Time for a blog update, methinks. Bit of an irreverant tour de force this one, characters galore and rambling through topics far and wide, but mostly all are fishing related.
My little ride round last week woke an urge to return and have a play on the Alderfen match lake. It’s a cracking lake that has more in keeping with a traditional fishery than a commercial. By the time I’d let the traffic ease off and called at Stu’s to drop off some gear I then found myself wondering whether the obligatory cuppa with Dave Walker, the fishery owner, was a good idea.
Dave is one in a million, just so funny with the driest sense of humour, but I end up gassing with him for at least an hour. So I said, ‘Stick the kettle on, Dave.’ To which the standard reply came, ‘It’s always on, Bob, you know that.’
Well we put the world to rights and Dave, in his own inimitable way, described a few of the hurdles he has to jump to keep his customers happy.
‘You know, Bob, there’s three things you should never tell an angler. He can’t drive, he can’t fish or he’s got a little ****. It’s bound to upset him!’
‘Aye, never tell an angler his missus has a slack *****!’
This pretty much set the tone for the rest of our discussion.
‘What is it with carp anglers?’ He went on. ‘They can’t fish in weed! Had a guy here t’other week (late March), It’s weedy in’t it? He says. So ah says, I’m sorry but I’m just saving up to tile the bottom. It’ll be perfect when it’s finished. Gunna grout it white to set off the blue. What do you think?’
I could have spent the afternoon in his hut without ever getting my rods out of the van. But I decided he might have work to do and pressed on. ‘If you’re after bream try peg one or peg 30. A guy had a dozen from there last Friday.’ I had already picked one. The warm south westerly wind was hacking into it and there’s an island fringed with Norfolk reed not 25 yards away. Plenty of colour, too.
Even though there was no rain forecast I stuck up a brolly, just to deflect a bit of the wind. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I walked 5 yards back to the van and got all the rest of my tackle out, turned round and thought, that’s odd, something doesn’t look right. At which point I twigged my brolly was no longer there. In fact there wasn’t a sign of it. It had vanished.
Half an hour later Dave walked round to me with it rolled up neatly beneath his arm, ‘This is yours, I believe, Mr Poppins. I caught it half way across yonder field.’ Nodding to somewhere away in the distance beyond a very tall hedge. Even if the pole hadn’t been bent like a banana I think I’d have decided against fishing from behind it after such an auspicious start. Some days are just not meant for brollies.
The lake was a bit choppy, I must admit, but it was quite warm. You needed a jacket but that was all. The option was to fish a feeder or fish a feeder, so I fished a feeder. Getting it to land in the same place twice was a challenge, mind. But I could land it near enough as made no difference and the bites started immediately. Roach, roach, little rudd, roach and a tip that rattled and rattled every time you tried to tighten up. Maggot was not going to be a good option. So I switched to using Bag’Em Soffits on the hook and the bites dried up instantly.
Eventually I got a steady pull and the first skimmer came to the net. Unfortunately it was also the last skimmer. Of the bream there was no sign. I had the odd small carp and a tiny tench but it was pretty much bits on the maggot or nothing. I simply couldn’t weigh it up but what I did recognise was that so much sand and peat was being whipped up off the nearby fields that I was getting a right old facial. Women pay fortunes for a skin scrub like this. Talk about Operation Desert Sandstorm. Unfortunately it was murder on the eyes and at times it was difficult to even see the far side of the lake.
So I went for a walk. A couple of friends were fishing the specimen lake so we ‘shot the breeze’ for a while before I ventured back. It was only as I walked past the stock pond that I realised all the fish in there were backed up at the top end of the wind. The penny dropped. In summer you’d automatically want to fish into the wind. In winter, on the back of it. I would have thought that’s where they’d be today, but obviously they weren’t. Transpired that those who fished with the wind off their backs on the lake I fished caught a lot of fish. Lesson noted and learned.
A Little Forum Gem
I spotted this in thread where someone was after information about one of my local lakes:
Poster 1: ‘The lake is Hoyle Mill Dam, but the locals call it Sally Walsh’s Dam.’
