Tuesday, 22 December 2009

On the Rocks.

In the grip of the ice...
I wish I could go after grayling tomorrow, I bet they'd oblige wouldn't they?

You see, I just can't be arsed with pike right now, even though they'd probably take a well presented free lunch, indeed my long standing personal best pike of fifteen-twelve was banked when I was fifteen on a sprat bought from Romford Market, and caught in conditions very similar to those we experience right now, at South Weald Upper Lake, Essex - the only difference being that when I caught that particular pike the Pistols were grinding out their curiously submarine anti-hit 'Submission' on the personal tape player that I'd brought to the the lake side.

I am, that old...

Monday, 21 December 2009

Fishy Frozen Fingers

What with one thing and another conspiring to halt my attempts at jotting down my fishy tales over the past weeks I have failed to report upon what has been a quite intense period of short sessions leading up and into the icy blast that has fairly killed sport stone dead. The canal is now solid ice and thickening up nicely due a run of subzero nights and daytime temperatures hovering around or even below nought degrees, so we may be able to get our skates on soon and slide all the way to the pub

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Cold snap on the Way

The weatherman is being his usual cagey self saying that temperatures are going to fall steadily over the next week or so, and that it might get a bit chilly here and there, but just about everyone I meet on the towpath today, mostly boat people (a type that is particularly weather sensitive) are predicting a proper cold snap soon, with frost and ice overnight.

I don't know who to believe...

A Very Popular Peg

Walking the dog along the canal is a daily chore that cannot be avoided, and because springers are the fittest and most fanatical of dogs this means walks of at least a mile or two twice a day and twice a week they require long strolls of anything up to six miles. If they don't get this much of a work out then their natural propensity for hard graft turns in upon itself and they will start to eat the house and its contents.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Anyone for Darts?

My Saturday fishing session was spent on the Saxon Mill stretch of the Avon once again - I could have fished the Stratford town waters for the roach and bream as Judy was making a Christmas shopping trip there, but her timing was too late, I would have had only a few hours of daylight to fish in and that is not nearly enough this time of the year.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Astounding Stats...

Keith came over to the cut last night to have another crack at the roach and Zander but a local diesel spill, the second in a week, had put all fishing for about half a mile (a very little diesel goes a avery long way!) quite out of the question - not that the fish would be affected directly but I reckoned that anything passing through the layer of floating fuel would coat in diesel

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A Small Matter of Scale

I was having trouble sleeping because a problem that had been niggling away for days had finally reached it's boiling point, the point where a resolution was required, and now.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

On Roach: Canal Roach and Ruminations on Shoal Behavior

I have never fished for any other fish so capricious, so fickle and contrary than large roach and no other fish that requires more artfulness on the part of the angler if he is to be successful in the catching of them.

Monday, 30 November 2009

A Bit of a Hike

I wanted to start off the fishing day by arriving fairly early in the morning to explore the wild looking upper limits of the Saxon Mill stretch starting at a place called Dropping Wells and then working my way downstream swim by swim and ending up with a bit of guaranteed roach fishing

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Another Notch on the Bedpost!

It's my birthday today, another year older and, ahem, wiser...?

Judy woke me up at four in the morning with a basket of presents all to do with my fishing welfare this coming winter. A thermal base layer, socks and a pair of Barbour fingerless woolen mittens to replace those eaten by the dog last year, a set of four rechargeable handwarmers, a packet of wine gums and best of all, a sausage roll....

Monday, 23 November 2009

A New Book for Winter

Waters at the Saxon Mill...
I bought the Warwick District Angling Association book on Saturday...

I've been poaching their Saxon Mill stretch for months and truthfully meaning to get the book the whole time but every trip to the tackle shop has seen me arrive either sans card and not enough cash, or with card and cash but forgetting to ask for it as I concentrate my mind upon the important business of choosing hooks, lines and sinkers. Better late than never

Friday, 20 November 2009

A Short Diary of Quitting the Weed

Day 1. Fishing for roach on the Avon. Light headed but not a problem, in the dark I have the curious feeling that there are floodlights lighting up behind my head, I turn around and the effect vanishes only to appear once again as soon as I relax.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Levels falling...

Giving up the fags...
Yesterday morning I awoke and decided to do two things with the day; go fishing and give up cigarettes...

So, as I write this account of the events of yesterday I am into my 28th hour without my usual fix of nicotine and actually doing OK, it does not hurt, I don't want a fag, I just feel a bit spaced, and that's all.

Friday, 13 November 2009


I went out last night, after roach with worms, to see if anything would happen as a weather front approached and hit the West Midlands. I have only fished the canal once in similar conditions and it was

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

No Light, No Bite?

Keith and I had a discussion via email, a discussion about bites after dark, from roach and perch to be specific. Sage advice culled from the Internet said, we both agreed, that both these species do not, or at least do not like to bite well after the sun has sunk beneath the horizon.

Monday, 9 November 2009

All Creatures Great and Small...

A near blank saved at the last...
Come on now, own up, who nicked all the fish?

It was a toss up on Saturday morning where to fish for the day, heads the Blythe and tails the Avon. Flip a tanner in the air and it falls head side up, so Blythe it was

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Pumpkins are Easy!

Despite beating 200 hopefuls in the Greyhound's annual 'guess the weight of the pumpkin' competition for Halloween by predicting its weight to within an ounce of its actual heft of 46 pounds 15 ounces (and winning a gallon of beer!) I still have some trouble estimating the weight of fish. Pumpkins are easy, they are a dead weight, but fish are hard because when they appear out of the water they are not only alive and kicking but when large enough have an aura of magnificence around them that makes them appear bigger than they actually are!

Perhaps if there was beer involved I would do better ?

Monday, 2 November 2009

Blood and Slime!

A crack at the Stratford roach...
Winter is in the air and the roach season is about to start, if it has not already done so...

Keith has to nab one over a certain weight for his fishing competition and also try to beat his zander target too, so we went down to fish the Stratford town waters opposite the theatre last Tuesday night in pursuit of both. I was after roach only so set up two feeder rods and fished bread on long tails

Saturday, 31 October 2009

A Game of Three Quarters

Chub after dark...
I've been fishing a particular stretch of the Avon looking for what in Wark's Avon terms would count as big roach. I don't actually know what a big Avon roach looks like, my never having caught one, but I'm sure it must be one over a pound and a half. Whether they go over the two is probable, even likely

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Canal Zander- Lucioperca Problematica - Operation Zed! Night 3

After my mad evening last week pulling my teeth out over the impossible zander up the cut, I had all kinds of subtle (and crude) ideas about how best to tackle this 'funny peculiar' fish. I'd missed half of the runs completely, hooked five fish and only landed three, and that's not very good, is it?

Monday, 26 October 2009

Scratching the Itch - Perfect Cadence

A river roach personal best...
Morning was over, in fact it was way past noon when we arrived back at the fishing hut where the other members of the party, Leyton, Simon, Sash and Paul were already gathered brewing up the tea and we got to sit and exchange stories over a steaming mugful and a bite to eat after what had been, by every account, a fabulous morning

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Scratching the Itch - Imperfect Cadence

A fabulous fishery...
A month ago I was invited to join Keith and a group of friends on a trip to the River Itchen in Hampshire, an offer I accepted of course, and accepted without a second thought, I might add.

Because to my mind the words 'chalk' and 'stream' when they come together mean only the one thing...

Huge roach...!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Canal Zander - Lucioperca Problematica - Operation Zed! Night 2

I noticed in the afternoon that the starlights on the floats from the night before were still glowing enough to enable another zander trip into the night, so I got my gear together and was up the cut by three. My plan was to fish a float rod for roach and put out a sleeper rod for the zeds, then move back to the basin just up from home and fish by the moored boats and into the night for zander.

Canal Zander - Lucioperca Problematica - Operation Zed! Night 1

Keith came over to my stretch of the Coventry Canal the other night for a spot of Zander hunting and I joined him. He's after a five pounder for his fishing competition and despite landing 13 from the Avon thus far has not got over this apparently difficult hurdle, as yet.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Tricky Art of Catching Bits

Fickle roach...
'Bits' is what us anglers call fish too small to get excited about, especially when they are hauled out one after the other. Actually it's far harder to haul a net of bits than it might seem, as I have found out.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Warwickshire Avon River Record Fish List

I've been trawling around the web this morning and looking for any reliable reports of any big fish from The Avon and its tributaries, so that I know what I am aiming to surpass when I fish it, but mostly so that I know what kind of weight represents a specimen fish for the Avon catchment.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

The deceptive image...

Fish and apparent scale...
Last time out with Keith we wound up in the Greyhound for a post-session drink and the conversation got around to the apparent size of fish when seen swimming in water and their actual size when on the bank. We discussed how fish look an awful lot smaller 'in' than 'out', in fact we agreed, the difference is remarkable

Monday, 12 October 2009

Three men in a big boat

I was outside the Greyhound having a fag and a pint with Judy and our mates when I overheard fishing talk, as you do, between a couple of blokes attached to our crowd. A boat trip was being organised out of Lyme Regis and on enquiry it transpired that they were short on numbers, so I pledged myself in. Not having been out on a boat for few years now it seemed like a good prospect and though it was some distance to travel for a days fishing, not beyond the pale. If the weather was fair then I would not drop out, I promised. Foul weather, well, we'd have to see!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Jeff Needs to Try Harder!

I've been neglecting the blog a bit of late so it's time for a bit of a round up I think.

The canal has switched on again, well the perch never stopped after they woke up in spring, but the roach are back. I have been out after them on a few occasions and have had fish up to three quarters of a pound and they are coming regularly enough to make the fishing worth my while.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Fishy Picture Post - a Barbel from the Avon

Kate has kindly sent over the pictures of our camping trip to Anchor Meadow on the Warwickshire Avon last month. I lost a big fish at tea time Saturday and later caught my best ever barbel and what follows are the pictures that tell the story!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Here There be Monsters...

Keith invited me along to a local commercial fishery after big perch the other evening; he'd heard reports that the water concerned had thrown up two giants in a recent match, both over four pounds and both still at large! How could I refuse?

Monday, 21 September 2009

Extreme Expert Casting with the Centre Pin Reel

There are numerous 'distance' casts possible with a 'pin', most of them rubbish, none of them great, but nevertheless all are a means to a rather good end, that of using such a lovely thing as the centre pin reel in the first place.

Slogging one out...

I'm the kind of person who once he picks something up is loath to put it down, hemp fishing for river roach for instance, my current fad, and so, on Saturday I went back for more. I should have known that nothing ever works out quite so well the second time around. Second time is punishment time

Thursday, 17 September 2009

A hemp fishing masterclass from Angling Ways by E.Marshall Hardy, 1934

I've mentioned the following extract from Angling Ways by E. Marshal- Hardy a number of times in previous posts and it is first rate guidance for anyone attempting to fish the seed in my limited experience.

Small Stream Adventures - Revelation

I had my tooth fixed the other morning, a gold crown makeover for a molar that broke in half a couple of years back whilst on a particularly testing job. There was no time to get to a dentist at the time so I had to pull the loose broken half out, and then in time it just became manageable, and so I never got around to it. It was Judy’s fault

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Seedy Experiments...

I had to try hemp at some point, having no other option on the canal when all other possible baits had been rendered useless by the evil twins - the ravenous attentions of perch and the stark inattention of roach

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Post Scriptum

It has just occurred to me that I forgot to mention two very important things in the last post.

The first is that I tried twitching the bait, two maggots on a size 16, half way through the period when the perch started to feed. What was happening was this

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

...That Ends Well

I took a morning dog walk along the canal the other morning and met up with one of my towpath acquaintances walking his new labrador puppy, and he had something interesting to say. We met last winter when I was roach fishing in the ice, he is also an angler and one who took a keen interest in my exploits. We talked about the size of the roach I'd caught and he remarked that they were quite an unexpected size for a canal. I've met him many times since and talked general fishy stuff, but this time as soon as he saw me he mentioned that a two pound roach had been caught in my winter spot just recently.

Handmade Swan Quill Waggler. Step 3

At last I have sourced the paint for the float tips - Humbrol's Fire Orange - procured from the local model shop. Now I can get along with the completion of these experimental floats of mine, maybe even get one in the drink where it belongs.

All's Well...

We were to do the canal on Saturday but a slight change of mind on Kevs side meant that a local river trip was feasible so we did what self respecting anglers do and opted for the chance of better fishing - and a river obviously was the preferable option.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Wye and the Wherefore

Kev has written up his report on our latest angling expedition to the Wye near Hay, so I was thinking I didn't have to, and as I've had some difficulty getting anywhere near a computer over the last few weeks thought I could get away with it! Not so, I have to get my thoughts down or the thoughts get me down.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Hankering after roach again.

Kev came around on the day after I had arrived back from my working stint in London and we went off to the canal to fish for roach. I was only half there the whole time, seriously knackered, suffering from culture lag.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Five Feet High and Rising...

I woke at dawn, the rising sun burning my eyes out through the open door of the tent. I tried to marvel at the beauty of it all but my hung over brain couldn't deal with such highfaluting idyllics for more than a few seconds and demanded more sleep

To the River! To the River!!

Prolonged heavy and persistent rain over the West Midlands is not the best forecast for a camping and fishing trip on the lower reaches of the river that drains almost the entire region, nevertheless, it was an arrangement that we would not back out of, we would just have to tough it out, endure the approaching deluge and bear with the consequences. We would stay, come what may.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Spiders from Mars

That's what signal crayfish look like...

And they are big buggers too, aren't they?

I'd arranged to meet Keith on The Blythe on Tuesday afternoon but decided that I would set out early and do the entire day, as the long overdue panacea for my work induced exhaustion and general unravelledness. I woke at six to find it hissing down...

Small Stream Adventures - Caught Short...

It's been a bit busy of late, and far too busy to do unimportant stuff, like fishing. It's been all work, work, work, and nothing besides and as a consequence I have become not only dog tired, but tetchy and unsettled in myself. I have kept reminding myself that going fishing is actually very important, that fishing is no mere hobby, not a thing to be picked up and put down, but the only fully rounded therapy available for the modern mind, body and soul

Friday, 10 July 2009

Handmade Swan Quill Waggler. Step 2

The first coat of paint is for sealing the body of the float and for hardening the imperfect surfaces in readiness for sanding. I found that a coat of really stretched out paint was best, it being very thin and drying off to the touch in an hour or so


When I left for the Severn last Saturday I made a stupid mistake, that of leaving some of my fishing tackle out in the back yard, including my favourite float rod. When I went out yesterday afternoon to feed the rabbit I thought the yard looked suspiciously tidy. Then the penny dropped...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Handmade Swan Quill Waggler. Step 1

I had two lovely wagglers that I became very attached to, as happens with nice floats that do the job well, but now I have managed to lose them both to far bank bushes on the canal, and so, as I cannot find replacements anywhere and those available in the shops seem such soulless affairs, have decided to make my own

48 hours

We went camping at Montford Bridge on the Severn late Saturday afternoon; Judy's master-plan was for her to stay overnight, return home Sunday morning to clear up some end of year college marking, leaving me and Molly on the bank till late on Monday. Molly's plan was to play endless games with her precious cricket ball, in and out of water. My plan was to fish every waking moment for an early season barbel

Thursday, 2 July 2009

What a difference a day, and a bit of water pushing through, makes!

After having had such fun trotting the Blythe and wondering what that big fish that I lost was, a chub probably, but perhaps that monstrous perch that I'd imagined, I had to get back to where I'd been forced to leave off, and as soon as possible. Luckily I had the next day not only free but with wifey actively encouraging my day long absence!

Deluge on the Blythe

The rivers are calling !

I've been back to the trickles a few times in the last weeks and have had a great time, I must say. I really have missed them so much over the last few months.

Dancing to an underwater tune...

The close season ended and I caught tench as befits. I couldn't repeat the coup unfortunately and though I returned for a dawn session and tench were certainly present in the swim I had just the one missed bite to show for my efforts. It was interesting though, or more accurately, infuriating.

And not a drop to drink...

The local canal has been clarifying overnight to the point where proper fish spotting is possible, indeed yesterday morning proved to be the best I have ever seen it with roach visible everywhere. Most of the fish you see before the boats appear to spoil things are small, but here and there you see larger fish of around the half pound mark grouped together along the near bank. It was while watching a group of these fish

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Too hot to think

I've been out of action for a fortnight due to a loss of computer plus all data including all the precious fishing pictures that I have not uploaded to Picasa. Thankfully all that really matter are there, but they are now compressed and will never be fit for printing from ever again.

It's a shit.

There's no other way to describe having to go through the entire rigamarole of installing software all over again, remembering all those web account passwords and usernames and getting back in the saddle.

Soon, I'll post a resume of recent fishy ventures, but for now...

It's too hot to think.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Answers, answers, bloody answers...

It's that time of the year when a coarse angler reflects upon the season past, what was achieved, what was learned and what went wrong. It's best to start with what went wrong I think, because with fishing more goes wrong than right in the normal run of things

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Everything, but the bubbles...

It is now Tuesday the sixteenth of June, the glorious 16th, the day of days, the day when any self respecting coarse angler must go fishing for tench

Monday, 15 June 2009

I went to the sea, to see the sea, and what did I see?

Over the weekend I went out on a photography camping field trip with the photo group that meets at the gallery once a month; the chosen spot was coastal, and that for me means only the one thing, and it's certainly not the art of fill-in flash but the art of filling freezers with bass

Friday, 5 June 2009

What Price Carp?

I don't really fish for carp anymore. I hook them from time to time; I had three in a row whilst looking for chub on the middle reaches of the Warks Avon, all safely landed powerful though they were in that strong deep current

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Dastardly and Muttley go Fishing...

The dawn session up the canal was not quite enough for my needs, I had an itch to scratch and the whole evening to myself so I went back out intending to do a bit of lightweight roaming with one float rod, a landing net and some bait and get Muttley exercised into the bargain

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Five AM

Dawn was clear, cloudless and cool, and because the day would be another scorching hot one, I thought I'd give the canal a try on a very early start, hoping that the roach could be relocated and perhaps even caught. I was out of the house by first light

Monday, 1 June 2009

Day ticket pot luck

Yesterday dawned clear and bright and I had it in my head to make the most of the day by heading North with Judy, jumping ship en route at whatever day ticket water I could find at short notice, and having her go on to the relatives, sparing me the ordeal. It's a bit of a stab in the dark going to a water never fished before

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

An Angler Most Stupid...

Keith, who came over to Longford a while back for a go at the canal, picked me up yesterday afternoon for a trip to a water that was completely new to me and apparently contained a fish that I have not caught or even seen for perhaps thirty years; the mysterious shy biting creature, the crucian carp.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Thoughts on Shoaling Fish

John and I went out again the same afternoon and caught perch after perch on maggots, so we tried big worms but they produced only the occasional larger fish and nothing over twelve ounces. The roach were sunbathing

Friday, 22 May 2009

Perca Perca!

Things have been so busy of late that I've not had the time to run this blog as the diary of days that it wants to be, so this entry is something of a round up of recent fishing stuff. Unfortunately the roach are once again slowing down and approaching uncatchability

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Myth in the making

Big pike have a way of assuming legendary, even mythical proportion in waters where they are least expected to be. Take my encounter with a truly massive pike just a few days ago as an example of this myth making process in action - I have told people about this pike, as you would because there is nothing quite so juicy in fishing as a monster pike story

Saturday, 16 May 2009

The moving shadow

The gallery is currently hosting a student event over two nights. The trouble with students is that they live in a bubble of the university's making; everyone says yes, nothing is negotiable, and the student comes first, always. The trouble is with the real world is that the university rules are inverted

Friday, 15 May 2009

A mixed bag...

I managed to get out for a late evening session, back to the spot where I'd caught a gorgeous rudd a short while back, but on arrival spied some commotion under the bushes some way beyond, so of course, I had to see what was causing it

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

I was on my way to the tackle shop...

When I met up with this little fella stalking a shoal of the tiniest yearling roach innocently sipping stuff from the surface.


Well not quite, but bin lids at least. That was what I saw when walking the dog, feeding vertically as bream do, and waving their tails in the air

Out of the corner of my eye...

At last, after many months of stop-start fishing, the canal seems to be a place where life is in full swing. Fish of all species seem to be on the move, and feeding freely. Fishing has becoming really great fun, the lovely rudd has put me in such a great frame of mind that I really don't care what I catch right now

Friday, 8 May 2009


Well, because I had nothing much to do till nine o clock in the evening when Judy would come home from her weekly late session at work (verified non dubious!) I went back the same afternoon to the same spot, after a trip to the tackle shop to get some fresh bait, to see if there was half a chance of a roach being around

A dream of dream fish...

My sleeping dreams have been populated by big roach of late, all caught in strange places, and under queer circumstances. A large but very strange, almost dead ghost roach from the sea, for instance; the capture of a huge fish from the garden pond followed by a quest for set of lost scales to weigh it with, hidden away in a dusty decrepit attic

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Circle hooks for Perch???

