Monday, 31 December 2012

A Happy New Year!

We end the year with no sign of a let up in the weather which has filled the land to capacity with water and so much so that springs have formed in unexpected places, fields have found themselves as waterbird paradises, the rivers just can't fall or clear and people are suffering extreme Seasonal Adjustment Disorder. The winter river season looks like it might never happen unless we get a cold northerly blow that dries the air and freezes the ground solid till March, effectively stopping the flow in its tracks.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Winter River Season — So Far!

The River Sowe at Longford, Coventry. It's been over its banks three or four times in recent months and whenever it's been contained within them it's been only just. Longford Park was underwater at one point and I've never seen that happen before. Even my spaniels were amazed by the transformation of their daily haunt.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Publishing A Fishing Book — Trojan Torpedo! Bail out!

Happily slaving away Sunday evening and things are going very well. All the front matter done and dusted, the introduction and 7 chapters complete with illustrations and the layout all set up for full bleed, perfect page design, footers and headers all working as they should and all I have to do now is keep going till the end, save it as as big pdf file and send off for the first proof copy hopefully by end of January.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

This Winter ~ It's Gonna be Rock Hard...!

Met Office severe weather warnings for your amusement...

Nice little Helmet we're wearing at the moment, but...

It gets worse....

Oh yes! It's a full blown hard on by Saturday!

All we need now is a Ireland sprouting pubes and a 
spurt of spunk in the general direction of Norway 
and the schoolboys amongst us are made up...

The Weatherman... Don't you just love him? 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Publishing a Fishing Book — Nose to the Grindstone

It's almost a year now since I last communicated progress on this subject, but there's been good reason to shelve it for a while and come back afresh not least of which is the need to see it anew and not through blinkered eyes. Without putting it to bed for a while I found it almost impossible to read it, and more importantly receive it,  just as anyone else would — all I could see were thousands of words sprouting into a massive tangle of meanings, none of which I could appreciate being far too close up to the subject matter.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Cold Water Barbel — Endeavouring to Persevere...

Arrival at a river venue with a rod bag brim full of barbel gear is one thing, arrival after dark with one rod made up but the second not is another, but arrival with said and a rod bag who's zip's just bust open leaving gaping holes top, side and bottom, out which aforementioned barbel gear pokes and dangles as you trudge down the lane and over the footbridge, well that's a small disaster in progress.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Total Coarse Fishing Dec 2012 — In Print, at Last!

I've written for the digital editions of Total Coarse Fishing for a few months now and for the apps platform mag Angling News Week since springtime but my first opinion piece in print came hot off the printing press last week and flopped through my letterbox yesterday morning.

I ripped the envelope away, and...

Monday, 5 November 2012

Canal Perch — The Crack of Dawn

She may well have gone by the name of 'Dawn' for all we knew. We didn't enquire and she didn't offer. Driving down the deserted A road for an early morning start after perch at a local canal venue a figure runs straight into the road in front of us whose wildly waving arms implore us to stop. It could have been an overturned car in a ditch or who knows what kind of disaster just happened or is happening now. Danny pulls the big van over hard, the tackle in the cavernous back slides and shunts into the bulkhead, and we grind to a halt thirty yards down the road.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Chinese Military Shovel WJQ-308 - Gotta Get One!

Stash this in the back of the car and you need never go without a tool that can level a bank, lop off branches, snip barbed wire, hack back rushes, serve as an oar, double as a saw, a hammer, a cleaver, grappling hook, pry, bottle opener, can opener, you name it and it does it. Would make a serviceable weed and snag rake too, no doubt. Only weighs two pounds but made of hardened steel. Has to be the best multi-purpose tool I have ever seen for those 101 unforeseen problems that crop up in a day's fishing but can't be solved, and for the long stay angler, indispensable.

Great video here, and set to the Silverado theme tune too!

Not cheap at around £50, but looks good to me!

Here's a review and spec

Monday, 22 October 2012

A Record Canal Zander? Or What...

Breaking news of a massive Ashby Canal zander had me wetting myself this morning. Checking my inbox Russel Hilton of Tales from the Towpath had alerted me to a Total Coarse Fishing news item so off I went to read it and sure enough there it was with two anglers holding it up at arms length in what looks like a pub and grinning their heads off. It was great story and very entertaining but the fish met a sad demise because it was killed and filleted, soaked in milk and eaten by our intrepid duo.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Wayward Chestnuts, Rioting Foxhounds and a Plucking Pheasant — The Spills and Spoils of a Day in the Country

What had started out as a mission to catch a few redfins, and big ones hopefully, soon transformed into an Ealing-style-comedy-turned-real-life-entertainment featuring a motley cast of clowns and crazed creatures all vying for centre stage whilst a guffawing audience of anglers looked on in bewildered amusement.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


'Flood' is an emotive word. A headache for those responsible for making sure they don't happen (but can't and know it) a potential disaster about to happen whenever the weather turns nasty for those who choose to live and work where they occur, but only ever a pain for anglers, a 'flood' is when the river rises over its banks, and it's as simple and as straightforward as that. If it doesn't burst its banks, then it's not a 'flood.'

Monday, 8 October 2012

Itchen Grayling & Roach — Upstairs Downstairs

It rained rather heavily in the South Friday night. I think the whole party of seven were really looking forward to a nice clean Saturday on the Dorset Stour then a day's easy trotting on the Itchen Sunday, but it looked like we might very well get neither because by early Saturday morning river levels for both were skyrocketing fast. Half the party had set off for the Stour for dawn, were experiencing difficulties there by the time Keith and I set off from Coventry at 11am and by the time we were half way down the M40, they'd thrown in the towel and retreated to the free stretch of the Itchen below Gaters Mills for easier conditions and hopefully a half chance of some decent fishing.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Avon Roach — Technical

With the thought of those roach I saw last time out in my head, and no doubt the 'barbel-with-my-name on-it' in Martin's, we set off for another crack. The river was different. That's the trouble with rivers though, isn't it?  Where we'd had clear water and easy fishing, now we'd coloured water and technical fishing and I just knew my roach weren't going to be as easy as I'd hoped.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Avon Roach — Underprepared & Overgunned

A new swim, somewhere on the river I've never fished before, and it looks good. The stretch is far shallower than expected. On a recce just a few months ago it was full of brown water and almost up to top of the banks. Now it's more like a southern chalk stream than a midland mud stream, with its crystal clarity, wafting rafts of weed, and deep, promising pools.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Avon Barbel - Rock Eel & Chips