Poster 1: ‘Gr8. Tx mate. Wich 1 as catfish in it?’
I couldn’t make this stuff up, could I?
Somebody Tell Nev…
Feel Alive Nev! It’s an instruction, not an option! 😉
Back to The ‘Fen
On my previous visit, Dave Walker suggested I came back and had a go at the roach. ‘It’s stuffed wi’ ’em, Bob, and nobody hardly fishes for ’em.’
Well, a nods as good as a wink to a blind horse but an invitation like that to a roach nut meant I couldn’t wait to get back. Better weather this time but still pretty breezy. Common sense said get on the back of the wind this time, Bob. So I did. The swim I chose was about 7 feet deep and lent itself perfectly to a 3AA+ peacock insert waggler, 3AA to lock it, a bunch of number 6’s at half depthfollowed by a 6 and an 8 as droppers. The wind was far too strong to go messing with anything smaller.
Bites came slowly at first and I was eager to get them feeding in the upper layers but I’m guessing the wind chill killed any chance of that. It was weird. I was fishing to the edge of where the ripple started. If I cast a couple of feet short I’d get a roach. Go into the ripple and I’d get done on the drop by a rudd. If I came up in the water I might get a couple of quick fish and then nothing. No matter how many times I tried otherwise, the most successful method was to fish just over depth and wait for bites, even though I could see swirls on the surface.
On reflection, if I’d fed lighter and fished a really light pole rig I would have probably caught a lot more fish, but how may do you want to catch? My ideal day involves lots of bites and activity but still having to work for each fish. As it was I was constantly chopping and changing and the time flew by. I was having a ball.
In between times I would snare a bonus fish, a carp maybe, or this nice tench which certainly pulled my string a bit, but don’t all male tench fight hard?
Every now and then I’d find myself attached to something that fought slightly differently and sure enough I’d slip the net under an ide, like this, or a hybrid. If ever it went quiet all I had to do was cast 5 yards further and hold the float on a tight line while a rudd hooked itself. There was no need for feed, the rudd just homed in on the splash and I reckon they were feasting on anything that blew in off the surrounding fields.
Eventually I decided enough was enough. I’d used 2.5 pints of maggots and was rapidly running out of bait. A quick call to Dave saw him nip round and take a few pictures. He was happy, I was happy and it’s certain that I’ll be back for more.
‘Come back when it warms up a little bit. They’ll be having the seed then and you won’t believe how good it can be. Some of the roach are running to a pound, you know. Come and fill yer boots!’
And you know I will, don’t you?
If you’d like to learn more about the fishery then please visit the web site or phone Dave on 0777 203 3398.
BS Research Project
Interesting to hear the Barbel Society has announced a programme of collaborative research with Bournemouth University that will initially focus on deriving an increased understanding on the growth and recruitment of barbel in rivers and lakes in the UK, thereby providing sustainable angling opportunities. It will develop a knowledge baseline on the ecology of barbel from across their range to identify potential threats and opportunities to the sustainability of their populations. Work will include age and growth analysis of scale collections and review of scientific literature.
Dr. Rob Britton, project manager at Bournemouth University, commented ‘In completing this work, we aim to provide constructive and objective information on barbel ecology that will help the Barbel Society identify their research and conservation priorities in years to come”.
Pete Reading, Barbel Society Research and Conservation Officer, added, “This project is a major development in our barbel-related research, and represents an exciting opportunity to ensure our research and conservation measures are based on contemporary and objective scientific knowledge.
I’m very interested to hear this research will study barbel in lakes, too. For too long the Society, and many barbel anglers, have adopted a head-in-the-sand attitude towards barbel in stillwaters. I’d love to see a few released into the larger gravel pits, just to see how they get on. The argument that they don’t breed in stillwater, ergo they are not thriving is flawed. Barbel can, have and probably still do breed in some stillwaters, but probably not commercials.
If breeding success was the criteria for stocking any species then we’d have no rainbow trout. Lots of species in a widevariety of waters have a poor breeding track record, the biggest Achilles heel being carp. They fail to create offspring in lots of waters, hence the tendency to find large waters with a low stock density. Wraysburyand the like, for example. I can think of countless northern waters where carp have failed to breed successfully. If they did we’d be over-run with the things.
No, 50 barbel in a water the size of Wraysbury would be a very interesting experiment. After all, for ninety per cent of the year the Great Ouse flows slower than the Grand Union Canal. And the lack of breeding success in the Ouse would be a valid argument for objecting to further stockings on the grounds that they do not actually thrive in there, otherwise there would be no need to restock. It would certainly fit the contemporary and objective information criteria.
The Barbel Show takes place slightly later this year on Sunday 5th June and the line-up of speakers looks quite interesting: Duncan Charman, Nick Giles, Ade Kiddell, Dave Mason, Peter Wheat, Dave Steuart and Pete Reading.
The show is open to all providing you purchase your tickets in advance. To be honest they’re a snip at £10.00 for each adult with all accompanied juniors admitted free of charge.
Cheques or postal orders made payable to ‘The Barbel Society’ should be sent to:
The Barbel Society, 12, Eastfield Road, Weddingon, Nuneaton, Warwickshire. CV10 0BB.
To Hull And Back – Fishfest Open Day
I had a post on my Facebook page the other day, ‘Do you ever go fishing?’ I took it the writer was sneering at the amount of time I spend on the road giving talks, attending shops and so on, but the truth is, since the NEC angling show imploded the demand on the time of all the leading angling consultants has increased. It used to be you’d go to the NEC, literally meet thousands of punters over the 2/3 days and have a great time socialising with the ‘stars’ each evening. Everything was done and dusted over the course of a weekend.
Instead of this we probably get invited to meet a fraction of the number of customers, but spread over umpteen days throughout the year. Recently I’ve been to Leighton Buzzard, Norwich, Hull, Sandy and coming up fast on the rails is Peterborough. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but it’s inefficient. As good as it may be for the shops, it lacks the razzmatazz of a showcase.
The NEC event was far from perfect and there’s a fair argument that Angling Times ran it as their own marketing tool with the trade footing the bill. It was the (then) EMAP vision of angling rather than an across-the-board celebration. The emphasis was always on the Times’ columnists rather than those who wrote for the Mail, DHP, Angling Publications, or anyone else.
What we actually need is an impartial show, held at a central venue that doesn’t charge £10 to park a car or £28.50 for a burger and £9 for a beer. I’m exaggerating (slightly) but you know where I’m going with that. Certain elements of the NEC package were a rip-off and frankly the trade couldn’t afford to fund it. But how good would it be if everyone in the media got behind one show and promoted it, free of charge, and the running costs were contained at a sensible level where the entire trade backed it? Where the public could turn out in their thousands.
After all, the NEC regularly pulled in well over 20,000 punters. Unfortunately attending a show like that used to cost Daiwa upwards of £30,000 just to be there. A figure that includes not just floor space and a bespoke ‘designer’ stand, but also the costs of hotels and feeding an army of staff, not to mention the overtime costs, transport and having staff away from the factory. So, it’s a pipe dream, I know, but it is exactly what everyone in the industry needs right now.
Until then we’re going to get more open days in shops where the biggest retailers can lean on their suppliers to provide ‘talent’ and we will have fragmented messages with hotch-potch combinations of guests. As for the smaller retailers, I suspect they’ll have an even harder time.
Anyway, back to Hull. A guy called Eric Wildman came up and said, ‘Bob, I want to thank you for putting me on to Pool Bridge Farm. I saw you talk about it on Tight Lines and decided to give it a go. I’ve wanted to catch a two-pound roach all my life and I finally got one thanks to you.’
How nice is that? The fish weighed 2lb 2oz but get this. He had it on a floater!
With him was a chap called Sid Marston, a bit of a tench fanatic. ‘I just thought you’d like to know that I had my biggest ever tench on the rig you showed in Improve Your Coarse Fishing. It’s increased my catch rate no end!’
‘How big was it?’ I asked.
I think I muttered bl**dy hell, or words to that effect. ‘Where on earth did you catch a fish like that?’
‘Actually not far from where you live.’
I took a guess and the look of surprise on his face told me I’d scored a bulls-eye.
It’s a water I’ve been contemplating fishing for a while. Indeed I’ve fished there quite a bit over the years. Perhaps I’m overdue a return. As I already know the killing rig, the bait and thanks to Eric, exactly where to find the fish. I might be in with a chance of a new Yorkshire PB. Not that I’m targeting the specific fish he had, but by all accounts he’s had a few tench from this water. It just depends whether I’m prepared to endure the required blanks because the tench are pretty thin on the ground.
Highlight of the day was probably joining John Wilson and Des Taylor on stage for an impromptu Q&A session that continued until the audience literally ran out of questions. Controversial as ever we gave both barrels to the EA, canoes, bird watchers, cormorants, otters, mink, signal crayfish and a number of other alien species, human and otherwise! It was great fun while it lasted and I think the closing question from the floor was, ‘Is Matt Hates the ugliest presenter on television?’ To which John summed up with a grin and a one-word answer.
‘Yes!’ He said.
There was nowhere to go after that.
Mind you, the liveliest debates came earlier on before the shop even opened its doors. Let’s just say John and Des have contrasting views on the closed season, but unlike some of the Internet forum wars, everyone made their cases with passion, agreed to differ and moved on to the next subject with a smile , just like it should be. It’s fair to say, ‘Which rod rest head?’ was not a topic we discussed.
I understand Des has recently been fishing a secret water in the land of Lilliput. I didn’t believe this until I saw this picture of a tiny Lilliputian angler who hid in Des’s beard prior to poaching his secret swim. You can actually see him leaping out ready to start fishing…
Honestly, it’s a true story. The camera doesn’t lie, does it?
Oh, before I forget, ‘Fatha’ stopped by for a chat. That’s Denis White, should you be wondering. He was clutching a fistful of breakaway leads. Intrigued, I asked why, expecting him to reveal an amazing way of catching carp that he’d developed, but I could hardly have been more wrong. His back’s been giving him a lot of trouble lately and that’s having an effect on both his travelling and fishing, so he’d been down to Fleets Dam to practise using a pellet mould. Denis is not a big fan of commercial fisheries but knowing how his brain works he’ll sort out the methods, make a few little tweaks and before you know it he’ll be winning matches right left and centre.
‘I had a small one first chuck, then ten minutes later I had another, followed by one about 8lb. Then me mobile rang and I answered it. Next thing the rod was yanked straight off me knee and int’ water. It were gone, just like that! I chucked around wi’ a bomb for a bit, but that was no good, so I nipped home and got me salmon gear. Well, after I’d lost about 10 Devon minnows I gave up but I were thinkin’ these might do the trick if wrapped an elastic band round ’em, tight like.’
You know, I reckon he’ll get that rod back even if he has to drain the reservoir! Just goes to show though how easy it is to lose concentration for a moment and lose a rod. And it shows that daft catastrophes can happen to the very best.
It wasn’t the end of what turned out to be an expensive day for Denis. Later on, after dusk had fallen, he was driving past Smithies Reservoir, a water controlled by his club, where he saw a car parked. Night fishing’s not allowed and not sure whether someone was stealing fish he decided to investigate. Pulling into the car park he ran straight over an anglers’ pole, smashing it in half. ‘Bob, they were fishing int’dark using the reflections of the lights of that new factory that’s just been built. His pole was stretched out right across the bloody car park. I’ve got to price up a number 4 section now!’
I think I’d be confiscating his ticket and telling this bloke where to shove his broken pole section.
Cats Are On The Prowl Again
Heard from Zyg at Anglers Paradise again today. Sounds like the old moggies have woken up with a vengeance. Martin Smith is down there on a work placement from Sparsholt College and managed to squeeze in some fishing on Anglers Nirvana Specimen Catfish Lake. He had a couple of carp at 17 and 18lb plus a lake record 45lb 8oz catfish on 35mm pellets.
