The remarkable spring weather has put a spring in my step and a desire to get out on the bank more often, if that’s possible, as warm sunshine at this time of year is an open invitation to catch carp. They simply like to cruise around in the warmer upper layers soaking up the sunshine and that makes them suckers for zig rigs and floaters. While most sit patiently behind batteries of rods and silent alarms you’ll find me out stalking with the minimal amount of kit. There’s simply nothing to beat it.
My sessions rarely last longer than two or 3 hours tops but it’s rare to blank. In the past week alone I’ve had numerous carp off the top, the best topping 30lb by all accounts. Typically I didn’t bother weighing any of them but the biggest was a recognisable two-tone specimen that went 34lb the last time it was caught according to the lake owner and I have to say it was a proper lump. You know the drill with me now. It’s not the number I attach to a fish that makes it memorable, it’s the fun I have in catching it that counts.
Tell me, is there anything finer than discovering a group of fish, carefully drifting a few mixers over their heads, watching as they show interest, seeing the first one disappear and then observing how the feeding behaviour develops and changes? First you see an odd bait sucked gently from the surface. Then another. And slowly the fish gain confidence, ultimately they begin to compete and before you know it they’re head and shouldering and slurping them in noisily, one after another.
It maybe takes half an hour before I even contemplate casting out a hook bait – patience is paramount – but when I do it’s often with the kind of confidence that suggests I’ll be hooking a fish within seconds. I love it, don’t you?
Baggin’ Up Time
I had a thoroughly enjoyable day this week with Marc, who’s parents run Tyram Fisheries. We sat in adjacent swims and despite a near frost the previous evening and a chilly east wind, we bagged up on roach and skimmers. Modesty prevents me from bragging too much who had the best weight but this is Marc’s pathetic effort!
Marc kicked off on the feeder and ended up tearing his hair out with constant phantom bites and sharp raps. By switching to pole fished caster just a couple of metres out to his left hand side Marc caught roach after roach.
I took the simple option from the off and fished a waggler, loose feeding maggot. It was a bite a chuck and I was soon catching big skimmers and quality roach every cast. Had I been using casters and worm I hate to imagine what I would have ended up with and I can see me having a session on tares when the water warms up as I’m sure there are some much bigger roach to be caught. I also had three roach grabbed by a rogue pike that wouldn’t quite hang on long enough for me to net it although I’m pretty sure it was the same one each time.
You may have noticed a little flurry of passionate comments between myself, Fred B and others at the foot of the last blog. I trust no-one reading them felt there was any animosity whatsoever between the parties involved. It was simply an opportunity for grown-ups to express their own particular feelings on contentious issues and I respect the individuals’ rights to make those comments. Equally it’s my right to respond and in the end we simply agree to differ, each having had a fair opportunity to voice our opinions in a forthright manner.
I wish it was the same on national radio. Listening to Nigel Botherway on Fisherman’s Blues the other morning I was on the verge of calling the show and telling the bloke to get a backbone! Nige and I have known each other for a long time and I genuinely like him. I also respect him as an angler but his fluffy bunny views drive me mad. A day earlier he was pleading with a bloke who trapped mink to release them unharmed. This is a species that has practically wiped out the entire UK population of water voles, kills birds, eats eggs, fish and does untold harm. What planet is he on?
“Like heaven, you mean.” Came the response. “They don’t belong here. They were illegally introduced. They shouldn’t be in the wild. They belong in America.”
“Yes, but they are cute and fluffy…” Opined dog-lover Nigel.
A day later we had a right knob head on the show telling us that otters don’t really eat fish and that their prefered diet is crayfish. Nigel coo-ed and bent over backwards to accommodate this completely barking idiot. If there was a shred of truth in the claim then that would be grounds enough never to introduce a single captive bred otter as the native white claw crayfish is critically endangered and not everywhere has infestations of the alien red claw quite yet.
To his credit Nigel suggested that otters do eat fish and they’ll kill a 30lb carp, drag it up the bank and only eat a small amount of flesh. The caller responded with, “Yes, but that is probably pike, or mink.” Now I was beginning to wonder if this was a delayed April Fool prank but Nigel continued to entertain his ridiculous comments so the guy then went on to attack match anglers.
“Yes, I’ve watched match anglers and they don’t use a disgorger to unhook fish. They rip the hooks out of fishes mouths, you know.”
No they bloody don’t. But cue Nigel telling the world they shouldn’t do this and advocating barbless hooks.
What idiocy do folk have to come out with before he recognises he’s being set-up? Even if the caller was genuine he was a complete idiot broadcasting unsubstantiated claims that Nigel failed to adequately answer or contest. Nigel, you let angling down by even entertaining him.
I’m also bemused at the way he was allowed to plug the new Nash bite alarms every few minutes throughout the show, the little tinker!
Oh well. Keith’s back next week.
I run a little fishing competition each year through my local sports paper. It’s restricted to club anglers and it just seems to grow and grow. I suppose pulling in £5,000 worth of sponsorship for the final from Climax Tackle helps but yesterday’s semi final still had pay-outs worth over £3,000.
The match was staged at Hayfield and despite enjoying bright sunshine the easterly wind was bitter. It was certainly strong enough to make a hash of most anglers’ chances and it was frustrating to know that the carp were up off the bottom and fair game for the pellet waggler but unfortunately the surface skim made good presentation almost impossible.
