2011 – Early October Blog

Well, the weather has finally broken. Thank the Lord for that. It’s nice to get a sun tan in October but I’m not sure it does the fishing any good. Too early for pike, barbel all lethargic and reluctant to come out in daylight, in fact most species did a bit of a nocturnal thing. I’ve just about had enough of summer, Indian ones or otherwise, so let’s get back to autumn and the coming winter. Time for a few frosts methinks and a bit of chubbing.

I did spend a few hours down my little river the other day. The barbel were either tucked well away beneath the bushes or hidden in the streamer weed. They certainly weren’t to be found in most of their usual haunts. I did tempt a few out and had them feeding with confidence but do you know what? I really couldn’t be ars** to hassle them. I watched for a while and then left the rod in the car. It was just too hot for my liking and I left them to it. I might have one more go after the weed’s been swept away by a good old fashioned flood but I may just leave it until next summer.

I need to gather some lobs the next time we have a bit of rain. The perch are calling and will be demanding my attention shortly. I really ought to be going for them right now as James Gould has already nailed two ‘fours’ while Stu’s had to make do with a few ‘threes’ up to 3-8 or 3-9. But they’ll be bigger in a couple of months and the smaller stripey will be less active.

Picture Perfect

An email arrived from ‘Mole’ bearing attachments. Here, he said, I’ve done a few new paintings, would you like to share them on your web site? Too right I would. I would have liked to hold a few back and drip feed them to you, but if I do that I’m sure they’ll appear elsewhere as I do believe he’s also shared them with Jeff the Hat, so that means I have to go for broke. What a beautiful dilemma to have though.

Thanks Mole!

Tell you what, I’ll let you see two now and save the rest for next time. Here’s a barbel…

And here’s a chub…

Absolute genius.

Chance In A Million

Robin Morley, the former Dorking ace who now heads up Daiwa in the UK showed me a picture the other day and it’s one of those that leave you scratching your head. He’d been out in Florida and caught a lemon shark, at least I should say they landed a lemon shark because what they actually hooked was a hook!

Anyone who’s familiar with circle hooks will appreciate that the actual point faces the hook shank and the hooking process involves the hook pivoting on itself rather than the angler striking. Turns out this shark had been hooked before as is evidenced by the old circle hook still firmly lodged in the corner of its mouth. Somehow, as it has attacked, the circle hook has come free from the bait and caught in the eye of the other circle hook. The chances of that happening must be incredible but nevertheless everything held until the shark was brought to the boat.

Of course it was unhooked and released unharmed.

The Fens Are Calling

I’ll be spending a few days with Mark Barratt down in the Fens shortly mainly with zander in mind. Really looking forward to the trip but first I needed to nip down to a nearby river and catch a few baits. Not masses of them, just a few. I’m not one for pillaging a river and filling up the freezer. I just take a few now and then as I need them. But it is a dilemma.

Logic tells me I’m doing less harm than every single cormorant does each and every day, never mind 365 days a year. I deliberately target areas that only see an angler once in a blue moon so I’m not exactly impacting dramatically on anyone else’s sport and I’m careful to rotate the places I visit. I’m selective, too, on the sizes and species I take. I want small fish for zeds, ideally roach, and there are millions in this river.

Logic tells me that I have no impact on stocks whatsoever so I have no issues with that. But then again the other side of my brain argues, how come it’s abhorrent to kill a pike or a zander but perfectly okay to kill a roach to use as bait for them? Oh well, I’ll cope. What I won’t do under any circumstances is transfer those fish and use them as livebaits. I suppose that’s where I draw my own line in the sand.

Ideally I’ll drive the 150 miles into the middle of nowhere and catch my baits when I get there but it’s such a huge gamble to do that. When I used to fish the Lower Great Ouse I did catch my baits from the river but I have been caught out by sudden frosts in the past when catching baits proved nigh-on impossible. Great if you’re a local and know exactly where to go but for a distant stranger it’s tough. Best to take a few just in case.

