2016 February Blog

The damp and dank weather has final broken and we’re seeing rivers gradually falling back to normal winter levels. About time, too. I can’t believe it has taken until the third week in January for me to get out and enjoy my first chub session of the winter. But it’s on again and I’m thoroughly enjoying myself at last.

To me, chub fishing sessions with frost on the ground epitomise winter. Better still if the frost lasts all day. Dry cold doesn’t bother me much. My bugbears are wet or windy conditions, more so if the temperature is hovering near zero.

My first Trent trip was a voyage of discovery. It was a frosty start and I wasn’t sure until I got there whether the level river would be suitable as it was still up and pushing through. My choice of venue guaranteed there would be a few fish-able swims choose how bad things were and that proved to be a wise decision. Although only up a foot or so, it was flying through so finding the steadier swims, fishing off the pace and being prepared to stay mobile paid off in spades.

If anything I use bread too often in winter. It’s a hard habit to break. No other bait seems to offer quite the same instant attraction. If I don’t get a bite within 15 minutes I know I’m likely to struggle in a swim and will move on. It’s quite common to get indications on the very first cast.

It happened today. The first twitches, bangs and knocks started within 60 seconds of casting out. Obviously it helps if you can read a river and cast to the right spot but those indications are like a book. You just need the ability to read what the fish are trying to tell you.

Today’s fish appeared to be saying, ‘It’s feckin’ freezin’ down here and although I’m happy to play with my food I’m not sure I’m hungry enough to eat it yet.’

Tip-tap, nudge-nudge, jerk, pluck. We’ve all had it. It’s important to wait for what you think is a positive pull before striking.

I’d love to say I scored but the first cast ended Fish 1, Bob nil. Never mind, it’s all about getting your eye in and I had a fish on my second cast. Shouldn’t complain to much.

By the end of the first hour I’d caught 4 chub, the bites were starting to dry up and getting pretty scatty. Time to let them rest and explore pastures new. An hour’s a long time in a winter bread swim.

Winter Chub

Let’s cut a long story short and say I had a fine old lump of a chub later on in a different swim and by staying mobile I kept the bites coming. Towards the end of my session, almost out of feed, I started getting much gentler, un-strikeable indications. In my mind these could be small fish or possibly bream. Bream can be reluctant feeders in cold conditions.

My concentration levels went up to Defcon 10 and I held my hand above the rod handle ready to pounce. Actually holding the rod is a mistake as you tend to strike first and think second. It has to be the other way around.

I also extended the hook link to 4 feet which allows the bait a little more freedom of movement and it is visible for longer on the drop.

The slight indications continued and I resisted the urge to strike countless times. I wanted a slow, positive draw before I was prepared to react. Didn’t need to be a wrap round. Just the right sort of deliberate movement. Those who’ve done this kind of fishing will understand. Much better to let them get away with your bait and not strike than to strike early and spook ’em.

Winter Bream

It worked. The bite I was praying for eventually materialised and when I lifted my first thought was that I’d snagged up. Until it nodded. Yes, this was most definitely a bream and it was also a proper one. A big slab-sided lump.

I love catching bream on the right tackle.

Touched

Guys, do yourself a favour, will you? Don’t go posting messages on here (or elsewhere) when you’ve obviously been on the sherry. Looks like someone must have started early on Christmas Eve, eh?

Graham

He might have been touched by the kind sentiments in my blog on Christmas Eve but I certainly wasn’t on line!

Back For More

I returned to the Trent, this time to a different stretch completely. That bream had left me hungry for more. I’ve had my eye on some potential bream pegs for months but just haven’t found time to fish them.

Today I would put that right. Same bait, same tactics. I desperately wanted to keep my chub options open. The coldest night of the winter so far left frost clinging to tree branches, coating every blade of vegetation as far as the eye could see. A bit of a winter wonderland yet I was as confident of catching as I’ve been on any other day this season.

Chilly Morning

Before revealing the events that transpired let me just explain why I was so looking forward to today. The river was definitely improving, I was in an area that looked just perfect and I was wearing clothing to beat the weather. Enjoyment in winter is often as much about wearing the right clothes as using the right tackle.

Winter Gear

So, for the record, I was wearing a Daiwa Sleepskin next to my body. It’s pretty much like a lightweight black thermal tracksuit (RRP £34.99). Over this I had my Daiwa Igloo Suit (£139.99). Footwear was the incredibly light Sundridge Hotfoot Floating Boots (£49.99). Throw in a fleece neck warmer, a fleece hat, some fingerless gloves, socks (optional) and that’s it. No vests, pants or jumpers or anything else. They’re not neccessary. This gear will beat anything a British winter can throw at you. Even minus ten’s a doddle and it doesn’t break the bank. Look after the outfit and it’ll last you years.

Today I was hoping for chub and expecting to catch bream, but first I had to find them. None of the swims had seen an angler all season so it was a case of make your own. Easy enough when all the vegetation is frozen and brittle.

Action

My plan was to work my way along the stretch until I caught a bream because I reckoned they’d likely be shoaled up pretty tight somewhere and sure enough, I had to fish 4 swims before one came up trumps and from then on it was action all day.

Another Slab

I say action – by that I mean plucks, pulls, rattles and one or two proper bites rather than a fish-a-cast, but I was landing bream at three to 4 per hour and that’s excellent fishing in winter. A lot were small, maybe a couple of pounds, but a smattering of fours and 5’s put a healthy enough bend in the rod. When I’d had my fill I worked my way back to the car dropping in here and there. Sure enough I caught the chub I was looking for, too.

All this on a lovely winter’s day with not another soul on the bank. Heaven!

Don’t Believe A Word This Woman Says

I’ve told you before that I’m frustrated with Carol Kirkwood. She tells lies!

I’m stuck at home today writing this blog because I listened to her this morning. She warned me that I’d need an arc if I went fishing. That Hurricane Jonas (the one that paralised New York) would strike Yorkshire today and we would have rain of biblical proportions. Prepare for Armageddon and whatever you do, leave that brolly at home unless you want it to get wrecked.

Carol Weather

 

So I bottled it. We’ll be barbel fishing soon if she’s right.

I knew I should have ignored her, but because I’m heading for distant parts this week hoping to catch a few grayling I didn’t really fancy getting my gear all sodden and drenched before I even set off. That’s no fun, is it?

*  *  *  *  *  *  * 

It’s now mid-afternoon and there’s still no sign of her bloody rain. I could have gone fishing, caught some chub and been home by now, in perfectly dry clothes. Grrr…!

Let Us Prey

Not everyone is keen to pray at the church of Steve Collett but no-one should ever try and take away his ‘jingle-jangle’. He’s a rare character; of that there’s no doubt. And yes, his ego may or may not be as big as a zeppelin, depending on your taste in Marmite but by gum, he’s a remarkably capable angler and he ain’t going to hide that under a bushel anytime soon.

Boom

That doesn’t half wind up his detractors who I suspect would trade places with him in an instant. Admit it guys, you’re jealous. Unfortunately the British reserve within us doesn’t naturally warm to a bloke who flaunts his success.

In the following video he explains the use of jigs in as straight forward manner as any new convert to the game could ever hope for, on a day ticket stretch of canal, and he makes it look a whole lot easier than it really is. Indeed, his throwaway, ‘Chuck it out and a fish will bring it back for you!’ line sums up his absolute confidence.

All I’ll say is watch and learn folks. Watch and learn.

Oh, and make sure you watch the last 10 seconds after the credits. It’s priceless…!

Small River Joy

I know anglers who won’t fish lakes that don’t contain carp in excess of 30lbs. I see others who regard chub under 6lbs as vermin. To them, size is everything and I just don’t get it. I go fishing, not catching. I don’t need targets or PBs to get me excited. I just need a bite!

small river 1Frankly I’m glad I’m not consumed by, or even motivated by numbers and that opens up so many more intimate waters to me. For instance, I frequently chub fish on rivers and streams where a 3-pounder is a specimen and it doesn’t bother me one jot. Fours are as rare as unicorns and fives? Forget it. But that never detracts from my enjoyment. All I ask is that if I fish reasonably well the tip will go round now and again. Rarely do I fail to catch.

small river chub 1

So there I am, braving the gale and cocking a snook at Carol Kirkwood’s latest doomy forecast of rain, more rain and maybe some showers, plus there will likely be a frost tonight as well. Go tell the Marines, Carol. I ain’t listening any more.

Small rivers tend to throw up fish quickly or not at all. If you don’t catch in 15 minutes, move. Then move again. Keep moving and trying new spots. Today I tried three different rivers and was still home for lunch!

small river 2

Some swims ignored me. Maybe the residents weren’t at home, but in more than enough spots I had a bite on my very first cast. I hope that’s because I try to keep off the skyline and creep around like a commando although it could be the fish are desperately naive as they seldom, ever see an angler and when they do it’s usually me.

small river chub 2

I certainly didn’t break any records or set the world of angling on fire but do you know what? I don’t care. I had a whale of a time and I’ll probably not return again this season. And because I’ll leave them in peace those fish will welcome me back next winter. Unless someone else muscles in on my paradise.

When Art Meets Mathematics…

This is amazing. The 3-D printed sculptures below, called blooms, are designed to animate when spun under a strobe light. Apparently it’s all in the mathematics, and don’t expect me to explain this, Fibonacci’s Sequence is defined as a recurrent relationship that can be expressed as F_n = F_{n-1} + F_{n-2}… where the first two digits of the sequence can be defined as F_1=1, and F_2=1. What this means is that the sequence starts with two 1’s, and each following digit is determined by adding together the previous two. Therefore, Fibonacci’s Sequence begins: {1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89…} etc.

Nah, makes no sense to me either but the graphic representation is simply stunning.

It’s worth following the link to John Edmark’s web site where you can find more imagination testing artwork.

When Mortality Meets Mathematics…

Barely an hour passes without Steve Collett or Steve Pope posting something on Facebook. Formerly the domain of teens it’s now the playground of oldies. I’m not outing this pair in particular because many others dominate my feed, equally, (yes DH, DT, GB, MT, etc, you included!) but in broadcasting terms tying two Steve’s together would be deemed an unmissable link opportunity.

Steve (of the Pope variety) spent much of January pondering ‘losing the soundtrack to our lives’, or to put it less flowery, his musical heroes were dropping like flies. By January 18th he’d already concluded 2016 was already ‘going from bad to worse’, but for the fantasy dead super group generators the past month or so provided a right old harvest with Bowie, Lemmy, Buffin, Glen Frey, Chris Squires, Robert Stigwood, Jimmy Bain, Natalie Cole and William Guest joining the roster of available talent.

theclub1 copy

All this on the back of a year when we lost Cilla and Val Doonican, too.

But should it come as any great surprise? The music that a great many anglers are most fond of was created between 1960 and 1980. The great bands, the great artists, the great albums – and we’re not talking boy bands, some street rapper or an X-Factor finalist – are very much of an era. And simple chronology dictates that era now places the participants in a very high risk category.

John Lennon would have been 76 in October. Elvis Presley 81. Paul Simon is 74, as is Bob Dylan, while Jimmy Page turned 72 the other day. Ian Gillan is 70. Johnny Rotten is 60, Cliff Richard 75, Pete Townsend is 70, Roger Daltry 71, Springsteen 66, Alice Cooper 67, Ozzy Osborne 67, Roger Walters 72, Dave Gilmour is 70 in March. The same month Elton John will be 69. Rod Stewart is 71. Keith Richards 72, Mick Jagger likewise, Charlie Watts, 74. Need I go on?

And let’s face it. They have lived the life of sex and drugs and rock’n’roll. In some cases you might say to extremes. Guess there’s likely to be a lot more hysterical outpourings of grief round the corner, that’s for sure.

Hope I Die Before I Get Old is a cracking resource should you be interested and provides a list of the 100 oldest living rock stars. There are also some great search options, living and dead that go way beyond the top 100.

Without wishing to sound unduly morbid, according to statistics (there’s a link attached to the image) 972,000 Facebook users will die in the USA alone in 2016. A lot more folk die every year around the world.

The death rate in over-65’s Facebook users is 3.34% which is good, for normal people. For drug taking, hard drinking, smoking party animals those odds would be considered sensational.

As an average male your risk of dying here in the UK between the ages of 65-74 has been calculated at a 1 in 42 chance. Between 75 and 84 this increases to 1 in 15. Beyond that it’s as low as 1 in 6. No matter how we hope, none of us will live forever and nor will those you deign to be heroes.

You could apply this logic to acting, writing, TV, radio, indeed any of the performing arts. Awkward to say this but it’s a great time to be an obituary writer, providing you don’t mind being kept busy.

It’s a generation thing. The careers of those who rose to fame between 1960 and 1980 have lasted well. In subsequent decades we’ve seen success closer to Andy Warhol’s prediction that everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. By heck we’ve even seen that in fishing.

Famous

The Grim Reaper is never too far away. Gather the rosebuds while ye may. Time waits for no man.

Personally I’m not a fan of the fashion for irrational outpourings of grief on social media. Not only have I watched many of these recently deceased artists perform live, I’ve had the privilege of meeting a fair few. And that is how I will remember them. In their prime. In the years when they wrote amazing, meaningful music. Not when they’d lost it, grown old or reformed for one last payday. There’s too much money around not to tour for one last time, even as shadows of their former selves.

'My doctor's given me the all-clear for our Reunion tour.'

At least footballers have the decency to call it a testimonial when they’re old and slow, perhaps thinning on top and a little wider in the girth.

It’s worth considering the demographic change. Folk of my generation are the ones still turning out to line the pockets of these come-back artists, enjoying a last hurrah. We stuck at things, stayed emotionally loyal. When today’s youth reach retirement age will they feel the same way about Matt Cardle, Shane Ward, Stacey Solomon, Olly Murrs, Joe McEldry, Leon Jackson or Steve Brookstein?

Meanwhile you don’t have to look far on the internet to find sites like The Death List, Celebrity Death Pool, dedicated prediction forums and more. Face it. The human race has a morbid streak and likes to wallow in its maudlin ways. Who’s next?

group favourites

Be honest, most of the acts we revere produced their finest material 30 years and more ago; so it’s not like we’re going to lose the music when they die. The Rolling Stones last had a number 1 single in America in 1978 and haven’t had one in the UK since 1969. They last had a UK number 1 album 35 years ago.

As I write, David Bowie’s beneficiaries suddenly find themselves collecting royalties from a staggering 18 different albums in the UK top 100. I suspect he’s generated more sales in the past two weeks than in the past two decades.

One or two of the old stagers might be wondering what their unscrupulous management teams have in store for 2016 – after all they could be worth an awful lot more dead than alive. 2017 could be too late so it’s just a matter of scheduling! And you can’t afford to clash.

I wonder if I dare risk the wrath of tearful Facebook mourners and reference the magnificent Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy books by Douglas Adams in which you will find a character called Hotblack Desiato, front man of a rock band called Disaster Area, who spent a year dead for tax reasons…

Hotblack

For some that could prove to be a sensational career move.

Let’s close this somewhat solemn section with three quotes by Douglas Adams, and lest anyone forget, they were all written before the internet and social media was invented:

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

Oh well, it’s time to sum up the maths lesson and blow me, ‘Old Tel’ only goes and shuffles off this mortal coil. When will it end I ask? Well, I suppose it ends for all of us when it’s our own turn. Welcome to the waiting room.

Grey Skies And Grayling

I was really looking forward to spending a few days with Peter Smith at the Caer Beris Manor hotel, Builth Wells. ‘Bring rods,’ He wrote, ‘I have a new swim to try. Access via ropes!’

The River Irfon runs through the grounds of his hotel providing pretty much pristine grayling fishing. I loaded the car with all the usual essentials – wife, clothes, presents maggots and great expectations. The upper-Wye’s less than a mile away so I would be spoiled for choice.

Irfon Web

And then it rained. In fact it bucketed down, raising levels and turning the normally crystal clear waters the colour of strong tea. Of course I tried valiantly but I sadly failed to attract a single bite and drove home fish-less after 3 days, completely gutted.

Elan Waterfall

However, knowing the fishing was hopeless freed me up to do a little exploring higher up the Wye Valley and beyond to places like Devils Bridge. It’s hard to believe quite how fantastically beautiful the area is and the Elan Valley simply blew me away. Why go to see Niagara when we’ve this on our doorstep? It practically took my breath away.

Mad As…

…a box of frogs. Here’s the latest drivel from the Baggingbros. Don’t try and resist, you’ve got to love ’em! Bringing back the fun. Keep it up guys. 😉

The Football Bit

What is there to say? Manchester United lurch from being lauded as title contenders one week to hopeless and hapless failures the next. The press is having a field day and this man is generally thought to be the problem.

Exit

But is he? The same folk who appointed him (and the last failure) will have the job of replacing him. Surely this is where the problem lies?

Maybe they’ll get lucky next time. Let’s face it, unlike the vast majority of other football club directors, Ed Woodward never has to ask, ‘Can we afford this?’

Nah, if he keeps chucking another few hundred million at the problem, eventually it will go away and presumably he’ll then consider himself a success.

Oh well, never mind. There’s always the EUFA cup to get excited about on Thursday nights.

But is there any wonder they call it OLD Trafford.

There’s Victor Valdez (33), Anders Lingaard (30), Michael Carrick (33), Bastian Schweinsteiger (30), Ashley Young (29), Antonio Valencia (29), Wayne Rooney (29), Sergio Romero (28) and that spring headed youngster Marouane Fellaini (27).

That was back in September by the way so they’re all a little older now. Great if they were at the collective peak of their game but they’re not, so what does the future hold for such players in the exhilarating pace and atmosphere of the EPL?

Looks like a big old clear-out is due so whoever takes over from LVG inherits a massive rebuilding job. Do the board and the fans have sufficient patience, and can they attract the right players? Even when you have one of the biggest ‘brands’ in the world, if you’re not in the Champions League then buying the world’s top players becomes a whole lot harder and very, very expensive. But money’s no object, is it?

Wanted Poster Creator: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/wanted-poster

I can imagine the job spec now…

Vacancy 

Disaster Management Specialist

Established bandwagon seeks an opportunistic, ambitious, egocentric, preferably a thick-skinned personality with massive balls, happy to stand on the shoulders of giants and banish any lingering shadow cast by previous glories.

The job mostly involves throwing vast amounts of money at a simple problem.

Previous career achievements will count for nothing.

Failure will likely mean your next post will be on foreign soil.

Success will invariably be regarded with derision by rival firms.

Finally, the last individual to make a success of this job will sit immediately behind you, watching your every move.

Meanwhile United’s incredible run of luck in cup draws continues. While City have to visit Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA cup the red half gets the lowest ranked team left in the competition, Shrewsbury Town. Surely they could play the tea lady and at least three of the grounds staff and still get a result at the New Meadow. Let’s just hope it’s not selected for showing live on the BBC at the expense of a ‘proper’ game. That would be, ‘Unbelievable Jeff. Unbel-i-e-e-e-vable!’

2016 Feb Blog

One thought on “2016 February Blog

  1. A pretty productive winter fishing for you, huh? And the pictures show awesome catches, big ones! Anyway, winter is a bit of a downtime for me. I’m not well-versed yet so fishing trips during this season is a bit of frustration for me.

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