How often do you venture out, all full of yourself, tooled up, and ready to do battle with the monsters you imagine, only to be brought down to earth with a bump? Given the brief but hectic hour we had last time out, an hour when bites from barbel came thick and fast (but actual catches were admittedly, a little lean) we thought we were in for a session from heaven, Well, at least I did. Martin was suffering a hurt knee and dented pride after a work accident in Stratford, and I know what that does to quell enthusiasm, having recently suffered in the legs department myself.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Avon Barbel & Chub - Rotten Bottoms

Last weekend Martin & I discovered what appeared to be a choice Warwickshire Avon barbel swim, but one with a hidden secret — for it it turned out to be a dustbin full of lead. How many anglers have come to the picturesque spot and failed is not hard to imagine, and how many of those anglers vow never to return again is even easier to picture, because between us we lost a lead every third cast, and were snagged on pretty much each and every one between.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Avon Barbel & Chub - Musical Swims

The evening of a Friday night & Saturday morning kind of barbel and chub session, saw Martin and myself wending our merry way down the A46 to Bidford. I have an agenda where were going, but on arrival decide to pitch in a swim I have not yet fished, because it's empty, for the first time in my experience.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Canal Chub — A Change of Sky

Thinking about how to throw some spice & variety into my canal fishing exploits after catching too many bream of late and not enough of what I really wanted, there really didn't seem to be very many alternatives but plug away till what I really wanted, finally turned up.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Eels — Toxic Shocks and Jellified Memories

>My last post raised a few emailed eyebrows after asserting that the blood of eels is poisonous, so I thought I'd better explain how toxic it really is, and how it might affect anglers unfortunate to catch, as I did, eels mauled by the lions of the river, and spurting their blood all over the place

Monday, 3 September 2012

Avon Barbel & Eels - Blood and Sand!

It looked the most attractive piece of barbel water imaginable. The tip of an island with a long glide of fast water to our left pouring downstream from the rock weir above us and trundling into the distance below, with a cutting to the right and its associated slack water. A typical Warwickshire Avon navigation lock. Oddly, despite its good looks and clear potential for a barbel or two, the grass beneath our feet was hardly worn through and the banks overgrown. Clearly, this was not a popular spot.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Canal Bream & Hybrids - A Stuck Record

Despite the fact that the swim I found once promised so much, it seems now that it is becoming something of a bore. It was discovered when searching for my first canal carp and finding not only plenty of bream and tench, but some very encouraging silver bream and roach too, and those last species were the real reason I've spent so much much time on it, of late.

Saturday, 25 August 2012


The local patch is under seige! The local anglers are up in arms! The local gossip is of someone blowing cover! The local culprit, is me!

Me & my blabbermouth...

Monday, 20 August 2012

Bound to Fail - The 'Knotless Knot' Exposed

I've used the knotless knot only during the course of this year's fishing. Before, I 'd always tied my hair separately and then tied hook to line with a palomar knot, a knot that has never once failed me. I decided to try it out because of its convenience, it being hair and knot in one swift, neat tie up. I have banked plenty of fish with it, but have lost quite a few too, and not necessarily the biggest or strongest.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Warwickshire Avon Barbel - Knotless...

Let's not beat about the bush with pointless preamble, the first was a either a middling barbel or a good chub, the second either a very large barbel or a feral carp. Both were lost to tackle failure, but both while the clutch was slipping and under what I would term 'half-pressure.' The culprit in both cases was the knot. A tell-tale wisp of compressed and curled mono told how the stresses of the fight, or indeed the stresses of previous 'fights' with weeds and snags, had cumulatively weakened the joint between hook and line, resulting in its inevitable failure.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Monday, 13 August 2012

River Roach & Barbel - Airless

Harvington's Anchor Meadow looked good on arrival. Car windows are deceptive lenses though, and closer inspection of the water revealed a river in poor condition. The water ran low, but well-coloured with a dirty grey/brown tone I just didn't like. Water clarity was a foot at most, where I'd have far preferred gin clear and to see the bottom in hot weather, and when a few grains of corn thrown into the water sank out of sight in moments, it did not bode well...

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Canal Bream & Tench - Brief Minutes of Lengthy Hours

Approaching good weather upsets fish. They'll respond to changes we might see as positive, negatively. I'm sure of it. The weather we've complained of over the last few months has been settled in its unsettledness, but the fish loved it. Lots of water about makes fish feel good, because water is all they know of the entire universe. I can't fathom what life must be like for a fish...

Imagine if we were confronted with a progressive lack of air whenever the weather turned hot and dry, and knew that if that weather continued and continued, there'd come a time when all the air, would be gone...

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Canal Tench - Solid Gold!

What's the last fish you'd recommend a beginner hook? And, what's the first?

Judy's son, Ben, home for a few days in his university summer break, went out fishing with his mates last week. I loaned them a pair of my best rods and reels to share, not having any I'd call 'disposable,' and out they went to a local pool to catch rudd. One of the trio had his own gear and knew something about fishing, but Ben and the other lad had no clue how to go about it.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

River Roach & Silver Bream - God's Own Billiard Table

An exploratory mission this. To Oxford, and Old Father Thames. Judy went shopping, but I of course forwent the attractions of Bicester Shopping Village, and with a heavy heart denied the spurious pleasures of burning cash at the Altar of Mammon, went off light-stepping to a spot of fishing with half a loaf of Warburtons Blue instead.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Canal Silver Bream - Another No Show

Another morning chasing the elusive silver bream of the Coventry Canal saw an earlier arrival than I'd made for the previous session, but the same approach to the swim, which was to cast a disc of bread up the far shelf and see what, if anything, occurred. It was the same story. It sat there a minute, and then slid away. However there was no brace of silvers off the bat this time around, but the first of a succession of bronze bream.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Canal Silver Bream - Bloody Minded Fish!

Curious fish that they are, turning up in braces on consecutive casts just as often as singles out of the blue -- but for the life of me I cannot ever seem to manage a trio -- silver bream are the most infuriating fish swimming in my local canals.

This morning around 10 O'clock, I set off for the late morning feeding spell, which occurs between half past ten and half past noon in summertime, and especially in hot clear weather with bright sun, and for no earthly reason I can fathom. I was after roach, having recently had two different fish at one-pound, seven-ounces apiece from the spot where I was heading.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Angling News Week Launched - Read All About It!

Just a couple of weeks ago a new angling newspaper was launched. Angling News Week is on the shelves now, well the virtual shelves that is, because ANW is the first angling news publication purpose designed for mobile app-based consumption, which means you can subscribe, download the current issue, and read it at your leisure on your mobile device, be it smartphone, iPad, or indeed, any other computer-based, Internet-connected system, including your home PC.

Of course, ANW is primarily news based as you would expect, so the first 12 pages or so are full of what's going on in the world of angling. And the news is as current as it gets, because the man heading up ANW is ex News Editor of Angling Times and now digital publishing maestro, Steve Phillips. It also contains catch reports, tackle reviews, and everything else we expect, but, it also contains an innovation that I think angling publications have missed out on for years, because fellow blogger and cartoonist, Brian Roberts, has a strip of his excellent 'Jack's Pike' appearing in every issue.

And, I'm very proud to say that I'm appearing in it too...

Hoorah, in print at last!

My part to play in its future success is in writing pieces for one of the single page blog sections that spice up the newspaper between the more formal and technical multi-page spreads that we're all accustomed to reading in the middle of our weekly newspapers and monthly magazines. 

Appearing in ANW as a supporting act to such luminaries as Darren Cox, Duncan Charman, and Martin Bowler, is something of a shock to the system, but writing a blog section that must compare to others written by such all time greats such as Dave Harrell, a man who is recognised as one of the finest and most successful match anglers this country has ever produced, is both a tremendous privilege, and a huge challenge.

It'll be a challenge I'll relish and try my very best to live up to, though. You tell me if I don't!

You can download the first free issue as a taster, and subscribe to the following subscription issues, here ~

Only £1.49 per issue, and read it in the comfort of your bivvy too! Now, what could be better than that?

Monday, 23 July 2012

River Roach & Silver Bream - A Full House of Pain

Some time last week, perhaps Tuesday evening down the cut fishing with Norman, I became aware of a twinge in my leg. A kind of sharp ache in the joint between femur and pelvis. When I sat on my seat and then stood up, it would hurt a little, so I spent most of that canal session sitting on the grass. At home that night, it got a little worse and caused a restless night. By morning, My leg had seized tight and had to be manipulated out of bed, but I thought little of it. I'd overdone the exertions of trotting in a standing position off a rickety, half-submerged pallet on Sunday, and was paying now with a little muscle pain.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Tickets, Timetables & Tight Lines - Epilogue

The train ride home from Southampton and the Itchen was uneventful. I had to sit on my ever useful rucksack/stool in the vestibule between carriages after stowing the rod bag in the overhead rack, not because I didn't have a seat, but because there was a clean human being in the next one to my reservation, all other seats were occupied, and I was contaminated by the river. After Reading, it emptied, and I very nearly drifted into sleep in a window seat when the light failed and the landscape gradually vanished behind the bright reflections of the interior lights.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Tickets, Timetables & Tight Lines - Itchen Roach (Pt3)

Three roach anglers in a car on the way to a roach fishery. The one in the back leans over the seat, and says to the other passenger, "if you won a million quid on the lottery, what would you buy?"

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Tickets, Timetables & Tight Lines - Itchen Roach (Pt2)

A short walk upstream along the riverside track and I'd be fishing in ten minutes. Other anglers already pitched and fishing over the crash barrier were a cause for concern. I was bound further upstream but once there, would I get a good peg? Never having fished the stretch before, I didn't even know what a good peg looked like, with only very limited experience of fast chalk stream fishing and the bare bones of the watercraft necessary to understanding them, at my disposal.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Tickets, Timetables & Tight Lines - Itchen Roach (pt1)

Ominous. That's how it looked, stumbling out of bed and throwing open windows on the day ahead. An unbroken sheet of the 'rain maker,' nimbostratus, stretched from northern to western, and to southern and eastern horizons. There wasn't a hole, not a tear, nor a rip in its leaden cloak. The air smelled of damp soil, and though the concrete yard was dry, there was a hint of a certain aroma that has no name... but tells you that the concrete won't be dry for much longer, for it's the unmistakable sharp spice of approaching rain.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

British Canal Records - The New Canal Royalty

*Please note, records have been updated in the light of information received after publication

Just recently I've trawled the Internet in search of the largest specimens of the fifteen main coarse species ever caught from the British Canal system. It has been both a labour of love, and a labour of utter frustration! For a time, many lucky people are going to be British record holders without knowing it...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A Quest for Canal Carp - 10,000th Cast

It's three-thirty in the morning and I've been home an hour. The first blackbird calls from the top of a nearby holly, the air is cool and still, and the distant motorway is as hushed as I have ever known. My trousers are sopping wet from the knee down from kneeling down on dew-soaked grass, my eyes are gritty, my scalp is itchy, and my body needs a bed. My head however, seeks no pillow, my fingers seek out keys, and while you sleep, I'm going to write this down, and kick it out the door, before I lose the moment to dreams.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A Quest for Canal Carp — In the Light of the Truth

Quite liking the canal night sessions now that I've done a few. You don't see anybody at all. No one is around after dark in stark contrast to daylight hours, when it's a busy thoroughfare populated by all kinds busy going nowhere important, just feeding the ducks, jogging, cycling, walking the dog, or coming home from Tescos. I have it all to myself by 11pm, and all night long if I want to stay on.

That's good. I thought I might get stuck with some prattling drunk all night, or have to deal with lonely insomniacs, and to tell you the truth, I fear that almost as much as getting stuck with a nutter who I can just push in the cut if he gets too lairy

Monday, 2 July 2012

To Whitewater Hell and Back

After Thursday's torrential rain and violent hailstorm, I was sure the river would be in fine condition for a spot of barbel fishing on the Avon by Saturday morning. It didn't hit the whole river catchment, only the northern part of it and the worst of it fell only at the northern extreme, so it wouldn't be in full flood, but swollen enough to create some interesting barbel swims. On arrival at Harvington, my predictions proved correct and the river was two feet up on normal summer levels, a rusty red/brown colour from the red sandstone soil in the north of the catchment that had caught the storm, and in just the right state to get those river torpedoes rooting about for washed in and washed out foodstuffs.

Molly, our springer spaniel, was beside herself in her excitement, but I was suffering a curious uneasiness, a sense of foreboding.

Frickin' Hail! Torrential Hail Storm Hits Coventry

The worst hail storm I have ever had the pleasure to witness.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

A Quest for Canal Carp — Sex & the Silvers

I thought I'd do the night. Get out after dark and fish through till dawn just to see what would happen, because I never have fished the canal alone those hours before, because you wouldn't, would you? All those nefarious characters roaming around slashing throats for a quid in the dark. Who'd chance it?

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A Quest for Canal Carp — A Truer Sense of Things

Judy once uttered something concerning fishing that I've never forgotten. I was struggling to find words to describe the predicament that faces every angler every day of their fishing lives, and the one that faced me at that time, the one of not being able to fish for the fish of your dreams because of the wrong weather conditions prevailing, or being able to but knowing it will be a waste of time to even try 'in this wind,' but going anyhow, or making an arrangement that cannot be broken by anything less than a hurricane. 

She said ~ 'Jeff...'

You can't choose your weather, but you can choose your fish

Friday, 22 June 2012

Let the Train Take the Strain

I've been scratching my noggin recently. Not having use of a car, because I only have a motorcycle license, which made all the sense in the world living in London, but makes no sense whatsoever living and wanting to go fishing in the Midlands, got me thinking about how I could break out of Coventry and go fishing much further afield. After a lot of dead ends and wooly thinking involving this and that and whatever in the way of silly solutions, like actually taking a string of expensive driving lessons and getting a full car license and then us two paying double insurance and sharing our one car, or even buying a cheap moped (though I'd still like one for local fishing) I finally came up with a ball-pein rather than a sledge hammer, with which to crack this tough nut.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A Quest for Canal Carp — Signs

I've been waiting for the right weather conditions for some time, the kinds of weather conditions that carp like, and I like to catch carp under. Still, warm, and with a nice clear evening sky is what I associate good carp fishing with, I always have, and always will. I like that calm mirror smooth water surface you get around evening time because it tells you things about carp that wind and ripple obscure; if they are there or not, and if they are, whether they are cruising about or rooting around, making bubbles or bashing about in the reeds. Carp don't seem to be able to hide away when the weather is right, and advertise their presence with every flick of their tails.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Elvis Magnets, Cock Feathers, Specks, Inadvertent Unpaid Advertising & Sartorial Misjudgments. The Destructive Effects of the Cosmic Joker and his Pranks upon Fishy Pics - A Dissertation

Fishing pictures rarely come out well do they? Especially self-takes of important fish, you know, the ones you tried for over a period of years and finally got to meet in the flesh, but only after struggling through a million lesser specimens to get to them. It's almost a truism that when you do bank that leviathan, something will go wrong with the camera one way or the other. It will probably overexpose and burn out all the detail in the fish's flank, leaving a blank white space that nothing can be rescued from because whatever detail there might have been just ain't there anymore, rather than underexpose, when almost anything can be retrieved from the murk with a bit of applied skill in Photoshop.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Crucian Carp - The Case for the Defense

Lee Fletcher sent a bundle of pictures over yesterday. They're of a crucian that he once caught on a water well known to local specimen anglers for its tench and bream. The water in question does not contain any carp except for a single 12lb fish that somehow got in there and gets caught once in a blue moon. Lee's crucian is just as rare. It is the only one ever known to be caught from the water, and the water has seen enough maggot feeders and corn rigs flying about to be sure of that fact.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Crucian Carp - Published! A 'Crucian Website' Article

I was asked a while ago to write an article about taking photos of crucians for identification purposes for Peter Rolfe's excellent web resource, The Crucian Website. I wrote it up, bundled a load of illustrative pictures together, and sent it off to Colin Falconer, the webmaster, and it was duly published after a round of judicious editing of my script by Colin, which has made the article shine.

Writing articles is not quite like writing a blog! Here I say whatever I like, don't really correct very much, don't redraft anything once written, nor do I take much time over them, they just arise to the surface like so many emerging nymphs escaping the stygian mud of my overactive imagination.

Writing an article, and it was my first ever for publication anywhere else but here on IQ, was somewhat different, I found. I'd actually to consider what I'd written about, redraft, weed out inconsistencies,  rearrange things into logical order and (God Forbid!) resist, against every literary sinew, the temptation go off on a magical mystery tour into some fabulous digression, and finally, let it go. Even then it needed editing by fresh eyes, but I am pleased with it, now it's done.

It might be of use to you. The site itself certainly will be, and I can't recommend it highly enough as the the font of all knowledge on crucians, because you won't find a better source of information about these lovely, wily fish, anywhere.

You can read the article by clicking here ~ The Crucian Website

My thanks to Peter and Colin for allowing me to contribute a little something to their sterling work.

Long live The Crucian Website!

Now, shall I start a similar resource for that equally rare and lovely fish, the silver bream?

One day...

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Crucian Carp - Cash Cows

A few recent trips after crucians and earlier season trips after Perch have taught me one thing -- there's an awful lot of carp out there in commercial land. There's lots of local places where both the first mentioned worthy targets are available, but the problem is that they are available amongst a ton of carp flesh, who like every bait that both like as much, if not more than they do. Prawns are an excellent bait for margin fishing because perch and crucians love them, unfortunately carp home in on prawns like a randy dog sniffing upwind to a bitch on heat. You don't even need ground-bait to attract them, they will find even a single one, and fast.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Float Making - What Floats My Boat

In the old days, anglers spent the best part of the close season repairing tackle and making floats for the next season to come. Every float for every fishing purpose was no doubt invented in the close season by anglers playing about with materials and paint. Now we buy everything off the peg and put up with it. The old days eh?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Roach and Crucian Carp - Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardboard Box

On a recent trip to the canal after silver bream, I saw a carp the like of which I'd never have guessed would be swimming around in it. I'd seen a twenty-pound plus koi moving swiftly up and down the far bank the previous day, but she was not interested at all in the bed of bread ground-bait I'd set up, passing across it time and again without stopping off for a bite to eat. I'd guess she was looking for hot sex under the weather conditions prevailing at that time, not a cold snack.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Carp & Tench - More Spouting...

Following up on one of the weekend's leads, I decided to pay the lake, where I'd seen a group of what I hoped might be rudd swimming in the surface layers of the water, a visit. On arrival it was clear that I'd not find them easily because the entire Northern end of the lake was alive with fish moving around, and in the reeds and rushes, busy spawning. I couldn't say for sure which fish were spawning and which fish were eating the same. Some fish were in the throng were very small, some much larger, though I fancied I saw the green flank of a tench amongst them all.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Ear Tinglers & Eye Openers

We used to call them 'leads' when I sold double glazing for a living. I was a canvasser, a teenage canvasser. I started out quite shit, but ended up shit hot, but the route to becoming that hot, was not hard work, but pure flannel. My first round of cold-calling was Arctic. I was rebutted at every door. It wasn't that the houeseholders didn't want double glazing, everyone who didn't have it already, wanted double glazing back in those days, It was simply that they didn't want me selling it to them, because I was cold crap, and they wanted someone shit hot to bowl them over.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Silver Bream - Phew, what a...

Bummer! The weather, the weather, the flipping British weather! Just last Friday night I was sitting at a pit freezing my nads off dressed in full winter gear, seriously, the self-same apparel I wear when fishing in sub-zero temperatures, and this evening I'm going back to the same pit dressed in t-shirt and shorts. Crazy.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Canal Carp - The Long Moment

Sunday morning. Time: dawn. Venue: secret.