Anyway, there I was, the only angler for miles, setting up a stick float. I had taken just one rod, a pint of left-over casters and a few bits and pieces in a bait tub. I didn’t even take my camera (thank goodness for mobile phones!). This was paired down fishing in the extreme. What I’d not anticipated was the strength of the wind and the lack of pegs. It was nigh-on impossible to get near the river in most places so I kept walking until I had the wind off my back and a bit of flat bank.

It was a struggle getting the 7 No4 stick to even move. The river was 12 foot deep and barely moving. The wind was strong enough to not only stop the float but send it backwards, sideways, indeed any way it felt like, and it was getting stronger by the hour. Bite detection and bait presentation would be challenging to say the least.

My first fish was a chub. Hmmm, too big. The next was a skimmer. Come on, I pleaded, looking to the heavens. Then a nice perch. This was silly. Where were the roach? At last, I caught one. Then I had a 2lb skimmer. This was followed by another very nice skimmer. And so the afternoon progressed. I absolutely struggled to catch baits but having no plan B in terms of a big waggler or bomb rod I could do nothing but enjoy the somewhat frustrating fishing. I’m sure that if I’d taken the right gear I could have caught twenty or 30lb of quality fish.

Oh dear, mustn’t complain. Just before I packed up I did get a big shock. The float burried, I struck and something solid kicked back. I imagined it was a skimmer until it started pulling and making its way upstream. Chub, I thought. Nice. But as it came up through the depths I saw a big flash of silver. This was no chub. Surely it couldn’t be a whacking great roach? It swirled on the surface and I knew immediately that it was no bream and it wasn’t a chub. What I saw was a big silver flank and bright red fins. My heart skipped a beat as this was clearly the biggest roach I’ve ever even heard of from the river, never mind caught. It was a huge roach!

Or was it? Somehow it fought differently. An alarm bell was ringing in my head long before I scooped it out with the landing net and sure enough my suspicions were confirmed. This was no roach, nor even a hybrid. It was a whacking great ide! What on earth was this thing doing in my river?

I suppose that summed up my day. But as I write I’m already thinking, if I shoot into town and get some bait I can be back on the river with a small feeder and a bit of groundbait. Maybe I can treat myself to a net full of skimmers. Or will the curse strike. Will Lady Luck tell me my chance was yesterday, not today? Only one way to find out…

So I returned and fished exactly the same peg. Once again I travelled light and carried only one rod, this time a Spectron 10/11 feeder rod. I love this rod – slim, light, delicate. Perfect in fact. With half a pint of fresh casters, some maggots, a few red worms and some Beg ‘Em krill groundbait I fancied emptying the place.

Once again the wind was howling but being mostly over my head it had little impact on how I set up. With so little flow I was always going to have the rod low and it would be sheltered from the wind by the highish bank.

This time I had the camera with me and I was feeling pretty confident. Bites came quickly and my second fish was a skimmer. Then I had a gudgeon. And another. Then a roach. Then a dace. In fact I was getting a bite every single cast but skimmers were rarely the culprits. How come the peg was full of them yesterday and I couldn’t catch bits to save my life. Today, on completely the wrong tactics I couldn’t avoid them.

It was an interesting afternoon. I caught 8, that’s right, eight different species – skimmers, perch, roach, gudgeon galore, dace, chub, even a rogue barbel plus the biggest surprise of the day, a rudd. You know, I think I need to go back and give it a go with a sliding waggler – that’ll sort ’em out!

 You’ll Want One Of These, Too!

I nipped along to the Daiwa Trade Show this week. It is so convenient that they held one just up the road from where I live each year. It’s always a treat to see the new gear before it hits the shops and boy, are there a few real gems to get your hands on this year. I’m not going to eulogise over every bit of new kit but I am going to get all misty eyed about one new product, The Tournament Multi Match Rod. It is 12 feet of sheer perfection and will handle lines up to 6lb. It is the slimmest, lightest, best balanced rod I’ve ever held in my hand and it instantly made me want to go fishing.

But there’s much more to it than that. The rod is revolutionary in that it doubles up as both a feeder and a float rod. Now I’ve seen multi-purpose rods before and frankly most are complete pants, but this one is sensationally different, believe me. It’s all in the material as you might suspect, and the design, but the fine quiver tip is almost indestructable. It will bend into a complete circle it you want it to.

I’m possibly just a clampit but I’ve snapped the fine tip on practically every feeder rod I’ve ever owned. This one could have been created with me in mind. Watch out for this rod. They’ll be in the shops around Christmas so I’ll remind you again. Just go and pick one up. You’ll then not need any further convincing.

Job Loss

The world’s human population grew to 7 billion last year according to the National Geographic magazine I was reading while waiting for a hospital appointment. That’s double what it was a recently as 1960 and it continues to expand at an alarming rate.

Alas Steve Jobs no longer needs to worry about such matters. Very few people have a genuine worldwide impact in their lifetime but Jobs certainly did. His vision and determination drove the Pixar movies. It brought us the iPod, iPhone, iPad and so much more. He turned Apple Macintosh from a failing business into the global phenomenon it is today. An astonishingly successful man but today, at a mere 56 years old, he became just another cancer victim, proof, if anyone should really need it, that no amount of money can compare with good health.

It was Jobs who famously said in 2006, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”

I hope heaven is ready for the change that’s coming.

Mentioning heaven I’m reminded of an old fishing story that I first read in a Dick Walker column, although I suspect its origins date back a few centuries before that. A man dies, wakes up and finds himself beside the most idylic chalk stream imaginable. There behind a rock lies a huge trout, perfect in every way. The man by his side says, ‘Here, use this rod.’ Handing him an exquisite wand, perfect in every way.

He casts, his line shoots out, the leader rolls over and the fly lands delicately above the trout which rises to suck down his offering. The fight is sensational but he triumphs to net an immaculate 6lb brown trout. As he looks up he sees a second trout, easily as big as the first, has already taken the place of the first one. ‘Go on,’ Says his new friend, ‘It’s yours!’

He needs no encouragement. The second trout succumbs just as easily as the first and would you believe it, a third one moves straight in behind the rock. The angler cannot believe his luck. The hours fly by. Soon he has caught a score or more of these fine trout. ‘I think I’ve had enough now.’ Says the angler to his companion, who has stayed with him throughout. ‘I’d like to go now.’

‘Oh, you can’t do that. You must fish on. Forever…’

‘You mean I cannot take a break?’

The other man shakes his head solemnly.

‘Then what kind of heaven is this?’

‘Heaven? Said the other man. Heaven? You think this is heaven…?’

Knowing my luck, when I get there some selfish bas***d will have syndicated the place!  😉

Mind you, reflecting back on that tale, does it not remind you of some of the more prolific commercial fisheries in the UK?

Wader Repair Kits

Winter’s only just around the corner so it’s that time of year when a leaky wader becomes more than just a slight inconvenience. It’s now a recipe for a foot that turns into a block of ice and a miserable day. With the price of a good pair of as expensive as some rods and reels the decision to repair rather than replace makes common sense.

You might care to check out Tear-Aid, a versatile product that will not only repair waders and wellies, it’ll sort out umbrellas, bivvies, bags, unhooking mats, waterproof clothing or even a bicycle inner tube at a push.

Each pack comes with a selection of patches, Type A is for fabrics while Type B covers PVC and vinyl. All you have to do is clean around the tear using the wipes provided, peel the backing from a strip and apply firmly to the surface, rubbing firmly to stick it down. The manufacturers claim it is airtight, watertight and flexible, giving a long-term and reliable repair.

You can find more information on the Tear-Aid web site.

Do Internet Killjoys Miss The Point?

Stu posted a new video clip on his Youtube page recently showing some barbel holed up beneath a canopy of branches. Let’s be clear here, Stu likes to film fish in the wild and he’s bloody good at it. No-one pays him to do it. No-one funded the equipment bar himself and no-one pays his expenses when he drives half-way round the country to shoot that unique footage. No one taught him the skills, either. He taught himself and adapted the equipment to suit his purposes.

The time and effort involved in shooting those clips, downloading and editing, uploading to the internet and so on is considerable yet  anyone who wants to watch his stuff can do so completely free of any charge. There are no adverts, no pop-ups, no signing-up or joining, it’s just a guy doing what he enjoys and sharing it with those who also seem to enjoy what he does. Where’s the harm in that?