Also fishing Nirvana was Julian Chidgley and who can blame him. The carp in this day ticket venue are packing on weight and can now boast four different thirties including the latest to crash through the 30lb barrier that he had weighing 32lb. Certainly a lake to watch.
Dion Cooke also had his first catfish of the season, a 40-pounder from the Main Lake.
Full details can be found on the Anglers Paradise web site, or you can simply call 01409 221559 for more details.
No Secret Squirrels At Elsecar
Not too far down the road from where I live is a reservoir. Built to top up the Elsecar Canal, Elsecar Res’ is a popular skimmer and roach water. It also holds a few carp but a twenty is regarded as a pretty special fish from there. Still, it attracts a few afficionados. Matches are held three times a week through the warmer months and winning weights in recent weeks suggest it hasn’t properly woken up yet. The top catch, in a match, this year is a little over 20lb.
I had a walk round this morning and chatted with the regulars and, ignoring the carpers, were all using poles or feeder tactics. Those on the pole were getting plenty of action from small roach but it was pretty slow going on the feeder, although a few were getting caught, mostly at quite long range.
Pellet seems to have made the same kind of impact here as everywhere else that holds bream in any numbers and most angler swere using them. I have to say, it’s a lot more convenient that squatts, casters and gozzers. There’s no waste with pellet and you don’t spend half the week looking after or preparing baits. Still reckon they’d have chopped worm though.
I watched, walked and chatted. The natives really are friendly and even the carpers were open about what they were doing which is a bit of a novelty. You tend to forget how open matchmen are about what they do, too. It struck me that two of the anglers were using the old sidewinder indicators. Something I’ve not seen in years. Still work well, they do, especially when there’s a stiff breeze blowing.
It’s noticeable how the countryside is waking up and the hedgrows are blossoming. Won’t be long now before the trees are fully leaved. This really is my favourite time of the year. I had been tempted to fish today but I think I’m getting greedy. Would half a dozen skimmers be enough to drag me out of bed in a morning? I’m not sure. I’m heading over to Ireland soon and already looking forward to filling up my bream bashing tank to the limit. Perhaps I can afford to look at a different sprecies in the coming weeks. At least until everything’s moving properly.
Little Egret Press is issuing a special collectors edition of Richard Walker’s No Need To Lie to commemorate the ten years since LEP re-published this classic title.
What will make it a must-have is the fact that only 30 copies will be beautifully hand-bound by Tom O’Reilly in goatskin with gold tooling, title and author labels, marble side boards and endpapers and a cloth-covered slip case. Each book is signed by Pat Marston-Walker and Tom O’Reilly and every copy will be unique as the colours of leather and marble papers will vary.
The price of each book is £125.00 (plus £4.00 recorded delivery postage). The publication date is May 2011 and copies will be limited to
a maximum of two per customer. Sales are on a strictly first come, first served basis and will not be available through the LEP website due to the extremely limited number. No telephone orders will be taken so anyone hoping to lay their hands on a copy should email LEP at firstname.lastname@example.org
Commiserations to Paul Ince who became the 39th football manager to be sacked this season. That’s right, 39 out of 92 and one or two more will be getting their cards next month for sure. Since Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed manager of Man U in 1986 no less than 1,082 managers have left their posts. Beggars belief, really. What price continuity? Whatever happened to the boot room philosophy? Chairmen are chancers, simply rolling the roulette wheel and hoping for a miracle. It’s a crazy way to run a business if you ask me.
A mate called round today to do a bit of work for me.
‘I bought a copy of Match Fishing this month.’ He said. ‘Have you heard what that nutter Neil’s going to do at Lindholme Lakes?’
‘No, what’s that?’
‘He’s only going to stock Mekong catfish in one of his lakes. They start at 100lb appiece! Apparently the world record match weight fishing for ’em is about 3,500lb in 2 hours!’
‘Yes! There was even a number you could ring.’
‘And you say it was the April issue…’