Having a ravenous pack of small perch occupying what was, for a short while, a roach stretch of the local canal has its drawbacks and its benefits. The main drawback is that there may well be larger perch hanging around but they don't get a look in, the main benefit is that they provide me with an experimental testbed where I can learn something about catching perch in general

Friday, 1 May 2009

On Roach - The Purist Fish

Roach fishing is one of the only disciplines in coarse angling where 'how' a fish is caught is far more important than 'if' a fish is caught at all, in fact roach fishing has a hierarchy of preferable methods ranked according to the skill required to effectively fish them

On Mastering an Art...

The Spring time transition period is well under way, the weeds on the allotment are exploding from their Winter dormancy and any inch of soil left unturned will be covered in small plants in just a few weeks - left unchecked, these vigorous young shoots will outstrip anything I plant amongst them and within a month or two will have reduced them to nothing

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Getting it...

You'll have to forgive my last post, I'd bought and attempted to read the Angling Times and it sent me round the bend, provoking a frothing at the mouth rabid reaction that had to be cured by purging myself.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Popetastic! Monster Ruffe Rocks Specimen World!

Midlands big small fish specialist Jeff Hatt has finally landed a fish to ruffle the feathers of the specimen angling world. Jeff's campaign for huge canal ruffe began in earnest during the winter deep freeze that had the whole country locked in its icy grip, but has now paid off with a record worrying big 'pope'! The capture of the monster fish, which fell to a maggot and caster cocktail, marks the culmination of many months of difficult fishing, plagued by nuisance roach to two pounds, in often arduous and life threatening fishing conditions on a top-secret-rock-hard Midlands venue, just up the road from Jeff's house.

Jeff, of Longford, Coventry, who'd had a smaller ruffe earlier in the week from the same spot, spent his lunchtime fish spotting and witnessed big fish rolling by an overhanging tree. "They had to be ruffe" he said "only ruffe roll at high noon". An evening session was planned and Jeff's mate Keith invited along to partake in what Jeff knew could be an historic occasion. Both anglers cast baits over carefully baited pegs. Jeff used his own groundbait concoction consisting of Londis's finest breadcrumbs mixed with Sensas Ruffe Justice and a top secret squirt of a "commonly available household fluid".

"We'd just sat back to await unfolding events" said Keith, who then hooked and lost the first fish of the session, "It felt a biggy, probably one of the huge ruffe that Jeff had spotted at lunch time" he continued. The two friends fished on regardless, enjoying the lovely evening and the bloky banter which "had only just switched from the incidence of intersex roach to the retro-evolution of the three-spined stickleback" when Jeff's float dipped, and disappeared from view. He struck into solid resistance and after a tense ten second fight, during which the big fish made numerous darts for the safety afforded by the numerous bags of drowned kittens that litter the canal bed, numerous numbers of which were caught and released during the session, brought the exhausted specimen to hand.

"I couldn't believe my eyes" said Jeff, "and I couldn't believe his eyes either" said Keith.

The fish was carefully placed upon a Preston Innovations ZERO-GRAV Monster Tiddler Total Fish-Safe Unhooking Mat/ Weigh Sling, to avoid any unnecessary damage, and then measured carefully against the back of Jeff's hand. "It brought the scales all the way down from the tip of my middle finger to the root of my thumb" said Jeff "and that's precisely five and a half inches, give or or take a dram or two, easily the largest ruffe I've ever seen in the flesh, beating my previous personal best by a whole thumb knuckle!" The 'pope' was then 'plugged' by sticking a wine cork onto its spiny dorsal fin, a fine olde English tradition with roots running deep into the mists of time, but still practiced with due diligence by all serious ruffe anglers, and released to fight another day...

Indeed the fish is just one quarter of a thumb bone short of the current British Record caught by Ronnie 'knuckles' Jenkins in a Cumbrian Lake in 1986, a record previously held by legendary big small fish expert Dennis Flack, who at one point held no fewer than four British rod caught records at the same time, for bitterling, stickleback, bleak, and of course tommy ruffe!

"Dennis has been my mentor, hero and inspiration in the past few months" said Jeff. "everytime I got a bite and only hooked yet another pound plus roach I thought of his shining example, and when things were really tough in the ice and snow, always remembered the immortal words of Alwyne Wheeler"

'The ruffe is like a golden perch with a big head, but not quite, and much smaller, unless it's really a big-headed small golden-coloured perch of course, in which case it's a perch after all, but I've not seen the like, as yet'

Jeff kept his tackle as simple as possible "I'd been looking at using all kinds of modern super tackle, and was toying with the idea of undertaking a second degree in applied rig construction at Warwick University, thinking that only such gear and specialist knowledge could put fish on the bank for me, but due to my parlous financial situation, what with the credit crunch n'all, I had to abandon these ideas and use an old fashioned rod, reel and line attached to a hook via a float with some split shot strung up the line, and unbelievably, in today's high-pressure-high-stakes angling environment, it worked!"

The fish seriously undermines the position of the Great Ouse as Britain's premier big fish venue. "Ouse the Daddy Ruffe now !" quipped Jeff as his centre pin reel fell from his rod and into the canal, only retrieved by his plunging his arm up to the shoulder in the cold dark waters watched by a horrified, but highly amused Keith.

Asked what his ambitions were now, Jeff replied "well, now that I've probably reached the pinnacle of Modern British coarse angling with this great fish there's nowhere to go, I mean I could target big roach, but I don't have a beard, don't want one particularly, and anyway they are a bloody pest to me, so where's the fun in that?

"Quite so", said Keith " What's the point in targeting a species that the French charmingly refer to as 'the beautiful fish', but who are actually fish that hardly know, or even care! whether they are boy or girl, and then go have delinquent sex with close Cyprinid family relatives just to wind up those bearded fools who catch their bloated but thankfully sterile offspring? No thanks, retro-evolved three-spined sticklebacks are where it's at right now - a proper hard fish, for proper hard times..."

Thursday, 23 April 2009

A Glass Half Empty...

I had every intention of following through with my so called 'controlled experiment' by going back to the same spot and fishing regardless of what was present. All or nothing. I set up and fished for perhaps half an hour, but unfortunately for my experiment, my trusty angler instinct had kicked in as soon as I sat down

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Ruffe Stuffe...

I went up to the Lake District over the Easter weekend, for a wedding. Came back with a most vicious dose of flu that put me on my back for a few days and has left a legacy in its wake - a cough from hell that simply won't clear up

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

And at last, the canal comes good!

It had to happen one day. The canals that had been the bane of my fishing life of late, would at some future time, perhaps when I found that certain 'right' spot, used the right technique and baits

The Chromium Bream...

It seems a long time since my last post here, not much fishing got done in the meantime, what with this and that. Time has been so tight that I decided that short sessions to the nearest possible spots were in order, so, just a short walk to the end of the road, the canal basin and whatever that spot contained.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Dies Atrox...

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

I rose to a lovely Sunday morning and decided to go back to Ansty after the perch. It would be just the kind of spring day I needed, warm and balmy

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The canal starts to reveal its secrets...

An old boy once said to me in passing, 'crack the canals boy, and you can fish anywhere...'

Well, this canal roach campaign of mine, now in its third month, had taught me next to nothing

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

End of the drought?

Sleeping we imagine what awake we wish,
Dogs dream of bones, fishermen of fish

Fawkes' Idylliums of Theocritus, 1767

The blanks had got to me. I was getting to think that the canal really was crap after all, and that my optimistic forecasts for an increase in the frequency of bites that the warming weather would surely bring, was unfounded

Bird brains...

I shouldn't complain about my recent string of stillwater blanks, because it's pointless, there's no-one to complain to, but the ducks! Actually they are little sods aren't they? Not on rivers, where they are quite entertaining, but on shallow stillwaters they certainly are...

Monday, 16 March 2009

Thirty percenter...

Because I don't subscribe to the idea that a barbel of 10lb 1 oz is any bigger than one of 9lb 15oz, or that it really means very much to pass the arbitrary double-figure barrier for this species, or whatever that specimen figure might be for any other species

A Game of Three Halves...

For the penultimate day of the season it had to be a river, or nothing, and because the gallery was hosting a classical music event on the last day, Sunday, and my services were required the whole day it would be my last chance to fish rivers for three months

Friday, 13 March 2009

Uncanny happenings...

I was just thinking about buying a brolly, then went out the door to take the dog for a walk, and found one abandoned on the towpath. A bit old and leaky, but it works OK for me

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Ribble - Tackle Graveyard of the North

Judy had to go see her mum in Blackburn Hospital on Sunday, and because I would have been an awkward spare in such a delicate close family matter, but was also required to accompany her on the round trip, had to figure out some way to idle away the hours of the whole day

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Stripey's lair...

I had it in my head, in fact I woke with the notion fully formed, to go trotting the new stretch of river I had 'found' last time out at Bretford. I figured that only trotting could cover the stretch in a proper way and besides I'd neglected the method all winter

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

On becoming a roach...

My roach campaign has proved to be so unpredictable, that I have decided to fight fire with fire. I am going to have to become just as unpredictable as the roach themselves, every bit as enigmatic, flighty and fickle. I have decided, by way of methodical madness, that the only way with roach, is to become one.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Rutilus Rutilus! Wherefore Art Thou?

The canal big roach campaign had provided a few decent fish and a new personal best, but for what now seemed like a large effort. The warmer weather had had no influence upon roach feeding, and if anything had produced a downturn and so I decided that a trip to the river was in order, a return to the Avon at Bretford.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Canal Zander - Lucioperca Problematica - More Zeds from the canal

Of course, after catching that little zed on a worm, I had to return to the same spot just to see if it was actually a hotspot full of fish. I had some small roach in the freezer that I'd bought a month before for a planned future trip out

Friday, 20 February 2009

Canal Zander - Lucioperca Problematica - Zzzzzz.......

I'm not sleeping, though the roach seem to be...

I went out for short session on the canal and ended up, after a succession of rapid swim changes, from one wrong spot to another, at a spot that looked somehow, brooding

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

What can go wrong, will...

I'm not going to take the scenic route to my destination today, I am going to get this entry over as quickly as I can. In short, I took advantage of a half term shopping trip to Stratford and got myself a days barbel fishing at Evesham

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Banks, Cranks, Bargains and Blanks

What can be said of a blank? Well, a blank with missed bites and lost fish is one thing, much can be learned from such a day, but an outright blank, an utterly bite less day without any action of any kind, tells an angler very little, if anything of use. Returning to Grassy Bend after a roach to top the two pound mark

Friday, 6 February 2009

Shy, by a Cats Whisker...

The big roach bug has bitten deep. I find myself drawn away from the warmth of a snug winter home and forced by urges beyond my control, to venture out into the snow, to catch them, or freeze in the attempt. I'd been toying with the idea of baiting the swims at Grassy Bend, where, on the scant evidence so far collected and collated, I believed my chances of a two pounder were not wholly unrealistic,

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Thwarted, by Icebergs

I thought I'd chance a quick session down at Grassy Bend, even though the canal at my end was frozen over, because I'd noticed that the bend was actually one of the warmest places on the canal. Ice forms there reluctantly, the water being a degree or two warmer perhaps, and I hoped that there might be a clearing in to which I could cast a line

Friday, 30 January 2009

The roach bug bites...

I'm a funny fella. Like all true Fellows of the Rod, if I have a success on the one day, then I believe that that success must be repeated (or indeed, not) the very next day

Thursday, 29 January 2009

At long last! Success at Grassy Bend

I've been obsessing about the need for me to catch less chub, more and larger roach and quite frankly, any damned perch. I've changed tactics in order to work out how to do this and now sport two rods on the bank so that I can experiment with baits and presentation

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Return to the Blythe

I went to bed with a fully formed plan to return the next morning to the Avon at Bretford to pursue roach and perch with worm, but woke up to find a changed mind, and a changed plan. Today I was going back to the Blyth

Friday, 23 January 2009

Big Freeze Fish Kill Sightings Give Hope !

I've been trying to spot dead fish in the Coventry Canal after the freeze of the last month, and with some success. This canal is, on the surface at least, virtually lifeless. I must have walked the route from Longford to Hawkesbury Junction a thousand times and always keep an eye out for fishy activity en-route

Thursday, 22 January 2009

A Spinning Yarn...

I had a couple of mates staying over last Wednesday night, and the next morning we grabbed a few hours fishing. John, who has started fishing again, and in a big way, has now bought himself an ABU spinning rod, travel version of course

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The sleeping river

I was up the allotment by 7.30am, digging worms by torchlight. They were not easy to find in the frozen ground until I pulled up a length of weed killing carpet and dug in the insulated soil beneath it. I toiled on, working up a sweat despite the sub zero temperatures, until I'd I managed enough for a whole day

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Fishing in the deep freeze

I managed to get back to Bretford much sooner than I thought I would. Judy decided that fishing was an option for me as she wanted to get stuck into a post-Christmas blitz and would rather I was not under her feet. I of course, complied. So, I atomised half a loaf of bread for feed and bought some meat from the local shop