Unfortunately not everyone enjoys his efforts if a 4-page thread on BFW is anything to go by.

The first post in the thread simply stated: Nice bit of footage to watch some barbel chilling under a willow tree.

Simple, to the point, helpful even, but talk about a red rag to a bull. Neil Clark was quickest to react. He clearly didn’t like it, posting this terse comment:

‘The fact the barbel seek the security of such a place is because the are pressured, and then you have the ‘pap’ showing the world just how clever they are in seeking them out. Not too clever is it?

Before going on to compare it with TV cameras intruding into your living room, hemp being scattered on the carpet, the problems of your dog picking up a ball belonging to someone else’s dog, and, wait for it, dinosaurs.

To be fair the majority of posters in the thread took him to task for being something of a killjoy. After all, the footage was shot on a popular river in a swim that most walk straight past. It is probably the least pressured stretch of the whole river. But it does beg the question, if someone’s so concerned that pointing a camera at a fish is going to cause it lasting trauma then surely it’s rather hypocritical to try and stick a sharp hook in its mouth.

Or have I lost the plot somewhere?

Perhaps he’s always a sourpuss, or maybe he was just having a bad day. I do hope so. It can’t be much fun to think like that all the time. Perhaps he’s one of the ‘Judes’ I refered to in my last blog? But let me clear up a few points that were raised in the thread:

Supposition 1. It was suggested long-term pre-baiting had been carried out.

Reality: No it had not. In fact no pre-baiting at all took place and if you care to watch you’ll see the fish are not feeding.

Supposition 2. The cameraman was scuba diving.

Reality: Again, no. We don’t even own such kit, never mind know how to use it.

Supposition 3. The camera’s on the end of a long pole.

Reality: Again, no. The simple answer is Stu stood in the water, leaned over and held the camera in his hands, right next to those fish. Close enough to touch them had he wanted to. Some of those fish, both chub and barbel, actually touch the camera housing yet at no point do they panic or swim away. There was no trickery, no fancy equipment and certainly no gimmicks.

And let’s be serious for a moment, no fish were harmed during the filming and frankly, none were particularly disturbed. Certainly they were no more alarmed than had a swan or goose swam over them. You can see that with your own eyes. The fish chose to stay in the same swim as the cameraman. To suggest otherwise is frankly pathetic and if anyone feels pointing a camera at a fish is going to affect them in any lasting way then perhaps he or she should look to his or her own conscience and pack up fishing. Moreover he should keep well away from every river, lake and pond in the country because heaven knows what trauma could be caused by skylining a fish.

Fish frequently shelter in quiet spots because that’s where they feel secure. No fish has ever been harmed by our observational filming, nor tethered, left trailing line, had hooks stuck in them, been forced to fight or be dragged out of the water and deprived of oxygen whilst the egotistical captor zero’ed scales, took pictures, measured it, admired it and then had to nurse it through recovery observing a somewhat flawed ‘code of practise’.

Anyone who thinks it’s wrong to film fish in their natural environment but it’s okay to stick a hook in them really needs to take a long hard look in the mirror. And maybe check out the dictionary definition of hypocrite?

5 thoughts on “2011 – Early October Blog

  1. Bob

    You are completely correct in the statements about the underwater barbel. This is a swim that just does not get fished except by myself and Stu maybe a few times a year and possibly 1 or 2 others but of that I am not convinced – everyone ignores it! Most people dont realise the swim exists. We decided to get a closer look at the contours and flows of the swim. As I stood there with Stu a few yards behind me the barbel just started to swim around in front of my feet and legs……I called Stu over and they continued to do so without a care in the world. These fish were not traumatised by our presence – They could easily have buried themselves further into the snags or move upstream of us but they chose to stay put. This is not the first time we have had barbel around our legs in this river. They really are not spooked by an odd person present in their habitat as they just do not see us as a threat. On too many occassions have we walked a camera into the swim only to see barbel back in the swim within 2 minutes!

    Sadly I have stopped going on BFW a couple of years ago as most posts tend to turn sour at some point and there are just way too many know-it-alls with far too much to say for my liking. I was once crucified for not using 25lb braid when barbel fishing….can you believe that!?

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