One angler who beat the wind was Neil Stones who clung onto 14.5 metres of pole in a cross wind to take 159lb 10oz of carp using less than one bag of pellets. Top angling in the circumstances and the key to his win was simply tapping the pole tip on the surface.
Such is the nature of these events when you’re covering it with a camera you end up with loads of brilliant and sometimes funny images that never see the light of day. Such a shame really.
Oh well. It’s now onto the final. Twenty anglers will go head-to-head for five grand, courtesy of the competition sponsor, Tony Flint at Climax Tackle, Dronfield. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Chris Turnbull’s Reflections
Chris Turnbull will publish a new book out this month called Reflections. It features lots of stories and anecdotes from his highly successful angling career and will be liberally illustrated by his excellent photographs and a selection of his finest paintings. I’m very proud to announce that Chris has kindly agreed to publish an extract from the book on this site.
Right now he’s in the middle of a tench fishing session but has promised to sort out something on his return. For more information about the book log onto the Harper web site.
Go On Then – The Football Bit’s Back
You may have noticed a lack of football on here lately. I guess there’s only so much time I can devote to a blog and it’s fair to say the vast majority of readers skip the footy anyway. Doesn’t mean my passion for the game has diminished, indeed it has probably grown as my dear old Donny team have endured a torrid second half to the season. Towards the end it became rather tense.
Going into the New Year we were sailing along nicely. Billy had already bagged 16 goals and we were actually challenging for a play-off spot. Then everything went tits up! We encountered the worst injury crisis imaginable leaving our tiny squad in tatters. Some weeks we couldn’t even fill the subs bench despite bolstering the squad with loanees and academy players.
As a result we went into free fall. The goal difference was ripped apart, too, mostly by four or five random games in which we conceded something like 20 goals. We also had a nasty habit of conceding late goals, letting in no less than 16 in the final 5 minutes of games. Had games lasted only 45 minutes we’d have still finished 14th. Unfortunately our goal difference after half time in matches tots up to a rather telling -25.
The crazy thing is we scored more goals away from home than QPR, Swansea and Nottm Forest yet won only 4 games. The problem was at the other end and only Scunthorpe conceded as many away goals. One the other hand we scored less goals at home than we did away and only three teams in the league scored less at home than us, Hull, Scunny and Preston.
As happens when you’re at the bottom, we encountered some rather strange refereeing decisions. Fortunately our nerve held and despite not winning a single game in the last 11 (with one still to play at the time of writing) we ground out a succession of draws and waved a sad goodbye to Preston, Scunthorpe and Sheffield United. Next year will be very tough and the reality of the finances is that there’s a high probability a small club like ours will get relegated sooner rather than later. Parachute payments to half the league (now they’re spread over 4 years) alone will affect us badly and we simply don’t have the revenue streams of morally bankrupt teams like Leeds (paid the St Johns Ambulance bill yet lads?).
For now we stand a division above both Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday, which is surreal. At any previous time in my life that would be unthinkable. How on earth has it been allowed to happen? But I have to congratulate United chief executive Trevor Birch for spouting the finest bit of spin I have ever heard on the day they went down. This must rank as a textbook example of how to turn a negative into a positive:
“Realistically we understand we are a distance from the top flight and it may take some time to get back there, but this is the beginning of that exciting journey.“
Well, that exciting journey is going to start in the Third Division and take in destinations like Rochdale, Exeter, Yeovil, Hartlepool, Chesterfield and could yet include Dagenham and Redbridge, Stevenage or Accrington Stanley depending on how the remaining games go. But the better part of 40,000 fans will still turn up to watch the two Steel City derbies.
Sheffield is the UK’s fifth biggest city. It’s only a few months since United and Wednesday were fighting over which club might stage World Cup games if the England bid was successful. A classic case of eye off the ball, methinks.
But how on earth can this have been allowed to happen? If you’ve nothing better to do, go on YouTube and type in the ‘Greasy Chip Butty Song’. Listen to the Blades anthem, sung to the tune of Annie’s Song, look at the ground, the support, the fancy hotel and then ask whether releasing Neil Warnock or sacking Blackwell was such a good idea now. Here are the lyrics should you wish to sing along.
All together now:
You fill up my senses, like a gallon of Magnet.
Like a packet of Woodbines, like a good bit of stuff.
Like a night out in Sheffield, like a greasy chip butty.
Like Sheffield United, come thrill me again.
You fill me again…
I do allow myself to dream that little old Donny might survive a decade or more in the Championship, perhaps one day even flirt with the play-offs and the mega-millions of parachute payments that make this league such an unfair playing field, but deep down I do hope that one day both Sheffield teams will return. Games against our ‘massive’ neighbors will be sadly missed, not to mention the points we’ve usually taken from them!
New Kid On The Block
The name Frank Warwick has been synonymous with carp for decades but maybe it’s time for Frank to step aside as there’s a new contender for the old Warwick crown. Frank’s son Guy has just finished a cracking session on the Specimen Lake at Anglers Paradise where he easily out-shone his old man in the process.
Guy landed four mirrors weighing 21lbs 9oz, 23lbs 2oz, 27lbs 1oz and 27lbs 2oz. Good angling son!
A Bit Of Miles’ Magic
Time to go now, but if you’ve not already seen this short clip from Hugh Miles it is well worth a look. It contains some exquisite footage of the River Wye and her inhabitants: