistakable sign of spring springing, the ramsons are breaking through. Just a subtle garlic nose at present.