Canals are rarely quiet. At dawn we are the first on the scene. Across the water sheep bleet, on the water, water birds scooter, but the towpath is deserted. We're on the hunt for a special prey, one that must be stalked and found out before there is ever a chance of catching them. They are known to like three specific locations over a mile of water. Just three, and no more.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Big Pit Tench - A Burning Itch

The tench pit has finally awoken and the tincas are moving and feeding. A couple of weeks ago now, Martin had a fish, and then in the next few days reports came in of more serious catches made, tench banked in the kinds of quantity and quality that made a return the next Friday evening a certainty.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Silver Bream - Tomorrow...

'Till tomorrow' was how we left off after my last silver bream tale, and tomorrow comes around, inevitably. Would the silvers put in an appearance? Would they show? Would they fall to my rod once again, after an absence of almost an entire year, or pass me by as they have so often this spring, even though I know full well they are there, and have been for a month or more?

First cast, came the answer...

Friday, 18 May 2012

Silver Bream - Phenomenal Fish

Have I actually caught what the title suggests? Well, no. Quite the contrary. I have not. I'd like to have, but haven't. I've tried, but failed. Again.

I'm talking here about the real meaning of the word phenomenal, which means uncommon, or extraordinary, not grossly large. This fish, the silver bream, Blicca bjoerkna, is the most 'phenomenal' fish that swims in the canal. A beautiful fish to behold. Lovely looking they are, all bright scale and rose tinted belly, red in the fin and with puppy eyes that make them as cute as a fish can ever be. They come and they go, and no-one knows where or why. They turn up at certain places at certain times of the year and then vanish for the rest. They are, a phenomenon. For just one brief moment they can be caught, and then try as you may, you cannot catch another.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Canal Roach - The Sun's Burning Your Eyes Out!

Over the last four years I've got so used to fishing the local canals in the late afternoon, through evening time, and often an hour or so into darkness, that I'd all but forgotten that they are actually open to custom, the full 24 hours of the day. It's easy to forget such things. It's easy to dismiss such things. But nice to be reminded of such things by someone who fishes the early hours as a matter of course.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Handmade Floats - Wire-stemmed Balsa-bodied Avons

A new float making project of mine was to build a couple of balsa-bodied wire-stemmed avon floats for long-trotting. This requires a large bright sight tip for viewing at extreme range, a large bulky body with broad shoulders and a long heavy wire stem to help the float cope with turbulent or fast water.

I decided to go to town, quite literally, with these. Off to a Coventry model shop went I , and there purchased brass wire, some large gauge balsa dowel and some tins of paint, including a fluoro green as a change from the usual fire orange.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Stillwater Roach - Bait Your Hook with Love

I don't quite know where I came across that expression, and have always wondered what the hell it could mean. I'm sure it's quoted somewhere in a fishing book of mine, but I don't remember where. Perhaps it means that you must bait your hook with bait lovingly applied ? But that makes no sense to me. What is there to love about baiting a hook? And what fish could tell the difference, if you did?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Big Pit Bream & Tench - Outrageous Fortune

To be honest, my fishing since January has been difficult. I've hardly banked anything of note and lost every single fish that clearly would have been, had I the good fortune to. But Fortuna has turned her back to me, and it seems I am destined to lose whatever I am about to gain. She favours the brave, but I have not been brave. Where I should have trusted in my knots, lines and rods and turned the tables in my favour from the outset, I've pussyfooted with the fish, and lost them because of it.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Canal Roach & Bream - A Gentleman's Exchange

A rather good blog appeared on the local scene last February. 'Float, Flight & Flannel', by George Burton is a fishing/wildlife blog that held an immediate appeal to me because George fishes the local canals for roach, as do I. George's enthusiasm arises from the fact that he is, or rather was, a match angler now entering into specimen fishing for the first time, so at every turn he encounters new problems, problems that will be familiar to anyone who stalks big fish. Consecutive blanks for instance...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Casting Practise - Cock-ups, Crack-offs & Confidence

Getting back into distance casting after nearly decade away from serious shore fishing is proving fun. There's so much to think about, especially when faced with getting coarse gear to perform like beach gear does. The rules are the same, distance is achieved more through correct technique than anything else, but the tackle needs to be just so otherwise technique fights against bad gear, and loses.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Big Pit Bream & Tench - The Dark Interior...

Friday evening saw Martin Roberts and myself humping out gear down the bank of a nearby gravel pit after the first tench of the year. I was after big bream too, but hadn't any confidence in my swim choice for that species as it doesn't have much form for them, however, I wanted to try out a maggot feeder fished helicopter style, and at range, just to iron out the problems. My swim choice soon proved bad for that too, the cast requiring a short wade into the water just to give enough clearance overhead through the narrow slot of the trees either side of the peg, consequently I had to cast directly overhead on a short drop to the lead like carp anglers habitually do, not at an angle of 45 degrees to the vertical and with a long, steady, power building arc firing a lead hanging from drop half as long as the rod itself, as a beach caster would. Consequently, my range was 50-60 yards absolute maximum. Which seems a long way off when the lead splashes down, but really isn't.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Zander Tag - Respect is Due...

Appearing now on walls and bridges down the Longford cuts. At last, a tag that inspires me enough to take a picture and shout its merits to the world. 'Rob' not only knows his fish and how to draw them anatomically correctly with all the fins in the right places, but he also knows exactly which fish live where he chooses to tag, for this is clearly a zed. 

At last, a tag writer crawling out of the cesspit of merely pissing up walls like a dog marking territory and progressing onwards and upwards to adorn them with something an angler can consider and admire!

Respect is due...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Stillwater Roach & Perch - Master Caster

Off to gloucestershire for the day. Last trip to this fishery saw a couple of good roach come to net and perch of an encouraging size. My plan was to go for both at once, so, two matched rods fishing the same float rig, one fished in the margins for the perch, the other a couple of rod lengths out for the roach, prawn on the hook for the first, maggot or caster for the second.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Big Pit Bream - In Advance of Better Things

Monday morning, Keith and I set out for day session at Kingsbury Water Park to fish the 47 acre expanse of Bodymoor Heath. My diligent research suggested a water where a double-figure bream, one of my targets for the coming summer, was indeed possible, but very unlikely because of its enormous head of fish a quarter of that size. My research also led me to the conclusion that whatever I wrote about our day out, would be ten times the information you'll find on the water from any other source, which is incredible considering how old the huge Kingsbury Water Park fishery complex is.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Canal Silver Bream - Ne'er Cast a Clout...

The Old English. What did they know about modern weather, eh? What did they know about global warming, Huh? Nuffink, I'll warrant. They did know a bit about old-fashioned weather though. It's an English obsession is weather, not that we get extremes that would scare anyone half to death, like the approach of a vast rotating thunderstorm dripping with tornadoes ripping homes and cows from their steads, shredding and chucking them in the air like so much confetti, and poleaxing people with shards of flying 4x2 and deadly green-stick fractured bovine shin bones.

Monday, 2 April 2012

A General Notice to all Angling Bloggers - I Crashed my Widget!

A few days ago I decided to edit my blogroll, ditching all the dead blogs and every single one of those who have not seen fit to link back to Idler's Quest in some way despite Idler's Quest linking to them for well over a year. Anyways, in doing this I seemed to have overloaded Blogspot with deletion requests, and crashed my widget. It has not been the same ever since...

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Big Pit Bream - Where a Season Ends, Another Begins

Hanningfield is now well and truly under my skin, and it was there, floating about in a boat, that I realised how much I love the idea of fishing in waters where there's chance of a British record. I've been thinking about that ever since and planning to visit waters where that chance is real, rather than imagined. I don't care how remote the chance is, so long as there is a chance.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Silver Bream - Round 2 of the 'Guess the Weight of the Stinky Fish' Competition

I went out looking for silver bream again last night, and found them. Well, I found two, but neither on the end of my line which remained ignored for two hours before I upped sticks and went elsewhere for the chance of a roach, knowing that they still weren't biting yet.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Hanningfield Perch - The Ineluctable Fact

The morning broke with a murky grey light boding bad news. A glimpse through the parted curtains revealed a dank and miserably forbidding pall of grey hanging motionless in the frigid air. Once again, mist and fog was likely to stop play right in its tracks. Sure enough, on arrival at the reservoir, the foggy freeze meant that boats would stay tethered to the jetty till it finally cleared away and revealed what was forecast to be a warm clear day by noon. This time, however, we lost no time in buying day tickets, confirming the booking of the boats, and departing for the bank to fish till it did.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Hanningfield Perch - One in Eight and a Half Billion Chance

A record perch. Hanningfield Reservoir. Where the hell do we start?

Well, there's only one place to start, and that's with probability.

The perch Hanningfield does contain in some numbers weigh approximately the same as a half Imperial gallon of water, that is five-pounds, give or take a pound either way. Four-pounders are the average stamp caught, but the largest recorded perch it does still contain, because the fish weighed on the fisheries official scales at the boathouse was witnessed as safely returned by the rangers, is a specimen of almost six- pounds, and others it is reputed, and quite feasibly does contain, are going to be even more than that.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Canal Silver Bream - Are We There Yet?

It seems an age since I last fished the canal seriously. A few half-hearted and unsuccessful attempts at zander and pike, but hardly any roach fishing in a season of year when it throws up the largest fish of all, is all I have done with it since November last. That it's on my doorstep is neither here nor there, I just haven't wanted to fish it. The roach of Longford Junction just around the corner from home have not topped in the evening as they often do in winter and I've seen hardly any others signs of life anywhere else on my routine walks along the towpath with Molly. It's looked most uninviting, so I haven't bothered to try.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Stillwater Roach and Perch - Lemington Lakes

Lemington Lakes in the Cotswolds was our venue for the day. A complex of five or six lakes all carefully manicured and just as carefully stocked. We chose Abbey Lake because of its potential for a sizeable roach and I believe they have been caught well over two pounds there so I was raring to have a go for them and try, for once, to at least break what has been a paltry one-pound personal best in the category of 'stillwater roach' (ponds and lakes, but not canals. They're not still waters to my mind) that's been hanging around unbeaten for far too long.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Are you Sitting Comfortably Sir? Then I'll Begin...

As tales of woe go, here's one that will have you, as I have been for some time, on the very edge of your seat...

About a month ago, or so, I sat down to type but noticed that I'd an irritation arising from 'below'. It proved (on closer examination!) to be the sudden eruption, overnight, of a single large pile. Haemorroids are unpleasant things that afflict those who sit on unsuitable seats as a matter of course, and fishermen being just the kind who do, I'd caused the thing to put in its unwelcome appearance by sitting for long hours on a fishing seat and thereby putting 'my region' under tension and torsion, resulting in an engorged blood vessel and what proved, on later research, to be no less of a pile than a 'Grade 3 Prolapse', for heavens sake...

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Perch Practice Makes Perch Perfection - I Hope!

With a big two-day-in-a boat trip to Hanningfield Reservoir hunting huge perch coming up at the end of the month, well I thought a little perch practice might come in useful, so up to the canal with Molly went I...

New rod in hand and wanting to test its mettle against the canals various snags, new line too, braid, a substance I have next to no familiarity excepting last year's experience on the same reservoir out with Steve Philips hooking crazy rainbows, and a box of old and rarely used lures. I found my fist snag within ten minutes of starting. Who knows what it was? It was beast though...

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Zander & Pike - The Bury Hill Blues

A two and a half hour journey down some motorway or another is becoming half of my pre-fishing experience nowadays. Coventry, being slap in the middle of the country, is not that far away from anywhere, and though us Coventrians do have plenty of good fishing all around us, all the most exciting prospects for big specimens of just about any coarse fish you care to mention, seem to lay at the extremities of a 100 mile range from the centre of Coventry's angling world, 'Lanes' in London Road.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Confounded Fish! - Crucian Carp, Carp, Brown Goldfish and their Mongrels

When it comes to crucian 'carp,' the whole world of certainty concerning fish and their genetic purity turns turtle and stands upon its own head. Here is a fish that rivals the roach for sheer uncertainty when it comes to record claims.  Every year fish are disallowed as candidates to beat the existing record set by Martin Bowler, indeed, Duncan Charman's dad has just had one that would have surpassed the British record, had it been true, pronounced as nothing more than a common or garden F1 hybrid by the fish scientist who ran conclusive DNA tests upon a scale sent in for analysis.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Confounded Fish! - Bream, Silver Bream, Roach and their Bastards

The local canal is where I catch the odd fish that looks like a big roach at first sight, remarkably so on occasion, but who turns out to be a hybrid with bream and roach parentage. It's not like catching one of those rudd x roach hybrids discussed in the previous article, where the body shapes of the parent species are so very similar that a mix is really confusing to the eye. Most of the time with roach x bream hybrids the distinction is really obvious, with the majority of looking distinctly different from both parents. Though they have a mix of bream and roach characteristics, because the parents are so vastly dissimilar in appearance themselves, they look like 'hybrids' at first glance and are rarely mistaken for anything but.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Confounded Fish! - Roach, Rudd, and their Mules

This is the time of year when I begin to catch fish that slip between the meshes. I don't know why Spring should throw up so many oddities but it does seem to bring them out of the weeds. Hybrids, fish of two species parentage, seem to go on a feeding rampage right about now and over  the past four spring seasons I've been collecting pictures of these fish and trying to sort out, by visual clues alone, because portable DNA testing probes are not yet available in Maplins (but they will be one day!) the reliable visual clues that distinguish them from their parents.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Guest Post - As an Aside, It is an Ide! - Cassian Edwards

Here's a first for Idler's Quest, a guest post...! Cassian Edwards got in touch after fishing at, and then reading about my trip to, the Lower Itchen Fishery. My trip was Friday, and his the Sunday following, and at the end of the day, Cassian hooked and banked one of the Itchen's surprising specimens, and one that may become a familiar sight on the bank in years to come...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On Sunday 26th February I was invited to join a friend on an Osprey Specimen Group fish-in at the Lower Itchen Fishery. After a 35 mile drive we arrived at the fishery at 8am to find a slight frost on the ground and the long rays of the early morning's sunshine glistening on the river. A mist was rising off the water and as we drove along the bumpy track towards the top beat we remarked to each other how luscious the river looked. While I had fished the Itchen before, on the free stretch lower downstream, this was a first trip for me to the fishery and I was rather excited to see the river in such splendour!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Catch 22 - Hatt's Own 'Twenty Four Hour Rod Race'

I went over to the Ricoh Arena with Danny last week to see the fishing event there and when we were leaving, noticed that there was a pile of free Angling Times on a desk in the foyer. Of course I picked one up and took it home. Inside two things caught my fancy out of what was an excellent issue packed with good stuff, one an eye opening article about drop-shotting for big perch by Des Taylor, and the other, one by Matt Hayes about a twenty-four hour species fishing challenge set for him by the AT editor Rich Lee,  at Bluebell Lakes, Northamptonshire, a venue with a complex of pits and a river stretch to go at too.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

River Stour Roach and Chub - One Strike Wonderment

Day three of our southern excursion saw Keith and myself offloading gear from the boot of the car in a car park above a stretch of the Dorset Stour. It was much, much wider than I had expected it to be, three times the size I had in my head in fact, and from the bridge it looked fast, shallow and streamy. Downstream of the bridge the streamy runs petered out and then became a broad, even flow of slow moving water that looked to be quite deep, leading eventually to a weir. We chose a couple of adjacent swims about midway along, Keith on a high bank upstream, and myself on a fringe of marshy old reed beds that had died right back.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Stillwater Roach - Hand Forging a Guiding Principle

After the trip to the Itchen was over, Keith and I had decided to stay on for a couple of days to fish a couple more venues for big roach and chub. The first venue was what we shall call the 'Roach Pit' to protect its location and identity, and I shan't publish a single picture of it here lest I blow its cover for others, for it contains fish up to three pounds, and over, in its waters. After a whole day spent catching roach, after roach, after roach on the float, but not one on the hot method for the venue of helicopter style, bolt-rigged maggots, in fact my sleeper rod did exactly what its name suggests without my hearing even a single bleep all day long, we packed down and went back to the B&B. I'll probably never return there, big roach notwithstanding, and for two reasons ~

Monday, 27 February 2012

River Itchen Salmon, Chub, Trout & Grayling (and a blue surprise!)

This being the fourth of my annual forays to the Itchen at the Lower Itchen Fishery and it becoming a familiar place now in want of further exploration and discovery, I started off as I meant to go on all day long, trying out swims and beats, nooks and crannies that I'd never tried before. First ports of call were a few swims downstream of the weir at Gaters Mill where I found a few bites but nothing worth striking at, the first being no deeper than a few feet at most at the tail of the run off from the weir, and the second, a far bank slack a little further down.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Of Roach, Trout, Perch, and Men - Forward Planning for Fishing Trips - River Itchen, Hanningfield Reservoir

With two big trips coming up in the next two months my mind is awash with dreams and plans about how to make those dreams come true. The first trip comes up Friday next when me and Keith, Danny and Baz toodle off South to that gem like wonderland of piscine promise, the Lower Itchen Fishery in Southampton. The second is a planned, though not as yet confirmed trip, with a bunch of Coventry bloggers to the inland sea that is Hanningfield Reservoir in my home county of Essex. Both venues promise big fish, the latter, record breakers.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Avon Roach and Dace - Madness, or Method?

The Warwickshire Avon is a moody river. An hour spent in last weeks 'barren' swim brought no bites, yet again. Though conditions once again seemed on the perfect side of ideal, it was a no show. I tried three or four alternative swims nearby but the result was the same, the river was sleeping. I thought about staying, and thought about going downstream below the millpool, where, in my prior experience of this place, the fishing is good when the upstream stretches fish poorly. In the end I thought I'd try the millpool itself before moving to known roach swims further down...

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Avon Roach and Dace - Methinks Methinks

Saturday may have been bitterly cold but Sunday would be a completely different prospect with the mercury expected to rocket overnight and top out at the balmy heights by noon, of five degrees above melting point, an ambient increase of seven or eight degrees. It would be overcast and later it might rain, with mists and fogs by evening, conditions that would seem perfect for roach, the best possible in fact, if only that is, conditions have been stable for some time.  Not surprisingly, with violent change on the way Saturday night, I'd expected very little from either Saturday's cold and expected even less from Sunday's warmth, despite the apparently perfect weather following on, and was to be proved (almost!) completely right.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Avon Chub and Roach - Jacking the Stream

I rarely get the chance to fish twice in the same weekend and even less often on the same river, but Saturday and Sunday both threw up opportunities to get out and put in some serious swim caning. I knew it would be hard, expected the worst, but hadn't bargained on granite hard...

Saturday morning was preceded by a hard overnight frost and the daytime temperature would never climb above zero even in the sunnier spots under a clear blue sky, so I expected the fish to be somewhat sluggish, if not comatose, with perhaps a brief feeding spell some time in the afternoon, and for the roach I was hoping to find, if my prior experience fishing for them under these kinds of conditions is anything to go by, between two and four O'clock if it occurred at all.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

River Chub - The Thick and Thin of it...

Forecast: snow by four. Action: there by one.

I love fishing in snow more than I do in any other kinds of weather, so I just had to get out to take advantage of it coming through, and the venue of choice, that was the River Blythe at Coleshill, a place familiar to me, or so I thought...

On route down the motorway, we passed over the river upstream of my destination but glancing out the window what I saw filled me with some trepidation. Not because a bit of ice covering a river puts me off fishing, but because I couldn't make out quite how extensive this covering was at 70mph.

Friday, 3 February 2012

River Chub - Natural law

Saturday last, Martin and I fished what looked to be a choice stretch of the Warwickshire Avon. Locally famous for its big chub and double-figure barbel I had high hopes of contacting one of the former and it certainly looked every inch of the kind of river stretch that could turn out a real whopper of a chevin, what with its numerous holts and lairs, undercut banks, rafts, reeds and tangled scrub lined banks. Where the river passes through marshland, there the classic chub swims were so numerous that we were spoiled for choice, I imagined a bite or two in each and over the course of the day, a chance of a fish to finally break through the six pound barrier, a realistic target I have set my mind to achieving this coming year as my personal best for the species, a five-pound nine-ounce fish from the Severn caught three years ago now, is getting a bit long in the tooth. It has to go!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Roach Length/Weight Curve - A New Record is out There, Somewhere...

In the last post I made a video of a roach trip to a local stream where a fish was banked, that on capture and before weighing, I really thought would make at least a pound and four ounces, if not slightly more. I thought it would be the largest roach I had ever caught from the river but the scales gave only a pound and one ounce, which was much less than I would have thought.  Luckily, I measured the fish and took a reading of 12 inches from fork in tail to snout...

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Small Stream Adventures - Urban Redfins - Jewels in the Grime

After such a grueling session on the Wark's Avon just last weekend I was beginning to doubt the efficacy of my bread disc technique described a few blogs back, but I needn't have worried, it still works a dream, as you will see. Here's a video of an astonishing hour spent chasing roach on a local small stream. The day was perfect for roach, the kind of day roach anglers pray for -- a grim, blank grey sky, a constant westerly breeze, not too cold, looks like it might drizzle with fine rain any moment and the water tinted that perfect green-grey that on occasion, might well mean that the fish will be in the mood to be reckless...

If you've ever watched a Bob James or John Wilson video about roach fishing take a look at the sky. It's no accident that their roach videos suffers from bad lighting!

This was a trip to the only pool I have never tried for roach in all the time I have been fishing this stretch of river, and why? Well, I don't honestly know. Other prospects elsewhere always pulled my attention their way, I suppose, but the following illustrates perfectly why I should never have ignored it. I only fished an hour, and half of that was spent farting about with the camera, but it was worth it as this truly was one of the most enjoyable (and easily the shortest!) roach fishing sessions I have ever had in my entire life. A sudden change in one of the perfect combination of conditions brought an abrupt close to proceedings, but before it did, the sport was hectic and productive, which just goes to show how fickle roach can be when things aren't, just so...


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Widget Floats - An Update

A number of people have enquired recently about how I make my widget floats, the ones I use for fishing for pike and zander at night. The original article doesn't go into great detail so I thought perhaps I'd create a new one...

Monday, 23 January 2012

Forty - Seventy Percenter

It's about that time of the year when I begin to make serious plans and set objectives for the fishing I intend to do over the course of the rest of it. Completing the book has pushed away the recent past, where I relearned how to fish for coarse fish after decades of neglect, and opened a door to a new phase of my fishing career. Uppermost in my mind is the British obsession with the breaking of old personal bests (isn't it uppermost in yours?) and especially those that have been hanging around unbroken for far too long.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

River Roach - Repetitive Strain

Up in The Wilds beyond the woods and well beyond the reach of watching eyes is a swim where I've fished three times lately and with mixed results. The first time I dropped in there a few nice roach and a single dace were caught in a couple of hours. Bites, they came every cast but there was a bit of a wait involved before they materialised. The second was an hour spent there, a desperate last minute river switch at the end of a long biteless morning spent on the Leam with Phil Mattock. The bites? Well there were none at all, not even the slightest tremor, which for this stretch of the Avon is almost unheard of it being so full of fish.

Friday, 20 January 2012

My Way with Bread

I've done a great deal of bread fishing over the last few years and through hundreds of hours of various failures and successes have learned a great deal about this apparently simple bait, so I thought I might fess up about my hard-earned fluffy stuff methodology.

As you might have gathered reading this blog I am a roach nut. It's not that I don't love to catch chub, bream and dace, the other three worthwhile river species with a proper love for bread, but I find that fishing and searching for roach with bread invariably finds me those fish if they are present but without negating a chance of roach if they are present too. It's the only bait that I know that will select roach consistently, maggots and worms having their day but finding too many small fish in the first case and the second being rather inconsistent on rivers where roach are concerned.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Pike Head Study

One thing leads to another. Limbering up for a possible upcoming painting of a pike. A preliminary study in pencil ... 

And the cat looks as if it's staying put.

Gets up to all kinds of mischief that would never occur to a dog. Can't keep food out on the side, climbs curtains, scratches furniture, explores places impossible to extract it from but it craps in its tray after just a few days, and that can't be a bad thing! I guess it's ours for good...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

River Roach - A Royal Leamington Blank

It's hard to write about a blank if nothing happens, fortunately something happened just as soon as Phil Mattock pulled his motor into the car park of the Leamington AA stretch of the Leam at Newbold Comyn. We found a tiny grey tabby Kitty Kat transfixed in the beam of the car's headlamps... I couldn't just leave it there to fend for itself as an easy meal for one of the foxes we later saw prowling about in the predawn light so I stashed her ( I checked its rear end!) in the car and we made our way down to the river.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Big Pit Pike - Caught, in the Minds Eye...

What I want to know is this. Is it possible for a pike well in excess of twenty pounds to leap clear of the water and perform the twist I have attempted to depict in the sketch below, a drawing derived completely from the lightning-strike, shooting-star, split-second mental imprint I was lucky enough to have seared into my memory as just such a pike performed just such an act, and just as I brought a lure past its nose?

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Big Perch Quest - Big Cat Caught on Perch Livebait

Monday morning saw Keith and I visit a hot new tip off in search of a monstrous great perch. Keith is seeking a four pounder now that he's had a few three pounders while for myself, still stuck in sub-two pound land despite having broken three pounds with that fluke capture of mine from Blenheim palace, just wanting to get a decent string of fish to back it up, if not beat it and put it to bed.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

River Chub - Saturday Night & Sunday Morning

The annual Coventry/Warwickshire bloggers meet at the Whitefriars Inn in Coventry last Saturday night was a beery affair. They always are for me, and I seem to become unstable unseemly rapidly every time the event occurs. Perhaps it's the atmosphere or the company or the strong ales or all three but two hours in and I'm there in the back garden having a fag standing on legs that feel like a couple of flexing willow shoots rooted to the ground with the eight stone of my upper body (legs must be 3 stone, surely?) balancing precariously above them trying not to fall backwards into the piles of empty kegs behind.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

My 2011 in Pictures

Publishing a Fishing Book - Harsh, but Fair! (Pt5)

The manuscript was sent off to Bob Roberts a week or so before Christmas for his immediate perusal and what I thought would be his eventual edit but Bob was quick off the mark and had one half of the book done and dusted and back in the post before I could blink. It arrived back the day before Christmas Eve inked all over with his sterling work.